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From time to time, Brussels Airlines opens the award space floodgates, giving us access to round-trip business-class awards from New York (JFK) to Europe for just 36,620 miles round-trip. How is this possible, you ask? Well, due to a partnership with Brussels, Etihad Guest miles can be used to book round-trip awards — at absolutely unheard of rates.
A round-trip economy award can be had for just 21,972 miles, but, even better, you can book business class in both directions for 36,620 miles, plus less than $100 in taxes and fees. Intra-Europe rates are even more unbelievable — try 930 miles for round-trip economy from Brussels to Paris — but you’re not going to do better than ~37,000 miles for a lie-flat seat across the pond and back.
How to Book
1. The first step is to make sure you have points that can be transferred to Etihad. Fortunately, the program partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Starwood Preferred Guest. You can transfer points from each program at a 1:1 ratio, but SPG adds the usual 5,000-mile bonus whenever you transfer 20,000 points. Based on our experience, Amex points post instantly, while Citi points take six days to transfer over and SPG points take five days. Given that this award space could disappear at any moment, Amex is your best option here.
Thanks to the wide range of transfer partners, you have many different options for earning points, including (but not limited to) the Amex Platinum card, Premier Rewards Gold, Citi Prestige, and the SPG Amex card, along with the Marriott Rewards Premier Card, since you can now transfer Marriott points instantly to SPG.
2. Once you know you have points to use, you’ll want to confirm availability on United’s website. Just perform the search like you normally would by entering your origin (NYC) and destination (BRU), along with your desired travel dates. This time around, it appears that awards are available sporadically in May, but are nearly wide open from June through October 2017.
For example, here’s a flight with availability for two or more passengers from JFK to BRU in June:
You’ll find similar availability throughout June and July:
As well as August and September:
3. Call Etihad’s Manchester (UK) call center to book, which appears to staff the most capable agents. You can reach this call center at +443456081225. Provide your Etihad Guest account information and request that the agent search for “I” award space on Brussels Airlines. The availability should match up with what you saw on United’s site — if the agent doesn’t see availability, you might want to hang up and call back again to speak with someone else.
Obviously this is a phenomenal deal. The biggest challenge here is getting an Etihad agent on the phone who can find matching award space. For one reason or another, Etihad agents tend to struggle with Brussels Airlines, so you may need to be persistent. I’d suggest waiting to transfer Amex points until you’re able to find an agent who sees the Brussels “I” space. At that point, you should be able to transfer points instantly while you’re still on the phone with Etihad.
Have you used Etihad Guest miles to book Brussels Airlines?
H/T: One Mile at a Time
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