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United 8,000 miles awards for Croatia and Slovenia

Croatia and Slovenia are two countries I found to be expensive flight destinations in my travel planning this past year. There are low cost carrier flights to these countries, but you have to be in the right location on the right dates for these deals.

In studying the potential of United Mileage Plus new 800-mile awards for nonstop partner airline flights of 800 miles or less, I focused on two countries, Croatia and Slovenia and their airlines Croatia and Adria. 

A couple of times in 2017 I researched trip plans for Croatia and Slovenia. For both of these countries I could find some low fares for certain routes like London to Zagreb, but only on limited dates.

Most airline service to coastal Croatia is seasonal with flights to the coastal resorts regional airports, meaning off-season travel is easiest with flights to Zagreb ZAG. Several Star Alliance carriers fly to Zagreb and Croatia Airlines flies to many places around Europe from Zagreb. Travel within Croatia is generally inexpensive with $50 flights from Zagreb to coastal cities like Dubrovnik, Split and Pula.

There are low cost carriers like Ryanair to several places in Croatia, but limited routes to Pula, Rijeka, Zadar. Also, Ryanair tends to fly out of secondary airports for cities I transit through such as London LHR to London Luton LTN, Amsterdam AMS to Eindhoven EIN, Stockholm Arlanda ARN to Stockholm Skavsta NYO. Transiting between these airport locations is a pain in the ass and generally takes several hours of time and $25 to $35 in transit tickets.

Croatia Airlines Zagreb ZAG nonstop routes within 800 miles

  • Amsterdam AMS
  • Brussels BRU
  • Copenhagen CPH
  • Frankfurt FRA
  • Munich MUC
  • Paris CDG
  • Rome FCO
  • Sarajevo SJJ
  • Skopje SKP
  • Vienna VIE
  • Zurich ZRH
  • Seasonal routes: Athens, Bucharest, Dusseldorf, Milan MXP, Prague

Within Croatia

  • Dubrovnik DBV
  • Pula PUY
  • Split SPU
  • Zadar ZAD
  • Seasonal routes: Brac BWK, Rijeka RJK

Adria Airways Ljubljana Airport routes within 800 miles nonstop

  • Amsterdam AMS
  • Brussels BRU
  • Copenhagen CPH
  • Frankfurt FRA
  • Munich MUC
  • Paris CDG
  • Prague PRG
  • Podgorica TGD, Montenegro
  • Pristina PRN, Kosovo
  • Sarajevo SJJ, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Skopje SKP, Macedonia
  • Tirana TIA, Albania
  • Vienna VIE
  • Warsaw WAW
  • Zurich ZRH

Places like Croatia and Slovenia are where I see real potential for my travels with the new United 8,000 mile awards.

8,000 miles will take me from a variety of cities to Zagreb, Croatia or Ljubljana, Slovenia and from there to many other places around Europe.

16,000 United miles offers a tremendous amount of itinerary flexibility to fly to Croatia or Slovenia and leave Croatia for some other country without backtracking or needing to find low cost carrier flights.

Croatia and Slovenia Trip June 2018

Here is a potential itinerary for Croatia and Slovenia from Copenhagen, a destination I will be arriving at in June 2018 with no additional plans. This itinerary works out to five flights for travel from Copenhagen to Slovenia and then to three cities in Croatia with Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Pula.

Turns out this itinerary only uses one United flight award and $266 to buy three other airline tickets and bus travel between Ljubljana and Zagreb.

Copenhagen CPH to Ljubljana LJU, Slovenia

Adria CPH-LJU nonstop 9:40am-11:30am

Thu June 14 United award = 8,000 miles + $28

CPH-LJU $28 8K UA Jun14 

Published Adria fare = $206. Savings $178 for 8000 miles.

CPH-LJU Adria $206 Jun 14

Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia and Zagreb, capital of Croatia are 76 miles apart. Frequent bus service links these cities in 2 hours at 10 EUR each way. Spend two or three nights in Slovenia and take a bus to Zagreb for 2-3 nights.

Croatia Airlines Zagreb ZAG to Dubrovnik DBV

$59 Tue June 19 12:15– 1:10pm

ZAG-DBV $59 Croatia Jun19

From Dubrovnik I like the idea of flying to Pula PUY, Croatia. Pula is a resort area with a few Club Carlson hotels. All four hotels in Pula are 44,000 points per reward night.

Club Carlson Pula

Croatia Airlines Dubrovnik DBV – Pula PUY, Croatia

$82 Sat June 23

If possible, I would adjust itinerary to fly DBV-PUY on a Tuesday when there is a nonstop flight for $50. Otherwise must route through both Zagreb and Zadar on a 2-stop flight from Dubrovnik to Pula for $82.

DBV-PUY $82 Croatia Jun23

While I show this flight here, this is the kind of inefficiency in travel plans that would gnaw at me and prevent me from actually purchasing these flights.  I would have to play around with the itinerary to make it so I am leaving Dubrovnik on Tuesday for Pula and a nonstop flight for $50.

SAS nonstop PUY Croatia to Copenhagen CPH

$85  Tue Jun 26

PUY-CPH $85 SK Jun26

Or 8,000 miles + $18.20 with United Mileage Plus.

PUY-CPH UA 8K $18 Jun26

Itinerary: Copenhagen – Ljubljana, Slovenia – Zagreb, Croatia – Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pula, Croatia – Copenhagen, Denmark

8,000 United miles + $266 for 4 airline tickets and one bus ticket.

Copenhagen – Ljubljana, Slovenia 8,000 UA miles + $28 (2 nights Ljubljana). Saves over $100 on next lowest priced flight.

  1. Ljubljana – Zagreb, Croatia bus 10 EUR/$12 (3 nights Zagreb).
  2. Zagreb ZAG – Dubrovnik DBV Croatia Airlines $59 (4 nights Dubrovnik).
  3. Dubrovnik DBV – Pula PUY, Croatia Airlines $82 (3 nights Pula).
  4. Pula PUY – Copenhagen SAS $85.

This itinerary for Slovenia and Croatia shows the limitations of United short-haul 8,000 miles award tickets for intra-Europe travel. On many routes fares are so low that it weighs in favor of simply buying tickets and conserving United miles for award travel where there are undesirable low cost options.