What are the Lowest Economy Class Mileage Options to Europe?

As I was writing about the United 20% to Europe, I decided that it might be helpful for you to see the best economy class mileage options to Europe.

Flying Blue Promotional Cities: 25,000 Flying Blue Points

Flying Blue, which is an American Express Rewards transfer partner, has limited specials on their flights for select markets.

The current award promotions are listed here.

The timeframe for booking and travel are limited.  The current list of cities can be booked between October 30th and November 30th with travel through the end of March 2014 (with blackout dates December 18-23 and January 2-6).

Currently, flights between Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Francisco, Vancouver, Washington DC, and Toronto to Europe are all 50%.  As such, economy class tickets are 25,000 miles round trip.

The biggest disadvantage of these tickets is the higher fees and surcharges associated with them.  You’ll probably be looking at around $400-$500 in fuel surcharges on these flights.

US Airways Dividend Miles: As Low as 30,000 Miles

During the off-peak promotional period (January 15th – Feb 28th),  you can get roundtrip economy class flights to Europe for 35,000 US Airways Dividend miles.  You must fly on a US Airways aircraft.

However, if you’re a US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard holder, you’ll be eligible to get a 5,000 mile discount if you fly exclusively on US Airways aircraft.

Here’s a list of cities in Europe where US Airways flies:

  • Glasgow
  • Dublin
  • Manchester
  • London
  • Amsterdam
  • Brussels
  • Frankfurt
  • Paris
  • Zurich
  • Munich
  • Venice
  • Rome
  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Lisbon
  • Tel Aviv

US Airways does not charge fuel surcharges, but the time period is also very restrictive.  If you plan one of these discounted rates, you’ll need to be prepared to book far in advance (as close to 11 months before if possible).

Information to Consider:

  • US Airways does not allow free changes.
  • Your itinerary can include either an open jaw or a stop over.
  • US Airways does charge a $50 award processing fee per ticket.

American Airlines Aadvantage: As Low as 36,000 Miles

During the off-peak promotional period (October 15th – May 15th),  you can get roundtrip economy class flights to Europe for 40,000 American Airlines AAdvatage miles.  However, if you have a Citi American Airlines credit card, you’ll be eligible for a 10% miles rebate for flights.  Once you get your mileage rebate, you’ll only be shelling out 36,000 miles.

There are a few things to love about American Airlines miles to Europe:

  • They have the longest off-peak promotional period – a full seven months.
  • You can travel either to or from Hawaii for the same 20,000 miles each way.  That allows for a free one-way to Hawaii.
  • As long as you avoid British Airways, you won’t pay any fuel surcharges.
  • Date changes are free.

British Airways Avios: As Low as 20,000 Miles

Year round, you can use British Airways Avios to fly (without a fuel surcharge) on Air Lingus. British Airways is a distance based program, so your departure city will determine if this is an effective use of points.

Here are some sample miles required for a round trip economy flight:

  • Toronto – Dublin = 20,000
  • Boston – Dublin = 25,000
  • Chicago, New York or Orland Dublin = 40,000

Also, if you want to fly business class, you can just double the number of miles required.

Information to Consider:

These prices are about as low as you’ll find, but they are only out of limited markets.

ANA: As Low as 43,000 Miles

ANA is another distance based award chart, so there are reasonable options out of the East Cost.  ANA is an American Express Rewards transfer partner.

The nice thing about ANA awards is that they allow up to 2 stopovers in Europe.

You can see the award chart here.  Since it is a distance based award chart, you can also use Great Circle Mapper to calculate your distances.

Some airlines do trigger a fuel surcharge with ANA, but as long as you use carriers like US Airways or United for the overseas portion, the surcharges would be minimal (less than $200-$300 total per ticket).

The great thing about ANA miles is that they do allow up to two stops in Europe.  As an example, I was able to piece together the following itinerary: Toronto – Salzburg (stop) – Rome (stop) – Montreal for a total of 43,000 miles in economy.  By the way, this itinerary in business class would still only be 63,000 miles.

The Verdict: Best Miles for Economy Class Travel to Europe

Depending on your travel plans, there are some great mileage options to Europe.

If you wanted to hop around and visit several cities, then ANA might be the best (assuming you can fly out of the East Coast).  For travel to Ireland, you can’t beat 20,000 miles from Toronto.  If you wanted to tack on a free trip to Hawaii, then American is the forerunner.

The great thing about all these options is that it’s a reminder that there are so many great ways to get to Europe without paying much out of your pocket.

 

 

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