Europe is not my favorite place to spend my points, but there are several pros and cons for awards to Europe.
Good Things about Premium Class Awards to/from Europe
- West Coast Departures– If you are departing from the West Coast, you will be better able to enjoy the premium cabin experience. For example, LAX to Paris is a 10.5-hour flight whereas NYC to Paris is a very short 7 hours.
- Flying From Europe– The flights from Europe are typically 90 minutes longer than flights to Europe. Plus if you are flying first class on some airlines (e.g. Air France, Lufthansa, or SWISS), you have access to some of the most amazing airport lounges in the world.
Bad Things about Premium Class Awards to/from Europe
- Fuel Surcharges– Many airlines have high fuel surcharges ($900+ roundtrip on British Airways or Lufthansa). Therefore, United, Avianca/LifeMiles, and Air Canada/Aeroplan are the best at avoiding these surcharges.
- Similar Price as Asia– Most programs price Europe and Asia at the same rate. However, on average, you would get an extra 4 hours in business class for a flight to Asia over a flight to Europe.
- East Coast Departures– Flights from the east coast to Europe are generally less than nine hours. When you factor in time for the two meal times and 45 minutes before landing, you only have a few hours to enjoy a flatbed. (You do have an extra 90 minutes on flights departing Europe, which is a better deal)
- Cheap Flights– We publish a lot of cheap economy class flight deals to Europe on our flight deal emails (occasionally for business class). Sometimes its not worth paying the 100,000+ points plus taxes and fees when you can book an economy flight deal for under $400.
Quick Advice for Each Program:
- Aegean– Good value on United, LOT, and Turkish.
- Aeroplan/Air Canada– Good value on United, SWISS, SAS, and Turkish. Europe is divided into two regions “Europe 1” and “Europe 2.” You can’t do a stopover on a one-way ticket, but you can do two on a roundtrip award.
- Air France– Air France now has variable pricing (similar to Delta) instead of a region-based fixed price award system. Air France also passes on fuel surcharges for most of their partners, Find Delta award space.
- Alaska– I wouldn’t use for Europe. Use for Asia or Australia/New Zealand instead.
- All-Nippon Airways– ANA does have one of the lowest points rates for flights to Europe, but they pass on fuel surcharges for most of their partners. You would need to fly Air Canada, United, Singapore (Houston to Manchester; or JFK to Frankfurt), SAS, or LOT. I wouldn’t use ANA points for Europe. If you do, find award space on United or Air Canada.
- American– Finding saver award space on American’s own flights will be very hard from March to November. Other airlines have sky-high fuel surcharges.
- Asiana– Asiana has very cheap rates to Europe (80,000 for roundtrip business or 100,000 for first class). The downsides are that Marriott is the only transfer partner and the fuel surcharges on Star Alliance partners can be very high.
- Avianca LifeMiles– No fuel surcharges, so target flights on Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, and Turkish.
- British Airways– Target direct flights on American or Aer Lingus from the east coast. The fuel surcharges on British Airways own flights are ridiculous.
- Cathay Pacific– Target direct flights on American or Aer Lingus and use the stopovers to your advantage.
- Delta– Delta does not publish an award chart, so book early.
- Etihad– Etihad has two options to Europe, American Airlines and Royal Air Maroc. Royal Air Maroc is based in Casablanca and has North American flights to New York City, Washington D.C, and Montreal. Their cost is 44,000 points in economy and 88,000 in business. Stopovers are allowed in Casablanca, but you must book a roundtrip award. You can also book on American Airlines for cheaper rates using Etihad points over American points. The round trip cost is: 40,000 for off-peak economy, 60,000 for peak economy, 100,000 for business, and 125,000 for first class. One-ways are allowed for half of that cost.
- Japan Airlines– Book on Air France, or Iberia if you want to use stopovers.
- Korean– Find award space on Delta or AeroMexico.
- Lufthansa– Find award space on United.
- Singapore– Singapore has two fifth-freedom routes, Houston to Manchester and New York (JFK) to Frankfurt. The Frankfurt route has the very luxurious Singapore First Class Suites for 76,000 points one-way. You can book a business class award for 65,000 one-way on either Singapore or their Star Alliance partners.
- Virgin Atlantic– Virgin charges fuel surcharges on their own flights, but Delta has does not charge fuel surcharges for flights departing the U.S. (roundtrips or one-ways departing Europe will have high fees on Delta). It costs 60,000 for roundtrip economy on Delta, but only 100,000 for roundtrip business class. You do need to look for direct flights, since VA charges the price per segment.
- United– United offers a discount for booking their own flights over partner flights, but United doesn’t pass on the partner’s fuel surcharges, which can save you about $1,000 booking for flights on Lufthansa, Austrian, and SWISS.
Points Required for Roundtrip Flight
Points System Economy Business Class First Class Airlines You Fly On Stopover? Transfer Partners Japan Airlines 39,000 to 60,000 63,000 to 100,000 100,000 to 155,000 American, Air France, FinnAir ($), British Airways ($), Iberia, and Royal Jordanian Seven with OneWorld Chart Marriott Korean 50,000 80,000 100,000 Air France ($), AeroMexico, Delta, KLM ($), AeroFlot ($), and Air Europa ($) One Marriott Asiana 50,000 80,000 100,000 Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, LOT, Swiss, Austrian, SAS, Brussels, Turkish, and TAP. No Marriott All-
55,000 88,000 165,000 Air Canada, United, Lufthansa ($), LOT ($), Swiss ($), Austrian ($), SAS ($), Brussels ($), Turkish ($), and TAP ($). One Amex and Marriott Etihad 40,000 to 60,000 88,000 to 100,000 125,000 Royal Air Maroc; American (price depends on partner) Depends Amex, Citi, Marriott Aegean 60,000 90,000 120,000 Air Canada ($), United, Lufthansa ($), LOT ($), Swiss ($), Austrian ($), SAS ($), Brussels ($), Turkish ($), and TAP ($). No Marriott Cathay Pacific 65,000 to 90,000 90,000 to 135,000 140,000 to 220,000 American, Aer Lingus, FinnAir ($), British Airways ($), Iberia ($), and Royal Jordanian Two or Five Amex, Citi, and Marriott Virgin Atlantic 60,000 100,000 N/A Delta No Amex, Chase, Citi, Marriott Lufthansa 60,000 105,000 170,000 Air Canada ($), United, Lufthansa ($), LOT ($), Swiss ($), Austrian ($), SAS ($), Brussels ($), Turkish ($), and TAP ($). Two Marriott Air France 43,000 to 52,000** 106,000** N/A Air France ($), AeroMexico, Delta, KLM ($), AeroFlot ($), and Air Europa ($) No Amex, Chase, Citi and Mariott Aeroplan/Air Canada 60,000 to 75,000 110,000 to 115,000 140,000 to 150,000 Air Canada, United, Lufthansa ($), LOT ($), SWISS, Austrian ($), SAS, Brussels, Turkish, and TAP ($). One Amex and Marriott Alaska Airlines 55,000 to 65,000 110,000 to 125,000 140,000 to 170,000 American, British Airways ($), Air France ($), Icelandair, and Emirates ($) Two Marriott American Airline 60,000* 115,000 170,000 American, British Airways ($), FinnAir ($), Iberia ($), Royal Jordanian ($); Air Tahiti Nui (LAX-CDG) No Marriott United 60,000 120,000 (UA)/140,000 (Partners) 160,000 (UA)/220,000 (Partners) Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, LOT, Swiss, Austrian, SAS, Brussels, Turkish, and TAP. One Chase and Marriott British Airways 40,000 to 60,000 120,000 to 180,000 160,000 to 240,000 American, Aer Lingus, British Airways ($), FinnAir ($), Iberia ($), and Royal Jordanian ($) No Amex, Chase, and Marriott Avianca Airlines 60,000 126,000 174,000 Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, LOT, Swiss, Austrian, SAS, Brussels, Turkish, and TAP. No Citi and Marriott Singapore Airlines 55,000 130,000 190,000 (152,000 for JFK-FRA) Singapore, Air Canada ($), United, Lufthansa ($), LOT ($), Swiss ($), Austrian ($), SAS ($), Brussels ($), Turkish ($), and TAP ($). No Amex, Chase, Citi, and Marriott Delta Airlines 60,000 to 70,000** 140,000 to 170,000** N/A Air France ($), AeroMexico, Delta, KLM ($), and Air Europa ($) No Amex and Marriott Turkish Airlines 60,000 90,000 135,000 Turkish, Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, LOT, Swiss, Austrian, SAS, Brussels, and TAP. Yes Citi
- ($)= High Fuel Surcharges (fees you pay to use your points. It could be in the hundreds of dollars)
- *= There may be a discount during off-peak times.
- **= Delta and Air France do not publish an award chart and instead have a variable award system. Those numbers are around what you would pay if you book well in advance. The only way to know for sure how much it will cost is to search your specific award on Airfrance.com.
- British, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific have distance based award chart. The more actual miles you fly, the more the award costs.