How to fly business class to Europe for $870 one-way — and other ways to use your TAP Portugal miles
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The national carrier of Portugal unleashed a series of Miles&Go loyalty program promotions for the airline’s 75th birthday. Because TAP Portugal is not a transfer partner of any of the major U.S. bank programs and because the award chart isn’t particularly lucrative, the program is often overlooked and unknown.
With the buy miles promotion launched today offering up to 5x miles, I took a quick look to refresh my memory on the inner workings of the program to see if buying miles for as low as 0.87 cents each would be a worthwhile adventure.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
TAP Portugal Miles&Go quick tips
In no particular order, here are the things you need to know about the program before deciding on whether to buy miles:
1. Miles&Go has variable award pricing for itineraries operated by TAP Portugal.
The online calculator says TAP Portugal-operated flights from North America to anywhere they fly will cost 29,000 miles:
Buried below the calculator is this line:
From June 27, 2019, TAP is offering a new way to book award tickets, which will now accompany the price and demand for flights with more flexible fares. This means there will be more seats available on your selected flights. Book in advance to make sure you get the best offers and lowest prices for your trip.
What I found that to mean is TAP can charge whatever they like for award tickets as I searched three months of award availability for TAP Portugal-operated flights from the U.S. and found flights ranging from 21,750 miles (thanks to a 25% savings promotion running through March 8 for travel through March 30) to 90,000 miles for a one-way economy ticket to Lisbon:
Likewise, for Executive Class (business) the online calculator says a one-way flight from North America to Europe will cost 100,000 miles but the online calculator shows 145,000 miles for many dates I searched:
Overall, if you’re flexible enough and follow the guidance of tip No. 2 below, you can find great economy redemptions to Europe on TAP Portugal-operated flights:
2. The Miles&Go online award search engine can be nonsensical.
I completed the same award search multiple times with the online engine (I have 0 miles in my account) and got different results several times. Here is an award search for Newark to Lisbon for March 29 I ran several times within one minute of each other. The first time it cost 90,000 miles:
The second time it cost 21,750 miles:
On multiple searches, I found the engine giving me differing amounts for the same city-pair and the same travel dates. If you don’t like what you see, keep trying the search.
3. United Airlines’ domestic routes only show online as part of an international itinerary.
I searched for several dates that showed as having saver availability on the United award search engine, but they did not show up on TAP Portugal’s Star Alliance engine:
However, when searching out of Atlanta for an international itinerary, the domestic segments did show as bookable:
4. I couldn’t get the engine to show other Star Alliance partners.
I tried high passenger volume routes for most of the Star Alliance partner airlines and couldn’t get any to show. This leads me to think that unless TAP Portugal has a route that is part of the itinerary, you cannot book partner-only routes online.
5. Booking flights separately could save you a lot of miles.
I found several examples where the pricing of award tickets was significantly different when booking segments separately than as one single ticket. London (LHR) to Casablanca via Lisbon was priced at 60,000 miles one-way when searching for the whole itinerary in a single search for June 12:
However, if you booked the two tickets separately, you would pay a total of 22,500 miles:
6. There aren’t really any sweet spots in the Star Alliance/Partner award charts.
After searching through all the different regions for award tickets, I don’t see anything attractively priced for either economy, business or first class with Star Alliance and other partners. Interestingly, you can book Emirates and GOL flights with TAP Portugal miles, but the pricing is less than ideal with a one-way first-class Emirates flight from the U.S. to Dubai setting you back 320,000 miles. Ouch.
If you want to fly TAP Portugal economy from the U.S. to Europe and back, buying miles could be a useful strategy. Also, if you can find business class availability at the 100,000-mile price, you can buy those miles for $870 for the one-way flight. On the other hand, TAP Portugal often puts its revenue flights on sale for such a low amount that I personally won’t be bothering with the promotion to buy miles.
The clunky online search engine doesn’t do the program any favors and I certainly am not going to transfer Marriott points to the program — which is the only other way to earn TAP Portugal miles for U.S. residents outside of buying them or crediting partner flights to your Miles&Go account. The program has a lot of potential but, as of right now, I don’t think it’s quite ready for us to buy the miles.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees