Flying Blue

This is a post I am writing to illuminate how my friend can get from Denver to Tel Aviv with Amex Membership Rewards. I highly recommend you read it even if:

  • you don’t live in Denver
  • you don’t want to go to Israel
  • you don’t have Membership Rewards

Why? This post explains how I figure out how to get from anywhere to anywhere with any type of miles.

My friend emailed me:

Who has the best economy award redemption chart to middle east? Trying to get three of us to Tel Aviv this winter, and have ~125k amex points to transfer. Assuming that won’t cover all 3 of us, but if I could cover 2 that’s a good start. I also have some amount of United, delta, and American miles already.

First Step: Look at Award Charts

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to more than a dozen airline partners. Instead of looking up all of their charts individually, I headed to milez.biz to search pretty much every award chart at once.

The two deals that caught my eye were:

  • Air France Flying Blue for 25,000 miles each way from Denver to Tel Aviv. It is so cheap because Israel and parts of Northern Africa are inexplicably in Flying Blue’s Europe region as I always mention in Promo Awards posts. Unfortunately Flying Blue awards will have fuel surcharges, but maybe they won’t be so bad.
  • ANA for 65,000 miles roundtrip from Denver to Tel Aviv. ANA awards will have fuel surcharges unless they fly United, which does fly from Newark and San Francisco to Tel Aviv.

Second Step: Creativity

Europe tends to be a much cheaper award that Israel, so how about flying one award to Europe and then getting to Israel with Avios or a low-cost carrier. I wrote up this idea fully three years ago, and the only thing that has really changed is that American Airlines charges 22,500 miles one way during a shorter off peak window to Europe (compared to 20,000 miles and a longer window when the post was written.)

So he could perhaps use 45,000 American Airlines miles plus taxes and no fuel surcharges to fly Denver to Europe roundtrip and then book a separate Avios or low-cost carrier flights on to Israel. The disadvantage is the complexity of multiple tickets. The advantage–if he has the time–is he can see two European cities for as long as he’d like, one on the way there and one on the way back.

If he went this route, I’d recommend booking his awards from Denver to Cologne or Berlin to take advantage of 10,000 Avios awards to Tel Aviv on airberlin. (What are Avios?) That would be 45,000 American Airlines miles and 20,000 Avios roundtrip to Israel per person.

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Or he could book the American Airlines awards to/from one of these cities with low-cost carrier flights to Tel Aviv (which I found on Wikipedia.)

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I’m going to drop this creative plan for the rest of the post, since I fleshed it out so fully in a previous post, and since I think the other options in the next step look really good.

Third Step: Look at Award Space

The prices of 50k Flying Blue miles and 65k ANA miles roundtrip are just theoretical if there is no award space.

Searching Flying Blue Award Space

Sign in to airfrance.us and search. You’ll find that winter 2017 has amazing award space between Denver and Tel Aviv, with nearly every day having award space for two people at the 25,000 miles one way price.
Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.44.03 PM Unfortunately, you are generally looking at three flights each way. The ones that fly Delta across the Atlantic have only $50 in taxes and fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.45.07 PM The ones that fly Air France have another $55 in fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.45.23 PM The returns have about $85 in taxes and fuel surcharges with Delta flying across the Atlantic plus another $55 if you fly Air France to the USA.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.45.51 PM My friend absolutely can book two people a roundtrip from Denver to Tel Aviv for 100,000 Flying Blue miles (an instant 1:1 transfer partner of Amex) + $269. The drawback is the ~$165 extra out of pocket compared to the ANA/United option below and the three flights per direction.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.46.13 PM

Searching United Award Space

The last section was about searching Flying Blue award space. It didn’t matter much which Flying Blue partner he flew as the fuel surcharges are minimal.

This section is about using ANA miles, but the only partner he would want to fly is United. Flying United, ANA doesn’t collect fuel surcharges. If he flies another partner, say Lufthansa, the fuel surcharges would probably exceed $1,000 for two people roundtrip.

To see only United award space, he should go to united.com and NOT sign in. (Signing in will bring up extra award space ANA cannot book if he is a United elite or credit card holder.) On the home screen, he should click “All search options” in the search box.
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Then he needs to scroll down and click “My search preferences.”Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.46.54 PM

He needs to select “United and United Express only” to exclude results like those fuel-surcharge-infested Lufthansa flights.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.47.00 PM Now his searches should bring up only United results. (Unfortunately the calendar will show both United and partner results. I wrote about this glitch last month.)Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.47.25 PMAny award space he finds on united.com, he can book on ana.com. (Here’s how to book on ana.com.) I pulled up award space for two people on ana.com on United flights, and it priced at 130,000 ANA miles + $105 for two people.

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Unfortunately I could only pull up Denver to Tel Aviv and vice versa connecting in Newark on ana.com. There’s no reason I can see that ANA couldn’t book the connections in San Francisco that united.com brought up, so if my friend wants to book those, he should call ANA instead of booking online.

Planning, Transferring, Booking

My friend has some planning to do. Does he prefer the 100,000 Flying Blue miles and $269 Flying Blue awards with three segments or the 130,000 ANA miles and $105 ANA awards with two segments. Or does he want to stop each direction and explore Europe on an American Airlines off peak award to Europe, supplemented by separate flights to Israel?

If he prefers the Flying Blue award, he can find award space on airfrance.us, transfer instantly from Amex to Flying Blue, and book online tonight. Or he could try to get 25,000 more American Express, Chase, or Citi points or 20,000 SPG points, all of which would combine with his 125k Amex points to get him enough points for three award tickets.

I’d recommend the Sapphire Preferred with 50,000 bonus Chase points. While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

If he prefers the ANA award, he needs 5k more Amex points, so a few months of spending should get him there. Then he can search for award space, transfer from Amex to ANA, wait approximately 36 hours for the miles to post, and book.

If he prefers the American Airlines award, he should put it on hold for five days, book the segments to and from Israel, then ticket the American Airlines award.

Bottom Line

The outlook is good for my friend’s trip to Israel. He has great options through a few obscure foreign airline programs. The key is to find the good deals on the award charts, including getting creative about where you book your award, and then make sure there is actually award space available for that price.

The process is basically the same no matter where you want to go and no matter what points you have. If it seems too complex, hire my Award Booking Service to plan and book your award for you.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Chase Ultimate Rewards just added Air France Flying Blue miles as a transfer partner. The MileValue Award Booking Service is standing by to book your awards with Flying Blue miles! Chase now has seven airline partners and four hotel partners.

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You can now log on to chase.com and transfer your Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 rate to Flying Blue miles in increments of 1,000.

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Flying Blue miles are valuable to fly Delta flights within western Hemisphere, several airlines to North Africa or Israel, and Air France/KLM to Europe on Promo Awards for as little as 25,000 miles roundtrip.

ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, and Starpoints already transferred 1:1 to Flying Blue miles, but this news just makes getting the miles easier than ever, since the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred are offering humungous sign up bonuses.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Flying Blue Award Chart Sweet Spots

  • Rotating Promo Award: 25,000 Flying Blue miles + $112 + taxes roundtrip from select US cities to Europe, North Africa, or Israel
  • Rotating Promo Award: 62,500 Flying Blue miles + $404 + taxes roundtrip in Business Class from select US cities to Europe, North Africa or Israel
  • 30,000 Flying Blue miles + $5.60 in taxes/fees- Mainland US to Hawaii roundtrip in Delta Economy (although Korean, also an Ultimate Rewards partner, charges only 25k roundtrip for the same flights)
  • 25,000 Flying Blue miles + $122.81 in taxes/fees- US to Mexico roundtrip in Delta Economy
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles – US to Israel roundtrip in Economy, with taxes/fees as low as $122.13 depending on what carrier you fly
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles – US to North Africa roundtrip in Economy, with taxes/fees as low as $123.48 depending on what carrier you fly

All these awards can be booked one way for half the price.

For whatever reason, Flying Blue places Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and the Canary Islands in the Europe region of its award chart. That’s why flights to Israel and North Africa are always so few miles with Flying Blue.

Flying Blue is famous for its Promo Awards. Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified cities in the USA to anywhere in Europe, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price.

Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.

Flying Blue also offers good deals on some Delta awards. Here is the partner award chart when using Flying Blue miles (prices shown one way in thousands of miles.)

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Fuel Surcharges on Flying Blue Awards

Flying Blue collects fuel surcharges whenever the equivalent cash ticket would have fuel surcharges with the exception that transatlantic flights on Air France/KLM are capped in fuel surcharges on awards.

At current exchange rates, those capped fuel surcharges for AirFrance/KLM are:

  • a modest $112 in fuel surcharges + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
  • an annoying $246 in fuel surcharges + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
  • a punitive $403 in fuel surcharges + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip Business Class awards to Europe

Remember that Delta tickets within the Western Hemisphere don’t have fuel surcharges, so those can be a good value with Flying Blue miles.

Getting Flying Blue Miles

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Booking Flying Blue Awards

You can book almost all Flying Blue awards on airfrance.us including Promo Awards.

Before booking, read Sweet Spots with Flying Blue Miles for more information on the program’s sweet spots, routing rules, fuel surcharges, and more.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Waikiki Sunset

You can get both the Citi Prestige with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months and the Citi ThankYou Premier with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as long as you apply at least eight days apart.

Meet both minimum spending requirements, and you’ll have at least 96,000 ThankYou Points, in one account if you follow the simple steps to combine your accounts.

Here are the top eight ways I would use the 96,000 point sign up bonus for flights in Economy and First Class to Hawaii, Europe, South America, or anywhere else in the world.

1. ~$2,136 in American Airlines Flights

Each of the 96,000 points can be used like cash toward any American Airlines flight at a rate of 1.6 cents per point. That’s $1,536 worth of American Airlines flights.

And on every one of those flights, you’ll earn American Airlines miles because the airline sees your ticket as a cash ticket. The exact number of miles is determined by where you actually fly, but 25,000 American Airlines miles is a reasonable estimate. That’s enough miles to redeem for one way cross-country in American Airline’s new flat bed Business Class or one way in economy to Europe, Asia, or South America at off peak prices. Redeeming these 25,000 miles well should be worth around $600.

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American’s Flat Bed Cross-Country Business Class

That’s about $2,136 in American Airlines flights from the 96,000 original ThankYou Points. I covered this topic more thoroughly in Get $2,600 in American Airlines Flights in Five Steps from Only Two Cards. (The extra $500 in that title comes from the $250 Air Travel Credits on the Citi Prestige.)

2. Four Roundtrips to Europe, Israel, or North Africa

You can transfer 100,000 ThankYou Points to AirFrance Flying Blue miles and book four roundtrip Promo Awards to Europe.

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Head to Munich for Oktoberfest for 25,000 miles

Every month, Air France releases a list of American cities. You can fly from the listed cities to anywhere in Europe, Israel, Morocco, or Tunisia for as little as 12,500 Flying Blue miles + taxes + a $55 fuel surcharge each way. Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.

Right now, Promo Awards are bookable for summer travel, so the list isn’t as good as usual. But in June and July when Fall travel becomes bookable as Promo Awards, I’d expect to see more cities offered like New York, Dallas, Houston, Washington, Miami, and other places where Air France and KLM fly.

Award space is usually widely available during the Promo Awards dates, and because Flying Blue groups Israel with Europe, you can also fly to Israel for as little as 25,000 miles + taxes + $110 roundtrip.

If your city isn’t on the Promo Awards list, you still have great options to Europe with ThankYou Points. You can transfer 110,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles and book two roundtrips to Europe in United economy with NO fuel surcharges. Singapore has access to the United Saver award space on united.com, so I was easily able to book myself Washington DC to Madrid for 27,500 Singapore miles + $20 last month.

3. Two Roundtrips to Buenos Aires or Rio

You can transfer 90,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles and book two roundtrips in Delta economy to Southern South America including Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Delta would charge 120,000 miles for the same award space.

Virgin Atlantic will have access to any Delta award space to Southern South America that you can find for 30,000 miles one way on delta.com. Search from your home airport to South America or your home airport to Atlanta and Atlanta to South America separately if necessary.

I don’t want to over-sell or under-sell this award space. It isn’t available every day, but there is plenty even at great times to travel if you are flexible. For instance, here is the available space in orange to Rio de Janeiro in September and October.

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Here is the space in orange to Buenos Aires in November and December.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.55 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.52.21 PM

To book the space you find on delta.com with Virgin Atlantic miles, call Virgin Atlantic. Expect to pay 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and about $80 in taxes per person for a roundtrip.

4. Four Roundtrips to Hawaii (90k)

You can transfer 900,000 ThankYou Points to Air France Flying Blue miles and book four roundtrip awards to Hawaii with Delta award space. Delta would charge 135,000 miles for the same award space.

Waikiki Sunset
Waikiki Sunset

You can initially search on delta.com or airfrance.us; the latter is where you’ll eventually book.

Award space is more available than you might think, especially if you search in winter. Even though I think winter is the best time to visit Hawaii for a contrast between 40 degrees at home and 80 degrees at the beach in Hawaii, it is the low season.

Here is award space from Los Angeles to Honolulu for four people in March. All the orange days that say 22,500 will have space that is bookable for 15,000 miles one way on airfrance.us. Search from your home airport to all four major Hawaiian islands to find your dream award space.

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5. One and a Half Roundtrips in First Class (flat bed) to Hawaii (900k)

You can transfer 90,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles and book one-and-a-half roundtrips in United First Class to Hawaii. You would need 120,000 United miles to book the same award space.

All United First Class seats from Newark and Washington DC to Hawaii are flat beds and some flights from Houston and San Francisco also feature beds. I’ve flown all four routes on flat beds, and it’s very nice to be able to get some great sleep on flights that are often longer than flights from the East Coast to Europe.

To book United flat beds to Hawaii with Singapore miles, search united.com for Saver award space then call Singapore. In addition to the miles, you’ll just pay about $11 in taxes roundtrip per person.

If you’re not sure whether your flight will have seats or beds, click View Seats on united.com. These squares mean regular recliner seats.

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These icons mean beds.

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Right now the flat bed award space isn’t fantastic to Hawaii, though there is some via San Francisco on the daily 767-400ER flight with flat beds in First Class. United tends to open up more award space in the last few weeks before departure, though, and Singapore doesn’t charge a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like some airlines. Waiting may be your best bet.

6. Six One Ways to London (105k)

7. Four One Ways to London in Premium Economy (110k)

Transfer 105,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles for six one ways to London in Virgin Atlantic economy or 110,000 ThankYou Points for four one ways in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy, which looks a lot like domestic First Class in the United States.

Award space is fairly good in both cabins and is searchable and bookable on virginatlantic.com.

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Here is the award space for three people in October from Washington DC to London.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.26.43 PM

So why did I phrase this as six and four one ways instead of three and two roundtrips?

Not only do these awards have fuel surcharges, but there is a gigantic tax for departing London.

For economy, one way to London costs 17,500 miles + $134.60. That’s $129 in fuel surcharges, and $5.60 in taxes.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.25 PM

The return costs the same miles + $323. That represents a fuel surcharge plus almost $200 in taxes for departing London.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.29 PM

Three roundtrips would cost 105,000 miles + $1,373.

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Six one ways to London would cost the same miles but only $808 in taxes and fuel surcharges. Then move onto somewhere else in Europe with the $570 in savings and return with a different type of miles to save on taxes and fuel surcharges.

We see the same story for Premium Economy redemptions. You pay 27,500 miles + $235 going east…
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.28.51 PM …but more than $300 extra heading west.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.28.55 PM

I can make a strong case for paying 27,500 miles + $235 one way in Premium Economy. Most airlines charge 27,500 miles or more in regular economy, and Premium Economy is a much bigger seat with more legroom, and more freebies. It’s worth paying an extra $200, I think.

But the return is too much. Fly back from the continent with miles that don’t collect a fuel surcharge.

8. Three Roundtrips to Peru (105k)

You can transfer 105,000 ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles to fly three roundtrips to Peru or anywhere else in Northern South America on Delta flights. Delta would charge 135,000 miles for the same award space.

Search on airfrance.us and book there with no fees or fuel surcharges.

Bottom Line

You can get both the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, each with a huge sign up bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as long as you apply at least eight days apart. Meet both minimum spending requirements, and you’ll have at least 96,000 ThankYou Points, and probably more since both offer 3x and 2x category bonuses.

You have a ton of options with 96,000+ ThankYou Points. You can use them like cash toward American Airlines flights or transfer the points to Singapore, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles. Great awards are available to Hawaii, Europe, and South America; or when using the points like cash you can fly any flight to anywhere.

  • Application Link: Citi Prestige
  • Application Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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This post is part of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners.

Flying Blue miles are easy to accrue as Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

Flying Blue is the loyalty program for Air France and KLM, as well as a handful of other airlines:

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Aircalin is based in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific. HOP! is the French regional subsidiary and Transavia is the Dutch regional subsidiary of AirFrance/KLM. Tarom is based in Romania.

Flying Blue is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and also partnered with these these non-allied airlines:

Flying Blue offers three different award levels: Flex, Classic and Promo. Below is a chart from flying blue.com that explains each.

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Flex Awards are not worth considering as they cost two to three times what a Classic Award would cost. The best values are found with Classic Awards and the Promo Awards. Classic Awards can roughly be equated to a Saver level award from a different loyalty program, and Promo Awards are further discounted Classic Awards.

Classic Award Charts

The only award pricing chart Flying Blue publishes on their website is for awards originating in Europe.

For awards other than those in that chart, they expect you to quote award prices via their Flying Blue miles calculator tool. But you guys are in luck! I compiled the a chart for Flying Blue awards that originate in the United States.

Here is the award chart in thousands of Flying Blue miles one way from the United States to the listed region, flying on Classic Awards.

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Travel is Free also published another self-made Flying Blue Classic Award chart complete with all the regions (in thousands miles, roundtrip, Economy on top and Business on bottom).

Flying Blue Promo Awards

Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified cities in the USA to anywhere in Europe, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price.

Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.

So what does 25% and 50% off an award to between the United States and Europe look like?

  • 25% off an Economy roundtrip ticket: 37,500 miles + taxes + $112 in surcharges
  • 50% off an Economy roundtrip ticket: 25,000 miles + taxes + $112 in surcharges

Business Class Promo Awards can be reduced to reasonably competitive mile prices, but the excessive fuel surcharges tacked on negate their value.  But as you can see, the Economy prices are absolute steals.

An important point to keep in mind with Promo Awards is that they cannot be changed, cancelled or refunded, so speculative bookings are not an option.

Here are the current available Promo Awards.

Routing Rules

One Way Pricing and Open Jaws

Promo Awards and Classic Awards can both be booked one way for half the price of a roundtrip. Since you can book one way awards, a roundtrip can have two open jaws.

Stopovers, etc.

Stopovers are not allowed on one way Classic Awards. It is not clear how may stopovers you can have on a roundtrip, but definitely at least one. Travel is Free also reported that you have to call Flying Blue (1 800 375 8723) if you’d like to include stopovers as a part of your roundtrip award.

I’m not sure though about the policy on stopovers for Promo Awards, but you can call Flying Blue to try to add one to your next Promo award.

It also says on their website that it is “possible to combine several flights and airline partners on the same ticket” on Classic Awards. As for Promo Awards, you are limited to the city in which the promo is defined to depart, and the airlines that are listed as being on sale from that city.

Fuel Surcharges

Fuel surcharges are omnipresent on Flying Blue awards no matter which level it is. When redeeming Flying Blue miles on Flying Blue’s own airlines, the surcharges are as follows:

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From the US to Europe, the fuel surcharge each way is 50 euros in economy, 110 euros in Premium Economy, and 180 euros in Business or First.

At current exchange rates, that works out to:

  • a modest $112 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
  • an annoying $246 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
  • a punitive $403 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip Business Class awards to Europe.

As for redemptions on partner airlines, fuel surcharges vary. SkyTeam partner Delta doesn’t have fuel surcharges on its tickets within the Americas, so that’s a great option to avoid paying cash out of pocket.

Awards originating in Brazil, where fuel surcharges are outlawed, are the only exception. Read more here about how to book a Flying Blue Promo Award with no fuel surcharges.

Sweetspots for Redemptions

  • 30,000 Flying Blue miles + $5.60 in taxes/fees- Mainland US to Hawaii roundtrip in Delta Economy
  • 25,000 Flying Blue miles + $122.81 in taxes/fees- US to Mexico roundtrip in Delta Economy
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles – US to Israel roundtrip in Economy, with taxes/fees as low as $122.13 depending on what carrier you fly
  • 50,000 Flying Blue miles – US to North Africa roundtrip in Economy, with taxes/fees as low as $123.48 depending on what carrier you fly

Searching Award Space and Booking

You can search for Flying Blue award space at flyingblue.com once you have started an account.

Sign in to your Flying Blue account and select “Use My Miles”.  Everything on the search form is pretty intuitive; just make sure you don’t check “Flights allowing changes only” because Promo Awards don’t allow changes.

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In your search results, the discounted Promo Award prices are already coded into the price displayed on the calendars, which will display the one way price.

Classic Awards can booked either online via the same process described above or by calling Flying Blue at (1 800 375 8723). And remember that you have to call in if you’d like to include stopovers on a roundtrip Classic Award.

Getting Citi ThankYou Points to transfer to Flying Blue

The best cards to rack up Flying Blue miles are the:

Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Miles

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 12 airline transfer partners. You must transfer in 1,000 point increments.

Bottom Line

Flying Blue awards in Business class are generally a terrible value because of the crippling fuel surcharges, but there are deals to be found flying Economy between the US and Mexico, Hawaii, Israel or Northern Africa as well as utilizing their Promo Awards between American cities and Europe that rotate every few months.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

20 11717

Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM Romanian–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select American cities to anywhere in Europe or to Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria for as little as 12,500 miles each way in economy plus tiny fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints. You can get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 on the Citi Prestige® Card.

My Review of the Citi Prestige Card

These Flying Blue Promo Awards must be booked by February 29, 2016 for travel in April or May 2016. This is not the strongest list we have seen recently, but there are some good deals. There are also several Brazilian cities on the list, which is a huge deal, since Promo Awards leaving Brazil are the only Promo Awards with no fuel surcharges.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for? What if you don’t live in one?
  • Why do you care that three Brazilian cities are on the Promo Awards list?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • How can you eliminate the out-of-pocket cost of the award?

Flying Blue Promo Awards Explained

Miles Price

Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified American cities to anywhere in Europe for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price. Flying Blue’s definition of Europe includes Israel.

The current list of the best Promo Awards is available for booking through February 29, 2016 for flights from April 1 to May 31, 2016.

There is one American city on the list.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.09.54 PM

  • Flights from Houston in AirFrance economy are 25% off and 18,750 miles one way.

Out-of-Pocket Cash

Promo awards have the same out-of-pocket taxes and fuel surcharges as normal Flying Blue awards. The taxes are the same as you would pay on any award ticket. The fuel surcharges are listed on this table (click to enlarge):

From the US to Europe, the fuel surcharge each way is 50 euros in economy, 110 euros in Premium Economy, and 180 euros in Business or First.

At current exchange rates, that works out to:

  • a modest $112 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
  • an annoying $246 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
  • a punitive $403 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip Business Class awards to Europe.

Booking

Promo Awards are valid for one ways or roundtrips.

To book a Flying Blue Promo Award, sign in to your Flying Blue account and select to use miles. Everything on the search form is pretty intuitive; just make sure you don’t check “Flights allowing changes only” because Promo Awards don’t allow changes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.09.17 AM

In your search results, the discounted Promo Award prices are already coded into the price displayed on the calendars, which will display the one way price.

Examples

All examples are from a previous list, just to give you an idea of what the search results look like.

Here is a one way economy search from New York to Paris. Award space is available at the Promo Award price every day for this five week period for 12,500 miles + $76.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.04.58 AM

Here is a one way economy class search from Houston to Madrid. The green dates are days with Promo Award space available for 12,500 miles each way. That’s basically every day in February and early March.Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.06.29 AM

These Promo Awards must start in Houston, but they can go anywhere in Europe. Oddly Flying Blue classifies Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and the Canary Islands as part of Europe, so Promo Awards can even fly to Tel Aviv or North Africa for 12,500 miles. Here is the award space from Boston to Tel Aviv.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.38.10 AM

I priced out a roundtrip award from Houston to Madrid to see the total price.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.08.06 AM

It cost a mere 25,000 Flying Blue miles and $228. That’s two roundtrips from the sign up bonus of the Citi Prestige® Card.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.08.16 AM

This broke down to $106 in fuel surcharges and $122 in unavoidable taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.08.30 AM

Triangle Trip to Brazil and Europe

In “Incredible Trick: Flying Blue Promo Awards with No Fuel Surcharges,” I explained that Brazilian law prohibits fuel surcharges on all tickets including Promo Awards.

Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia to Europe or Israel are on the current list with discounts for economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class.Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.10.19 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.10.28 PM

If a triangle trip to South America and Europe in a few months sounds amazing, Brasilia to Europe for 50,000 miles + $45 in Business Class is an unbeatable deal for the hypotenuse of that triangle.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.12.31 PM

Getting the Miles

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, and Starpoints. And as usual, increments of 20k Starpoints transfer to 25k Flying Blue miles.

You can get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige® Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi Prestige Card

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Bonus

The drawback for the Promo Awards is the out-of-pocket cash needed to book them. You can eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Promo Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Recap

Book by February 29, and fly in April or May, and you can enjoy 25-50% off awards from American and Brazilian cities to Europe, Israel, or North Africa.

Get Flying Blue miles by transferring points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, and avoid the out of pocket expenses with Arrival miles from the Citi Prestige® Card.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2 1014

Korean Air releases amazing award space on its flights. Here is a post focusing on how Korean releases more First Class award space than any other airlines, and award space is similar in all cabins.

Despite both being in SkyTeam, Delta miles cannot book Korean First Class, which is one reason to focus on Korean miles. However Delta miles should be able to book all the Business and economy award space on Korean flights, since partners generally release all their Saver award space equally to all partners.

At the moment, this isn’t the case. Korean is blocking most of its Business and economy award space, making it unavailable to people with partner miles.

Example

On February 1, 2016, Korean has made nine Business Class award seats available to people with Korean miles on each of its two daily flights from Los Angeles to Seoul. (This is common for Korean.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.13.46 AM

The space would cost 62,500 Korean miles + $104.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.13.55 AM

I would expect Delta to have access to all 18 of those seats and to charge 70,000 Delta miles + $24. However, Delta does not have access to any Korean space on February 1, and only has any Korean Business Class space from Los Angeles to Seoul on 10/35 days. (I didn’t search each day on koreanair.com, but I bet they have released space on 34/35 or 35/35 days.)Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.14.24 AM

On days when Delta does have access to space, it often has access to one seat in Korean Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.14.41 AM

By contrast, on that day, Korean is releasing nine Business Class seats on both flights.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.14.53 AM

I have been very specific in condemning Korean in this post and not Delta. Why?

Because Flying Blue miles also don’t have access to the Korean space in this post. On airfrance.us, I’m not seeing any Korean longhaul Business or economy award space at the moment.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.16.13 AMAirfrance.us is showing Korean shorthaul space.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.19.24 AMThe blocking of Korean space isn’t limited to Business Class. Korean economy is also widely available with Korean miles, but not with Delta or Flying Blue miles. There are 18 economy award seats between Los Angeles and Seoul in Korean economy on January 27.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.30.43 AM

There are two seats available with Delta miles.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.31.33 AMOn most days in January, there are zero seats available on these flights with Delta miles. With Korean miles, economy award seats on the route are much more available.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.31.12 AM

Bottom Line

Korean is blocking partner access to its amazing economy and Business Class award space (and it was already the only real way to book Korean First Class space.) Hopefully this is a glitch and not permanent.

Hat Tip The Points Guy

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

3 1743

Delta operates a daily flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu and back on a 767 with flat beds in Business Class. Surprisingly, the flight actually has decent award space, and you can book it for 30,000 miles one way or 45,000 miles roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.09.59 PM

That’s a steal since Delta wants 50,000 SkyMiles one way for the flight.

I talked about United’s flat bed award space to Hawaii from the East Coast yesterday.

The Flights

The flights to look for are DL611 and DL612.

The flight from Los Angeles leaves at 8:30 AM, too early for most (all?) connections.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.08.22 PM

 

The flight from Honolulu is a day flight that lands in time for redeye connections to the East Coast and possibly other nearby connections.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.16.00 PM

 

You know that these flights feature flat beds because of the flat bed icon next to “View Seats.” You can also check by clicking View Seats. This 1-2-1 layout is the layout of Delta’s flat bed Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.05.24 PM

Award Search

You can search awards space on delta.com very easily. You’ll want your search to look something like this.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.07.15 PM

Here’s how to interpret the results calendar:

  • Every day that says “50,000” has award space in flat beds
  • Some days that say “40,000” have award space in flat beds

So in this calendar, the eight days that say “50,000” have at least one award seat in a flat bed. The two days that say “40,000” may. We will need to click on them to find out.
Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.07.21 PM

The reason this works is that although Delta deleted its award chart, it still uses the prices on them. The Level 1 price for Delta flat bed Business Class to Hawaii is 50,000 miles. The Level 1 price for Delta recliner First Class is 40,000 miles and Level 2 is 55,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.12.06 PM

Putting aside the weirdness that Delta Business Class is better than Delta First Class, the only seats that can be priced at 50,000 miles are flat beds.

Booking the Award

Don’t use Delta miles to book flat beds to Hawaii. Delta charges 50,000 SkyMiles one way and 100,000 roundtrip for its Level 1 award space. Any award space that prices out like that is equally available to partners, and some of Delta’s partners charge way fewer miles.

30,000 Flying Blue Miles One Way (40% off)

Air France Flying Blue charges 30,000 miles one way for this award space.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.10.11 PM

The only problem is that if you search airfrance.us for award space from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the option to search Business and First Class disappear.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.12.28 PMFor the most part, the Business Class award space shows up anyway. If space you found on delta.com doesn’t show up online in the search results, book with Flying Blue miles by calling 800-375-8723. I priced out this roundtrip in flat beds online for 60,000 Flying Blue miles + $11.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.18.38 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.18.45 PM

Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points. The transfer takes about 4.5 days, and there is one wrinkle to transfers, that I had to add 00 before my Flying Blue account number.

You can earn 50,000 and 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively from the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, each after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Or you can get both cards for 90,000 bonus ThankYou Points. That’s almost two roundtrips to Hawaii in flat beds.

45,000 Korean Miles Roundtrip (55% Off)

Even better if you want to fly a roundtrip, Korean SkyPass charges 45,000 miles roundtrip for this award space. You cannot book one way SkyTeam awards with Korean miles.

You will have to call 800-438-5000 to book the award.

The cool thing is that you get two stopovers, in addition to the destination, on roundtrip SkyTeam awards. That means you could stopover in Los Angeles both ways to fly the flat beds even though the flight times are not good for same day connections. Or you could stopover in Los Angeles one way and somewhere else on the return.

Korean miles are a 1:1 instant transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, and a 1:1 (or 20,000:25,000) non-instant transfer partner of SPG Starpoints.

Connections

Flying to Hawaii, I don’t think same day connections are available, since the flight leaves at 8:30 AM. Flying to the mainland, there are definitely connections available that would cost zero extra Delta, Air France, or Korean miles. Connecting to any Business Class Level 1 award space on delta.com should cost zero extra miles.

Theoretically you could connect to a flat bed from Los Angeles to New York for zero extra miles, but in practice, there is no Level 1 award space (would show up as “32,500” one the chart.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.22.35 PM

Bottom Line

Delta flies once daily Los Angeles <-> Honolulu with a plane with flat beds. The space is good in those flat beds and can be booked for 30,000 miles one way or 45,000 miles roundtrip, which is 40% to 55% less than Delta charges for the same award space.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Aerolineas Argentinas resumed flights from Miami to Cordoba, Argentina on July 5, 2015, 16 years after the last flight on the route. I am obsessed with Argentina and have spent over nine months in the country in just the last 2.5 years, so this is great news for me.

This is also great news for anyone who wants to visit Argentina’s second city, anyone who wants to see multiple places in Argentina on one trip, or anyone who wants to go somewhere other than Buenos Aires without the hassle of connecting in the capital.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.08.44 PM

Awards on Aerolineas Argentinas can be booked with Delta SkyMiles. While the airline has a bad reputation for timeliness and service, especially since being nationalized, my experience flying Aerolineas has been positive, and the fleet is modern.

Award Price

Delta charges 30,000 SkyMiles one way in economy between the United States and Argentina and 62,500 miles one way in Business Class.

Air France Flying Blue charges 25,000 miles one way in economy between the United States and Argentina and 62,500 miles one way in Business Class. Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, and right now the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card are offering 50,000 and 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. Get both for 96,000 ThankYou Points.

Aerolineas Argentinas flights have no fuel surcharges, so you just pay taxes of about $80 roundtrip to Argentina. (Plus Americans have to pay $160 for the right to enter Argentina unlimited times for ten years.)

Award Space

The Miami to Cordoba flight operates on Saturday and Sunday nights as a redeye. I found good economy award space on the route from October 31 to late February 2016. I searched for one passenger on delta.com for direct flights from Miami to Cordoba. Searching for two people caused the dates with award space to be cut in half.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.28.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.28.23 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.29.01 AM

I didn’t find Business Class award space.

Connections

If you don’t live in Miami or don’t want to see Cordoba, this route can still be useful.

Connections in Miami

You can connect to the Cordoba flight on Delta flights. Here are cities with Delta flights to Miami.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.02.04 PM You may need to search segment-by-segment and book these connections by phone. If you find Saver award space (12,500 miles one way or less), you can add it to the Aerolineas Argentinas flight for zero extra miles.

Connections in Cordoba

Aerolineas serves most major Argentine destinations from Cordoba.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.02.34 PM

Connections in Cordoba may be easier than connections in Buenos Aires because Buenos Aires has two airports. Longhaul international flights go to one (EZE) and most domestic connections leave the other (AEP) that is 45 minutes away by car. In Cordoba, all flights use one airport.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.08.44 PMBottom Line

Aerolineas Argentinas now offers a direct flight from Miami to Cordoba, Argentina that is searchable on delta.com and bookable with Delta or Flying Blue miles. Award space is good in economy during the North American Fall and Winter–Cordoba’s Spring and Summer.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I’m considering a trip to Cuba in April because I fall under one of the 12 categories of Americans that now have a general license to visit Cuba: journalistic activity. (See the US State Department’s information on visiting Cuba. This post is not suggesting you should.)

I’ve been looking into the cheapest ways to get to Cuba with miles or cash. It turns out there awards you can book to Cuba, but if you don’t book those awards, cash tickets from even very nearby destinations are very expensive.

First let’s rule out some ways to get to Cuba easily:

  • Charter flights from the United States
  • Commercial flights from the United States

Charter Flights

I haven’t contacted any companies that run charter flights from the Untied States, mainly Florida and New York, to Cuba. But reading others’ experiences, it sounds like you need a specific license to be able to fly on a charter flight. I don’t want to go through that rigamarole. I’d travel on a general license.

Commercial Flights from the United States

There aren’t any.

There are plenty of news articles speculating when these could start, but the odds are near 0% that they’ll start in 2015.

With those out of the way, let’s consider the two ways you can travel to Cuba most easily with just a general license.

  • Awards from or via a third country
  • Cash tickets from a third country

Awards

Update 3/17/15: I successfully called Lufthansa Miles & More and had them willing to book BOG-HAV and IAD-HAV for 17,000 miles each.

If you go to united.com and type Havana into the search box, you get no results. The US-based airlines are not going to let you use their miles to fly to Cuba for the time being, even if you just want to use the miles to fly from Panama to Cuba.

Any awards you book to Cuba will have to be with foreign miles. The two best options I see are:

  • Avianca LifeMiles from Panama (or maybe even the USA) to Havana, flying Copa
  • Air France Flying Blue from Mexico City to Havana, flying AeroMexico

Avianca Awards

This is very interesting. If you search from a Copa destination in the United States to Cuba on lifemiles.com, you will get results. (Make sure you select Copa Airlines as the “Preferred carrier” on the search screen or the search engine seems to miss these results.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.28.22 PM

Here are the results for economy awards on April 15, all of which are Washington to Panama to Havana.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.28.55 PM

Selecting one brings up a price of 17,500 Lifemiles + $31.85. Or you can toggle the “More money” button to book the award for 7,500 Lifemiles and $181.85.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.29.42 PM

From Washington, a stop in Panama City turns a 1,200 mile journey into a 3,000 mile ordeal, but this could still be your best option–if it works.
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.30.38 PM

I don’t know if you could fly this ticket. Maybe it will get canceled before the day of departure, or maybe the check in agent will refuse to give you a boarding pass to Havana in Washington. Or maybe this award would work like a charm. I’d love to hear people’s take on this award’s feasibility in the comments.

Getting LifeMiles is a bit of a challenge. You basically need to buy them. They are often on sale for 1.65 cents each, though not currently. Once you have 7,500 LifeMiles, you can book the award for another $181.85.

Flying Blue Awards

Air France’s loyalty program Flying Blue is the best way to book AeroMexico flights from Mexico City to Havana.

Flying Blue charges 15,000 miles one way in economy and 30,000 in Business Class.

Award space is far better in Business Class (29/35 days) than economy (3/35 days) this spring.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.35.46 PM

Mexico City is quite out of the way from the East Coast, but pretty much on the way from the West Coast.
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.30.56 PM

If you try to search from the United States to Havana on flyingblue.com, you will get an error message.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.37.40 PM

 

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards and ThankYou Points. ThankYou Points transfers take about 36 hours as long as you know how to correctly input your Flying Blue account number–it is not intuitive.

My favorite two cards to get ThankYou Points are the:

Cash Tickets

Here are all the airlines and destinations that serve Havana. Here are the other airports in Cuba.

I searched on Kayak for many of the destinations and on Cubana’s and Aerogaviota’s sites for their fares. Flights to and from Cuba are shockingly expensive. For instance, I considered entering Cuba from Bogota to visit friends in Colombia first, and the 3.5 hour flight is around $500 one way. Even one hour hops in the Caribbean are almost always over $200.

Here are the cheapest fares I found to and from Cuba:

$158 from Havana to Nassau on April 25, 27, and 29

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 1.46.34 PM

$209 from Havana to Grand Cayman on April 26 and 30

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 1.46.15 PM

$214 from Havana to Mexico City on April 28

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 1.45.11 PM

If you find cheaper fares, put them in the comments. (Include airline, route, and date please.)

Bottom Line

Unless the LifeMiles awards on Copa from the United States to Cuba and return work perfectly for you, just getting to and from Cuba will involve buying up to four tickets and will be very expensive.

Awards start at 15,000 Flying Blue miles for a one way from Mexico City, and cash prices start at $158 from Nassau to Havana in addition to the positioning flights to get to those cities.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I’m intrigued by flights and awards that don’t involve America. If there’s a cool award to get from Australia to SE Asia, that can be integral to a longer, better, and cheaper trip.

My two favorite continents to explore are South America and Europe. Although I’ve never flown directly between the two continents, there are some intriguing options (all of which are fuel surcharge-free):

  • Singapore First Class for only 59,000 miles one way
  • Avianca Dreamliner direct from second-tier cities
  • Swiss Business Class
  • British Airways First Class, super-duper cheap on the US Airways award chart
  • Economy class for only 20,000 miles one way

Obviously you won’t be very interested in flights like these for a weeklong vacation, but if you have a month free or a year when you’re traveling around the world, there are great reasons to fly from South America to Europe or vice versa.

The Brazil Effect

It is illegal to add fuel surcharges to flights in Brazil. In practice, this means that international airlines don’t add fuel surcharges to their flights out of Brazil but do add fuel surcharges on their flights to Brazil.

(Weirdly the only exception I know is that British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Avios awards out of Brazil. American Airlines does NOT collect fuel surcharges on the same British Airways flights out of Brazil as I’ll show below.)

That means that, while it is the same number of miles in either direction between Europe and South America, it will often be hundreds of dollars cheaper to fly from South America to Europe instead of vice versa.

Several of the deals in this post have fuel surcharges unless you fly from South America to Europe via Brazil.

Avianca Dreamliner from Second Tier Cities

I wrote about Avianca’s brand new Dreamliner the other day. I didn’t mention the European routes:

  • Bogota to London starting July 2, 2015
  • Bogota to Madrid starting July 31
  • Cali to Madrid starting October 20
  • Medellin to Madrid starting December 19

I’m most intrigued by the Cali and Medellin flights. How often to you get to fly 10 hours from a country’s second-tier cities without having to connect through the big hub airport? (This is a reason to love the 787 Dreamliner; theoretically it should make more of these routes possible.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 11.58.34 AM
Avianca Dreamliner Bed

Award space is sparse on the Medellin and Cali flights to Madrid for one person in Business Class once they appear on the schedule partly because neither is a daily flight. But the space does exist, and I will assume if you are flying from South America to Europe that you have a pretty flexible schedule.

Medellin

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.42.12 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.42.03 PM

CaliScreen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.41.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.40.58 PM

Bogota

Bogota-to-Madrid space, by contrast is wide open. Note that not all flights are operated by the fully flat beds of the 787. Some are on the pretty comfortable, but not fully flat, beds of the A330.Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.40.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.40.04 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.39.51 PM

United charges 80,000 miles one way from Northern South America to Europe in Business Class on the Avianca Dreamliner, which is steep. Lufthansa charges only 67,000 miles one way in Business Class from South America to Europe. Singapore charges 78,000 miles one way.

Swiss Business Class

I wrote about Swiss Business Class today because it looks fantastic and United is discounting it through Saturday from the United States to Europe.

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Swiss flies from Sao Paulo to Zurich with Business Class award space that will initially look familiar to anyone who read today’s post on Swiss’ award space from the United States. There is good award space for the next month.

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What might surprise, though, is that there is also good award space in July and August. From the United States, Swiss is very stingy with award space more than a few weeks out.

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United charges 87,500 miles one way from Southern South America to Europe in Business Class, which is steep. Lufthansa charges only 67,000 miles one way in Business Class from South America to Europe. Singapore charges 78,000 miles one way.

Singapore First Class

Singapore Airlines flies a route from Sao Paulo to Barcelona to Singapore and vice versa. Just like its New York to Frankfurt to Singapore leg, you can book any single part as an award.

And Sao Paulo to Barcelona is way underpriced at 58,225 Singapore miles + $37 one way for 10.5 hours in Singapore First Class–one of the nicest in the world.

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The only way this could be better is if the route were operated by an A380 instead of a 777-300ER, but the service and food will still be the same. I flew the Singapore 777-300ER in First Class, and the bed is very comfortable.

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New Singapore First Class

 

British Airways First Class

British Airways flies from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to London. You normally can’t get onto British Airways award flights without fuel surcharges, but because of the Brazil departure, American Airlines just collects miles and taxes.

American charges a rather pricey 70k miles each way in Business and 90k miles each way in First Class.

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On the bright side, taxes are only $37.

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You can get on these flights much more cheaply as part of a roundtrip US Airways award.

  • 70k US Airways miles roundtrip in economy from South America to Europe
  • 100k miles roundtrip in Business Class
  • 130k miles roundtrip in First Class

It is harder to think of reasons an American would want to book a roundtrip award from South America to Europe, but you can always return from Europe to South America via North America and simply not fly the North America to South America leg(s.)

I actually once booked myself a roundtrip Business Class award from South America to Europe with US Airways miles and did exactly that–I skipped my Chicago to Buenos Aires flights.

You could book:

  • Rio de Janeiro to London (British Airways First Class)
  • open jaw
  • Berlin to London to Los Angeles (American Airlines First Class on its best plane)
  • Los Angeles to Dallas to Rio de Janeiro (within 24 hours of landing in Los Angeles, in any cabin, collect bags in LA and go home without flying)

This would cost only 130,000 US Airways miles.

Flying Blue Promo Awards

You know those posts I write every month about Flying Blue Promo awards? Promo awards allow you to fly from the United States to Europe or Israel for as little as 12,500 miles one way. The fuel surcharges in economy are bearable, and the fuel surcharges out of Brazil are even better: zero as usual.

Here’s a full post on Promo awards out of Brazil.

Promo awards can cost as little as 20,000 miles one way in economy and 40,000 in Premium economy between Brazil and anywhere in Europe.

Here are the current Promo awards.

Bottom Line

There are some cheap, interesting, and luxurious award possibilities between South America and Europe. Flying from South America to Europe will often be cheaper because award flights out of Brazil do not have fuel surcharges in almost all programs.

Check out Singapore First Class, an underpriced US Airways award, or an economy flight for only 20,000 miles. as part of your big trip around the world.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I’ve covered what I think are the underpriced awards on the United (6) and American Airlines (5) award charts. But I also keep a keen eye on foreign, obscure programs for gems on their award charts.

With the proliferation of transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Americans have access to cheap awards through tons of foreign programs.

Here are five underpriced awards on other award charts and how to get the miles needed to book the awards.

1. Singapore Awards Between Hawaii and the Americas

Singapore Airlines puts Hawaii and Central America–you know, those two places that are thousands of miles apart–into one region. This leads to awards “within” the region to price out at a ridiculously cheap 17,500 miles each way and 30,000 miles in Business Class.

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Roundtrip Award Prices

Similarly, Hawaii to South America is only 25,000 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in Business Class.

This is huge even if you don’t live in Hawaii because roundtrip Singapore Airlines awards allow for one free stopover and up to three more stopovers for $100 each.

That means you can book a roundtrip from Hawaii to South America with a stopover at your home airport in both directions for 50,000 miles + $100 + taxes. That would give you a roundtrip to South America plus two one ways to and from Hawaii on three separate trips.

Full details:

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

2. Virgin Atlantic Awards to Southern South America

Virgin Atlantic has a number of partners including Delta. On Delta, to anywhere in South America costs only 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip or 90,000 roundtrip in Business Class.

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Compare that to the 60k or 125k Delta miles the same flights to Southern South America would cost.

Everyone disparages Delta award availability, but I find decent economy award space to South America on the carrier.

Virgin Atlantic miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

3. Promo Awards to Europe with Flying Blue Miles

Every month, Air France Flying Blue offers awards to Europe for 25% and 50% off from select cities. Here are the current offers.
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There are fuel surcharges, but I think the deal is still too good to pass up in economy.

I also really like Promo Awards from Brazil to Europe because flights leaving Brazil have no fuel surcharges by law. These enable a THINK BIG trip like your home airport to Brazil to France to your home airport.

Full details on Promo Awards: Fly to Europe or Israel for 12,500 Miles

Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

4. Alaska Awards to South Africa on Cathay Pacific

Alaska Airlines charges a very reasonable 70,000 miles one way between the United States and Asia on Cathay Pacific First Class.

 

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It charges the same amount to Africa from the United States in Cathay Pacific First Class.Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.01.45 PM

Hong Kong to Johannesburg is now served by a plane without First Class, but you can still get 16 hours in First Class from the USA to Hong Kong plus 13 hours in Business Class more to Johannesburg for only 70,000 Alaska miles. If you love flying, this is the deal for you.

Alaska miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. You can also get Alaska Airlines miles from their churnable personal and business credit cards.

5. Virgin Atlantic Awards to Europe in Economy and Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way flight to the United Kingdom.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $131!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles plus $131 and return from a low tax country to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Huge Deal: 13k Miles to Europe This Summer.

You can also fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Virgin Atlantic miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Plus there is the “90k offer” on the Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Your Turn

Did I miss any of your favorite awards on the obscure foreign award charts? Tell me about it in the comments.


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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Off peak awards allow us to stretch our miles further by booking discounted awards to select regions during certain pre-determined dates. Off peak awards are offered by several airlines, and this post will put all the off peak awards I know of in one place.

While off peak awards are often less desirable dates, there are some off peak dates that are actually my favorite times to visit a country. For instance, March is a fantastic month in Argentina, and you can book an award to Buenos Aires or Bariloche every March for 10,000 fewer American Airlines miles than if you travel in July, a worse time to visit in my opinion.

Bariloche, Lake District of Patagonia, in March

American and US Airways have set off peak awards every year to select regions. Air France Flying Blue and Lufthansa Miles & More have discounted awards that are kind of like off peak awards. United and Delta occasionally have award sales that are like off peak awards, but are not as regular as American and US Airways’ off peak awards.

  • What are the off peak awards offered by American, US Airways, Delta, United, Lufthansa, and Air France?
  • What dates are they offered?
  • Do you have to fly the airline offering the deal or can you fly a partner?
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Last week I urged people to be realistic with their miles and listed The Easiest Places to Get with Miles. Today I’m telling you to dream big and to look to do things with miles that you couldn’t easily or cheaply do without miles.

For instance, for 60,000 miles, you can book yourself a “triangle trip” that lets you practice your Spanish in Chile and Spain. The trip would let you see the wildlife of Patagonia and the nightlife of Barcelona.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.59.52 AM

How many thousands of dollars would a similar trip cost? Could you even have dared to dream about such a routing before you knew the power of your miles?

The routing I’ll talk about relies on three discounted awards, and award space is plentiful on all routes. Best of all, you can live anywhere in the continental United States to take advantage, and you can customize the destinations to your taste.

  • What three discounted awards combine to form the legs of this triangle trip?
  • What 60,000 miles do you need? How can you get them?

The Idea

Air France Flying Blue–a transfer partner of Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Starpoints–releases promo awards between the rest of the world and Europe that allow for up to half off the miles price.

The most recent list for travel in November or December 2014 has several United States departure cities for up to half off.

The most recent list also includes several Latin American cities with discounted awards to Europe.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 9.09.32 AM

These awards can be booked one way in either direction and fuel surcharges are low on the economy awards.

I was drawn to the Santiago to Europe award because Chile is a great place to be in November and December, late Spring and Summer.

If Santiago doesn’t interest you, choose a different city on the Promo Awards list or wait for the next Promo Awards list for a new group of choices.

I searched for a one way award from Santiago to Barcelona, a city with mild weather in November and a lot to do year round. I found plenty of award space during the Promo Awards period for 20,000 Flying Blue miles + $121.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.47.21 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.49.34 AM

That still leaves flights between the United States and Chile and between Spain and the United States. Luckily both types of flights are discounted during November as part of American’s yearly off peak awards.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.50.05 AM

American Airlines off peak awards are incredible because they are super cheap, and you can get the discounted price on American’s flights or its partners’ award space.

At off peak pricing, between the United States and South America Zone 2 (Chile) is only 20,000 miles each way in economy. Between the United States and Europe is also only 20,000 miles each way at off peak pricing.

I searched for a one way award from Chicago to Santiago in late October. There’s nothing special about Chicago. Any home airport in the continental United States will cost the same amount.

Award space was wide open.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.51.20 AM

The award came to 20,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60 one way.

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Keep in mind that for only a few extra dollars in taxes and no extra miles, you could add LAN Chile flights onto the end of the award to take you somewhere other than Santiago. You can search for that award space on ba.com or by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book you award.

Last, I searched for a return from Madrid to Chicago. I know the Santiago to Europe flight flies into Barcelona, so this gives a chance to explore Spain a bit more before returning.

Award space was available every day in October and November on the route.

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Remember to avoid booking British Airways flights with American Airlines miles to save yourself hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges. Instead book other partners like US Airways.

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The US Airways returns costs 20,000 American Airlines miles + $59.

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Total Price

The total cost of the three discounted awards is 40,000 American Airlines miles, 20,000 Flying Blue miles, and $186.08. You could even redeem Arrival miles to eliminate the $186 out of pocket.

The same 60,000 miles that could get you one roundtrip to Europe or South America gets you a trip to both!

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American Airlines miles are easy to get. Right now you can get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® (the basic personal card) with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months. The annual fee is waived the first year, and the card comes with benefits like a free checked bag and a 10% miles rebate on all awards up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

Flying Blue miles are easy to get because you can transfer ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, or Starpoints. For this type of trip, I’d get the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which comes with 40,000 bonus points for spendign $3,000 in the first three months. My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card.

If you want to eliminate the $186 out of pocket, you could get the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months. Arrival miles can be used to eliminate any travel expense from your credit card statement, so you could redeem 18,600 Arrival miles to remove the $186 in taxes.

Bottom Line

Four days ago I wrote The Easiest Places to Get with Miles because I want newbies to have an early “win” with a successful booking. This post, on the surface, advocates a totally different use of miles: a grand triangle trip with destinations on two continents.

The idea is to use miles to book a trip that would have been extremely costly to book without miles.

However I see both posts similarly. Both talk about trips that are extremely easy to book with miles. All three routes in this post had award space pretty much every day. The difficulty, if there is one, in planning a grand trip is imagining the trip, not booking it in this case.

  • Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card
  • Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Last week, Citi announced that ThankYou Points are now transferable to Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles. You can now transfer Citi ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card a 1:1 ratio to:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (transfer in 22-36 hours)
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points.

I singled out Flying Blue as the second best transfer partner of ThankYou Points because of 12,500 mile awards to Europe and Israel and 15,000 mile awards to Hawaii and the Caribbean.

I wanted to test the transfer time from ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles, so folks can plan ahead for future Flying Blue redemptions.

It took me two attempts to have one successful transfer.

  • What was the process to transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles?
  • What time did I transfer the points and when did they arrive as Flying Blue miles?

Failed Attempt

At 5:00 AM ET on August 26, I transferred 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,000 Flying Blue miles at thankyou.com.

I got this confirmation screen, saying it could take up to 14 days for my miles to post in my Flying Blue account.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.06.53 PMImmediately I received an email acknowledging my transfer request.

Then, 2.5 days later at 3 PM ET on August 28, I got a voice mail that said that my transfer had not gone through. The full story is here. The bottom line is that you need to enter a 12 digit Flying Blue account number, which means adding 00 before your 10 digit number.

Successful Attempt

I re-initiated my transfer at 4 PM on August 28 with a 12 digit Flying Blue account number. This time I did not get an immediate confirmation email. It came four hours later.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 11.54.26 AM

The 1,000 miles posted to Flying Blue by 3 AM ET on Tuesday September 2. That means the transfer took no more than 4.5 days.

I didn’t check for the day and a half prior to the miles posting, so it took between 3 and 4.5 days for the ThankYou Points to show up as Flying Blue miles.

A lag on transfers can be annoying, but I am always willing to risk award space disappearing because:

  1. Award space does change frequently, but I have luckily never missed out on an award because space disappeared while a miles transfer was in progress.
  2. If one award falls through, the transferred miles are hardly worthless. You can use them for your Plan B award.

Getting ThankYou Points

The easiest way to earn a bundle of ThankYou Points is with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

 

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

To get the full 50,000 point bonus, you do have to pay one annual fee of $125 (the annual fee is waived the first year, but you have to hold the card a second year.) Those 50,000 points could transfer to Singapore Airlines and be enough for a roundtrip to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii! Or those 50,000 points could transfer to Flying Blue for a roundtrip to South America, Europe, or Israel.

Further Reading

  1. Gold Mine Award Space to All of Argentina with Flying Blue Miles
  2. Fly to Europe or Israel for 12,500 Flying Blue Miles
  3. Citi ThankYou Points Now Transferable to Nine Airlines



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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Edit 9/3/14: Readers are reporting that Air France and Delta cannot ticket all the space shown on airfrance.us. There may be some sort of glitch. I’ll try to get to the bottom of this.

Award space is wide open in economy and business class between the United States and Argentina for the next 11 months, including award space over the peak December to March summer period.

You can book this award space on wide-open Aerolineas Argentinas flights with your Delta or Flying Blue miles. You can fly the awards into cities other than Buenos Aires to explore more of one of my favorite countries.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.42.48 AMWhether you’re interested in tango, steak, wine, Patagonia, or Iguazu Falls, you can get there for as little as 50,000 miles + $120 roundtrip.

This award space even extends over Christmas and New Year’s and for 2+ people.

Plus right now Delta miles and Flying Blue miles are even easier than usual to accumulate.

  • What is the award space picture?
  • How is Aerolineas Argentinas Business Class space?
  • What costly mistake do you need to avoid while booking?
  • How can you book the awards?

Aerolineas Argentinas

Aerolineas Argentinas is the flag carrier of Argentina. It is a member of SkyTeam, so its flights can be booked with Delta miles and Flying Blue miles.

It has daily flights between Miami and Buenos Aires.

Beyond Miami and Buenos Aires

Delta flies to Miami from all the following cities, including both New York airports.

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Adding on any of these domestic flights at the Saver level will cost zero extra miles whether you book a Delta or Flying Blue award. You can connect from anywhere else in the country also if you’re willing to add another connection in Atlanta or another Delta hub.

Aerolineas Argentinas serves the entire country from Buenos Aires, but Buenos Aires has two major airports.

The international airport (EZE, Ezeiza) has scheduled flights to these destinations.

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The domestic airport (AEP, Aeroparque) has more frequent domestic flights to more destinations.

Note very carefully in your search results which airports are coming up. Airfrance.us did not add any warning that this itinerary from Miami to Mendoza had an airport change in both directions. (The red arrows are mine.)

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If you have to change airports, the drive is 40 minutes to well over an hour depending on traffic in my experience. (I lived in Buenos Aires for six months last year.)

Searching the Award Space

Delta.com does not display award space on Aerolineas Argentinas. Search airfrance.us instead (here’s how.) Any award space on airfrance.us will be bookable with Delta miles.

I searched for two passengers over peak times. The Saver award space shows up in green.

Economy Award Space

In economy, there is award space almost every day in January and February in both directions.

Miami to BsAs

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BsAs to Miami

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I like January the best because of the long days around the summer solstice, but some people will prefer the cooler weather in April with a daily high of 73 degrees.

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In that case, award space is open almost every day in March and April for two passengers in economy.

Miami to BsAsScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.32.32 AM

BsAs to Miami

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Business Class Award Space

Business Class award space is even more widely available for two people. While there is some economy award space right around Christmas and New Year’s–the absolute peak time on the route–there is Business Class award space almost every day in that time frame.

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The return shows a lot of award space starting January 1. That means you could easily book something like December 18 – January 3 and have your kids miss very little school.

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How to Book Award Space

Once you’ve found the award space on airfrance.us, you book with the airline whose miles you’re using. The miles you choose affects the miles price you pay.

Flying Blue charges 25,000 miles each way in economy from the United States to Argentina. Delta charges 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy from the United States to Argentina.

Flying Blue charges 62,500 miles one way, and Delta charges 125,000 miles roundtrip in business class to Argentina. Business Class on Aerolineas Argentinas should be avoided because it is just a bigger recliner seat, not a bed of any sort as is the international standard.

To book a Flying Blue award, book right on airfrance.us.

This two passenger award for an economy roundtrip cost 100,000 Flying Blue miles + $244, or 50k miles + $122 per person.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 1.33.50 AM

To book a Delta award, call 800-323-2323 and feed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of each flight you found on airfrance.us. The award will cost 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy and about the same in taxes and fees. (Delta will collect a few dollars less in taxes but charges a $25 phone fee.)

Delta awards allow one stopover and one open jaw. In my mind, the best way to use these would be:

  • Your home airport to Buenos Aires (EZE)
  • A second Argentine city (Iguazu, Mendoza, Bariloche, etc) to Buenos Aires (AEP or EZE) (stopover)
  • Buenos Aires (EZE) to your home airport

This leaves out how you get from Buenos Aires to the other Argentine cities you want to visit. You’d use paid flights or separate awards to book those flights.

Getting Delta and Flying Blue Miles

There are three Delta cards with 50,000 mile bonuses that expire 9/8/14. You can get one personal and one business card. (SPG points and Membership Rewards also transfer to Delta.)

  • The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express offers 50,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. You get a $50 statement credit after your first Delta purchase in the first 3 months. The card’s annual fee is waived the first year, then $95. This is the basic personal card.
  • The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express offers 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles toward Delta status and 50,000 bonus award miles after you spend $1,000 on your new card in your first 3 months. You earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card within your first 3 months. This card has a $195 annual fee that is NOT waived. This is the personal card to get if you want Delta status because of the MQMs you can earn.
  • The Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express offers 50,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. You get a $50 statement credit after your first Delta purchase in the first 3 months. The card’s annual fee is waived the first year, then $95.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints.

You can get 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

Bottom Line

If you want to go to one of my favorite countries during the best time of year, Argentina in December to April, award space is wide open right now with Delta miles and Flying Blue miles on Aerolineas Argentinas flights.

Both types of miles are easy to get right now with a number of limited time offers and transfer partners.

Maximize the trip with stopovers and open jaws, and enjoy the many regions of Argentina like the Patagonian Lake District and Iguazu Falls.

Best bike ride of my life near Bariloche, Argentina
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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