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With the summer travel season fast approaching, many folks are starting to think about their travel plans, especially to Europe. Unfortunately, many airlines black out awards to Europe during the summer months, especially July and August and especially premium cabins.
Per One Mile at a Time, one airline appears to be bucking the trend for now: Aer Lingus. This Irish carrier unfortunately doesn’t fly to many hubs in the US, but it does service Boston, Chicago, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Days throughout June, July and August appear to have very decent award availability, especially in the business class cabin, meaning you can get to Western Europe cheaply and either stop in Ireland, or go from there with another intra-European award or on a low-cost carrier like Ryanair or Easyjet.
Aer Lingus has also started installing a new business class with staggered seats on its flagship A330’s. The whole fleet is not yet converted, but you can check the seat configuration of your flight to see if your plane has the new product in it (the configuration will alternate between 4 and 5 seats across in business class rather than 6 across in the old configuration).
The other bit of good news is that Aer Lingus, though not a member of any airline alliance, is partners with British Airways and United, so if you have Avios or United miles (or the possibility of either if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus cards, which earn Ultimate Rewards points that are transferable to either program), you have some great options to use your miles this summer. If you have a Membership Rewards points-earning card from Amex like the Premier Rewards Gold or EveryDay Preferred, you can also transfer those points to British Airways.
The reason you might want to use your BA Avios on Aer Lingus instead of British Airways and to fly to Dublin instead of London is that Aer Lingus does not levy fuel surcharges on award tickets the way BA does, so you can end up saving hundreds of dollars on awards. Not only that, but the Boston-Dublin route falls within BA’s fourth award chart mileage band of 2,001-3,000 miles, so requires far fewer miles for awards than many other awards to Europe.
In terms of how many miles you need, that will vary depending on which program you use.
If you wanted to use British Airways Avios, here are the amounts – and this is actually a good idea for redeeming your points soon because British Airways’ upcoming award chart devaluation will go into effect April 28 and award prices will skyrocket.
- Economy: 25,000 Avios roundtrip
- Business: 50,000 Avios roundtrip
*This is one of the best mileage bargains out there, by the way.
Chicago, New York, Washington DC to Dublin
- Economy: 40,000 Avios roundtrip
- Business: 80,000 Avios roundtrip
Orlando and San Francisco to Dublin
- Economy: 50,000 Avios roundtrip
- Business: 100,000 Avios roundtrip
If you want to use United miles instead, here is how many you will need.
- Economy: 60,000 miles roundtrip
- Business: 140,000 miles roundtrip
Clearly British Airways is the better value in all cases, but United is still a viable option.
Searching for Awards
Here you also have a few options. British Airways doesn’t display Aer Lingus award availability, so save yourself some frustration and skip it.
The easiest thing to do is just to check United.com. You will end up pulling in United’s own award inventory and that of its Star Alliance partners, so there’s a little extraneous information to sift through, but it’s not that difficult, and it is probably the quickest free way to find Aer Lingus awards.
However, if you have an ExpertFlyer subscription, you can search more precisely by just looking for Aer Lingus awards. Log into your account, enter your airports and Aer Lingus as your airline, then check the boxes for business class awards.
Click search, and voila, your search is done, including the number of award seats available on each flight. You can also click on the seat icon to see the business class cabin and determine whether the flight features the new business class.
All in all, this is a great way to get to Europe this summer, especially if you were hoping to do so in business class. Not only that, but it’s a good opportunity to burn some of those British Airways Avios before the upcoming devaluation, especially on that cheap Boston-Dublin route.
For more information, check out these posts:
Hat tip: One Mile at a Time.
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