Santiago to Sydney for a family of 5
As our wanderlust continues to meld with our work/travel/training lifestyle we found ourselves at an impasse last fall. We love Australia; for us its a perfect continent. I can work and train at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium
(the home of the 2000 Olympic Games) which is a fantastic venue for both work and slalom kayak training.
The wife and kids LOVE the country as we are close to the beach and its a very outdoorsy place similar to our home in Idaho. We also love Chile. We work there teaching kayaking
from Christmas till the end of February. This year we combined them into what we are calling the “Triangle of Awesome” with the addition of a flight from Santiago to Sydney.
A great way to avoid winter!
The flights to Chile are covered from work and based off the way we fly it costs the same to fly home from Chile as it does from Australia. So getting down and back was covered, we just needed to figure out how to get from Santiago to Sydney. A few quick searches yielded one way plane tickets in excess of $1200 per person which is WAY out of our budget.
So we moved onto points-
Latam is the main flight provider with LA801 which goes from Santiago (SCL) to Auckland (AKL) then onto Sydney (SYD). Checking on milage charts it would be a spendy flight with Latam miles (169k per person) as they only book roundtrip tickets. Moving on to American Airlines we checked but availability was impossible to find. Then we tried British Airway Avios- and we had a winner! They had bookable flights with an interesting twist. The AKL-SYD redemption charts for business class (with lie flat seats on an Boeing 787-9) for 10k miles MORE than the coach fare. We did not quite have enough miles to book the whole family in business (plus we don’t want to spoil the children anymore than they already are) so we split the family into 2 groups (My wife with 2 kids and myself with 1 child) and booked the group of 2 in business for the ALK-SYD leg and the rest in coach. So our itinerary looked like this
SCL-AKL 12 hours flight time – whole family in coach
AKL-SYD 4 hours flight time – 2 in business and 3 in coach
The plan was for my wife and I to sit in business and leave the kids in coach. We were worried they wouldn’t allow it as some carriers do not allow parents to split cabin from their kids if the kids are under 15, but not only was the flight staff ok with it, one of the flight attendant let us know she would keep a special eye on the kids and let us know if we were needed. Keep in mind this is the 1st time we have split cabins with our kids and only just now feel comfortable enough with their travel skills to leave them in a cabin by themselves. To further eleviate the split we sat in the last row of business class and put them in the first row of coach. Our kids have each traveled over 75,000 miles over the last 2 years so we decided they were ok in a separate cabin.
When we told our youngest he was in a different cabin, he went to the wrong one! (kidding, he did get a great tour after the flight and was able to meet our captain)
Using our British Avios (which we transferred in from our Amex Membership rewards) the total costs were:
40k Avios for the coach tickets (3)
50k Avios for the coach/business tickets (2)
Total Avios spent: 220k
Total cost in taxes fees etc: $275 USD
The tickets we found on the same date would of costs just over $6000 so we got a value of just about .03 cents per point which is a redemption we were happy with.
A beautiful landing on Latam LA801 in Auckland!
How I used AAVacations.com for a free car rental!
Recently I began the process of price shopping for an upcoming trip to Europe for some kayak racing. Typically I can find flights from my home airport to most places in Europe for around $1200-1600 USD depending on the dates. During my travels I have to rent a car as public transport is quite challenging with a 12 foot kayak to lug about. Barcelona typically has some of the cheapest per day rental cars in Europe and luckily BCN was my destination for this trip.
After the initial salvo of searches I found a few flights on my preferred airline (American) and others (United and Delta) all at the $1450 range which I was happy with as I had little flexibility on the dates or timing of the trip. Before I finalized my booking I made a quick stop at AAvacations.com
to see if I could save some extra money on my rental car by combining them.
Using the exact same dates on the exact same flights I was able to find my same itinerary on American Airlines which included a rental car from Avis for $1240! Not only did I save over $200 I also got a free car rental! I wanted to see if this was something specific to my dates and city pairs so I tried a few other searches and was able to find more flights combos that get a free car rental.
These all have the following dates: April 14-May 1
AAVactations – $1288.94 with car
AA.com flight only – $1420
Kayak.com rental car – $128 with GoldCar (which requires $1000 deposit to rent without additional insurance payments)
AAVacations – $1174.30 with car
AA.com flight only – $646
Kayak.com rental car – $231
AAVacations – $1087 with car
Google Flights – $810 on both AA and Delta
Kayak.com Rental Car – $408 with Europcar
AAVacations – $1256 with car
Google Flights – $1448 (there were cheaper flights but on discount carriers (WOW and Iceland Air) which I can’t fly because of my oversized luggage.
Kayak.com Rental Car – $444 with Thrifty (which requires you to purchase additional insurance)
On the average it seems save money depending on where you fly, it only takes a few minutes, and you can save quite a bit of money and get a free car rental!
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Recently during a trip across the US we had the opportunity to explore the airport in Phoenix (PHX) as we ended up with a much larger layover than originally expected. Since we typically we spend our time in the Admirals Club in PHX (as a benifit from the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card) we decided to explore a new lounge to post a review for those with out Admirals access. We chose The Club at PHX.
If you find yourself in PHX with a Priority Pass you should head over to the end of terminal 4 and The Club at PHX.
Head over to terminal 4!
Size: There are two connected room areas with seating around tables as well as couches and chairs. One room has great windows with views of the tarmac and runways. The other room has no windows and subdued lighting. I would image this lounge could fill up pretty quick! We spent time from about 10am-1pm and during the lunch hour it got to about 75% capacity.
The food offerings were basic for the breakfast hours (the began to swap out for lunch around 11am) with toast, cereal, and fruit. Once the lunch came out there were more options with 2 types of pasta, hummus, pita bread, ect
We did not have much interaction with the staff but the front desk staff was friendly as we came in and the service during our stay was on par with most of the better lounges. There were attentive to clear away dishes and kept the food well stocked.
Most of the seating was tables and chairs, in the smaller room there were a few couches, but I could see those filling up quite quickly.
Sparse- we had to move a few times to be able to have access to an electrical outlet, of which there was only 1 working plug.
N/A there was no dedicated kids space, but in the smaller room in the corners there was a few areas of open space you could let the kiddos spread out between wingback chairs. Especially if you had toddlers or babies you could lay out toddler town between the chairs.
Overall it was a solid club, but to be honest if I was in PHX I would likely go to an Admirals Club instead. But if you only have access to Priority Pass lounges (via Amex Platinum or Chase Reserve) then its a great option.