Update: A credit card offer in this post may no longer be available, but check the Hot Deals for the latest offers!
Looking for a way to get to Europe for very few miles later this summer?
You can fly from Boston or Houston to Europe using Flying Blue Promo Awards for 25% to 50% fewer points than regular award tickets. Travel must be booked before June 30, 2014, and you must travel between August 1, 2014, and September 30, 2014.
This means you can fly 1-way from Boston to Amsterdam for 18,750 miles & ~$115, or Houston to Paris for 12,500 miles and ~$88!
But what if you don’t live near Boston or Houston? I’ll explain a few possible ways to get there cheaply!
Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM. Although they’re part of the SkyTeam Alliance, you have to use Flying Blue miles (not miles from another SkyTeam airline, like Delta or Korean Air) to book your ticket.
But you can instantly transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue!
How Does It Work?
Link: Flying Blue Promo Awards
Several times each year, Flying Blue offers discounted award tickets on certain routes. This promotion only includes 2 North American cities. You can fly 1-way between:
- Boston and Europe 1-way in coach class for 18,750 miles (25% off)
- Houston and Europe 1-way in coach class for 12,500 miles (50% off)
You’ll pay fees and fuel surcharges which vary depending on the route. KLM and Air France fly to Paris and Amsterdam from the US, but you can connect onwards to other European destinations. Their definition of Europe has a few surprises! For example, Israel and Morocco are included in the sale.
You have to use Flying Blue miles and book directly with Air France or KLM to get the discount. Remember, you have to book before June 30, 2014, and travel between August 1, 2014, and September 30, 2014.
And if you book an award ticket, you can cancel it with no penalty within 24 hours of purchase.
Is It Worth It?
12,500 miles for a 1-way ticket to Europe from North America sounds like a great deal! And there are still a lot of award seats available. You will pay fuel surcharges which vary depending on route, so you’ll have to do the math to decide if this is a good deal for you.
For example, you’ll pay 12,500 miles and ~$88 in taxes and fees 1-way from Houston to Paris in coach class on Air France. There are still lots of award seats available in August and September.
There are fewer award seats in August from Boston to Europe (in this case, Amsterdam), but plenty available in September. You’ll pay more miles (18,750 plus ~$115 in taxes and fees 1-way) because the discount from Boston is only 25%.
Keep in mind these prices are for 1-way tickets, and that taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the return flight from Europe can often be more expensive.
For example, the fees from Houston to Paris are ~$88, but if you return from Paris they’re ~$176! So you’d pay ~$264 in taxes and fees total for a round-trip ticket.
That’s a lot of fees for a ticket, but it’s still much better than paying full fare on KLM or Air France. And because most other airlines no longer have many award seats available for summer travel, this could be an option if you want to fly cheaply and use points to Europe.
To compare, I checked the same dates for Houston to Paris on Air France for a paid coach class ticket. The cheapest fare was ~$1,280.
I’d much rather spend 25,000 miles and ~$264 for a round-trip ticket to Europe!
Where Else Can You Go?
The best part of this deal is that you don’t have to terminate your trip in Paris or Amsterdam (the destinations served non-stop by Air France and KLM from Houston and Boston). You can connect onward to other cities in Europe, near Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for the same number of miles!
You could go to Moscow 1-way for 12,500 miles and ~$119.
There are still lots of award seats available for August and September.
To compare, a low-level award ticket from Houston to Moscow on United Airlines the same month costs 30,000 miles 1-way, but only ~$34 in fees. But there are much fewer award tickets available, and you’d save a lot of miles using the Flying Blue Promo Award.
Or you could head to Istanbul for 12,500 miles and ~$110.
How about Israel? You could also fly 1-way to Tel Aviv for 12,500 miles and ~$131. But there aren’t as many award seats available.
You can even go all the way to Casablanca, Morocco for the same number of miles and ~$131 1-way.
These destinations look very interesting! I’d gladly pay the fuel surcharges to get to Africa or the Middle East with so few miles.
What If You’re Not in Houston or Boston?
If you’re not near Houston or Boston, you could cheaply use points (like British Airways Avios) to get there. British Airways Avios are ideal for short-haul flights because they only charge 4,500 points 1-way for flights less than 649 miles, and 7,500 points for flights up to 1,149 miles.
Or if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you could get to Houston or Boston very cheaply. That’s because with the Companion Pass, your companion flies with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets.
However, be aware that Southwest flies into Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) while KLM and Air France fly out of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). So you’d have to change airports if you fly in on Southwest.
Worst case, you could try to find a cheap paid ticket from your home airport to Houston or Boston. But do the math to see if it makes sense.
How Do You Get Flying Blue Miles?
Link: American Express Starwood Preferred Guest
Because you can’t use miles from other SkyTeam airlines (like Delta) to book Flying Blue Promo Awards, you’ll need to book these tickets with Flying Blue miles.
You can transfer points from the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card to Flying Blue in a 1:1 ratio.
And if you transfer 20,000 points, you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus for a total of 25,000 Flying Blue miles. So you’re really only spending 20,000 Starwood points plus fees for a round-trip ticket to Europe. That’s a great deal!
Note: Starwood points take up to 4 weeks to transfer. Although in my experience it’s taken from 2 to 12 days. So if you plan on booking, keep in mind your exact award ticket might disappear while waiting for the points to transfer!
Alternately, if you have an American Express card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points, like the American Express Platinum, American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, or American Express EveryDay Preferred card, you can transfer your points to Flying Blue miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Note: You won’t get an extra 5,000 miles on the transfer like you would with the Starwood Preferred Guest card. However, there have been transfer bonus promotions in the past between AMEX Membership Rewards and Flying Blue.
Using Flying Blue Promo Awards, you can fly to Europe and beyond on Air France or KLM for only 12,500 miles 1-way this August and September. Travel is between August 1, 2014, and September 30, 2014, but you have to book by June 30, 2014. Only travel booked through Air France or KLM directly using Flying Blue miles is eligible for the deal.
You will pay fuel surcharges and fees for award tickets. But sometimes it could be worth it because you’re saving so many miles. And there are still a good number of award seats remaining!
You aren’t limited to Europe! With this promotion you can connect to North Africa, the Middle East and near Asia.
Both Starwood Preferred Guest points and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio. And you’ll get a bonus 5,000 miles if you transfer 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points, which makes the deal even sweeter!
Where will you go with Flying Blue Promo Awards?