Airlines Add Special Asia and Europe Flights for Huge Vegas Event

Aug 8, 2018

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For one crazy week each January, tech companies from around the world descend on the Nevada desert, pitching their products to partners, buyers and journalists at the annual CES, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and all around town.

This year, nearly 200,000 people traveled to Vegas for the event, including some 63,000 from overseas. As a result, airlines have caught onto the opportunity to carry employees of deep-pocketed international manufacturers, and have launched special flights to get all of these travelers out to LAS in 2019. And in some cases, this might end up giving you a chance to book business-class award seats out of LAS at very attractive rates.

The next event takes place from January 6 through January 11, and a handful of carriers have already announced their special flights for the year. Delta and its SkyTeam partners are leading the way so far, with American adding a route as well. United and Star Alliance have yet to stake their claim, though we may see some domestic and international routes added as we approach 2019.

Special Flights From Asia

Korean offers service to Seoul (ICN) year-round, but Delta’s added one round-trip as well, operated by its new Airbus A350-900. The airline has also added several 777 flights from Tokyo (NRT), with a slightly expanded schedule. New altogether for 2019 is a special Delta route between Shanghai (PVG) and Las Vegas (LAS), which will utilize a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.

Delta's flying its new A350 suite to Las Vegas. Photo by Zach Honig.
Delta’s flying its new A350 suite to Las Vegas. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

Shanghai to Las Vegas ($2,266 economy; $9,945 Delta One):

  • DL186 Shanghai (PVG) 12:05am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 7:45am Arrival (Jan 7)
  • DL185 Las Vegas (LAS) 12:45pm Departure → Shanghai (PVG) 7:15pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 12)

Seoul to Las Vegas ($3,937 economy; $10,161 Delta One):

  • DL170 Seoul (ICN) 6:30pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 12:10pm Arrival (Jan 7)
  • DL171 Las Vegas (LAS) 11:55pm Departure → Seoul (ICN) 6:25am (+2) Arrival (Jan 11)

Tokyo to Las Vegas ($2,126 economy; $14,875 Delta One):

  • DL288 Tokyo (NRT) 4:00pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 9:20am Arrival (Jan 6)
  • DL232 Tokyo (NRT) 3:40pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 9:10am Arrival (Jan 7)
  • DL288 Tokyo (NRT) 8:15pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 1:35pm Arrival (Jan 7)
  • DL288 Tokyo (NRT) 4:10pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 9:38am Arrival (Jan 12)
  • DL289 Las Vegas (LAS) 11:20am Departure → Tokyo (NRT) 4:10pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 6)
  • DL289 Las Vegas (LAS) 9:25am Departure → Tokyo (NRT) 2:15pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 11)
  • DL289 Las Vegas (LAS) 11:30am Departure → Tokyo (NRT) 4:20pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 12)

American Airlines recently announced a special Asia flight of its own, flying its 787-8 Dreamliner to and from Tokyo (NRT) in partnership with Japan Airlines. According to AA, the Vegas nonstop will replace the carrier’s flight to Chicago (ORD) during the 10-day period, though the carrier’s NRT-ORD nonstop remains available to book. Economy fares to Vegas are sky-high, however, and while all seats appear to be open in business class, that cabin isn’t currently available to book.

Tokyo to Las Vegas ($6,030 economy; business not available):

  • AA186 Tokyo (NRT) 6:25pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 11:40am Arrival (Jan 4-14)
  • AA187 Las Vegas (LAS) 11:00am Departure → Tokyo (NRT) 4:00pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 4-14)

Special Flights From Europe

Delta and its partners seem to  be the only ones operating CES flights from Europe. Both Delta and KLM are offering nonstop service from Amsterdam (AMS). KLM’s flight will be operated by the 747-400, while Delta’s planning to fly an A330.

A KLM 747-400 at the Amsterdam airport in October 2014 (Photo by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy)
A KLM 747-400 at the Amsterdam airport in October 2014 (Photo by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy)

Amsterdam to Las Vegas ($1,261 economy; $8,589 business):

  • DL169 Amsterdam (AMS) 2:00pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 4:20pm Arrival (Jan 6)
  • DL169 Amsterdam (AMS) 4:50pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 7:18pm Arrival (Jan 7)
  • DL169 Amsterdam (AMS) 10:20am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 12:48pm Arrival (Jan 12)
  • DL168 Las Vegas (LAS) 6:20pm Departure → Amsterdam (AMS) 2:20pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 6)
  • DL168 Las Vegas (LAS) 11:20am Departure → Amsterdam (AMS) 7:20am (+1) Arrival (Jan 11)
  • DL168 Las Vegas (LAS) 3:00pm Departure → Amsterdam (AMS) 11:00am (+1) Arrival (Jan 12)
  • KL613 Amsterdam (AMS) 9:55am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 11:30am Arrival (Jan 6, 7)
  • KL619 Las Vegas (LAS) 4:45pm Departure → Amsterdam (AMS) 11:25am (+1) Arrival (Jan 11)

Delta and Air France are operating nonstop flights from Paris (CDG) as well, flying 777s and A330s.

Paris to Las Vegas ($2,146 economy; $15,819 business):

  • DL153 Paris (CDG) 10:45am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 1:44pm Arrival (Jan 5, 6, 11)
  • DL153 Paris (CDG) 3:10pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 6:09pm Arrival (Jan 7, 12)
  • DL152 Las Vegas (LAS) 4:47pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 1:00pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 5, 6, 11)
  • DL152 Las Vegas (LAS) 11:46am Departure → Paris (CDG) 7:45am (+1) Arrival (Jan 10)
  • DL152 Las Vegas (LAS) 8:37pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 4:50pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 12)
  • AF184 Paris (CDG) 11:30am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 2:00pm Arrival (Jan 6, 7)
  • AF186 Paris (CDG) 1:20pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 3:50pm Arrival (Jan 7, 11)
  • AF181 Las Vegas (LAS) 4:10pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 11:50am (+1) Arrival (Jan 6, 7)
  • AF187 Las Vegas (LAS) 6:00pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 1:40pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 7, 11)

Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic has added another flight from London, flying a Dreamliner or an A340 from Heathrow (LHR) in addition to the regular 747 flight from Gatwick (LGW).

London to Las Vegas ($2,013 economy; $12,227 business):

  • VS155 London (LHR) 2:35pm Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 5:20pm Arrival (Jan 5, 6)
  • VS155 London (LHR) 11:30am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 2:45pm Arrival (Jan 7)
  • VS155 London (LHR) 10:45am Departure → Las Vegas (LAS) 1:30pm Arrival (Jan 10)
  • VS156 Las Vegas (LAS) 9:00pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 2:50pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 5, 6)
  • VS156 Las Vegas (LAS) 5:25pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 11:15am (+1) Arrival (Jan 10)
  • VS156 Las Vegas (LAS) 7:20pm Departure → Paris (CDG) 1:30pm (+1) Arrival (Jan 11)

I know what you’re thinking… well, sure, this might help business travelers based overseas, but what about me?

Fly an Empty Plane Back

Now for the fun part! While thousands of attendees will make their way to Vegas at the beginning of the week and home after the show, there isn’t a similar need for the return flights. That presents a fantastic redemption opportunity, and possibly the chance to fly in a nearly empty cabin, especially on limited-run routes that leisure travelers wouldn’t think to book.

Take Delta’s Paris-Las Vegas flight, for example. One-way awards are quite pricey, as is typical for SkyMiles bookings — and certainly not a surprise here, given the likely demand for this particular pre-CES flight.

The return leg to Paris is priced at the lowest SkyMiles levels, however — just 35,000 miles for coach, or 82,000 miles for the new Delta One suite on one of the airline’s retrofitted 777-200ERs. Score!

The return flight to Amsterdam is similarly cheap, though that leg is operated by the A330, which unfortunately doesn’t offer enclosed suites.

Virgin Atlantic’s Dreamliner flight to London Heathrow is even less expensive — just 75,000 SkyMiles for a seat in Upper Class. You could also book these awards via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for 25,000 miles + $149 in economy, 37,500 miles + $184 in premium economy or 77,500 miles + $527 in Upper Class. You’ll definitely come out ahead by using your SkyMiles for biz here.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for American’s Dreamliner flights from Las Vegas to Tokyo. The airline has blocked out almost all inventory — business class is entirely unavailable for now, and economy is only bookable in the Y fare class. A one-way award will cost you 80,000 AAdvantage miles in coach, which could possibly make sense if the airline doesn’t make cheaper fares available, since you could very well end up with an entirely empty plane.

Paid economy tickets are even more outrageously priced — $7,400 would even be a hefty sum for business class on this route.

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In some cases it seems that airlines aren’t selling the return flights at all — Delta’s flying an A350 from Seoul to Las Vegas on January 7, for example, and back on January 11, but neither of the reverse legs are bookable.

Bottom Line

While fares and awards to and from CES are in many cases prohibitively expensive, some of the return legs are downright cheap, especially if you’re able to use miles. Flying “against traffic” could even score you a nearly empty plane, too, letting you experience Delta’s new 777 suite with very few other passengers in the cabin.

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