Most luxurious flights to Europe, bookable with points

35

When flying from North America to Europe most carriers offer similar business class experiences.  Most offer lie-flat seats and reasonably good food and drink options.  Direct aisle access for all business class seats used to be a differentiator, but now that’s pretty much standard.  Personally, I think that the standard business class experience is plenty good enough for flights from and to Europe.  And those who are used to flying economy will no doubt find it incredible.  But what if you’re looking for something more?  If you’re already used to flying “standard” business class, what are the options for flying to Europe that are a cut above the rest?

In this post you’ll find my favorite options for using miles to fly to Europe from North America where the flights offer something better than standard business class.  These are sorted from top to bottom with my favorite options on top:

First Class

Emirates First Class

Emirates’ “old” first class is still one of the best first class products available.  Comfort, privacy, service, food, and drink are all outstanding.  Emirates flies first class nonstop between North America and Europe on the following routes:

  • New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP)
  • Newark (EWR) – Athens (ATH)

If you’re willing to do a layover in Dubai, then many more options become available.  With a stop in Dubai, you can fly to nearly anywhere in Europe from the following North American airports: Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas / Forth Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Mexico City (MEX), Miami (MIA), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO), Toronto (YYZ), Seattle (SEA), Washington DC (IAD).

The best way to book Emirates First Class is with Emirates miles.  Emirates charges 85,000 miles one-way for direct flights to Europe.  There are many options for transferring points to Emirates:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Emirates Skywards1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)

Singapore Suites

Update: First Class Suites are widely available for saver level awards from March to June 2022! I’ve booked it, have you?!

Singapore Airlines usually offers their old (but still phenomenal) First Class Suites on their flights between New York (JFK) and Frankfurt, Germany (FRA).  Currently they’re servicing this route with a 777 which does not offer Suites in first class, but they are scheduled to return to flying the A380 with Suites in March 2022.

The photo above shows my suite made up as a bedroom when I flew this product in 2013.  As you can see, suites have doors and windows that close.  If you fly with a partner, it’s possible to get adjoining suites and remove the partition so that you can enjoy a double bed!  In my experience, the service was absolutely incredible.  Also noteworthy: the bedding was super comfortable.  I remember thinking that the bed was more comfortable than my own at home.

Singapore First Class or Suites Class can only be booked with Singapore’s own KrisFlyer miles.  Singapore charges 86,000 Krisflyer miles one-way when Saver space is available, or 140,000 for standard (“Advantage”).

Fortunately there are many options for transferring points to Singapore Airlines:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~17 hours)1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (~7 hours)1 to 1 (Instant)

Lufthansa First Class

Fly Lufthansa First Class with no fuel surcharges and for less than sticker price.

Lufthansa’s First Class lacks the privacy found on Emirates First and Singapore Suites, but their service, food, and drink offerings are top notch.  What really differentiates Lufthansa to me is their ground services.  First class passengers transiting through Frankfurt or Munich get escorted to and from their exclusive first-class lounges, passport control is often handled within the lounge itself, fantastic food and drinks are provided for free, etc.

Lufthansa currently flies first class between Frankfurt, Germany and the following North American airports: Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Mexico City (MEX), Miami (MIA), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO).  Starting summer 2022, they are expected to open up first class routes to/from Munich as well.

Lufthansa First Class isn’t available to partners until a few weeks before departure.  The best way to book these flights is with a Star Alliance partner that doesn’t pass along fuel surcharges.  Of these, Avianca LifeMiles usually offers the best award prices, followed by Air Canada Aeroplan.  United MileagePlus is another option, but it is much more expensive when booking first class.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Air Canada Aeroplan1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Avianca LifeMiles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)
United MileagePlus1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 27.5K (2 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)

American Airlines Flagship First

American Airlines offers their Flagship First Class on their 777-300 aircraft.  In my opinion, AA’s First Class doesn’t compare well with any of the First Class products listed above, but it is better than most business class options.  Currently, they fly this product to London (LHR) from Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK): 

AA itself charges 85K miles one-way for these flights when saver award space is available.  Prices for web special awards vary greatly.  Cathay Pacific award prices for AA First Class to London vary by distance flown, and so flying from JFK, Miami, or Dallas costs 87K one-way whereas flying from LAX costs 120K one-way.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
American AAdvantage60K to 25K (~2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (Unkown)

Business Class

Qatar Q-Suites

Qatar’s Q-Suites business class is widely considered to be one of the best business class products available worldwide.  Seats can be configured to be either very private or with shared space as shown above.  And service and food is reportedly first class quality.  I haven’t personally had a chance to fly Q-Suites yet, but it’s high on my list!

The only real downside to Q-Suites is that they don’t offer any direct flights to Europe from North America.  If you don’t mind a layover in Doha, though, you can fly Q-Suites to Europe from any of these airports: Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Montreal (YUL), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), Washington DC (IAD).

Qatar Q-Suites flights to Europe are best booked with miles from Cathay Pacific, or Qatar.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (Unkown)

JetBlue Mint

JetBlue flies from New York (JFK) to both London Heathrow (LHR) and to London Gatwick (LGW).  On these flights, their Mint business class product is reportedly phenomenal.  Mint class includes suites with doors and restaurant quality food.  Supposedly the service is out of this world good as well.

There currently aren’t any ways to get outsized value when booking with points.  In most cases you’ll be better off paying for these flights directly.  JetBlue usually charges around $2,000 round-trip.  Alternatively, you can pay with JetBlue points or with Emirates miles but it’s definitely worth comparing to paid rates to see if you’ll get good value.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Emirates Skywards1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)
JetBlue250 to 200 plus excise tax (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 12.5K (Unknown)

Singapore

Singapore business class

Singapore Airlines offers business class on two direct routes between North America and Europe:

  • Houston (IAH) – Manchester (MAN)
  • New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA)

While you won’t get the same level of privacy available on some business class suites products (like Qatar Q-Suites or Delta One Suites), Singapore’s business class does feature their famous top-notch food and service.

There are many options for transferring points to Singapore Airlines:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~17 hours)1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (~7 hours)1 to 1 (Instant)

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Suite

Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Suite doesn’t follow the naming convention of other airplane suites: it doesn’t offer a door.  That said, it does offer a good amount of privacy, and it looks fantastic.  Upper Class Suite passengers also get access to “The Loft” which is a lounge-like space on the plane which can be a great place to socialize.

Virgin Atlantic offers the Upper Class Suite on their Airbus A350 aircraft which currently fly between London (LHR) and the following North American airports: Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO).

The best way to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is with Air France Flying Blue Miles.  For the flight from San Francisco to London in Upper Class, Air France charges 72,000 miles and $212 in fees.  Virgin Atlantic charges fewer miles but much higher fees.  Delta charges lower fees but far more miles.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 1 (~10 minutes to 1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)

Delta One Suites

Delta offers fully enclosed suites on their Airbus A350 and Airbus A330-900neo jets.  Delta One Suites are available on quite a few routes worldwide:

Delta offers direct flights to Europe featuring Delta One Suites on the following routes:

  • To Amsterdam (AMS) from: Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Seattle (SEA)
  • To Paris (CDG) from: Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • To Tel Aviv (TLV) from: Boston (BOS), New York (JFK) [Yes, I know that Tel Aviv isn’t Europe, but I figured that many readers will be interested in this option]

The best way to book Delta One Suites to Europe is with Virgin Atlantic points for only 50,000 points one-way.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (Unknown)

British Airways Club Suite

British Airways currently offers their Club Suites on flights between JFK and London (LHR).  In 2022, though, they’re expected to retrofit older aircraft with these seats and Club Suites should be available between London and the following North American airports: Atlanta (ATL), Austin (AUS), Barbados (BGI), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Nassau (NAS), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), Philadelphia (PHL), Phoenix (PHX), Seattle (SEA), Toronto (YYZ), Washington (IAD), Vancouver (YVR).

There’s no great way to use points to book British Airways business class because you’ll pay hefty fuel surcharges no matter which miles you use.  You can usually reduce surcharges a bit by booking two one-way awards rather than a single round-trip.  Also, sometimes you’ll find that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles incur lower surcharges for some reason.  I recommend looking at award and surcharge prices via American Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific to find the best option for your flight.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
American AAdvantage60K to 25K (~2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)
British Airways Avios1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 via Qatar (1 to 2 days)60K to 25K (~10 hours)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (Unkown)

What did I miss?

In this post, I left out some really great flights (like Air France’s La Premier Class or Swiss first class) because I don’t know of any good ways to book these with miles while getting good value.  I also left out many very good business class options because I think of them as being pretty much standard these days: lie flat seats, direct aisle access, decent food and service.  And, of course, I left out the worse than standard options such as business class products that do not offer direct aisle access to all seats as well as those that don’t even have lie-flat seats.

The point of this post was to list the luxury options for flying to Europe that are in some way special, and can be booked with a reasonable number of points.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that I missed some.  If you have suggestions, please comment below!

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Josh

You missed British Airways First Class.

Rob B

The Delta Flights via VA do not work anymore. There are flights through VA with limited points availability (Sep 22 shows Sep 5 & 19 as the only 2 dates available) And they are 55500 points with a 749 surcharge because your flying through LHR so not really any savings there.

DaninMCI

While AA business is decent if you can book the 77W flagship first on AA it’s is a cut above some of the other options. They operate this on LAX, DFW, JFK, MIA to LHR.

whocares

good luck finding Delta long haul business with Virgin miles…I seldom have any luck. I did have SEA-AMS last year,but canceled due to COVID.

great article.

The bigger question is — which of these choices allow you to fly without a mask.

Any of the enclosed suites – yes presumably. I can only confirm Qatar Qsuites. That’s a known quantity.

Justmeha

You might want to add the option to cut down on the fuel charges with BA wby using the Chase BA credit card taxes and fees credit

flyernick

You can’t use a North America to Europe award with AA miles with Qatar because of AA’s regions rules (no transiting the Mideast on the way to Europe). To use AA miles, you have to have one award to Doha, then another to Europe.

BlueCat

I enjoyed this post and found it very useful. It’s bookmarked.

Please consider expanding it to incorporate all North American Biz and FC award travel to Europe. I recall bookmarking such a post from (I think) Darius way back when, and used it until it became obsolete.

Last edited 8 months ago by BlueCat
Vida

i would like to see this too

JustSaying

I don’t see the mileage requirements for Lufthansa and I don’t seethe mileage requirements for Emirates with a stopover.

JustSaying

The top 3-4 could probably use their own post

steve

“The background to this is that Miles & More must ensure that its services do not constitute an e-money transaction subject to authorization in the meaning of the German Payment Services Supervision Act (ZAG). We can not completely rule out that the ability to earn loyalty points from a partner company abroad directly and for a consideration could be considered as an e-money transaction. To make sure that this is impossible, all programs that open up this possibility are suspended. We can not yet estimate how long our assessment will take. This measure protects both the interests of our participants and those of our partner companies and, last but not least, ours. Payback is not affected, a conversion is still possible.”

steve

“We have had to suspend Lufthansa Miles & More as a Marriott Bonvoy points to miles transfer partner at the request of Lufthansa Miles & More in connection with German regulations. This suspension is not specific to the Marriott Bonvoy program and other Lufthansa Miles & More hotel partners have taken the same action. Points to miles transfers from member accounts were made through May 20, 2019 and any transfers occurring after that date will be returned to the member’s account. We will share a timeline soon for when we expect the points to be returned. We are working to ensure all pages on our digital and mobile sites reflect this change in the status of Lufthansa Miles & More. We apologize for the inconvenience to members and look forward to providing updates about Lufthansa Miles & More once we have them.”



steve

Unless something’s changed, Marriott doesn’t transfer to Lufthansa due to a lawsuit in Germany against Lufthansa last year. The plaintiff wanted to prove that points have a certain value. After that, Lufthansa stopped point transfers.

Steve

Marriott listed in graph as transfer partner. I prob over-read it thinking it implied Lufthansa. You prob meant United and air Canada.

Jeff

Turkish 787 from ATL or ORD or JFK.. and DFW soon

whocares

they also have LAX-IST and soon SEA-IST. Though point availability is spotty. ORD always. maybe with LAX-IST. SEA-IST too soon to tell.

DFW-IST maybe.

Tonei Glavinic

Emirates uses their two-class 777-200LR on Mexico City-Barcelona, so there’s no First on that route. (I’m flying it next month in J). https://www.emirates.com/media-centre/emirates-touches-down-in-mexico-city/

(fun fact, their search engine is broken for flights between BCN and MEX. on the website you can only search availability for the full MEX-BCN-DXB or vice versa, the fifth freedom portion is searchable through the app though, and bookable as long as you have enough miles – if you don’t, it will give you an incorrect error about availability instead of an error about insufficient mileage like you get on most other searches).

Harry

Data point for transfer Brex to Singapore was instant. Also two other Brex transfers to Flying Blue again instant.

Chris

As I understand it, Singapore is currently flying a 777 between JFK and FRA meaning no suites in F. I have tickets booked for June showing an A380, but I think it’s very much up in the air which plane they will be using. Anyone have good info on their plans?

LarryInNYC

FWIW, I paid $850one way (cash price) for that British Airways Club Suite JFK to LHR this past fall (before the resumption of EU to US tourism). Cheaper than the fees on an award ticket! Keep an eye out for deals.

Peter

Purchased BA Club Suite Business flight RT for $1650 in March. Plan to leave in two weeks on a 787-10 with sliding doors (didn’t see Omicron coming in March).

BA now has FIRST Class Club Suites with sliding doors on a Boeing 777-300 flight JFK-LHR.

In recent months BA has been changing many 787 flights to A380 with old style seats.

Read purchasing BA Business tickets on sale then upgrading to First with Avios miles can be a good deal.

Jeremy

Think British Airways first class should be included. While I’ve never been on the Asian carriers you’ve included, my experience in 2015 was not much below LH F on the return that same trip. Of course taxes on awards are insane.

Sean

I’d be curious on a follow-up about delta / virgin Atlantic for 50k each way. Iirc, there’s limitations to that, right? It has to be a non-stop flight or something? A post about how to identify when delta saver level is available and the rules around booking would be super helpful!

Vida

agree please do a post on this subject….thank you in advance

Bear

I haven’t seen any Delta flights available on VA’s website in a while – are they becoming available again? mostly been searching domestic.