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[TO BE CLEARThis is not written by Dan. He and his wife already have 6 kids and aren’t currently planning to adopt any.]

For just over three years now, my wife and I have been in the slow process of international adoption. We are seeking to adopt 2-3 children from Costa Rica, and it has been a roller coaster experience (and they are not even home yet). We are hoping to finally be matched with our kids by the Costa Rican government sometime in the next 1-3 months.

Since I am an avid travel hacker, I’ve been planning out how to get us to and from Costa Rica for months now. I’ve carefully been holding on to some miles in a few different currencies. The main options I am considering are:

  • Southwest – My wife and are are sitting on about 64,000 Southwest points between to two of us. If I decide to pull the trigger on the Companion Pass before March (via a Marriott travel package before that loophole closes), we’ll have plenty of RapidRewards points. One-way tickets to Costa Rica start at ~11,000 points plus $22, return is the same + $58. The main benefit to using Southwest points is that we are guaranteed award availability as long as there are any seats still for sale. My hesitancy here is that we’d (a) have to drive to the SF Bay Area, (b) it is a one-stop, and (c) I am not sure I actually want the companion pass at this point. We may not travel much for a while once our kids are home.
  • American – My wife and I have nearly enough AA miles to get the two of us to Costa Rica, and then 2 kids home. Just need a bit more credit card spending to put us there. The main benefit of using AA miles would be the cheaper price in miles (15k normal, 12.5k off-peak). The cons are (a) we’d have to drive to the Bay, (b) many of the options are a red-eye with a 5:00 a.m. arrival (ew…) in Coast Rica, and (c) getting 4 award seats back is not easy.
  • Delta – This may be a good time to put the SkyPesos to use. While Delta charges more than American and  (on average) Southwest, they offer a better routing, with a single stop in LAX. We would have to fly out of the Bay area, but most of these options require that. The main pro is that there is a good amount of award space, some of which does not require an awful red eye.

    adoption delta

    Delta award availability is good.

  • United/Avianca – We’d have to do this with a combination of both MileagePlus miles and Avianca LifeMiles, and the routing could be on either carrier (both in StarAlliance). United and Avianca charge about the same (17.5k/18k, respectively, one-way) for tickets in economy, and many routings include flights on both carriers. The benefit here would be that we could fly in and out of our local airport. The cons would be the routing. They are mostly awful. Many are 3 stop, and some are overnight and/or red eye. Heading to Costa Rica, that wouldn’t be terrible. My wife and I can handle it. Heading back with the kids it is pretty much a deal breaker.

    adoption united routing

    A 1:05 a.m. arrival? No, thanks.

Which to choose?

One of the biggest bummers is that there aren’t any non-stop SFO-SJO options. Not on any carrier. If there was, that would probably win, and I would have dug up the miles needed by now.

Coming back with the kids, a non-stop would be ideal. I so badly wish there was an option. The kids will almost certainly never have been on a plane, and could be extremely freaked out. It will be hard to judge how they will react until we are actually in the situation, unfortunately.

At this point I am leaning toward a combination of Southwest and Delta, but I am still weighing out the options. I’m still very undecided on the merits of the companion pass in our situation, and the window on that is closing rapidly. We can’t book anything yet, obviously, since we have yet to be matched and find out our travel dates. I’m just exploring the options we do have currently.

What are your thoughts? Which option seems the best to you?

Header image courtesy of Arturo Sutillo under CC 2.0 license. 

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