Florence is well-served by both Star Alliance and SkyTeam. This opens up some options on the miles and points front for getting there. As promised, this will be the only portion of this series where we spend any time on points and miles. While we weren’t making decisions based on anything having to do with loyalty programs once we got to Italy, I did manage to drain most of my Membership Rewards stash to get us there. Quick links to the previous parts of this series are listed below, or read on to learn how to get to Florence on points and miles.
Getting to Florence on Points and Miles
Covering all of your points and miles options from all of the various gateway cities in the United States is probably a bit too much for one post, so let’s scope this down to how I started my planning. Hopefully the concepts apply to your point of departure and can be helpful in your own planning. Right off the bat, I knew that with a toddler, we might especially benefit from business class for a 7 hour overnight flight. I also knew that it was either cash or Membership Rewards points for this trip, since my Ultimate Rewards balance was below 200k. That was going to “cost” me anywhere between 240,000 and 375,000 miles/MR points, depending on the program, so it was time to go through my options and see what was realistic.
Boston is the closest major airport to home, so the first thing I did was determine the available routes to European hubs with onward service to Florence (FLR). This wording sounds overly complex, but I wrote it that way for a reason – it means that services to places like London Heathrow (LHR) was out, because onward service to FLR would require an airport change (LCY), and I was not going to do that with a groggy toddler coming off of an overnight flight. Here are the results:
As I learned after the fact, BOS-FCO service on Alitalia is suspended in February, so the direct flight to Rome with an easy train ride was out. The BOS-IST service on Turkish Airlines was also not yet in service and would require a serious backtrack.
Although our trip was over an American holiday week, President’s Day in February, award space was fairly good – especially so on the SkyTeam side. Lufthansa and Swiss were Star Alliance options through ZRH, MUC and FRA, or Air France and KLM were SkyTeam options through CDG and AMS. Without beating too much around the bush, it came down to 90,000 miles plus hefty fuel surcharges (well over $500) transferring miles to Aeroplan for tickets on Lufthansa or 100,000 miles and about $120 in taxes per ticket transferring to Delta for travel on Air France. This was prior to the June 2014 devaluation, so that same trip today would be 125,000 miles, but still without fuel surcharges.
Why “Old” Business Class is Better for Families
We chose Air France over KLM or Delta metal because Air France was still flying its “old” business class on the dates and times that we would be traveling. Yup, we specifically wanted the old product, angle-flat and all, because on those planes business class is in a 2-3-2 configuration and the seats are not ultra-private pods. As a family of 3 flying with a toddler, it meant that she could have her own bed in the sky, but we would not have to cross an aisle to be near her. I only have grainy, potat0-quality pictures of our actual cabin on the AF 777-200 aircraft, but I was able to find a good quality picture of the 777-300 business class cabin featuring the same seats and configuration.
On the 777-200, business class is split, with a front mini-cabin comprised of 3 rows behind first class. We chose the row 3 middle section, the bulkhead, and were very happy with the choice. There was nothing wrong with the business class cabin behind the galley, but it was larger and potentially louder. Plus, we figured service may start from the front, and we could therefore get her fed and asleep as quickly as possible. Even though it is an overnight flight, we are still talking 7 hours max, so we wanted a good shot at a full night of sleep.
For this trip, we opted to take a car service down to Boston. While we normally wouldn’t drop that kind of money on ground transportation, the parking costs for 9 days were going to add up. The few extra dollars we spent meant we were dropped off at the curb, close to check-in, with all of our stuff. If it’s cost-competitive with other options, I wholeheartedly endorse taking a car service to and from the airport – it’ll be written about more on the return, but not having to drive us home after the return trip was amazing.Next: Air France Flight 333 to Paris