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As 2015 is only a few days away, a new year means new airline routes to fly, so we asked TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen to take a look into upcoming airline schedules and round up a few of the most exciting.
Airline routes and frequencies change all the time, and while that can be frustrating for some travelers, it also means a chance to fly exciting new itineraries and aircraft. For instance, both the Airbus A350 and the next-generation Boeing 787-9 should come into use (or, wider use in the case of the 787-9) as they continue to roll off the production line and airlines put them into service.
Other airlines are using new aircraft to fly new itineraries and expand their reach to new continents. All in all, 2015 should be an exciting year to fly, and here are some of the routes to keep an eye on. For the most part, these are all-new routes, though in some cases we have noted existing routes where an airline is swapping out planes for all-new aircraft.
Note: As we mention, airline routes are constantly subject to alteration, so the effective dates and airline delivery dates noted might change after publication.
Air Canada Toronto-Copenhagen YYZ-CPH
This Canadian carrier is getting a whole order of 787s that it will be putting into service, including on this quick transatlantic hop from Toronto to the Danish capital. This route went into effect in October and will remain a 3x weekly frequency through April with plans to expand it into a 5x weekly frequency early in the summer.
If you are interested in flying it, you have a few options. Aeroplan (Air Canada’s mileage program) is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards if you have a card like the EveryDay Preferred, Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold. You would need either 60,000 or 90,000 miles roundtrip to fly in economy or business class respectively.
United is a Star Alliance partner of Air Canada, so you could also use these miles at a rate of 60,000 or 140,000 roundtrip to fly economy or business. United is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus.
Air Canada also began new non-stop service from Toronto-Rio de Janeiro on December 11, 2014 and it will become year-round. The flights operate 3x weekly (Tues, Thurs and Saturday outbound, Weds, Fri, Sunday inbound) on a 767-300ER with 24 business class and 187 economy seats. It’ll cost you 60,000/95,000 Aeroplan miles roundtrip in economy/business, and could be a good way to get to South America if US carriers’ award availability is tight.
ANA Houston-Tokyo Narita IAH-NRT
This Japanese Star Alliance carrier will begin daily flights from its hub at Narita to Houston Bush Intercontinental starting June 12 aboard a 777-300ER. This opens up a new option for American flyers looking to get to Japan, as well as those looking to connect from Japan through United’s extensive route network at this hub. You can use ANA miles at a rate of 45,000/70,000/120,000 for economy/business/first roundtrip. Just beware of fuel surcharges and taxes. United will charge you 35,000 miles each way in economy, 75,000 miles in business class and a whopping 110,000 miles in first class.
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong-Boston HKG-BOS
Opening up another east coast destination for this Hong Kong-based Oneworld carrier, Cathay plans to fly 4x weekly from Hong Kong to Boston on one of its 777-300ERs starting May 3, 2015. Boston departures will be Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. If you want to book an award on the route, your best bet is either American miles (35,000/55,000/67,500 miles each way for economy/business/first) or US Airways miles if you can book a roundtrip (70,000/110,000/120,000 miles).
China Airlines Taipei to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco
Taiwan-based SkyTeam member China Airlines took delivery of its new flagship 777-300ER in October and has begun flying it from Taipei to Los Angeles. It plans to put its second and third planes into service from Taipei-New York on February 1, and Taipei-San Francisco starting September 1, 2015. You can check out this post about how to use miles to fly it, but your best bet is using 70,000/140,000 Delta miles roundtrip for economy/business.
Delta Salt Lake City-Amsterdam SLC-AMS
Delta recently announced new non-stop service from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam beginning May 1, 2015. It will start at 5x weekly but bump up to daily by May 14 and is a nice way to open up more of the Western US to Delta’s European partners via the hub in Amsterdam. If you want to use Delta miles to fly it (and Delta is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards), you will need 60,000/125,000 miles in economy/business. You could also use its partner, Flying Blue (the program of Air France/KLM) to book an award. Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards as well as Citi ThankYou Rewards, and allows one-way awards. You would need 25,000 miles each way in economy or 62,500 miles in business class.
Ethiopian Airlines Los Angeles-Dublin LAX-DUB
Starting June 3, 2015, Star Alliance carrier Ethiopian Airlines will launch 3x weekly service from LAX-Dublin (and continuing on to Addis Ababa) aboard its 787 Dreamliner. You could use United miles to fly it at a rate of 30,000/70,000 miles in economy/business each way, or Aeroplan miles at a rate of 30,000 or 45,000 miles each way.
Etihad Dallas-Abu Dhabi DFW-AUH
This growing Middle Eastern carrier just launched its fifth route to the US from Abu Dhabi to Dallas on December 3 aboard a 777-200LR. It currently flies 3x weekly (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday from Dallas) with plans to boost that to daily by April 16, 2015. Etihad is partners with American, so if you want to use miles to fly the new route, you can use 45,000/67,500/90,000 miles each way for economy/business/first.
EVA Airways Houston-Taipei IAH-TPE
Houston Bush Intercontinental will be getting a lot of action next year as more airlines make it an international hub, including Taiwan-based Star Alliance carrier EVA. The airline will launch 4x weekly service aboard one of its flagship 777-300ERs (and a Hello Kitty one, no less!) beginning June 19, 2015. If you want to use United miles (an Ultimate Rewards 1:1 transfer partner) to fly it, you will need 35,000/80,000 miles each way in economy/business. If you wanted to use Aeroplan miles instead (an Amex transfer partner), you would need37,500/75,000 miles each way in economy/business.
Splurge on business so you can experience EVA’s signature Royal Laurel business class, including Dom Pérignon service.
Finnair Chicago-Helsinki ORD-HEL and Miami-Helsinki MIA-HEL
Oneworld carrier Finnair is also launching a few new services to the US in 2015. It launched winter service from Helsinki to Miami on December 16 that will run through March 21, 2015. The flight is aboard a two-class A340 and flies 2x weekly on Wednesdays and Friday from Miami. Then starting January 3, there will be a third weekly flight with additional frequencies on Sundays from Miami. Finnair will also commence 3x weekly flights aboard an A330-300 from Helsinki to Chicago (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) starting June 13, 2015. To fly it, you might want to use American miles (40,000 miles roundtrip for Off-Peak SAAver economy awards through May 15) or US Airways miles, or you could use British Airways Avios if you want to top up your account from Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Even more exciting, Finnair will launch routes from Helsinki to Shanghai, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore in 2015 aboard its all-new A350s, so stay tuned for news on that.
Icelandair Portland-Reykjavik PDX-KEF
Though not an alliance carrier, it’s still worth taking a look at Icelandair as an alternative to get to Europe since Reykjavik is such an easy transit point and Iceland itself is a fascinating destination. Marking its 10th US destination, Icelandair will be flying Portland-Reykjavik beginning May 20, 2015 and ending October 21 aboard a 757.
Korean Air Seoul-Dallas ICN-DFW
SkyTeam carrier Korean Air plans to launch 5x weekly service Seoul-Dallas effective March 29, 2015. The omitted days will be Monday/Friday. The route will be aboard one of the airline’s 777-200s. This gives US flyers another international gateway from which to experience this phenomenal Asian carrier.
To fly it, you could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio to Korean Air (the transfer function is gone for now but is expected to return in January) and use 35,000/62,500/80,000 miles each way to fly economy/business/first. You could also use Delta miles instead at a rate of 70,000/140,000 miles roundtrip for economy/business. Alaska is another airline partners and would charge 70,000/105,000 miles roundtrip for economy/business.
LAN New York-Santiago JFK-SCL on a 787-9
Of course this is not a new route since LAN already operates several daily flights from New York JFK to its hub in Santiago including aboard the 787-8. What is new is that it will put the next-generation version of Boeing’s Dreamliner, the stretch 787-9 on this route starting July 20, so flyers to South America can experience one of the latest jets to fly the skies. If you want to try it for yourself, you’ll need 40,000/60,000/100,000 American miles for an Off-Peak SAAver/economy/business award roundtrip, or 60,000/100,000 US Airways miles. You could also use British Airways Avios at a rate of 50,000/100,000 for economy/business.
Qatar Airways Frankfurt-Doha FRA-DOH
Qatar Airways is the launch customer of Airbus’s new A350 and plans to introduce the new aircraft on its route from Doha to Frankfurt starting in January. The airline already flies 777s, 787s and A330s on this route, but the introduction of this latest next-generation aircraft garnered it a place on our list. The service will be one of Qatar’s two daily flights on this route. You could use American or US Airways miles to fly this route as an award. American would be 20,000/30,000 miles each way in economy/business since this is a two-class cabin configuration. US Airways would be 40,000/60,000 miles roundtrip.
Southwest’s Central America Routes
Earlier this month, Southwest announced it would be flying to some new international destinations from its new terminal at Houston Hobby airport. The airline plans to fly from Houston Hobby-Belize beginning in October, in addition to four other destinations in Mexico including Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Los Cabos as well as San Jose, Costa Rica. The airline’s Rapid Rewards points program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Turkish Airlines San Francisco-Istanbul SFO-IST
This Star Alliance carrier has an ever-expanding route network, including new planned flights to the US. The airline will launch non-stop service from its hub in Istanbul to San Francisco SFO aboard one of its flagship 777-300ERs starting 5x weekly on April 13, 2015, and increasing to daily on May 11. The flight is 13 hours and provides another way to get from the west coast to Europe. United, a partner of Turkish, will charge you 30,000 miles each way in economy or 70,000 in business class, and there is a decent amount of award availability (see below).
Aeroplan, meanwhile, will charge you 37,500 miles each way in economy, or 52,500 in business class – a much better deal, and taxes/fees tend to be $100-$200.
United New Routes
United will have a lot gong on in the new year from several of its hubs. It will launch new seasonal flights from Newark Liberty to Venice Marco Polo between June 4-September 23, 2015, operated daily aboard a 767-400ER. United will also be launching a new summer service to Dublin between June 4-August 17 from its hub in Chicago aboard a 757-200.
Perhaps even more exciting, though, is the recent launch of United’s new 787-9 Dreamliner route from Los Angeles-Melbourne, Australia, the airline’s longest at 7,900 miles or 15 hours and 45 minutes. There is actually a decent amount of award availability in the coming days as well, with economy awards going for 40,000 miles each way and business class for 70,000 miles.
Vietnam Airlines to Europe
This Southeast Asian SkyTeam member does not currently have flights to the US, but it is planning a few new routes to keep an eye on, especially thanks to new planes. Vietnam Airlines plans to launch 6x weekly flights from Hanoi to Paris Charles de Gaulle September 30 aboard a new A350-900XWB.
The airline also plans to launch 787 Dreamliner service on two new routes in July 2015. Starting July 1, it will begin operating twice weekly service from Ho Chi Minh City to London Gatwick, and starting July 3, it will offer 3x weekly flights from Hanoi to London Gatwick.
Virgin Atlantic 787-9 Service
Virgin Atlantic made a splash a few weeks ago by starting daily service from London Heathrow to Boston aboard its new 787-9.
It also plans to fly the new jets 5x weekly to Washington Dulles until January 22 and daily starting January 23, 5x weekly to Newark starting February 1, daily to New York JFK by the end of February, and daily to Los Angeles beginning April 30. The airline also plans to introduce new daily service to Detroit over the summer, though it does not appear to be bookable yet.
If you want to use miles to fly these routes, Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can always transfer points. You can also use miles from its partner airline, Delta, to save on fuel surcharges, though you will need more miles generally than Virgin itself would charge you. For more information, see this post on Virgin’s new routes and booking tips.
Any other routes you are looking forward to flying? Share them in the comments below! With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.