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If you’re trying to salvage a trip to Europe in Business Class with your miles this summer you can just about forget about using American AAdvantage miles unless you want to pay $1,000+ in surcharges on British Airways flights.
Here’s the grim picture from New York to London on American’s own flights.
But United and Delta are coming through in their own ways with good options for travel to the most popular European spots for July and August if you know where to look.
United MileagePlus has lots of options, and while many are partners that charge 140,000 miles roundtrip / 70,000 miles one way, a hefty price, there are good options on United’s own flights for just 57,500 miles one way / 115,000 miles roundtrip. Just beware of United’s $75 close in booking fee for flights within 21 days of departure.
Here is Chicago to Frankfurt for 2 passengers on United’s own flights for 57,500 miles (dates in Green have ‘Saver’ level Business Class space…though a few only have First Class space for 80,000 miles)…
Chicago to Paris…
Chicago to Rome…
Even Los Angeles to Rome…
Chicago based itineraries seem to have the most space, but Washington-Dulles also seems to have some surplus seats. So if you can’t find seats from your originating city, check those for the most availability for the long segment.
And if you find a ‘mixed cabin’ award – don’t fret – use these tips to maximize the chances you sit up front the whole trip.
If that’s not enough Delta SkyMiles is actually coming through with some decent space thanks to its partners Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia for just 125,000 miles roundtrip / 62,500 miles one way.
Here is space for two to London from Chicago…
Rome from Chicago…
And even Los Angeles to London…
Delta doesn’t charge any close-in booking fees, so you can avoid the $75 American and United charge for flights booked within 21 days of departure.
But Delta does charge fuel surcharges on one-way awards that *start* in Europe, like London to Chicago. If you book a round-trip or one-way ticket that starts in the U.S. it won’t be a problem and you won’t be charged the fees.
Another way to get around this is to book your trip from the United States to Europe with SkyMiles. Then use United MileagePlus miles to get yourself back home with no fuel surcharges.
Also Delta is tricky about pricing awards that involve a connection.
You’ll have the best luck looking at international gateway cities like Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Boston, and Detroit for options. Then either buying tickets on their own to the gateway or calling an agent and trying to force the pricing (which is getting harder).
This summer’s dismal AAdvantage space is a case in point to diversify your miles balances and keep two sets of transferable points around.
If you have a modest stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards points you can get to Europe this summer in lie flat seats as a couple, on the same flights.
And don’t forget to pack a card with the right international travel features like the right chip and no foreign transaction fees.
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