Ski Alpes Italiennes 1

Testimonial: a week’s skiing in the Italian Alps with points and miles

To the point Here's how I used points and miles to take a week-long ski trip to the Italian Alps.

Italian Alps with points - The price error on the plane ticket

It all started on an ordinary Friday evening in December, when I happened to see a new article that had just appeared in the milesopedia Facebook group, reporting on transatlantic business class flights available from just 13,500 Flying Blue miles with Air France. Note that the regular price is usually 50,000 miles for this type of ticket.

The article used the expressions “incredible prices” and “book now” to convey the urgency to act, because reading between the lines, it was clear that this was a pricing error that could disappear at any moment. So I made a reservation on the spot and told myself I would think about the other details later.

Four days later, I received an email from Air France explaining that a pricing error had crept into the booking system and that my reservation would be cancelled. Following the cancellation, I immediately went back to check the fares for the same destinations and found that even better fares were still available, but this time for Premium Economy class. So I immediately booked new tickets for just 18,000 Flying Blue miles, for a round trip, Ottawa – Geneva, in Premium Economy. Total taxes for the round trip are $499.51.

The pricing error on business class tickets was widely publicized and shared on social networks and travel blogs, and it was probably all this attention that almost forced Air France to cancel bookings. Fortunately, in the meantime, the pricing error in Premium Economy had gone completely under the radar. Days went by, and my reservation remained intact as if nothing had happened! So I was able to start planning the rest of my trip.

Italian Alps with the points - Making the project a reality

The plan is to go skiing for a week in the Italian Alps. My Air France ticket included bus transportation (operated by Air France) from the Ottawa train station to the Montreal airport.

Air France Premium Economy 3

From there, I flew Premium Economy to Paris, and Economy on a second flight to Geneva airport.

Air France Premium Economy 16

Then I picked up a rental car directly from the airport, and drive about 125 kilometers, through the Mont Blanc tunnel, to arrive in the Aosta Valley region of Italy. I stayed for six nights in the small village of Pré Saint Didier, in a hotel ideally located between the ski resorts of La Thuile and Courmayeur.

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I did a total of five days of skiing at these resorts. The return journey and conditions was be the same, but I would be staying one night in a hotel close to Geneva airport, the night before my flight.

As far as baggage was concerned, since my ticket with Air France included two free baggage items in the hold and two free baggage items in the cabin, I was be able to bring my skis and all my equipment without any worries.

Air France Premium Economy 2

Italian Alps with points - Car rental

I needed to rent a car for a week. After doing some price simulations on, I selected a small “economy” class car (Renault Clio) for a grand total of 239.99 Swiss francs. Reservations were finally made at the same price directly on the website, to avoid intermediaries. The car came with winter tires and there was plenty of room inside to put my skis, by lowering the rear seat.

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Italian Alps with points - Hotels

For the hotel in Italy, I used and to find a room for six nights. The room was finally booked through at theHotel Edelweiss in Pré Saint Didier (Italy) for 440 euros (all inclusive). Breakfast is even included. For this booking, I made sure to use my National Bank World Elite Mastercard®, as I’ll be redeeming 55,000 points for a $500 travel discount (statement credit), which will be applied to the 440 euro expense.

A seventh night is also booked for the day before my return flight, at the Best Western Park Hotel Geneve-Thoiry, located close to Geneva airport, but on French territory. The price was 70 euros (all inclusive). Breakfast at the hotel is not included, but on the other hand I’ll be using my Platinum CardMD from American Express and the Priority Pass membership it provides to have breakfast at the Air France lounge at Geneva airport, while I wait for my flight home.

The rental car and hotels were obviously booked with rates that could be cancelled, just in case my reservations with Air France ended up going wrong.

Italian Alps with points - Ski tickets

Ski tickets are purchased online from the ski resorts’ websites, just a few days before arriving in Europe.

In La Thuile, the price of a day’s skiing was 55 euros, while in Courmayeur it was 59 euros. At each of these stations, you can add 3 euros per day if you wish to purchase an insurance policy covering civil liability for damage or injury caused to third parties.

There’s no real advantage to booking a 2 or 3-day package at a given resort, because on only 2 or 3 days, the discount is minimal, and if you decide not to ski one of those days, for whatever reason, I doubt you’ll be able to get a refund for the unused days.

I’d like to take this opportunity to show you how much cheaper ski tickets in European ski resorts generally are than in Western Canada or the USA. For the same dates, here are the daily prices I would have paid in the following North American resorts:

Destination Daily access price
Whistler , British Columbia CAD 229 + taxes
Sunshine Village, Alberta CAD 165 + taxes
Lake Louise, Alberta CAD 145 + taxes
Vail, Colorado USD 229 + taxes
Aspen, Colorado USD 219 + taxes


Other expenses

For my day-to-day expenses in Europe (e.g. restaurant, groceries, gas, etc.), I used the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card. This is one of the ideal cards for any traveler, as it saves on the 2.5% currency conversion fee (usually charged by other cards). The card was accepted at all locations, except to pay a daily fee of 5 euros for daily parking at the La Thuile ski resort.

What’s more, I did double duty with the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, as having recently acquired it, I just happened to have a welcome bonus (30,000 Scene+ points) to unlock. Its use in Europe came at just the right time. The 30,000 Scene+ points earned will be worth $300 in credit towards future grocery purchases at IGA.

Other costs included the toll for the Mont Blanc motorway tunnel. It’s the quickest and most direct way to reach Italy’s Aosta Valley region. The return ticket cost 67.50 euros, and to take advantage of this price, the return ticket was valid until midnight on the seventh day from the date of first passage.

Bottom Line

The moral of this story is to be ready to take action at any time, when a good deal comes along. Having earned various ammunition (i.e. points and air miles) to seize opportunities is important. As all the members of the Milesopedia community often repeat, being flexible in every way is essential to get the most out of our offers.

Use the other testimonials as inspiration for your points strategy:

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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