How I Save Thousands on International Business Class Flights
I use transferrable points from American Express, Citi Bank and Capital One to book business class on international routes. There are certain ways to maximize your value and ensure you are getting the best redemption possible. Most of the airlines in the US have dynamic award charts which means prices can drastically change from day to day. Certain foreign airlines which partner with US credit card companies offer fixed award charts. I always book with airlines that I can transfer points to and book their fixed value or Saver awards.
Last year I flew in Delta One from Atlanta to Honolulu. I booked this flight with Delta’s partner, Air France using 17,500 Air France miles in Economy and I paid $900 to upgrade to Delta One. I saved about half off the price, Delta is currently charging $2,175 or 165,000 Miles One Way to Honolulu.
Last year I went to Egypt and flew on Turkish Airlines in Business Class. I booked it using Avianca LifeMiles. LifeMiles is the loyalty program of Avianca Airlines, based in Colombia. They are part of the Star Alliance and offer great booking options with Star Alliance partners. I used 63,000 LifeMiles + $25 to fly One Way to Istanbul in business class and I continued on to Cairo in first class on a smaller plane. I could have also transferred points to Turkish Airlines but they charge higher fuel surcharges. Turkish Airlines is currently charging $3,728 One Way to Instanbul in Business Class.
I have a trip planned for this Fall where I am going to take advantage of something called a Fifth Freedom route. Usually airlines fly to or from their home country. A Fifth Freedom route is when an airline flies from another country and makes a stop in a different country before continuing onto their home country. The Emirates route from JFK to Milan is an example of this. It gives you an opportunity to fly one of the world’s best airlines but on a shorter route. I booked this flight on January 31st and the day after Emirates raised their Award prices from 62,500 to 72,500 miles. Shortly after they increased their surcharges from around $50 to over $200. The cash price is currently $3,528 to fly in Business Class on this route.
There are so many options when booking flights. One tool I use is Google Flights. Google Flights displays a visual map showing everywhere I can fly to and displays the prices on the map. I can set it to sort by Airline Alliance, the number of stops, time and duration. If I want to goto London but I know that I can fly to Milan or Athens for only 72,500 miles then I would go there for a couple days then fly to London. Once you are in Europe you can fly to many destinations for under $100. For the day I want to goto London in September, Delta is currently charging 375,000 miles.
In my opinion, using transferrable points is the best way to take Business Class flights to Europe. I have a couple trips on Singapore Airlines planned for next year. I am planning on flying on the longest flight in the world, from JFK to Singapore Non Stop. Singapore Airlines currently charges 99,000 miles in Business Class on this route. I can transfer points from Amex or Citi Bank. I also want to fly their Fifth Freedom route from JFK to Frankfurt, Germany. I will stop in Frankfurt for a couple days then continue onto another country that would have cost significantly more if I flew Non Stop to that destination.