Back in September, United Airlines had released some pretty tempting fares from EWR to Costa Rica. Granted the $288 round trip fares were great, I’ll admit that I was most attracted to the ~5K PQM that came along with it… plus, it really doesn’t take much persuasion for me to agree to a weekend of fun in the sun.
Since this 2-night trip was originally derived from a “mileage run” mindset, I wanted to keep it as a low-key as possible, using points for my hotel nights and sticking to a tight food and entertainment budget (aka, I’m kinda broke at the moment).
For my first night, I redeemed 9,000 Club Carlson points at the Country Inn and Suites, and for my second night, I redeemed 5,000 Priority Club points (from the PointBreaks list) for a night at the Hotel Indigo San Jose, for an out-of-pocket hotel cost so far of $0.
When I arrived at SJO at noon, I was picked up at the airport by the Country Inn and Suites’ complimentary airport shuttle. The hotel was about a 15-20 minute ride, and I was given a quaint king room with a pool view. The room was definitely dated, but it was comfortable, clean, and acceptable.
All of the staff members at the hotel were super friendly, and I appreciated the welcome note and dessert platter amenity. There was free wifi throughout the property, and there is a supermarket a block away to stock up on bottled water and goodies. Other than that, this is a pretty secluded hotel that I’d only recommend for a one-night stay.
I spent the majority of my day catching up on my reading and relaxing by the pool. When dinner time rolled around, I walked to the nearby shopping center and ordered a tasty burrito from a local Mexican restaurant. The next morning, I enjoyed the complimentary breakfast buffet before heading on over to the Hotel Indigo.
The cost of the taxi ride from the Country Inn and Suites to the Hotel Indigo was $18, and the Hotel Indigo was situated in a much more populated area with plenty of restaurants and shops in the vicinity. I was really impressed with the Hotel Indigo as it was new, trendy, and had a great vibe. Surprise surprise, I spent yet another day poolside, but this time I treated myself to some fancy $5 wine.
Soon enough the weekend away came to an end, and it was time to head to the airport. This is where the fun began. Remember how I got a $300 voucher from my last United flight? Well, I must be on a lucky streak because I’m pretty sure I got another – this time no bump required!
Here’s what happened: I was originally booked on a flight back to Newark with a connection in Houston departing at 1:48 pm. Earlier in the morning, I did notice that there was a direct flight from SJO-EWR departing at 8:28 am, but I didn’t want to rush to the airport that early, so I stuck with my original itinerary. When I arrived at the airport at 12 noon, I saw that the nonstop flight to EWR was severely delayed and had not departed yet. I went right up to the check-in counter and asked if I could switch to the non-stop.
A few minutes later, I had my new boarding pass, and I headed to gate 17 for my 2:30 pm departure. Since all of the original passengers on the nonstop flight have been waiting for more than 5 hours, United had set up a food and beverage station for everyone at the gate consisting of small sandwiches and sodas.
Finally, at 3:45 pm, 7 hours and 15 minutes after scheduled departure time, we were finally in the air. Dad had a similar experience like this, ironically on the same exact flight, so I had a funny feeling there’d be some sort of compensation involved since he walked away with $250 after his ordeal. My suspicions were confirmed mid-flight when the captain made an announcement saying that everyone would have a choice of compensation due to the mechanical delay we experienced.
Once we landed, I filled out my ” customer appreciation request”, and I should hear back in a week or so about what options are offered for the delay. When this happened to Dad, he was offered a choice of a $250 United voucher, 10,000 bonus miles, or a 20% off coupon. If those are my options, I’ll definitely go with the $250 voucher.
On the plus side, even with the delay, I still got home earlier than if I would have stuck to my original connecting-flight itinerary. All in all, I was happy to have a nice quiet weekend away from rainy/foggy NJ. Hey, in the end, I even got to see something on me that I haven’t seen in a while – tan lines!
Quick Trip Notes:
- There is a mandatory tourist departure tax of $28 that is due at the airport before heading to the security check point.
- Average taxi fare from SJO to neighboring hotels is $18-$22
- To request a complimentary shuttle from the airport to the Country Inn & Suites in San Jose, you’ll have to send an email to the hotel prior to your arrival with your flight details.
- Sadly, there are no nearby beaches or else my bum would be there; getting to “la playa” from San Jose is about a 2-hour drive or short flight.
- Since Dad hates sun, pools, and sand (not to mention, he has more “funds” than I do), he had a different approach to this “mileage run” by participating in a fun volcano excursion and gambling in the casino. You can read about his trip in his blog post.
Now it’s bedtime – I’m only hours away from yet another crazy mileage run tomorrow morning to SNA!