Best ways to book Europe flights with Ultimate Rewards
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Star Alliance-Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and United
- Part 3: SkyTeam Alliance- KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue and Korean Air
- Part 4: OneWorld Alliance-British Airways
- Part 5: Virgin Atlantic (no alliance)
Using Ultimate Rewards partners in the SkyTeam Alliance to book flights between the US and Europe:
There are 2 Ultimate Rewards airline partners to which you can transfer your points for SkyTeam alliance flights.
- KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue
- Korean Air Skypass
You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to these two programs to book flights between the US and Europe on Delta, KLM, AirFrance, and Alitalia flights.
- Transfer Chase UR to FlyingBlue at a 1:1 ratio
- You can hold a ticket for 2 days by calling.
- The change or cancellation fee is 45 Euros per ticket
- No fuel surcharge on flights booked with FlyingBlue miles on Delta operated flights.
- For KLM/AirFrance operated flights, you will pay fuel surcharges on award tickets.
KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue awards between North America and Europe
- 25,000 each way in economy
- 62,500 each way in business
*You can also use Delta’s website to search for availability but keep in mind that in order to book a Delta flight with either of the Ultimate Rewards Skyteam partners, there must be award space available at the saver level on Delta. This is a little bit of a challenge since Delta does not even publish an award chart. The general consensus is that if you see an economy award ticket for 30,000 each way from the US to Europe in economy, it is likely a “saver” award ticket. For business class, you are looking for flights between the US and Europe at 70,000 Skymiles each way. Any tickets that cost more than these amounts are likely not going to be available if you search on KLM/AirFrance or Korean Air. Also remember that these prices you see if you’re searching on Delta’s website are not what you will pay. If you use KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue to book the Delta ticket, you’re subject to FlyingBlue’s partner award chart. Likewise, if you use Korean Air Skypass to book the ticket, you’re subject to the Skypass partner award chart. With both of these programs, you will actually pay less miles for an award ticket than if you were to book through Delta.
Save miles with FlyingBlue Promo Awards
Promo Awards are select destinations that are offered for a reduced number of miles. You can save between 20% and 50% on the amount of reward miles required.
- The list of destinations is updated every month and availability is limited.
- Promo awards include flights with AIR FRANCE, KLM and participating airline partners
- Economy and business class tickets can be listed as promo awards
- Available online only
Here are the current offerings between North America and Europe.
- Flights on AirFrance between Boston and Europe in business class for 46,875 miles each way. This is a savings of 25% of miles normally required for this ticket.
- Flights on AirFrance between Chicago and Europe in business class for 46,75 miles each way. This is a savings of 25% of miles normally required for this ticket.
- If you want to spend even less miles, flights between New York and Paris in economy on AirFrance are only 18,750 miles each way. This is a savings of 25%.
Korean Air Skypass
- Transfer from UR at a 1:1 ratio
- Use Delta or KLM/AirFrance to find saver level award ticket availability, then book the ticket on Korean Air’s website.
- You can place award tickets on hold but you will need to call
- You may be subject to fuel surcharges
- Korean has one of the best deals for business class. The problem is they only allow roundtrip award tickets. This means that there must be availability for your dates both ways on the same airline.
- There are currently no fees for changing or canceling an award ticket.
- After August 1, 2017, there will be a charge of ~$27USD to change an award ticket. Also, there will be a penalty of 3,000 miles to cancel an award ticket. This means if you cancel an economy award ticket, you get 47,000 miles redeposited to your account rather than 50,000. Remember that the miles are refunded to your Korean Air Skypass account, not your Ultimate Rewards account.
- Even after August 2017, this is one of the more generous change and cancellation policies of all airlines!
- Economy is 50,000 roundtrip
- Business is 80,000 roundtrip
- First is 100,000 roundtrip. Note that first class on SkyTeam airlines is generally only available to elite members of individual airline programs. In other words, you probably are not going to find an AirFrance first class ticket to book with Korean Air miles.
This sounds like a great deal, especially in business class. It is a good deal, but you will pay fuel surcharges on some partners.
For example, an economy ticket on Delta from DFW to Paris is $250 in fuel surcharges (and $123 in taxes). Considering the fact that ultra-low fares to Europe in economy are pretty common these days, I’m not sure that an economy award ticket is worth 50,000 miles and $373.
On the other hand, business class may be a better deal even with the out of pocket cost. In business class, a ticket from Detroit to Paris priced at ~$482 in taxes and fees. ~$296 is the fuel surcharge. Note that the taxes/government fees (~$186) are charged no matter what airline you use to book an award ticket.
Would I book this ticket for 80,000 miles and almost $500 in taxes and fees?
A roundtrip business class ticket from Detroit to Paris is at least $3,000. If you do not know how to calculate the value you’re getting when redeeming points, read this post! Let’s do the math.
- $3,000-$482=$2518. I am going to subtract all fees and fuel surcharges from the cost of the ticket before calculating the potential value of using points.
- 0.031 x 100= 3.1
- If I redeem 80,000 miles for this ticket, I am getting at least 3.1 cents per point/mile. Remember that in most cases I consider anything over 2 cents per point a good value.
The verdict: Yes. I would transfer 80,000 Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air Skypass to book this business class ticket. To compare, if I wanted to use Delta Skymiles to book this ticket it would cost 140,000 miles (70,000 each way). Delta is not a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, but even Delta was a partner, I would use Korean Air to book the ticket.
Which is better, Korean Air or KLM/AirFrance?
This depends on a few factors. I will discuss this by class.
For economy, KLM or AirFrance will likely be a better choice. While both Korean Air and KLM/AirFrance charge 50,000 miles for a roundtrip economy award ticket, you have a little more flexibility with KLM. For example, if you cannot find dates that work for a roundtrip ticket on a single airline, you will not be able to book the Korean Air ticket.
Let’s say you find availability to Europe on a Delta operated flight at the saver level. For the flight from Europe, you cannot find availability on a Delta flight but there is availability on a KLM flight. KLM/AirFrance will allow you to book two one-way flights or a roundtrip flight on different carriers. So in this case you would want to go with KLM/AirFrance.
On the other hand, let’s say you find the flights to and from Europe you need and they are both operated by KLM. Unless the route is listed as a promo award with KLM, you’re going to be charged 50,000 miles with either program. If you’d prefer to have the flexibility to change or cancel the ticket for no fee, you would want to use Korean Air.
Korean Air is most likely going to cost the fewest miles. In fact, this is one of the lowest business class award ticket costs to Europe out of every airline loyalty program in the world. It would cost 80,000 miles roundtrip for a flight in business class between the US and Europe. With KLM/AirFrance, it would cost 125,000 roundtrip for the same flight. If your destination happens to be a Promo Award for your dates, it will be less than 125,000 with KLM/AirFrance, but likely not less than 80,000 miles roundtrip.
Again, there must be roundtrip availability on the same airline to book with Korean Air Skypass. If you cannot find roundtrip availability for both ways on the same airline, you could use KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue for two one-way flights on different SkyTeam partners. You could also consider using KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue for one way in business class and the other way in economy.
Ultimate Rewards transfer partners in the SkyTeam alliance offer many great options for flights to Europe. Even though Delta is not a direct transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can book Delta and other SkyTeam alliance flights with KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue and Korean Air Skypass. Bonus: you will spend less points on these flights than what Delta would charge!