I wouldn’t continue this saga, and bore you with this tale — except that I learned yet another very valuable lesson about travel hacking.  So I thought I’d share.

After calling U.S. Air multiple times to try and find a return flight from Spain, using my purchased frequent flyer miles, I got lucky and was connected with an agent who sympathized and spent a good 15 minutes searching for different combinations of flights to get me home.  She was quite a trooper, and finally was able to put together this return:

Barcelona

Frankfurt

Newark

Chicago

Denver

I kid you not.  And here’s the kicker — it was more miles than we paid for my husband’s flight, so I didn’t have enough miles in my account, and would have to pay an additional $250 for the difference in points, plus $155 in taxes.  I know, I know, at this point you’re thinking “What the HELL were you doing?”  Trust me, I’m a scenario person.  I’d worked it all out, seven ways to Sunday. And this option still made more sense than dropping another $1,000 to start over.  Anyway, I said “Well, it is what it is.  Let’s book it.”  But, THANK GOODNESS, the super-agent said “You know, I really think that you should wait.  Because of the weekend, I can put this on hold and you’ll have 3 more days before this expires.  Call back a couple of times and maybe something better will come open.”

So I waited.  And then last night, just a mere 3 hours before the reservation was due to expire I suddenly went “OH S#^*! I almost forgot to call the airline!”  I raced for the phone.  And sat on hold for 10 min.  Then a really cheery woman came on the line and after gasping in horror at the routing I was booked on, said she’d see what she could find.  Then she came back on the line and said excitedly “I found something, I found something!  I’ll be right back!”  So I held my breath.  When she came back she said “How would you like to go Barcelona to Frankfurt and then Frankfurt direct to Denver?”  Are you KIDDING ME?  I nearly went through the phone line and kissed her.

Oh, but it gets better.  Because of the delay in booking, the bonus points I thought wouldn’t post for another 2 weeks suddenly showed up in my account.  So those extra 2 days of waiting also saved me $250.  And it also saved a teensy bit in the taxes because there weren’t so many flights.

And the moral of this story, kids, is stay on top of it, and be patient.  There is a travel Santa Clause — you just have to believe (and get lucky).