The Best Ways To Fly Business Class To Europe With Miles

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One of the questions we frequently get is how to use miles for business class flights to Europe, which is usually closely followed “okay, but what are the best flights with miles?”

So I set out to write a post with all the best options, and quickly ran into a road block.

The “best” option only exists in a vacuum.

There are too many variables to say what the all-around “best” way to use miles to Europe is. There are best products, and best prices, but neither is necessarily best for you, for this trip.

And don’t get me wrong — theoretical stuff is great, and there are some insane values for folks who can make use of these esoteric sweet spots (I’m looking at you, Dulles to Dakar).

But for most of us, realistic awards are often more useful. Business class products have been improved pretty much across the board these days, particularly between North America and Europe, so you almost have to go out of your way to find something that isn’t a flat bed. All the options are at least decent, so when you’re deciding on award flights I’d suggest starting with availability, and then (and only then) deciding between the nuances of value and product. You can find reviews for every single one of these airlines in the OMAAT Trip Report Index.

So I wanted to take the opportunity to go through not just the possible ways to use miles to Europe, but the practical options for flying business class at a great value.

First, some broad caveats:

  • In 2018, planes are full and technology has improved, which means award inventory is more aggressively monitored by revenue management departments than it may have been in the past — as such you’re less likely to see award space on key routes over peak dates, even when booking in advance (the flip side is that you might find unexpectedly good availability in the winter months)
  • If you live west of let’s say…the Mississippi, you need to plan on getting lucky, paying some fuel surcharges, changing your ticket at the last-minute, and/or connecting domestically
  • Families and groups will want to consider compromises — if you want to fly nonstop, you might be spending more (in terms of miles and/or money); to stay on the same flight you may need to consider a less-glam carrier, etc.

With that out of the way, let’s just go alphabetically by airline, as that seems most efficient to me given there are a whopping 28 carriers you can use miles for between the U.S. and Europe. You can even have a table of contents if you’d like to skip around, as this ended up at nearly 7,000 words 😉

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus is expanding their route network, and improving their business class, so it’s a nice carrier to start off our list. Availability isn’t tremendous, but it’s decent enough in advance, and 4+ seats aren’t unheard of depending on the season.

Westbound space is more prevalent than eastbound, for whatever reason, so be sure to check both directions.

Best for: Trips to Ireland, or connections to British Airways, Iberia, or Star Alliance hubs

Points you’ll need to fly Aer Lingus business class:

Aer Lingus isn’t formally in an alliance, though due to shared ownership they are nominally affiliated with British Airways and Iberia. So you have two main options for redeeming miles:

  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Use Avios (from British Airways, Iberia, or Aer Lingus), but pay close attention to peak and off-peak dates, along with the distance of the flight — with Avios you pay per segment, so longer flights and connections will require many more miles
    • You can convert both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Avios

Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles is a third partner, with a distance-based chart, but given the lag in transfer times this wouldn’t be my first choice unless you have an abundance of Citi ThankYou points.Return to Table of Contents

Aeroflot

Few people think of Aeroflot as their first choice but they have a solid product on their 777s, and lovely catering. Availability for two is usually decent in advance, and space for four isn’t unheard of, though it’s been tough lately. For the most part, they don’t seem to release additional space close to departure, so what you see is what you get.

They do impose fuel surcharges on award tickets (even when using Delta miles!), so that’s something to be aware of, but it might be a worthwhile tradeoff given they offer a true business class product on intra-Europe flights.

Best for: Itineraries to Eastern Europe, or other long intra-European connections

Points you’ll need to fly Aeroflot business class:

Aeroflot is a SkyTeam carrier, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue charges a varying amount of miles depending on your origin and destination city, so be sure to check the rates first
    • FlyingBlue miles can be transferred over from American Express, Citi, or Chase
  • In theory Delta should charge (at the time of this writing) 75,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe if you’re flying exclusively on partners, however, as of 8/16/18 “award travel is suspended on Aeroflot” when using SkyMiles, with no ETA or further information available
    • SkyMiles can be transferred over from American Express

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Air Canada

Air Canada has a lovely business class product, but award space is incredibly limited. It’s a bit better out of Montreal than Toronto (if you find space out of Vancouver buy a lottery ticket that same day), but I wouldn’t plan on this as a go-to option.

Best for: Those who can make the flight times work to connect/originate in Canada

Points you’ll need to fly Air Canada business class:

Perhaps counter-intuitively, Air Canada Aeroplan points would be my last choice here, as they levy heavy fuel surcharges on their own flights. You’re much better off booking through a partner in this case, though it’s worth mentioning that Aeroplan members sometimes get a nominal amount of extra availability.

  • Asiana has the lowest rates, at just 40,000 miles for a one-way in business class, but the miles are harder to accrue
    • Asiana Club miles can be transferred in from Marriott 
  • ANA may be the best overall, at 88,000 miles for a round-trip, and no fuel surcharges for Air Canada
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Air France

Air France used to be incredibly generous with award space, and in a way they still are — but mainly to members of their own program. If you’re willing to pay some fuel surcharges, this is probably the best (and most consistent) way to find award space to Europe for a family.

Best for: Families and larger groups

Points you’ll need to fly Air France business class:

While you can theoretically use miles from any SkyTeam carrier, in practice you’ll find the best availability through Flying Blue.

  • Use the Flying Blue calculator to check the rates on certain routes (and watch out for promo awards), but plan on ~53,000 – 75,000 miles for the one-way in business class (plus ~$400 in fuel surcharges)
    • FlyingBlue miles can be transferred over from American Express, Citi, or Chase
  • Delta should charge (at the time of this writing) 75,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe if you’re flying exclusively on partners
    • SkyMiles can be transferred over from American Express

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Air Italy

While they aren’t terribly consistent with releasing award seats, Air Italy seems to often release two business class award seats per flight, on both the New York and Miami routes.

Best for: Flights from Europe to New York or Miami (at least until this fuel surcharge situation is resolved)

Points you’ll need to fly Air Italy business class:

Your only real option is to use Avios, though given all the transfer partners available, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Keep in mind connections require extra points though!

Earn Avios


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Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand goes through waves of availability for their Los Angeles > London flight. Typically we don’t see much in advance, though there will be seasons where space opens up consistently 90 days before departure. Last-minute space can be quite good as well, but lately it’s been a bit of a wasteland.

Best for: Last-minute trips terminating in London or connecting to Star Alliance hubs

Points you’ll need to fly Air New Zealand business class:

NZ is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Aeroplan charges just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe (including any connections needed on either end) — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on Air New Zealand, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has an even better chart, at 88,000 miles for a round-trip and no fuel surcharges on transatlantic United flights
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • For non-stop flights, Virgin Atlantic charges 77,500 Flying Club miles for a one-way ticket on Air New Zealand
    • Flying Club miles can be transferred from American Express, Chase, and Citi

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Air Serbia

I don’t know how sustainable this route is in practice, but if you’re in New York and want to go to Southeastern Europe, Air Serbia is a great option. They have a “real” intra-European business class, and a lovely lounge in Belgrade. Award availability is good, but I’ve never seen more than three business class seats available on a given flight.

Best for: Flights to the Balkans or Greece from New York

Points you’ll need to fly Air Serbia business class:

The only way to book Air Serbia is through Etihad Guest (transfer from American Express or Citi). You’ll pay 64,082 miles for the one-way flight to/from Belgrade, connections may be more — call Etihad to price your trip first.

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Air Tahiti Nui

Air Tahiti Nui operates between Los Angeles and Paris, and award availability can be very good in advance. Unlike their flights to Tahiti, the transatlantic flights will often have 4-5 business class seats if booked well in advance. They typically do not release much additional space closer to departure.

Best for: Those needing nonstop flights from the West Coast

Points you’ll need to fly Air Tahiti Nui business class:

Air Tahiti Nui isn’t in an alliance, but you can use American AAdvantage miles. American charges 57,500 miles for a one-way between the continental U.S. and Europe, including any connections needed on any oneworld carrier (you’ll need to call to book, and many agents don’t know how to find TN space).

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Alitalia

This used to be one of my go-to carriers for European travel, but I can’t remember the last time I saw more than one business class award seat on a transatlantic Alitalia flight. They are still a good option for upgrades, however, as Alitalia offers enhanced availability through their program.

Best for: Solo travelers, or those willing to pay for Premium Economy and upgrade

Points you’ll need to fly Alitalia business class:

Alitalia is in SkyTeam, so you can use points from any of those programs. You can also use Etihad miles, as they are a partner/supporter of Alitalia.

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue charges a varying amount of miles depending on your origin and destination city, so be sure to check the rates first
    • FlyingBlue miles can be transferred over from American Express, Citi, or Chase
  • Delta should charge (at the time of this writing) 75,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe if you’re flying exclusively on partners — but connections on Delta can make the pricing go bananas
    • SkyMiles can be transferred over from American Express
  • Etihad will charge an outrageous 120,000 – 160,000 Etihad Guest points (one-way!), so I wouldn’t recommend that as an option

To upgrade premium economy fares, you’ll need Alitalia miles (which can be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards).

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American Airlines

LOL.

If you’re wanting to fly American’s business class to Europe, I hope you’re doing so with the intention of going skiing, because availability isn’t really a thing outside of January – March. There’s the occasional glut of space, and last-minute availability can be decent, but in general award inventory on American is borderline insulting. The exception is the New York JFK to London LHR route, which has an acceptable amount of space.

Best for: The very flexible, or very obsessive

Points you’ll need to fly American business class:

American is in oneworld, so you can use miles from any of those carriers. They also partner with Etihad, which is a potentially interesting option — but again, availability is the real problem.

  • American charges 57,500 miles for a one-way between the continental U.S. and Europe, including any connections needed
  • Rates on British Airways vary based on distance and the number of carriers involved — you will also pay significant fuel surcharges, even though American doesn’t typically levy them
    • Avios partners with American Express, Citi, & Chase
  • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles has a distance-based program as well, but doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on American flights, so while the program is a PITA nowadays, it may be worth jumping through the hoops for 50,000 – 75,000 miles one-way, given the lower fees
    • Transfer points to AsiaMiles from Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou
  • Etihad charges 50,000 miles one-way for travel to Europe on American, but as you have to book 14 days before departure this isn’t a terribly practical option beyond the NY-LON route
    • Etihad Guest miles can be transferred from American Express and Citi
  • Alaska MileagePlan charges 57,500 miles to Europe on American from the contiguous U.S. — you can also only connect on Alaska or American, so any intra-Europe flights would be an extra cost
    • Given the cost/opportunity cost of acquiring Alaska miles, I don’t think this is a good value

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Austrian Airlines

Austrian has the oddest award availability. For months at a time it will be phenomenal, and then there will be nothing, and then there will be six seats on every flight, and then there will be nothing. Lately there are usually 2-3 days a week during off-peak times with 4+ seats, but there’s very little in summer or fall. Space does tend to open up last-minute though, so this can be a good one to set alerts for.

Best for: Coffee lovers, groups during the off-season, and last-minute travelers

Points you’ll need to fly Austrian business class:

Austrian is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs. Keep in mind that Austrian does have high fuel surcharges, so the programs that pass along YQ might not be a good value even if they charge fewer miles.

  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and while they don’t always have access to Austrian space, they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • In theory both Aeroplan and ANA would be good options, given their well-priced award charts, but in practice the fuel surcharges they impose on Austrian take away much of the value
    • To earn Aeroplan or ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Asiana has the lowest rates, at just 40,000 miles for a one-way in business class, but the miles are harder to accrue, and you’ll still pay the fuel surcharges
    • Asiana Club miles can be transferred in from Marriott 

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British Airways

So the nice thing about British Airways (beyond the fact that they typically have a selection of gin and tonic, even on short-haul flights), is that they have very large business class cabins, with a high-density configuration.

That might not add up to the most aspirational product experience, but that combination means great award availability. Add in the route network (BA serves over two dozen cities in the U.S.), and you have a very reliable option for using your miles to Europe.

The downside is the fuel surcharges, which are outrageous.

Best for: Those in secondary cities, or those on the East Coast who don’t mind paying fuel surcharges

Points you’ll need to fly British Airways business class:

You can use miles from any oneworld carrier, but so look for the program that offers the best combination of award rules and prices.

  • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles charges lower fuel surcharges on transatlantic British Airways flights than other carriers for some reason, so while the program is a PITA nowadays, it may be worth jumping through the hoops for 50,000 – 75,000 miles one-way, given the lower fees
    • Transfer points to AsiaMiles from Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou
  • Use Avios (from British Airways, Iberia, or Aer Lingus), but pay close attention to peak and off-peak dates, along with the distance of the flight — with Avios you pay per segment, so longer flights and connections will require many more miles
    • You can convert both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Avios
  • American charges 57,500 miles for a one-way between the continental U.S. and Europe, including any connections needed
  • Alaska MileagePlan charges 60,000 miles to Europe on British Airways, plus full fuel surcharges — you can also only connect on Alaska or British Airways
    • Given the cost/opportunity cost of acquiring Alaska miles, I don’t think this is a good value

Upgrading using Avios is a strong strategy as well, and should be considered as an alternative, given the high cash outlay on award tickets.

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Brussels Airlines

For the most part you’re only going to see availability mid-week (and particularly Tuesday/Wednesday), but if that works with your plans this is a great airline, with easy Star Alliance connections throughout Europe.

Best for: The schedule-flexible

Points you’ll need to fly Brussels business class:

Brussels is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs. They also partner with Etihad Guest:

  • Aeroplan charges just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe (including any connections needed on either end) — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on Brussels, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has a nice chart in theory (88,000 miles for a round-trip), but they do levy fuel surcharges on Brussels
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Ditto to Asiana, which has the lowest rates, at just 40,000 miles for a one-way in business class, but the miles are harder to accrue, and you’ll still pay the fuel surcharges
    • Asiana Club miles can be transferred in from Marriott 
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • Etihad charges 88,000 miles round-trip for an award on Brussels, but you can’t include connections in the U.S., so would be limited to cities served by Brussels Airlines
    • Etihad Guest miles can be transferred from American Express and Citi
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Delta Air Lines

As a general rule of thumb, the worse the aircraft, the better Delta’s award availability will be. So you’re not likely to see saver space in the new Delta Suites, but may find abundant space on the older configurations.

Like Air Canada, this is another situation where you may be better off booking through a partner. We often see Delta partners with not only better prices on Delta awards, but better availability than SkyMiles members are getting.

That being said, if you need nonstop flights, or have a larger group, I wouldn’t rule Delta out. Their variable award pricing means that SkyMiles is willing to accommodate any lack of flexibility you may have — for a price. Given that it’s not too hard to earn SkyMiles, this is sometimes a reasonable option.

Best for: Flights from Delta hubs/focus cities

Points you’ll need to fly Delta business class:

There’s such a range here, because SkyMiles and FlyingBlue both let city pairs influence their pricing, but if you can stick to nonstop flights there are some great values:

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue charges a varying amount of miles depending on your origin and destination city, so be sure to check the rates first
    • FlyingBlue miles can be transferred over from American Express, Citi, or Chase
  • Delta charges ~70,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe (this week, at least) — but sometimes there are sales, sometimes the price goes up, and sometimes connections make the price go wonky
  • For non-stop flights, Virgin Atlantic charges just 50,000 Flying Club miles for a one-way ticket on Delta, though they levy fuel surcharges on Delta flights now
    • Flying Club miles can be transferred from American Express, Chase, and Citi

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Emirates

Emirates operates two flights between New York and Europe — one to Milan, and one to Athens. Award availability is excellent, probably because there isn’t a “value” way to book these flights.

Best for: Direct flights from New York to Milan or Athens

Points you’ll need to fly Emirates business class:

There aren’t any great ways to book Emirates, but given that there aren’t many direct options to Greece, these could be worth considering.

  • Alaska Mileage Plan charges 105,000 miles for a one-way between the U.S. and Europe on Emirates, though no fuel surcharges (please don’t do this)
  • JAL Mileage Bank charges 65,000 miles for the round-trip in business class, but you’ll also pay massive fuel surcharges — about $1,100 worth
  • Emirates Skywards charges 62,500 miles one-way, and also levies those massive fuel surcharges, though you can save ~$300 by booking as two one-ways, and receive chauffeur services on award tickets booked directly with Emirates
    • Transfer points to Skywards from American Express

Given those high costs, purchasing tickets and upgrading on Emirates can be a good alternative, just pay particular attention to which fare class you’re booking.

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Ethiopian

If we were going in order of preference, this might be at the bottom of my list. Don’t get me wrong — Ethiopian as a carrier is fine, and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again. But service on the flight from Los Angeles is oddly timed, and as Dublin isn’t a Star Alliance hub, the connections can be annoying. If you do choose to fly Ethiopian, it’s best to use United miles (you’ll have to call) in order to take advantage of their partnership with Aer Lingus.

Best for: Those originating in Los Angeles who can make Dublin work as a connection or destination.

Points you’ll need to fly Ethiopian business class:

Ethiopian is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Aeroplan charges just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe (including any connections needed on either end) — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on Ethiopian, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has a nice chart in theory (88,000 miles for a round-trip), but they do levy fuel surcharges on Ethiopian
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Finnair

Finnair has quirky availability, possibly because most of their U.S. routes are operated seasonally. On some of these routes, it’s not unusual to see two to three business class seats when the schedule opens, or close to departure. I don’t typically see as much space on the New York JFK to Helsinki route, but it can be worth checking. On all routes, watch out for phantom space if you’re using aa.com to search.

Best for: Seasonal routes booked in advance

Points you’ll need to fly Finnair business class:

Finnair is a member of oneworld, so in theory you can use miles from any oneworld program. They also partner with Alaska Mileage Plan.

  • American charges 57,500 miles for a one-way between the continental U.S. and Europe, including any connections needed on any oneworld carrier
  • Alaska Mileage Plan charges 70,000 miles for a one-way between the U.S. and Europe on Finnair (all flights must be on Alaska or Finnair)
  • Rates on British Airways and Cathay Pacific vary based on distance and the number of carriers involved — there are potentially good values here, but this is an expert-level option
    • Avios partners with American Express, Citi, & Chase; AsiaMiles partners with American Express & Citi

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Iberia

Iberia has very intermittent award availability these days — sometimes we’ll see a deluge of award space, and at other times it’s pretty limited. It’s always worth checking to see if there might be space.

Best for: Folks who can grab space when they see it; connections to northern Africa

Points you’ll need to fly Iberia business class:

Iberia is in oneworld, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • If you can start in an Iberia-served city, Iberia Avios should be your first choice — the rates are good (34,000 – 62,500 miles depending on the distance and season), and awards on Iberia metal have very low fees
    • Iberia Avios partners with American Express, & Chase; or transfer from British Airways Avios
  • American charges 57,500 miles for a one-way between the continental U.S. and Europe, including any connections needed on any oneworld carrier
  • Rates on British Airways and Cathay Pacific vary based on distance and the number of carriers involved — there are potentially good values here, but this is an expert-level option
    • Avios partners with American Express, Citi, & Chase; AsiaMiles partners with American Express & Citi

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Icelandair

Icelandair has okay-ish award availability, but their Saga class is also one of the few choices out there that isn’t lie-flat. That doesn’t mean you should avoid Icelandair if you’re going to Iceland, but it’s not an option I’d strongly consider for onward connections.

Best for: Flights to Iceland

Points you’ll need to fly Icelandair business class:

In addition to having a mediocre product, Icelandair has some minor fuel surcharges.

  • Alaska MileagePlan charges 50,000 miles to Iceland, and 55,000 miles if you’re continuing on to Europe, plus ~$200 in surcharges
    • Given the cost/opportunity cost of acquiring Alaska miles, I don’t think this is a good value

In all honesty, this is a situation where I would pay cash (or equivalent), being sure to check WOW and other alternatives.
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Jet Airways

Jet Airways used to a great go-to for using American miles to Europe, as they operated a mini-hub in Brussels, with flights to Newark and Toronto. Nowadays both routes have been discontinued, as has the partnership with American. Jet Airways now flies between Toronto and Amsterdam, and has an extensive codeshare partnership with Delta and KLM.

Best for: In a pinch

Points you’ll need to fly Jet Airways business class:

While Jet Airways isn’t in an alliance, they do have numerous partnerships with various frequent flyer programs:

  • Etihad charges 55,000 miles one-way for travel to Europe on Jet Airways, you’ll have to call to book at least 24 hours in advance of the flight
    • Etihad Guest miles can be transferred from American Express and Citi
  • Delta should charge (at the time of this writing) 75,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe if you’re flying exclusively on partners, with no fuel surcharges on Jet Airways
    • SkyMiles can be transferred over from American Express

In all honesty, this is a situation where I would pay cash (or equivalent), being sure to check WOW and other alternatives.
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KLM

I had to come back in and add this section, that’s how often I see award space on KLM these days. Which is a shame, because I love these little houses.

Best for: Those that can find it, and those who can leverage promo awards

Points you’ll need to fly KLM business class:

While you can theoretically use miles from any SkyTeam carrier, in practice you’ll find the best availability through Flying Blue.

  • Use the Flying Blue calculator to check the rates on certain routes (and watch out for promo awards), but plan on ~53,000 – 75,000 miles for the one-way in business class (plus ~$400 in fuel surcharges)
    • FlyingBlue miles can be transferred over from American Express, Citi, or Chase
  • Delta should charge (at the time of this writing) 75,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe if you’re flying exclusively on partners
    • SkyMiles can be transferred over from American Express

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LOT Polish

LOT has excellent award space from New York and Toronto, and decent space from Los Angeles and Chicago. If you can make the connections work, this is an option worth considering, though from a product standpoint it wouldn’t be my first choice.

Best for: A Star Alliance option to Eastern Europe

Points you’ll need to fly LOT business class:

LOT is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs. There are fuel surcharges, but they are very very minor (~$150), so I wouldn’t consider that a deal-breaker.

  • While Aeroplan charges 57,500 miles for a one-way to “Europe 2” (where Warsaw is located), if you’re connecting for under 24 hours and continuing to “Europe 1” you’ll pay just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has an even better chart, at 88,000 miles for a round-trip
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Lufthansa

While Lufthansa’s business class product is probably on the “less-good” end of the spectrum (if BA had wifi I would choose British Airways Club World over Lufthansa business every time), it’s still perfectly fine, and availability is usually tremendous. If you’re looking for multiple business class seats, Lufthansa is a good starting point.

Dual hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, combined with a bunch of North American destinations, means there are myriad flights operating every day, and more capacity for award inventory.

Best for: People who want to go to/from Europe

Points you’ll need to fly Lufthansa business class:

Lufthansa is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs. Keep in mind that Lufthansa does have high fuel surcharges, so the programs that pass along YQ might not be a good value even if they charge fewer miles.

  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and while they don’t always have access to all space (particularly the connections within Europe), they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • In theory both Aeroplan and ANA would be good options, given their well-priced award charts, but in practice the fuel surcharges they impose on Lufthansa take away much of the value
    • To earn Aeroplan or ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Lufthansa’s own Miles & More program is often worth a look despite the fuel surcharges — they charge fewer miles for children’s awards, and have extra availability for their own members, which is a big benefit for those on the West Coast
    • Miles & More can be transferred in from Marriott 
  • Asiana has the best award chart for Lufthansa premium cabins, at just 40,000 miles for a one-way in business class, but the miles are harder to accrue, and you’ll still pay the fuel surcharges
    • Asiana Club miles can be transferred in from Marriott 

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Singapore Airlines

Singapore operates two fifth-freedom flights between the U.S. and Europe — a Houston to Manchester flight, and a New York JFK to Frankfurt. Business class award space is generally good at the Saver level, though the “Advantage” level isn’t that many more miles in a pinch.

Best for: Those that can make the destinations/connections work

Points you’ll need to fly Singapore business class:

With rare exceptions, Singapore doesn’t make premium cabin space available to Star Alliance partners, so you’ll need KrisFlyer miles. Fortunately, can be transferred over from American Express, Citi, or Chase. You’ll need 65,000 for the one-way business class ticket to Europe.
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SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)

SAS generally has very good availability, including for four or more, and even sometimes from the West Coast if you’re booking well in advance.

Best for: Value + availability make this a winning combo for most

Points you’ll need to fly SAS business class:

SAS is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Aeroplan charges just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe (including any connections needed on either end) — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on SAS, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has an even better chart, at 88,000 miles for a round-trip and no fuel surcharges on SAS
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Swiss International Air Lines

As a broad rule, Swiss availability is decent-to-good from the East Coast, and poor from the West Coast (other than in winter, which means availability is probably in your favor if you’re thinking of a Swiss ski vacation). Two seats are fairly standard, and four isn’t unheard of.

Best for: Folks who can start/connect on the East coast

Points you’ll need to fly Swiss business class:

Swiss is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Aeroplan charges just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe (including any connections needed on either end) — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on Swiss, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has a nice chart in theory (88,000 miles for a round-trip), but they do levy fuel surcharges on Swiss
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Ditto to Asiana, which has the lowest rates, at just 40,000 miles for a one-way in business class, but the miles are harder to accrue, and you’ll still pay the fuel surcharges
    • Asiana Club miles can be transferred in from Marriott 
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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TAP Air Portugal

TAP has excellent award availability out of both Boston and New York JFK, so this is a solid choice if you’re looking to travel to Portugal or Spain. Connections beyond the Iberian Peninsula can be a little rough, so an award that allows for a stopover might be a good choice in those cases.

Best for: Visiting Portugal (even if only for a day!)

Points you’ll need to fly TAP business class:

TAP is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs. Keep in mind that TAP does have fuel surcharges, so the programs that pass along YQ might not be a good value even if they charge fewer miles. The surcharges are lower than Lufthansa and Austrian though, so it’s not an option you should necessarily rule out.

  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • In theory both Aeroplan and ANA would be good options, given their well-priced award charts, but in practice the fuel surcharges they impose on TAP take away much of the value
    • To earn Aeroplan or ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Ditto to Asiana, which has the lowest rates, at just 40,000 miles for a one-way in business class, but the miles are harder to accrue, and you’ll still pay the fuel surcharges
    • Asiana Club miles can be transferred in from Marriott 

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Turkish Airlines

Turkish used to have the hands-down best award availability to Europe. Like, if you wanted to book eight seats from San Francisco to Istanbul, that was a thing you could do.

Nowadays space isn’t quite as plentiful, and they’ve been particularly stingy out of New York, Washington D.C., and Miami. But it’s definitely worth checking.

Best for: Excellent catering, availability for larger parties

Points you’ll need to fly Turkish business class:

Turkish is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Turkish’s own program, Miles and Smiles, charges just 45,000 miles each way business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can issue tickets online if travel is exclusively on Turkish, otherwise you technically need to go to the sales office in person
    • Turkish is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points
  • While Aeroplan charges 57,500 miles for a one-way to “Europe 2” (where Istanbul is located), if you’re connecting for under 24 hours and continuing to “Europe 1” you’ll pay just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on Turkish, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has a nice chart in theory (88,000 miles for a round-trip), but they do levy fuel surcharges on Turkish
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • United MileagePlus charges 70,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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United Airlines

United actually has very good availability these days, and while their Polaris rollout has been disappointing, even their prior-generation business class is still a flat-bed (watch out for and avoid the very old 8-across configurations).

Best for: Families, travel from/through United hub cities

Points you’ll need to fly United business class:

United is in Star Alliance, so you can use miles from any of those programs.

  • Aeroplan charges just 55,000 miles one-way for business class between North America and Europe (including any connections needed on either end) — best of all, there are no fuel surcharges for flights on United, and Aeroplan allows stopovers and open-jaws on round-trips
    • To earn Aeroplan miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • ANA has an even better chart, at 88,000 miles for a round-trip and no fuel surcharges on transatlantic United flights
    • To earn ANA miles, focus on American Express Membership Rewards
  • Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 miles for a one-way business class from the U.S. to Europe, and they don’t levy fuel surcharges
  • If you’re flying United rather than partners, United MileagePlus charges 60,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada to anywhere in Europe — you can include connecting flights on either end for no additional miles (and no fuel surcharges)
    • To earn more United miles, focus on Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has pretty consistent, although not what I’d consider generous, availability for two or more, even from the West Coast, which is nice. Additional space does open up close to departure, but generally closer to two weeks out than two days.

Best for: Insomniacs and those who love posh lounge experiences

Points you’ll need to fly Virgin Atlantic business class:

While you can use miles from Virgin Atlantic’s own program, the surcharges can be steep. Delta doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on Virgin Atlantic awards, and fees are low for awards that originate in the U.S., so that is the better option if you want to save cash.

  • Delta should charge (at the time of this writing) 75,000 SkyMiles for business class to Europe if you’re flying exclusively on partners — if you add connections on Delta the mileage cost could be anything
    • SkyMiles can be transferred over from American Express
  • Virgin Atlantic has peak and off-peak dates if you’re using FlyingClub miles, so awards will range from ~95,000 miles to 155,000 miles (round-trip, thankfully), along with ~$1300 in fees

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How to earn miles for business class flights to Europe

Ultimately, “how to earn miles for premium cabin flights to ____” is something we cover pretty extensively on OMAAT, and I don’t know that it makes sense to rehash 10+ years of content here. 😉

But, at a very high level, here are some ways to earn points in the programs I’ve mentioned above. If you have (or can get) transferable points with the U.S. credit card programs, that will cover most of your bases.

Earn American Express Membership Rewards

Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards

You can of course accrue points in the specific programs directly as well, which can be earned through a combination of co-branded credit cards, crediting flown miles to the program, or purchasing during a promotion.

Keep in mind you can also transfer points from Marriott/SPG to about three dozen programs, though transfer times can be quite lengthy in some cases.
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Bottom line

At the end of the day, the “best” airline for business class flights to Europe is the one that has availability that meets your needs.

Getting the maximum value for your miles is a bonus, and for most carriers there are a few different ways to use miles, so you have some choices.

What has been the best airline for using miles to Europe in your experience?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Just my $0.02 – Royal Air Maroc would make a great addition to this list. They have become my go to for bargain award tickets to Europe, almost always available. A key points:
    -They can booked from JFK, IAD or YUL and have an extensive route network within Europe via CMN. They have up to 3 flights daily to JFK, so great connectivity through CMN
    -Can be booked for 44K Etihad miles in J via transfer from Amex Membership Rewards. This is an incredible deal
    -Incredible award availability ( seem to have 2-3 seats on every flight)
    -Above average product: would never confuse them with Qatar, but sure beats any of the European majors. Flat bed 787s for the TATL leg and a proper narrow body business class for the Europe connecting leg (which is more than can be said for any of the majors!)

  2. Everyone likes to complain about British Air and their outrageous surcharges and I’m no exception. However, I recently booked a business class ticket from Seattle to Munich via ORD and LHR and was happy to get any premium award seats for my preferred travel date. My complaint is that even after paying the points and the $500+ in surcharges, they wanted another $95 each to select seats or wait until 24hrs before departure!! I think this restriction should get more press. I call that BS BA!

  3. Another $0.02, Aeroflot has been blocking long-haul partner award redemptions starting earlier this year. And Delta-Aeroflot has ended their mutual redemption agreement starting Aug 15. So it is no longer a valid option for redemption for us based in the US.

  4. Wow. This is an amazing post. Probably the most useful I’ve ever seen on here (thought don’t get me wrong, a lot of the content is interesting even if it’s not directly applicable to me). Hopefully other continents follow later?

  5. Bookmarked !! I would like to hear more about RAM mentioned in the comments, I have heard about it a couple of times but not many people sharing actual experience booking it…

  6. Had no problem booking AC J using OZ points. 40,000 transferred from Marriott with no fuel surcharges.

    Odd as well that you neglect Canadian departure points given it opens up many more options, esp. given you include Air Canada.

  7. Great post. You missed Condor. Hard product is not great compared to others on this list, but there is award availability.

  8. I second that on Condor. Hard product wasnt great, but the food was kind of shockingly abundant and good.

    Also, I hear that Air Serbia no longer has the “true” business class intra-europe. Apparently they’ve stripped those seats out and now have a similar product to what LH/AF/BA, etc offer – just a blocked middle seat.

  9. Good post, but even if visiting Eastern or Southeastern Europe, Aeroflot and Turkish aren’t the most practical options, in terms of how much extra time you would be wasting, however good their product is.

  10. @ Brian — I didn’t list all destinations for all carriers, just highlighted availability trends where I thought they were particularly relevant. Are there carriers that only operate between Canada and Europe that I missed?

    The fuel surcharges thing with Asiana is interesting — do you mind my asking roughly when you issued that ticket?

  11. @ Thomas @ Jason — I can add it, I just generally feel like even under the most generous definition of “best”, there aren’t many good justifications for using miles on Condor. The award rates through Alaska are very high, and their paid fares are very low, so it’s not a great value in most cases.

  12. @ Abe — You can read more about booking Royal Air Maroc and the experience in these posts of Ben’s:

    https://onemileatatime.com/redeem-miles-royal-air-maroc/
    https://onemileatatime.com/redeem-etihad-miles-business-class-royal-air-maroc/
    https://onemileatatime.com/ram-business-class-787-review/

    @ Sam — It’s a great redemption, I just didn’t include it because the line had to be drawn somewhere, and I arbitrarily decided that should be flights that “touched” Europe first after leaving the U.S. or Canada. Otherwise we’d be including nearly every airline, and this is already too long!

  13. Alaska is a BA redemption partner.

    They also have the best chart for BA F of anyone… isn’t BA F the world’s best business class? 😉

  14. @ Stanley — Yeah, I was just able to get an agent to read me the memo. It has…very little information, so not sure I can make a post about it just yet. Oy!

  15. Tiffany, are you still finding 70K one-way Delta business class awards over the Atlantic? For a while now it has seemed that the cheapest price is 86K one-way, no matter the date. Which is both ridiculous on its own and also completely nonsensical given that partners are still 75K, but I haven’t seen a single 70K award in quite a while (at least for booking flights that operate in 2019).

  16. Wild card: Egyptair. Pretty good availability, even for 3-4. I find their seats comfortable and service good. Best of all you can use your layover to see the pyramids! 55k with Aeroplan if you have a <24 hour layover to Europe 1.

  17. Since you are mentioning even those carriers with only 1 transatlantic flight (ET, 9W); I think you missed mentioning Air India’s LHR-EWR route. Its actually more useful than ET’s LAX-DUB route for example.

  18. I was on the phone with Aeroplan 2 weeks ago regarding booking a Business Class Award Ticket to Europe. I asked if it was possible to use SAS, with whom I have EBS. I was informed that for a while now, Aeroplan is not able to see SAS flights for points, nor book them. Not sure if it’s an ongoing issue, but as far as I was made aware, SAS was off the table when it came to an Aeroplan reward, at least at that point.

  19. You can use Alaska on AA and BA.

    Alaska does allow Icelandair but finding business awards using Alaska can be tough.

  20. You can and may be should use Turkish miles for flights on Turkish. I’ve just booked a flight to TLV from BOS in Business for 47k miles. That flight was not available on United or Aeroplan.

  21. Great article! Just one suggestion, add a button to return to the table of content after every airline, makes it easier to go back to the table of content to look at multiple airlines.

  22. Fab article! In the sea of post’s that are just recycled and old news from “flyertalk” , post’s like this one remind a lot of us why we started reading this blog in first place!

  23. This is so comprehensive, great post!

    It would be great to see some kind of “best of” within this list itself – lowest points, lowest fees, best experience, best for west coasters/east coasters – really anything to help get through the volume.

  24. Thank you, this is useful. It would be even more so if you listed the routes served by each airline. That’s the thing I find myself researching every time I’m trying to find TATL availability, since I generally search by segment.

  25. Delta charges whatever they want. BTW, if you fly out of MSP where there is no competition good luck finding the numbers you have in your post. Just did a random search for June 2019 and prices are way north of 300,000 miles for a round trip MSP-AMS.

  26. This. Is. The. Best. Article. On. Availability.

    Seriously, most articles just say how you can get some place in business class on points (ahem, Hawaii) but they don’t call it like it is (which for Hawaii for example, is a Hail Mary!). Thank you Tiffany. After following this and other sites, I’ve figured most of what you wrote on my own, but for people new to this, this is perfect!

  27. @ Tiffany — Understood – of course you had to draw the line somewhere. But CMN is just ~300 miles from LIS, so almost Europe. Also I would argue probably a more useful connecting point from North American cities than IST, which is a good 3 hours flying time east of many western European destinations (thereby requiring backtracking). Think this is a terrific post regardless.

  28. I might have a quibble with using BA and Alaska miles… your options for Europe using Alaska miles are:

    – Condor
    – Finnair
    – Icelandair
    – British Airways
    – American

    That’s it. You’ve excluded Condor and Icelandair for reasons of low value (which I get, though if you’re getitng 2+ CPM for redemptions and Lucky says AS miles are only worth 1.8 CPM, there’s an argument for it), and American too (I don’t quite get that, but whatevs- AA TATL availability is a bad joke most of the time anyway, so it’s kind of a angels on the heads of pins argument anyway).

    Finnair means a) quirky availability and b) for common Western/Southern Europe destinations like the UK/Ireland/France/Italy/Spain/Greece, a two to four hour backtrack in European business class. Oh, and 10k extra miles over BA, so at Lucky’s valuation, you’re spending $180 of cash value in extra miles. Yeah, you avoid fuel surcharges… but if you’re buying Alaska miles anyways… you’re spending cash, right?

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assert that BA is probably the most available/reasonable option for premium TATL to and from Western Europeif you’re using AS miles, given that BA J and F are pretty available year-round and there’s a smaller premium for BA F than any other BA partner.

    Also, you don’t HAVE to use the AS free stopover in LHR and get gouged for UK APD… say, add on a free one-way trip to Hawaii and Mexico from an AS gateway (though this is beyond the scope of your article). That also adds value compared to other BA partners (like AA) or Avios (connections add miles required).

    Alaska is arguably weaker right now in Europe than any alliance-affiliated program, though, though if Aer Lingus comes online and there is some ex-DUB connection availability to/from Europe, that improves some. (I hear there isn’t much of that, though.)

  29. I might be missing something, but on the United section she mentions that anywhere in US to anywhere in Europe for 60k miles. Home airport is SFO and Whenever i check United’s website, I see standard business award fares for 155k one way or 70k saver. How do I get these for 60k?!? Overall, great post

  30. @ eponymous coward — You’re exactly right, and it’s a huge weakness in the Alaska program. I would use their miles to Asia, or for BA First as you mention, but their business class redemptions are pretty abysmal to Europe right now.

    So yes, BA is a good option if you have to use Alaska miles to Europe, but I would posit that the better approach right now would be to accumulate different miles entirely if Europe is a travel goal.

  31. @Tiffany — great guide!

    I just booked a R/T on Alitalia next year (JFK-MXP, MXP-FCO-JFK) for 80K transferred from Amex and minimal surcharges. I took them last year and actually it was pretty great. I almost booked one way at 48K but then realized that booking a R/T gets you a 16K discount.

    That’s a damn good deal considering 80K MR points is the same as a one-way in Delta.

  32. @ Ryan — You’re probably seeing availability on partners (you’re usually only going to find SFO>LHR space on United a day before travel). If you’re on United the entire journey, the saver rate is a bit lower.

  33. @Tiffany

    Yeah, ‘cept I live in Seattle and thus have AS miles, and like to do Europe travel during summer, and plan it in advance. BA is an actual option for this, probably more so than anything else unless you can hold your breath and wait for LH F inside of 14 days off of your favorite *A program.

    The other problem I find is that USA domestic availability for connections turns to garbage for most alliance programs (UA/AA/DL). If I am buying positioning flights to avoid fuel surcharges and get LH F or OS J… I’m still spending cash.

    For what it’s worth, I’m 2-2 the last two times getting AA and BA home from Europe using AS on RTW “keep going West” summer itineraries (I am usually blending AS miles and AV miles for this- the advantage being USA-Asia-Europe-USA is easier in summer than USA-Europe-USA).

  34. @tiffany I’m a loyal omaat reader so I’ve read all of those 😉 thanks anyway….
    They are from quite a while ago so maybe some readers have recent experience finding space/booking on RAM ?

  35. “The exception (on AA) is the New York JFK to London LHR route, which has an acceptable amount of space.”

    Just searched JFK-LHR June thru August 2019. Not a single Saver J seat all Summer on a non-stop flight. 2 seats available several days a week mid July thru August, but only if you transfer, say AA Eagle LGA-RDU, then non-stop RDU-LHR. Or New York area to CLT, or ORD, and then on to LHR. So then you can fly non-stop RDU/CLT/ORD right? Nope, if you don’t take that connecting flight first, AA won’t give you the LHR flight. Lots of availability in August from RDU, but only by stopping in CLT or PHL. What kind of nonsense is that? 🙁

  36. @ Robert Hanson — Yep, it’s nonsense. The JFK > LHR route is generally better most of the year, but all bets are off over peak summer (though there’s a chance if you’re booking far in advance). Completely ridiculous approach to loyalty over at AA these days.

  37. @Tiffany I’m busy with a move and work right now so haven’t had a chance to read this. But I’ve bookmarked it and am anxiously awaiting diving in. This is AWESOME! Thanks for working so hard on this.

  38. I agree with Santastico
    If you’re locked into a Delta Hub life is hard
    It’s typically 150,000 ONE WAY for J MSP-Europe in summer. Often more

    I’d love a post about miles redemptions from fortress hubs like ATL, MSP, DFW, MIA etc

    We always position. It’s worked every time except right now (MSP-JFK position flight 2 hours late and JFK-ZRH flight left EARLY. Ugh

    Then again perhaps there are no posts about it because we have no options

  39. @ Santastico @ JRMW — I feel ya! I’m in Spokane now, so “we always position” is a way of life. Typically aiming to redeem miles outside of the fortress airline alliance can be a good strategy (though MSP is extra tough). Like there’s usually good Star Alliance space out of the Delta and American hubs, SkyTeam often has good space out of Miami and Houston, etc.

  40. @Tiffany – Absolutely brilliant post, these kind of articles are a reminder of why I visit OMAAT daily! One thing I would add however, is that there is a pretty quirky redemption on Jet Airways using the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – 40,000 miles one way on Business with minimal taxes (~$50) from Toronto-Amsterdam. Definitely worth a look!

  41. Thanks Tiffany!

    Quite a detailed article that obviously took a lot of time and effort. Will be a “go to” for me from now on.

  42. Wow. That is impressive Tiffany!

    There really are so many ins and outs with the various programs to consider, including those you have to call to book and the variations in how many fuel surcharges there are.

    Thanks for the emphasis for is left coasters! Europe be far away…

  43. Thanks for such a great post @Tiffany! I’m not even based in the US but it’s still great to have one post with so many options compared and listed together. It’s so easy to use. Well done.
    Thanks again 🙂

  44. Am just a low level awards flyer and new to this site. Something strikes me as curious. Why is TPG big on Alaska Air and this site and following comments don’t seem to be. Exhibit A – Alaska is partners w Aer Lingus and is not even mentioned. No need to answer. Just a comment.

  45. @ Pamela Gould — Welcome! I can’t speak to why TPG promotes a certain airline or not, but they have a large team of analysts and editors directing their content, so they probably have a good reason!

    In our case, while Alaska and Aer Lingus have announced a partnership and reciprocal earnings agreements, it’s not yet possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for flights on Aer Lingus.

    But that’s a good question, and I appreciate you asking so thoughtfully!

  46. @ Sam … Or anyone

    Royal Air Maroc does have great availability. There are 2 seats on most days. I am wanting to know if more availability tends to open up closer to departure or once these two are booked. It’s not a popular route so I havn’t seen much info about this… any insight?

  47. Tiffany, I sincerely enjoy your posts! The tone and added random humor are always spot on, great job!
    I was an Exec Plat agent with AA in RDU reservations up until a few years ago and unfortunately your points there are pretty valid. Of course the focus here is premium cabin travel, just a reminder there is consistent low-milage Y availability on RDU-LHR. Finding low-milage J is and has always been next to impossible, which will only get worse when the JFK based 772s used on the route get Premium Economy at the expense of J seats.

  48. Brilliant post – I too have bookmarked it.

    Is there any chance that you could add Miles & More miles required to the Star Alliance redemptions?

    There might be some value in an article (I would suggest joint by authors on both side of the pond) about which FFPs it can most often make sense to join even if one does not live near their country.
    E.g. Although in Europe, I have credit card points which can convert to Delta, Singapore etc.
    I have heard Alaska, Aegean and Avianca.

  49. @Tiffany

    Superb post. Part of being able to get places with miles is knowing which airlines use which points currencies.

    You could potentially turn this post into one of the “Tips and Tutorials” posts.

  50. @ Bagoly — I would probably not recommend Miles&More for transatlantic redemptions outside of Lufthansa. They charge fuel surcharges even for carriers that wouldn’t have them otherwise, so it gets very expensive very quickly, and you lose the benefit of extra availability on LH carriers.

  51. Thank you for the terrific article!! Agreed @Ryan I have looked for a variety of tickets to Europe on United and almost never find the Saver awards, it is almost always the higher 70-90,000 “everyday” awards. (I have to connect since I live in Austin and this may factor in). But what is INTERESTING as heck to me is to see how to use United miles to fly Lufthansa because LH just announced they are starting flights direct from Austin to Frankfurt in May 2019! Hazzah! Final thoughts re United over water: almost all the flights to Europe on United are the horrible 2x4x2 business class- you have to look hard for the legacy Continental planes and you can almost forget about real Polaris since they rotate maybe two of those planes randomly between US-EU and US-South America routes.

  52. ‘United MileagePlus charges 60,000 miles in business class from anywhere in the U.S.’ Hello, Hawaii is also in the US, and United Mileage Plus charges between 65K and 75K from here to Europe in business, usually with good availability, but often ‘mixed cabin’. You can get it for 70K on Delta if you find a lucky spot on their Russian Roulette award chart, and I got one for 70K last year on AA, 8 months ahead, from Zurich, maybe because it was a new route, don’t see anything these days.

  53. “Typically” Brilliant post!

    For anyone who has not heard Tiffany speak at an FTU or Chicago Travel Seminar she can only write but is a funny and entertaining speaker.

  54. All I can find for an award ticket in business class on Turkish Air on their own website is 105,000 each way. Am I missing something?

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