Earlier I did a Best/Cheapest Frequent Flyer Miles to Use to Hawaii and people seemed to enjoy it. And if there’s something that Americans seem to like better than Hawaii, it’s Europe. So here’s the cheapest frequent flyer miles to get to Europe.
Not only do I feel like the display of the prices and transfers is better, but there is definately more value in this post as I show a few tricks with specific routes on miles, or discounts. There are more discount awards available than you think. Lufthansa’s 50% off awards, or Air Berlin’s companion ticket at 50% off… there’s a lot to go over but I’ll try to display it as best I can.
On to the charts…
|Virgin Elevate||15 – 25||35 – 59||Amex MR (2:1)|
|US Airways||35 – 60||100||OneWorld||SPG|
|AA||40 – 60||100||OneWorld||SPG|
|Hawaiian||40 – 60||90 – 120||Amex MR, SPG|
|Alaska||40 – 65||100 – 125||SPG|
|Korean Air||50||80||SkyTeam||Chase UR|
|Alitalia||50||80||SkyTeam||Amex MR, SPG|
|Air France||50||125||SkyTeam||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
|Singapore||55||130||Star Alliance||Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, SPG|
|United||60||115||Star Alliance||Chase UR|
|Air Canada||60 – 75||90 – 105||Star Alliance||Amex MR, SPG|
|Delta||60 – 130||125 – 195||SkyTeam||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
|Virgin Atlantic||35 – 42.5||80 – 100||Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG|
Distance Based Frequent Flyer Programs
Example: NYC – LHR
|ANA||38||63||Star Alliance||Amex MR, SPG|
|BA Avios||40||80||OneWorld||Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG|
|Asia Miles||60||80||OneWorld||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
Example: LAX – IST
|ANA||60||90||Star Alliance||Amex MR, SPG|
|BA Avios||70||140||OneWorld||Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG|
|Asia Miles||85||115||OneWorld||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
Discount Award Flights
25,000 miles – Air France Promo Awards
Flying Blue (the rewards program for Air France and KLM) regularly has a list of discounted awards and many are 50% off. Flights between North America and Europe were already pretty low at 50,000 miles, but 50% off makes many awards 25,000 miles roundtrip. Even when their awards are 25% off, 37,500 miles is still good.
Check out their Promo Awards here, then click “North America” to see awards to/from Europe.
30,000 miles – Lufthansa Mileage Bargains
Similarly, Lufthansa has a list of awards all 50% off! Check out the awards here. While there are a ton of really cheap awards, the flights across the Atlantic are super expensive in fuel surcharges. They are milder if you find a flight on LOT, but off hand, I don’t see anything on LOT.
50% off companion – Air Berlin
Air Berlin simply charges the second person at 50% off. So the first person would be 60,000 miles and the second 30,000 miles. It’s like 45,000 miles per person.
Clarifications on some of the varying region based prices
- 40k with AA miles is their long off-peak, which is Oct 15 – May 15
- 35k with US Air miles is their off-peak, which is Jan 15 – Feb 28
- 40k/90k with Hawaiian miles is on Virgin America
- 40k/115k with Singapore Miles is for flights actually booked on Singapore (New York to Frankfurt and Houston to Moscow)
- Virgin is distance based but I still include them in the region based section, for no reason
- Alaska has different award charts based on which partner you use
- 60k/90k with Air Canada is because they consider East Europe a different region, and thus West Europe a different region.
The Best Uses of Frequent Flyer Miles to Europe
12,500 British Airways Avios Boston to Dublin
British Airways has a partnership with the Irish airline Aer Lingus. Since it’s a distance based program, there are sweet spots in the range. The sweet spot when using British Airways Avios is flights barely under 3,000 flown miles, and this flight barely qualifies. So use Avios Boston to Dublin for 12,500 Avios or 25,000 Avios for business class oneway.
Virgin America Elevate Points 20,000 miles RT
The lowest awards are using Virgin Elevate Points, with flights as low as 15,000 points roundtrip NYC to London. However, the fuel surcharges on Virgin are insane. But what I discovered and posted about earlier in One Amazing Award with Virgin Elevate is that they don’t charge fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines.
This doesn’t leave a ton of options but you can connect in New York for the best award: Singapore Airlines New York to Frankfurt for 20,000 Elevate points. Or 12,000 points oneway.
The downer is that the Amex MR points transfer is 2:1. But the good news is that they sometimes do bonuses for transfers as high as 50%.
US Airways 30,000 Miles Off-Peak + Credit Card discount
The US Airways award chart gives a discount for their off-peak window in winter. Combine this with the fact that the credit card gives a 5,000 mile discount when you book on US Airways. Combine the two and you’ve got 30,000 mile roundtrip flights to many places in Europe.
If you want to be able to check out which stopovers to use, check out The Chart of Airlines Stopover Rules.
However, I’ll go ahead and mention that JAL, while being slightly more expensive than ANA, has 6 stopovers and OneWorld has tons of options for flying to Europe without fuel surcharges. Otherwise, both airlines pass on fuel surcharges. But when using JAL, you’ll only pay airport taxes when flying on Air Berlin or Nikki.
Otherwise, United allows a stopover and an open-jaw on the destination and never passes on fuel surcharges. United is usually the best use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and while a stopover is great, not having fuel surcharges is even better.
Avoiding Fuel Surcharges
Most international frequent flyer programs will pass on fuel surcharges. So you need to check the Master Chart of Avoiding Fuel Surcharges to see who doesn’t have fuel surcharges to pass on. Otherwise using Lufthansa (and its 2 stopovers & 2 open-jaws), ANA (4 stopovers), or JAL can be obscenely expensive. But redeeming miles on an airline without fuel surcharges is the key.
Just because I didn’t go over everything in the chart doesn’t mean there aren’t great deals not gone over. Think about what miles you have and what you see on the chart. For example…
- Decide what you have and want. Let’s say you have a ton of Amex points, and you want to fly Business Class.
- Then use the chart to see the cheapest Amex Transfer under the Business Class Column. In this case I notice that Air Canada (Aeroplan) is an option for 90,000 miles.
- Then I check out the Master Chart of Stopovers. Air Canada has 2 stopovers.
- Then I check out the Master Chart of Avoiding Fuel surcharges, and Air Canada (AeroPlan) miles can be used on many airlines without fuel surcharges. Like Turkish, Brussels, Swiss, etc…
Or you can start clean and look at the chart and figure out the cheapest way to get to Europe and then get miles based on that.
Either way, I hope this post becomes a resource for you next time you’re looking to use frequent flyer miles to Europe. And if you have any other tips, please let me know so I can add them.