You can now fly to/from the US and Israel without fuel surcharges for just 20,000 Starpoints each way!
With flexible currencies like Starwood Starpoints (SPG), American Express Membership Rewards points (MR), and Chase Ultimate Rewards points (UR) you have the option of dozens of different airlines to transfer to.
With 3 major alliances (Skyteam, Oneworld, and Star Alliance) there are even more options to travel on partner airlines. If you want to travel on Continental/United you can transfer your UR points directly to Continental, you can transfer MR points to Air Canada, ANA, Singapore, or Virgin Atlantic and they’ll book you on Continental, or you can transfer SPG points to Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Lufthansa, Thai, USAirways, or Virgin Atlantic, all of whom can book you on Continental.
-Each of those airlines have their own set of redemption rates, so you have to check which of them makes the most sense for the flight you want to book.
-Once you transfer it to one of those airlines it’s pretty much stuck in that airline and can’t be transferred again. It’s usually best to wait until you’re ready to book a flight before transferring points. Be sure to remember though that while MR and UR points transfer instantly, SPG points can take anywhere from a couple days to a week or 2. MR and UR points typically transfer 1:1 while SPG points typically transfer 1:1.25 with 20K increments. MR charges a tax for transfers to US based airlines while SPG and UR never charge a tax for transfers.
-A key thing to keep in mind are fuel surcharges. Many foreign carriers add fuel surcharges to award tickets, making them worthless in many cases if you redeem for coach tickets. Generally US carriers don’t charge these fuel surcharges. Continental/United never charge them. AA only charges them if you fly on BA. Delta only charges them if you originate in certain regions (like Europe) or fly on select partner airlines. USAirways charges a minor award processing fee, but doesn’t collect a fuel surcharge. Air Canada only charges a fuel surcharge if you fly on Air Canada, so you are free to fly on any other Star Alliance carrier without surcharges. Most other programs charge massive fuel surcharges.
Back to the subject at hand.
Flying Blue is the mileage program of Air France and KLM. They are both Skyteam alliance members, as is Delta.
Flying Blue is known for low mileage rates but high fuel surcharges. If you can find availability, they have promo awards for as little as 25,000 miles round trip. But finding that availability is tough and fuel surcharges are sky-high, $600-$700!
Until now. From a cursory look at booking some Delta flights from the Air France website it seems like they are not charging the massive surcharges any more as long as you stick to Delta flights.
Another nice thing about the program is they allow one-way redemptions, something that Delta does not allow.
A major caveat is that Flying Blue can only book you on Delta’s “Low” availability. The best way to search for that is to search for your award ticket on Delta.com, then click on “View Award Calendar” on the left-hand side of the page. Once on the calendar be sure to click on coach or business and then locate dates in green. Click on the green dates to make sure that flights are available on Delta. Once you have dates that work go to the Air France Flying Blue site and type in those same dates and you should see the Delta flights.
While Delta charges 80,000 miles to Israel in coach and 120,000 miles in business (if you find low tier availability) if you book on Flying Blue it’s only 50,000 in coach and 100,000 in business on Delta. Previously this entailed paying up to $700 in additional fuel surcharges, but now they are only collecting a total of $77 for a round-trip flight! By transferring to Flying Blue for Delta flights to Israel you will save 30,000 miles on coach tickets and 20,000 miles on business tickets. Plus you can now book one-way tickets without surcharges, something that wasn’t possible before.
Delta flies nonstop between JFK and Tel Aviv.
So how many points do you need to transfer to Flying Blue to fly on Delta?
-20K SPG or 25K MR gets you 25,000 Flying Blue miles, enough for a one-way coach ticket.
-40K SPG or 50K MR gets you 50,000 Flying Blue miles, enough for a one-way business ticket or round-trip coach ticket.
-80K SPG or 100K MR gets you 100,000 Flying Blue miles, enough for a round-trip business ticket.
Here are the rates I found:
-JFK-TLV, departing on 11/22, returning on 12/05. When selecting the nonstop Delta flights the cost in coach is just 50,000 miles+$77.45.
-JFK-TLV, departing on 01/15, returning on 01/22. When selecting the nonstop Delta flights the cost in business is just 100,000 miles+$77.45.
Credit cards that will get you SPG or MR points to transfer to Flying Blue:
Starwood American Express Consumer Card, 10K bonus for spending $1, plus 15K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months.
Starwood American Express Business Card. 10K bonus for spending $1, plus 15K bonus for spending $5K in 6 months.
American Express Consumer Platinum Card, 25K bonus for spending $1K in 3 months.
American Express Consumer Premier Rewards Gold Card 15K bonus for spending $1K in 3 months.
American Express Consumer Gold Rewards Card 10K bonus for spending $1K in 3 months.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card 50K bonus for spending $10K in 5 months.
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-Just fill out the standard application. Don’t click for the shorter existing cardmember application or you will not get the best offer.