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Our New Years trip through Europe had taken some twists and turns and looked to be winding down after an incredible stay at the Park Hyatt Vienna. What a gorgeous hotel. As luck would have it, our trip continued on through London, the North of England, and Paris – what is this life?? – but Vienna was intended as our last stop before visiting some family in England. Because we’d booked so last minute, we were at the mercy of availability and the only seats that opened up from Vienna to London were in British Airways Club Europe.
Personally, I’m not a fan of using points to experience “premium” flights intra-europe as there isn’t much distinction between flying in Business Class vs Economy. Yes, you get some free food and drink, lounge access, but for a couple hour flight that rewards premium passengers with a blocked middle seat, I’d rather stretch my points further and fly economy twice.
- When: January 2019
- Where: Vienna to London
- Aircraft: A320
- Cabin: Club Europe ( Business Class )
- Currency: 15k Avios per ticket + $35
Acquiring the points for booking
I used American Express Membership Rewards which instantly transferred to BA. While I booked for 15k, had I flown just a bit later in the month I’d have been able to book at a Saver rate of just 12,750 Avios. If you recall, Amex often offers transfer bonuses to BA and late last year they were offering a 40% bonus on transferred points – at 9k Amex points…it may be worth the extra points to fly biz over economy.
Currently I hold the following cards:
- American Express Business Platinum
- American Express Rose Gold
- American Express Platinum
- American Express Blue Business
You will gain access to the Air Lounge. However, if you’re a Priority Pass member…you’d have access anyways so the added value is nil for those in business who also carry a Priority Pass card.
Funny thing…we “boarded” the bus first. Then road the bus out to the plane where I ended up being 3rd to last to get on the plane from that bus. Another one shortly followed that carried maybe another 20 people. Not exactly the intention of priority boarding I don’t think, but it gave me the opportunity to snap a cool pic of the plane from the tarmac. Just another reason why I don’t think it’s worth the premium
As you can see…it looks like economy
with a blocked center seat.
It’s a short flight and we had a nice, tasty snack. But…is it worth paying the premium? I could have had a decent meal at the airport – I would suggest doing this prior to security and not relying on the lounge to provide great quality or filling food. It was quite sparse.
Arrival fast track – go here to read how you can get it at Heathrow
Fast track is incredible, but if you have status with BA or One World for that matter, you have access to fast track anywho…a nice benefit nonetheless
We booked this flight 2 days before departure and cash rates to get us to London direct and at a good time were outrageous. While I wouldn’t spend the extra points under ordinary circumstances, the cash rate was $1k for this flight. We’d never pay that, but it just goes to show how incredible transferrable points like Amex, Chase, Citi, and Capital One really can be when cash rates skyrocket.
We had a pleasant flight, but if you’re considering this as a luxurious option…I would mull it over and as I recommend to award clients…spend fewer points, reserve a emergency exit row, and rest easy that you aren’t really missing out on much by flying economy.
Affiliate link via Card Ratings
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.