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Michael and I do our best to take at least one international trip every year. Last year it was Portugal (Lisbon & Porto) & Morocco, in 2018 it was Italy, in 2017 we did London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, and Amsterdam, and in 2016 we bopped around Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore).
You likely know by now that the way we’re able to take these trips is by using credit card points to book the travel for free! We book most, if not all at this point, of our flights and hotels with points. If you missed my credit card post last week, definitely check it out as I go into detail about exactly how I earn points on my everyday spend and accumulate points from sign up bonuses to travel for free!
Our 2020 trip is officially on the books! We booked our flights for a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest last weekend! And we scored cheap airline tickets to Prague and back home to Houston, all in business class! We were able to book roundtrip BUSINESS CLASS tickets for $500 each! Plus 106,000 Flying Blue miles.
Don’t worry, I’m sharing all of the details on how we did it below so you can book cheap airline tickets to Prague too! If you missed any of my previous cheap airline ticket booking posts, I included a few below for your reference!
- How I Scored a Roundtrip Business Class Flight to Portugal for $54
- How to Book a Cheap Flight to Italy (my next trip)!
- How I Scored Cheap Tickets to St. Croix – Two Roundtrip Flights for $30!
How I Booked $500 Roundtrip Business Class Tickets to Prague
(How to Book Cheap Airline Tickets to Prague)
First things first, Michael is the brains behind this machine. He has his own site solely dedicated to using points and miles for travel, so definitely check that out for TONS of ways you can get in on the travel hacking game and travel for (close to) free! With that said, I’m breaking it down for you here to give you the basics.
It’s important to note up front that the $500 price tag for the tickets may seem like a lot compared to, for example, our $54 business class tickets to Portugal. But there’s a reason for the price jump. For the Prague/Budapest roundtrip flights, we were able to book roundtrip flights as part of one single itinerary through Air France (with Flying Blue miles) from Houston to and from our final destinations. This is a first for us. For all of our other previous international bookings, we booked tickets from a larger airport, for example, out of JFK direct to Lisbon, and had to find a way to get to JFK, for example, from Houston. This go around, our tickets are the full itinerary, on one single itinerary. So we’re flying business class the entire time. I think this will make more sense once we dive into the details.
The flight details … on our way there … Houston to Paris to Prague
On our way home … Budapest to Paris to Houston
First Step: Search Award Availability
We knew we wanted to visit Prague, Vienna, and Budapest on this particular trip. So we searched (read, Michael searched) for routes from Houston to get us there. Michael is a wizard at this type of stuff, but he has learned from doing it. It’s his thing and he loves knowing which airlines fly which route. But don’t worry, you can easily figure out what airlines fly in and out of each airport by doing a quick Google flights search.
The best route for us out of Houston was through Air France. There were some other options, but they were more difficult and included things like having to book separate connecting flights, which we wanted to avoid if at all possible this go around. To book award flights with Air France, you need Flying Blue miles.
Flying Blue is one of the few programs that partners with 4 transferable point programs. What this means is that you should be able to easily generate enough points/miles to book an Air France or KLM flight (both use the Flying Blue program). More on this below.
How do you search for award availability?
To search for award availability, you need to first create an Air France account. Once you have an account, log in, and click on the Purchase a Ticket tab, then on the Use Your Miles tab.
If you’re flying into one destination and out of another, like we’re planning on doing, click on the Multi-destination tab, enter your cities, and dates. It’s best to check the box that says “You are looking for a flight around this date” so that a calendar will pop up that shows you all of the availability.
Then scroll down and select the class you’re looking to book, for us that’s business (you’ll get the lie flat seats, which are so clutch on long-haul flights!). Click Find a Flight.
The goal with Flying Blue is to find a flight that costs 53,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$250 each way. That’s the low end of the points/cash you’ll need to book. We found an outbound (Houston to Paris to Prague) and an inbound (Budapest to Paris to Houston) flight that met those metrics.
We needed 106,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$500 each to book roundtrip business class tickets.
Second Step: Transferring Points
Like I mentioned above, the Flying Blue program is unique in that it accepts direct transfers from 4 of the big credit card programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1), AmEx Membership Rewards (1:1), Citi ThankYou Points (1:1), and Capital One (2 Cap One:1.5 Flying Blue). Therefore, you can transfer any of your points from those 4 programs to Flying Blue to hit the 106,000 Flying Blue mile requirement to book this particular flight.
For me, that meant transferring points from both my Chase Ultimate Rewards account and my AmEx Membership Rewards account.
To transfer points, you’ll need to log in to your credit card account. I’ll use Chase as the example, but it’s similar for all of the credit card accounts. Once you’re logged into your Chase account, scroll down and click on Ultimate Rewards (should be on the left hand side of the screen). Once you’re on the Ultimate Rewards page, click on Transfer to Travel Partners.
You’ll need to link your Flying Blue account. Select Air France / KLM Flying Blue and it should prompt you to connect your account.
Once connected, you can transfer points in 1,000 point increments. The Chase (and AmEx) point transfer is essentially immediate. Just hit refresh on your Air France / KLM account page and you should see the points there after a minute or two. Of note, Michael and I both experienced our Flying Blue accounts then showing 0 miles after we transferred points. It took signing in and out of our accounts a few times for the points to permanently show up. So if you experience this, don’t fret, just try logging out and in of your account.
Importance of Earning the Right Points
I talk about this in a lot of my travel/credit card related posts, but I hope it’s apparent here too that it’s extremely important that you’re using the right credit cards – credit cards that accumulate points that can be transferred out of a bank program to travel partners. Chase is the best place to start, in my opinion. Then AmEx.
For example, it does you no good to have a Delta branded credit card and be earning Delta miles on all of your everyday spend. Those miles earned are stuck with Delta. You can’t transfer those to other airlines. It’s important to make your money work for you, and if travel is your thing, the way you can do that is to make sure you’re putting your spend on credit cards that earn points/miles that you can transfer to a multitude of airline and hotel partners to book free travel. If you don’t know where to start or which cards to get to make that happen, please read my credit card inventory post. Lots of detailed information there!
The Cards I Used to Book
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Third Step: Booking!
Once your points are transferred and all in your Flying Blue account, it’s time to book! Booking is easy and is done just like every other airline booking process. Once you select the flights you found through the award availability search, select your dates, and proceed with booking!
Once you complete the process, pop the champs, you’re going to Europe and flying in business class the entire way! The only real way to book cheap airline tickets to Prague! 😉
I hope that was helpful! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael also loves fielding questions too so you have the two of us at your disposal! Happy to help with any credit card and/or booking questions!
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