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Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly Brussels Airlines business class to Europe for just 44,000 miles

March 13, 2022
7 min read
Brussels Airlines Business Class Seat
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Etihad Guest miles are less commonly used in the U.S. than miles with domestic airlines like American Airlines. However, in a handful of cases they can save you tens of thousands of miles during a single trip -- like, more miles than are offered with most credit card sign-up bonuses.

There exists an exceptionally syrupy sweet spot for anyone wanting to travel to Europe in a lie-flat business-class seat. You could save $6,000 by dropping just 88,000 miles for a round trip to Belgium.

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Here’s the best part: You probably already have a load of Etihad miles, whether you know it or not. That’s because Etihad is a transfer partner of the following transferable points programs:

You can instantly convert these rewards to Etihad miles at a 1:1 ratio.

If you’ve earned any of the enormous sign-up bonuses that have been floating around lately, there’s a great chance you already have enough Etihad miles to book a lie-flat seat to Europe.

Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points in 2022

Why it’s special

If you’re paying 60,000-plus miles for a one-way business-class flight to Europe, you’re not getting ripped off. That’s the going rate for a fancy lie-flat seat across the Atlantic.

(Photo courtesy of Brussels Airlines)

However, with Etihad miles you can fly on partner Brussels Airlines and score seven-plus hours in a seat like this for 44,000 miles one way. This seat regularly sells for more than $3,000 -- giving you a value of 6.8 cents per mile. TPG valuations peg Etihad miles at 1.4 cents each, on average -- meaning this sweet spot offers a value nearly 5 times higher than usual!

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The same exact seat when using other airline currencies would cost:

You’ll save between 16,000 and 31,000 rewards each way (between 32,000 and 62,000 miles round-trip) over common Star Alliance airline programs by booking with non-Star Alliance partner Etihad (yes, there are a few exceptions).

Here’s the caveat, though: You can only find this price for flights to Brussels Airport (BRU) from either New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport (IAD). In other words, this is a cheap way to cross the ocean in style, but you’ll likely have to take another flight to your actual destination once you reach the European continent. Intra-Europe flights are usually inexpensive, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

Related: 11 tips for traveling Europe on a budget

How to book this award

(Photo by Vincent Kalut/Photonews/Getty Images)

You cannot book these seats online with Etihad -- nor can you locate available seats on the Etihad website. The best way to find seats is through the United Airlines website.

Step 1: Enter your travel information

Head to the United Airlines website and enter your desired dates and airports. Remember, the only flights that qualify for this deal are the following nonstop routes on Brussels Airlines:

  • New York (JFK) to Brussels (BRU).
  • Washington (IAD) to Brussels (BRU).

In the below example, I’ve stipulated that I want to see business-class flights only.

(Screenshot from united.com)

Step 2: Open the 30-day calendar

Your desired date may not have Brussels Airlines availability. Seats aren’t impossible to find, but they’re less common than some other United partners.

On the results page, select the 30-day calendar. You’ll now see the lowest business-class awards for each day in a digestible format.

(Screenshot from united.com)

Step 3: Uncheck the “With stops” box below the calendar

Brussels Airlines flies nonstop between Brussels and Washington. We can therefore eliminate all flights that have a connection, because we know those aren’t Brussels Airlines.

To do this, locate the tiny box under the calendar that reads “With stops” and uncheck it.

(Screenshot from united.com)

Step 4: Click on dates that show 75,000 miles

The calendar now shows only nonstop business-class flights between Washington and Brussels. To find available business-class flights on Brussels, look for dates pricing out at 75,000 miles.

By clicking on one of these dates, you can see in the search results at the bottom of the page that there are business-class seats available, “Operated By Brussels Airlines.”

(Screenshot from united.com)

Step 5: Call Etihad to reserve your flight

Note the flight details such as date, departure/arrival time and number of the flight you found on United. Then, call Etihad at 877-690-0767 and relay the flight information carefully to them.

Etihad phone agents are a bit notorious for not being very good at booking partner award flights. If the agent can’t see the flights you’ve found, respectfully end the call and call back to get another agent.

Related: Evolution, not revolution: A review of Brussels Airlines’ new business class

How to earn miles for this award

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

As previously mentioned, Etihad Guest miles are easy to earn, as Etihad partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One miles and Citi ThankYou Rewards. You can transfer these rewards instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

There are sometimes even transfer bonuses to Etihad, which would make this already cheap sweet deal even cheaper.

If this trip sounds like something you’d consider in the future, you can earn the miles you need quickly by opening cards such as:

There are plenty more cards that earn these types of points. Read our guide to the best travel credit cards for more inspiration.

You can also  transfer Marriott points to Etihad at a 3:1 ratio. Also, for every 60,000-point increment you transfer, you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus. For example, if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll receive a deposit of 25,000 miles into your Etihad account.

Related: Etihad Guest miles continue to fly under the radar

Bottom line

The ability to book a multi-thousand dollar lie-flat seat to Europe for just 44,000 miles is one of the best airline sweet spots in the points and miles world. And you can book it with points you might already have.

The only problem is that your flight must be from either JFK or IAD. If you don’t live near one of these airports, you’ll have to fly there first to catch your dirt-cheap business-class flight.

Featured image by BRUSSELS AIRLINES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees