We are in the U.S. right now. Yay, the U.S.! This time we came so we could attend my brother’s wedding in Michigan this upcoming weekend. This is my 6th trip to my homeland this year and Seba’s 4th. And we still have one more round to go.
Every. Single. Time. I get on a plane to come see my family I think of how incredibly lucky we are. I mean, really, it’s ridiculous. I see my mom and dad more than I would see them if I lived in the same city as they do. If we had a house around the corner, we’d come over and see them once a week for an hour at a time maybe? Not to mention that having a house around the corner is physically impossible since my mom lives in Michigan and my dad lives in Florida — no matter where we live, even if we were in the U.S., we’d still be a plane ride away from one of them.
I sometimes get a stray email here and there asking about which airlines they should take to Chile, or which frequent flier program is best if you live in Santiago. Honestly, I’m not an expert on that. There are so many other blogs out there about maximizing your miles that you should read if you’re into that thing — The Points Guy and the Frequent Flier Blog are two good ones, or you can join Travel Hacking where Chris does all the work for you.
For three of our trips to the U.S. this year we used miles. We originally had frequent flier status on Lan. I still prefer flying them. They’re far better than American Airlines, which uses old planes, has the most surly flight attendants, no personal console screens on international flights, and Lan almost always has on time flights where my experiences with American has been on delay after another and I even got stuck in Miami once because of them. I’ve had canceled flights with Lan too, where they didn’t even inform us until we got to the airport. So my honest to god opinion is that neither airline is great — do good airlines still exist these days?
However, for miles programs, we’ve now switched to American and have frequent flier status with them. Why would we do this when flying with them is simply not as nice compared to Lan’s shiny new planes, you ask? Because their frequent flier program is way better. Read an explanation on The Points Guy’s blog. He feels the same way I do — they’re not great in the air, but you can do a lot more with your miles through them than you can with a lot of other airlines.
Lan does not allow you to use your miles for one way trips and they have to be back and forth to the same city. This obviously doesn’t work well for us seeing as how we usually have to go to multiple cities in one trip, ie: Santiago to Paris to Washington D.C. to Miami to Santiago. You can’t use miles for that with Lan, you could only use miles to cash in for, Santiago to Paris, Paris to Santiago. Also, to use miles on Lan, the first leg of the flight must be a LanChile flight. Therefor, your miles are only good for routes going to or from South America, pretty much. It’s incredibly limiting. American is WAY more flexible with the ways you can use your miles and I also like that they have more availability for miles tickets too. On Lan, unless they’re running special deals it is SO hard to find availability to be able to use your miles. Finally, there are also more ways to accrue miles on America so it makes having a lot at your disposal, much easier.
So my answer to this question is that I think if you are based in Santiago, you should have buy through American in order to have the benefits of their frequent flier program, and try to get on their American (operated by Lan) flights, whenever possible.
Anyways, I hope that post answers the questions of those who have emailed me and is useful to the rest of you too!
I’m curious — are you loyal to your airline of choice or do you just go with whoever is most convenient/cheapest?