“The Best Perk in Air Travel” – WSJ

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“The Best Perk in Air Travel,” said a headline in the Wall St. Journal on February 4, 2016, and I would have to agree…I love the Southwest Airline companion pass! It’s easy to get; just open a Chase SW credit card for 50K rapid rewards points and a business card for the same. You are on your way to the necessary 110K points needed to score a companion pass!

How does it work anyway? Your designated companion (and it can be changed three times) flies with you, paying only taxes/fees of about $11, for the year you get it and the year following. If you pay with points OR money, you pay no additional points/money for a companion. And I always book (sometimes even speculatively) when SW has sales because that is the best value for your points. Trips booked with points can always be cancelled and the points are immediately back in your account…it’s a win/win!

We went to Nashville for a long weekend, paying 26,821 points and about $22 for our round trip flights. It was the annual SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) national convention. This organization is based in Kirksville, MO. *

We stayed at the Sheraton Music City Hall, which is bookable with points, but not during this event, when every room is sold months in advance.DSC05333DSC05338

My husband plays music as a hobby and loves to “jam.”** And this was perfect for that! They played music in the lobby, the private rooms, every available space was used for jamming! And it was jam packed, pun intentional!DSC05337DSC05342DSC05374
DSC05341But we did tourist type things in Nashville also. We went to the Opryland Hotel and toured the gardens there. It’s one of the largest hotels in the world, has 17 restaurants, and the gardens are just spectacular…DSC05349DSC05350DSC05352DSC05353DSC05354DSC05359DSC05360DSC05361DSC05364DSC05366
One morning we went to Loveless Café for the fantastic biscuits. It’s on the outskirts of Nashville, but well worth a stop!DSC05378DSC05384DSC05389

Marathon Village is where the Marathon Motor Car was built in the early 1900’s; they built 10,000 a year in 1912, eventually going broke with bad business decisions. It has all kinds of shops, including the American Pickers. And of course, a band was playing!DSC05395DSC05396DSC05405DSC05403DSC05399DSC05413

You can’t go to Nashville without going to a music store, so Carter Vintage Guitars here we come! They had mandolins (my hubby’s instrument) one of which was priced at $190,000! Yes, there really are musical instruments that cost that much – this is Nashville (and they WERE in a glass case)!DSC05418DSC05421DSC05422DSC05429DSC05431

A huge mural on the wall, taken from a photo of Bill Monroe, the “father” of bluegrass music…DSC05426

Downtown beckoned and we hit the main street, stopping by the Ryman Auditorium, where they have the Grand Ole Opry in the winter. It was a great trip, with great music, made more awesome by the Grand Ole Companion Pass!DSC05442DSC05445DSC05450DSC05452DSC05438

And my best companion of all, my sweet husband of 38 years! DSC05371

* It’s pronounced SPIG –MA.
** Jamming is just people getting together to play music, unrehearsed!

Next up, Budapest…


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