Wide-open biz awards on NYC’s latest Star Alliance Dreamliner flight

Feb 3, 2021

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Come May 2, 2021, New York-JFK will have a new 787 Dreamliner flight, with Star Alliance member LOT Polish Airlines re-launching nonstop service to Krakow, Poland.

The carrier last offered regular service between the two airports in the summer of 2008, according to information from data and analytics firm Cirium. LOT also offers regular service between Krakow (KRK) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD).

As Routes Online notes, LOT’s latest long-haul flight is available to book through Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021 (with the final return on Oct. 25), though the schedule is of course subject to change, especially given the uncertainty around demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s great news on the award front, though — LOT is currently offering economy and business-class awards to Star Alliance partners on almost every single date the airline plans to fly.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

I was able to quickly pull up award seats on United’s website — economy seats are bookable for 33,000 miles, while business class is consistently available for 77,000 MileagePlus miles each way. I flew LOT’s Dreamliner business class in 2018 — while the seats aren’t especially private, they do lie-flat, and I had a very good flight, overall.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

The once-weekly flight departs New York City on Sunday night — you’ll arrive Monday morning, missing out on an extra weekend in Europe. While the flight is timed well for business travelers, it isn’t ideal for someone looking to maximize their time off across the pond.

Instead, I might consider piecing together a road trip through Poland. Warsaw, Lodz, Wroclaw and Krakow all have points hotels, for example, and you can book Hilton stays at award rates ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 Honors points (worth $60-$180) per night.

Screenshot courtesy of Google.

The flight times are much more reasonable, too. LOT flies at least once a day between the New York City area and Warsaw, so you can work two full weekends into your trip, returning home on the new Krakow nonstop on a Monday.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

Or, you can piece together a multi-country Europe trip using United’s “Excursionist Perk.” For example — you can fly United business class from Newark (EWR) to Munich (MUC), spend a few days in Munich then fly Lufthansa on to Prague (PRG) and drive through the Czech Republic and perhaps Slovakia en-route to Krakow for your LOT flight home.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

That trip, entirely in business class, will cost you 137,000 MileagePlus miles — with the Excursionist Perk, for the flight within Europe, you’re only responsible for the taxes and fees.

You might also consider booking awards via another Star Alliance carrier, given that United’s rates aren’t especially competitive. Air Canada’s recently relaunched Aeroplan requires 70,000 miles for the same one-way biz award, for example:

Screenshot courtesy of Air Canada.

Personally, I still recommend booking through United MileagePlus, even if you don’t plan to use the Excursionist Perk. If award flights end up getting canceled — as is a possibility here, given uncertain demand during the pandemic — United has been known to open up availability on its own flights, making it likely that you’d be able to move to a one-stop flight through another city in Europe, including a United Polaris flight across the Atlantic.

While LOT’s cabin is a bit outdated, business-class flyers get a lie-flat seat. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

If you’re flying economy, meanwhile, you might even want to book with cash. The airline is charging just $273 for a one-way flight between JFK and Krakow at the moment, or $498 for a round-trip. Business-class flyers will be better off redeeming miles, though — currently, both one-way flights and round-trip bookings cost about $3,400, a hefty price to pay for a lie-flat on LOT.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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