Book Now to Europe for Next Summer: Economy

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

airberlin

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.

Chicago to Berlin, returning Dusseldorf to Chicago main award with free oneways added.

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 York (JFK) to Dusseldorf

New Yorkers can get to Europe pretty much every day this summer at low-level prices on the New York to Dusseldorf route.

Many of the days have space on both of airberlin’s daily flights on the route.

Los Angeles to Dusseldorf and Berlin

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.

LAX-DUS

The Dusseldorf flight leaves Los Angeles at 5:55 PM and lands at 1:35 PM the next day.

The Berlin flight has less space.

LAX-TXL

Airberlin’s flight to Berlin leaves a few hours before the flight to Dusseldorf.

Miami to Berlin

There is space five days a week from Miami to Berlin this summer.

The flight continues the theme of an afternoon departure that might be hard to connect to.

Fort Myers (RSW) to Dusseldorf

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.

Recap

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.


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16 COMMENTS

  1. I was able to book an award ticket on American Airlines for:
    March 1: LAX>DALLAS>CANCUN
    April 2: CANCUN>NYC
    April 9: NYC>DUSSELDORF>PALMA MALLORCA
    June 24/25: BARCELONA>DUSSELDORF>MIAMI : FORT LAUDERDALE>CHICAGO>SAN FRANCISCO
    for $147.03 taxes and 67,500 miles. Did I do ok or could I have squeezed more out of this?

    • Whoa! 🙂 I am learning too and unable to wrap my head around this one.. Where (city) do you actually live? I am in PHX and although it is a gateway city (from what I read) I am trying to figure out how to maximize this fact to work in kids spring/summer/fall breaks to use the free one ways. E.g. I want to use free one way to PHX in March, then main round trip in June/July and free one way from PHX to somewhere in October. Is that not what you have done here? Or am I mixing one ways and stop overs. How many of each are allowed on one routing? Please enlighten 🙂

  2. Sorry to post here, but I wasn’t sure if my request earlier today about a Reno-Paris trip with Aadvantage miles reached you (computer acted strangely after I hit submit). Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  3. Scott, you might want to recheck AB destinations in US/Canada. No flights are coming up for SFO-DUS or YVR-DUS etc. I am primarily looking for OW departures out of YVR to europe. Can you suggest any routes that doesn’t include BA or LHR? Thanks.

  4. Updating my previous comment. OW and AB websites does show twice weekly YVR-DUS nonstop service but AA or Matrix are not showing those flights. How do you deal with it? Thanks

      • No, I mean those flights are not showing up to book a revenue ticket either on booking sites like kayak etc. I am assuming those non stop flights are scheduled to run but the fares have not been loaded on to GDS or whatever they use.

  5. I’m booking an award ticket roundtrip in July from SF-London Heathrow. On the way there the taxes/charges are only $5, but on the way back they’re $187. Is there a way around the return trip fee through routing or some other method?

    • Sure. Fly out of a different country. The UK has the worst departure taxes. Unfortunately, France and Germany will be over $100 also. You will rarely do a r/t to Europe for under $100 out of pocket. The US charges no departure taxes but about $25 in return taxes. And $2.5 per segment that takes off in the US.

  6. Great post, I’m actually considering AB for flights to Europe this year and next (even though Skytrax doesn’t rate them very highly you can’t beat the low taxes & fees).
    Question: what if you don’t actually fly the first segment (LAX-ORD in your example) what happens to the rest of your itinerary? Will it still be valid?

  7. I would like to save my company a few bucks and myself 40K in miles by using the free NA gateway stopover trick.

    I have two tradeshows to attend to with my wife (MCI in Feb, SFO in Nov) and a Euro vacation including our two kids (3 & 6) in the summer.

    Method: 1 Award Booking, 1 Round Trip & two Open Jaws
    Open Jaw 1 (Feb): KIN-MIA-DFW-MCI & MIA-KIN
    Open Jaw 2 (Nov): KIN-MIA & SFO-MIA-KIN
    Award Booking: MCI – MIA(Feb) – DUS (Jul) – MIA (Aug) – SFO (Nov) = 50K pp
    Round Trip: KIN – MIA(Jul) – KIN(Aug)

    Problem is: the kids are not accompanying us on the business flights into and out of the gateway (MIA) at the beginning and end of the award itinerary. Since these legs are mileage free it doesn’t cost us anything but a few dollars in taxes and fees. But will the fact that they won’t actually be flying cause the rest of the itinerary to be cancelled?

    I’d make a separate booking for them if it wasn’t for the following:
    1. No award bookings allowed for unaccompanied minors
    2. If I leave them out of the Feb segment I’d have to pay the full 30K miles for each.
    3. Their parents’ elite status benefits (priority access etc.) wouldn’t transfer to them on a separate PNR.

    Any suggestions how else to handle this?

    • If you miss any segment of an itinerary, the rest is cancelled. What do you mean “no award bookings allowed for unaccompanied minors?” They won’t be unaccompanied will they?

      • No, the kids will certainly not be travelling alone, but if try to book them on a separate itinerary (adults: 0, child (2-11): 2) I get an error message: “At least one Adult or one Senior passenger type must be selected when a Child passenger is traveling.”

        Which means I cannot book your stopover trick to save 20K miles for myself and my wife while ticketing the kids straight high season. (Not online at least).

        I’ll have to check to see if I can get around this by ticketing through the AA desk.

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