Part III – Getting to Europe Using Your TYPs

As I mentioned in the Introduction Post, Citi ThankYou Points (much like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points) are great points to stockpile because they are so versatile. Of the three, Citi ThankYou Points are probably the easiest to accrue, so they can be extremely useful for getting you to Europe!

Introduction – Getting To Europe Using Your MRs, URs or TYPs
Part I – Getting to Europe Using Your MRs
Part II – Getting to Europe Using Your URs
Part III – Getting to Europe Using Your TYPs

Citi offers a few cards that earn ThankYou Points, including their ThankYou Premier card (which gets a lot of my daily spend due to the great category bonuses for travel and gas). Citi offers a few other card options that earn TYPs, so I highly encourage you to head over to Citi’s website and check out the options.

Now that you know how to earn the TYPs, the more complicated process is how to use those hard earned TYPs to get you to Europe! Your TYPs will transfer to 12 different airlines across all 3 major airline alliances. Those airlines include:

AirlineAllianceTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Air France/KLMSkyTeam1:1Up to 2 days
Garuda IndonesiaSkyTeam1:1Up to 2 days
Cathay PacificOneWorld1:1Same day
Malaysia AirlinesOneWorld1:12-14 days+
QantasOneWorld1:1Up to 2 days
QatarOneWorld1:1Up to 2 days
Eva AirStar Alliance1:1Up to 2 days
Singapore AirlinesStar Alliance1:1Up to 2 days
Thai AirwaysStar Alliance1:1Up to 4 days
EtihadN/A1:1Up to 6 days
Virgin AtlanticN/A1:1Up to 2 days
Virgin AmericaN/A1:0.5Up to 2 days

As I said before, the transfer times are just an approximation based upon data points I could find (as well as personal experiences), but it is important to be cognizant of these transfer times when you are planning your award booking(s).

Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to Europe on your TYPs, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since Cathay Pacific operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the West Coast is going to be lower than the cost for someone traveling from the East Coast. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into Paris (CDG/ORY).

Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)

Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program called FlyingBlue. Since FlyingBlue is a SkyTeam alliance member, you can redeem FlyingBlue miles for travel on Air France, KLM, Alitalia and Delta flights. FlyingBlue can be finicky to work with, but they offer some very good value for flights to Europe since their network is so large and established in the region. Roundtrip award tickets in coach which cost you 50k miles, while a roundtrip business class award ticket will set you back 125k miles.

One-way award tickets are allowed at 25k in coach and 62.5k in business, but no stopovers are allowed. FlyingBlue is definitely going to be your best option for a SkyTeam partner redemption and is a good choice in general for a coach redemption – though unless you are dead set on flying a SkyTeam partner airline, it is not going to be your best bet for a premium cabin redemption.

Garuda Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia’s GarudaMiles program uses a distance based award chart, so your redemption cost will depend on your home airport. Garuda Indonesia is part of the SkyTeam alliance which means you can redeem your GarudaMiles for Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Delta, Czech Airlines or Garuda Indonesia (on their 5th freedom route from Amsterdam (AMS) to London (LGW)) flights.

From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~75k miles for coach and ~135k miles for business class.

From the West Coast of the US, you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~85k miles for coach and ~150k miles for business class.

Although the redemption rates may not be horrible, the process for obtaining your award ticket is probably the worst I have ever seen. First you need to call the Garuda Indonesia call center at 021.2351.9999 to place your award ticket on hold. Then you need to download and complete an award ticket application form which you must take to a Garuda Indonesia sales office, in person, and then go back to the ticket office, in person, to claim your award ticket. So how many sales offices does Garuda Indonesia have in the US? Four. Yes, you read that right. Four. Encino, California, Chicago, Houston and New York.

In short, avoid Garuda Indonesia like the plague for award tickets unless you happen to live in or very near Encino, Chicago, Houston or New York and do not mind doing a ton of legwork.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Asia Miles to book British Airways, Iberia, Air Berlin, Finnair and American Airlines flights to Europe.

From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~60k miles roundtrip in coach, ~80k miles roundtrip in business and ~105k miles roundtrip in first.

From the West Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~85k miles roundtrip in coach, ~115k miles roundtrip in business and ~155k miles roundtrip in first.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates.

What is wild though is the Asia Miles program allows you to make up to 5 stopovers, 2 transfers and 2 open-jaws at either the origin, en-route or at the turnaround point (destination)! That means you could put together an itinerary where you hop all over Europe, in business class, for only 80k miles total from the East Coast of the US! That is mind boggling good value!

If you can get the stopovers and open-jaws to work for your itinerary, Asia Miles should be a top contender for you to transfer your TYPs to for your European vacation. Even looking at the increased cost from the West Coast, if you can get work in some stopovers the value is still incredible here!

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Malaysia Airlines is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Enrich miles to book British Airways, Iberia, Air Berlin, Finnair and American Airlines flights to Europe.

From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~54k miles roundtrip for coach, ~96k miles roundtrip for business class and ~132k miles roundtrip for first class.

From the West Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~72k miles roundtrip for coach, ~132k miles roundtrip for business class and ~192k miles roundtrip for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates.

While the redemption rates are actually generally not horrible, there have been a lot of reports of people experiencing issues when transferring their TYPs to the Enrich program. I would generally steer clear of transferring your TYPs to the Enrich program until Malaysia Airlines gets their IT department up to speed and fixes these issues.

Qantas

Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qantas is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qmiles to book British Airways, Iberia, Air Berlin, Finnair and American Airlines flights to Europe. Qantas also partners with Aer Lingus, so you can also fly them on a partner award ticket!

From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~70k miles roundtrip for coach, 105k miles roundtrip for premium economy, ~130k miles roundtrip for business class and ~190k miles roundtrip for first class.

From the West Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~84k miles roundtrip for coach, ~126k miles roundtrip for premium economy, ~156k miles roundtrip for business class and ~228k miles roundtrip for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. Remember that you will be charged for carrier imposed surcharges, which means avoid British Airways and Iberia flights for the trans-Atlantic segment if you can!

Qantas’ redemption costs are fairly high, so unless you are based out of the East Coast, can get to the East Coast inexpensively, or have a glut of Qantas miles that you want to burn, you are better off transferring your TYPs elsewhere for a redemption to Europe as the Qantas redemptions rates are not very good.

Qatar

Qatar’s Qmiles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qatar is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qmiles to book British Airways, Iberia, Air Berlin, Finnair and American Airlines flights to Europe.

From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~75k miles roundtrip for coach, ~112.5k miles roundtrip for premium economy, ~150k miles roundtrip for business class and ~225k miles roundtrip for first class.

From the West Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~85k miles roundtrip for coach, ~127.5k miles roundtrip for premium economy, ~170k miles roundtrip for business class and ~255k miles roundtrip for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. Again, and as with Qantas, unless you are based out of the East Coast, can get to the East Coast inexpensively, or have a glut of Qmiles you want to burn, you are better off transferring your TYPs elsewhere for a redemption to Europe.

EVA Air

EVA Air is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Infinity miles for Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Aegean, Brussels Airlines, SAS, LOT, Turkish Airlines and TAP Portugal flights to Europe. In other words, you are going to have a ton of options!

A roundtrip redemption will cost you 68k miles for coach, 105k miles for business class and 170k miles for first class.

EVA Air requires that you make your Star Alliance award ticket booking through their reservation office. With that said, considering that Singapore Airlines has access to most of the same Star Alliance award space that EVA Air has, you are better offer transferring your TYPs to Singapore Airlines for a coach or first class redemption. If you are looking for a business class award ticket, you are better off transferring your TYPs to EVA instead of Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Kris Flyer miles for Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Aegean, Brussels Airlines, SAS, LOT, Turkish Airlines and TAP Portugal flights to Europe. In other words, you are going to have a ton of options!

A roundtrip redemption will cost you 55k miles in coach, 130k miles in business and 160k miles in first. Singapore Airlines does allow for one-way award tickets at 27.5k miles in coach, 65k miles in business and 80k miles in first.

Also remember that Singapore flies a fifth freedom route from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA). If that route works for you it will cost you 20k miles in coach, 57.5k miles in business and 67.5k miles in first for a one-way redemption. If you book this flight online, you will receive a 15% discount on the cost, meaning the flight will cost you 17k miles in coach, 48,875 miles in business and 57,375 miles in first. Although you must find your own way to JFK and terminate in Frankfurt for this flight, if it fits your schedule it is an excellent option (plus you get to fly Singapore’s A380!).

If you are looking to fly coach, Singapore is a program worth looking into. If you are looking to fly business or first class, there are better redemptions to be had.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Royal Orchid Plus miles for Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Aegean, Brussels Airlines, SAS, LOT, Turkish Airlines and TAP Portugal flights to Europe. In other words, you are going to have a ton of options!

A roundtrip redemption will cost you 70k miles for coach, 125k miles for business class and 160k miles for first class.

Keep in mind that Thai Airways charges fuel surcharges as well on award tickets, and from all reports I have seen, they are exorbitant. Considering that Singapore Airlines and EVA should both have access to most of the same Star Alliance award space that Thai Airways has access to, you are better offer transferring your TYPs to Singapore Airlines or EVA (if you want a business class award ticket) for this redemption unless you have a huge stash of Royal Orchid Plus miles that you are looking to burn and you do not mind paying exorbitant surcharges.

Etihad

Although Etihad is not a part of any major airline alliance, they do have several strategic partnerships with airlines such as Air Berlin, Alitalia, Czech Airlines and Brussels Airlines. Unfortunately, you are not able to redeem your Guest Miles for award tickets on these airlines. Etihad’s Guest Miles program is a dynamic program that has so many variables in its pricing structure that I could not possibly address all the possibilities here. I would instead recommend that you go to their mileage calculator and plug in your information to determine your mileage redemption rates.

For reference though, most of your flights are going to run well over 100k miles for a coach award ticket, so I would strongly recommend you look elsewhere to transfer your TYPs for a European trip.

Edit: You can actually book American Airlines saver level award flights with your Guest Miles. Like AA, Etihad uses a peak/off peak system for economy award tickets. Off-peak dates between the U.S. and Europe are October 15 – May 15. Roundtrip economy redemptions will cost you 40k miles off-peak and 60k miles during peak times, while business class will cost 100k miles and first class will cost 125k miles. To redeem you have to contact the Etihad service center at 888-8ETIHAD at least 14 days prior to the intended date of travel. These award rates mirror the current AA award chart, so this could present a nice and reasonably priced option if you do not mind flying on AA metal across the pond.

Virgin America

Virgin America uses a distance based award chart so again your home airport is going to largely dictate your redemption cost. Virgin America does partner with Virgin Atlantic so you can redeem your Elevate points for Virgin Atlantic flights. The downside is destinations offered are pretty limited (London (LHR), Manchester (MAN), Frankfurt (FRA) and Milan (MXP)) and the taxes and carrier imposed fees are outrageously high.

From New York (JFK) to London (LHR) a roundtrip award ticket will cost you 15k miles + $475 in taxes and fess for coach, 25k miles + $790 in taxes and fees for premium economy and 35k miles + $1,150 (!!) in taxes and fees for upper class (business class).

From Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) a roundtrip award ticket will cost you 25k miles + $475 in taxes and fess for coach, 30k miles + $790 in taxes and fees for premium economy and 50k miles + $1,150 (!!) in taxes and fees for upper class (business class).

Virgin America also allows for one-way award tickets, but the miles rates are slightly more than half of the roundtrip cost.

Although the mileage redemption rates (ignoring the outrageous taxes and fees) are quite good, it is important to remember that your TYPs will transfer to Virgin America at a 1:0.5 ratio, so the redemption costs will actually cost you double the amount of TYPs. When you couple this fact with the astronomical taxes and fees, this makes Virgin America possibly the worst TYP transfer partner for award tickets to Europe and I would highly recommend you avoid this option unless you are just looking to top off your Elevate account and do not mind paying out of pocket the equivalent of what you can usually find a paid ticket for.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic also uses a distance based award chart so again your home airport is going to largely dictate your redemption cost. The downside to this program is that the destinations offered are pretty limited (London (LHR), Manchester (MAN), Frankfurt (FRA) and Milan (MXP)) and the taxes and carrier imposed fees are outrageously high.

From New York (JFK) to London (LHR) a roundtrip award ticket will cost you 35k miles + ~$500 in taxes and fees for coach, 55k miles + ~$810 in taxes and fees for premium economy and 80k miles + ~$1,300 (!!) in taxes and fees for upper class (business class).

From Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) a roundtrip award ticket will cost you 42.5k miles + ~$500 in taxes and fees for coach, 70k miles + ~$810 in taxes and fees for premium economy and 100k miles + ~$1,300 (!!) in taxes and fees for upper class (business class).

Virgin Atlantic does partner with Delta on certain routes where your can redeem your Flying Club miles. Those routes include London (LHR) to Atlanta (ATL), New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP), Philadelphia (PHL) and Salt Lake City (SLC); Edinburgh (EDI) to New York (JFK); and Manchester (MAN) to Atlanta (ATL). These routes will cost you 40k miles for coach and 90k miles for business class roundtrip. If you will be starting your trip from the US on the above mentioned routes, your cost increases to 60k miles for coach and 100k miles for business class roundtrip. It is unclear what the surcharges would be as Virgin Atlantic does not list them for Delta, but they should be less than what Virgin Atlantic charges for redemptions on their own flights.

Although the mileage redemption rates (ignoring the outrageous taxes and fees) are actually not horrible, the astronomical taxes and fees makes Virgin Atlantic the second worst TYP transfer partner for award tickets to Europe in my opinion. I would strongly recommend you avoid this option at all costs unless you literally have no other option.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the TYP transfer partners offer a lot of options for finding award availability to Europe. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your TYPs for a trip to Europe!

What is your favorite way to redeem TYPs to get to Europe?

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