Did you know? You can get to Greenland on points and miles

Apr 15, 2020

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Today, we are launching “Did You Know?” — a series of weekly posts exploring lesser-known corners of the world of points and miles, rewards credit cards, and air travel. Check back every Wednesday for a new article!

While we are all grounded, you might be planning your next adventure. Typically, the hardest part of going to a pretty remote destination is the journey itself. And that rings especially true for getting to Greenland.

The world’s largest island is an autonomous territory within Denmark. If you’re into nature vacations like me, then it could be a great place to go. But even better is that you can actually redeem your points and miles to get there!

Let’s dive right in to your options for getting to Greenland.

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First: due to its remote nature, there isn’t much air service to Greenland. If you’re planning to fly there from North America, you’re going to need to “overfly” the island and backtrack westbound over your contrails.

There is air service from two international gateways: Copenhagen, Denmark and Reykjavik, Iceland. Unfortunately, the sole airline serving the territory, Air Greenland, doesn’t partner with any major frequent flier program. And the flight options are pretty limited.

Sea ice in the frozen Disko Bay with icebergs. Town Ilulissat at the shore of Disko Bay in West Greenland. center for tourism. administration and economy. The icefjord nearby is listed as UNESCO world heritage. America. North America. Greenland. Denmark. (Photo by: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The town of Ilulissat on the shore of Disko Bay in West Greenland. The fjord nearby is listed as UNESCO world heritage site (Photo by: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Air Greenland flies between Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq (SFJ) — the largest airport in Greenland — up to two times a day. This roughly five-hour flight is operated by an Airbus A330 with business class and coach. The biz cabin is arranged in a forward facing 2-2-2 configuration and coach is an industry standard 2-4-2 seating. Fares for this flight start at $450 for coach and $882 for biz.

You could also fly to the capital of Greenland, Nuuk (GOH), from Iceland. Air Greenland flies between Keflavik, Iceland’s largest airport, and Nuuk using a small Dash 8 turboprop. The flight is just above three hours, which is quite long for a turboprop. Fares for these flights start at around $350.

In addition, you could fly to various points in Greenland from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, with Air Iceland Connect. This small airline also operates the flights using a Dash 8. Note that if you choose to fly with Air Iceland Connect, you’ll need to get yourself to the small, domestic airport in Reykjavik even though your long-haul international flight will likely land at Keflavik. Fares for these flights start at around $250.

As mentioned, neither Air Greenland nor Air Iceland Connect belong to any alliances, so you’re going to have to pay for your tickets. But, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could easily use your Ultimate Rewards to book these tickets using your points through the Chase Travel portal. That’s because the travel portal has access to almost all flights, and will apply points at a rate of 1.25 and 1.5 cents per point, respectively, depending on which card you hold.

Related: How to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal

But getting to Greenland is just part of the puzzle. You still need to get from your origin to either Iceland or Copenhagen. Unfortunately, with the demise of WOW Air, your options are quite limited. You could fly from many major U.S. cities to Reykjavik’s Keflavik airport with Icelandair. You can even redeem Alaska miles for travel on Icelandair.

WOW Air over Greenland on the way from Reykjavik to Newark (Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

Related: How Can You Use Points and Miles to Fly Icelandair?

The big 3 U.S. airlines also fly to Keflavik (KEF). American was supposed to start flying seasonally from Philadelphia (PHL) on June 4, 2020. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, that route’s now been pushed back to next year. Delta seasonally flies from Minneapolis (MSP) and New York-JFK, and United seasonally flies there from Newark (EWR).

Redeeming miles for coach tickets on the major U.S. airlines shouldn’t be much of a problem. A quick glance at award inventory shows that many dates have economy saver availability. The story’s a bit different in biz, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see expanded inventory in the coming months due to the coronavirus pandemic and the associated decline in travel demand.

Interestingly, getting to Copenhagen isn’t necessarily that much easier than to Iceland. Of the U.S. airlines, Delta’s the only one to fly there nonstop seasonally from JFK. Paid fares on this route can be quite reasonable, but award prices are often way overpriced.

The other option is to fly SAS, the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. This Star Alliance carrier flies to the following U.S. hubs from Copenhagen: Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington Dulles (IAD). Since it’s a member of Star Alliance, you can redeem a whole host of miles for travel on the carrier, including Air Canada Aeroplan, Singapore Krisflyer and United MileagePlus.

Review: SAS Airbus A350 in business class

If you do end up choosing to route via Copenhagen on SAS, I’d highly recommend seeking out the carrier’s new Airbus A350. I had a fantastic flight earlier this year from Copenhagen to Chicago on this shiny new bird.

SAS Airbus A350 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Getting to Greenland is a journey unto itself. Since the island only sees air service from Iceland and Copenhagen, you’re going to need to make your way there, before connecting to Greenland. This may seem inconvenient, especially to those who’ll be coming from North America, but it’s a small price to pay to be able to admire Greenland’s beauty.

The best news of all is that miles and points can take you there — all the way from your origin to your destination in Greenland.

Featured photo by Kell B. Larsen / Getty Images

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