Book now: 4+ Star Alliance business-class awards to Europe during peak summer months

Oct 25, 2019

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Summer is a popular time to visit Europe, so it can be challenging to find premium-class award tickets during the months of June, July and August, especially if you want to bring your entire family. However, if you’re looking at a potential trip across the Atlantic in 2020, listen up. We’re seeing a large number of dates with multiple business-class awards seats on Star Alliance carriers from numerous U.S. gateways.

This glut of inventory is appearing on Swiss, TAP Portugal and Turkish Airlines, and in some cases, it includes the most updated products in the respective carrier’s fleet — like TAP’s A330-900neo and Turkish’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Here’s a closer look at what we’re seeing.

In This Post

Swiss

Swiss business class is a solid product for getting to or from Europe — I’ve utilized it a handful of times between Miami (MIA) and its hub in Zurich (ZRH). You can use either Zurich or Geneva (GVA) as a base for exploring the beautiful countryside of Switzerland, or you can connect to one of carrier’s dozens of European destinations.

Here’s a run-down of where we’re finding at least business-class awards on Swiss for next summer.

New York-JFK or Newark (EWR)

  • To Zurich (ZRH): June 15, 21, 23 and 28-30; July 4-8, 11-16, 19-23 and 26-30; August 1-5, 8, 10-12 and 15-19
  • To Geneva (GVA): June 1-3, 7-10, 15-17, 21-23 and 29-30; July 1, 4-8, 10-11, 13-15, 17, 19-22, 25-29 and 31; August 2-5, 7, 9-12 and 15-19
  • From Zurich (ZRH): June 2-4, 9-10, 12, 16-18, 23-25 and 30; July 1, 8, 14, 24 and 29; August 2, 5, 7, 11-15 and 18-20
  • From Geneva (GVA): June 2-6, 8-13, 16-19, 21, 23-26 and 30; July 1-3, 7-10, 13-17, 19-31; August 1-20

Washington-Dulles (IAD)

  • To Zurich (ZRH): July 7, 14, 20-21 and 27; August 3-4, 10-11 and 18
  • From Zurich (ZRH): June 6 and 13; July 25; August 1, 8 and 18

Miami (MIA)

  • To Zurich (ZRH): June 9, 14, 17, 21-25 and 28-30; July 1-2, 5-9, 12-15, 19-23 and 26-30; August 2-4, 6, 10-12 and 16-20
  • From Zurich (ZRH): June 2-4, 8-11, 16-17 and 24-25; July 14 and 28-30; August 3-6, 9-13, and 16-20

Chicago-O’Hare

  • To Zurich (ZRH): June 29; July 4-6, 8, 11-16, 18-23 and 25-30; August 2-5, 9-13 and 15-20
  • From Zurich (ZRH): June 1-4, 8, 10-11, 18 and 24-25; July 16, 20, 23, 28 and 30-31; August 1-20

On some of these dates, I’m even seeing six business-class award seats — like this one from New York-JFK to Zurich (ZRH) on Monday June 15, 2020:

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing flights out of or back into the carrier’s other U.S. cities — including Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO).

TAP Portugal

TAP Portugal’s A330-900neo is the carrier’s newest and is slated to operate most transatlantic flights to Lisbon (LIS) next summer. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy)

TAP Portugal took delivery of its first A330-900neo last year, and the newest aircraft in the carrier’s fleet is currently scheduled to operate most of the below flights next summer.

Here are the dates that currently have four (or more) business-class awards at the time of writing:

New York-JFK or Newark (EWR)

  • To Lisbon (LIS): June 1 and 21; July 13 and 18-30; August 2, 4-10, 13-14, 16-27, 29 and 31
  • To Porto (OPO): June 4, 7 and 28; July 2-3, 5-6, 8-13, 15, 17, 19-20, 22-27 and 29-31; August 2-3, 5-6, 8-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19-24 and 26-31
  • From Lisbon (LIS): June 3, 11-12, 15, 18 and 29; July 1, 3, 17, 20, 25 and 27-29; August 3, 6, 11-12, 15, 19, 21-22 and 25-28
  • From Porto (OPO): June 4, 10-11, 13, 17-18, 24 and 26; July 2-3, 8-9, 16-17, 22-23, 27 and 29-31; August 1, 3, 5-6, 10, 12-13, 15, 17, 20-22, 24, 28-29 and 31

Boston (BOS)

  • To Lisbon (LIS): July 2-3, 9, 11, 12-14, 18-20, 23-24, 26 and 28-29; August 2, 5-8, 10-16, 20-23 and 29-31
  • From Lisbon (LIS): August 2-7, 10-12, 17-18, 21, 23-27 and 30-31

Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)

  • To Lisbon (LIS): July 13, 17, 19-20, 27, 29 and 31; August 10, 12, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 31
  • From Lisbon (LIS): July 24, 29 and 31; August 1, 3, 7, 9-10, 14, 19, 21-22, 24, 26 and 28-31

Miami (MIA)

  • To Lisbon (LIS): July 7, 12, 14, 16, 19 and 28; August 9-11, 13-14, 16-17, 23-25 and 30
  • From Lisbon (LIS): June 25; July 30; August 4, 6-7, 13, 18-19, 21, 24-28 and 31

Like Swiss, some dates have even more available seats — like this JFK-LIS flight with business-class awards for eight:

The carrier’s nonstop flights from both Washington-Dulles (IAD) and San Francisco (SFO) have just a couple of dates open — nowhere near the amazing space of the above gateways.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner has kicked the carrier’s business-class product up several notches. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

Turkish has typically had a reputation for terrific food in business class, but its 777-300ERs and A330s don’t have the most updated hard product. However, the carrier’s new 787-9 blows these aircraft out of the water, and it’s currently scheduled on flights out of Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Atlanta (ATL) for next year.

Here are the dates where we’re seeing at least four business-class award seats:

Boston (BOS)

  • To Istanbul (IST): July 7-8, 13-15, 20-21 and 28-29; August 3-5, 10-12 and 18-19
  • From Istanbul (IST): June 2-3, 9-10, 17 and 30; July 1 and 14-15

New York-JFK

  • To Istanbul (IST): June 16; July 7, 14, 21-22 and 27-29; August 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 and 25
  • From Istanbul (IST): No availability

Washington-Dulles (IAD)

  • To Istanbul (IST): July 20, 25, 27 and 30; August 1, 8, 10, 13, 20 and 27
  • From Istanbul (IST): July 16 and 23; August 27

Atlanta (ATL)

  • To Istanbul (IST): June 14, 16, 21, 23 and 28; July 1, 4-5, 7-8, 11-12, 14-15, 18-19, 21-22, 25-26 and 28-29; August 1-2, 4-5, 8-9, 11-12, 14-16, 18-19, 22-23, 25-26, 29-30
  • From Istanbul (IST): June 3, 9-10, 12-13, 16, 20, 23-24 and 27; July 7-8, 15, 22 and 28; August 4-5, 18-19, 21-22, 25-26 and 28-29

Miami (MIA)

  • To Istanbul (IST): June 9, 16, 23 and 29; July 2, 7, 9, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 and 30; August 3-4, 6, 10-11, 13, 17-18, 20, 24-25, 27 and 31
  • From Istanbul (IST): June 5; August 28 and 31

Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)

  • To Istanbul (IST): June 29; July 1, 5-8, 12-16, 19-23 and 26-30; August 2-6, 8-13, 16-19, 23-26 and 30-31
  • From Istanbul (IST): No availability

Houston (IAH)

  • To Istanbul (IST): July 7, 12, 20-21 and 27-28; August 3, 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25
  • From Istanbul (IST): No availability

Once again, however, West Coast departures from LAX and SFO aren’t available at these levels at all.

How to book

Since Swiss, TAP Portugal and Turkish Airlines are all members of Star Alliance, you can use miles from any member program to book these award tickets. If you’re redeeming miles for a round-trip award, you may want to consider transferring your American Express Membership Rewards points to ANA Mileage Club. While you can’t book one-ways with the program, round-trip flights from the U.S. to Europe clock in at just 88,000 miles. Unfortunately, Turkish awards booked with ANA miles will incur over $500 per person in taxes and fees, while a round-trip Swiss business-class ticket will set you back nearly $1,300.

TAP Portugal awards are much more reasonable — just over $50 for a round-trip award from the U.S. to Lisbon.

Outside of this option, the most popular ways to redeem miles on these flights would likely be the following programs:

  • United MileagePlus
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Avianca LifeMiles

Here’s a summary chart of how many miles you’d need for one-way, business-class award tickets between the U.S. and Europe:

Program Mileage required Transfer options
United Mileage Plus 70,000 miles Chase, Marriott
Air Canada Aeroplan 55,000-57,500 miles (depending on your final destination) Amex, Capital One, Marriott
Avianca LifeMiles 63,000 miles Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

Note the range of prices for Aeroplan. This is because the program splits Europe into two regions and then charges different rates for each. “Europe 1” consists of Western and Central Europe, including destinations like Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. “Europe 2” is Eastern Europe, including Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia.

In addition, none of these programs add fuel surcharges, nor will they incur any additional fees on award tickets booked on Swiss, TAP or Turkish, so your added costs will be minimal on these nonstop flights. This is especially great for Aeroplan, a program that has some high surcharges on certain airlines.

Finally, don’t forget the ability to add a stopover and/or an open jaw. If you’re booking with Aeroplan, you can have either a stopover or an open jaw on a round-trip flight, while United allows a stopover on round-trip award flights through its Excursionist Perk. As a result, you could book a trip like this without spending any additional miles:

Under this itinerary, you’d enjoy four nights in Zurich, five nights in Madrid and a short, overnight layover in Lisbon — all for the same 55,000 miles per person each way that you’d pay for a simple flight to Zurich.

Adding connecting flights

However, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to the aforementioned hub airports. The availability detailed above is solely on long-haul flights from (or back to) the U.S. You should be able to add connecting flights from the given carrier’s hub — a strategy I frequently employ when booking international award tickets. Intra-Europe flights typically have wide open award availability in business class, but even if you can’t find the exact flights you need, you shouldn’t have any problem booking a mixed-cabin award with the connecting segment in economy. In this case, be sure to book with Avianca LifeMiles, as mixed-cabin awards will almost always price lower than an award booked entirely in business class — like this option from Miami to Athens (ATH):

If any of the above dates work for you to leave (or return to) the U.S., consider using a site like FlightConnections to explore where else you can visit in Europe as part of the same award ticket.

Bottom line

As a family traveler, it’s not always easy to find award tickets for me, my wife and my daughter on the same flight, so whenever I see three, four or even more business-class awards available, it’s very exciting. The fact that the above flights fall during a popular time to visit Europe is even more enticing. If you’re already looking ahead to your summer plans for 2020, now might be a great time to finalize them — and snag a comfortable ride to (or from) Europe using your points and miles.

For more details on the above carriers, be sure to check out our reviews of the following:

Featured photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy

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