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Icelandair is running some excellent business class offers from several US cities (including New York, Boston, Washington, and Seattle) to many European cities (including London, Paris, Oslo, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Stockholm, and more) for travel through February 2021. Prices start as low as $918 round trip and are under $1K on several routes from New York. While it’ll take an extra step to find some of the best fares via credit card portals, the cheapest flights can be booked from around 61K Ultimate Rewards round trip with the Chase Sapphire Reserve — and those flights should earn at least 10,000 Alaska Airlines miles (and in some cases a few more). There are several caveats: Icealandair business class is only recliner seats (I’d argue that in a normal environment, recliner seats would be worth the price tag), we don’t know if or when travel will be safe/normal/enjoyable, and we don’t know the financial status and long-term viability of Icelandair. For a mixture of those reasons, I won’t be booking this — but I’ll leave that assessment to the reader.
- Icelandair has some terrific fares for round trip business class travel to Europe through fall and winter up until February 2021 (note that Icelandair business class is recliner seats)
- Direct link to search at Google flights (change airports to fit your needs)
I have no crystal ball to know when it will be a good idea to travel to Europe again, but in terms of price, this looks like a solid value. Don’t get me wrong — Icelandair business class is not typical international business class. The seats are just recliners, not flat beds. But at half the price of a flat bed and about the same number of points as most programs charge for an economy class award, the value is good. And it’s not just one destination — you can get to several places for less than $1,000 round trip. Here’s a random example week (October 7-14, 2020):
As you can see, Dublin, London, Paris, and Oslo are all available for less than $1,000 round trip, with Frankfurt and Copenhagen under $1100. Not pictured here, but Amsterdam is $1,000 and Zurich $1,005.
The same week sees prices just over $100 cheaper to Helsinki out of Boston or Seattle, with other destinations $100-250 more round trip out of those gateways or Chicago or Washington.
Every fare that I’ve checked through ITA Matrix so far is an A-class fare, which means that they would earn 125% of mileage flown if credited to Alaska Mileage Plan, though note that round trip flights by December 31, 2020 will earn a minimum of 10,000 miles round trip (the shortest itineraries here may have been a hair under that, while others will earn more than 10K at 125% mileage flown).
These prices are available via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but it may require tinkering with the multi-city tool. For instance, I initially focused on the $918 round trip fare to London, which I saw via Google Flights:
When I searched via the Ultimate Rewards portal, I saw a fare of $1,091, so I thought it was possible that Chase didn’t have access to this fare (though Greg has shown before that it may still be possible to book it). However, I noticed that the outgoing flight on the itinerary Chase was showing for $1,091 was the same outgoing itinerary on the option for $918 above.
I’ve occasionally run into a situation where a booking engine will re-price after I’ve selected the outgoing leg, so I selected that itinerary. Chase then only showed me one option for a return flight — but I knew that Google Flights had shown two options for the return leg:
And that’s when I realized that the cheaper option from Google Flights was showing a 25hr and 45min stop in Iceland on the way home. Chase wasn’t displaying that option since a layover of more than 24hrs is usually considered a stopover.
At that point, I used the Chase tool to price this as a multi-city itinerary — and sure enough, it then came up under $918 or 61,155 Ultimate Rewards points round trip.
For the record, you can do a multi-day stop in Iceland for the same price (or a little more depending on dates):
You can even open jaw it and return from Paris for twelve bucks more on the same dates (or from Oslo for a couple bucks less or Amsterdam for $955, etc):
At just over 60K URs with 10K coming back in the form of Alaska miles, these are pretty solid deals. Other airlines do offer Premium Economy around this price range, so you’ll have to weigh out whether you’d rather fly someone else’s premium economy (in most cases for another $100-$200 RT) or Icelandair business class. Given the generous earnings with Mileage Plan, I’d probably take Icelandair if I were looking to take this trip.
As noted at the top, I see this kind of pricing into February 2021. I’m not a skiier myself, but I see flights to Zurich for $1,005 RT during ski season, which could be appealing to some. While some cities jump in price around the December holidays, I see the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve under $1K to London and Paris and just a few bucks more to Zurich — so, again, the fare more or less holds (give or take on your dates and destinations).
If you’re booking with Chase Ultimate Rewards via your Chase Sapphire Reserve, I imagine you’ll be covered for trip interruption / cancellation, but given the issues people have had over COVID cancellations and long wait times, I’d definitely recommend thinking it over in terms of how much hassle and frustration you’re willing to ensure if travel is not possible when your flight comes around. However, if things do normalize, these are very good deals indeed.