Quick Points: Flying to Europe? Find more award space with this (slightly inconvenient) strategy
For several reasons, TPG recommends earning flexible points instead of investing in one single mileage currency.
This is one of the main reasons: When your preferred airline doesn’t have any award seats available, you can search other airlines to see if they have seats available. You aren’t beholden to award availability of one single airline because you can transfer your points to others.
Whether you can’t seem to find availability with a single airline or with any airline, you can use this trick to potentially find more award space.
Find award seats by searching multiple European airports
Here’s the key detail that makes the below trick worthwhile: Intra-Europe travel is insanely cheap. Depending on your route, you can find economy tickets for less than $30 one-way.
That’s helpful because it means you can search many cities from your home airport — not just your destination. In turn, this can help you find more award space and cheaper award tickets with programs that use dynamic award pricing.
We'll use United Airlines as an example. Business class flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG) on Nov. 24, 2022, cost 120,800 United MileagePlus miles.
Let’s take a look at the other European destinations United flies to. You can easily Google this or use a handy site like FlightConnections.com which lets you filter routes by airline and airport.
As you can see, United flies to many other spots across the continent. Choose a destination remotely near the city you actually want to visit and search United for an award seat there. For this example, we’ll choose Frankfurt.
Magically, United has Saver awards that are half the price of an award to Paris on the same travel date.
The next step is to purchase a one-way flight from this city to your destination.
A flight from Frankfurt to Paris costs $78 for our desired date. I must admit, that’s pretty steep for a quick European hop — but you’ll be on a full-service carrier instead of a low-cost carrier.
Voila! For $78 and an extra layover in Frankfurt, we’ve saved more than 60,000 miles on a one-way business class ticket to Europe.
Also, note that you don’t have to book a round-trip ticket to this ancillary city. Hopefully, you can find a one-way flight home directly from your destination. If not, you can perform the same trick again. Position yourself to a nearby European city to fly across the Atlantic for cheap.
Related: The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles
Because intra-European travel is so economical, you shouldn’t let a lack of award space between your home airport and your destination discourage you from making the trip.
Identify which European airports your airline miles can take you to and then search for award seats to those instead. After you’ve made it to Europe, take a short and inexpensive jaunt to your actual destination.