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
- Part 4: OneWorld Alliance-British Airways and Iberia
- Part 5: Virgin Atlantic (no alliance)
Using Ultimate Rewards partners in the SkyTeam Alliance to book flights between the US and Europe:
There is only 1 Ultimate Rewards airline partner to which you can transfer your points for SkyTeam alliance flights. That partner is KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue. As of August 2018, Korean Air is no longer a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.
You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue to book flights between the US and Europe that are operated by Delta, KLM, AirFrance, and Alitalia.
- Transfer Chase UR to FlyingBlue at a 1:1 ratio
- You may be able to hold a ticket for 2 days by calling.
- One-way tickets are allowed
- The change or cancellation fee is 45 Euros per ticket
- There are 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
Like Delta, FlyingBlue no longer publishes award charts. For that reason, it’s tough to anticipate the amount of miles required for a redemption on any given route. This is frustrating if you are trying to plan ahead and want an idea of how many points/miles you will need.
Normally, I can put a frequent flyer program in one of three categories:
- Zone/region based (for example, American Airlines AAdvantage)
- Distance-based (for example, British Airways Executive Club)
- Price-based (for example, Southwest)
Zone-based means that the entire world is divided into different regions. In a zone-based program, any flight between 2 zones costs a fixed amount of miles. Every airline program has its own definition of regions and its own redemption costs for each region.
A distance-based program charges a certain amount of miles based on the distance of the trip. Each distance based program has its own distance ranges and redemption prices. Click here for more info.
Price based means that the number of miles or points charged reflects the current fare price of a revenue ticket. For example, a Southwest flight with a lower fare will cost a lower amount of Southwest Rapid Rewards points than a ticket with a higher fare. The only way to check is to search on Southwest.com
FlyingBlue is none of the above
I wouldn’t call it a zone based program because different cities in the same region have different redemption costs. For example, Atlanta and JFK are both considered North America and Paris is consider Europe. I know, thanks captain obvious. This is important, though, because in most zone based programs, any ticket between two regions (North America to Europe in this case) would require the same amount of miles no matter which North American city is your departure airport. In other words, a program like AAdvantage would require the same amount of miles whether you depart from Atlanta or New York. With FlyingBlue, a ticket from Atlanta to Paris has a different cost than a ticket from JFK to Paris that connects in Atlanta.
I also wouldn’t call Flying Blue a distance based program either, since more distance doesn’t necessarily mean more miles. Also, adding a connection may or may not change your redemption cost. Normally adding a connection for an award ticket using a distance based program like British Airways Executive Club would require additional points.
Finally, the award ticket pricing does not seem to reflect the paid fares.
So what does this mean?
It means that it’s impossible to predict the cost of a redemption between any given city pairs. But it’s not all bad news. Sometimes the rogue pricing system spits out some great redemption costs. My advice is don’t count on Flying Blue, but always check Flying Blue against other Ultimate Rewards partners when you’re ready to redeem. You might find a great redemption price! As always, never transfer Ultimate Rewards to an airline program until you’ve confirmed availability and pricing for your dates.
What’s the ballpark amount of FlyingBlue miles required for a redemption between the US and Europe?
Again, this depends on so many factors.
- US departure/arrival city
- European destination/departure city
- Airline that is operating the flight
- Promo awards
At the time of publishing (October 2018), I’m seeing roundtrip economy flights for as low as 44,000 miles or 21,500 each. The lowest business class I saw was 72,000 miles one-way. Promo flights are lower (see next section).
Promo Awards are a great way to use FlyingBlue miles
Promo Awards are select destinations that are offered for a reduced number of miles. The list of destinations is updated every month and availability is limited. If you’re able to take advantage of a promo award, you can save between 20% and 50% on the amount of miles required.
At the time of publishing (October 2018), business class flights operated by AirFrance between Seattle and Europe are 50% off. Business class flights operated by KLM or AirFrance between Washington and Europe are 25% off.
This could be a great deal! I found business class seats from Washington to Paris for 41,250 miles one-way with the promo award.
How to search for award tickets with FlyingBlue miles
For Oneworld and Star Alliance flights, I have a few particular programs I use to search for award space no matter what frequent program I’m using to book. But since FlyingBlue’s award ticket pricing is unpredictable, the only way to get accurate pricing is to use their own website to do the search. Fortunately, you can search 5 weeks at a time, which is nice if your dates are flexible.
The Ultimate Rewards transfer partner in the SkyTeam alliance, KLM/AirFrance FlyingBlue, may or may not be a good redemption for flights to Europe. The only way to know is to check prices on FlyingBlue when you’re ready to book and compare with other Ultimate Rewards airline programs!