Confession: I hate paying cash for airline tickets. Now that my family has been playing the miles and points game for several years, I rarely spend actual out-of-pocket money on flights. And I hope to keep it that way.
However, it’s getting harder and harder to accomplish that with our domestic flights. Since I am over 5/24 and can’t get most Chase cards, my stockpile of Southwest Rapid Rewards points has seriously dwindled. And that was our go-to currency for flights to Denver and Florida.
Somehow, I still managed to get 7 round-trip tickets to Florida this summer on points. Woohoo!
The Dallas Two-Airport Dilemma
Wait, did I say 7 round-trip tickets?
The kids and I are flying round-trip once (4 round-trip tickets). My husband is flying to the condo for a long weekend, and again for a full week (2 round-trip tickets). We also used points to fly my sister there from Indiana (1 round-trip).
My biggest challenge in all of this was deciding which points to use and which Dallas airport to use. Southwest flies out of Dallas Love Field (DAL), and most other airlines fly out of DFW Airport.
On past trips, my family has flown out of one airport and back to the other airport using multiple airlines. On such occasions, we have to take an airport shuttle or Uber to and from the airports. For longer trips, the price difference between parking at one airport vs. taking an Uber to one and from another is negligible. However, for shorter trips, the answer is not so clear cut.
Since the kids and I will be gone for 3 ½ weeks, airport parking doesn’t make sense anyway. Taking an Uber both ways will be cheaper. So we don’t have to fly in and out of the same airport for this trip.
For my husband’s short weekend trip, we had to weigh the cost in points of flying two different airlines vs. saving money on transportation to/from the airports. And for his final flight, it would be nice if we all flew back into Dallas to the same airport so that we could ride home together instead of spending money on two different Uber rides.
Using a Potpourri of Miles and Points for Summer Flights
To start, I monitored the cash price on all airlines from Dallas to Orlando. Since my husband has some Chase Ultimate Rewards points through his Chase Sapphire Reserve card, we could book flights through the Chase portal at 1.5 cents per point.
For me and the kids to fly to Florida, Spirit had the best price. Flights were only $73 each one-way, or about 4867 points through the Chase portal. I did pay extra for one checked bag and some assigned seats. But I used my Capital One Venture Rewards card to pay for those separately, and I erased the charges with points.
For our return trip, the best option was Southwest Airlines for $100/ticket. Ideally, we needed to include my husband on this flight with us. I purchased the tickets with my U.S. Bank FlexPerks card, and then used the Real-Time Mobile Rewards to erase the cost of the flights at 1.5 cents per point.
My sister’s flights were easy. I booked her straight through to the Daytona Beach airport using reward points from the Capital One Venture Rewards card.
I still needed to get my husband’s flight to Florida for the weekend before July 4th, ideally on Southwest so we could avoid the Dallas airport transportation issue. Flight prices were horrible for his departure date, but I had a $200 Southwest gift card that covered most of the cost.
Lastly, I just had to book my husband’s flights for a long weekend. And prices weren’t looking good, either. I remembered that I had some extra Southwest points after trading Leana Marriott points for Southwest points. Those points were enough for a one-way ticket, and we were able to scrape up enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the other one-way ticket for that weekend.
Covering our Next Trip
Using a mix of miles and points for one trip isn’t always straight-forward. But, having diversity in your miles and points stash is key. And flexible points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Capital One Venture Rewards points and FlexPoints, are very valuable.
I have to repeat this process all over again soon, as we have plans to return to Florida in January. By then, we will have accumulated more Chase Ultimate Rewards points through my husband’s CSR from his work trips. We still have my husband’s points from his US Bank FlexPerks card, and we may have some extra Avianca LifeMiles that we could use for United flights.
It’s good to have options. Plus, flights should be less expensive in January than they were for this summer at peak travel times.
Follow Me in Florida!
We leave for our Florida trip TODAY. We will be gone for 25 days. Yikes! You can read all about our plans in Daytona Beach Shores here.
We added a few days at Disney World to the front end of our trip. My daughter and I are excited for the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast, and all of us are excited about the lazy river at our hotel and going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.