This Christmas, I decided that I’m going to go to The Netherlands for New Years. I’m not totally sure on my plans, but I knew that I needed to get my flight soon to avoid it getting too expensive. I’m not sure if I’ll be returning from Amsterdam, so rather than booking a round trip (RT) ticket, I just wanted a one way. In doing so, I realized that I saved my self over $3,000 on that one-way direct flight from Portland to Amsterdam. Here’s how I did it.
When I first started to look into flying, I was considering using American Airlines and their partners (British Airways) to make the trip because I have over 150K miles with AA. The only problem with using AA/BA for Europe though is that there are a number of legs for the journey and flying BA usually incurs fuel surcharges that are almost always quite high. The number of miles required with AA for the one way was 30,000. Not too bad.
The other option was United Airlines and their partners, however they didn’t have availability around Christmas.
My friend Melissa reminded me that KLM/Delta has a direct flight from Portland to Amsterdam that I should look into. I decided to take a look at how much the tickets were on KLM and was stunned – $3,041.90!
OUCH! A one-way flight from Portland to Amsterdam on Christmas was going to be over $3,000 for the direct. That’s insane!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I KNOW for sure that I could spend around $1,500 for the RT flying direct both ways from Amsterdam leaving on Christmas and returning around the 6th of January, however I didn’t want to have to return from Amsterdam. To think that anyone would be crazy enough to book a one-way for that amount (in coach) is beyond me. I would just get the RT and just ignore or cancel my return. I’m sure they’re idea is that if some businessman really needs a one way and they’re (the flyer) isn’t paying for it, then who cares, KLM makes bank.
Instead of my $3,000 ticket, I decided to look into flying KLM using miles instead.
Miles Over Dollars
KLM uses Flying Blue for their miles. The account is shared between KLM and Air France, so you only need one account to fly either.
I went onto the KLM Flying Blue location on their website, and looked up the number of miles required for the flight. Flying one-ways on most airlines are affordable and doable using miles. So a great option.
25,000 miles and $23.40! That is something I can totally get behind.
At the time, I only had 2,500 miles from my flights from PDX to Iceland back in April, so I had to figure out another option.
The two options I had: buy the 22,500 miles I needed, or transfer them from another program.
Buying Flying Blue Miles
Buying miles for different airlines is not usually a good deal. There are some promotions that come out here and there where it saves you some dollars to buy miles (my coworker got this deal last year and it saved her hundreds from buying a ticket), but most of the time it isn’t worth it. Usually it is when you need a few thousand miles (2,000 = $55 EUR) to get an award ticket. In this case, I need 22,500. Miles are sold on their site in 2,000 mile blocks. So, for my 22,500, I need to buy 24,000. To do so, that’ll run me 660 EUR (~$735 USD). So, for my one-way flight, it would cost me $735 instead of $3,000+, that isn’t too bad. (It’s worthwhile in mentioning that if I didn’t have any points, buying them here is WAY better than forking out $3,000 as 26,000 miles would only cost 715 EUR (~$796 USD)
To transfer miles from programs to KLM, I decided to use a tool from the peoples at Miles.biz. Once on their site, enter your to/from locations, chose your program, and click go. In my case, PDX->AMS on Flying Blue. Right away, I see that it’ll take 50,000 miles to fly RT in coach using Flying Blue miles. Again, knowing that I already have 2,500 miles, that means I still need 22,500 miles. The Miles.biz has a button that says Transfer Rate. Click on that and it’ll show you the majority of ways you can get points/miles from other credit cards/airlines/hotels to Flying Blue (or wherever else).
Going through the list, you can compare the miles needed on one airline with the different accounts you may have to see what it would take as some programs don’t transfer 1 to 1.
I found out that for me to get 22,500, I need to transfer 23,000 points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Flying Blue. First off, I had accumulated some Chase Ultimate Reward points using my Chase Ink Business card. It netted me over 60,000 points, plenty to get my 23,000 miles on Flying Blue.
Since I got the points pretty much for free, that means I only have to pay the $23.40 for my flight from Portland direct to Amsterdam. I’ll take it!!!
Miles Can Be Big Savings
This just goes to show that with a bit of playing around, and having miles/points available in other programs, that big dollars can be saved. Buying the one-way ticket right out would have been big money – over $3,000, but because I had points from before, I saved myself a whopping $3018.50! Seeing savings like this isn’t always the case, however, I’ve used miles to save big chunks of money on first class tickets ($7,000 one time!) and even business.
I think it is great to have a goal with miles when starting out, but once you get into the flow, and you build up quite the nest egg of miles, then you can literally go almost anywhere in the world for cheap.
I hope you found this to be useful and I look forward to hearing about your big savings!