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.
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.
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.