Great Swiss Business-Class Award Availability From the US to Europe
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – View the current offers here
United MileagePlus members generally have decent award options to Europe, thanks to generous availability on Lufthansa and Turkish — and now you can add Swiss business class to the mix.
Currently, there's plenty of availability on Star Alliance member Swiss from many of its US gateways including New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD) and more to Zurich (ZRH). One-way tickets can be had for 70,000 United miles — note, too, that United won't charge you any more miles to connect to a destination beyond Zurich, as long as you're traveling within Europe.
When traveling on United awards, you can book a round-trip flight from the US to Europe that includes a stopover for the same price. So you can fly from Los Angeles to Zurich, spend a week in Switzerland, then fly from Zurich to Paris and spend a week there before returning home to the US. While stopovers are no longer permitted in the traditional sense, this type of routing is possible as part of United's "Excursionist Perk," which launched on October 6, 2016.
Here are some examples of what you can book:
New York (JFK)* to Zurich (ZRH) for 4 passengers in business class:
*Note that on some days, you'll find availability on the airline's flights from Newark (EWR) instead of JFK.
Boston (BOS) to Zurich (ZRH) for 4 passengers in business class:
Miami (MIA) to Zurich (ZRH) for 4 passengers in business class:
Chicago (ORD) to Zurich (ZRH) for 4 passengers in business class:
Los Angeles (LAX) to Zurich (ZRH) for 4 passengers in business class:
San Francisco (SFO) to Zurich (ZRH) for 4 passengers in business class:
Availability like this almost certainly won't last, so if you think you might be able to travel, book now and take advantage of United's 24-hour cancellation policy. If you're short on United miles, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, earned with cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
You can also book using Aeroplan — it'll cost you 55,000 miles plus taxes and fees. If you don't have Aeroplan miles, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio.
Depending on where you're based, you'll either be flying on an A330 or a 777. While both products are similar, the 777 features the airline's newest product and it's definitely a step above that on the A330. In general, the 777 is used for the West Coast destinations, while if you're on the East Coast or in Chicago you'll most likely get the A330.
H/T: View From the Wing