Europe is a popular option for award travelers thanks to its rich history, diverse cultures, excellent beaches and gourmet cuisine. However, with new routes, mileage devaluations and airline partnerships, keeping track of the top ways to fly to Europe with miles can be challenging. Still, there are excellent travel options for your credit card points.

Regardless of your budget for your next trip, this guide will help ensure that you can obtain great value from your point redemptions for your European vacation with proper planning.

Related: Hotels sold out for the Paris Olympics? Here's where to stay instead

First class

For the ultimate way to travel to Europe in style and comfort, here are our tips for booking first-class seats with points and miles.


Lufthansa's first-class product is one of the best in the sky, offering a fantastic onboard experience, including caviar, canapes and fine wines. If you're traveling from Frankfurt Airport (FRA), you can access Lufthansas's special first-class terminal; it has private customs and immigration facilities, a top-tier lounge and a chauffeur who will take you from the terminal directly to the tarmac next to your plane.

Unfortunately, Lufthansa's first class is also known for being one of the hardest airline tickets to purchase with points. Lufthansa generally only opens up award availability for first-class tickets to partner airlines around 14 days (or less) before departure; in most cases, it will likely only become available a few days before departure. Because Lufthansa only operates this cabin on some aircraft (Boeing 747-8s, Airbus A380s and a handful of A340s), first-class redemptions can be scarce.

The airline operates a variety of these aircraft on routes between the U.S. and Germany:

  • Between FRA and the following airports: Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Miami International Airport (MIA), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, D.C.
  • Between Munich Airport (MUC) and the following airports: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LAX, MIA and EWR

Lufthansa's new Allegris first-class seat should commence flying on select Airbus A350 aircraft later this year.

Redemptions are a great value if you can find them last minute. You can use the following partner miles to book it:

  • Avianca LifeMiles: You'll need 87,000 miles and low taxes and fees of only $30.60 for a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt. Avianca LifeMiles is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
  • United Airlines MileagePlus: Expect to redeem 140,000 miles and spend about $140 in taxes and fees for a flight from Newark to Munich. United MileagePlus is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Plan on needing 90,000 miles from the West Coast or 100,000 miles from the Midwest and East Coast, plus around $50 in taxes and fees, for a flight to Germany; taxes and fees for a flight from Europe to the U.S. will cost less than $200. Aeroplan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One miles and Marriott Bonvoy.

British Airways

While British Airways' first-class product doesn't have as many bells and whistles as Lufthansa's, booking with points and miles is much easier.

British Airways operates first class on most of its transatlantic fleet, including the Airbus A380, the Boeing 787-10 and most Boeing 777s. If you are flying from London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) in first class, the Concorde Room is one of the best airport lounges in Europe.

First class can be easy to find on flights from JFK and EWR, where the airline operates more than a dozen combined services each day. However, it can be harder to find on routes with only one or two daily services, like ones from MIA and Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas.

First-class flights on British Airways to London start from 68,000 British Airways Executive Club Avios on off-peak dates for shorter flights from the East Coast, 80,000 Avios on peak dates for shorter flights from the East Coast, 85,000 Avios on off-peak for longer flights (such as those from California) and 100,000 Avios on peak dates for longer flights, including those from the West Coast.

Unfortunately, British Airways imposes large fuel surcharges that total around $800 each way in first class, as well as airport fees and government taxes. As first-class flights are excluded from British Airways' Reward Flight Saver option, paying more Avios cannot reduce these surcharges.

American Airlines AAdvantage award rates are cheaper for first-class British Airways tickets to the West Coast, as American uses a region-based award chart rather than a distance-based award chart. Regardless of the origin in the U.S. or date of travel, American Airlines currently charges 85,000 AAdvantage miles plus taxes and fees for these award flights, so for longer flights to Europe, consider AAdvantage instead. You can also add a short-haul connecting flight beyond London to mainland Europe for no extra cost when using American miles, whereas British Airways charges extra. Keep in mind, a short flight with British Airways will be in the carrier's Club Europe cabin, which is nothing like first class.

Just remember that flights departing from the United Kingdom will face even higher costs thanks to the country's Air Passenger Duty. That's why you should avoid making London the final stop on your European adventure.

Related: Still better than business class: A review of British Airways First on the 777 from London to Washington

Business class

Want a lie-flat bed for an overnight flight that arrives in Europe so you can feel rested and refreshed? Here are our business-class redemption recommendations.


One redemption for Europe trips that has remained strong over the years is Iberia. Iberia operates flights from ORD, IAD, BOS, LAX, MIA, JFK, SFO and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to its main hub at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD).

Iberia's Airbus A330-200, A330-300 and A350-900 aircraft operate transatlantic flights, each offering a 1-2-1 business-class configuration. While the Airbus A350 offers Iberia's newest and best business-class product (including sliding doors and an 18.5-inch, 4k inflight entertainment screen), all three aircraft provide excellent points value on transatlantic flights.

Related: A review of Iberia's new business-class suite on the A350-900 from Madrid to Mexico City

Iberia prices its flights based on distance and whether your travel falls into peak or off-peak dates. Four of its departure gateways offer spectacular value. If you depart from JFK, BOS, IAD or ORD, here's what you'll pay for one-way business-class flights:

  • Off-peak dates: 34,000 Avios and about $120 in fees
  • Peak dates: 50,000 Avios and about $120 in fees

Tickets on Iberia flights longer than 4,000 miles (any flights departing from Miami or cities west of Chicago) are pricier. However, an off-peak fare to Madrid from these destinations will cost 42,500 Avios, which is still an excellent deal.

Air France-KLM

Another one of the industry's great sweet spots to Europe is booking flights on Air France or KLM through their Flying Blue program. While flights are priced dynamically, they start from just 50,000 miles from anywhere in North America to anywhere in Europe, a terrific deal with both carriers operating great products.

Related: Flying Blue standardizes prices of saver-level redemptions to Europe

Availability during the winter months is usually excellent. During summer, seats at these prices come and go often in waves. Availability from New York is usually fairly easy to find if you are flexible, as there are numerous daily flights, while seats from the West Coast can be harder to find.

Also, remember to keep an eye out for Flying Blue's monthly Promo Rewards, where select routes are discounted by 25%, making the award prices even cheaper.

Related: Private suites and high-tech touches: What it's like flying Air France's new business class

Premium economy

Premium economy provides a sensible midway point with more space and comfort than economy without breaking the bank.


Just like with its attractive business-class redemption pricing, Iberia's business-class cabin rates for flights to Spain are also very reasonable.

If you don't have enough miles to stretch for a flat bed in business class for overnight flights to Europe, consider premium economy instead. It offers a wider seat, a smaller, more intimate cabin, more legroom and recline, and elevated food, beverages and bedding than the economy-class cabin.

Passengers also receive an amenity kit and noise-canceling headphones.

From Dallas, Miami and the West Coast, expect to pay 31,750 Avios for off-peak travel or 43,750 Avios for peak season flights. Tickets from Chicago and the East Coast are slightly cheaper. During off-peak times, you can purchase a premium economy ticket for just 25,500 Avios from New York, Boston and D.C. to Madrid; on peak dates, expect to redeem 35,000 Avios.

Related: 7 things that surprised me on my first premium economy flight

Air France-KLM

Both Air France and KLM offer premium economy class on most transatlantic routes. While Air France's product has some room for improvement, TPG rates KLM's premium economy as one of the world's best. It provides an elevated experience above economy class, including lobster for dinner on select routes, which is almost unheard of in premium economy.

While Flying Blue prices its awards dynamically, the program has standardized saver-level pricing for all one-way flights between the U.S. and Europe, regardless of origin or destination. This means you can connect at no extra cost from just 35,000 miles in premium economy on Air France or KLM.

Related: Is KLM premium economy worth it on the 787 Dreamliner?


Do you just want the cheapest price to fly to Europe? Here are our economy recommendations for redeeming points and miles for flights to Europe.

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic

You can book Virgin Atlantic- or Delta-operated economy-class flights to Europe with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points starting at just 10,000 points each way from the East Coast on off-peak dates. Peak dates require just 15,000 points.

Flights from other parts of the U.S. start at just 12,500 points on off-peak dates and 20,000 points on peak dates. Peak date flights from California cost 25,000 Virgin points each way, which is not as great of a redemption.

Admittedly, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club charges more fees, taxes and surcharges than Delta SkyMiles. However, Delta's loyalty program may charge at least 40,000 miles each way from the U.S. to the U.K. in economy, so the miles you're saving can be worth a few hundred dollars.

Also look out for Virgin's redemption discount offers, where, from time to time, the points required are discounted by as much as 50%. This makes it possible to score a flight to London for just 5,000 points plus fees and taxes.

Related: A review of Delta Air Lines economy on the Boeing 767 from London to New York

Aer Lingus

If you want to fly to Ireland in economy class, redeeming Avios through the Aer Lingus Aer Club program or British Airways Executive Club is a terrific deal.

Aer Lingus routes from the northeast U.S. to Ireland require just 13,000 Avios each way on off-peak dates. This includes flights from JFK, BOS, ORD, IAD and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Fees, taxes and surcharges are reasonable, too, and should be no more than $100. However, peak travel dates require 20,000 Avios each way.

Longer flights from Florida, Washington (specifically, Seattle) and California to Ireland cost a slightly higher 16,250 Avios each way on off-peak dates or 25,000 Avios on peak dates. This could still be a good deal if nonstop cash fares are otherwise expensive.

Related: Airlines you can book using Avios: How to maximize your points

How to earn points and miles to book flights to Europe

The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses with points and miles that you can transfer to some or all of the above programs to book flights to Europe:

Bottom line

Redeeming points for travel to Europe can be confusing. With so many airlines flying on seemingly endless route combinations across the Atlantic, planning a European getaway with miles can quickly overwhelm. If you plan to visit Europe in the summer, booking as early as possible is best to maximize your chance of finding the right flight at the right price.

However, this guide will help you save time (and points or miles) when finding the best flight options for your hop across the pond. Be sure to regularly check out TPG, as we regularly share last-minute award deals from the U.S. to Europe, Asia and beyond.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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