Best ways to get to Europe with miles or money

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Updates: This post has been thoroughly updated with award chart changes and additions. We have added additional best uses of miles including using Qatar Avios for JetBlue Mint, Alaska Airlines with its new zone and distance-based award chart, and American Airlines.

Ah, the Old Continent. Whether you plan to search for Platform 9 3/4, hunt for trolls, sleep in castles, or you’re just really craving a ham baguette, Europe has an undeniable allure for many travelers. Fortunately, it is quite probably the foreign continent with the greatest number of connections from North America, giving you a plethora of possibilities whether looking to use miles or money. It can still be tough to score an award ticket during peak travel periods, but if you have some flexibility in terms of which airline(s) you’ll fly, the various programs below (or pairing one of them with a cheap paid fare in the opposite direction) should give you at least a few options even during peak times.

a large stone building with stairs
Schlosshotel Kronberg, an SLH property outside of Frankfurt, Germany that is bookable with Hyatt points.

Transferable Currencies

If you want to use airline miles, it’s great to have transferable points.  Transferable point programs let you transfer your points to any of a number of airline programs.  This is great because it gives you the freedom to book many different flights through many different methods, some of which are strikingly cheaper than others.  If you’re not familiar with transferable points programs, please check out our guides:

Amex Membership Rewards Complete Guide Capital One “Rewards miles” Complete Guide Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide
Citi ThankYou Rewards Complete Guide Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide Bilt Rewards Complete Guide

Cheaper Paid Flights

Sometimes using points for a paid fare may cost fewer miles than an award ticket and earn miles. See: How to find great business class fares with Google Flights – the same techniques can be used to find economy fares if that is your preference. Keep in mind that you can  sometimes find slightly cheaper pricing via small online travel agencies listed at Momondo or Skyscanner, though you might be sacrificing customer service if things go wrong with your flights. It’s also worth noting that fares originating in Europe are often much cheaper; if you plan to visit Europe twice in the next year, it might make sense to consider booking an award ticket to Europe and then booking a paid fare (perhaps using points) from Europe to the US and back to Europe for your second trip. One-way business class flights from Europe to the US can also be quite reasonable, so there are a number of options to consider.

Also keep in mind stacking opportunities that may be available to you via memberships and credit cards. For example, you may be able to get $200 off a British Airways fare with a cheap AARP membership (anyone can join) and stack it with 10% off for being a Chase cardholder (See: Extreme Stacking British Airways, AA, and Iberia flights). Certain companion tickets could also possibly save you money (See: Complete Guide to Travel Companion Tickets).

Best ways to get to Europe using airline miles (in economy class)

The deals below are sorted alphabetically. Remember that the lowest price isn’t the entire picture: be sure to consider which airlines levy fuel surcharges and the ease of amassing the miles for your chosen award. See each description for where to search, how to book, and which partners you can use to transfer. It is always best to confirm availability before transferring miles to be sure that the award you seek can be booked with the miles you intend.

Note that most major airline programs charge either 25K or 30K miles each way in economy class. For example, flights booked through American Airlines AAdvantage or United Mileage Plus generally cost 25K-30K each way for saver awards in economy class (though note that with variable pricing in effect at all three of the major US carriers, it’s always worth checking those airlines’ sites for unadvertised specials). We have focused on programs below that regularly offer better values for those same flights and flights with other partners, which provide a plethora of options between the US and Europe.

ANA (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: ANA charges an excellent rate for round trip Star Alliance flights to Europe which is particularly good for those looking to take advantage of a free stopover on a round trip.
  • Miles required: 55K round trip in economy class. Fuel surcharges are passed on, but are avoidable with the right carriers. See: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or Points for info on the business class sweet spot that is applicable to economy class as well (but note the changes in business class pricing in April 2024)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at ANA’s website. (you’ll need to create a free ANA Mileage Club account and log in to search for space)
  • How to book awards: Book online at ANA’s website.
  • Key warnings: You must book round trip (though you can book open jaw and have a stopover). High fuel surcharges are assessed by some carriers, others have none or low fuel surcharges. The ANA website interface is not particularly user-friendly or modern-looking, so it may take some time to get used to the search features. Note that transfers to ANA are not instant. Transfers typically take 2-3 days from Amex Membership Rewards or a week or more from Marriott, so there is risk of award space disappearing while you wait for a transfer.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Etihad, United
  • Low fuel surcharges on: Asiana, LOT Polish, Turkish (higher than the others but low by comparison to some)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership RewardsMarriott Bonvoy

Air France / KLM Flying Blue (for Air France / KLM or other SkyTeam airlines)


Asiana Club

Note that Asiana is being taken over by Korean. The credit cards appear to no longer be available for new applicants and it is unclear how much longer Asiana will operate as a separate entity.

  • The short story: Asiana offers fantastic pricing for Star Alliance awards, though they pass along fuel surcharges and miles are hard to come by.
  • Miles required: 25K each way in economy class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com or Aeroplan.com.
  • How to book awards: Call Asiana to book partner awards over the phone at 1-800-227-4262.
  • Key warnings: Asiana miles are only available via the Asiana credit cards (no longer available for new applicants in 2021) or transfers from Marriott Bonvoy, making it hard to accumulate the miles necessary for an award. Note that Asiana is in the process of being taken over by Korean, so it is unclear how much longer they will operate as a separate entity.
  • Transfer fromMarriott Bonvoy

Avios (for British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Iberia)

  • The short story: You can use British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus Avios to fly on those airlines for low mileage prices on nonstop routes.
  • Miles required (Note that this gets confusing, particularly for Iberia. For more on the Iberia charts, I recommend reading this post at Travel is Free):
    • For flights on British Airways or Aer Lingus booked via British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Iberia (prices shown off-peak/peak):
      • 13K / 20K for flights 3,000-4,000 miles flown
      • 16,250 / 25K for flights 4,001 to 5,500 miles flown
    • For flights on Iberia booked via Iberia Avios only (prices shown off-peak/peak):
      • 17K / 20K for flights 3,001-4,000 miles one way
      • 21,250 / 25K for flights 4,001-5,000 miles one way
  • How to find awards: Search for British Airways available space at britishairways.com for Aer Lingus at United.com or Avios.com. For Iberia, use the Advanced Avios tool. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book British Airways flights online at britishaiways.com or over the phone at 1 800 452 1201. You can book Aer Lingus over the phone with British Airways or use Avios.com
  • Key warnings: Note that it may be worth checking all 3 booking options (Avios.com, BritishAirways.com, and Iberia.com) to determine your best deal, though keep in mind that things like cancellation policies differ (note that Iberia offers no changes or refunds at all on most partner flights whereas British Airways offers cheap cancellation). Aer Lingus and British Airways charge for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly (Iberia charges based on cumulative distance each way, which can be cheaper on connecting itineraries).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, with some routes to Europe inexplicably pricing lower than the award chart.
  • Miles required: Officially, the LifeMiles award chart offers economy class at 20K one-way from the Northeastern US to the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Russia or 30K one-way on all other routes between the US and Europe. However, there is some inexplicable variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart), with some routes pricing well under the expected 30K economy class price (such as Denver to Brussels for 23K). Also see: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com and it seems that manual bookings via email have ended. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer fromAmex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Citi Thank You, Capital One, Marriott Bonvoy

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (for flying a single Oneworld partner airline)

  • The short story: Cathay Pacific has reasonable pricing for single-partner oneworld redemptions, particularly those requiring connections since they charge based on cumulative distance.
  • Miles required: 20K miles one-way for a cumulative distance of 2,751 to 5,000 miles, which covers much of the US to Europe. The next distance band, which covers up to 7,500 miles, would be 27K miles.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AsiaMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Asia Miles frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AsiaMiles.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Fuel surcharges are moderate depending on route and origin.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios (for JetBlue)

  • The short story: Qatar Airways Privilege Club offers reasonable award pricing on JetBlue with no surcharges.
  • Miles required: 25K each way. Taxes & fees departing the US are just $10.10.
  • How to find awards: Search for space via QatarAirways.com. Theoretically, you should be able to start by finding "P" class space for economy class awards using advanced routing codes via ITA Matrix, though I've found awards available even when ITA Matrix shows no "P" class space, so your best bet may be to hunt around at QatarAirways.com.
  • How to book awards: Book on QatarAirways.com
  • Change and cancellation fees: $25 to change or cancel more than 24 hours in advance, $100 between 3-24hrs in advance, nonrefundable within 3 hours of departure. See more in this post.
  • Key warnings: Note that Qatar only charges mandatory taxes ($10.10 departing the US and between ~$40-$100 departing Europe) with no additional carrier-imposed surcharges on JetBlue awards.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Citi, Marriott, Bilt

Virgin Atlantic (for Air France / KLM or Virgin Atlantic)

Note that Virgin Atlantic also charges the more standard 30K miles each way for nonstop Delta flights, which is notable since Delta frequently charges many more miles for the same flights. See How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles for more.

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers excellent economy class pricing on Air France / KLM, particularly from the Eastern US to Europe but also for its own flights to the UK (albeit with somewhat expensive surcharges). Premium Economy can also be an excellent deal. See the full Virgin Atlantic award chart for travel on Air France / KLM here.
  • Miles required:
    • For flying Air France / KLM During "standard season" (not peak) dates, 12,000 miles each way in economy class between the East Coast of the US and Western Europe or 20,000 miles each way to Central Europe (and North Africa). From the Western or Central US to Western Europe is 15,000 miles or Eastern Europe is 23,000 miles. Standard Season (off-peak) dates for 2024:
      • 04 January 2024 - 21 March 2024
      • 16 April 2024 - 15 June 2024
      • 3 September 2024 - 24 October 2024
      • 06 November 2024 - 6 December 2024
    • For flying on Virgin Atlantic to/from the UK (Prices shown off-peak / peak; see: Virgin Atlantic award chart (U.S.-centric)
      • From the Northeast US: 10K / 20K
      • From the Midwest & South: 12.5K / 22.5K
      • From the Western US: 15K / 25K
      • Note that fees are about $149 one-way to London or $263 one-way from London
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.  See: Book Air France & KLM with Virgin Atlantic Miles.
  • Key warnings: The zone-based award chart for Air France / KLM flights can be a bit confusing at first, but the nice thing about booking Air France / KLM flights with Virgin Atlantic miles is that Virgin Atlantic does not charge each segment separately as they do with other partners or their own flights. In this case, you'll pay the region prices even if connecting. Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic is currently facing uncertain financial times, so it may be best to hold off a while on booking any travel that isn't imminent.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, CitiChaseMarriott

Best ways to get to Europe using airline miles (premium cabins)

The deals below are roughly sorted alphabetically. Remember that the lowest price isn’t the entire picture: be sure to consider which airlines levy fuel surcharges and the ease of amassing the miles for your chosen award. See each description for where to search, how to book, and which partners you can use to transfer. It is always best to confirm availability before transferring miles to be sure that the award you seek can be booked with the miles you intend.

Note also that with variable pricing in effect at all three of the major US carriers (American / Delta / United), it’s always worth checking those airlines’ sites for unadvertised specials. We have generally focused on programs below that regularly offer better values for those same flights and flights with other partners, which provide a plethora of options between the US and Europe.

Air Canada Aeroplan

An easier option for Star Alliance bookings than ANA or Turkish, Aeroplan has increased award rates but also increased the size of award regions and added the ability to add a stopover on a one-way award for 5,000 miles.

  • The short story: Aeroplan significantly changed its award chart for travel between North America and Europe in 2020. As a result, flights to Europe became more expensive, though the same "Atlantic" region now includes Africa, The Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. They also offer a stopovers on on a one-way award for 5,000 miles, which can present particular value. Lap infants are now just $25 CAD or 2,500 miles per direction (far cheaper than what most programs charge).
  • Miles required: 60K-110K each way in business class or 90K-140K each way in first class based on distance (See our complete guide to Aeroplan for more detail). Partner awards no longer incur fuel surcharges.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Key warnings: You'll pay more miles based on distance, but keep in mind that you can add a stopover on a one-way for 5,000 miles, which makes Aeroplan a better deal if you're looking to visit two countries in one trip (like Spain & India or Germany & South Africa or Portugal & Morocco as examples).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One, Marriott

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

  • The short story: Alaska's new region and distance-based award chart offers excellent pricing on shorter business class routes to and from Europe at 45K or 55K miles in business class with a free stopover on a one-way award.
  • Miles required: Alaska has a mix of a region-based and distance-based award chart. Between the US and Europe, flights of 1,501 to 3,500 miles flown are 45,000 miles in business class. Flights covering 3,501 to 5,000 miles flown cost 55,000 miles one way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AlaskaAirlines.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at AlaskaAirlines.com
  • Key warnings: You'll pay more miles based on distance, but those based on the East Coast make out well with the new award chart as of March 2024. Note that you can still only book itineraries consisting of Alaska + a single partner airline, but eventually you'll be able to mix partners, which should make for some fun opportunities to take advantage of a free stopover on a one-way ticket.
  • Transfer from: Bilt Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

American Airlines AAdvantage

  • The short story: American Airlines charges 57.5K miles one-way for partner business class awards to/from Europe. It no longer publishes an award chart for its own flights, but connecting itineraries sometimes price very reasonably.
  • Miles required: 57.5K miles one-way for partner business class to/from Europe. American does not publish an award chart for its own flights, but we often see itineraries that connect within the US price for less than nonstop awards to Europe. Note that first class on the New York to London route is being phased out in 2024, but it often only costs 10K miles more than business class on connecting itineraries.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AA.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at AA.com
  • Key warnings: Watch out for high surcharges on British Airways awards to/from the UK (surcharges can be much more reasonable departing other European countries on British Airways). Note that nonstop routes on American Airlines-operated flights to Europe can often cost an exorbitant number of miles, but connecting from a non-hub within the United States can sometimes drastically reduce the cost of an award.
  • Transfer from: Bilt Rewards (until June 2024), Marriott Bonvoy

Air France / KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue doesn’t have a set award chart, but their monthly Promo Rewards often make it possible to fly to Europe in business class for 45K miles or less.

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but business class awards between North America and Europe start at 50K one way. Promo awards often offer better value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s. On rare occasion, we have seen some destinations price in the 20K's one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable (about $150-$250 in taxes and fees each way)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

ANA Mileage Club

If you can book round trip and avoid airlines with high fuel surcharges, ANA is the best deal for Star Alliance flights.

  • The short story: ANA offers the hands-down best deal for round trip business class to Europe on Star Alliance airlines.
  • Miles required: 88K round trip in business class. Fuel surcharges are passed on, but are avoidable with the right carriers. See: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or PointsNote that pricing will increase to 100K round trip in April 2024.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at ANA’s website. (you’ll need to create a free ANA Mileage Club account and log in to search for space)
  • How to book awards: Book online at ANA’s website.
  • Key warnings: You must book round trip. High fuel surcharges are assessed by some carriers, others have none or low fuel surcharges. The ANA website interface is not particularly user-friendly or modern-looking, so it may take some time to get used to the search features. Note that transfers to ANA are not instant. Transfers typically take 2-3 days from Amex Membership Rewards or a week or more from Marriott, so there is risk of award space disappearing while you wait for a transfer.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Etihad, United
  • Low fuel surcharges on: Asiana, LOT Polish, Turkish (higher than the others but low by comparison to some)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Asiana Club

  • The short story: Asiana offers fantastic pricing for Star Alliance awards, though they pass along fuel surcharges and miles are hard to come by.
  • Miles required: 40K each way in business class / 50K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com or Aeroplan.com.
  • How to book awards: Call Asiana to book partner awards over the phone at 1-800-227-4262.
  • Key warnings: Asiana miles are only available via the Asiana credit cards (no longer available in 2021) or transfers from Marriott Bonvoy, making it hard to accumulate the miles necessary for an award. Note that Asiana is in the process of being taken over by Korean, so it is unclear how much longer they will operate as a separate entity.
  • Transfer fromMarriott Bonvoy

Avianca LifeMiles

While the “regular” rate is 63K miles each way in business class, the nice thing about Avianca LifeMiles is their mixed-cabin pricing: if you have a long economy class leg in your itinerary, you may be able to get to Europe with the transoceanic leg in business class for under 50K miles. Also great for flying with no fuel surcharges.

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, especially in first class, with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: 63K each way in business or 87K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance, with some routes inexplicably pricing well below the official award chart like Newark to Lisbon for 35K miles in business class (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). Mixed-cabin business class itineraries can price from as low as 49K. See: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Emirates Skywards

You’ll need to book round trip to get the best deal. Note that surcharges are only around $100 each way when the cheapest awards are available.

  • The short story: Emirates charges a very reasonable number of miles for business or first class between New York (JFK) and Milan or Newark (EWR) and Athens, with round-trip pricing being particularly attractive.
  • Miles required: 62.5K one-way / 90K round trip in business class or 85K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for availability at Emirates.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Emirates.com
  • Key warnings: Emirates used to have high fuel surcharges, then they reduced them for a while, but they have unfortunately once again increased fuel surcharges substantially.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, Marriott Bonvoy, Brex Cash

Iberia Avios

Potentially the cheapest deal on miles, Iberia is one you shouldn’t ignore if you can fly direct from one of their Eastern US gateways to Spain.

  • The short story: Iberia charges as few as 34K miles one-way in business class on its own flights from New York, Boston, Chicago, or DC to Madrid during off-peak season. Sometimes they run a winter travel promotion for even less.
  • Miles required: Varies by distance. Best deal are the cities above to Madrid: 34K during off-peak dates or 50K during peak dates on Iberia metal. Fuel surcharges are very mild (Around $175 in total taxes & fees round trip. If booking one-way, surcharges are higher leaving Europe than flying to Europe.)
  • How to find awards: Search Iberia.com using the Advanced Avios Search Tool
  • How to book awards: Book at Iberia.com after using the Advanced Avios Search Tool.
  • Key warnings: Iberia's website can be challenging to navigate and availability can be challenging to find. There are some surcharges, but at under a hundred bucks from the US to Europe, they are much milder than when using British Airways Avios. Note that Iberia's award chart is distance-based, so itineraries with connections will require more miles. Note also that sometimes connecting itineraries will have availability even when the nonstop legs between the US and Spain are not available on their own.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership RewardsChase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios (for JetBlue Mint)

Not the best business class award pricing to/from Europe, but JetBlue often has surprisingly good availability (and often for multiple passengers).

  • The short story: Qatar Airways Privilege Club offers reasonable award pricing on JetBlue, which can be a great way to book Mint (business) class to Europe.
  • Miles required: 78K each way. Taxes & fees departing the US are $10.10.
  • How to find awards: You can search for space via QatarAirways.com, but it is easier to start by finding "I" class space for business class awards. You can find this via a paid tool like ExpertFlyer or with advanced routing codes via ITA Matrix. See the video instructions in this post for detailed instructions about how to find and book space.
  • How to book awards: Book on QatarAirways.com
  • Change and cancellation fees: $25 to change or cancel more than 24 hours in advance, $100 between 3-24hrs in advance, nonrefundable within 3 hours of departure. See more in this post.
  • Key warnings: Note that Qatar only charges mandatory taxes ($10.10 departing the US and between ~$40-$100 departing Europe) with no additional carrier-imposed surcharges on JetBlue awards.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Citi, Marriott, Bilt

Turkish Miles & Smiles

Not the value it once was, but Turkish sometimes offers greater availability on its own flights to members booking through its program.

  • The short story: Turkish increased rates to and from Europe in February 2024, but still offers what could be a reasonable value on its own flights, particularly when they offer expanded award availability to their own members.
  • Miles required: 65K miles each way in business class (note that connecting itineraries on Turk
  • How to find awards: Go to turkishairlines.com and click the button to book an award ticket, then log in to your account and search. Note that there may be bookable options on Star Alliance partners that do not appear on the site but which may be bookable via email.
  • How to book awards: Book online at turkishairlines.com or over the phone at 1-800-874-8875 or via email
  • Key warnings: Turkish is sometimes unable to see Star Alliance availability for no explicable reason. No fuel surcharges on Air Canada, United, Avianca, or SAS. Low fuel surcharges on LOT Polish and Turkish.
  • Transfer from: Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Virgin Atlantic

Often (though not always) one of the easier sweet spots to book, Virgin is a great option for nonstop Delta flights to Europe.

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries. This can be a particularly good value for Delta’s life-flat routes to Europe and availability is often surprisingly good. While Virgin Atlantic changed most Delta awards to a distance-based award chart in early 2021, they have maintained the old zone-based pricing for Delta flights to/from Europe.
  • Miles required: 50K miles each way in business class (for direct flights) between the US and Europe (excluding the UK, which as a separate chart).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. See: Book Delta with Virgin Atlantic miles online! (again).
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries. Note that Virgin Atlantic has started adding surcharges of $200 or more on Delta flights to and from Europe. Some major European airports are not loaded into Virgin Atlantic’s website, so you may have to call to check availability / book.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

United

United doesn’t offer the most competitive mileage pricing to Europe, but they do have the most user-friendly website experience and they do not pass on fuel surcharges, which can make them an option to consider if you have a lot of United miles.

  • The short story: United charges a relatively large number of miles for business class flights between the US and Europe (~88K on partner airlines), but the lack of fuel surcharges can be a major advantage for booking partners like Lufthansa and free changes / cancellation are appealing. Also note that the excursionist perk could get you a free flight within Europe if your travel begins and ends in the US.
  • Miles required: 88K one-way in business class between the US and Europe on partner airlines and potentially less on United.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so we may eventually see many different prices for award tickets.
  • Transfer from: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, Bilt Rewards

How to get the miles

The following chart shows the available transferable points programs for each of the above airline frequent flyer programs:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer RatioChase Transfer RatioCiti Transfer RatioMarriott Transfer RatioCapital One Transfer RatioBrex Transfer Ratio
Aer Lingus Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar, BA60K to 25K1 to 1 via BA
Air Canada Aeroplan1 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 1
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 11,670 to 1K
ANA Mileage Club1 to 160K to 25K
Avianca LifeMiles1 to 11 to 13K to 1K1 to 11,670 to 1K
British Airways Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar60K to 25K1 to 1
Emirates Skywards1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 11,670 to 1K
Etihad Guest1 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 1
Iberia Avios1 to 11 to 11 to 1 via Qatar, BA60K to 25K1 to 1 via BA
Qatar Privilege Club Avios1 to 11 to 1 via BA1 to 160K to 25K1 to 1 via BA
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1 to 160K to 25K1 to 1
United MileagePlus1 to 160K to 30K
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 11 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 1
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Jose

I know the overwhelming majority of people are gladly upsold into discounted premium cabins these days, but there are still some who resist in order to keep travel costs down. For them, I have provided some comments to the economy section of this post:

1- you say “American Airlines AAdvantage or United Mileage Plus generally cost 25K-30k each way for saver awards.” Sadly this is not true any more for United, since last year’s devaluation, saver awards to/from Europe are in the neighborhood of 44k.
2- In the Flying Blue section you say “Economy class awards are often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during Promo Rewards sales from select airports” Sadly since the 2023 devaluation, Flying Blue Promos only go down to 15k, not 10K anymore from select airports these days. 20K being the common lowest regular starting price, when before it was 15k.
3- The Avios section should at least identify Aer Lingus and the sweet spot from the northeast (PHL, BOS, EWR, JFK, CLE, ORD, MSP). 13k to Dublin, 19.5k to Europe as far west as Vienna where Aer Lingus flies.

iahphx

Thanks. I know that Aer Lingus is supposedly transitioning award booking to its own site from the Avios site. Not sure if that’s live now. Is there any price difference for Aer Lingus flights when booking on the various Avios-participating airlines? And if you go to, say, the BA website, will they readily display Aer Lingus award options?

Jose

The Aer Lingus award options I have seen at 13K/19.5K are on Aer Lingus flights only. The BA metal awards booked through Aer Lingus are similar to BA award prices. I don’t remember BA showing AerLingus flights on their sight, but I could be wrong.

iahphx

I’ve seen Aer Lingus nonstops on BA, but they seem to be scarce and random. It would seem better to book them directly with Aer Lingus. But is Aer Lingus’ new award booking tool working yet (and is it working effectively)?

Jose

It looks like the award tool is starting to work. I can’t seem to book a two segment itinerary, but single segment itineraries seem to be possible now.

Jose

After widening my search options, I did find some United transatlantic flights award prices at 30K and even below that. I guess, it is just my normal routes that always price around 44k when they used to price at 30k to 33k. Thanks for making me dig a little deeper.

I appreciate all your arguments to defend those who are upsold to discounted premium cabins, it reminds me of my sister-in-law’s mental gymnastics when she bought a car and declared “she got a good price.” Just because Turkish charges 55k to get across the Atlantic in economy, does not mean that you are not being upsold when you fly to Madrid on Iberia for 35k in business when a seat in economy on the same plane costs 22.5k miles. The point is that you would never book that Turkish flight, a reasonable comparison would be the lowest business price vs the lowest economy price to make a fair determination if you are willing to pay that price difference for the product being upsold. I don’t denigrate those who chose to pay a little extra for extra comfort, I have turned left on many occasions, thanks to my employer and/or status. I know it’s nice. I purposefully (and accurately, I believe) termed it “gladly upsold into discounted premium cabins” because that it what it is. And we should each be aware of it and make a deliberate conscious decision to do so or not do so.

My core point is not necessarily about stretching my miles, it’s about getting the best price, because after all, points, especially transferable ones can be converted to cash which can be invested or spent as one desires.

When United jacked up their prices on my regular route, I stopped booking transatlantic flights through them. Excursionist perk could make it worth considering, if my plans permit, otherwise its Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic, Flying Blue and more often than not, its cash. In 2023, I crossed the Atlantic 4 times, all on Flying Blue awards. Then the Flying Blue devaluation happened (which was actually a price drop for those on the west coast and those who fly premium cabins as you reported on FM on the Air). This year I have booked 3 trips, two round trips to Vienna with cash (SAS, $564 in Apr & $581 in Aug) and a third RT via two one-way awards, flying out with Flying Blue award and returning via a Virgin Atlantic award. From my perspective, it is not often that economy award pricing beats the cash price (even in points) when one uses creative ways to cash out transferable currencies.

iahphx

Great post, but I would warn anyone who wants to go to Europe in early summer — from say late June to July — that it is extremely unlikely they will find reasonably priced award tickets. I’ve never seen published fares higher (plan on spending $1500 from the East Coast for a revenue ticket with a seat and checked bag) and this has impacted the availability of “regular” award tickets. Virgin did just have a half-off sale to London (now ended) which is the best I’ve seen so far, and you can hunt the most obscure routes on FlyingBlue and hope to find unicorn flights. AA also has a few 27,000 mile award tickets from Paris through PHL (use their award map tool to find them). And maybe there might be a few plausible Avios awards on Iberia and Aer Lingus? I can’t imagine anyone finding (and being willing to pay for) biz class award tickets. My best advice for non-persistent travellers: postpone your trip to late August, when there’s more availability.

Last edited 21 days ago by iahphx
Queso

Fantastic, extremely helpful research, Nick! Under ANA key warnings, you might mention that if you end up not going, your ANA miles will have a hard expiration.

rich

I just went through booking a trip for earlier this month from the US to Europe in business class.

I found two one-way business class awards on Austrian Air with Lifemiles (63K each plus about $11 in fees). This was ORD-VIE.

I found a return flight CDG-IAD (visiting family) with 2 business class awards for 50K each but about $350 in fees/taxes on Air France using Flying Blue.

Unfortunately while on the trip I got sick in Munich and after sort of recovering I wanted to be home and managed to find 2 more business class awards from Munich to Chicago using LifeMiles on United (Polaris) with very low fees.

I put in a request to get the Flying Blue award canceled. Will see how long that takes. Unfortunately I can’t get those back to Chase but will need to use them for some other trip.

Thanks for the write up. You guys and Award Wallet have the best content nowadays without a lot of other useless material on the blog.

Troy

did you forget Turkish gutted its award chart? Perhaps it’s just a little unclear, but with additive segment pricing TK’s finished these days right?

Julie Garrison

Thanks for the update Nick!

[…] Europe has an undeniable allure for many travelers. Fortunately, it is quite probably the foreign continent with the greatest number of connections from North America, giving you a plethora of possibilities whether looking to use miles or money. It can still be tough to score an award ticket during peak travel periods, but if you have some flexibility in terms of which airline(s) you’ll fly, it should give you at least a few options even during peak times. ➡️ Read more […]

Joseph Giorgianni

I better get to work. My wife and I are both retired and want to fly business class to Munich from New York in August. Looking to spend a week there. I keep putting it off.

Tony

In reference to Qatar not charging fees, my understanding is that Qatar does charge its own award redemption fees (based on cabin class) and it’s not very transparent (i.e. they don’t tell you until the last step when you’re asked to pay). Are you sure there’s no such fee on JetBlue redemptions?

ktenorman

Either there are no saver awards anymore or Emirates has raised prices on JFK-MXP to 72,500 each way with no discount for a roundtrip booking. Bummer.

Roberta

Nick,
This is an incredible post. Cant thank you enough.

Where my confusion comes in is the talk of customer service or lack there of on some of these airlines. Can you speak to that?

anonymous

Nick, re the British Airways discount, AARP has a limited-time Black Friday special right now: $20 for 2 years of membership with auto-renewal. (Join or Renew.)

tony

Hi Nice, excellent round up. Question about Iberia. Any time I’ve looked over the past two years or so (trying for DC to Madrid) I always get what I found today – all flights use BA with huge surcharges ($1500 or so). How do you find flights on Iberia metal?

[…] Well, I guess we can bookmark this: Best ways to get to Europe with miles or money. […]

Kent

For those “50K to 25K*” transfer rates in the chart, I’m guessing you meant to make a note about Chase’s “secret” transfer partners. 🙂

https://frequentmiler.com/chases-secret-transfer-partners/