Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Europe. This is not the best use of American Airlines miles because award space isn’t great, and American collects fuel surcharges on two partners to Europe. But there are routes with no fuel surcharges and good award space that you should know about.
Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.
Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart.
If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, please use my links. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.
“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index
- Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions
- Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles
- Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All Partners
- Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need
- Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges
- Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards
- Part 7 — Redeeming for Hawaii
- Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia
- Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
- Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand
- Part 11 — Redeeming for South America
- Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe
- Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa
- Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia
The Partners for Europe Awards
Here are the American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Europe:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
Award space on all the partners except Iberia is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.
Award space on Iberia is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.
From North America to Europe, American Airlines charges:
- 20,000 miles one way in economy from October 15 to May 15
- 30,000 miles one way in economy from May 16 to October 14
- 50,000 miles one way in Business Class
- 62,500 miles one way in First Class
These miles prices are the same whether you fly directly or with connections, so even your tiny home airport to Mykonos, Greece with a few connections and flying multiple partners costs the same number of miles.
These prices are significantly less than United and Delta charge for the same awards.
In addition to the miles, you pay government taxes on all awards. In addition to taxes, you pay fuel surcharges on American Airlines awards that fly British Airways and Iberia. The fuel surcharges on British Airways flights are humungous: over $400 each way.
Washington to Madrid roundtrip in British Airways First Class is 125,000 American Airlines miles + $1,026.
Because of the fuel surcharges, I won’t be mentioning British Airways flights again in this post, which is a bummer because it is the American Airlines partner offering the most award space to Europe.
Fuel surcharges on Iberia are much smaller, at under $100 each way.
Routes & Award Space
American also flies transatlantic flights from Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and Raleigh.
Award Space on AA Flights
Award space varies by destination and season, but the general pattern on American Airlines flights to Europe is OK economy award space and poor Business and First Class award space.
For instance, Raleigh to London is typical in having good award space in economy and basically none in Business Class.
All calendars show award space for two passengers unless otherwise noted.
There are exceptions to the basically-no-Business-Class-award-space “rule.” Let’s look at some of the American Airlines routes with more award space.
Your secret weapon for Business and First Class award space to Europe will be American Airlines flights to Madrid (and from there to anywhere else in Europe on connecting Iberia flights.) There is great Business Class and First Class space from Madrid to Miami.
Unfortunately, American Airlines does not open up last second award space in premium cabins on its European flights. Here is the award space from New York to London this week. There is some economy space, but nothing in Business or First.
Iberia, Finnair, and airberlin Award Space
Iberia, Finnair, and airberlin fly from six American cities to Europe, including four American Airlines hubs. Let’s go through their award space one at a time.
A lot of Finnair award space shows up on aa.com, but it is nearly all phantom award space. Check the real space on ba.com, and don’t get your hopes up.
Airberlin has the best award space of these three partners, and is your best way to get to Europe with American Airlines miles other than the routes mentioned in the American Airlines section above.
For instance, Dusseldorf to New York has a lot of Business Class award space in March 2016.
Dusseldorf and Berlin are both airberlin hubs with connections all over Europe.
Iberia has great economy award space and OK Business Class award space as long as you book in advance. For instance, here are the days with Iberia Business Class awards in the first week of May 2016 from New York, Miami, and Chicago to Madrid.
From Madrid, you can connect all over Europe on Iberia.
Booking the Award
Search segment-by-segment if necessary to find award space from your airport to an international gateway, the transatlantic flight, and any connecting flights in Europe.
If all your award space is searchable on aa.com, book online. If your award includes Iberia flights, you need to book by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. The good news is that you will pay zero phone booking fee, since that fee was waived when an award can’t be booked online.
Pay your award taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the award taxes and fees on these ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy pay the taxes with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.
Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.
American Airlines are not very good to Europe. There are some American Airlines, some Iberia, and some airberlin routes with decent award space if you know what to search and can be flexible. But I’d rather use my American Airlines miles to Asia and South America and book Europe with United, Delta, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles.
If you find space though, awards to Europe with American Airlines miles are cheap.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months, plus 10% rebate on miles redeemed up to 100,000 redeemed each calendar year
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months
Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.
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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.