How We Booked Flights to Europe
Booking flights for a 3 week honeymoon in Europe was a daunting task to say the least. First, we needed to figure out the best and most cost effective flights from the U.S. to Europe. Second, we needed to figure out how we were going to move between cities within Europe. Given that we had 3 weeks in Europe at our disposal, we had some flexibility in creating itinerary. We also had a large amount of reward points from various programs to utilize in order to get us there.
U.S. to Europe Flight
Flight deals during the summer are historically terrible as it is prime vacation time. With that said, we wanted to use our Chase Ultimate Reward points to book the international route to minimize our out of pocket costs. We had roughly 150,000 points to use for two round-trip tickets.
Our first step though was to figure out what airlines we could transfer to using our Chase Ultimate Rewards. After a little research, we found that our points can transfer to these airline programs:
All of these airline programs have their decent redemption rates but for our trip, we wanted to utilize stopovers and open-jaws. For those who are reward point newbies, think of stopovers as long layovers and open-jaws as flying into one city and leaving from another. The only airline out of this list that allows for both is United Airlines.
United Airlines only required 30, 000 points for a One-way Saver award redemption to Europe. This means we’ll need 60,000 points for a round-trip flight per person and 120,000 points for two people. This is an extremely good redemption to Europe with a stopover and open jaw!
Building Our Flight Itinerary
There are many ways to fly into Europe but the easiest routes are usually through major cities like Paris and Amsterdam. Given that these two cities are on our list to visit, we started our flight search starting with the two. It did not matter much on which city we would have to fly into as we can build our travel itinerary around it.
Searching for reward flights takes time as you have to find the best availability with the most reasonable amount of travel time. United Airline’s website makes it easier to search for availability as it allows for you to use the “Multi-city” search, which is essentially allowing you to search for a stopover and open jaw.
It took a while to go through all the combinations of arrival cities and dates but we were finally about to settle on a route that we liked. Our recommendation is to take a look at the United Airlines Route Map to find the best cities to fly to. We also were not strict on our travel dates which allowed us to find flights at the 120,000 point rate.
Our flight for two only costed us 120,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points transferred to United Airlines and $182.80! The route was to fly to Zurich from Nashville with a stop in Newark and a 3 day stopover in Paris. Our return flight is out of Amsterdam as it had the most availability. If we were to book tickets using cash during July, this would have costed us close to $1500. We would highly recommend booking as early as you can to find availability. We booked our flights in November 2015 for our travel in July 2016 and were able to find lots of availability still at the time.
Now that we had our bookend flights finalized, we could build our intra-Europe itinerary around our flights. In our next post, we will take a look at how we booked our intra-Europe transportation so check back soon!