Monday, May 9, 2016

Why I'm an AARP member (no I'm not that old)

I am not yet retired and while it's debatable that I'm old, I'm still on the better (?) side of 40.  So why am I a member of AARP?  (American Association of Retired Persons)

I originally joined last year because on British Airways, you can take $400 off most any business or first class flight, including promo/sale fares.  Last December, there was a cheap fare from NYC-Paris on OpenSkies which was made better by taking another $400 off.  (I think it was around $1300-1400 roundtrip after the discount)  I booked the trip but ended up cancelling it (within 24 hours you can cancel flights on most airlines if booked in the US, some airlines allow holds for 24 hours instead) due to realizing it'd be a bit too much to travel again so soon after coming back from an 8 week trip, which included going to Paris/France.

Here's more details on the $400 off business/first class fares.

This would definitely make it worth the $16 annual fee to join AARP, even if you book an economy flight where you'd save $65.  Plus you get a magazine and discounts similar to what you might get with AAA.

Which brings me to something I didn't think of earlier.  While looking for a hotel to stay in in Panama, I had booked an overnight stay at a Crowne Plaza next to the airport for a quick overnight turnaround.  I had paid about $108 including taxes/fees for a corporate rate I get through my company (which is lower than even the non-cancellable rate) but I noticed that when I put in the 'senior rate' among the rate options, the rate dropped to $82 including all taxes/fees!  Even without booking a flight, I've already paid for my AARP membership fee.

Here's an example and where you can select the Senior Discount option:

Here you see the cheaper fully refundable Senior rate that's $21 cheaper than even my super duper corporate rate, which is lower than the lowest non-refundable rate.

You may notice that it says proof of eligibility required so if I click on the rate details:

You'll note that I artistically highlighted that you need to be really old (as in older than me) OR show the membership ID of a retired person organization.

Fortunately, AARP doesn't care how old you are, they are happy to take your money so even only semi-old people like me can join.

As such, I wholeheartedly recommend joining AARP mainly to be able to save on BA premium cabin fares but to be able to save at least on IHG hotels.  I have not yet tried this with other hotel chains but I suspect it should also be possible.

1 final note: since the really good flight sales may only last a few hours, you may want to sign up for AARP now before you actually need to book a flight, since by the time you sign up for AARP, the fare may have already disappeared.

------------------------------- switching subjects --------------------------------- (again so artistic)

As an update, I have went full speed ahead with booking my status runs.  I was able to find someone at my company's internal forums selling USAir's Take Flight Certificates for 10% off.  And he was selling 2 certificates worth $850 total.  I told him I'd take both for 20% off so I was able to also take off $170 in booking my status runs.  So far I'm going to Panama City 3 times.  Over each holiday weekend, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.  On my Labor Day trip, I'm landing in Panama City and staying for 1 whole hour before going back to Miami on the same plane.  But I do spend 2 nights in Miami so I'm not just on flights the whole weekend.  I will still be about 24000 EQM short of Exec Platinum so I'll likely do 1 more Panama or Central America run + take a short domestic trip to make up the rest.

I get interesting reactions when I tell people what I'm doing.  I wonder if this is one of those things better to not just tell 'regular' (as in sane) folks.

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