Best Award Miles to Redeem for Flights to Europe

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When I started collecting miles and points, it was with the goal of traveling to Europe. I think that tends to be true for most people starting out, and it continues to be a focus of mine. I actually just booked another trip to Europe, so I thought I would do a post on the best award miles to use for flights to Europe. Let’s make these dreams a reality!

 

United MileagePlus Miles 

United has great economy and premium cabin award availability to Europe on their own metal, and through their Star Alliance partners. You can fly economy on United or one of their partners for 30,000 miles, in business class on their metal for 55,500 miles, or in business class on one of their partners, like Lufthansa, for 70,000 miles each way (sometimes they will have sales on partner award flights).

United Europe Award Flights

United Europe Award Flights

 

How to book

Award travel bookings can be made directly on the United website. Although the United website can be buggy, it’s fairly easy to use and pulls up the majority of United’s partners. If the United website isn’t letting you book the award you want, then you may have to call a rep at 1-800-421-4655.

How to earn 

The best ways to earn United miles are by flying revenue flights or by using credit cards that earn United miles.

Transfer partners 

The United MileagePlus program is also a transfer partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. UR points earned through the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Card can be transferred instantly at a 1:1 ratio. (You can also use points earned from the Chase Freedom if you have either of the cards mentioned above, then your Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred between those accounts.)

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines miles aren’t the easiest award miles to use to get to Europe, since you will often have to route through London (higher fees), fly British Airways (high fuel surcharges on longer flights), and they limit award availability on their own metal, especially for premium cabin flights. But they have a good award chart, especially their non-peak availability, and it’s pretty easy to earn AA miles.

MileSaaver economy flights start at 30,000 miles, business at 50,000 miles, and first class at 62,500 miles each way. Pretty standard, but the real gem is the round-trip “non-peak” economy flights that cost 45,000 miles (22,500 one way).

AA non peak award flights to Europe

AA non peak award flights to Europe

How to book

Award flights to Europe can easily be searched for and booked on AA.com. It’s worth mentioning that you will have to search the British Airways website for Iberia flights. AA also has a generous hold policy for award flights. If you can’t make a booking online, you can call AA at 1-800-882-8880.

How to earn 

American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be earned through revenue flights, or through many of their co-branded travel rewards cards. There’s the personal Citi Platinum Select Visa, Citi Platinum Select Business, or Citi Executive World Elite, and even the Citi AA Mastercard.

Transfer partners 

SPG points earned from the personal or business Starwood Preferred Guest cards transfer out to American Airlines. You will receive a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 SPG points you transfer out to an airline.

AeroPlan Miles

An interesting loyalty program to use for flights to Europe is Aeroplan. Aeroplan is part of the Star Alliance, so you can fly any airline in the alliance. Aeroplan does charge fuel surcharges and taxes, but they don’t on United flights. And you can book one way award flights. You can fly one-way business class awards to Europe on United (with no fuel surcharges), Lufthansa, or LOT start at only 55,000 points. That’s a great deal.

Aeroplan award flights to Europe

Aeroplan award flights to Europe

How to book

You can search/book on the Aeroplan website after creating an ANA account. If you can’t book online, then you will need to call Aeroplan at 1-800-361-5373.

How to earn 

Since Aeroplan is a transfer partner of Amex MR points (see below), you have a lot of options to earn points to be used through the Aeroplan program. The best Amex MR card options are usually targeted.

Transfer partners 

The best way to earn Aeroplan miles is to transfer in American Express Membership Rewards points. Transfers are instant, and done at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer in SPG points.

ANA Miles

Another Star Alliance airline, ANA can be used for award flights to Europe. You have to book round-trip tickets with ANA miles, but they do have some sweet spots for award flights to Europe. A United round-trip ticket in business class will only cost you 88,000 ANA award miles, or 55,000 award miles in economy, and ANA doesn’t add fuel surcharges on United flights.

How to book

The ANA website is actually a good site to use to search for Star Alliance award flights. Another good thing about ANA is that you can have 3 stopovers. That’s sweet. If you can’t book your award online, just call the ANA reps at 1-800-235-9262.

How to earn 

Just like Aeroplan, ANA is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program, so any card that earns MR points can be used for ANA transfers.

Transfer partners 

Amex MR transfers can take up to 4 days, but they are usually completed in 24 hours.

Singapore Krisflyer Miles

You don’t usually associate Singapore Airlines with flights to Europe, but there are a couple gems. You can fly NYC to Frankfurt in the swanky Suites Class for 76,000 miles, or Houston to Moscow in business class for 65,000 miles. There will be fuel surcharges that vary for each flight.

Singapore Suites SeatSingapore Suites SeatSingapore Suites Seat

Singapore Suites Seat

How to book

You can search and book Singapore award flights on their website. If you need to call Singapore Krisflyer, the US center’s number is (213) 404-0301.

How to earn with transfer partners

The Singapore Krisflyer program is a transfer partner of Citi Thank Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG points.  Some rewards card options include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Plus® Business Card , Starwood Preferred Guest, and all American Express Membership Rewards cards. I love the options!  

British Airways Avios

Ah, British Airways. Yes, British Airways raised the award prices for premium cabin flights, but there’s still one award flight to Europe that can make sense. Flying from the East Coast to Dublin or Shannon, Ireland. One way economy tickets are still 13,000 Avios miles (non-peak), and 20,000 Avios miles during peak season.

How to book

You will have to search for Aer Lingus award space on the Qantas website, or United’s website. Then call British Airways at 1-800-452-1201 and give them your flight information that you would like to book.

How to earn 

British Airways has the personal co-branded British Airways Visa Signature® Card from Chase, and for a time, you can earn Avios. 

Transfer partners 

British Airways Avios is also a transfer partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Plus® Business Cards. And you can transfer your Starwood Preferred Guest, and Amex Membership Rewards points (lower transfer ratio). These options make adding to your British Avios account easy.

Wrap Up

Personally, I like to fly business class to Europe, so the Star Alliance is my best option. The best way to go about earning points for award flights to Europe is by focusing on transferrable points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards points. That way, you have the most flexibility and options when it comes time to search and book your award.

 

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Geoff Whitmore

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Best Award Miles to Redeem for Flights to Europe
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About the Author

Geoff Whitmore

Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

2 Comments on "Best Award Miles to Redeem for Flights to Europe"

  1. Jerry Mandel | May 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Reply

    Awards to Europe is a joke. Hard to find any and, especially, saver awards on AA don’t exist.

  2. Hi! I’ve been travelling a lot lately around Asia, work-related of course, and Europe has been in my bucket list for pleasure. Thanks for the advice and the options. Europe won’t just be a dream anymore. This is worth the read!

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