Best Business Class Strategy (JFK -> CDG)

Old Jun 3, 19, 8:23 pm
  #1  
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Best Business Class Strategy (JFK -> CDG)

I'm sweating out some travel planning for May 2020. Specifically, I'm trying to get my parents from JFK->CDG in business class with return flights in PE. I'm trying to figure out the most cost effective way to do this through a combination of cash and miles (Amex Membership Rewards points converted to FB miles).

We're still so far out, so I was hoping to be able to buy economy tickets and then upgrade with miles. But I'm starting to get nervous that I won't be able to find seats available for upgrade. ExpertFlyer is showing 0 avail in O class for almost all dates/flights in 2020. I'm unclear of how far in advance tickets start to open up. Obviously, I would want to confirm upgrade availability before purchasing the Economy tickets.

I'm new to the points game, so I'm hoping that this expert community could help to steer me in the right direction! If it's any help at all, I also have a wealth of SkyMiles, but redemption rates seem ridiculously high for this route.

Thanks!

Last edited by thegenlnyc; Jun 3, 19 at 8:56 pm
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Old Jun 3, 19, 11:55 pm
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JFK-CDG is a premium route and award availability will be limited if there is any at all.
There is reasonable chance in a DoD upgrade but you want 2 seats and probably also want them sitting together.
Bear in mind that upgrades on a Y ticket cost often the same amount of miles as an award ticket so apart from your parents earning a few miles and XPís, there are no benefits in buying an Y ticket and hope for a chance to upgrade. I assume your parents are not FFís?
When you buy an award ticket with miles, they are always changeable for a fee which isnít the case with the cheapest Y ticket so thatís a usable benefit. Plus you are sure they travel in J.

I just looked quickly and saw som award availability from 57.500 miles each way which is great value. But prices can go over 200.000 miles one way.

Personally I would avoid PE at all cost. Itís not value for money. Then Y is much cheaper.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 5:10 am
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+1. I would get a Business Award ticket outright if that's what you want; premium routes like JFK don't often have much upgrade availability and if you do luck out, the FB miles required would be as much as getting a J ticket in the first place.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 7:00 am
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Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
(Amex Membership Rewards points converted to FB miles).
Beware!

FB Award tickets booked from accounts that are either newly set up, or that have never earned miles by flying, will set off alarm bells - even more when the account holder is not travelling.

You can find any number of posts of people telling us about having tickets cancelled and accounts cancelled after booking tickets in this manner using transfers in from credit cards.

Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
We're still so far out, so I was hoping to be able to buy economy tickets and then upgrade with miles. But I'm starting to get nervous that I won't be able to find seats available for upgrade.
Terrible strategy. Upgrades should only be considered by those who have no choice but to buy an economy ticket, and who then hope to be able to upgrade.

In your case, given that your goal is to have a J seat, then you should only be looking at redeeming into J outright. Banish all thought of upgrading using miles!.

Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
I'm new to the points game, so I'm hoping that this expert community could help to steer me in the right direction! If it's any help at all, I also have a wealth of SkyMiles, but redemption rates seem ridiculously high for this route.
Bear in mind also that you will have a hefty tax/fee/fuel surcharge to pay on flights operated by KL and/or AF.

Are you sure that Flying Blue really is the way for you to achieve these tickets?
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Old Jun 4, 19, 2:27 pm
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Flying Blue is a poor redemption value for Amex miles. I would perhaps recommend you look into doing JFK-MAN, or JFK-LGW with VS (Virgin), as the redemption rates are much better. Then get a connecting flight to CDG from the UK (costs peanuts anyway - for that you can probably use FB miles which are often better value short haul, otherwise EZ-jet is your friend)

Also if you have a FB card with 0 miles and that you never used, and transfer Amex miles to it, you will probably get blocked for a few weeks without being able to book your flights (a well known problem on this subforum - Irishguy already mentioned it above).

Your strategy of going J on the redeye and W on the return is a good one. Premium Eco is a decent class for a 7 hour day flight. Much less for getting sleep. Or for longer flights. But hopefully if you find a good redemption for your miles you may be able to go full J.

Safe flights!
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Old Jun 4, 19, 10:10 pm
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Thanks for the feedback. I knew something wasn’t feeling quite right with my “plan” so I appreciate the advice to abandon it!

Now to a broader question that seems oddly placed in a FB-specific forum... does anyone have any advice on better redemption options (in addition the the VS option suggested by Maestro Ramen above). For perspective, my options to consider are SkyMiles, BA Avios, AA miles and Amex Membership Rewards.
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Old Jun 5, 19, 4:31 am
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Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
does anyone have any advice on better redemption options (in addition the the VS option suggested by Maestro Ramen above). For perspective, my options to consider are SkyMiles, BA Avios, AA miles and Amex Membership Rewards.
Why not just focus on whichever frequent flyer programme you already/currently use?

There really is no substitute for gaining a working knowledge of the programme in question. Things that are possible in theory may turn out to be impossible in practice - such as, for example, finding two seats in J on JFK-LHR with BA Avios on dates that are acceptable, and for which you will again probably find that the taxes/fees/surcharges to be settled in cash are exorbitant (plus, you'll be expected to pay as much as $100 each to select a seat in the business cabin!), though booking this early should make finding availability easier.

As it sounds like you don't fancy doing the legwork yourself, then why not approach one of your credit card loyalty programmes where they can directly convert your points into airline tickets? (i.e. why convert MR points into airline miles which you then have to convert yourself into tickets, when you can just go to Amex MR and convert the MR points directly into tickets?)

Last edited by irishguy28; Jun 5, 19 at 4:38 am
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Old Jun 5, 19, 6:18 am
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Thanks, irishguy28. Yes - theory and practice seem to be in fairly stark contrast in this realm.

I thought that consulting these boards to help suss out the difference between theory and practice was part of "doing the legwork," so apologies if I've placed too much of my planning burden on you all. I shall continue to trial-and-error my way through different redemption scenarios and hope that I end up securing a reasonable value.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 8:49 pm
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Just wanted to share an update on this. I have now successfully secured business class seats on my desired itinerary; outbound JFK -> CDG followed by a return from NCE -> JFK. In total, the itinerary cost 109,000 flying blue miles (which I successfully transferred in from Amex MR) + $520 in taxes/fees per passenger.

For comparison purposes, the same/similar itinerary would have cost the following via some of the other options:
- Cash via Air France: $2,764
- SkyMiles: 210,000 miles + $102 taxes/fees
- Membership Rewards (ticket purchase): 276,400 MR
- AAdvantage: 315,000 + $128 taxes/fees

I feel pretty good about the outcome, so wanted to share in case it's helpful for anyone else!
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Old Jun 13, 19, 9:10 pm
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Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
outbound JFK -> CDG followed by a return from NCE -> JFK. In total, the itinerary cost 109,000 flying blue miles
Thanks for the update!
I've just gone through a round of burning FB miles, and I'll be on a very similar itinerary this summer.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 11:01 pm
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Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
Just wanted to share an update on this. I have now successfully secured business class seats on my desired itinerary; outbound JFK -> CDG followed by a return from NCE -> JFK. In total, the itinerary cost 109,000 flying blue miles (which I successfully transferred in from Amex MR) + $520 in taxes/fees per passenger.

For comparison purposes, the same/similar itinerary would have cost the following via some of the other options:
- Cash via Air France: $2,764
- SkyMiles: 210,000 miles + $102 taxes/fees
- Membership Rewards (ticket purchase): 276,400 MR
- AAdvantage: 315,000 + $128 taxes/fees

I feel pretty good about the outcome, so wanted to share in case it's helpful for anyone else!
So you managed outbound and inbound in J?
109.000 miles for a round trip is really a good price.
You fly in DL directly from NCE to JFK? Or with AF via CDG to JFK?
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Old Jun 14, 19, 5:52 am
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Originally Posted by BobTL View Post

So you managed outbound and inbound in J?
109.000 miles for a round trip is really a good price.
You fly in DL directly from NCE to JFK? Or with AF via CDG to JFK?
Yes - I was able to find dates/flights that met our needs for 54,500 each way in J.

The return from NCE is with AF via CDG. The flights are towards the end of May, so Delta hasn't released the non-stop flight yet (>330 days out). I decided that it was better to lock in the low redemption rate on the connecting flight rather than risking it while I waited for Delta to release its inventory.
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Old Jun 14, 19, 10:19 am
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Originally Posted by thegenlnyc View Post
Yes - I was able to find dates/flights that met our needs for 54,500 each way in J.
Are you sure?

JFK-CDG is a minimum of 57,500 miles each way in J, 3000 miles more than the minimum charged for JFK-NCE.

Since the latest changes to FB redemptions, each route now has its own pricing, and CDG-JFK and v.v. has a higher minimum starting from price than NCE-JFK and v.v.

Or did you buy a cheaper JFK-CDG-NCE, intending to ďskipĒ the flight on arrival in CDG? That strategy will be problematic if your parents attempt to travel with checked luggage.
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Old Jun 14, 19, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
Are you sure?

JFK-CDG is a minimum of 57,500 miles each way in J, 3000 miles more than the minimum charged for JFK-NCE.
Good catch - you're correct, it was indeed 57,500 for the outbound flight (JFK -> CDG) and 54,500 for the inbound (NCE -> JFK). So, a total of 112,000 miles roundtrip, not 109,000 as I had stated in my original note.
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Old Jun 14, 19, 2:42 pm
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Just wanted to share an update on this. I have now successfully secured business class seats on my desired itinerary; outbound JFK -> CDG followed by a return from NCE -> JFK. In total, the itinerary cost 109,000 flying blue miles (which I successfully transferred in from Amex MR) + $520 in taxes/fees per passenger.
A cancellation from FB may still be an option - dont count 100% that the tickets will be honored.
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