I started this series of posts about booking your trip to Europe for summer 2013 with a post about booking business class. This post will focus on booking an economy class award.
If you want to fly economy class this summer, I recommend getting some American Airlines miles. There are two main reasons:
- All the legacy carriers–American, Delta, United, US Airways–charge 60k miles roundtrip to Europe in economy class. But I’ve outlined a trick that I’ll repeat here to get your AA award for 50k miles. Saving 10,000 miles per person is huge.
- American’s partner airberlin has phenomenal award space to Europe.
50k Roundtrip to Europe
In the post 20k Miles to All of Europe All Summer, I explained how the way American set up its award pricing computer program means that many of us can fly the outbound to Europe for 20,000 miles even in the summer, when it normally costs 30,000 miles each way.
20k Miles to All of Europe All Summer fully explains what to do, so I’ll just give bullet points here as a reminder.
- The deal is only open to people who live at a North American International Gateway City to Europe and fly from their home airport directly to Europe.
- The deal requires flying a free oneway to your home airport between October 15 and May 15.
- Fly the main award to Europe whenever you’d like and the price will be 20k for the outbound.
- There is no analogous trick to make the return 20k. There is no analogous trick to lower the price of business or first class awards to Europe with AA miles. There is no analogous trick with other types of miles.
American miles’ secret weapon to Europe is airberlin economy. Here’s a list of airberlin routes to/from the US:
New York (JFK) <-> Berlin (TXL)
New York (JFK) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Chicago (ORD) <-> Berlin (TXL)
Los Angeles (LAX) <-> Berlin (TXL)
Los Angeles (LAX) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
San Francisco (SFO) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Miami (MIA) <-> Berlin (TXL)
Miami (MIA) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Fort Myers (RSW) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
Las Vegas (LAS) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
So if you live in New York, Chicago, LA, Miami, San Fran, Fort Myers, or Las Vegas, you should have no trouble getting a roundtrip to Europe for 50k miles. If you live in other cities, you might have to pay 60k miles roundtrip, but you can still take advantage of the airberlin routes.
Avoid British Airways Space
British Airways offers a lot of space in economy class to Europe. Unfortunately they AA collects a surcharge of about $300 per person per direction to fly BA to Europe. I’ve paid that once for business class, but it strips all the value from an economy award.
AA doesn’t collect surcharges on any of its other partners.
Searching for Space
If you live at an international gateway city, and are using my 50k trick, you need to get to the mult-city award booking page and work there. In my YouTube video about free oneways on AA awards, I show how to get to this screen at about 0:40 in.
Search for the free oneway that knocks 10k off the price, followed by the main award’s outbound, and the main award’s return. (Optionally you can add a second free oneway afterwards. Your search page might look like this.
And you could book all this easily. The whole award would only be 50k miles and $128 for a peak season trip to Europe plus free oneways from the west coast and to Hawaii.
Let’s take a look at some specific routes with great availability.
Chicago (ORD) to Berlin (TXL)
There is great availability at the peak of the summer from Chicago to Berlin.
Don’t forget the key step of setting the dropdown menu on the left to “Non-stop only” to determine a route’s availability. This flight leaves at 3:25 PM and arrives at 7:00 AM the next day.
New Yorkers can get to Europe pretty much every day this summer at low-level prices on the New York to Dusseldorf route.
Unsurprisingly, there is less space available on the direct flights from the West Coast. But if you want to fly in July, there are some economy options from LAX to Dusseldorf, Berlin, and beyond.
The Dusseldorf flight leaves Los Angeles at 5:55 PM and lands at 1:35 PM the next day.
Airberlin’s flight to Berlin leaves a few hours before the flight to Dusseldorf.
There is space five days a week from Miami to Berlin this summer.
Don’t forget about airberlin’s routes to smaller airports that are not American Airlines hubs. Space on the thrice-weekly service to Fort Myers is available almost every flight this summer.
The flight would be tough to sleep on without melatonin because of its early departure.
Just because airberlin is the star of the oneworld economy availability to Europe doesn’t mean you should overlook other carriers. But space on other AA partners including American itself, Finnair, and Iberia greatly lag airberlin’s economy space.
Steps two and three
Once you’ve found transatlantic space, the next step is the domestic space. If you live at a gateway, you will want to connect your pre-award free oneway during an off peak time in order to save 10k miles.
The last step is the intra-Europe space. Airberlin has great space out of both Dusseldorf and Berlin to the rest of Europe, so this should not be a problem.
When you’ve found all your space, you can put it all together online via a multi-city search if all the partners you’re using are displayed on aa.com. If you are using partners that are not on aa.com like Iberia, then you will have to call 800-882-8880 and pay the $25 phone fee per passenger.
Now is the time to book your trip to Europe for 2013. If you want to book that trip in economy class, use your American miles to book on airberlin.