I finally got my travel confirmation from smarTours for the trip to China in July. I'm now struggling with how to book my flight to San Francisco. Going out won't be a problem, obviously, since I'm planning to go out on Friday, spend the weekend, and then leave for China on Tuesday. However, we're supposed to get back to San Francisco around 12:30 on the 25th and I'm not sure how to book my trip home from there. I'm guessing that I'll have to go through customs and collect my luggage at SFO and I have no idea how long that will take. I'm leaning toward booking a hotel near SFO for that night and flying home the next morning.
The flights are in the $500 range right now (flying from Appleton or Green Bay) and I'd like to see it come down a bit. The mileage is around 3100 miles roundtrip, plus the 1000 miles earned from GB to MSP so the trade-off isn't quite right. To even out, a $500 ticket should be earning more than 5000 miles to make it worthwhile. So, I'll keep an eye on it for a while. Jeff's ticket will be paid by Boldt because he's going to stay in California for business for a couple more days after we leave.
Then, there's the whole travel visa thing that needs to be accomplished. This travel agent is recommending working through CIBT if I don't want to just drive down to Chicago and visit the Chinese Consulate myself. There is a certain allure to the whole idea of trying to get the visa myself but I understand that it takes 4 days so I'd either have to stay in the city the whole time or go back a second time. If I could link it to a festival or something in Chicago this summer.......
After doing some reading, it looks like I'll receive the information I need for the visa 50 days prior to leaving (around Memorial Day), so there's no rush I guess. In the meantime, though, I'll need to have new passport photos taken and I can get those free through AAA.
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So, I decided to check flight prices today as I hadn't looked in a few days. Turns out that I could get a morning flight out of Appleton to SFO RT for $450 -- so I booked it. I remember coming back from England and how tired I was so the idea of flying into Milwaukee and driving home just didn't appeal to me. I'll stay in San Francisco Thursday night and fly home on Friday -- getting back around 5. Seat assignments were ok and it prompted me to look at the trip information that I got from the tour company. Turns out that Air China does not do advance seat assignments -- those are taken care of when you check in at the airport. I'll probably end up with a middle seat for the entire 12 hour flight to China.