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Emily: I love to travel, and my mom does, too!
When I was growing up in Ohio, we could only afford road trips to local amusement parks. But collecting miles and points has opened a world of travel neither of us thought possible!
She and I decided to go to London and Paris for a mother-daughter getaway. We flew Business Class and stayed in 5-star hotels. I paid a fraction of the retail cost by using airline miles and hotel points.
I’ve never traveled so long with my mom before, and at the end of the trip, I felt like I had a new best friend! Without the miles & points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the joy of traveling with my mom.
In this series, I’ll show you how you can get to Paris, too!
Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – She Felt Like Royalty on This Flight
- Part 3 – How We Saved Up to 90% at the Hyatt Hotel du Louvre with Hyatt Points
- Part 4 – Our Hunt for Chocolate Eclairs, Raw Beef, and French Crepes
- Part 5 – The Secret to Avoiding Long Lines at Museums
- Part 6 – Sights to See in Paris
- Part 7 – Why Paris is the Best Shopping Destination in the World
Flights To and From Paris
My mom loves adventures, and was excited to escape the cold and snow of Michigan! She flew to Austin, Texas, to stay with me a few days before our flight.
We then flew in Business Class from Austin to London on British Airways in Business Class for 250,000 British Airways Avios points and ~$1,800 in fuel surcharges. I used the Travel Together ticket from the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card to add my mom as my companion. However, we had to pay the taxes and fees for her ticket, so it wasn’t a spectacular value.
Connie: I never realized the joy of flying in First Class. The experience of receiving top notch treatment by the flight attendants made me feel like royalty. In my opinion, it is the best way to travel – especially for long distances. They handed us a menu with several entrees to choose from. The food and service was excellent. I liked the hot fingertip towels and the white linen that was placed on my food tray.
My mom loved the flight so much, and thought we were traveling First Class, and we were actually in Business! You can read more about our flight to London on British Airways here.
On our return flight back to the US, we had a free stopover in London for 10 days! This gave us plenty of time to see both London and Paris. We flew round-trip between London and Paris in coach.
The tickets to Paris from London were ~$150 each. There were some cheaper airlines, but many of them pile on extra charges for luggage, and seat selection. And I liked how I wouldn’t be charged anything extra with British Airways. The flight was much like domestic coach, and it was a quick ride to Paris.
We could’ve used more points for these flights. But I decided to save them for another trip. And just pay for the cheap ticket to Paris and back to London for the flight home.
We flew to the Orly airport and then took the metro to the city center. The price to get there was ~$12 each, compared to a $50 to 60 taxi ride. You can use Google Maps to help you find the right metro stops.
Also, RATP, which stands for Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, has a great phone app for getting around Paris. It’s sometimes more detailed than Google Maps and more user friendly.
You Can Do It, Too!
We used British Airways Avios points to fly to Europe. But we ended up paying a lot in fuel surcharges. And there are cheaper ways to get to Europe on miles & points!
From London, we flew to Paris on British Airways and paid cash for our tickets. But you can also use miles to fly within Europe!
Here are my top recommendations for booking award flights to Europe.
1. American Airlines
Using American Airlines miles to get from the US to Europe costs:
- 30,000 miles one-way in coach (22,500 miles between November 1 and December 14, and January 10 and March 14) + taxes & fees
- 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class + taxes & fees
- 85,000 miles one-way in First Class + taxes & fees
Note: Make sure you don’t fly on British Airways planes, because American Airlines will pass along the fuel surcharges! Try to cross the ocean on an American Airlines or Air Berlin plane.
It’s easier to earn American Airlines miles than you might think! Right now, Citi American Airlines credit cards are offering:
- Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select – 30,000 American Airlines miles after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
- Citi AAdvantage Executive – 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
- Citi AAdvantage small business card – 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
And you can earn 40,000 American Airlines miles with the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red card after your first purchase and payment of annual fee within the first 90 days of account opening.
Redeeming American Airlines miles is simple, too. Look for flights on your desired dates by logging into either your American Airlines account. Make sure you click on “Redeem Miles” and then “Show Full Calendar” for the fewest number of miles needed if your dates are flexible.
Check out my guide on how to book American Airlines miles!
2. United Airlines
You can fly from the US to Europe on United Airlines for:
- 30,000 miles one-way in coach + taxes & fees
- 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class + taxes & fees (70,000 miles if you fly on a United Airlines partner)
- 80,000 miles one-way in First Class + taxes & fees (110,000 miles if you fly on a United Airlines partner)
You can earn United Airlines miles quickly by signing-up for these cards:
- Chase United Explorer – 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Chase United small business card – 50,000 United Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio with:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Chase Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Check out my ultimate guide to booking United Airlines miles!
Note: Remember, Chase has changed their application rules for airline and hotel cards. So if you’ve opened 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months (except certain business cards), it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for any of these cards.
And don’t forget, you can use British Airways Avios points for cheap short-haul flights within Europe. To save cash and points!
Using American Airlines miles is one of the easiest ways to get to Europe for a fraction of the cost!
It costs 45,000 American Airlines miles for a round-trip coach flight. And with 30,000 American Airlines mile sign-up bonuses from cards like the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select and Executive cards, it’s easy to earn all the miles you need (and more!) for an award flight.
You can also use United Airlines miles to fly to Europe for 60,000 United Airlines miles round-trip in coach. There are plenty of ways to earn United Airlines miles too, with cards like the Chase United Explorer card. Or by transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines miles!
Without the miles and points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share the joy of traveling with my mom.