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Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying Los Angeles to Dublin to Addis Ababa on June 18, 2015 with a 787 Dreamliner. Ethiopian will have fifth freedom rights, meaning you will be able to fly any single segment of the flight, including Los Angeles to Dublin.
Normally direct award space from the West Coast to Europe is tough to find. (Solution: route via Canada.) This is such an exciting addition to the Star Alliance’s transatlantic routes because the route has great award space for two passengers in economy and Business Class.
The flight will be bookable with United miles and any other Star Alliance airline’s miles. Crucially, with United miles, you can connect Los Angeles to Dublin with the rest of Europe by using United’s non-alliance partner Aer Lingus.
Right now, if you search united.com, Los Angeles to Dublin is showing 2+ economy seats and 2+ Business Class seats in both directions from next month until late March 2016. Unfortunately a lot of that award space is phantom award space.
- How do I know the space is phantom? Where can you see real award space?
- How much does the award cost?
- How is Ethiopian Business Class?
- Connection possibilities?
- How can you book award space?
- A full example of a roundtrip award with a (nearly) Free One Way
Phantom Award Space and Real Award Space
If you search united.com for two passengers from Los Angeles to Dublin on days on which the Ethiopian Airlines flight operates, you’ll see a lot of this:
Nearly every flight has award space.
Unfortunately if you try to book the space, you may see this error:
And other Star Alliance search engines like Aeroplan and Avianca don’t match up with the space on united.com. Other sites are right, and united.com is wrong, showing “phantom” award space.
I called United to try to book the space shown online on June 27 from Los Angeles to Dublin; it doesn’t exist. I asked about July 25, which online shows two economy and two Business Class seats. The agent only saw two Business Class and zero economy seats.
The upshot is that united.com is unreliable about this Ethiopian Airlines award space. There is award space on the route, and I suggest searching it on aeroplan.com, which matched award space seen by United’s agent.
Unfortunately sites like aeorplan.com don’t let me show 10 months of award space in five images, so I can’t as easily show you the award space. Just go search the dates you want.
You can book the Ethiopian award space you find on aeroplan.com with any Star Alliance miles. The one way prices (economy/Business):
- United: 30k/70k
- Aeroplan: 30k/45k
- Asiana: 25k/40k
- Lufthansa: 25k/52k
- Singapore: 27.5k/65k
- LifeMiles: 30k/63k
United and LifeMiles never charge fuel surcharges. Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on this route. I didn’t test Asiana, Lufthansa, or Singapore, but I would expect them to collect fuel surcharges on this award. That’s about $124 one way in Business Class from Los Angeles to Dublin.
Ethiopian Business Class
Ethiopian’s Dreamliner has economy and Business Class. Business Class is in a 2-2-2 configuration. Choose a middle seat, so you and your seatmate both have aisle access.
Here is a full trip report from One Mile at a Time.
United charges 30k/70k miles each way in economy/business between the United States and Europe on partner flights. You can connect to non-Star-Alliance-partner Aer Lingus flights in Ireland to the rest of Europe for zero extra miles on a United award. Aer Lingus flies to the following cities from Dublin:
Dublin isn’t a Star Alliance hub, so other Star Alliance airlines that do not partner with Aer Lingus will have fewer connection options. Of course, you can always hop a super-cheap Ryanair flight from Dublin, its hub, to the rest of Europe.
If you fly all the way to Africa on the Ethiopian flight, United charges 40k/80k miles each way in economy/Business. From Addis Ababa, you can connect to the rest of Africa. The Star Alliance has the best network in Africa with Egyptair, Ethiopian, and South African.
Book Award Space
If you are booking with Aeroplan miles, book right on aeroplan.com after searching. You can also book the United and LifeMiles awards online on their respective websites.
For other types of miles like Singapore, Asiana, and Lufthansa, you book by calling the airline whose miles you’re using. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of all the award space you find on aeroplan.com, and call to book.
Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.
Full Roundtrip with (Nearly) Free One Way
What I like about this award space between Los Angeles and Dublin is that:
- it is available for the heart of summer and bookable right now
- Ireland is a very low aviation tax country.
Most award space to Europe in premium cabins is currently unavailable for the summer and will only open up within a few days or weeks of departure. A lot of that award space returns from England ($300 one way in taxes) or Germany ($150.)
To take advantage of these benefits of the Ethiopian space, I put together an award that has last second award space in Business Class on United to England but returns in Business Class from Dublin (get between the two on a separate ticket). For fun, I added a Free One Way in First Class from Los Angeles to Maui for next year. Except, it is not free; it adds 5,000 miles to the total award price for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has read Master Thread: Free Oneways on United Awards.
The roundtrip in Business Class plus the First Class to Maui eight months from now costs 132,500 United miles + $52 in taxes. Since the departure is less than 21 days from now, there is a $75 fee (that is reduced or waived for elites.)
Ethiopian begins its Los Angeles to Dublin to Addis Ababa route in a few weeks with good award space in economy and Business Class that you should search on aeroplan.com because of phantom space on united.com.
I like that the route is bookable in advance for the next 11 months including over the peak summer season and that departing Dublin has very low taxes.
You can book the space cheaply with Aeroplan or Asiana miles or use United miles if you want to connect within Europe on its partner Aer Lingus. If using United miles, consider adding a Free or Cheap One Way.
Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.