How I Used Miles & Points to See Taylor Swift in Europe

taylor swift eras concert in amsterdam featured image

Miles and points are an incredibly versatile tool that I recently used to treat my wife (and myself) to a last-minute trip to see the amazing spectacle that is Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour. My wife had already seen the show in Tokyo when we redeemed 75,000 ANA Mileage Club miles to fly her round trip in ANA’s 787 Business Class, but with the addition of The Tortured Poets Department to the setlist, the itch needed another scratch.

taylor swift eras tour stadium view in japan

I believe the exact quote from my wife, Marta, was, “I am ready to go into financial ruin to see The Era’s Tour again.” Thanks to points and miles, our finances are not ruined! The whole trip cost just over $1,100 USD for two round-trip flights, three nights in a hotel, and concert tickets, and I’ll share with you exactly how I pulled this off.

The Plan to See Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in Amsterdam

This plan started with a random email from Ticketmaster announcing that additional “hold” tickets would be on sale, and I was eligible to purchase them!

ticketmaster-email-for-tickets-available-for-taylor-swift-eras-tour

Much to our surprise, some very reasonably priced tickets were available as they were being sold directly from the promoter rather than resale. We quickly bought them for only 79 Euros each!

Once the tickets were purchased, it was my job to determine whether a reasonable redemption option existed to get us there and back in time…

It’s worth mentioning that you can follow my booking method for just about any last-minute travel. You don’t have to be a Swiftie to implement these tactics, I don’t know about you, but they’re so fun they might have you feelin’ twenty-two.

Booking the Flights

I tend to sort out flights first, and my favorite search engine lately has been Award Tool. I particularly enjoy the Panorama feature, where you can choose a range of dates and cities and let the search engine do its thing. In this instance, I simply input North America to AMS (IATA Code for Amsterdam) and selected July 1st and 2nd as acceptable departure dates.

award tool flight search results for north america to amsterdam

Lucky for us, we’re based in NYC this summer, so almost all East Coast hub cities are only one flight away. Much to my surprise, many 15,000-mile Flying Blue Promo Reward fares were available even at the last minute, which are almost always the least expensive way to cross the Atlantic. If you’re unfamiliar, you can transfer your American Express Canada Membership Rewards points to Air France KLM Flying Blue at a 1:0.75 ratio.

To verify that these fares were real, I flipped over to the Air France website and confirmed they were not phantom award space. But before I resorted to booking a positioning flight, I checked the availability from NYC on the Air France website in case the Award Tool missed anything.

new york to amsterdam on air france klm flying blue

The least expensive fare was 24,500 miles per person, so in this instance, I was happy to save 19,000 miles by positioning us to Boston. It was also a selling point that we have flight credit from a JetBlue Mint flight that we had to cancel, so the $150 hop from LGA to BOS felt ‘pseudo-free’. 

I would have loved to fly in Air France Business Class again, but we’ve already used many miles this year between a ski trip to Switzerland and a round-the-world trip in March. Great deals in economy class are what I settled on, as we needed to save some points for our travel plans for Asia and Africa later this year. 

The flights home were more of a challenge as no Promo Rewards were available.

award tool flight search results for amsterdam to north america

When I originally started looking, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club was hosting a 40% off Reward Seat sale, which meant some tickets were available for as little as 12,000 Flying Club Miles! The problem was those tickets only originated at LHR, so I would need to ‘reverse position’ once we arrived across the Atlantic.

I ultimately waited too long to book the 12,000-point tickets, as the sale ended, but my consolation prize was a direct flight from AMS to JFK for 22,000 points and $248 USD each.

amsterdam to new york on virgin atlantic economy class

The deal was a little sweeter than advertised, as I used Virgin Miles transferred from Amex US Membership Rewards with a 30% transfer bonus. So, my realized cost was 34,000 US Membership Rewards plus the taxes and fees! 

Oddly, the flight was much more expensive if booked directly with KLM, but I welcome the sweet spot as US financial institutions often have 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic, whereas Flying Blue is less common and typically has a 25% transfer bonus.

amsterdam to new york on klm flying blue expensive cost

It took some effort, as the booking continually errored out on the Virgin Atlantic website. Eventually, we called in, and the phone agent was able to see the flight and book us within 10 minutes. I was impressed with the service.

My final bit of trickery for our flights was applying for a status match from my Aeroplan 50K status that was being offered to acquire Flying Blue Gold and collect a host of perks. Among normal things like lounge access, free standard seat selection, and priority boarding, Flying Blue Gold members get space available upgraded economy seating 72 hours before departure.

air france klm flying blue status benefits

For the flight there, I was able to nab some excellent exit row seats that were also in a row of two. I could have sat at the back of the plane, in a “Duo” seat, but I felt this was a better deal. I had to pay for Marta’s extra legroom seat, so I view this benefit as a 50% discount coupon if you travel as a couple rather than free premium seats. But $35 USD per seat for a 7.5-hour flight is a great deal.

boston to paris seating map on flying blue

Booking the Hotels

Finding a reasonably priced hotel in award in North America can be hard during the best of times. In the rest of the world, I’ve found lots of value in my hotel points, and the same is true here. I was able to lock down a two-night stay at the Hampton by Hilton Amsterdam Arena Boulevard for 100,000 Hilton Honors points total, right next to the concert venue.

hampton by hilton amsterdam arena boulevard exterior view
The Hampton by Hilton Amsterdam/Arena Boulevard courtesy of Hilton.com

Thanks to a sign-up bonus on my American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US), I had these Hilton points readily available.

American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card (US)

The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US) earns Hilton Honors points and offers cardholders an annual $400 Hilton Resort credit, a $200 airline fee credit, instant Hilton Diamond Elite status, an annual free night, and more.

Check out our American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card (US) review for more details.

BONUS
175,000 Hilton Honors
MINSPEND
$6,000
NET VALUE
$500+
ANNUAL FEE
$550
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY
Jul 31, 2024

I still needed one more night in Amsterdam before our two-night stay next to the concert venue, and I was tempted to use Marriott Bonvoy points as many properties were available for great value.

marriott amsterdam availability with bonvoy point cost map

Ultimately, I cheated and found The College Hotel Amsterdam available at a favorable travel agent industry rate. But if I didn’t have those rates available, I would have used Bonvoy points or a Free Night Certificate from one of my 3 Bonvoy credit cards to book the Sir Albert Amsterdam in an excellent location for unbelievable value at 1.5 Cents Per Bonvoy Point CAD!

sir albert amsterdam hotel point and cash rates

Buying the Tickets

In our situation, the tickets were the least expensive part of the trip, which is part of why we decided to go once availability popped up so I wasn’t worried about covering this cost with miles or points.

You could get creative with your fixed value points like Scene+, Aventura, or TD Rewards and use the refundable hotel trick to cash out your points even though event tickets are not a “travel” related expense.

Pulling It All Together For One Amazing Vacation

Last-minute travel seems to be our mantra in the Burkett-Jasinski household. We flew ANA’s The Room on 10 days’ notice, Marta went to The Era’s Tour in Tokyo 5 days out, and our first-ever points redemption was a same-day booking to watch the Raptors make the playoffs in Chicago. 

All told I spent a couple of hours searching for availability to ensure I got the best deal, and I used helpful tools like Award Tool to speed up that process. Our costs for this trip are as follows:

  • JetBlue Positioning Flight New York – Boston: $318 USD (paid for with airline credit)
  • Air France Boston to Paris to Amsterdam: 30,000 FlyingBlue Miles and $204 USD
  • Hampton by Hilton Arena Boulevard: 100,000 Hilton Points
  • KLM Amsterdam to New York (JFK): 44,000 Virgin Points and $496 USD (34,000 Amex US points transferred to Virgin during 30% transfer bonus)

Putting it all together, the total cost in cash, miles, and points was:

  • American Express US Membership Rewards Points: 74,000
  • Hilton Honors Points: 100,000
  • Cash: $700 USD
  • Airline Travel Credit: $318

Pricing it out, the total cash value for our trip was $11,747 CAD. We received 12.9 cents per point redeeming for our flights and 1.2 cents per point for our hotel redemptions.

While those cents per point are true in comparison, if I didn’t have points and miles to redeem, I probably would have booked this wonky-looking itinerary with Norse, SAS, and EasyJet using an online travel agency.

new york to amsterdam round trip cash cost

In the grand scheme of things, I have effectively saved this $2,764 flight cost, minus taxes and fees on my Air France and KLM flights, for 74,000 points. That works out to be 2.4 cents per point CAD, which is still a great value, and I am getting a significantly better experience than Norse long haul. After all, Air France lounges are equipped with a Clarin’s Traveller Spa!

air france lounge paris clarins travellers spa

Conclusion

Points and Miles have been a wonderful addition to my life, that allow for experiences not otherwise possible. Whether you’re looking to travel for a concert or any other event, points and miles can often help make travel possible when the cash costs become artificially inflated.

Daniel Burkett

Daniel Burkett

Contributor at Frugal Flyer
Daniel entered the Miles and Points game in 2021 and has taken the “make up for lost time” mentality. After spending five years travelling for work and paying no attention to loyalty programs, some say Daniel is out for Points Revenge. With his desire to maximize every point available, he hopes to share the knowledge gained with more travellers to prevent the same mistakes he made.

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