In Search of Cider, Pizza, and Poutine: Our Summer Travel Hacks

In Search of Cider, Pizza, and Poutine: Our Summer Travel Hacks

We were able to score the following flights for super cheap this summer (with first class tickets roundtrip on the PHX-SEA portion):

Image generated with Great Circle Mapper

In case you can’t see that image, our summer will include flights between FLG, PHX, ORD, YVR, and SEA – basically a giant triangle around the U.S. mainland with a little taste of British Columbia thrown in.

FLG is our home airport. It’s a tiny airport servicing exactly three other cities with tiny planes that can’t fly in strong winds or big storms – which is why we often just make the drive to PHX. On the bright side, American Air doesn’t charge extra (dollars or points/miles) for our little hometown connector flight when we book longer itineraries through the AA website.

As of this summer, we’re a legit party of 4. After taking 27 flights (not a typo) as a “lap baby” before his 2nd birthday, Baby J now gets his own full-priced seat.

two kids looking at a parked plane
Baby J getting ready to board his 27th and final flight as a “lap baby” – at 21 months old!

Our Summer Flights

The journey will start with all 4 of us flying together to Phoenix, at which point our 13 year-old will jet off to Chicago on Southwest to spend a couple weeks with his grandparents.

We’ll be taking Baby J up to Seattle on American Air to spend the same couple of weeks with some of our best friends.

Our teen will do his first unaccompanied international flight on Canada Air (we’ll let you know how that goes) to meet us in Vancouver for a few days. We’ll all fly home together with Alaska/American.

The Costs

These flights only cost us $211.72 total out of pocket ($52.93 per person). Those charges were mostly the taxes and fees for the international flights ($45.00 per person).

The rest was covered by approximately:

  • ~15,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles (Phoenix to Chicago)
  • ~26,000 Capitol One points (Chicago to Vancouver) and
  • ~140,000 American Air miles for everything else (including the first-class seats for all of us Phoenix to Seattle and back).

Were These Good Redemptions???

In the travel-hacking world people get really worked up really quickly about whether a certain redemption is good enough. The hacking gurus would likely be horrified that we used that many AA miles for domestic first class, because those suckers can be used for fancy things like the Japan Airlines SkySuite or a first class ticket to London.

But here’s the thing: we have plenty of miles and points, and they’re not super hard to come by (this is one of the fringe benefits of owning a high-overhead business). We just did the BA first class to Europe thing, and we don’t want to go to Asia right now. We want to go see our friends in Seattle and Vancouver, and our teen wants to see his grandparents in Chicago.

Free travel is free travel. If you can get somewhere you want to go on points or miles this summer, I say go for it! Let’s not get hung up on whether we could have saved a fraction of a cent more per mile or whether we could have used those same points for a Qatar Qsuite to Bengaluru.

If you’re displeased with my point redemptions this summer, you’ll be happy to know I helped my little bro hack his way from PHX to SCQ with less than two weeks’ notice for a measly $57.01 and a few UR points. #crushinit

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