This is the latest entry in a series of posts on how to get to Disney destinations using points and miles. Points may not be your best option, and the particular strategies we suggest may not be best for you, but this series is intended to provide a sample of how to go about such a booking.
In this entry, we're going to be discussing how we'd evaluate our options for flying with two people, roundtrip from Chicago to Paris to visit Disneyland Paris.
Using AwardAce to Check for Our Options
Booking with points always starts at AwardAce for me. AwardAce provides a quick overview of the landscape for award bookings between two locations. Besides giving you an outline of how many points each booking will cost, it tells you which major point programs transfer to the individual airline programs, as well as providing guides for booking each award. If you want to see this in action, head over to the AwardAce redemption search, enter in two airports, and scroll down - it's pretty simple.
Searching between Chicago (ORD) and Paris (CDG), AwardAce suggests both Iberia Plus and Executive Club (British Airways) as the cheapest options, starting at 32,500 and 34,000 points roundtrip each. Notably, these redemptions are noted as carrying hefty surcharges.
I did find some availability (by searching on the British Airways website) in early March that would cost 34,000 Avios (the British Airways currency), but the surcharges come out to $415.12 per person! This is especially hefty as it is routine to see flights between the US and Paris for under $500. The next two options that jump out at me are American Airlines and Asia Miles, both starting at 45,000 points.
Evaluating Option 1: American Airlines
If there's a downside to AwardAce, it's that it doesn't immediately distinguish "peak" and "off-peak" prices. As you might expect, "off-peak" prices are lower, but at less desirable times to travel. I visited to American website and did a search for AAdvantage bookings. Off-peak availability on my route isn't too hard to come by, outside spring and summer.
If you can get those rates (the above pictures shows one-way rates), you'll be at 45,000 AAdvantage miles per person, roundtrip. At peak, it's 60,000. For 90,000 AAdvantage miles, we would both get a Citi AAdvantage card that comes with a 50,000 mile signup bonus. For 120,000, we'd have two choices. First, we could add in the SPG American Express and transfer some of the signup bonus from that card to AAdvantage miles. Alternatively, we could purchase AAdvantage miles. Since the signup bonuses on the cards get us 100,000 miles and the spending to get those bonuses will get us 6,000 miles, we'll need 14,000 miles. Those miles cost $413 right now on American's website.
Evaluating Option 2: Asia Miles
To use Asia Miles for the same American flights, you'll need to fill out an online request form (not quite the same as directly booking online). Assuming you can get availability at 45,000 miles per person, you have a variety of options for getting 90,000 Asia Miles. Signup bonuses for the Citi Prestige (50,000), SPG American Express (25,000), and American Express Premier Rewards Gold (25,000) are all good options. Unfortunately, I can't say exactly what the surcharges would be, but AwardAce puts them at "$" out of a max "$$$," and American surcharges don't tend to be high.
Evaluating Option 3: Korean Air Skypass
A final option worth checking out is Korean SKYPASS, which offers bookings for 50,000 miles per person roundtrip. SKYPASS is a transfer partner of Chase, which has great signup bonuses on the Sapphire Preferred (50,000), Sapphire reserve (50,000) and Ink Business Preferred (80,000). Unfortunately, SKYPASS does not allow me to book this route online, so I can't confirm what the surcharges on AirFrance and Delta (the direct routes) would look like.
A lot goes into choosing which of these options to pursue, but the Korea SKYPASS option looks most appealing for a few reasons. First, the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred are great cards that everyone should consider, and they can easily be downgraded to some awesome free cards as well. They're also good cards to get early on since they are covered by Chase's 5/24 rule. While I am a fan of the Citi Prestige, it is not the best card for everyone, and it might not be worth running into Citi's 1/24 rule. The direct American redemption (using AAdvantage Miles) is a good option unless you need a peak redemption, as you'll quickly exhaust your options for earning miles.