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 the 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 routings from the East Coast, including year-round nonstop flights to Nassau from Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA) and Charlotte (CLT) and seasonal service from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Washington-Reagan (DCA).
Note that British Airways has a distance-based award chart and charges cumulatively per segment, so unless you have a nonstop flight, 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, and one-way awards are available at half the price.
Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Miami or Charlotte to Nassau
Economy: 15,000 Avios round-trip
First class: 30,000 Avios round-trip
Dallas-Fort Worth or Chicago to Nassau
Economy: 20,000 Avios round-trip
First class: 40,000 Avios round-trip
Unfortunately, British Airways’ award search engine has had issues displaying American-operated flights in the past, but thankfully that seems to have been resolved. Note as well that redeeming Avios instead of AAdvantage miles at the last-minute will not subject you to American’s pesky $75 close-in booking fee.
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 is one of the easiest currencies to obtain. You can open the British Airways Visa Signature Card and earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year. That’s up to 100,000 bonus Avios.–> Points also transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
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 (ATL) and New York-JFK along with seasonal service from Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). 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: 54,000
Unfortunately, Flying Blue has had issues showing Delta-operated award flights through it’s search engine. However, you may have luck firing up the program’s mobile site (or the Air France or KLM apps), as test searches we ran were much more successful through those platforms, much like what TPG Contributor Sam Lipscomb found earlier this year.
Like the flights above, expect taxes and fees to run around $115 for a round-trip award ticket.
Getting Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles
Even with no cobranded Flying Blue credit cards in the United States, its fairly easy to earn Flying Blue miles. It’s one of the only programs to partner with every major transferable rewards program, as you can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy directly to Flying Blue.
Note that Flying Blue isn’t the only program with easy-to-obtain miles that can book Delta-operated flights. Virgin Atlantic also partners with all five of the major transferable point currencies, though round-trip award rates are a bit higher than Air France (35,000 miles for economy and 60,000 miles for business class). However, we’ve seen transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic from both American Express and Citi in the past, so you may wind up with a better deal under these circumstances.
Finally, don’t forget Delta SkyMiles. Even though the program has largely led the devaluation wave (e.g. by removing its award charts back in 2015), there may still be value to be found. In fact, we found round-trip award rates as low as 24,000 miles in economy and 56,000 miles in first class, though the rates vary from day to day. Delta is a partner of American Express, so you can transfer Membership Rewards directly to the SkyMiles program to book these flights.
Long story short: Be sure to compare award rates for Delta-operated flights across these three programs before deciding which one makes the most sense to you.
JetBlue offers nonstop connections to Nassau from the East Coast including Boston, Fort Lauderdale (FLL), New York-JFK, and Orlando (MCO). The carrier prices awards based on the revenue cost of the flight, with each point worth roughly 1.3 cents per mile according to TPG’s latest valuations. 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.
Once you remove the taxes and fees, this particular award would result in a value of over 1.5 cents per point.
Getting JetBlue Points
JetBlue is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards, though note that American Express points transfer at a ratio of 250:200. You can also apply for a JetBlue Plus Card (a favorite of TPG Editor Nick Ewen) that awards 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. The card also offers 10% of your points back when you redeem them for a JetBlue flight, extending the value of your awards to the Bahamas even further.
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. 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.
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
However, the carrier did take a massive step backward recently by announcing that it’ll remove award charts later this year and more toward more dynamic pricing of awards. As a result, these previously fixed award rates may start to vary from month to month. Just like the above suggestion for Delta-operated flights, be sure to compare the award rates United charge with other partner programs like Avianca LifeMiles and Aeroplan before choosing to redeem MileagePlus miles.
Getting United Miles
The MileagePlus program partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, so you can transfer points in from those programs to top off your United point balance. You can also open a cobranded card like the United Explorer Card. Cards like these 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.
Featured photo by Pola Damonte / Getty Images.
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