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The Best Ways To Fly to Europe With Points & Miles [Step-by-Step]

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Paris in the spring.

Spain’s Costa del Sol in the summer.

Christmas markets in Germany.

No matter what time of year it is, there is always a great reason to travel to Europe!

If you book award tickets to Europe with miles and points, you can use all that vacation money you saved to enjoy the destination.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to book award flights to Europe.

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Best Programs To Use To Book Flights

When you search for paid flights to Europe from the U.S., you will find a huge variety of options. From low-cost carriers to some of the world’s best first class products, there really is something for everyone. Just make sure you’re up to date regarding ETIAS and visiting Schengen countries in Europe before you book your ticket.

If you live on the East Coast, maybe you can handle the flight in economy class and save some of your points for another day.

But if you live on the West Coast, perhaps a lie-flat bed is a little more important so you can hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination.

We realize that many factors go into determining the best flight for a specific route, or even for a specific passenger: do you prefer lie-flat seats, great food, a friendly crew, or all of the above?

Choosing the best airline for you comes down to evaluating your personal preferences.

Below, we show you some of the best options for using your points for economy class, business class, and first class flights. No matter how you like to fly, we have you covered!

Hot Tip: We mainly discuss round-trip award prices, but keep in mind that many airline loyalty programs will let you book one-way award tickets for half the number of miles.

United MileagePlus

Aer Lingus Business Class

Aer Lingus business class. Image Credit: Aer Lingus

United Airlines’ MileagePlus program is one of the most popular ways to book award flights to Europe thanks to its extensive reach via the Star Alliance network.

MileagePlus is a fairly straightforward program that is easy to understand and use. Many of its partners are available to search for award space and book on the United site.

If you select Flexible Dates when doing your search, you can see a month-long calendar of award availability all at once. This makes finding award space much easier.

Although its mileage rates for award tickets to Europe are not the absolute best you can find, United has several things going for it. Specifically, the following are true:

  1. United miles are super easy to redeem
  2. No (or very low) fuel surcharges
  3. Great starter program for miles and points

Hot Tip: If you’re interested in learning more, don’t miss our in-depth United Airlines review!

You’ll notice that United charges more miles for partner flights than for its own flights, so you’ll want to make that consideration when thinking about which airline to fly on.

United doesn’t offer a first class product outside of North America, so if you have your mind set on flying first class, your main choice is Lufthansa.

Be prepared, though, as first class awards with Lufthansa are almost always not bookable until ~15 days before the departure date.

SWISS Air doesn’t make its first class available to partners. In fact, you’ll need top-tier elite status with SWISS Air to make these award bookings at all.

Also, nearly all European-focused Star Alliance partners such as Brussels Airlines, LOT Polish, and Turkish Airlines do not have first class.

The tradeoff when booking first class with a partner is that while it will cost a big chunk of miles, United will not hit you with carrier-imposed surcharges. This can save you over $500 in fees when you book Lufthansa first class, as other airline loyalty programs will pass those charges onto you.

If you want to fly in coach, however, choosing to fly with United or its partners doesn’t matter; it will cost the same amount of miles either way.

The following Star Alliance members and United partners operate flights between the U.S. and Europe — and are therefore bookable with your United miles:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SWISS Air
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

Here is the United MileagePlus award chart for round-trip flights (one-way tickets will cost half the miles):

Cabin ClassUnited Miles CostTaxes and Fees
EconomyFrom 60,000~$6 to $106
BusinessFrom 120,000~$6 to $106
Partner BusinessFrom 154,000~$6 to $106

Here are some fantastic routes you can book with United miles:

  • Boston (BOS) – Dublin (DUB) round-trip in Aer Lingus business class for 154,000 United miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
  • Chicago (ORD) – Vienna (VIE) round-trip in Austrian Airlines business class for 154,000 United miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 77,000 United miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 121,000 United miles + ~$5.60 in taxes and fees

Follow these instructions to book your award flight using United miles:

  1. Visit United’s homepage.
  2. Check off the box that says Book with miles, fill out the search box’s fields, and click Find flights.
  3. Locate a flight that works for your plans, redeem your United miles, and pay for taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning United Airlines MileagePlus Miles

Bilt and Chase transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers in around 3 business days, and it also has an improved transfer ratio of 3:1.1 instead of the standard 3:1 ratio.

If you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you will receive 22,000 United miles plus a 25% bonus, increasing your total to 27,000 miles for 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points!

Recommended United Cards

Hot Tip: Check out our guide to the best Chase United credit cards where we compare the benefits and perks of United’s co-branded cards.

ANA Mileage Club

Turkish Airlines Business Class Seat 7A Boeing 787 9

Use ANA miles to book Turkish Airlines Boeing 787-9 business class. Image Credit: Turkish Airlines

ANA Mileage Club offers some seriously unbeatable round-trip redemption rates for business class flights! For the most part, it blows the competition out of the water in terms of value for your miles.

It doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on some airlines, so you can choose to fly ANA to minimize your out-of-pocket cost.

Here’s how flights to/from North America and Europe price out (round-trip):

Class of ServiceMileage Cost (Partners)
Economy55,000 ANA miles
Business88,000 ANA miles
First165,000 ANA miles

In general, the best airlines to book with low fuel surcharges are Turkish Airlines, LOT Polish, SAS, and United Airlines.

Here are a few amazing routes you can book:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Istanbul (IST) round-trip in Turkish business class for 88,000 ANA miles + ~$532 in taxes and fees
  • Chicago (ORD) – Paris (CDG) round-trip in United Polaris class for 88,000 ANA miles + ~$11 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Warsaw (WAW) round-trip in LOT Polish business class for 88,000 ANA miles + ~$601 in taxes and fees
  • Newark (EWR) – Copenhagen (CPH) round-trip in SAS business class for 88,000 ANA miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – London (LHR) round-trip in United Polaris class for 88,000 ANA miles + ~$11 in taxes and fees

ANA is a pretty easy program to redeem miles with. You can make bookings completely online using its award search engine. However, we recommend doing your initial search on United’s website:

  1. Go to United’s homepage and perform your award search.
  2. Write down the flight details and schedule.
  3. Go to ANA’s U.S. website.
  4. Click Award Booking in the search box.
  5. Log into your ANA account. On the redirected page, enter your search details. Click Search.
  6. Choose the flight that matches your desired booking. Redeem your ANA miles and use a credit card for taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Mileage Club Miles

There are 2 transfer partners for ANA miles: American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex transfers at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with 5,000 ANA bonus miles after each 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy point transfer!

Amex takes 2 to 3 business days to transfer, while Marriott Bonvoy takes closer to 7 business days.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

Business Owner? Check out our article on the best Amex business cards that earn Membership Rewards.

Hot Tip: For more ways to earn ANA miles, check out our in-depth guide on how to earn a lot of ANA miles.

Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada Signature Class 787

Fly Air Canada’s comfortable business class with your Aeroplan points. Image Credit: Air Canada

Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is one of our favorite ways to fly to Europe.

On a high level, Air Canada Aeroplan is an easy program to use. It has access to the Star Alliance network, and the number of Aeroplan points required for a flight is quite reasonable.

Unlike many airline loyalty programs, Air Canada uses a distance-based award chart for flights from North America to the Atlantic region, which includes all of Europe:

Distance (Miles)Operated ByEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
0 to 4,000Air Canada35,000 to 60,00050,000 to 80,00060,000 to 160,00090,000 to 180,000
Partner airlines35,00060,00090,000
4,001 to 6,000Air Canada40,000 to 70,00060,000 to 90,00070,000 to 180,000100,000 to 200,000
Partner airlines40,00070,000100,000
6,001 to 8,000Air Canada55,000 to 80,00070,000 to 100,00085,000 to 200,000120,000 to 225,000
Partner airlines55,00085,000120,ooo
8,001+Air Canada70,000 to 100,00085,000 to 160,000100,000 to 220,000130,000 to 250,000
Partner airlines70,000100,000130,000

Hot Tip: Aeroplan allows stopovers, even on one-way flights, for an additional 5,000 points. Better yet, these stopovers are bookable 100% online! If you’re not able to see the availability you want, give Aeroplan a call at 800-361-5373.

Of its Star Alliance partners that fly to Europe from the U.S., Air Canada does not add fuel surcharges to award flights.

As a result, you can fly on airlines such as SWISS Air, Lufthansa, and Austrian Airlines without having to worry about paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket!

Here are some great example routes you can book:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 70,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 100,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Copenhagen (CPH) one-way in SAS business class for 70,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Brussels (BRU) one-way in Brussels Airlines business class for 60,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Lisbon (LIS) one-way in TAP Air Portugal business class for 70,000 Aeroplan points + ~$41 in taxes and fees

Follow these steps to book your flight using Aeroplan points:

  1. Visit the Aeroplan website.
  2. In the top-right corner, click Sign in and log into your account.
  3. On the homepage, you’ll see a search box. Toggle the slider that says Book with points Aeroplan.
  4. Fill in the search box, perform the search, and find your desired flight option.
  5. Complete the booking by redeeming your Aeroplan points and providing a credit card for taxes and fees
    • If you wish to add a stopover to your trip, you can book your stopover online or call Aeroplan at 800-361-5373 to book your ticket.

Earning Air Canada Aeroplan Points

In addition to earning Aeroplan points by flying Air Canada and its partners, you can transfer points into the program from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Bilt, Capital One, and Chase transfer almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers in 5 business days at a 3:1 ratio.

For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer to Aeroplan in a single transaction, you’ll get 5,000 extra Aeroplan points.

Recommended Capital One Cards

Recommended Aeroplan® Credit Card

Bottom Line: Several airlines fly routes between the U.S. and Europe. Aeroplan has enhanced redemption value because it does not pass on any fuel surcharges on partner flights, which lends a huge helping hand for most Star Alliance airlines.

Avianca LifeMiles

United Polaris Middle Seats

Flying United Polaris with Avianca LifeMiles is a great way to fly to Europe! Image Credit: United

LifeMiles is the loyalty program of Avianca. There are tons of great ways to redeem LifeMiles, and one of the best ways is either in business or first class to Europe.

LifeMiles has a Star Alliance award chart, and it prices awards based on regions. It does not allow stopovers, but it never levies fuel surcharges. This is an easy way to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on fuel surcharges!

Additionally, it periodically offers Promo Awards that can discount your flights up to 48%!

Economy class tickets are 30,000 miles, business costs 63,000 miles, and first class is 87,000 miles. Keep in mind that these prices are one-way prices.

Taxes and fees will be around $30 to $50 each way — what a steal!

And since Avianca is a Star Alliance partner, you can book Star Alliance flights to Europe.

You pretty much have to book with its online search engine. It can be clunky at times, especially with connecting flights or flights with 2 or more stops. If you’re booking nonstop flights, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Here are some of our favorite LifeMiles redemptions you can make to Europe:

  • Houston (IAH) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 87,000 LifeMiles + ~$52 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – London (LHR) one-way in United Polaris class for 63,000 LifeMiles + ~$52 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Vienna (VIE) one-way in Austrian Airlines business class for 63,000 LifeMiles + ~$52 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Zurich (ZRH) one-way in SWISS Air business class for 63,000 LifeMiles + ~$52 in taxes and fees
  • Toronto (YYZ) – Munich (MUC) one-way in Lufthansa business class for 63,000 LifeMiles + ~$52 in taxes and fees

Once you’re ready to make your booking, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the LifeMiles website.
  2. Adjust the language to English by clicking the flag icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Click Log In.
  4. Click Travel on the top banner of the homepage.
  5. Fill in your flight details and click Find Flights.
  6. Choose the desired travel date(s).
  7. Select an option that you like, redeem your LifeMiles, enter your travelers’ information, and use a credit card for taxes and fees.

Avianca’s phone staff can be difficult to work with, so you’re pretty much out of luck if you can’t find the flight you want using its online award search.

Earning Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca LifeMiles is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Brex, Capital One, and Citi transfer at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly (Brex may take up to 1 business day).

Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio, so for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred in a single transaction, you would get 20,000 LifeMiles.

Lastly, you can buy LifeMiles. There are frequent sales of pretty ridiculous bonus amounts — up to 200% bonus miles on top of your purchase.

These sales make purchasing miles very tempting, seeing as how you can fly first class for around $1,000!

Recommended Citi Cards

Asiana Club

Lufthansa First Class

Booking Lufthansa first class is a great way to use Asiana miles to fly to Europe! Image Credit: Greg Stone

Asiana Airlines’ Asiana Club is what we’d consider an intermediate-to-advanced method for using points. Some of its redemption rates will blow your mind, but booking your award involves several additional steps.

Specifically, flying first class one-way from North America to Europe only costs 50,000 Asiana miles, and business is 40,000 miles!

We believe the best deal is first class for only 10,000 miles more. Yes, you will be paying fuel surcharges, but it may be worth it considering the points you would be saving.

Asiana Airlines is also a Star Alliance partner, so you can book all of the Star Alliance partners listed in the above sections.

Since there are very few Star Alliance partners that operate a first class cabin to Europe, we think the best use of Asiana miles is Lufthansa first class.

You’ll need to pay for surcharges on all partners, so prepare for that. Check out some of our favorite ways to redeem Asiana miles for flights to Europe:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 50,000 Asiana miles + ~$800 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Warsaw (WAW) one-way in LOT Polish business class for 40,000 Asiana miles + ~$250 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 50,000 Asiana miles + ~$800 in taxes and fees
  • Newark (EWR) – Tel Aviv (TLV) one-way in United Polaris class for 40,000 Asiana miles + ~$10 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Lufthansa first class for 50,000 Asiana miles + ~$800 in taxes and fees
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Istanbul (IST) one-way in Turkish Airlines business class for 40,000 Asiana miles + ~$300 in taxes and fees

The process for redeeming Asiana miles is a bit more complex:

  1. Find award availability using United’s website.
  2. Write down all of the relevant flight details.
  3. Call Asiana Club at 800-227-4262 and feed your flight details to the live agent after explaining that you’d like to book a Star Alliance award flight using Asiana miles.
  4. Confirm the ticket over the phone, redeem your Asiana miles, and use a credit card for taxes and fees.

Earning Asiana Miles

Unfortunately, this is where the main drawback of Asiana Airlines comes in.

Asiana Club is transfer partners with just 1 points currency: Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio to Asiana Club with a bonus of 5,000 Asiana miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Asiana all at once. This makes it more difficult to earn Asiana miles.

Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Air France Business Class

Utilize Promo Rewards to get a great deal on Air France business class. Image Credit: Air France

Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty program can be a great way to book award flights to Europe, especially when it runs Promo Rewards.

With connecting flights routing through either Amsterdam (AMS) or Paris (CDG) and being bookable on either airline, Flying Blue has some of the best award availability on its own flights between the U.S. and Europe.

Air France has variable award pricing, and the best thing you can do is use Flying Blue’s award calculator and search for the lowest-level award availability.

You cannot book first class awards with Air France or KLM — you must earn elite status with Flying Blue. Since not many of us earn the required status, that means most of us can’t book first class awards, so we are leaving it out of the discussion here.

Perhaps the best part of the Flying Blue program is that it has Promo Rewards. These awards are available for a special selection of destinations and are offered for a reduced number of miles — between 25% and 50% off what would normally be required for an award flight! Promo Rewards change every month and are limited in terms of availability, when you can book, and what airlines you can fly. If your schedule is flexible or you can book a trip closer to when it takes place, these Promo Rewards can be great options.

Read Post  Which countries do not need a visa to travel to Europe?

Air France and KLM are members of the SkyTeam alliance and also partner with additional airlines. You can use Flying Blue miles to book flights on any of the following airlines between the U.S. and Europe:

  • Aeroflot
  • Air France
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • ITA Airways
  • KLM

Flying Blue adds carrier-imposed surcharges on its award redemptions, but depending on the routing, it often isn’t that bad.

Of course, as with any program, these surcharges are significantly higher for premium cabins. When booking an award, you will need to look at the charges and decide if it is still a good enough value.

For those partners that aren’t bookable on the Flying Blue site, you can check where to search them and then book awards by phone with either Air France or KLM.

Here are some of our favorite redemptions you can make:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Frankfurt (FRA) one-way in Delta One for 53,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$730 in taxes and fees
  • Chicago (ORD) – Paris (CDG) one-way in Air France business class for 58,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$298 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Amsterdam (AMS) one-way in KLM business class for 72,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$310 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Rome (FCO) one-way in ITA business class for 53,000 Flying Blue miles + ~$325 in taxes and fees

To book your flights, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Air France’s U.S. website.
  2. Log into your Flying Blue account.
  3. Click Book with Miles.
  4. Fill in the search box, and click Search flights.
  5. Choose the desired flight, enter the travelers’ personal information, use your Flying Blue miles, and supply a credit card to pay for any taxes and fees.

Earning Flying Blue Miles

In addition to earning miles when flying with Air France, KLM, and their partners, you can transfer points into the program from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex, Bilt, Brex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi all transfer at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio in 3 business days. Also, when you transfer 60,000 points in a single transaction, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 Flying Blue miles.

Having all of these transfer partners really makes it easy to earn enough miles for your trip!

For more recommendations, read our post on how to earn lots of Flying Blue miles.

Recommended Chase Cards

Business Owner? Read our article on the best Chase business cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta One Suites A350-900 Sitting Photo

Delta One Suites A350-900. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Although Delta SkyMiles uses variable award pricing and has removed its award chart, there is still good value to be had utilizing Delta SkyMiles to book flights to Europe.

Delta Air Lines is the flagship U.S. SkyTeam partner, so it makes sense that it’s a must-use for U.S.-based travelers.

Its online booking system is very robust, partner award rates are reasonable, and there are tons of ways to earn SkyMiles.

Delta’s award pricing system is very complicated for flights on its own metal. For partner flights, though, it’s usually a set price to Europe:

Class of ServiceOne-way Delta SkyMiles Cost (Partner Flights)
Economy35,000 SkyMiles (55,000 within 21 days of departure)
Business120,000 SkyMiles (195,000 within 21 days of departure)

You won’t pay for fuel surcharges except for flights originating in Europe.

The best part about Delta’s online award search is that you can search using a flexible date and 5-week search! This will allow you to save tons of time when looking for award availability, so you can book awards quickly and completely online.

Check out some great example redemptions to make:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Amsterdam (AMS) one-way in KLM business class from 120,000 Delta SkyMiles
  • Detroit (DTW) – Amsterdam (AMS) one-way in Delta One business class from 120,000 Delta SkyMiles
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Moscow (SVO) one-way in Aeroflot business class from 120,000 Delta SkyMiles
  • Miami (MIA) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Air Europa business class from 120,000 Delta SkyMiles
  • New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP) one-way in ITA business class from 120,000 Delta SkyMiles

Here’s how to book your flights using Delta SkyMiles:

  1. Visit Delta’s website.
  2. At the top of the page, you’ll see a search box.
  3. Populate the search details, and click Shop with Miles. Click Advanced Search and choose Delta One if you’re looking for business class award flights.
  4. Find the flights you like, redeem your SkyMiles, and enter your credit card information for taxes and fees.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

There are loads of ways to earn Delta SkyMiles, but Delta is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

There are also a bunch of different co-branded Delta credit cards from American Express that can give you a huge boost in SkyMiles, especially from the welcome bonuses!

Recommended Delta SkyMiles Cards

Hot Tip: Need some help finding award space? Use this guide to search for SkyTeam award availability.

Korean Air SKYPASS

Air France business class

Fly to Paris on Air France business class using Korean Air SKYPASS miles. Image Credit: Air France

Though Korean Air SKYPASS is sort of strange with its requirements for booking awards for other passengers, it’s still hugely worth it to save tons of miles.

We love Korean Air because of 1 main reason: redemption rates.

There are a few rules you must follow to book awards, such as booking round-trip awards for SkyTeam partners.

Other than that, the only hiccup is for booking other passengers. You can get around this by creating a Korean Air SKYPASS account for each passenger.

Here’s what Korean Air SKYPASS charges for round-trip flights to Europe:

Class of ServiceKorean Air Miles Cost (Partners)
Economy50,000
Business80,000
First100,000

You’ll be responsible for fuel surcharges regardless of which airline you fly.

Here are the partners you can book directly online (the others you’ll need to call to book):

  • Aeroflot
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • ITA Airways
  • KLM

Here are some great example routes you can book with Korean Air miles:

  • Boston (BOS) – Paris (CDG) round-trip in Air France business class for 80,000 Korean Air miles + ~$1,817 in taxes and fees
  • Detroit (DTW) – London (LHR) round-trip in Delta business class for 80,000 Korean Air miles + ~$1,972 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Rome (FCO) round-trip in ITA business class for 80,000 Korean Air miles + ~$1,712 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Amsterdam (AMS) round-trip in KLM business class for 80,000 Korean Air miles + ~$1,739 in taxes and fees

Once you’re ready to book, you can follow these instructions:

  1. Use Delta or Air France’s website to find award availability.
  2. Write down the flight numbers.
  3. Call Korean Air SKYPASS at 800-438-5000 and feed the agent the flight details to make a SkyTeam award booking.
  4. Pay with your SKYPASS miles and use a credit card for taxes and fees.

Earning Korean Air Miles

Unfortunately, Korean Air is only a transfer partner with Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott transfers to Korean Air at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 SKYPASS miles after transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points in a single transaction.

There are a few other ways to earn Korean Air miles, including the co-branded U.S. Bank credit cards that earn SKYPASS miles directly.

American AAdvantage

British Airways First Class

British Airways first class. Image Credit: Alex Miller

American Airlines’ AAdvantage program can help you book award tickets on its own flights, as well as on several of its Oneworld alliance partners.

It has an easy-to-read award chart, so you will always know the saver award price for the flights you are trying to book.

One great thing about the AAdvantage program is that it offers off-peak awards for economy travel to certain regions at certain times of the year.

These are discounted redemption rates and include flights on its partners as well as on its own planes.

Hot Tip: The off-peak awards date ranges will vary, and the best way to find out is to visit AA’s flight award chart. Then, click on Details on award travel to see the off-peak travel dates.

American Airlines Miles Required To Book Round-trip U.S. to Europe
CabinMiles Needed
Economy Off-Peak45,000 American miles
Economy60,000 American miles
Business115,000 American miles
First170,000 American miles

Of American’s partners, you can fly between Europe and the U.S. on American, British Airways, Finnair, and Iberia.

Taxes and fees on some American Airlines awards can be quite high. In addition, it adds carrier-imposed surcharges to award flights on British Airways and Iberia.

The surcharges aren’t as bad on Iberia as they are on British Airways, but you should still keep an eye on them. If you can find availability on other airlines instead, you can save a significant amount of money when booking your awards.

For more information, check out our guide to the best ways to search for Oneworld award availability.

Hot Tip: Check American Airlines’ region definitions to confirm that your destination falls within the European region.

Here are some great routes you can book using AAdvantage miles:

  • Dallas (DFW) – Paris (CDG) one-way in American Airlines business class for 57,500 AA miles + ~$15 in taxes and fees
  • Miami (MIA) – Helsinki (HEL) one-way in Finnair business class one-way in American Airlines business class for 57,500 AA miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • New York (JFK) – Madrid (MAD) one-way in Iberia business class for 57,500 AA miles + ~$200 in taxes and fees
  • San Diego (SAN) – London (LHR) one-way in British Airways business class for 57,500 AA miles + ~$350 in taxes and fees

Check out the following directions to book your Europe flights using AAdvantage miles:

  1. Visit the American Airlines website.
  2. You’ll see a search box on the homepage. Check off the box that says Redeem miles.
  3. Fill out the search box and click Search.
  4. Find your desired flight.
  5. Enter the traveler details, pay with AAdvantage miles, and use a credit card for any taxes and fees incurred.

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

In addition to earning AAdvantage miles by flying American Airlines and its partners, you can transfer miles into the program from Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Bilt Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 almost instantly.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers to AAdvantage at a 3:1 ratio in 2 business days.

We’ve also covered many other ways to earn lots of American miles, which include signing up and using various co-branded credit cards.

Recommended American Airlines Cards

Tips and Tricks

Wherever you are headed in the world, when booking award tickets, you may run into a few unexpected snags.

Every segment may not be available, fees on the ticket may be very high, or maybe there just aren’t enough available seats.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help make your life easier when booking flights to Europe with points.

Taxes and Fees

In Europe, certain airports are much more expensive to fly through than others. Avoiding the more expensive airports can save you as much as a few hundred dollars on your trip!

When searching for award space, be sure to look at a couple of routes to see the difference in taxes and fees. By adjusting the departure or even the connection location, you can sometimes cut costs significantly.

The U.K., for example, adds a hefty Air Passenger Duty (APD) onto each ticket departing the U.K. and flying over 2,000 miles. This fee is a whopping £180 per person (approximately $195) if you are flying in a premium cabin.

But avoiding this fee is easy! Just make sure your return from Europe doesn’t depart from the U.K. If you want to visit London, simply add in a few days in another country before your return to the U.S.

You’ll get to see another place, and it could save you a lot of money (especially if you are traveling with several passengers). Here you can see what we mean:

Alaska Airlines fly to Europe redemption rates

British Airways award search indicating higher carrier-imposed surcharges for BA flights. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

In this first example, we are looking at a one-way flight from London to New York. You can see that in economy class, the taxes and fees on an American Airlines-operated flight are $188.

In business class, the fees are $631 on a British Airways-operated flight. This larger amount is partially because British Airways adds hefty carrier-imposed surcharges to its flights, and partially because of the U.K. Air Passenger Duty. Now let’s look at flights on the same day from Paris.

Alaska Airlines fly from EU redemption rates

British Airways award search indicating lower fees using AA. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

You can see above that the taxes and fees are significantly less for these flights on the same operators out of Paris.

The American Airlines coach flight’s fee drops to $87, and the British Airways business class flight drops to $389.

You may notice that the business class flight does not decrease by the entire amount of the U.K. Air Passenger Duty — this is because there are 2 flights on British Airways with this award, so there are added carrier-imposed surcharges.

London and Paris were used in these examples because they are well-known cities, and it was easy to find award space on the same day on multiple carriers.

You should know, however, that Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) is one of the more expensive airports in continental Europe to fly out of.

By looking at other European cities (especially Istanbul, Oslo, Stockholm, and Warsaw), you can often get the taxes and fees to drop even further than what we have shown.

Lots of City Options

One of the great parts of award travel to Europe is that you don’t necessarily need to find available flights to the exact place you want to go.

Europe has a combination of multiple low-cost carriers and excellent rail service. Together, these mean it’s easy and fairly inexpensive to hop between cities.

Want to go to Munich but can only find availability to Frankfurt? No problem. Grab a cheap Eurowings flight, hop on a Deutsche Bahn train, or even buy a Eurail Pass and you’ll be there later that day. Maybe even add a night or 2 in Frankfurt and see what the city has to offer.

This same idea works with cities all over Europe, so be sure to stay flexible when choosing your flight destinations.

Finding More Seats

A general issue for award travel (not just on flights to Europe) comes into play when you are traveling with multiple people in your party.

Looking for a single ticket? You’re in luck — those are much easier to find.

Traveling as a couple, a family of 4, or an even larger group? Finding award tickets for everyone in your party can be tough.

When traveling with a large party, you generally want to start searching for award seats right when the schedule opens for booking. However, even if you do this, there often won’t be enough seats for a larger group. This is where it helps to be a little flexible.

If possible, splitting up your group will give you a better chance of all flying on award tickets.

Splitting up could mean that part of your group flies on the next flight on the same day, or it could mean part of the group even flies on a different day.

If you have miles available with airlines in different alliances, your choices increase. Sometimes you can even find award seats with 2 different alliances that arrive at your destination within minutes of each other. That way you can meet up before even leaving the airport!

Obviously, splitting up the group isn’t an ideal situation, but it could mean you can all experience an amazing business class product.

In other cases, it could mean that you can all get to a top destination during peak times. It’s up to you whether finding award seats is worth flying separately.

Final Thoughts

Europe is a fantastic destination for your travels from the U.S. For those who are new to traveling, you can find many of the comforts of home and plenty of people who speak English.

If you are a history buff, you will love strolling through the cobbled alleyways and visiting the historic castles and churches scattered throughout the countryside. If you are a foodie, it’s hard to beat the amazing cuisine served in France and Italy.

Europe has something for everyone — with so many airlines flying between the U.S. and Europe, it should be easy for you to book your next flight using miles and points.

The question simply becomes whether you want to fly in a premium cabin or in coach, and which airline miles you will use to make your booking. Happy traveling!

The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to fly to Europe with points and miles?

There are many great programs you can utilize, but some of our favorites are United, ANA, and Air Canada. Others include Avianca LifeMiles, Asiana Club, Flying Blue, Delta SkyMiles, Korean Air SKYPASS, and American Airlines AAdvantage.

How many points does it take to fly to Europe?

It can take as few as 50,000 miles for a round-trip flight in economy, while the cheapest business class flights will cost 80,000 to 90,000 points round-trip. It also depends on what airlines you’re flying on.

What’s the cheapest way to fly to Europe?

The cheapest way to fly to Europe using points is likely by taking advantage of Promo Rewards on Air France-KLM Flying Blue if you can get 50% off your economy award ticket.

For business class, the cheapest way to fly is probably using 80,000 Korean Air miles round-trip. Lastly, for first class, the cheapest way to fly is by using 50,000 Asiana miles one-way aboard Lufthansa first class.

How many United miles does it take to fly to Europe?

If you want to fly on United Airlines by redeeming United miles, you can redeem around 60,000 United miles for round-trip economy and as few as 120,000 miles for round-trip business class.

If you want to book an award flight on a partner like SWISS Air or Lufthansa, you can expect to redeem 66,000 United miles for round-trip economy, 154,000 United miles for round-trip business, and 242,000 United miles for round-trip first class.

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About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. As one of the foremost experts in credit cards, over the past 4 years, he has amassed a portfolio of over 70 credit cards, both personal and business. Stephen has personally tested, first-hand, almost every major rewards credit card on the market today, spanning banks such as American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Brex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, City National Bank, U.S. Bank, and more.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

35 comments

Fantastic article, so many points that i wrote down. Thanks a lot!

Best airline to book business class LHR to US east coast with lots of Capital One transferable miles? (optimizing comfort)

Hi Darla, this is what our contributor James has to say…

“Hi Darla! Great question. I recommend looking at Aeroplan award availability from London, particularly on Swiss, Austrian, Brussels, Lufthansa or United where there won’t be as many surcharges as on Air Canada. In most cases, you’ll have to connect, but Swiss, Austrian, Brussels, Lufthansa and United all have decent products, particularly Swiss and Austrian. If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend trying Lufthansa’s First Class product – it’s wonderful. From LHR you could travel to Newark, Chicago, or Dulles on United, or you could connect in several different European cities with plenty of options to other cities on the eastern portion of the US. Try looking into Washington Dulles, since this is a Star Alliance hub, or also New York JFK, or Newark.”

Another option for Aeroplan to Europe is on the new Egypt Air 787-9 out of IAD. Doing this IAD-CAI-ATH next month for 57.5k. If you book just to CAI, it’ll cost you 82.5k (Aeroplan), 78k (Lifemiles), 85k (United). Tack on another leg and the price decreases. I don’t think AV or UA can see this space yet.

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Hey The Big Easy Traveler,

Thanks for reading and we appreciate your feedback! Many of our travelers would prefer not to transit to Europe through Africa due to the lost time in connection. However, we definitely appreciate your feedback.

Hi great article! But how exactly does one proceed to book on a partner? For example, using Avianca miles to book SAS from Washington to Copenhagen. Of course this will not show up as a flight option on the Avianca site. Whose booking website do you use and how would you apply miles? I have lots of Chase Ultimate points that I can move around and some Citi Lifemiles to move around, but to who?? United? Avianca? SAS? Thanks, Doug

Avianca’s mileage program is separate from their website. It is called LifeMiles. You can search directly on their website: Lifemiles.com.

Otherwise, you’ll have to play around with the dates to find availability. If you have lots of Chase points, you can transfer your points to United to book SAS, Avianca, or other Star Alliance partners.

Hey guys – thanks for the amazing amount of effort you put into this post! Not gonna lie, my head is kinda spinning. So much to take in and try to understand.

I’m trying to understand how to transfer AMEX or UR points to a partner of theirs to get the best use of my points for flights to Milan or Rome, we’d also be fine if we had to go into one of the other major cities before catching another flight into Italy, next spring. Flying from LAX or even SFO, what would be our best method/who to transfer points to which airline? I think I understand once I get the points to say one airline I can then look for flights on a partner airline and then call the airline where my points (now miles) are with to book the flight. I’m just not sure which would be the best use of my points. – can you explain?
Thanks!

Yes, booking award travel is complex, but those who decide to learn the ropes stand to gain tens of thousands of dollars that would otherwise be left on the table. To fly from LAX-MXP, try looking for Air Italy business class booked using British Airways Avios. Award availability tends to be excellent, and the product is underrated. The hard product is angled-flat seats, but the soft product is awesome. If you want to fly from the West Coast, your best bet is NOT going to be Alitalia business class.. as it’s nearly impossible to book for multiple passengers. Thanks for reading.

Thank you Stephen! Yes, I’ve looked at how to move points to Avios, it seems straight forward. One thing I’m not super thrilled about with Air Italy is the angled-flat seats, I always feel like I’m going to slide down. It is still a better ride then a main cabin seat for 11 hours. I do appreciate your response!

For what it’s worth, Air Italy’s angled-flat seats are more comfortable and closer to lie-flat seats than, say, regional business class seats. Thanks for reading.

You’re probably right, it’s been years since I flew on AA when their business class seats were angled. I’m sure there have been improvements on the quality.

Thanks for this very in-depth and well-researched article. We have a baby we’d like to take as a lap infant (please don’t kill us…) next summer to Scandinavia (ARN and then returning from OSL) from SFO. We used to be willing to bend over backward and take longer flight paths to use points and fly business/first, but with a baby in tow, I think we are valuing shorter travel time significantly more. Any tips on how to optimize searches? If we can fly business/first from SFO or even LAX directly to somewhere in Europe, we’d be fine taking economy on a (presumably) short flight to Scandinavia.

What type of points and miles do you have at your disposal? If you’re wanting to fly business class round-trip between California and Scandinavia your best option would probably be to fly out of LAX and use Amex Membership Reward points to book a round-trip award through ANA on Scandinavian Airlines metal. This route would only cost 88,000 points per person, which is really exceptional value for a round-trip business class flight.

To search for availability for this flight you’ll want to search on the ANA and United websites.

Thanks for reading!

Hi, I have over 230K Amex Membership Rewards points. I would like to transfer to an airline where I can book a family of 5 or as many as I can to Ireland using my points. I would use PHL/EWR/JFK or, if necessary BOS, as departure airports depending on how many points are required per round trip ticket.

Which airline should I transfer the amex points into? Avios or others? Thanks!

Great question – I recommend using British Airways Avios to book Aer Lingus awards. New York (JFK) to Dublin (DUB) is 41,500 Avios per round-trip ticket per passenger in economy class, so you’d be able to book all 5 passengers on award tickets. You can find Aer Lingus availability by searching for flights on United.com – when doing this, look for Saver tickets operated by Aer Lingus as this is what can be booked with British Airways Avios. Once you’ve found flights, note the flight numbers and call British Airways Executive Club to book. Unfortunately, Aer Lingus awards cannot be booked online with Avios.

Please don’t transfer your miles until you’ve found award space and have verified it with a British Airways phone representative. Transfers are instant, so you can transfer right before booking on the phone.

Thanks and safe travels!

I want to find 2 business seats from SFO to Rome around 5/12 and return around 5/25. There are plenty of UA seats for 155K one way but I’m hoping to find something with fewer points. Any suggestions on where I might look?

What type of points are you hoping to use to book your trip?

I prefer to use Chase points but have Amex points also.

I have both Chase and Amex points and able to fly out of SFO or SJC to Venice or Rome.

The best option would be to use your Amex points and transfer them to ANA. You can get a round-trip business class ticket between SFO and FCO or VCE for 88k Amex points per person.

Another option would be to go through Virgin Atlantic, which is a transfer partner of both Chase and Amex. Through Virgin Atlantic, you would need to pay 100k points per person, for round-trip business class tickets.

I hope this helps!

I’m trying to fly to Rome and Venice, we currently have points with Chase, Amex, and Capital One. Any suggestions on where to transfer our points to get the best value? thank you!

Have you seen our post on the best ways to fly to Italy with points and miles? I think you will find it very helpful!
https://upgradedpoints.com/best-ways-to-fly-to-italy-with-points

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for the detailed article. I’m trying to find business class lay flat seats from IAH for 6, using Marriott points, flying around June 6th for a 15 day trip to Greece. We could split three and three if we half to but we are traveling with kids and I really don’t want to do that to my husband, kids, or myself!

To minimize your post costs, your best options with Marriott points would likely be through Asiana, Korean Air, or ANA. Although, finding 6 business class award seats on the same flight can be difficult depending on the destination and time of year, so you may need to be flexible with your dates.

For Asiana and ANA, use the United website to search for award space. For Korean Air you can use their own website, as well as Delta and Air France, but make sure you make note of which airline is operating the flight and do not transfer any points until you’ve located the award space, confirmed it’s available, and placed it on a courtesy hold (if allowed).

Thanks for reading!

Hello, I am trying to book an awards ticket LAX/ZRH/LAX on dates 17 Sept / 27 Sept. I have a little flexibility but not much. I have 225,000 Delta miles, but it seems (if I am looking correctly) that DL SkyMiles is charging 465,000 miles for Delta One RT. KLM and AF are charging over 300,000 miles for their business class awards. You mention in your article that DL partner airlines might offer RT business class award tickets to Europe from 150,000 miles. How might I find these?

In general, it’ll be hard to book this flight using Delta miles.

To find these cheaper tickets, you need to have more flexibility and/or better planning in-advance. The best time to search for flights is almost always 11-12 months before departure. The only thing you can do is check back frequently to see if there’s any additional tickets that are released and you can redeem for lower cost.

Thank you. I appreciate the advice.

Need to fly DFW to BUH (Bucharest, Romania) around April 15 and back the 22. I have chase miles, Amex points and 180k of united miles. What is my best bet for business class?

Depending on how many Amex Membership Reward points you have, using them to book with ANA would likely be your best bet. The ticket should cost around 90k miles round-trip. Search for availability with United.

We are dreaming ( planning ) to see the Northern Lights in Finland/Lapland in Spring 2022. ( originally planned for 2021 ) Would like to fly from Birmingham Alabama or Atlanta Georgia to Helsinki on business class…Plan to gather the requisite miles to accomplish this in the next bit…. have a ton of UR points; some Delta, American and United. What kind of mile to target? Thanks in Advance.

I would continue trying to amass as many Chase points as possible – transferable programs offer you the greatest flexibility when it comes time to redeem. American Airline miles are also a great option for flights to Helsinki.

I’d love to visit Riga, Latvia. Are there any cities within a short train trip that would be a better award flight destination to save miles? coming out of New York, Philly or DC. I have United, American. Delta, BA, and Chase miles/points.

That depends on what you would categorize as a short train trip. But given Riga’s location, there aren’t really any nearby “major” cities/airport (based on the number of travelers) that would help you save miles. Flying from the east coast of the U.S. would definitely be your best bet though in terms of the outbound flight. If you can locate a cheap cash fare, then using your Chase points and booking through the Chase portal might be a great option.

Such great information! Thank you! I am a newbie to all this! I am wanting to use AA Advantage points from the cheapest airport around Little Rock – DFW, Memphis, etc) to Venice in later July of 2023 for 2 adults ( I am a “senior” in case that matters… ) We will be heading home from Barcelona in early August, 2023. When should I “book” and any other tips you have would be greatly appreciated!

The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles

Benji Stawski is a former reporter for the site, covering all things points, miles, credit cards, travel and aviation.

United 787-10 Dreamliner Polaris

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current redemption options.

Europe is reopening. Come this summer, European Union will begin to admit vaccinated American travelers, so now’s the time to start preparing and plan how you’re going to book your trip.

With a rise of low-cost options for flights between the U.S. and Europe, airfare to hop across the Atlantic has dropped significantly over the last few years. However, these ultra-low-fares usually come with a slew of ridiculous fees and premium-cabin options are lacking. The best way to overcome these restrictions is by sticking with full-service carriers and booking your flights using miles.

Today, we’re going to look at the best options for flying from the continental U.S. to Europe using miles, broken down by airline alliance and cabin.

I compiled this list by comparing a few factors, including seat comfort, the diversity of route networks, award availability and amenities.

For more TPG news, deals and points and miles tips delivered each morning to your inbox, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Oneworld

Business class on American Airlines

Aircraft and routes: American Airlines flies from Charlotte (CLT), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York-JFK, Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX) and Raleigh (RDU) to cities throughout Europe, including London-Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG) and Rome (FCO).

Seats: American primarily operates its 787-8s, 777-200 and 777-300ER aircraft to Europe. You can expect a lie-flat seat regardless of which plane you’re on, but the best ones are the reverse-herringbone seats aboard the carrier’s flagship 777-300ERs. These regularly fly to London-Heathrow from Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York-JFK. On this route, American also flies the newly delivered 787-8s with ‘enhanced’ Rockwell Collins Super Diamond seats.

Amenities: On the ground, business class passengers can relax in American Flagship lounges (temporarily closed), as well as an arrivals lounge when flying to London-Heathrow. Onboard, passengers can expect meals curated by James Beard Award winner Sarah Grueneberg, Casper bedding and amenity kits by Shinola and D.S. & Durga.

Using miles: Besides a superior hard product, what makes American stand out from its Oneworld counterparts is that it doesn’t impose outrageous fuel surcharges on award flights. Saver business class awards to Europe are not terribly hard to come by and cost just 57,500 AAdvantage miles plus $5.60 each way (or less, depending on what Web Specials are available).

You can currently earn enough miles for a one-way business class flight to Europe through the following offers:

    : Earn 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 4 months of account opening.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® : Earn 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you don’t have a haul of American miles but are sitting on a stash of Membership Rewards points, consider transferring them to Etihad. The Etihad Guest program offers potentially better rates than the American’s AAdvantage program, charging just 50,000 miles for one-way, saver-level American flights in business class from the U.S. to Europe.

Premium economy on Iberia

Aircraft and routes: Iberia has rolled out its premium economy product on most of the airline’s A330 and A340-600 aircraft. The carrier usually operates flights to Spain out of Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO).

Seats: You can expect a consistent premium economy product, regardless of which Iberia aircraft you’re flying. The seats come with at least 37 inches of pitch, offer a good amount of recline and footrests.

Amenities: While the bedding isn’t too different from what’s handed out in economy, premium economy passengers also receive a small amenity kit and noise-canceling headphones. The meals are also a big step up from what you’d normally receive in economy — a TPG staffer raved about a rib dish served in 2017.

Using miles: The best way to book Iberia premium economy awards is by redeeming through Iberia’s own Iberia Plus program. The redemption rates vary based on the time of the year you’re traveling and the distance, but peak season premium economy awards start at 35,000 Avios and off-peak awards start at just 25,500 miles each way.

Here’s a broader overview of how many Avios you’d need for one-way, nonstop flights to Iberia’s hub in Madrid:

OriginEconomyPremium EconomyBusiness
Off-peakPeakOff-peakPeakOff-peakPeak
New York (JFK)17,00020,00025,00035,00034,00050,000
Boston (BOS)17,00020,00025,00035,00034,00050,000
Chicago – O’Hare (ORD)21,25025,00031,75043,75042,50062,500
Miami (MIA)21,25025,00031,75043,75042,50062,500
Los Angeles (LAX)25,50030,00038,25052,50051,00075,000
San Francisco (SFO)25,50030,00038,25052,50051,00075,000

If you’re low on Iberia Avios, you can top up your account by transferring points in from one of the airline’s partner programs, including American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Alternatively, you may be able to transfer Avios from your British Airways Executive Club wallet. As a reminder, you’ll generally pay less in taxes and fees by booking with Iberia Avios (as opposed to British Airways Avios).

You can also redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for Iberia premium economy awards. One-way awards to Europe cost 40,000 miles, a reasonable 10,000-mile premium over the economy award price, especially considering premium economy paid flights can sometimes be double economy prices.

Economy on American Airlines

Aircraft and routes: As previously stated, American Airlines offers flights from its US hubs to many cities throughout Europe.

Seats: American’s long-haul economy-class seats are more consistent than the business-class ones. All long-haul economy-class seats offer a tolerable minimum of 31 inches of pitch and similar amenities.

Amenities: Economy-class passengers can always expect in-seat entertainment, power outlets and Wi-Fi when flying on any of the carrier’s long-haul aircraft. The 777s and 787s even offer modern features like mood lighting. Unlike some low-cost counterparts, American serves all economy-class passengers free meals, beer and wine on flights to Europe.

Using miles: Finding American Airlines economy-class awards to Europe is a breeze, and you won’t need to break the bank to book them. One-way saver awards cost 30,000 AAdvantage miles each way, or 22,500 miles during the “off-peak” period. However, the best redemption option might be booking a Web Special. We’ve previously seen Web Specials to Europe for as low as 9,000 miles each way.

Alternatively, Etihad Guest charges 20,000 to 30,000 miles for one-way economy awards, depending on the time of year.

SkyTeam

Business class on Air France

Aircraft and routes: Air France’s best business-class seats are available aboard its A350s, 777-300ERs, 787-9s and a few 777-200s. The carrier is also refitting its existing A330s with new seats.

Seats: Aside from the A330s, the new business-class cabins utilize a 1-2-1 configuration and provide each passenger a lie-flat seat, direct aisle access and plenty of privacy.

Amenities: Regardless of which Air France aircraft you find yourself on, you’ll be provided an amenity kit with Clarins products and served top-notch cuisine. The airline has partnered with Michelin-starred chefs like Anne-Sophie Pic, Arnaud Lallement and Guy Martin to prepare multi-course meals that include an amuse-bouche, salad, main course, cheese course and dessert complete with fine wines and champagnes selected by sommelier Paolo Basso and wine-guide authors Thierry Desseauve and Michel Bettane.

Using miles: You’ll find the most award space through Air France’s own Flying Blue mileage program — a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards (it also partners with Capital One, though at a slightly-less-lucrative 2:1.5 transfer ratio). This means you can transfer points earned on popular cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express to book your trip.

The program got rid of award charts, but to give you an idea, a one-way business class award ticket between New York-JFK and Frankfurt (FRA) will set you back just 53,000 miles on some dates. Meanwhile, flights to Paris price out between 57,500 and 75,000 in business class. However, you’ll need to fork over a few hundred dollars in taxes and fees.

Another booking option would be through Flying Blue’s Promo Awards, a rotating set of cities with discounted award rates to Europe.

Transatlantic Air France awards can be booked for fewer miles and no carrier surcharges through Japan Airlines’ Mileage Bank, but earning miles with that program is harder, as you can’t move any of the major transferable credit card points to your JAL account (though you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points).

Premium economy on Air France

Air France’s premium economy seats have a shell-like design. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/The Points Guy)

Aircraft and routes: Air France offers its premium economy product on its entire long-haul fleet.

Seats: Air France offers two types of premium economy seats: one with a fixed-shell design and a much superior recliner style Recaro seat (currently available exclusively on the A350s). The fixed-shell seats are much more common. Each seat has a footrest and a bottom portion that extends outward when reclined. Still, not everyone’s a fan of the recline of the seatbacks themselves due to their shell-like design (which is the same as what’s used by Aeroflot — another SkyTeam carrier). Both types of seats are 19 inches wide and have 38 inches of pitch.

Amenities: Like most premium economy products offered on flights across the Atlantic (including Iberia’s), Air France’s premium economy experience begins on the ground with priority check-in counters and the ability to check two bags for free. Once onboard, passengers can expect a sleek amenity kit, noise-canceling headphones, printed menus and quality bedding.

Using miles: As with business class, the best way to book Air France premium economy awards is through Air France’s own Flying Blue mileage program — a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Capital One also transfers to Flying Blue at a 2:1.5 ratio. Again, the rates vary based on the price of the actual ticket, but a one-way premium economy award between New York (JFK) and Paris (CDG) costs a minimum of 45,500 miles and a minimum of 54,500 miles for an award between Los Angeles (LAX) and Paris (CDG).

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Economy on Delta

Delta’s newest economy-class seats can be found on its A350s and some 777-200s. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Aircraft and routes: Delta usually flies to over 20 cities throughout Europe, primarily using A330s, 757s and 767s.

Seats: Unless you’re on an A350 or newly retrofitted 767-400s, you can expect a fairly consistent economy-class product across Delta’s long-haul fleet. Like on American, all seats offer decent legroom, with at least 31 inches of pitch.

Amenities: Delta’s entire long-haul fleet offers on-demand entertainment at every seat and in-flight Wi-Fi. The airline recently enhanced its international economy onboard experience and now serves complimentary welcome cocktails, hot towels and bistro-style food. Although a small gesture, Delta also provides eyeshades and earplugs to economy-class passengers on long-haul flights.

Using miles: You’ll usually be best off booking economy awards to Europe through Delta’s own SkyMiles program — a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. As with Air France’s Flying Blue, there’s no published award chart, so award rates can range vastly based on the actual price of the ticket. However, not having an award chart isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Delta has flash sales from time to time, offering deals like the East Coast to Europe from 32,000 SkyMiles round-trip.

However, in some cases, you might want to consider booking your award through one of Delta’s partners. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for instance, charges a flat 30,000 one-way for nonstop economy Delta awards to Europe. Plus, it’s easy to get Flying Club miles for cheap due to frequent Amex transfer bonuses. The only downside is that Virgin Atlantic will charge you for each segment if your itinerary requires a connection, so if you need to connect through a Delta hub to get across the Atlantic, using SkyMiles may be your best bet.

Star Alliance

First class on Lufthansa

Lufthansa’s first-class cabins always have a total of eight seats, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Aircraft and routes: Although Lufthansa temporarily stopped flying first-class-equipped planes to the U.S., the airline plans on resuming service once demand picks up again. Lufthansa serves a large number of North American airports ranging from major hubs like New York-JFK and Los Angeles to smaller airports such as Charlotte and Denver. If you want sure to be sure you’ll be able to book first class, look to fly a 747-8, which all have first class, compared to some A330s and A340s, which do not.

Seats: Lufthansa’s first-class seats are practically identical across its fleet. The seats themselves are not as private as some fully enclosed counterparts — for instance, Emirates’ new first-class suites — but are spacious, elegant and comfortable.

Amenities: Where Lufthansa’s first class shines the most is the experience — both on the ground and in the air. Those departing from Frankfurt (FRA) begin their journey in Lufthansa’s famous first-class terminal — a standalone building exclusively for the use of passengers traveling in Lufthansa first class, HON Circle members and their guests. Once onboard, passengers can expect consistently excellent service and signature touches like a fresh rose at every seat and caviar service.

Using miles: The biggest downside to booking Lufthansa first-class awards is that if you’re looking to book through one of the airline’s Star Alliance partners, you typically won’t be able to do so until roughly 15 days before departure. But if you’re fine with that, you can score awards for 90,000 to 100,000 miles one-way through Air Canada’s Aeroplan program or 87,000 miles one-way through Avianca LifeMiles.

You can top up your Aeroplan balance by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One or Marriott Bonvoy. LifeMiles is a transfer partner of all of the same programs, plus Citi ThankYou Rewards. Neither program charges hefty taxes and fees, but LifeMiles is known to have poor customer service, which can be an issue if you need to change or cancel an award flight.

If you have an abundance of United miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can book Lufthansa first class with no fuel surcharges, albeit at higher mileage rates.

Business class on United

Aircraft and routes: United serves over two dozen cities throughout Europe using a combination of 767-300, 767-400, 777-200, 777-300, 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft.

Seats: Most of United’s international wide-body fleet offers the “real” Polaris seats, while some 787-9s still have older B/E Aerospace Diamond seats. The new Polaris seats are obviously preferred, but the older seats aren’t all that bad. You can expect a fully flat seat regardless of which plane you find yourself on.

Amenities: Whether or not you’re on a plane with the new seats, the Polaris service should remain consistent. Polaris passengers get Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, an amenity kit with Cowshed toiletries, slippers, a mattress pad and a cooling gel pillow. Plus, United has opened fantastic Polaris lounges (temporarily closed) in major hubs like Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO) and Houston (IAH).

Using miles: For a long time, the best way to book business-class awards between the U.S. and Europe was through United’s MileagePlus program (a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards). That’s because the program charged just 60,000 miles each way and didn’t impose any fuel surcharges for award bookings. However, United has implemented a new dynamic pricing structure in late 2019 and many awards are now a lot more expensive.

The best way to book United business-class awards now is typically through either Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles. Aeroplan requires just 55,000-57,500 for one-way business class awards to Europe (depending on your destination), while LifeMiles charges a flat 63,000 miles one-way for this type of award. Aeroplan is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and 2:1.5 transfer partner of Capital One, while Avianca is a 1:1 transfer partner of both of those programs, as well as Citi ThankYou Rewards.

An even cheaper option is ANA Mileage Club, which charges just 88,000 for round-trip business class awards. However, there must be round-trip saver award availability since you can’t book one-way tickets, and you’ll pay high fuel surcharges on some carriers. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA Mileage Club.

Economy on Turkish Airlines

Aircraft and routes: Turkish operates flights between Istanbul (IST) and ten cities throughout the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles, using a combination of A330, A340, 777 and 787 aircraft.

Seats: Turkish’s economy-class seats are typically colorful and offer 31-33 inches of pitch. They have a decent amount of padding, making them fairly comfortable (for an economy seat) and each has its own IFE screen. The most modern seats are found on Turkish’s new 787s.

Amenities: Turkish Airlines offers several unique touches that make its economy-class experience feel more premium than other European carriers. For starters, economy passengers receive fully stocked amenity kits by Mandarina Duck, packed with socks, slippers, earplugs, an eye mask, lip balm, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Every passenger also receives a printed menu detailing the tasty food choices from arguably the best in-flight catering company, Do & Co.

Using miles: There are several solid ways to book Turkish economy awards.

One way is through United’s MileagePlus program (a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards). It typically charges around 30,000 miles each way and doesn’t pass on any fuel surcharges for Turkish flights. You can boost your United MileagePlus balance with a co-branded card like the United Explorer Card , which is currently offering 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open..

You can book transatlantic economy awards for fewer miles through Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program (a 1:1 transfer partner of all the major transferable points programs). Still, you’ll need to pay the hefty surcharges.

Of course, booking through Turkish’s own Miles & Smiles program is also always an option. Economy flights cost 30,000 miles each way and you can transfer points to Turkish from Capital One and Citi ThankYou.

What’s not on this list

Several popular transatlantic flight options are noticeably absent from this list. For instance, major Oneworld carrier British Airways didn’t make the cut. Despite great award availability, the carrier imposes sky-high carrier surcharges for award tickets. It also has lackluster premium cabin offerings, though that should change once its new business class suites become more widely available.

Speaking of enclosed suites, Delta is still in the process of rolling out the amazing Delta One Suites, but for now, only some transatlantic routes offer the product.

Star Alliance flyers might be surprised that United took the crown for best business class to book with miles, but the major European Star Alliance carriers don’t offer much better hard products (for instance, Lufthansa has a 2-2-2 business-class configuration) and they charge outrageous carrier surcharges.

Cards to use

When paying the taxes and fees on your award ticket, be sure to use a card that earns additional points on airfare purchases and offers travel protections in case anything goes wrong, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express , Chase Sapphire Reserve , or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card .

Bottom line

Vaccinated Americans will soon be able to travel to Europe again. Flying across the Atlantic using points and miles may have gotten more expensive in recent years (especially for premium-class cabins). However, there are still many ways to get from the U.S. to Europe by leveraging your rewards. The above list provides just a snapshot of what to expect, but if you’ve recently locked in an award, feel free to email us your success stories.

The Silliness of Using Airline Miles to Go to Europe

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When I first started in the miles and points world back in 2013, I was obsessed with “free” travel. I signed up for cards, spent on them, and pored over arcane award charts, all in the hopes that I would never have to pay for travel again.

While I do still believe it’s possible to get free or nearly free travel — depending on how much time you want to put into it and what other things you’re willing to sacrifice — I have also decided that sometimes it just makes more sense to pay cash instead of using miles.

Nowhere is this more relevant than when we talk about getting from the Midwest and East Coast of the U.S. to Europe.

The state of award charts to Europe

Let’s take a look at how many airline miles it takes to get from the U.S. to Europe on a couple of popular airline award charts.

American Airlines : 60,000 AAdvantage miles for a round-trip economy ticket (or 45,000 if you travel off-peak and find saver-level award space).

United Airlines : For now, 60,000 MileagePlus miles for a round-trip economy ticket if you find saver-level space; otherwise 140,000 miles. (In November United is getting rid of award charts, meaning it’ll be a lot harder to know exactly how many miles you’ll need.)

Delta Air Lines : No award chart. Back in 2017, Delta moved to a dynamic pricing model where the number of miles required for flights depends on a number of factors that Delta doesn’t disclose. It often roughly correlates with the price of the flight using cash, which makes it harder to get outsized value from your Delta SkyMiles. Here’s an example of some fares I found:

Alaska Airlines : It depends on which Alaska partner you’re flying , but generally you’re looking at anywhere from 45,000 to 65,000 Alaska miles for a round-trip economy ticket from the U.S. to Europe.

Most other airline award charts are similar. One potentially interesting alternative is Air France/KLM, which offers monthly promo awards . Every month, these promo awards offer select deals from 25% to 50% off, which means you can find one-way travel from the U.S. to Europe as low as 14,500 Flying Blue miles.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all five major flexible points currencies (Chase, American Express, Citi, Capital One and Marriott). But even when spending your rewards points, taxes and fees on Air France award tickets will often run $100 to $200 for a round-trip flight.

Fare deals to Europe

So is spending around 60,000 airline miles the only way to use miles and points to get to Europe? Nope — there are better ways, one of which is being flexible enough to snag a great deal.

Recently, it seems we’ve been seeing frequent fare sales to Europe nearly constantly. If you’re at all flexible with your dates and/or your locations, finding fares under $400 to Europe isn’t uncommon .

One important note is that these fare deals are almost exclusively for flying economy class. It’s rare to find a business class cash fare from the U.S. to Europe under $1,000, so if that experience is what you’re looking for, you’re usually better off using your miles. As always, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for your miles and points — it all depends on your individual situation and how you want to travel.

Real-life example: My family’s trip to Lisbon and Barcelona

This past summer, my family decided that we wanted to go to Europe, particularly Spain. While we did want to narrow down our search a little bit, we also wanted to chase the deal instead of the destination.

In early February, a fare deal popped up: TAP Portugal had a one-way flight from Newark to Barcelona with a three-day stopover in Lisbon for $148. We used 14,800 Citi ThankYou points each to book this. It might not be the “most valuable” redemption of ThankYou points, but in my opinion the best use of your points is the one that gets you where you want to go when you want to go there.

For the return flight, we found another one-way on TAP Portugal via Lisbon for $189. This time we used our Chase Sapphire Reserve® to redeem for 1.5 cents per point, spending 12,581 Ultimate Rewards per person.

All told, for just over 27,000 points per person, we flew round-trip from New York to Barcelona, including a three-day stopover in Lisbon. That’s cheaper than one-way award would have been with American Airlines. These fares did not come with checked bags, but they did include carry-ons and meals, even on the intra-Europe Lisbon to Barcelona legs.

Our family at Sintra, Portugal thanks to 27,000 points round-trip.

What if you don’t live in New York City?

You’re in good company — I don’t live in New York, either. It is true that most of the good fare deals are out of the larger cities (especially New York); sometimes fare sales come out of smaller airports, but they aren’t as common.

In this case, one good use of airline miles can be a positioning flight to get you set up for your flight to Europe. For example, we decided to drive from Cincinnati to New York and made that part of our vacation, using hotel points to cover the overnight stay.

So if you live in a smaller city that doesn’t see some of these really strong fare deals, consider the savings that flying out of a large city would get you versus the costs of repositioning in order to find what works best for you.

In our case, fares flying out of our home of Cincinnati would likely have been at least $300 to $400 more. Multiply that by eight passengers, and you can see why driving to New York made a lot of sense in our situation.

Optimizing this situation from the West Coast could be a bit trickier, but it’s not impossible. There are plenty of fare deals to Europe from Los Angeles and San Francisco (and even more great deals to Asia). In a recent search, I found nonstop fares between San Francisco and London for as low as $368 round-trip, and another trip from Seattle that Google Flights shows is almost $400 cheaper than normal.

Photo by Dan Miller.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

About the author: Dan Miller is a freelance writer who uses miles and points to travel with his family of eight. Read more

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Credit Card

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card

Partner offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

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With a $95 annual fee & an outstanding sign up bonus, this card is a great option, especially if you transfer points from other Chase cards

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  1. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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  3. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  1. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  2. Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X on dining and 2X on all other travel purchases, plus more
  3. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

on Chase’s website

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Credit Card

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Earn unlimited points on all purchases and 3X points in a host of common spending categories. With a great bonus offer as well, this card offers so much value, all for no annual fee

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  1. Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value
  2. Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up – like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases
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  1. Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value
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This card makes its bones with simplicity and value: solid rewards on every purchase for an annual fee of $0

on Bank of America’s website

  1. Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don’t expire
  2. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  3. Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  1. Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don’t expire
  2. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  3. Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions

on Bank of America’s website

A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling on Points and Miles

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