Best ways to get to Europe with miles or money

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Updates: This post has been updated to reflect award chart changes (notably Aeroplan no longer passing on fuel surcharges and changes to its award chart), transfer partner changes (adding Brex Cash as a transfer program where applicable and adding Aeroplan to Chase), added Asiana, and made other individual listing tweaks. We have also condensed this post to include both economy class and premium cabin sweet spots to make it a more comprehensive one-stop resource.

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.

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

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.
  • 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: ANA, 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)

  • 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 promo awards often offer good value, with economy class awards often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during some sales from select airports. They sometimes present good value for travel on other SkyTeam partners like Delta or Alitalia, but YMMV.
  • 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.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, Capital One, Marriott

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, 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 JFK to Zurich for 16,500 miles or 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, though note that you may be able to make a manual booking if individual segments are available separately. 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. Also note that as of May 2020, Avianca has filed for bankruptcy protection. LifeMiles is not yet affected by this process and may not be, but given the uncertain state of global economics it may be wise to hold off on bookings that aren't time-sensitive.
  • 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: 27K 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 less interesting at 35K.
  • 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

Etihad Guest (for American Airlines or Brussels Airlines)

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on American Airlines between the US and Europe during off-peak dates (October 15 - May 15).
  • Miles required: 20K each way in economy class on American Airlines during off-peak dates (October 15 - May 15). Peak pricing is 30K each way. Note that in either instance, you will need to see saver space available via American Airlines in order to book with Etihad. If your travel is during peak dates, also consider Brussels Airlines from New York JFK or Washington IAD, which would be 27K each way in economy class (search for space on Brussels via United.com).
  • How to find awards: Search for American Airlines award space at Qantas.com. Note that you could also use the British Airways site, but it is known to sometimes show phantom AA availability.
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital OneCiti Thank You, Marriott

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 price travel dates dates include:
      • 6 January 2020 – 2 April 2020
      • 22 April 2020 - 19 June 2020
      • 7 September 2020 - 11 December 2020
      • 6 January 2021 - 31 March 2021
    • 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: AmexCitiChaseMarriott

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-100K each way in business class or 90K-130K 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 Aeoplan 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, Chase Ultimate Rewards (coming in 2021), Capital One, Marriott

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 promo awards often offer good value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s and sometimes as low as the 20K’s depending on destination.
  • 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, 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 Points.
  • 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: ANA, 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, though you may be able to email for a manual booking. 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 deals, but at 90K round trip in business or 135K round trip in first, they are deals indeed.

  • 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 one-way / 135K round trip 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, but these days the fees are quite reasonable (around $60 to Europe and $100 from Europe for a total of around $160 round trip)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, Marriott Bonvoy, Brex Cash

Etihad Guest

While the Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines sweet spots have soured a bit, Etihad still offers a competitive rate to Brussels or Casablanca (easy connections to Europe from there) or on American Airlines.

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, or Royal Air Maroc between the US and Europe.
  • Miles required: 44K each way in business class on Brussels Airlines or 44K to Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc (connections to Europe will add additional miles now, fuel surcharges around $170 each way) or 50K each way in business class on American Airlines (no fuel surcharges). First class on AA is only 62.5K miles one-way, but AA only operates 3-cabin first class on a couple of routes and award space may be hard to come by.
  • How to find awards: Search for Brussels award space on United.com or American award space on AA.com (you may want to double-check availability at Qantas.com)
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

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.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership RewardsChase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Turkish Miles & Smiles

At 45K each way, this can be a great option for one-way Star Alliance itineraries, but not for those with high fuel surcharges.

  • The short story: At 45K each way in business class or 67.5K each way in business class, Turkish offers one of the best mileage rates to Europe - but watch out for fuel surcharges on some partners. Still, fuel surcharges may be worth it in some instances given the low rates (particularly in first class).
  • Miles required: 45K miles each way in business class or 67.5K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at united.com and call Turkish to book or go to turkishairlines.com, log in to your account, go to "Miles transactions" to find the Star Alliance booking tool and click "book now" to go to that search tool (not the tool on the home page at turkishairlines.com). Note that there may be bookable options that do not appear on the site (hence checking United and calling when necessary).
  • How to book awards: Book online at turkishairlines.com using the instructions above 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. However, Turkish allows a hold for long enough for points to transfer from Citi. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you get your desired itinerary on hold via phone or email before transferring points. No fuel surcharges on Air Canada, United, Avianca, or SAS. Low fuel surcharges on LOT Polish and Turkish.
  • Transfer from: 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 taxes on flights originating in Europe can be high, but are only $5.60 when originating in the US. 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, 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 (~70K), but the lack of fuel surcharges can be a major advantage for booking partners like Lufthansa. 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: 70K 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

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
Air Canada Aeroplan1 to 160K to 25K1000 to 750
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 11 to 11 to 1
(instant)
60K to 25K1000 to 7501 to 1
ANA Mileage Club1 to 160K to 25K
Avianca LifeMiles1 to 11 to 1
(instant)
60K to 25K1 to 11 to 1
Avios1 to 11 to 160K to 25K1000 to 750
Emirates Skywards1 to 11 to 1
(instant)
1 to 160K to 25K1000 to 5001 to 1
Etihad Guest1 to 11 to 1
(~1 week)
60K to 25K1 to 1
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1 to 1
(~2 days)
60K to 25K1000 to 750
United MileagePlus1 to 1
(instant)
60K to 27.5K
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 11 to 11 to 1
(instant)
60K to 25K
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