Hey Free Travelers,
We talk a lot about Chase Ultimate rewards, and for good reason. Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the most valuable points available. Because of the Chase 5/24 rule, Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the first points you’ll be earning. Since Europe is such a popular destination, let’s take a look at how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe.
This is going to be a fairly in depth article, we are going to take a look at all of the Chase airline transfer partners to see how you can use each one to get to Europe.
For each transfer partner you’ll learn what alliance they are part of (if they are part of one at all), and which airlines you can book using their points. Then, we will discuss how many points it will take to fly to Europe using their award program. Finally, we will highlight when that partner is a good choice. Armed with this knowledge, you will be more than prepared to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to Fly to Europe.
Aer Lingus AerClub
First up, is Aer Lingus AerClub. This is one of the lesser known Chase transfer partners, but it definitely has some value.
Aer Lingus is not part of any major alliance. They are a part of the Avios family, which means you can use points to book flights on the following airlines:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
The amount of points you need depends on 2 factors: your travel dates, and the distance you are traveling.
It will require more Avios to travel during peak days versus off-peak days. The peak days are around the times you would expect: summer, and winter holidays. Here’s the full list of peak travel days for 2019:
- January 1-6
- April 12-28
- June 15-August 31
- December 18-30
This means a lot of summer travel will cost a bit more points. But if you can travel outside of these dates you’ll be able to save quite a few Avios.
The amount of Avios you need will depend on the distance of each leg of your flight. Aer Lingus has 6 zones, each costing a bit more than the next. The following table shows how many miles are in each zone, and the amount of miles you’ll need for peak or off-peak travel.
With this in mind, what are some of the best uses of Aer Lingus AerClub to get to Europe? The best use is for flights from the US to Ireland. Multiple US cities to Dublin fall into Zone 5, and a few others are in Zone 6.
The Zone 5 cities are:
- New York
- Washington DC
The Zone 6 cities are:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
For Zone 5 cities to Ireland, it will only cost 13,000 Avios one-way or 26,000 round-trip in off-peak economy. During peak economy travel dates it will cost 40,000 round-trip which isn’t a significant increase in points.
Zone 6 cities will cost a bit more – 35,000 in economy during off-peak travel dates and 50,000 in economy during peak travel dates.
From there, flights to Europe are fairly numerous. Popular cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, and London all fall into Zone 1 from Dublin and would require 4,000 points each way in off-peak economy or 4,500 points in peak economy. Most of your southern European cities, such as Venice, Lisbon, or Madrid fall into Zone 2 from Dublin.
If you’re looking to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe in economy class, using Aer Lingus AerClub is a solid choice – especially if Ireland is your destination in mind. You can get to Ireland from US cities for 26,000 to 35,000 Avios during the off-peak season, or 40 to 50,000 during peak season. With the sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, our favorite first card to get, you can get 2 round-trip tickets to Ireland in economy from many cities during the off-peak travel dates.
British Airways Executive Club
British Airways, like Aer Lingus, also uses the Avios program. Although they use the same program, there are some differences between the two.
The most notable difference is that British Airways is a member of the Oneworld Alliance. Because of this alliance membership, you can use British Airways Avios to book flights on many more airlines than you can with Aer Lingus. You can use your British Airways Avios to book flights on the following Oneworld airlines:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- Sri Lankan Airlines
- FIJI Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
In addition to the Oneworld airlines, British Airways has partnerships with three other airlines outside of the alliance:
- Aer Lingus
- Alaska Airlines
- Air Italy
British Airways has peak and off-peak pricing as well, but it only applies to British Airways flights. Partner flights will always price based on the peak-pricing amount. The only exceptions are other airlines that use the Avios program, Aer Lingus and Iberia. Those will price based on their own peak travel calendar. For 2019, the peak dates for British Airways flights are:
- January 1-6, 2019
- February 15-18, 2019
- February 21-24, 2019
- April 5-23, 2019
- May 24-June 2, 20189
- July 7-September 6, 2019
- October 12-14, 2019
- October 18-21, 2019
- October 25-28, 2019
- November 1-4, 2019
- December 14-31, 2019
Similar to Aer Lingus, British Airways offers a distance-based award chart. One benefit to British Airways is that you can book flights in premium economy and first class, which you can’t do with Aer Lingus.
If you’re flying with British Airways by itself, or British Airways with a single partner, the following award chart applies:
Premium Economy Off-Peak
Premium Economy Peak
You can also book a flight with multiple partners, but the costs are double, sometimes triple the price of peak with a single partner. For that reason, you should avoid booking a multi-partner trip when trying to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe.
With this in mind, what are some of the best uses of British Airways Avios to fly to Europe? The best uses are for non-stop flights. Similar to Aer Lingus, each leg of your flight will add more miles to your trip, so flying nonstop is a great way to keep costs low. Thankfully, British Airways flies to a lot of US airports.
Unfortunately, British Airways puts a lot of taxes and fees on its award tickets. I’ve even seen the taxes and fees be higher than the cost of the ticket itself, making points useless.
A good way around this is by flying American Airlines to Europe. You will still face some taxes and fees, but they won’t be nearly as high. Also, British Airways only flies from the US to London. American Airlines flies to many other European destinations such as Paris, Rome, and Barcelona.
Taking the American Airlines flight from Philadelphia (PHL) to Paris (CDG) is 3,728 miles in distance. In economy, this would cost 20,000 Avios one-way or 40,000 Avios round-trip. If you’re near an American Airlines hub, using British Airways Avios to fly to Europe is a great way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe.
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
Now, let’s deviate from Avios programs to discuss another way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe. FlyingBlue is the award program of Air France and KLM. Air France is the national carrier of France, and KLM is the national airline of the Netherlands.
Air France and KLM are members of Skyteam, one of the three major airline alliances. If you use Flyingblue to get to Europe, you’ll be flying on one of the following airlines:
- Air France
- Czech Airlines
Although there are other Skyteam members, you can’t fly directly to Europe with them. The best options for flying to Europe will be Delta or KLM. Air France has some steep taxes and fees on their award tickets, similar to British Airways. These fees can quickly negate the value of the award ticket you’re booking unless you are booking in a premium cabin such as business class.
Last year, the FlyingBlue program changed its award structure and got rid of its award chart. Pricing is now dynamic. While I can’t tell you exactly how many points it will take, you can see the lowest points cost that you can typically find. The following is the lowest points cost in each cabin between the US and Europe:
- Economy – 21,500
- Business – 53,000
- First Class – 200,000
Keep in mind, you might see the cost in points be a bit higher because of dynamic pricing. This is just the lowest amount you can typically expect to see.
There is one exception, and that is what makes FlyingBlue such a valuable option for flying to Europe. FlyingBlue has monthly promo awards which can drastically reduce the cost of your ticket. FlyingBlue promos are monthly discounts between Europe and other destinations. Sometimes the discounts are as steep as 50% off business class which would mean you could fly in business class to Europe for 53,000 points round-trip instead of one-way.
If you’re looking to fly to Europe, you should always check the FlyingBlue promo awards before you go. FlyingBlue promo awards are one of the best ways to save a ton of points and miles to fly to Europe, especially if you want to travel in business class.
After our brief departure, we are back to our scheduled discussion of another (and the final) award program on this list that uses Avios: Iberia Plus. Just like British Airways, Iberia is a part of the OneWorld Alliance and you can use Iberia Avios to book flights on any Oneworld airline.
Iberia also has its own peak and off-peak schedules. For 2019, peak dates are:
- January 1-13
- March 15, 16, 19
- April 12, 13, 17-22, 26, 27, 30
- May 1, 5
- June 19-20
- June 22- September 15
- October 25-26,
- October 31-November 4
- December 3-5, 8, 14-24, 27-Jan 13 (2020)
Thankfully, Iberia publishes their award table online. There are three award tables to be aware of:
- Iberia operated flights during peak season
- Iberia operated flights during the off-peak season
- The partner award chart
When looking at these award charts there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the partner awards must be booked as round-trip awards whereas Iberia flights can be booked as one-way tickets. Second, off-peak is an amazing deal, and that is exactly the best use for Iberia Avios.
If you are looking to travel in the off-season, you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe using Iberia Avios for a fraction of what it will cost other times of the year. Flights from the US to Europe typically fall between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. If you can travel during the off season with Iberia, this means you’ll only need 17,000 points each way in economy (Blue Class) or 34,000 in business class.
You will find taxes and fees a little high with Iberia, but not prohibitively so. Expect about $100 per ticket each-way if you fly to their hub in Madrid.
The biggest drawback is that Iberia doesn’t fly to a lot of US destinations. Currently, Iberia only flies to the following US airports:
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- New York City (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO – seasonal)
If you happen to be near one of these airports, look to use Avios to fly on Iberia when you want to use Chase Ultimate rewards to fly to Europe. You can save a lot of Ultimate Rewards this way!
JetBlue is one of the newest airline transfer partners of Chase. Unfortunately, you cannot use JetBlue points to fly to Europe at this time.
This may change in the future, since JetBlue has a partnership with Emirates and Emirates does operate a flight between the US and Europe. But for now, you cannot use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe with JetBlue.
If you’re looking to fly a great airline, or have many partner options, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program is a great way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe.
Singapore Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, which has numerous partners in Europe and North America to help get you to Europe. When booking a Star Alliance partner flight you can fly on:
- Air Canada
- LOT Polish Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
With a lot of partners flying between North America and Europe you’ll have greater chances of finding award space.
In addition to flying with partners, Singapore actually operates two flights between the US and Europe as well. You can fly on Singapore Airlines between New York (JFK) and Frankfurt (FRA), or between Houston (IAH) and Manchester (MAN).
Singapore will pass along surcharges, but not all airlines have them. Unfortunately, some of the highest fuel surcharges are on Star Alliance partners Lufthansa, SAS, Austrian, Air Canada, and Turkish. You can avoid the fuel surcharges by booking a partner flight with other partners, such as United, or by flying on a Singapore Airlines operated flight.
Singapore uses a region-based award chart. There is one chart for partners, and one chart for Singapore Airlines flights. The prices below are the miles needed for a one-way flight from the US to Europe.
Singapore Airlines Flight
Partner Award Flight
That’s a lot easier to figure out how many miles you need compared to the Avios programs above!
With this, what are the key takeaways? The biggest thing is that you’ll save the most points by flying Singapore Airlines for flights in economy or first class. But for business class, partner flights will cost less.
Spending only 22,500 points to fly to Europe is quite a steal, especially on a great airline like Singapore Airlines. The only downside is that with two US destinations, finding seats to Europe will be a bit tricky.
Overall, the best use of Singapore Airlines miles is to fly in economy class on Singapore Airlines. If you’re wanting to fly in Business class, you can save a lot more miles by using another awards program such as Iberia.
Similar to JetBlue, Southwest Airlines is a great transfer partner of Chase. But as of now, you cannot use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe with Southwest Airlines
United Airlines’ MileagePlus award program is another option to get to Europe. If you were a frequent traveler before finding Travel Freely, United’s MileagePlus program is the one on this list you’re most likely to have points with that can be used to fly to Europe.
United is also part of Star Alliance, so you’ll have the same access to booking seats as you do with Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer program with one exception. Singapore typically doesn’t release award seats in premium cabins to its partners, so if you want to fly Singapore Airlines business class, you should use Krisflyer instead of United’s MileagePlus program to book your seat. Otherwise, you’ll have access to book on the same Star Alliance partners:
- Air Canada
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
Additionally, United is a great way to help avoid fuel surcharges. United doesn’t pass fuel surcharges onto you when booking award tickets. You will still be responsible for taxes and fees, which are typical higher for flights to and from Europe, but you won’t be caught paying outrageous amounts of cash out of pocket like you might when booking with other airlines.
Singapore offers a simple, zone-based award chart. There are two award charts, one for United operated flights and one for Star Alliance partners.
United Airlines Flights
Star Alliance Flights
As you can see, the difference is fairly minimal. Economy flights cost the same regardless of if it is a United flight or a Star Alliance flight. Business class is slightly higher for Star Alliance flights. And, because United does not have international first class, you can only book first class on a Star Alliance flight.
When should you use United MileagePlus for your flights? The best option is for booking a business class flight operated by United. Otherwise, you’ll save more points by using Singapore’s Krisflyer program instead.
Another time where it may make sense is if you are a United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card Holder. United offers more award space to credit card holders than non-holders, and this award space can only be booked using United miles. If you have a United credit card, this is a perk to help you have more award availability to Europe.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club is a bit more complicated award program than others. Virgin Atlantic is not part of an alliance, but they do have partners. Additionally, each partner has its own award chart. This makes it a bit harder to deduce the best way to use the program.
If you want to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, however, there are only 3 options for booking. You can fly on one of the following airlines:
- Delta Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
If you’re trying to book an award flight on Singapore or Virgin Atlantic, it will depend on the route you’re flying. Delta costs the same no matter where you depart from in the US.
Singapore – New York to Frankfurt
Singapore – Houston to Manchester
Virgin Atlantic – Northeast US to London
Virgin Atlantic – Midwest and South to London
Virgin Atlantic – West US to London
Although the Virgin Atlantic award costs are relatively low, the fuel surcharges are very high. They start at about $200 each way for economy. Considering tickets to Europe are often only about $500 round-trip, the taxes and fees quickly eat up any value you get from points.
For that reason, Virgin Atlantic is great for booking flights on Delta, especially at only 50,000 points for business class. You can even search and book directly online at Virgin Atlantic’s website.
Bonus! The Chase Travel Portal
Now, I know you thought we were at the end, but there really is another option. You should always just check the Chase Travel Portal before booking with any partners.
Flights to Europe have been at historic lows recently. I’ve seen some flights for under $300. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would only need 24,000 points to fully cover the cost round-trip in the travel portal. That includes all taxes and fees. For Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders, it would only cost 20,000 points. You will not beat that with any transfer partners.
So if you want to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe, always check the travel portal first. You may spend less points and save a lot of time compared to using transfer partners.
Overview: When to use Chase Ultimate Rewards to Fly to Europe
There is a lot of information here. So rather than dig through it all, let’s summarize when the best time to use each program is.
Flights to Ireland
Summer travel is for peak dates
American Airlines flights to Europe
Avoid London and any flights that route through there
FlyingBlue Promo Awards
Not always available for US cities
Iberia Economy or Business Class
Few US destinations available, best in the off-season
Singapore or star alliance economy
Few US destinations for Singapore operated flights to Europe
United Business Class
Award availability might be a bit short
Delta economy or business class
Award availability might be a bit short
And there you have it! These are all the ways you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards to fly to Europe.
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