The Best Ways to Get to the Bahamas Using Points and Miles
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The Bahamas is a well-known tourist destination for Americans. It’s close to home, and has pristine beaches and a plethora of resorts that make traveling there easy and fun for couples and families alike. If you want to visit the Bahamas this summer, you’re in luck: There are plenty of ways to get there on relatively few miles from the US.
In this article, we’ll show you your best options for flying to he Bahamas using travel rewards. We’ve focused on finding flights to Nassau (NAS), as it’s where all major air carriers fly on the island.
British Airways Avios
If you can fly a nonstop itinerary to the Bahamas, the best way to get to Nassau on miles and points is using British Airways Avios to book tickets on Oneworld carrier American Airlines. American offers plenty of direct routings from the East Coast, including year-round nonstop flights to Nassau from Philadelphia, Miami and Charlotte and seasonal service from Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington DC (DCA).
Note that British Airways has a distance-based award chart and charges per leg, so unless you have a direct routing, you will pay per leg. These tickets are subject to $115 in taxes on a round-trip itinerary. This is standard on flights to Nassau as the Bahamas government imposes a $110 tax on flights originating in the Bahamas.
Below is how many Avios you’ll need to fly from the United States to Nassau on nonstop itineraries from American hubs. Note that these prices are per leg.
Washington, D.C. (DCA), Philadelphia, Miami, Charlotte to Nassau
Economy: 15,000 Avios round-trip
First class: 30,000 Avios round-trip
Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago to Nassau
Economy: 20,000 Avios round-trip
First class: 40,000 Avios round-trip
Booking a one-way award is half the price of any of the awards above. Finding availability for American flights on BA.com is proving difficult and call center wait times are terrible. Make sure you know the possible workaround to get American flights to display.
Also, note that British Airways flies a fifth-freedom flight between Nassau and Grand Cayman on its 777 aircraft. If you’re doing a tour of the Caribbean, this is by far the most stylish way to fly between the islands — especially in a premium cabin.
Getting British Airways Avios
British Airways Avios are one of the easiest points currencies to obtain. You can open the British Airways Visa Signature Card and earn 4 Avios for every $1 spent on all purchases within your first year up to $30,000. That’s up to 120,000 bonus Avios. Points also transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue, the loyalty program of SkyTeam members Air France and KLM, can be used to book fellow SkyTeam member Delta and its flights from the US to the Bahamas. Delta has nonstop flights to Nassau from five US cities: year-round service from Atlanta and New York (JFK) and seasonal service from Boston, Detroit and Minneapolis—St. Paul. With the new Flying Blue program, it’s difficult to know exactly how many miles an award flight will cost, but this is what we found on our searches for the cost of round-trip flights from the continental US to Nassau:
First class: 60,000
Expect to pay roughly $115 in taxes and fees when booking your Nassau flights with Flying Blue.
Getting Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles
Even with no co-branded Flying Blue credit cards in the United States, its fairly easy to earn Flying Blue miles. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points and Starwood Preferred Guest points to the program.
Virigin Atlantic Flying Club
Instead of using Flying Blue, you can book a Delta flight to Nassau using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. These are the same Delta flights bookable with Flying Blue miles, but Virgin Atlantic booked award tickets are slightly more expensive. Regardless, it’s worth a shot to if you have a stash of Virgin Atlantic miles that you need to use. Here’s how many Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles it takes to fly round-trip to Nassau from the United States:
Economy: 35,000 miles
First class: 60,000 miles
Flights are bookable on the Virgin Atlantic website and availability looks to be pretty good. Flights are subject to the same $115 taxes and fees on a round-trip ticket.
Getting Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard offers a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus after making your first purchase. Additionally, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, so it’s easy to top up your balance.
JetBlue offers nonstop connections to Nassau from the East Coast including Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York (JFK), Orlando and Washington, D.C. (DCA). The carrier prices awards based on the revenue cost of the flight, with each point worth roughly 1.2 cents per mile according to TPG’s latest valuation. You can, however, often get better redemption ratios depending on the route.
Round-trip tickets from New York (JFK) to Nassau generally run close to $400.
Alternatively, you can use just 18,300 JetBlue points and $110.31 for the same round-trip ticket.
Getting JetBlue Points
JetBlue is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou. American Express points transfer at a ratio of 250:200 and ThankYou points transfer at a rate of 1,000:800 for Citi Prestige and Citi Premier cardholders. You can also apply for a JetBlue Plus credit card that awards 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
United Airlines MileagePlus
Live in a Star Alliance hub? United Airlines MileagePlus miles may be your best strategy for getting to the Bahamas. We’ve found that United has decent award space to Nassau even during peak seasons, so this may be your best bet if you’re having trouble booking with other airlines.
Here’s how many miles you’ll need to fly round-trip from the United States to Nassau on United Airlines:
Economy: 35,000 miles
First class: 60,000 miles
United also prices one-way awards at half the mileage listed above, but make sure to compare the award rates with other partner programs to make sure you’re minimizing the number of miles you’d need for similar flights to Nassau.
Keep in mind that the airline operates year-round nonstop flights to Nassau from its Houston and Newark hubs and seasonal nonstop service from Chicago and Washington DC (IAD). You can also use United miles to book a flight on Air Canada Rouge’s year-round service via Toronto. Like other options on this list, expect to pay $115 in taxes and fees.
Getting United Miles
The MileagePlus program partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, so you can transfer miles in from those programs to top off your United point balance. You can also open a co-branded card like the United Explorer Card, which is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $8,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months after your account is open. These cards can also give you enhanced economy award availability on United-operated flights, further expanding your options for getting to the Bahamas.
There are plenty of ways to get to the Bahamas from the United States for relatively few points. I believe that the best option is using British Airways Avios to fly nonstop from Charlotte, Miami, or Philadelphia, but with limited availability, assess all options so you can fly on your preferred dates.
The Points Guy has comprehensive coverage of Baha Mar and the Bahamas — read all our stories here.
Featured image: Getty Images
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