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How to Fly to Europe With British Airways Avios Points

How to Fly to Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Million Mile SecretsHow to Fly to Europe With British Airways Avios PointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Get a European vacation with low fuel surcharges and pay fewer miles from several US cities with British Airways Avios points!

When you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting the minimum spending requirements.  And you can transfer your points directly to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Dusseldorf Is a Great Base for Exploring Europe, and a Fun City to Explore! Folks in Certain Cities Have Easy Access With British Airways Avios Points!

There’s also an offer to earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points with the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card.

I’ll show you how to get to Europe with British Airways Avios points.  And help you decide which card is right for you!

Who Should Use British Airways Avios Points?

Link:   Book British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro

I’ve written about how to get to Europe using United Airlines miles.

United Airlines charges the same number of miles for partner airline flights to Europe, regardless of which city you’re starting from in the continental US, Alaska, or Canada.

To Europe on partner airlines like Aer Lingus and Air Berlin you’ll pay:

  • 30,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 70,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 110,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

And on United Airlines flights to Europe, you’ll pay:

  • 30,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 57,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 80,000  United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

British Airways has a distance-based award chart.  That means the amount you’ll pay depends on the length of your flight.

In general, you’ll want to avoid booking award seats on British Airways.  That’s because they add huge fuel surcharges to their own flights, which can cost hundreds of dollars!

But you can use British Airways Avios points to book flights to Europe on partner airlines, like Aer Lingus and Air Berlin.  Not only are the fuel surcharges much lower, but you’ll pay fewer miles on non-stop flights to Europe!

Let’s look at both partners to compare prices.

1.   Flights to Europe on Aer Lingus

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator

Aer Lingus is a fantastic option for getting to Europe!  That’s because they recently added new flights from the US and are increasing their service from Chicago and Washington, DC, to Dublin.

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Aer Lingus Has Airline Partners Including British Airways and United Airlines. So You Can Use British Airways Avios Points or United Airlines Miles to Book an Award Seat on Their Flights!

Aer Lingus isn’t part of a major airline alliance, but they have several airline partners, including British Airways and United Airlines.

And folks who live in these cities can book a 1-way coach award flight to Dublin for much fewer miles than United Airlines charges:

  • Boston – 12,500 British Airways Avios points
  • Chicago – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Hartford – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Los Angeles – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • New York – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Newark – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Orlando – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • San Francisco – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Washington, DC – 20,000 British Airways Avios points

You’ll pay ~$6 in taxes and fees to fly to Dublin and under $50 to fly back, which is reasonable.

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Dublin Is a Fun, Historic, and Sometimes Rowdy City! Folks in Several US Cities Will Get a Better Deal to Dublin With British Airways Avios Points on Aer Lingus Flights

That said, prices in Business Class and First Class are much higher for partner award flights.  You’ll pay 3X the coach price for Business Class.  And 4X the price for First Class!

That means a 1-way Business Class ticket from New York to Dublin costs 60,000 British Airways Avios points.  And a 1-way First Class ticket is 80,000 British Airways Avios points!

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
You’ll Pay More Miles for an Aer Lingus Business Class Award Seat, But It’s Still Fewer Miles Than United Airlines Charges on Some Routes!

However, that’s still fewer miles on certain routes than United Airlines charges on partner airlines, so it can still be a good deal for some folks.

Also consider the type of points you have access to.  For example, if you already have British Airways Avios points, you might want to save your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to transfer to other partners, like United Airlines or Hyatt.

Read my post to see if it’s worth booking Aer Lingus Business Class with British Airways Avios points.

And keep in mind British Airways charges per segment flown.  So if you have to connect, you’ll pay more miles.  You can always use the British Airways award flight calculator to add up each segment and check how many miles you’ll need for your trip.

Note:   You can NOT search for (or book) Aer Lingus award flights on the British Airways website.  But you CAN search for available award seats on the United Airlines website (or use ExpertFlyer if you have a subscription).  Then call British Airways to book: 800-247-9297.  Ask them to waive the phone fee because it’s not possible to book online.  

Stay in Ireland, or Keep Exploring!

Of course, Ireland is a wonderful country to visit, too!

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Ireland Has So Much to See and Do – and Give! Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle Near Cork to Receive the Gift of Gab

And Dublin is a great starting point for cheap trips to other European cities with budget airlines.

2.   Flights to Europe on Air Berlin

Air Berlin is also expanding their service between the US and Germany.

You can book Air Berlin award flights with British Airways Avios points on the British Airways website.  Fly non-stop to Dusseldorf, Germany, from:

  • Boston (starts May 2016)  – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Fort Myers – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Havana, Cuba (starts May 2016) – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Los Angeles – 30,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Miami – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • New York (JFK) – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • San Francisco (starts May 2016) – 30,000 British Airways Avios points

You can also fly to Berlin from:

  • Chicago – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Miami – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • New York (JFK) – 20,000 British Airways Avios points

Again, you can use the British Airways award flight calculator to check how many miles you’ll need.

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
If You Don’t Mind Flying Coach, Using British Airways Avios Points for a Coach Award Flight on Air Berlin Costs Fewer Miles. But Depending on Where You’re Flying From, United Airlines Miles Are Better for Business Class or First Class Award Flights

Prices are 3X the coach price for Business Class on Air Berlin.  And 4X for First Class.  You’ll notice prices are higher for folks in the Western US or even the same as what United Airlines charges.  In that case, it’s a good idea to check flight prices using United Airlines AND British Airways Avios points.  And pick the flights you like better.

That’s 1 reason I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  Because you have the flexibility to transfer to either British Airways OR United Airlines!

But if you want to fly Business Class or First Class on Air Berlin, you’ll only get a better deal from Boston or New York (JFK).  For all other routes, United Airlines miles are a better choice.

Whichever way you decide is best for you, you’ll still avoid fuel surcharges.

United Airlines never adds fuel surcharges to its partner award tickets, although the final cost varies depending on the route and the country you fly into.

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Pay Fewer Miles and Avoid Fuel Surcharges With British Airways Avios Points in Business Class on Certain Routes, Like New York (or Boston) to Germany

And round-trip fuel surcharges on Air Berlin are usually under $100, regardless of what cabin you fly.  For example, I found round-trip non-stop Business Class award flights in February 2016 on Air Berlin from New York to Berlin for 120,000 British Airways Avios points + $90 in taxes.

You’d pay 140,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip partner award flight in Business Class, so in this case, it’s a better deal to use British Airways Avios points.

As always, run the numbers to find the best deal for you before you book!

Stay in Germany, or Venture Beyond!

You may decide to make Berlin or Dusseldorf your final stop!

There’s always something to do in Berlin.  And Dusseldorf is interesting and surprisingly convenient for getting around Europe!

From Dusseldorf, many other cities are easily accessible by train.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on a high-speed ICE or Thalys train and be in Brussels, Belgium, in ~2.5 hours to get your fill of beer and chocolate!

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Bruges, Belgium, Has Canals to Rival Amsterdam!

And don’t miss out on Bruges, which is also in Belgium!  Folks on TripAdvisor love the city’s medieval architecture and historic churches.  And there are lots of canals to wander over.  Perhaps you could visit both Bruges and Amsterdam to compare!

Or, you can take a short ~30-minute train ride to Cologne, Germany, to visit the terrific chocolate museum, visit the Cologne Cathedral, or put a love lock on the Hohenzollern Bridge.  

For a longer trek, take the train to Paris, about ~4 hours away.

I’ve written about why British Airways Avios points are a great way to save money and see more of Europe, too.  So it’s worth having access to them for help in planning a trip!

Two Great Bonuses – Which Should You Pick?

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

This is the best bonus I’ve seen on the card.  And it’s the #1 card I recommend if you’re new to miles and points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite points program.  Because the points are flexible, they transfer 1:1 to airline and hotel partners like British Airways, United Airlines, and Hyatt if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold cards.

If you have the Chase Freedom or Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card, you can combine your points and transfer them to any travel partner as long as you have 1 of the other cards!

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
You’ll Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points per $1 Spent on Dining (and Travel)! They’re Easy to Earn With Everyday Purchases!

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn with everyday spending.  For example, you can earn up to 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when shopping at Amazon through December 31, 2015, with the the Chase Freedom card.

For folks who aren’t near 1 of the cities with non-stop flights, United Airlines miles might be a better choice.  With Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer to both programs!

Chase British Airways

Link:   Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card

Chase also has a fantastic offer to earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points with the Chase British Airways card.

That’s enough for 5 one-way flights to Dublin from Chicago or Washington, DC on Aer Lingus.  Or 5 one-way flights from New York to Berlin or Dusseldorf on Air Berlin.

If you live near a city with non-stop service to Europe on Aer Lingus or Air Berlin, and you want to redeem your points for them, this card might be the better choice because the total bonus is double!  That is, if you’re comfortable meeting the full minimum spending requirement.

How To Fly To Europe With British Airways Avios Points
Use Your British Airways Avios Points for Short Flights Around Europe! Maybe You’ll Visit Gorgeous Vienna, Which Is Close to Berlin

Don’t forget, British Airways Avios points are also handy for seeing more of Europe.

Check out my series on how to book British Airways award flights like a pro, and my review of the Chase British Airways card offer to decide if you should sign-up.

And here’s a case for the Chase British Airways card even if you don’t want to spend what’s required to earn the most bonus points.

As always, do what’s best for you!

Can You Have Both?

Yes!

Although, Chase has tightened up on their approvals, especially if you’ve opened more than 5 new credit cards within the past 24 months.  However, some folks report success opening new Chase cards anyway.  If you have a good relationship with Chase, they may decide to extend new credit to you.

That said, you should apply for the 1 you want most first.  Because Chase might not approve both applications.

Keep in mind the rule applies to Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but NOT co-branded cards like the Chase British Airways card).

Where to Stay!

Check out my guides about where to stay with your hotel points:

Bottom Line

Chase has 2 great offers right now.  You can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting the minimum spending requirements with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  And transfer your points directly to British Airways and United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

You can use British Airways Avios points for award flights to Europe on airline partners Aer Lingus and Air Berlin.  Although some may be better off using United Airlines miles.

If you’re in a city with non-stop service to Europe on Aer Lingus or Air Berlin, you may prefer the Chase British Airways card because you’ll have the opportunity to earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points.  And the miles are useful for short flights within Europe.

Or get both!  But be aware Chase has tightened up on their approvals, although there have been numerous exceptions.  To be on the safe side, apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred 1st if that’s your top choice.

And when you get to Europe, don’t forget you can take cheap trips to other European cities with budget airlines.  Although Dublin, Berlin, and Dusseldorf are certainly destinations in their own right!

Will you use the new Aer Lingus and Air Berlin routes for a European vacation?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I’ve been researching on how best to fly from IAD to EDI and one thing I can’t understand is why all the posts I’ve read seem to omit the value of the travel together ticket from BA. If my wife and I want to fly business class then it’s 260K miles with AA and 230K with United. If we go through BA, and have the travel together ticket, it’s only 120K miles. Yes, it takes $30,000 dollars to earn the free ticket, but that’s still less than it would take to earn the required miles for United and AA. Yes, BA charges higher fees, but even when you factor in the fees it’s still less than you would have to spend to get the required miles from AA and United. Is there something I’m missing? Thank you!

Jeffrey Votteler

Look to either BOS-DUB/BOS-SNN. Looks like BOS-DUB is booked solid for June. However, there is some BOS-SNN. Has anyone been able to book BOS-SNN lately using Avios on Aer Lingus? When I do a search on BOS-SNN, I see an EI flight, but it is operated not by Aer Lingus (like Omni International, etc.)

Thanks in advance.

@josefismael – You sure can! Just search and book the same way, except with Shannon as your destination.

You mention using Avios for Aer Lingus to Dublin. Any idea if you can spin the same deal for Aer Lingus to Shannon/Limerick?

@Levi – Excellent tip about adding an extra flight to your flights to see even more of Europe! Thanks for sharing your experience – that sounds like it would be a fun trip!

@Ian – It’s hard to say. But Ireland usually has low fuel surcharges, so hopefully it will stay that way.

You can search for Air Berlin flights on AA.com, and then plug the results into BA.com. That’s another way to find award flights.

@JJ – Great reminder. Even better! Thank you!

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