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With over a dozen airline transfer partners, determining the best ways to redeem American Express Membership Rewards can be daunting (earning is seemingly straightforward). Add in alliances and partnerships with each respective airline, and then there are even more options to compare. Here we highlight sweet spots for redeeming Membership Rewards for flights to Europe. As always, we highly recommend finding award availability before transferring any points.
If you're looking for additional inspiration, check out our complete list of award sweet spots.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Aeroplan is a Star Alliance member that divides Europe into two separate regions on its award chart. The difference between these two regions is that Europe 1 is primarily Western Europe and Europe 2 is Eastern Europe. Additionally, flying from the US to the Europe 1 zone is slightly cheaper than Europe 2.
One way flights from the US to Europe 1:
- 30,000 miles in coach
- 55,000 miles in Business Class
- 70,000 miles in First Class
One way flights from the US to Europe 2:
- 37,500 miles in coach
- 57,500 miles in Business Class
- 80,000 miles in First Class
For example, Aeroplan classifies Zurich as Europe 1. Flying Swiss business class from Chicago to Zurich prices out to 55,000 Aeroplan miles and CAD 7.30 one-way.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club
Like Aeroplan, you can take advantage of Star Alliance partner award flights to Europe by using ANA Mileage Club. However, there are a few key differences:
- ANA does not allow one-way awards, only round trip.
- Transferring Amex Membership Rewards to ANA typically takes 1-2 days to complete.
- ANA includes additional surcharges for partner awards except for flights operated by: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines
With those constraints in mind, it's possible to book round trip economy award flights to Europe for only 55,000 miles and 88,000 miles for business class. Notice the difference in fees between these two itineraries flying from Houston to Frankfurt. The Lufthansa option requires significantly more in fees than the United itinerary.
Redeeming ANA miles for United flights:
Redeeming ANA miles for Lufthansa flights:
Although Etihad isn’t part of an airline alliance, it partners with several airlines that fly to Europe. Etihad charges the same 30,000 miles for a one-way economy ticket to Europe as American Airlines does in the peak season. However, from October to May you can book off-peak economy flights for only 20,000 miles.
Luckily, premium cabins offer year-round savings. Etihad requires 50,000 miles for one-way business class versus 57,500 American miles for the same flight. The difference in first class award tickets is 62,500 Etihad miles compared to 80,000 American miles.
A few other Etihad partner airlines that fly to Europe are Air New Zealand (LAX-LHR route), Air Serbia, Alitalia, Brussels Airlines, and Royal Air Maroc (connections in Morocco).
Much like Delta, Flying Blue decided to ditch its published award chart and, instead, opt for variable awards. Although changes like this almost never benefit the consumer, Flying Blue does provide periodic Promo Awards which allow 25% – 50% discounts on award flights to select destinations. Combine this with the fact that Flying Blue considers Israel and cities in North Africa part of the Europe region some great value appears. With that, you can snag some great deals in the range of 11,000 miles for economy or 25,000 miles for business class one way, plus partner surcharges. If there aren't any Promo Awards that match your travel needs, then consult the Flying Blue “miles price estimator.”
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Program
Despite some anticipated fuel surcharges, Singapore Airlines’ program KrisFlyer offers solid premium class redemptions to Europe. Thanks to the Star Alliance relationship, flying Lufthansa first class costs 95,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way. Keep in mind that partner airlines only receive Lufthansa first class award inventory about two weeks before departure. So planning for this type of redemption requires some flexibility and spontaneity.
Although Virgin Atlantic is not a Star Alliance member, it is a partner of Singapore Airlines with its own redemption chart. Another great option traveling to Europe is by flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for only 100,000 KrisFlyer miles roundtrip.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Speaking of Virgin Atlantic, the Flying Club program offers solid non-stop redemptions from the US to Europe. Try to avoid additional domestic segments or connections, or it will require more miles. The sweet spot is flying non-stop in business class for 50,000 miles one way. Compare this identical non-stop Delta One flight booked via Virgin Atlantic versus direct with Delta.
Redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles:
Redeeming Delta SkyMiles:
American Express Membership Rewards offers countless options to travel from the US to Europe. These are only a few sweet spots that help maximize the value of your point redemptions. The key is to leverage airline alliances and partnerships while avoiding those pesky surcharges. Although managing to secure one of these sweet spot awards may just offset the cost of any partner surcharges. It all depends on your specific route, scheduling needs, and situation.
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