Trip Introduction: Portugal, the United Kingdom and Ireland via TAP Portugal and British Airways Business Class

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Summer travel is often among the hardest to gain outsized value. Demand is often high with families travelling together, hotel rates are often high and planners often get the best points and miles seats. However, having a diversified points and mileage balance can help families achieve strong value out of your travelling points and currencies. In this trip, we outline how we put together a family trip through Europe in the middle of the summer gaining value from our points and miles.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:

Trip Introduction: Portugal, the United Kingdom and Ireland via TAP Portugal and British Airways Business Class


Planning the Trip:

I had been pitching the idea of another overseas trip for WT73 junior for quite some time. He wasn’t so interested in skiing at Park City, Utah in the United States but going to London and Dublin seemed to pique his interest.

He placed some unusual teenager millennial conditions on me; could we start the trip from Toronto (instead of Vancouver) after his mom (and step dad’s) holiday? This way, he wouldn’t have to re-adjust to the Vancouver Time Zone and ease into the new GMT time zone all that much easier. Fifteen year olds’ tend to place strange demands on parents these days.

After consideration about what was more important, and knowing he probably would have a job next summer and not be as able to get away, I opted to travel to come and collect him in Toronto setting off to Europe from Toronto in Eastern Canada.

Planning Flights:

Given that it was the middle of travel summer, and reward seats were scarce, I ended up purchasing one of these greatly discounted TAP Portugal Business Class fares and ended up on Tap Portugal Business Class Toronto – Lisbon and Tap Portugal Business Class Lisbon – London. It earned 200% Redeemable Qualifying Miles into Air Canada Aeroplan program and would put me into the Air Canada Elite 35K tier for the year which was good enough to gain for North American Maple Leaf Lounge access for the rest of the year. The TAP Portugal ticket also came with a 4 day free stopover in Lisbon, Portugal, a country which I had never visited. For $1,700 CAD, ($1,285 USD) I was able to purchase a one way business class fare from Toronto to Lisbon, connecting onward to Heathrow on A330 wide body aircraft with flat beds for both segments.

For the trip back, I located space on British Airways Club Europe Dublin – London, connecting to British Airways Club World London – Vancouver on their Airbus A380 Club World service. I was able to avoid the expensive Air Passenger Duty thanks to departing from Dublin, Ireland. Surprisingly, I was able to find this on the last weekend of summer, when everyone is getting back to school and home after holidays. With concerns that American Airlines was going to devalue AAdvantage from fixed to a dynamic pricing model along with its competitors United and Delta, I used up some AAdvantage points that had been sitting around. For 57,500 AAdvantage awards per person and $321.70 CAD ($254 USD) each in taxes and fees, I ended up with two business class awards coming home on the Labor Day long weekend.

I was unable to find any reasonable BA Avios reward space departing from London to Dublin. As a result, I purchased a separate one way flight on Aer Lingus London – Dublin in a bundled fare for $202 CAD ($160 USD) each, which included priority boarding, a 25 kg bag and 25% earning to Alaska miles. The short 280 mile flight would be topped up to 500 RQM under the Alaska Mileage Plan minimum miles earned policy; extending WT73Jr’s expiring Alaska Mileage Plan miles for another year or so. As a bonus, the flight departed from the new London Heathrow Terminal 2 (the Queen’s Terminal) which I had yet to visit. It also featured the Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow which was regarded to be among the best in the Plaza Premium system, not that this is saying much.

In the end, the routing ended up looking like this after it was all put together:

YVR-YYZ (paid Air Canada flight)
YYZ-LIS-LHR (paid TAP Portugal flight)
LHR – DUB (paid Aer Lingus flight)
DUB-LHR-YVR (AAdvantage Award Redemption)

A Round Trip to Europe mixed with Paid Travel and AAdvantage Miles

Planning Hotels:

In terms of hotels for this trip, we stuck with Marriott Bonvoy properties. This would allow me to retain eilte status for the next year. Given that it was over the summer travel months, I redeemed points where it made the most financial sense to do so, and I paid for rates where the rooms were cheaper and of less value on a reward redemption. In doing so, we earned 15 Elite Night Credits in the Marriott Bonvoy hotel program towards Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Stats for next year.

For Lisbon Portugal, I booked us into the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa. It was well situated next to the airport Metro line and offered a full breakfast and lounge which I could access courtesy of having Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status. I also figured having access to a lounge would be helpful for travelling with a teenager whom would probably be wanting to at most times throughout the day.

In London, United Kingdom, I redeemed a 5 night stay award at The Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington. This hotel is a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 property and is a terrific value for a family stay. I redeemed for 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night for five nights for a total of 140,000. With the fifth night free, the rate fell to 28,000 points which was a terrific deal. While a Residence Inn is never my choice for an aspirational stay, it did provide a lot of extra room for a teenager compared to the usual smaller London hotel rooms. The hotel is located a 7 minute walk from the Earls Court Underground station and within Zone 1 of the London Underground system.

We had one night in London Heathrow at the Moxy London Heathrow Airport prior to our morning flight to Ireland. This was among the cheapest airport hotel stays that I’ve ever had in my life. The room rate was 50 British Pounds ($65 USD) which included a portion towards breakfast.

In Dublin, Ireland, the rates were quite expensive for hotel stays. It was better value for me to redeem points again at the Aloft Dublin City. The Aloft Dublin City was a Marriott Bonvoy Category 4 during our stay, meaning that rooms were available for redemption at a rate of 25,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night. The paid rates during our stay were over 275€ ($300 USD) per night so it made sense to redeem at this property.

In Athlone, Ireland, the rates were also softer thanks to it’s off the beaten path location. We paid cash for our stay at the Sheraton Athlone Hotel for less than 90€ per night.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, the rates were quite a bit softer. We paid cash for our stay at the AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast at a rate of 100 British Pounds per night. This was a new hotel and located right on the water in downtown Belfast. As the only Marriott Property in Northern Ireland, this was the only realistic choice at the time.

Our points and miles redemption summary:

In summary, we redeemed:

  • 140,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points – London Residence Inn Kensington for 5 nights
  • 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points – ALoft Dublin for 3 nights
  • 115,000 American Airlines Advantage Points for British Airways Business Class flights Dublin – London – Vancouver

I hope you’ll join us on another travel adventure with my family through the summer travel months.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.


Read more from this trip:


If you have put together family reward travel to Europe, how did you manage dealing with high summer travel demand ?

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