Mary Lou Retton is Making Me Want to Spend $2012

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I was three years old in 1984 when Mary Lou Retton scored perfect 10’s on the vault and floor exercise and went on to win the Olympic gold medal for the women’s all around title in gymnastics. From that moment on I was hooked – the Olympics were in my blood. I lived in my Mary Lou Retton leotard for years. Literally.  I think I got it for Christmas the day this picture was taken, and I virtually never took it off.


I don’t remember the 1988 Olympics as vividly, but I very much remember being eleven years old and watching the 1992 Olympics gymnastics team with Shannon Miller, Kerri Strug, Kim Zmeskal, Dominique Dawes, etc… I remember cutting out all of their pictures from the newspaper and magazines in order to make posters that covered the walls in my bedroom. I recorded their performances on TV and watched them until the tape went bad. I practiced back handsprings and flips on the trampoline for hours because of them. I even put a piece of wood in the backyard and pretended it was my balance beam.  In fact, one of the first trips I was heavily involved with planning with my family was to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. A year or so before the ’96 Olympics, I remember seeing a brochure to send away for tickets in a Coke display at the grocery store. I brought it home and lobbied hard for my dad to sent it away and see if we could get tickets. He did, and we went to the Olympics. That whole trip is a story for another post, but the point is that I love the Olympics – especially the summer Olympics.

Truthfully, I have been ignoring much of the coverage leading up to the events this year as I have just been too darn busy, but that won’t stop me from watching when the opening ceremonies begin at the end of July. Yesterday I researched hotel reward availability in London during the Olympics for a project I was working on. I was a little surprised to see that there are still many standard reward night options with virtually all major hotel chains. Naturally, that got my wheels turning a little. Then today, I receive an email from British Airways announcing a business class fare sale to London for $2012 (all in) during the Olympics.

Clearly that is a lot of money, but for Europe in the summer, in business class, during the Olympics, it actually doesn’t sound that bad. You can knock 10% off if you have the Chase British Airways card, and presumably you can also go through TopCashBack to get a couple percent back. I can’t say for sure that all these discounts work in harmony, as I have never tried them, but in theory they exist. That brings the tickets to around $1800 each. They would earn me just shy of 15,000 Avios points (at 150% for I class tickets), so assuming you value Avios points at around 1.25 cents each (and I actually usually redeem them for much more than that) that is $187 in value from the points I would earn. That drops the real cost even a bit lower. However, at the end of the day, that is still more money than I have lying around in my change drawer. Actually, I don’t even have a change drawer – darn.

Getting there also wouldn’t solve the problem of not having tickets to the events. I am sure that some tickets could be obtained for a price, but that price would be quite substantial. However, that doesn’t stop me from thinking back to the days when I was a kid and watching the women’s gymnastics team compete. Miles, points, and travel dollars can be used for lots of great things, but using them to fulfill childhood dreams is a pretty fantastic use in my book. I would love to go see the events in person, so I will just sit with this daydream for a bit longer……….

Anyone else daydreaming about a trip they know they won’t be able to take?  Better yet, anyone have the “spare change” laying around to jump in on this sale?

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  1. I said this on twitter, but OMG, I want to go too! I’m watching swimming Olympic Trials on TV this week (check it out! NBC Sports shows the prelims from 6:30 – 8, and the finals are on NBC from 8-9 pm, all times Eastern) and I’m getting antsy pants.

    Too bad I don’t have the time (I’m already taking a 9 day Europe trip in July) nor the money (though we paid $1500 for coach to Germany, ouch).

    • @Lindsay, the prelims are great! No doubt this is a ton of cash, but your example is correct in that coach fares aren’t much less this summer to much of Europe. Ahhhh, where is that pot of gold?!

  2. I have the same happy memories of Mary Lou Retton – I was four that summer and my mom immediately had to enroll me in gymnastics class because she was afraid I was going to break my neck doing flips off our couch on my own. I won’t be able to make it to London, but I’ll definitely join you in daydreaming and set my DVR to get all the gymnastics action.

  3. *insert Olympic theme music* YES! I love the Olympics too! I have been to the Olympics in Barcelona, Lillehammer, Atlanta and I am going to London… I even managed to score tickets to “Artistic Gymanstics on July 28th”. Mommypoints, you will be there with me in spirit… I’ve been planning this for a long time. Used FF miles for a first class flight and points for the hotel. I’m happy to pick you up an Olympic T shirt or whatever you want! TIckets to some events are still available at You have to sign up for an account and search for events.

    • @Whiskarina, jealous! 😉 That is awesome though! I looked on there today, holy moley tickets were expensive. Then again, what do you expect for the Olympics?! Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures next time our paths cross!

  4. Hotel prices will be a deal killer too. I’m waiting for a reply from my London friends whether we can stay at their house. If they are not fully booked yet then I think I can convince my wife to leave the kids and hit London for a few days! I loved Club World with the kids, it should be even more awesome without them 😉

  5. Nice post, MP. I was daydreaming, too, and then TravelWhimsy woke me up! If you find more than one piggy bank to rob, don’t forget to share with the rest of us :D.

    Your post made me nostalgic. I carried the torch in Buffalo for the 1996 Games. My first trip to the US – a trip that obviously changed the course of my life (I was taken off the college wait list because of that honor).

    In any case, we’d be better off watching the games on TV in our comfortable air-conditioned homes!

  6. @maximizer, there is still standard reward availability (including with Club Carlson!) to be had, so the hotel prices would be a non-issue for me. That is so awesome you may take advantage of this!!
    @Jimmy, that is awesome that you carried the torch. Very cool!

  7. Nice memories. I too love the Olympics but can’t swing the cost or time off right now.

    I think the 15000 Avios are worth more than $187 though. That’s enough for a coach round trip over many short haul distances and those tickets aren’t that cheap much of the time.

    I bet there are still some tickets available for less popular events but the main ones will be hard to get into.

  8. @Seth, I’m sure opening weekend was great!
    @Dan, I think 15,000 Avios is worth way more than that as well. I have been redeeming them domestically for 3-4 cents each – I was just being super conservative.
    @Blaine, I know! (though technically I have already been, so I guess that would be at least twice in a lifetime….) Truly though, that is what is messing with my head. No guarantees I would be able to go in 4 years.

  9. Set up a “sponsored” blog post perhaps? I’d love to read a story about flying BA business to see the Olympics – I’d “subscribe” to that and throw a few bucks in the hat, and I bet other readers would too. Like your own little Kickstarter project. Who else is in?

  10. Although I’m returning from a business trip to London on July 18 I just booked with ba again to fly out and catch some of the Olympics in my home country. I’m sure the opening ceremony is going to be stunning too but I can’t make it for that.

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