Best Ways to Book Europe with Ultimate Rewards Part 2: Star Alliance

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 Star Alliance to book flights between the US and Europe

The two Star Alliance partners to which you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards are:

  1. Singapore Airlines
  2. United

When you have miles with either of these two programs, you can book partner flights with any Star Alliance airline.  As you can see, the Star Alliance has several European carriers.  This gives several options for award tickets.  In this post I will discuss how to use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles and United Mileage Plus miles to book flights between North America and Europe.

Star Alliance transfer partners

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

singaporeair.com

  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer at a 1:1 ratio
  • KrisFlyer allows tickets to be held for 2 days if you call
  • Change policy: No fee to change the date.  If you change the route or class it will be a 12$ charge for flights on Singapore Airlines or 20$ for flights on partner airlines
  • Cancellation policy: $30 to redeposit the points to your KrisFlyer account.
  • No close-in fee.  This means that if you book a flight close to departure, you do not have to pay a fee.  In comparison, United charges $75 for flights booked within 21 days of the travel date.
  • No fuel surcharges on Singapore flights!  Partner awards may be subject to fuel surcharges.
  • One slight annoyance with Singapore Airlines is that you must book partner awards over the phone.  Fortunately, their agents are pretty competent and you should not have trouble if you do your research ahead of time:
    • Search Air Canada Aeroplan and/or United to find most Star Alliance award availability.
    • Remember when you’re searching other airline programs for availability, you’re looking for flights at the saver level.  Also remember that your ticket will be priced based on the KrisFlyer StarAlliance chart, not the price that you see when searching.
    • After confirming availability, write down your dates and flight numbers and call KrisFlyer to place the ticket on hold or to book it.
  • In addition to Star Alliance partners, Singapore Airlines partners with Virgin Atlantic.  Remember that you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines or to Virgin Atlantic.  If you transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines, you’re subject to the Singapore Airlines award chart for Virgin Atlantic.  See more below.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer award chart for Singapore Airlines operated flights

Singapore airlines award chart, chase ultimate rewards for europe

Singapore Airlines only offers two routes on their own metal between the US and Europe:
  • Houston-Manchester
  • JFK-Frankfurt

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer award chart for Star Alliance/partner operated flights

singapore airlines star alliance award chart, chase ultimate rewards for europe

Economy:
  • 27,500 each way on partners (to compare, United is 30,000 each way)
  • 22,500 each saver level on Singapore flights
Business:
  • 65,000 each way in business on Singapore and partner flights
First/Suites:
  • 76,000 each way in first class on Singapore flights.  This means you can fly from JFK to Frankfurt of Singapore’s A380 in a Suite!  The Houston to Manchester route is not flown on an A380, so there are no suites.  A roundtrip flight from JFK-FRA in Singapore Suites is over $8,000.  If you do the math assuming $4,000 each way, you’re getting over 5 cents per point in value which is an excellent redemption!
  • 80,000 each way in first class on partner flights.
singapore airlines suites jfk-fra, europe with ultimate rewards

Fly one of the fanciest first class products in the world for free! Photos courtesy of Singaporeair.com

Keep in mind there are only 2 routes between the US and Europe on Singapore Airlines.  These are JFK-Frankfurt and Houston-Manchester.  Only the JFK-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-JFK flights are operated by the A380, so this is the only route between the US and  Europe for which you can book a Singapore Airlines suite.  You can add a United flight from your home airport to JFK as long as United has saver availability.  If you have to add a United flight to get from your home airport to JFK, you will be subject to the partner airlines chart so it will be 80,000 miles each way.  That’s still a great deal considering you only have to fork over 4,000 more miles if you do not live in New York.

You can also use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class:

singapore airlines virgin atlantic chart, ultimate rewards for europe flights

You can fly VA upper class for 100,000 miles round trip.  This is a good deal compared to what some other programs charge to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.  2 caveats:

  1. While Singapore Airlines allows one-way tickets on most awards, Virgin Atlantic awards can only be booked roundtrip
  2. You will pay over 400$ in surcharges each way.

I will discuss Virgin Atlantic’s own program in part 5 of this series.  If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, you most likely will not get around the surcharges no matter what program you use to book, unfortunately.

United MileagePlus

united.com

  • United miles can be used to book United award tickets or tickets on Star Alliance and United’s other partner airlines.
  • United does not impose fuel surcharges for  their own flights or on any of their partners.  This is great considering carriers such as Lufthansa can often come with steep fuel surcharges.
  • Most awards can be searched and booked online.
  • Close-in fee: $75 fee for booking within 21 days of travel
  • Change/cancellation fee if more than 61 days before departure date is 75$ per ticket
  • Change/cancellation fee if within 60 days of departure is $125 per ticket
  • These fees may be less if you have status with United
  • Changes are only allowed before 24 hours of departure time
  • United does not allow you to put an award ticket on hold for free, but if the itinerary is solely operated by United, you can pay to hold the ticket. The cost is ~$10 for a 3 day hold.
In addition to Star Alliance partners, United also partners with these Airlines

Aer LingusAeromarAir DolomitiAzul Cape AirEdelweissEurowingsGermanwingsGreat Lakes AirlinesHawaiian AirlinesIsland AirJet AirwaysSilver Airways

United’s Award chart for flights between the US/Canada and Europe

United award chart North America US to Europe

Economy:
  • 30,000 miles each way
Business:
  • 57,500 each way on United
  • 70,000 each way on partners
First:
  • 80,000 each way on United
  • 110,000 each way on partners
Maximize your miles even more by taking advantage of United’s new “Excursionist Perk”

According to United, the Excursionist Perk is “… a free one-way award within select multi-city trips. All you have to do is book a multi-city award itinerary with three or more one-way awards and one of those awards will be free, if the qualifying conditions are met. (This benefit replaces the previous stopover policy.)”

If you’re new to award travel, I will explain this in another post!

Conclusion

The Star Alliance partners of Ultimate Rewards offer many options for booking flights between North America and Europe.  If you can’t find availability in the Star Alliance, don’t worry because there are still more options!  The next post in this series will cover Ultimate Rewards Skyteam alliance partners (KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue and Korean Air).

Do you prefer Singapore Airlines or United to book Star Alliance flights?

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