I mentioned last week that I’m already thinking of ideas for a Summer Europe trip next year. Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the best points you could use for a trip to Europe. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards 1:1 to United miles, Virgin Atlantic miles, and British Airways Avios, which unlocks flights on those airlines and their dozen-plus partners with service to and within Europe.
81,000 Ultimate Rewards is enough for a trip to Europe with a stopover, an open jaw, and one direction in flat bed business class.
The idea for this trip maximizes three of Chase’s transfer partners: Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and United. The trip takes advantage of:
- Virgin Atlantic’s cheap one way awards to London with very low fuel surcharges
- British Airways’ super cheap intra-Europe awards with no fuel surcharges
- United’s fairly priced business class awards between Europe and the United States and its great availability out of Brussels
Virgin Atlantic to London (18,000 Ultimate Rewards)
Virgin Atlantic flies from JFK and Newark (my home airport) to London-Heathrow daily with excellent award space in economy. There are fuel surcharges on the flight, but they’re pretty small in economy at $129 one way.
I recommend that you use Virgin Atlantic miles for one way flights in economy to London to dodge the bigger fuel surcharges on Upper Class flights and to dodge the huge taxes for returning from London to the United States.
I easily found award space in Virgin Atlantic economy from Newark to London for 17,500 miles + $134.60 on May 1. I’d need to transfer 18,000 Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic to book the flights (must transfer in increments of 1,000.)
Virgin Atlantic serves 11 North American destinations, all for less than 30,000 miles one way in economy, the going rate on other airlines.
British Airways to Copenhagen (5,000 Ultimate Rewards)
When most people think of British Airways Avios, they think of fuel surcharges, but British Airways does not impose fuel surcharges on its own flights within Europe. It doesn’t collect taxes either. It just collects a flat fee, $27.50 for economy flights, in addition to the tiny number of miles needed for short flights. Any flight with this icon will not have fuel surcharges.
I searched for award space from London to Copenhagen on May 7, and there is award space on several flights.
The flights cost only 4,500 Avios + $27.50. That would require the transfer of 5,000 Ultimate Rewards.
United home in Business Class (58,000 Ultimate Rewards)
United has amazing award space on its routes out of Brussels. I found this flight on May 20 with award space in every cabin.
I don’t mind United BusinessFirst, which features fully flat beds. I would need to transfer 58,000 Ultimate Rewards to United miles plus pay only $54 in taxes because Belgium is a country with very low aviation taxes.
The Whole Trip
The trip starts at my home airport of Newark and flies to London for six days. Then it moves on to Copenhagen. Thirteen days later, it returns from Brussels to Newark in Business Class.
There is no connection from Copenhagen to Brussels, so I would need to book separate flights or trains.
The total cost of the flights is 81,000 Ultimate Rewards + $216.50.
Of course, I can’t imagine myself away for that long, but it sure is fun playing around with the possibilities for now.
I’ve never flown Virgin Atlantic before (nor have I visited London), so that’s a strong possibility!
Right now the Ink Plus® Business Card is offering 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Visa Card is offering 40,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months and another 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user.
To make this totally “free”, I would consider paying the $216.50 in taxes/fuel surcharges with my Arrival miles from the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which is offering 40,000 bonus Arrival miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
If you don’t live near Newark, that’s not a problem. You can fly Virgin Atlantic from other cities for the same number of miles or just a few thousand more. You can return from Brussels to anywhere in the United States except Hawaii for the same 57,500 United miles.
If you prefer to return in economy, you can use all your leftover Ultimate Rewards for Hyatt points for free hotel stays in Europe.
Curious to hear of other ideas as well. First… I need to settle on a destination!