Million Mile Secrets reader, airgypsy, commented:
Thanks for the reminder about how to save American Airlines miles to Europe during the off-peak period. Can you recommend what city pairings I can search from the West Coast to Europe, so I don’t get too many British Airways search results on the American Airlines website?
Thanks for the question!
Airgypsy wants to avoid British Airways flights to Europe because of the huge fuel surcharges they add to their flights (including award tickets!).
I’ll show you how to do this no matter which part of the country you’re flying from.
I’ll show you a couple of tricks to get the best flights in your search results!
What Are the Best American Airlines Partners to Europe?
American Airlines partners that fly to Europe are:
- Air Berlin
- British Airways
But, you’ll want to avoid British Airways because they include fuel surcharges which can add hundreds of dollars to your award flights!
So that leaves us with Air Berlin, Finnair, and Iberia.
How to Search the Best Partners
The easiest way to begin putting your award ticket together is to find the longest flight 1st, then build your trip around that flight. I’ll show you how!
1. Air Berlin
Link: Air Berlin Destinations
You can search Air Berlin flights directly on the American Airlines website.
You can fly direct to Berlin or Dusseldorf from:
- Fort Myers
- Los Angeles
- New York
So folks on the West Coast can fly from Los Angeles to Berlin. Or, you can find award seats from another US city, like Miami.
I was able to find plenty of seats from Miami direct to Berlin. The round-trip flights cost 40,000 American Airlines miles plus ~$94.
And here’s a tip when you’re searching a route that you know has non-stop service on a partner airline. Select “Non-stop only” to increase your chances of finding the best flight.
This will require more flexibility with your dates, but it’s worth it because there’s less to sort through!
Link: Finnair Destinations
Though Finnair doesn’t have any West Coast destinations, you can always plan a connecting flight, and then fly over the Atlantic, to save money on fuel surcharges.
You can fly non-stop to Helsinki from:
- New York
I found non-stop round-trip coach award flights from New York to Helsinki for 40,000 American Airlines miles plus ~$40. When I checked, lots of award seats were still available!
If you’re willing to add a connecting flight on either side of these flights, this could be a great way to save miles AND money flying to Europe!
Link: Iberia Destinations
Madrid is a terrific destination all by itself, and non-stop award flights on Iberia make it easier to get there!
You can fly direct to Madrid from:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Juan
You can also fly from cities in Mexico.
But, unlike the other American Airlines travel partners, you can NOT search for Iberia award flights on the American Airlines website. Instead, the best way is to search from Qantas.com. Here’s how to find Iberia award flights with Qantas.
I found lots of award seats on several non-stop flights each day I looked from Miami to Madrid. Don’t pay any attention to the award prices you see on the Qantas website.
Once you find the flights you want to book, call American Airlines at 800-433-7300 to book the ticket, and ask them to waive the telephone award booking fee because it’s NOT possible to book this award on their website.
Keep in mind though, there’s always a $75 fee to book an award flight less than 21 days from departure (unless you have elite status).
Connect the Flights
Once you find the overwater flight you want, you can build the rest of your trip from there. Because you’ve already selected flights, you already know to avoid any search results on British Airways.
For example, with the Miami to Berlin example from before, I can plug in the same dates, but I’ll add my home airport and where I want to fly in Europe.
The fuel surcharges on this award are the same price as before, and it’s still only 40,000 American Airlines miles round-trip.
If you have trouble piecing the flights together, try to use the multi-city award search tool. If the award seats you want display a different price than what you found before, call American Airlines to book and ask them to waive the phone booking fee. Because all round-trip flights to Europe cost 40,000 American Airlines miles in coach, regardless of where you connect.
If you have any more trouble, you can always contact an award booking service for help.
Don’t Forget American Airlines!
One last tip! Remember American Airlines has their fair share of international flights, too.
For example, folks in Phoenix can fly on American Airlines flights non-stop to London, Paris, or Rome. And American Airlines has direct flights between Seattle and London or Paris.
So sometimes the easiest way to use your American Airlines miles to Europe might be on American Airlines!
How to Earn American Airlines Miles
Remember, you can earn American Airlines with their credit cards. Or by transferring Starwood points. When you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for a total of 25,000 airline miles.
It takes an added step to avoid British Airways flights to Europe when you want to use your American Airlines miles for an award ticket.
Search for routes flown by Air Berlin, Finnair, or Iberia to see what’s available on your dates. And then add your home airport, and where you want to visit in Europe. If you have trouble getting the correct results, try the multi-city award booking tool.
Or, you might consider an award booking service to book the ticket for you.
It’s worth it to focus on these 3 partners, because British Airways adds hundreds of dollars in extra fees to their award tickets. And don’t forget, American Airlines has lots of international routes, too!
Airgypsy, good luck using your American Airlines miles and have a fantastic trip, wherever you decide to go!