How I Used This Airline Policy for a Free Mini-Trip to San Francisco
Last year, I transferred 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air for a round-trip coach flight to Hawaii from Cincinnati.
25,000 miles to Hawaii and back is an incredible value. The same flight would have easily cost me $750+.
But that’s not the only reason Korean Air is such a fabulous Chase Ultimate Rewards partner. They also give you the option to schedule a stopover on the way to your destination. A stopover is visiting another city for 24+ hours. So, for example, you could schedule a week-long stopover in a city along your route!
I scheduled a stopover in San Francisco and spent a day and a half exploring the city. I was able to knock off a bucket list item, and revisit locations I remembered as a child. At no extra cost in airfare!
Making the Most of a San Francisco Stopover
San Francisco is probably my favorite US city. I rarely have a chance to visit, so I had plenty to accomplish during my free stopover. Here were my 4 objectives:
1. Find the Best Sourdough in the US
Tartine Bakery is the #1 bakery in the US. And I’d read that they have a sourdough to end all sourdoughs. Acquiring a loaf of sourdough bread was the main objective of my stopover.
I rented a cheap car and punched the address for Tartine Bakery into my GPS. I remember first spotting the bakery, because it had no sign out front. It’s one of those places that’s so successful, it doesn’t need to introduce itself. The 30-foot queue out the door is advertisement enough.
I parked a few blocks away and ran to join the line. I spent (I think) ~$10 on a loaf of sourdough, and it actually was the best I’ve ever had. It was heavy and moist and sticky and almost too sour. AMAZING.
2. Revisit a Childhood Memory
Several of my family members once lived San Mateo, California. So I have lots of memories of visiting them as a child.
I remembered a seafood market my aunt had taken me to, but I could NOT remember the name or exact location. All I could remember is that it was near the city of Pacifica, and it had a wooden sculpture of a fisherman in a yellow raincoat.
I drove along the coast for probably an hour looking for the place, often pulling over to jump out of the car and look for the wooden sculpture.
I finally found the place, Princeton Seafood Company in Half Moon Bay. But I had become so anxious and excited to find it that the food was a bit of a letdown. It couldn’t live up to the memories I had manufactured.
I drove a few minutes north to Montara to watch the sunset on a pretty beach. We don’t have ocean sunsets in Ohio, so I try to get my fix whenever I can.
3. Drive Across the Bay Bridge
I think the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge is much prettier than the Golden Gate, especially at night. It may not be quite the “marvel of engineering” that is the Golden Gate. But it’s stunning at night, and it’s much longer, so you’ll get more bang for your toll money.
I drove from San Francisco into Oakland just to enjoy the Bay Bridge.
4. Use My Chase Marriott Annual Free Night
I headed from Oakland down to San Jose for the night. I used the annual free night that comes with my Chase Marriott Card to reserve a room at the Courtyard by Marriott San Jose Campbell. Nights here cost $180+, so I received an excellent value for paying the card’s annual fee.
The hotel was nothing fancy. It was perfect for a quick night.
The next morning, I drove back to San Francisco to wait for my late afternoon flight to Maui. I still had half a loaf of sourdough, so I killed time at a nearby bench on the waterfront, throwing the remains to a bunch of seagulls.
You Can Do It, Too
Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Preferred
If you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn to valuable travel partners, like Korean Air!
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred currently comes with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s enough for 2 round-trip flights to Hawaii with a free stopover in a fun city like San Francisco or Los Angeles!
Note: You’ll need patience and flexibility when you book a Delta flight on Korean Air. It can take a while to find available dates! You can read more about how to schedule a stopover with Korean Air miles here.
I scheduled a free stopover in San Francisco on my way to Hawaii. I spent a day and a half in the city, visiting areas I remember as a kid and tracking down the best sourdough in the US from the Tartine Bakery! I was having tons of fun before I even reached my final destination!
Scheduling a stopover was much cheaper than a dedicated trip to San Francisco. And because I used the annual free night that comes with my Chase Marriott Card to pay for my hotel stay, this mini-trip only cost me ~$50 for my rental car.