This post will cover two of the main premium travel loyalty rewards currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. I’ll walk you through how I booked my award flights to Italy by leveraging these currencies and the Star Alliance network.
This isn’t my sexiest award travel redemption by any means, but when award bookings align perfectly for convenience it’s always a win. My husband travels on a weekly basis and internationally for extended periods of time. His current business trip is in Italy for 2 weeks. To be honest, I’ve been missing him quite a lot recently. Luckily, I managed to join him for only $96.55 cash out of pocket and I am writing this from Bologna.
Instead of flying business class on a completely separate oneworld itinerary using American Airlines miles (like my previous Qatar flights), I decided to redeem for cheap economy tickets on my husband’s exact same flights. His company booked him on a paid business class fare, so the plan was for us to possibly switch seats half way through the flights anyway.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to seven different airlines—which includes United that transfers at a 1:1 ratio. I found award availability on United website for a one way ticket to Milan (DFW-FRA-MXP) on Lufthansa for 30K miles. Luckily this matched my husband’s itinerary! If you’re completely unfamiliar with airline alliances, the way I could book a Lufthansa flight using United miles is because they are both members of the Star Alliance network.
Here I transferred 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my United Mileage Plus account—and they posted immediately. Below is my receipt for the one way ticket from Dallas to Milan which only cost $41.50 in taxes/fees.
American Express Membership Rewards
Now, the reason why I didn’t book a round trip is because there happens to be a current targeted promotion for a 20% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan which is the loyalty program for Air Canada (another Star Alliance member).
Using Aeroplan’s website, I found award availability for the return leg home on United for 30K miles and $55.05 USD in taxes/fees. Thanks to the 20% transfer bonus, this saved me 5K American Express Membership Rewards points. Unfortunately, the Lufthansa flight was not available via Aeroplan. Otherwise, I would have preferred to book the entire round trip using this promotion.
This is an example of why it’s a great strategy to earn diverse types of points and miles because it allows flexibility to take advantage of different award redemptions. Our unwritten “rule” is that we, personally, only redeem points/miles for premium, international cabins TOGETHER. This was our first trip booking different fares and asking flight attendants to allow us to spend time together and switch seats. The Lufthansa staff on board our flight from Dallas to Frankfurt were incredibly accommodating. We’ll see how United handles it when we try the same thing on our return flight from Milan to Newark.
Lufthansa business class lie flat seat and breakfast arriving into Frankfurt thanks to Chase!