Summer Europe Space


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Do you still want to go to Europe this summer? You’re not alone. That’s the most popular request the MileValue Award Booking Service is getting at the moment.

While it’s much easier to plan an award for summer 2014 to Europe–let’s book 11 months in advance!–summer 2013 is still possible.

Do you want to know my secret weapon route?

American Airlines flies six nonstops daily from Chicago-O’Hare to London-Heathrow. Five of them are when you’d expect, evening redeyes to get you into London in the morning.

But the sixth is the rare and unpopular daytime flight to Europe, departing at 9:05 AM and landing at 10:45 PM.

I assume no one is buying tickets on the flight because award space is wide open. Here is a calendar of direct economy MileSAAver award space between Chicago and London this summer. All (or almost all) of the saver space is on the daytime flight.

Return space is not as generous, but there are options in the late summer in August and September.

The return award space is mainly on the earliest departure at 7:45 AM from London, arriving in Chicago at 10:15 AM.

The roundtrip award for two weeks in London this summer is 60,000 miles + $183.50. (Don’t forget that London has huge departure taxes that you want to avoid. More here.)

Sixty thousand miles sounds like a great deal to Europe during the peak summer travel season when fares are north of $1,000. The same flights would be about $1,300 if you bought a cash ticket.

But don’t immediately rush out to cash in your AAdvantage miles for this trip. Is this a good use of the miles? Let’s plug the redemption into the MileValue Mile Value Calculator.

It turns out this award only gets about 1.64 cents in value from the AAdvantage miles. That’s OK, but I value AAdvantage miles at 1.77 cents because I can routinely redeem them for that much or more.

My best AAdvantage redemptions tend to be international flights in business or first class, off peak awards, or Explorer Awards.

Of course, value is subjective, so if you earned your miles while dreaming of a trip to Europe this summer, don’t miss out!

Getting the Miles

Or if you’re short American Airlines miles, pick up 86,000 in the next few weeks.

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  1. Yes, please tell us where to conveniently overnight in London for the early onward flight connection the next morning, that does not break the budget and change the value proposition.

    • It’s a bit outside the scope of this post, but I can recommend any number of hotel credit cards that would get you a free hotel night at an airport hotel. This is an easy problem to solve.

  2. UA has surprisingly good coach availability SFO-LHR, IAD-LHR, NYC-LHR, and ORD-LHR in July and August (on both daytime and overnight flights). (I haven’t checked the return flights.)


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