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Help thinking through trip to Santiago

Help thinking through trip to Santiago

Old Oct 3, 16, 6:40 pm
  #1  
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Smile Help thinking through trip to Santiago

Hi all,

We're headed to Santiago for a conference Jan 3-6, 2017, and I'm starting to try to figure out the best way to go and need some expert guidance!

About us:
- husband has silver or gold status on United
- we have a fair number of United miles (85k for me and about 30k for husband)
- we have a fair number of Chase Sapphire Rewards miles (about 170k points there)
- we strongly prefer to fly business (who doesn't) but would like to do with with saver points. Or could buy an inexpensive biz class ticket.

This trip is spurred by a work event for me, but we're hoping to make it a bit of pleasure, too. Especially since we won't be bringing out kids!

Anyway, I started to look at United's award search, and there isn't much that for saver that isn't 24+ hours with 2 or more stops.

If I search to just buy tickets, how can I understand what airlines are better? Especially weighing a nicer economy or economy premium vs. a less expensive biz class? We just flew biz class to Asia on Singapore Air and returned on Asiana and what a world of difference!!!! Just want to make sure if we end up with that kind of difference, we do so knowingly.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated and we begin to hunt.

Thanks!!
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Old Oct 4, 16, 1:25 pm
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It's going to be a challenge because January isn't very far ahead, and you seem limited to using United miles. My first choice would be AA miles, which are good on LATAM.
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Old Oct 4, 16, 1:31 pm
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I know. It took forever for my employer to approve the travel, and I didn't want to book anything before then (I'm rather risk averse!).

I wonder if can transfer the Chase Sapphire Miles to AA. We have also been thinking about opening the new Chase Sapphire Reserve or whatever that has the 100k miles bonus, but that wouldn't really post in time...
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Old Oct 5, 16, 7:43 am
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Hi, i donīt know so much about millage, but i live in Santiago, if you need to know something, let me know.

January is a very hot month
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Old Oct 5, 16, 3:38 pm
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Where are you originating? That may also inform the decision depending on availability of flights/connections...
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Old Oct 10, 16, 2:25 pm
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Check award availability in nearby cities

If time allows, you may want to consider adding Buenos Aires and/or Montevideo to your trip, especially if there's better award availability. The cash price for a one-way ticket between those cities and Santiago is only about $100.

I used a transfer of Ultimate Rewards to United in order to book an open-jaw itinerary to South America--flying into Santiago, and returning from Montevideo with a stopover in Panama City. I'll close the jaw with the cheap flight to Buenos Aires, and after a few days there, a $50 ferry/bus trip to Montevideo.

For what it's worth, the open jaw only cost me 60K points for an economy seat, though that was before the new stopover rule took effect on October 6th.

One last thing...I found that the 1.5X Ultimate Rewards redemption value via the travel portal and the Sapphire Reserve card *really* helps with hotel booking; I was able to find well-rated, centrally-located properties in Buenos Aires in the 4,000 - 5,000 points per night range.

Last edited by sirrebral; Oct 10, 16 at 2:27 pm Reason: clarification
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Old Oct 12, 16, 10:29 am
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We're originating from the SF Bay Area, so likely SFO, but are flexible and could fly out of any Bay Area airport or even Sacramento.

It'd be great to add on to our trip, but since we're hoping to travel without our kids, we probably only have a week of my parents' willingness to watch the boys...
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Old Oct 12, 16, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by Evelyn Williams View Post
Hi, i donīt know so much about millage, but i live in Santiago, if you need to know something, let me know.

January is a very hot month
We've been debating visiting Easter Island while we're down there. Do you think that's too much for only a week? I have 3 days where I have to be in Santiago but am flexible the rest of the week... Alternatively, I've mapped out a glacier hike, wine tasting, and horseback riding as activities for the 3 non-conference days. We love wine and a glacier hike sounds pretty awesome. I like horseback riding, but my husband doesn't.

What do you think?
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Old Oct 26, 16, 12:03 pm
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Originally Posted by pinkhighlighter View Post
We've been debating visiting Easter Island while we're down there. Do you think that's too much for only a week? I have 3 days where I have to be in Santiago but am flexible the rest of the week... Alternatively, I've mapped out a glacier hike, wine tasting, and horseback riding as activities for the 3 non-conference days. We love wine and a glacier hike sounds pretty awesome. I like horseback riding, but my husband doesn't.

What do you think?
I think Easter Island is too much. However, if you don't have your heart set on riding a horse, I'd suggest replacing that with a day in Valparaiso. It's an easy two-hour (if memory serves; might be less) bus ride from downtown Santiago. Take the cable cars up the hill, check out the street art, tour the harbor by boat ... Nearby Viņa del Mar, with its casino, is also nice to visit. The two are connected by fast light rail as well as frequent, and less expensive but also less comfortable, buses.
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Old Oct 26, 16, 1:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
I think Easter Island is too much. However, if you don't have your heart set on riding a horse, I'd suggest replacing that with a day in Valparaiso. It's an easy two-hour (if memory serves; might be less) bus ride from downtown Santiago. Take the cable cars up the hill, check out the street art, tour the harbor by boat ... Nearby Viņa del Mar, with its casino, is also nice to visit. The two are connected by fast light rail as well as frequent, and less expensive but also less comfortable, buses.
Valparaiso sounds great. W could even fly there (is there a separate airport) and spend a day or two there and then head to Santiago for the rest of the week and fly out from there. What do you think of that?

And then it looks like we could visit wine country on our way from Valparaiso to Santiago?
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Old Oct 26, 16, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by pinkhighlighter View Post
Valparaiso sounds great. W could even fly there (is there a separate airport) and spend a day or two there and then head to Santiago for the rest of the week and fly out from there. What do you think of that?

And then it looks like we could visit wine country on our way from Valparaiso to Santiago?
Valpo doesn't have a commercial airport. It is only about 90 minutes west of SCL. A couple of nights in the Viņa/Valpo area is nice. Look for lodging in Viņa del Mar, not Valparaiso. Particularly safer at night, and you do not want to drive in Valparaiso, except to park near the main square. Note that it is peak summer vacation season there. Also note that the typical summer forecast there is "late night and early morning low clouds, clearing in the afternoon, hot inland." You should be familiar with that, so pack accordingly.
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Old Oct 26, 16, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
Valpo doesn't have a commercial airport. It is only about 90 minutes west of SCL. A couple of nights in the Viņa/Valpo area is nice. Look for lodging in Viņa del Mar, not Valparaiso. Particularly safer at night, and you do not want to drive in Valparaiso, except to park near the main square. Note that it is peak summer vacation season there. Also note that the typical summer forecast there is "late night and early morning low clouds, clearing in the afternoon, hot inland." You should be familiar with that, so pack accordingly.
Ah, OK. That simplifies things.

Any recs on wine tasting? Should we do it as a day trip from Santiago or Valpo? Or spend a night there? Great food and wine are probably some of our top priorities for the trip. I've read about Chile's many wine regions and it sounds like Valle de Cachapoal has the best wines??? We love all wine varietals.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by pinkhighlighter View Post
Ah, OK. That simplifies things.

Any recs on wine tasting? Should we do it as a day trip from Santiago or Valpo? Or spend a night there? Great food and wine are probably some of our top priorities for the trip. I've read about Chile's many wine regions and it sounds like Valle de Cachapoal has the best wines??? We love all wine varietals.
I can't help you with winery visits, despite my 30-some visits to the country. Note that it isn't going to be a "drop in and taste" experience in most places, like you might expect in the USA. I've only been inside one winery in Chile, and it was a tiny little place in the Valle de Elqui.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by pinkhighlighter View Post
Ah, OK. That simplifies things.

Any recs on wine tasting? Should we do it as a day trip from Santiago or Valpo? Or spend a night there? Great food and wine are probably some of our top priorities for the trip. I've read about Chile's many wine regions and it sounds like Valle de Cachapoal has the best wines??? We love all wine varietals.
Can't vouch for any of the listed tours but worth a look:
https://www.viator.com/Chile/d80-allthingstodo
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Old Oct 27, 16, 12:12 pm
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When I first visited Valparaiso a few years ago, I did it on a tour where we stopped at a few wineries along the way. Not sure if that's the best or most appropriate way to do it, but it was included.

That said, it's easy to get to Valpo on your own by bus from Santiago, which I did with my partner last year. We then picked up a great walking tour in town - much better than my private guided tour from a few years ago.

If you can swing it, I'm more partial to Argentine wine and Mendoza, the heart of the Argentine wine industry, is only 90mi away as the crow flies (so long as that crow is able to fly 23,000' above the Andes). It's a 40-min flight if that somehow fits into your schedule. I've always wanted to try the bus ride over the Andes, which I've heard is breathtaking.

ETA: Just noticed the bus thread for Santiago/Mendoza is at the top of the Argentina forum: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/argen...argentina.html
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