Traveling to Europe? The Case for Star Alliance

I’m not sure what it is about Americans and Europe, but it seems to me that most Americans want to be sure to visit to Europe at some point in their lives. Europe has the art, the architect, the history, and the romance – the very things that are missing from many North American cities. As a mileage traveler, the question is …

What is the Best Mileage Program for Getting Flights to Europe?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing some research for award bookings for a couple of different people so I want to share those results with you in case you’re in the planning stage of your trip to Europe.

Europe Travel: Star Alliance Vs. One World

Star Alliance is the group of airlines which includes United, Continental, US Airways, and several other airlines. One World is the group of airlines that includes American and British Airways, along with others. I had two people who had American Airlines miles who wanted to fly from the US to Europe this fall. The date availability was very limited. They had to leave a day earlier than they planned and fly back a few days later. Why? They wanted to avoid British Airways. If they were going to use their miles to book travel on British Airways, they were going to pay over $600 per person in taxes and fees. Of course, this is very unfortunate since British Airways has the best coverage to Europe and within Europe. Contrast that to a family of five that contacted me about travel plans for June. My initial reaction (after finding it hard to get fall flights to Europe with One World) was, ‘Good luck with that.’ However, the day after their kids get out of school, they could fly (all five of them) to Paris. They wanted to return on a Friday, but if they left the day before, they could fly back on that date. I share those little experiences with you to let you know that if you want to fly to across the ocean (and I know many of you do), you should be collecting Star Alliance miles through Continental or United. You’ll find that they have the best availability and the most flight schedules to and from several European cities. You have options like Continental, US Airways, United, Lufthansa, and Air Canada to pick from. Even better is the fact that for 5,000 miles more you can fly to North Asia, South Asia, or Japan, and take a stop in Europe. It’s like getting two vacations for the price of one. American only allows stopovers in their American gateway cities.

Four best (fasted) United earning opportunities currently available

  1. United credit card = 50,000 miles
  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred = 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months
  3. Fidelity Brokerage Investment = 50,000 miles
  4. Ink Bold – 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  5. Ink Plus – 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months


  1. Jeff says

    Wouldn’t joining US airways just as beneficial since they tend to sell their miles rather cheaply? Such as the 50% off miles sale and 100% extra bonus miles when purchasing miles thru their site?

    • Craig says

      The reason I highlight United/Continental is because they have much better mileage earning opportunities. Rather than paying $1,000 for flights by using points, I’d rather do a couple of credit card sign up bonuses and get it free.
      US Airways does have some great offpeak flights to Europe. The only problem is they only have a short offpeak period.

    • Craig says

      Flights to Asia are 65,000 miles RT (in Economy) from the US. Flights to Europe are 60,000 miles. As a result, you can just buy flights to Asia with a stop in Europe and for an extra 5,000 miles you get to enjoy a vacation in Asia and Europe.
      Does that make sense?

      • Geoff Stuart says

        Makes perfect sense. Would I have to do that over the phone or can I book it on the web? Which website should I use? I am a United member but am unsure how to book partner flights for other Star Alliance partners.

  2. Geoff Stuart says

    “Even better is the fact that for 5,000 miles more you can fly to North Asia, South Asia, or Japan, and take a stop in Europe.”

    The quote didn’t make it into my post.


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