I wanted to give you guys a peak inside my trip planning process.
So yesterday @ThreadTherapy told me she wanted to take a trip for the 4th of July weekend. The destination? …Paris.
We’ve never been to Paris, so that means I need to do a lot of research.
Best Business Class Award Flight from US to Paris
For all of our trips, I use points and miles to fly for free, and I almost always fly the same route. JFK to FRA (Frankfurt) on Singapore Suites using points. The one-way flight costs around $5,000, but for only 76,000 miles it’s a total steal.
I typically transfer points from AMEX Membership Rewards. I rack up the majority of my points from online advertising spend. My Amex Gold card gets me 3x points on advertising spend, so my points add up fast. Also my Amex Platinum card gets me 5x on airfare, so all of my past bookings where I’ve paid in cash I get bonus points.
Best Flight to Europe from the US with Points
I took a look at flights from JFK to FRA and the only flights available was a single Standard award (130,000 miles) and the 2nd ticket was waitlisted. In my experience, these waitlisted flights never open up, even on the day of the flight.
So that’s out.
Since @ThreadTherapy wants to fly to Paris, I figured might as well look into direct flights. I started my search by going on Google Flights and looking for direct flights from NYC to Paris.
I typically search one-way only, because I’m using points and most likely my return point is going to be different it’s easiest this way.
Doing my search I found that Delta and AirFrance both have the flights I’m looking for, both business class.
Delta award flights are typically way overpriced (around 170,000 miles one-way in business class) which is a total waste of points.
So I’m heading to AirFrance to see what kind of flight they offer. I headed to their FlyingBlue award booking page.
FlyingBlue doesn’t allow non-status members from getting access to their First Class cabin, so I’m stuck searching only for business class flights.
New York to Paris in Business Class for 62,500 Miles
There was a full page of award eligibility, and it looks like a business class flight is 62,500 miles.
Business Class on AirFrance for 62,500 miles isn’t nearly as good a value as 76,000 miles for Singapore Suites, but since we have a tight deadline and don’t want to deal with taking a flight once we land in Europe, I consider this our best option.
I did end up checking Delta, and these same flights were 170,000 points, which makes me feel better about this pricing.
Also, if I were to pay full price for this AirFrance ticket, the price would be $7,227, so this gives me a $.11 per mile redemption value. I would never pay $7k for a ticket, but it makes me feel like I’m winning when I get this sort of value.
Now that I’ve got an entry into Europe, the rest of the process gets a lot easier.
My next step will be to find a hotel, which I’ll most likely use TabletHotels, because I love the quality control they place on the properties, and I haven’t been disappointed by any of their properties yet.
We’ll most likely spend 3 nights in Paris, then from there, 2 nights in Nice, and then head back.
But based on geography, I’m thinking of maybe flying first into Nice, then backtracking to get to Paris to fly back to the States.
What do you guys think? Appreciate your input on where to stay, what to do, etc.
Best way to get home from Europe using points and miles?
Once we get to Paris, how do we get home?
Since we’re on a tight schedule I was looking into the shortest business class award flight I could find home in Southern Europe.
That location happens to be Lisbon (also a city I have on my hit list).
The flight from Lisbon to Newark is about 7 hours, which is only 1 hour longer than flying to San Francisco.
So the only carriers that fly to Lisbon direct are Delta and TAP Portugal.
Delta is awful with their award pricing, but TAP Portugal actually offers competitively priced business class flights if you pay cash.
I used to use my AMEX Membership Rewards points which I could redeem at a 1.5x value, and booked a ton of domestic business class flights. Now that that benefit has been reduced to 1.35x points per dollar, I wanted to explore one of the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1.5x value.
Which is the same value as the old Amex Platinum, and yet another comparison of Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum.
Best Business Class Award Flight from Europe to the US on TAP Portugal
The cost in cash for a business class flight from LIS to EWR is $1400, but with the 1.5 point redemption this drops to 97,000 points. That’s obviously a 1.5 point per dollar value (below the 2 cents I try to achieve), but when you only have 5 nights to spend in Europe, the convenience of flying direct home on a 7 night flight trumps my artificial 2 cent value.
Plus, I was already getting 11 cents per mile on those AirFrance seats 🙂
Hope this helps you guys who are new to booking and want to figure out how to plan a (last minute) trip to Europe using points and miles.