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How to book flights to Iceland with your miles

by on Wed July 20, 2016 • 5 Comments
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Iceland is a gorgeous land of waterfalls and glaciers that deserves to be on anyone’s bucket list. Especially for those inclined to spend time in the great outdoors, Iceland is a place that must be visited, but when it comes to award options, they are pretty limited, but it’s not impossible to use your miles to get there.

Direct Routes from the US

The main airport flights will go into in Iceland is Keflavík International Airport (KEF) in Reykjavik, Iceland. First, the direct routes that exist from the US are as follows. Not all routes can be booked with miles, but we can start here to see what options are available to fly to Iceland from the US.

RouteAirlineAlliance
New York JFK - KEFDelta, IcelandairSkyteam, None/Alaska Partner
Minneapolis/St. Paul - KEF (Seasonal)Delta, IcelandairSkyteam, None/Alaska Partner
Chicago - KEFIcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Denver - KEFIcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Newark - KEFIcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Orlando - KEFIcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Seattle - KEFIcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Washington D.C. IAD - KEFIcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Portland, OR - KEF (Seasonal)IcelandairNone/Alaska Partner
Baltimore - KEFWOW AirNone
Boston - KEFWOW AirNone
Los Angeles - KEFWOW AirNone
San Francisco - KEFWOW AirNone

How to Book With Miles

The only options for booking flights directly to Iceland with miles are on Delta and Icelandair.

Delta is a member of Skyteam alliance and flights can be booked with a variety of mileage programs. Icelandair is not a member of an alliance but is a non-alliance partner of Alaska Airlines, so flights on Icelandair can be booked with Alaska miles. Flights on WOW Air can be incredibly good value but are not available to book with miles. There are additional options to fly to Iceland with miles if you are willing to route via Europe. We will look at the lowest possible mileage cost when booking via various award programs below.

Mileage CurrencyCost to Iceland - One-way (economy, business)Used to Book On...
Delta SkyMiles30K, 62.5KDelta
Korean Skypass25K, 40KDelta
Alaska Mileage Plan (Icelandair Award Chart)22.5K, 50KIcelandair
United MileagePlus (via Europe)30K, 70KStar Alliance/Route through Europe
American AAdvantage (via Europe)30K, 57.5KStar Alliance/Route through Europe

Based on the award prices listed above, the best deals are to book Icelandair with Alaska miles in Economy or book flights on Delta in Business Class with Korean miles. Beyond that, prices in miles are somewhat competitive between all of the airlines.

But you might not want to use regular airline miles at all.

Cash tickets often run around $500 – $600 roundtrip to Iceland, and compared to 45,000 – 60,000 miles roundtrip for an Economy Class award, that’s a pretty poor return on your miles. Better to try to pay for your ticket in cash, or use cash for travel points like those from the Barclaycard Arrival to make the booking.

But if airfares are expensive, you want to take advantage of a free stopover to visit both Iceland and somewhere in Europe, or you’re really set on using your airline miles or transferable points, read on.

Where to find space

The next thing that is key to check is what availability looks like for award travel when booking with these various airlines.

Icelandair

You can check Icelandair availability using an award search on AlaskaAir.com with no login required.

Note that any flights listed in Economy that are available for 22,500 miles are the lowest cost flights that are available when booking with Alaska miles. Any flights available for 50,000 miles in Business Class are the lowest cost flights available when booking with Alaska miles. And you can’t mix partners when you book an award with Alaska miles (so you can’t for example use an American Airlines flight to connect to an Icelandair flight), but you can connect from an Alaska Airlines flight.

Availability about a year out is pretty decent at the entry 22,500 mile level, especially if you’re willing to travel midweek. So your best bet is to plan ahead for next summer. Alaska opens up award booking about 330 days in advance (11 months prior to departure).

Closer in, you can still find space, but it’s definitely more sparse in Economy Class. Here are close-in examples for August travel.

New York JFK

Economy 

Newyork Economy

Business

Newyork Business

Minneapolis/St Paul
Economy 

MInneapolis Economy

Business

MInneapolis Business

Chicago
Economy

Chicago Economy

Business

Chicago Business

Overall award availability in Economy Class during peak seasons cannot often be had for the lowest price of 22,500 miles, but is quite often available for 30,000 to 40,000 miles each way. Award availability in Business Class is overall somewhat more sparse, but can be had for 50,000 miles each way with some amount of flexibility.

Icelandair’s Business Class, called Saga Class, is nothing to write home about – the seats are like domestic First Class or international Premium Economy, so they don’t lie flat, or even recline all that much.

icelandairsagaclass

Remember that when booking an award with Alaska Airlines miles, you are entitled to a stopover even on one way awards. This presents a good opportunity to use Iceland as a stopover for as long as you would like on your way to Europe.

Note that any partner awards booked with Alaska miles are subject to a $25 Partner Award Booking Fee that is nonrefundable. These awards on Icelandair will be subject to that fee.

Delta

You can use Delta.com to search for Delta award space without logging in (here are some tips on using it).

Any prices listed for 30,000 miles in Economy or 62,500 miles in Business Class (soon 70,000 miles) are the lowest prices you will generally find when booking with Delta miles.

If you see those prices listed, those flights should also be available for booking with Korean miles or any other Skyteam or Delta partner according to the applicable price on the award chart.

You can also use ExpertFlyer.com (subscription required) to see dates and flights that have award space available for booking with partner miles like Korean Skypass.

Here are some sample searches for flights:

New York JFK
Economy

NewyorkJFK Economy

Business

NewyorkJFK Business

Minneapolis/St. Paul
Economy

MInneapolis Economy Cal

Business

MInneapolis Business Cal

Overall, availability for booking Business Class flights with Delta miles is slightly better than booking Economy flights with Delta miles at the lowest available award cost, which is not the norm. With some flexibility, awards in either Business Class or Economy Class should be more than possible with Delta miles even in one of the peak travel months – August.

And if you want to go in Business Class, Delta is the better bet, with full lie flat seats and more elaborate meal service than Icelandair’s spartan Saga Class.

deltaonedomestic

How to Earn the Miles

If you are planning to book a flight with Alaska Airlines miles, the easiest way to earn the miles is through the Alaska Airlines co-branded credit card issued by Bank of America. Starwood Preferred Guest points also transfer into Alaska miles.

If you would like to book a flight on Delta, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Delta or Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Skypass or Air France Flying Blue.

Additionally, if you are open to flying through Europe you have even more options.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United, which is an interesting deal if you have spare time, because United lets you add a stopover on roundtrip international awards. So you could visit another city in Europe as part of your Iceland award.

Or if you would like to book with American Airlines miles you can transfer Starwood Preferred Guest Points or earn points directly through an American Airlines co-branded credit card issued by Citi.

 

 

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5 thoughts on How to book flights to Iceland with your miles

  1. Christian

    I have a Chase sapphire preferred card with 50,000 point sign up bonus. I am planning a trip to the Faroe Islands from Orlando, which are flights through IcelandAir and Atlantic Airways. Is there any way to use my points for this trip?

    Reply
  2. Terri M

    When I look on the Alaska Airlines website, from SEA or JFK for example, I can’t seem to get the destination of KEF to show up, even if I type in a generic “Iceland”? How are you looking for Icelandair flights on the AS website?

    Reply
  3. HeavenlyJane

    I’m surprised that when discussing cash options to KEF, you don’t mention WOW Airlines. They are super cheap, even as low as $99 OW if your dates are flexible.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @HeavenlyJane – Yes they can be a great deal if you happen to live near one of the airports they serve. Unfortunately they don’t interline with other airlines, so tough to get in on it outside those cities.

      Reply

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