Award Booking Assistance using Chase Ultimate Reward Points
A few loyal readers, Claire & Danny, signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100K bonus when it was available last year and recently reached out to me to assist with booking an award using their Chase UR points. They were flexible on their dates but their destinations were set in stone. I’ve always tried to book my personal trips almost 1 year in advance due to award ticket availability, but they wanted to fly this summer. Summertime is peak travel for flying to Europe from the US. I was up for the challenge!
Goal: Fly 2 passengers roundtrip to Europe in style and depart from the Bay Area. Must fly nonstop to a hub in Europe from the West Coast. Departure and return dates were flexible by 1 week.
Points Available: 215,273 Chase Ultimate Reward points (200K from the Chase Sapphire Reserve signup bonuses)
Challenge: In order to fly roundtrip in Business Class using Chase’s transfer partner, United, you would need 140K per passenger for Star Alliance partner flights or 115K for United flights. There was no Business Class availability for United flights on the dates she wanted to fly so we decided to fly Economy Class to Europe and return in Business Class. The mixed itinerary would cost 100K (30K Economy one-way and 70K Business one-way). I was lucky and found 2 Aer Lingus Business Class tickets nonstop from Dublin to San Francisco. It’s very rare to find 2 Business Class tickets unless you are booking very far in advance or close to the departure date.
Time Spent Researching Availability: 6 hours (included a lunch break as Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal was broken due to server issues)
End Result: I was able to secure Economy Class to Europe on Lufthansa to Copenhagen via Frankfurt with an added stopover in Edinburgh prior to returning to San Francisco from Dublin on Aer Lingus in Business Class. It cost 100,000 United miles and $125.76 in taxes per passenger Aer Lingus Business Class looks amazing along with free inflight WiFi included for Business Class passengers. Enjoy!
Goal: Fly to Tel Aviv from LAX this summer and stopover in London on the way there.
Points Available: 109,365 Chase Ultimate Reward points (100K from the Chase Sapphire Reserve signup bonus)
Challenge: Finding a Coach ticket to Europe is very easy but finding a Business Class ticket is 10x harder. I had never booked an award ticket to Tel Aviv before so this destination was a new challenge. I consulted the best program to use by looking up this route on www.awardace.com. I discovered the best option with Chase points partners would be to use Singapore Airline miles for this redemption. I had never used Singapore Airlines miles for a Star Alliance partner ticket as you have to phone in the reservation as they aren’t bookable online. For availability, I used United’s website. Luckily I found 1 ticket on SWISS Airlines in Business Class and we attempted to book it. It worked! It was only 57,500 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and $253 in taxes. The United website (pictured below) quoted 80,000 miles and $53 in taxes. I’d much rather save 22,500 miles and pay the extra $200 in taxes Singapore Airlines requires. While on the phone we booked a United Airlines flight in Coach from LAX to London for 27,500 miles and $5.60 in taxes which is a savings of 2,500 miles compared to booking direct with United.
Time Spent Researching Availability: 4 hours
End Result: Flying Economy Class from LAX to LHR using 27,500 miles. Buying a ticket for ~$300 for LHR to TLV. Flying SWISS Business Class from TLV to LAX via Zurich using 57,500 miles. Not a bad trip for 85,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points and $600.
Lessons Learned: Always use www.awardace.com to determine the best program to use for the route you require. Add a free stopover to your award if the airline program allows it.
Need help booking a trip using points? Leave a comment below and I’ll reach out to help for the first 3 readers to comment.