We got invited to friends summer wedding in Tuscany, Italy. So we set-up our summer vacation around that event. But we needed to book our tickets to Italy fast. Prices were already high back in February and reward tickets were not an option.

Choosing the right itinerary 

The wedding is taking place 1h south of the city of Pisa. There are a few airports to land to: Pisa (PIS), Florence (FLR) and Rome (FCO).

I didn’t want to land in Rome (FCO) and drive 3-4h to Pisa with two small children. Besides, FCO is over-crowded and the idea of driving back to fly-out was a total turn-off. Airfares were high: they averaged $3,800-$4,000 to either Florence (FLR) or Pisa (PIS). The best and most frequent options were with Skyteam. Another total turn-off.

The only airport that made sense was Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport (PSA). Surprisingly, it was served by more airlines than Florence.

Therefore I took a closer look to British Airways. It has 2 daily flights to Pisa (PSA) from Heathrow (LHR). I checked pricing for a Montreal-Pisa return. Again, it hovered at around $3,900. Even with my RBC British Airways Visa 10% discount I thought I could pay less. So I split the itinerary in two:

Booking 1: Outbound flight (1): YUL-LHR – Inbound flight: PSA-LHR-YUL;
Booking 2: Outbound flight (1): LHR-PSA.

Total itinerary cost & savings

Let’s put price tags on the chose itineraries:

Booking 1: Outbound flight (1): YUL-LHR – Inbound flight: PSA-LHR-YUL;
Booking 2: Outbound flight (1): LHR-PSA.

Booking 1 is a paid ticket for 2 adults, 1 four-year old child and a baby (sitting on lap). Total cost was $2,769.36. It includes the RBC British Airways Visa 10% discount. Therefore  $279,94 in savings.

Booking 2 is a reward booking. I used 46,500 Avios on (4) Club Europe tickets. To that I paid $131 in fees and charges. The grand total for our Italian airfare is $2,900.63. We did shave off close to $1,000 form the cost of airfare. That’s money we will use entirely for the car rental, our hotel stay in Turin and the wedding hotel.


As you can see, it is possible to mix paid and reward ticket to lower the cost burden of airfare. Usually, in family travel, airfare is the biggest fixed cost in the budget. You can successfully cut a good chunk of it with a proper mix of reward and paid bookings.