Over the summer we visited Puerto Vallarta. We’ve been there many times mostly as a port visit on a cruise. My last trip was a few years ago when I stayed a few days at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa and got to release sea turtles.
This time Jeff and I spent a week in Puerto Vallarta at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. We love using points to stay for free at all-inclusive hotels. We’ve stayed at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun for free, and twice at the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, once at Miraval Tucson, and I’ve stayed three times at Alila Ventana Big Sur.
But this time, we paid cash.
I know, shocking, right?
There was a reason for my “madness.” World of Hyatt had a triple point promotion during our trip. This meant I’d earn 3X Hyatt points on top of the 9X points (5X points for all members + 4X points if you have the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
But we used miles for our flight.
So while not a complete travel hack to Puerto Vallarta, at least our flights in First Class were free.
This is part 1 of a multi-part series on travel hacking Puerto Vallarta:
We flew Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta. Originally we were booked on American Airlines but Hurricane Nora had other plans.
Because of the hurricane, American canceled our flight via text about five hours before our flight. Thankfully, I was awake and had time to find options.
Our options: Alaska Airlines and Spirit. Because all other airlines canceled all flights into Puerto Vallarta from all airports, not just from LAX.
With the Alaska Airlines and American Airlines codeshare agreement, you can use your American Airlines frequent flyer miles airlines to fly on Alaska and vice versa.
Our American Airlines award tickets would let us fly on Alaska Airlines.
Pro-tip: You can’t just show up with a boarding pass on an American Airlines flight and plan to fly on Alaska Airlines. You have to call American and they do some keyboard magic to make it happen.
I made a list of potential flights, including the Alaska Airlines flight leaving at 10:04 am, and called the American Airlines Executive Platinum desk, and asked if they could move us to the Alaska flight.
With new confirmation numbers, we immediately went to the Alaska Airlines counter to get our boarding passes. We stayed overnight at the Hyatt Regency LAX so it was easy to hop on the hotel shuttle to LAX and then go back for breakfast (free perk as a Globalist) and checkout.
We used 15,500 American Airlines miles each to fly coach from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta. Taxes and government fees for each of us were $35.30.
Definitely cheaper than paying full price.
Had this been a flight to Hawaii, taxes would have only been $5.60.
Upgrading to First Class
We booked coach tickets but I got a free upgrade before boarding.
When you have elite status with American Airlines, their agreement with Alaska Airlines allows you to enjoy your elite benefits on both airlines.
I have Executive Platinum elite status with American Airlines so get free upgrades to First Class on domestic flights (flights in the US). Although, an entirely separate country, Mexico is considered a domestic flight.
My canceled American Airlines coach ticket became an Alaska Airlines First Class ticket from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta.
The plane was a Boeing 737-900 with 16 First Class seats. The seat next to me as well as the two across from me and several others were unoccupied. I was surprised to see so many empty seats in First Class.
Yes, I took the upgrade while Jeff sat in coach. He doesn’t have status with American so he wasn’t eligible for a free upgrade.
First Class seats reclined and are four inches wider than a coach seat.
First Class Meal
One of Alaska Airlines’ little touches that I absolutely love is the boxed water. They were the first airline to offer boxed vs bottled water.
I choose the fruit & cheese platter because it includes Beecher’s cheese and Tillamook sharp cheddar. It’s the perfect flight meal – protein with a hint of sweetness with the grapes and apples while filing but not too filing.
A glass of Bailey’s instead of wine to wash it all down. Because it’s important to have lots of dairy with breakfast….
Normally you have to preorder the cheese and fruit plate because it’s so popular but I lucked out.
Despite flying during a hurricane, there wasn’t any turbulence on the flight. Ours was one of two flights into Puerto Vallarta that day. We quickly got through customs and hopped in our transfer to the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.
How to Earn American Airlines Miles
Travel rewards cards sign up bonuses are the fastest way to earn the most miles. With welcome offers of up to 100,000 points, you could book 6 flights to Puerto Vallarta or the Caribbean, 4 flights to Hawaii, or 2 flights to Europe.
Despite our canceled American Airlines flight because of Hurricane Nora, thanks to American and Alaska’s codeshare agreement we were able to fly on Alaska Airlines.
And I got a free upgrade to First Class.
Would you take the upgrade and leave your partner or travel companion in coach?
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