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A Roundup of Less Expensive Ways to Travel to Europe on Miles

Most airlines (as you can see in my chart) require roughly the same number of miles to get to Europe. But not all airlines…

There are good deals out there that we’ve talked about before piecemeal, but I thought it would be helpful to have all of these in one place. If you’re thinking about a trip to Europe this summer, you’re probably fretting over the (once again) ridiculous fares to get there. Don’t give up hope (yet) – these options represent some opportunities to get there even if you don’t have a ton of miles in your accounts.

- Aer Lingus to Dublin using Avios points. British Airways Avios only requires 25,000 points for roundtrip flights on Aer Lingus to Ireland from Boston (50,000 for business class) and does not impose fuel surcharges. Flights from New York and Chicago are just 40,000 points round trip. Coach availability from Boston is fantastic, and pretty good from New York. You can look up availability on Qantas’ site, though I would still call British Airways to check because there were days where Qantas wasn’t showing business class availability but the BA agent I spoke with said she did have a couple of seats available. And don’t bother looking on United’s site — they show availability from Boston but not from New York.

- United and US Airways to Europe (and Israel) using ANA miles. ANA apparently no longer charges fuel surcharges on US Airways and United Airlines flights, which is fantastic because of their mileage-based award chart. That means New York – London is just 38,000 ANA miles in coach or 63,000 in business. Most of the rest of Europe is 43,000/68,000. Israel is 60,000/90,000. You can get miles into your ANA account by transferring from Starwood or Membership Rewards. If United shows Saver award availability, you can book using ANA miles.

- Air Berlin to Dusseldorf and Berlin using Avios points. BA just charges 20,000 Avios points each way in coach (40k in business class) for Air Berlin flights from New York to Dusseldorf and Berlin. and there are no fuel surcharges.

- Delta to Israel using Flying Blue miles. Availability is poor, of course, but if you can find availability on Delta for their nonstops to Israel, Flying Blue considers Israel to be part of Europe so it’s only 50,000 miles round trip — and they don’t impose fuel surcharges when flying on Delta metal. Plus, unlike Delta, you can book a one-way. You can check availability on Air France’s website.

- Emirates to Milan using JAL miles. The service doesn’t launch until October, but as Lucky pointed out, if you use JAL miles (transfer from Starwood) it’s only 39,000 miles roundtrip in coach or 63,000 in business class.

- British Airways or American Airlines using LAN points. LAN does not charge fuel surcharges on Oneworld partners, so you can fly to Europe on BA or American Airlines without paying the surcharges that Avios would impose. This is helpful because LAN has a distance-based award chart. Note that these are in Kilometers, but basically to most of Europe it’s 30,000 miles (60,000 KMs) roundtrip in coach and 70,000 (140,000 Kms) in business class. And you can even redeem for Premium Economy seats, which is helpful if you want to fly Openskies to Paris. You can transfer to LAN from Starwood, and you’ll get the 5,000 mile bonus with a 20,000 mile transfer. With LAN, if you transfer 20,000 Starwood points you’ll earn 50,000 LAN Kms.

- US Airways off-peak. January 15 – February 28 US Airways only requires 35,000 miles round trip to fly to Europe.

- American Airlines off-peak. American requires only 20,000 miles each way when you fly to Europe Oct. 15 – May 15. And if you fly over to London on American and connect onto BA, the surcharges aren’t bad at all. And there are no fuel surcharges on AA metal (or Air Berlin).

Did I miss any great redemption options?

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12 Comments.

  1. US Airways and American off-peak redemptions are also worth considering….

  2. So is openskies just a BA subsidiary with enhanced premium economy? It looked like a scaled down business class experience which is nice.

    How do you find openskies availability using LAN KMs?

    • You can check Openskies availability on BA.com — if you want to book using LAN, you’ll have to call LAN (which I’ve done, and I wish you the best of luck with that).

  3. Very nice post, I will feature it for my reades. And please edit by adding the off-peak redemptions as was noted above!

  4. Note that US Bank offers two miles earning LAN Pass Visa cards.

    The signature comes with a bonus of 20,000 miles (32,000 km) on first use.

    The regular visa comes with a bonus of 15,000 miles (24,000 km) on first use.

    The cards earn one mile (1.6 km) per dollar. Annual fees are waived the first year.

    If you get both cards, you’re only 14,000 km shy of a round-trip to Europe. Spend $8750 on the card to earn 8750 miles or 14,000 km to top it off. (Or transfer from Starwood…)

    Note that I tried to get both on the same day. I was only approved for one. Six months later I applied for the other and received the second bonus.

    Anita

  5. And I second your comment about wishing travelers good luck with calling LAN. Whew! I ran into a snag while booking the awards online, and resolving it took quite a few hours!

    Anita

  6. Would you be able to elaborate on the NYC to TXL on airberlin for 20K Avios and no fuel surcharges? I am playing around and can’t get it to price out that way.

    Thanks!

  7. I’m also curious about the Air Berlin Avios avialability. Is there a thread about it on flyertalk or somewhere?

    I’m doing the 25K Aer Lingus Dublin redemption this summer for my family. But the Air Berlin opportunity would be useful because it would get you to “the Continent” without having to purchase an additional revenue/award ticket.

    Coincidentally, I have purchased an Air Berlin ticket from Venice to Berlin this summer for about $50. It will be my first AB flight. I’m not expecting much, but they do seem to give lounge access through AA status, so it should be a little better than flying (say) Easyjet.

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