It’s very possible to take a trip to Europe during peak season. If you have a stash of United miles, you’re in luck. United’s partner, Lufthansa, has released a ton of Saver award space in economy and business class for July 2014, so you and a travel buddy can get to Europe on the cheap.
United miles can be used on any Star Alliance carrier. Often the most useful member of the Star Alliance for award bookings to Europe is Lufthansa, the largest airline in Europe, with hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany.
It costs 30k United miles each way to fly between the United States and Europe in economy and 70k United miles each way in business class.
On United awards, you can fly one direction in economy and the other in business to have a treat one way and save miles the other. You can also take a stopover and have an open jaw, when you fly into one airport and out of another.
With all those options, it’s really easy to book an award for two to Europe this summer.
The place to search for and book Lufthansa award space is on United.com. If you just search from your home airport to your goal destination, some Lufthansa flights will probably come up.
I’ve tried to accentuate that by searching routes that Lufthansa flies non-stop between North America and Frankfurt, Germany. Getting from Frankfurt to anywhere else in Europe is very easy because Lufthansa flies all over Europe from Frankfurt and intra-Europe flights usually have award space in both cabins.
If you don’t live in any of the North American cities in this post, that’s no problem either. You can connect from your home airport to the gateway city on United flights with saver award space. Don’t forget that on an international business class award, you can add United first class domestic segments at no extra charge.
How Good Is The Award Space?
In economy, Lufthansa has released award space every day this summer on a number of routes. Business class space is less available, but it is widely available this July on several routes.
On the calendars below, yellow days have saver award space in economy for two people, blue days have saver award space in business class for two people, and green days have saver award space in economy and business class for two people.
The best award space in business class this summer is from Washington DC to Frankfurt, which has space most Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in July.
Lufthansa flies two daily flights between Washington DC and Frankfurt. Pick the one on the 747-8 plane for Lufthansa’s newest fully flat business class product. The aircraft is listed on the far right of the screen under the flight information.
Dallas to Frankfurt also has some award space in business class for couples this July on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as economy space nearly every day this summer.
When looking at ways to get from the United States to Europe, especially from the west coast, don’t forget about the possibility of connecting in Canada. It costs no extra miles, and Toronto to Frankfurt has amazing award space this July for a couple in business class.
Unfortunately New York to Frankfurt doesn’t have as much business class award space this summer as other routes, but there is still plenty of economy award space between JFK and Frankfurt on two daily Lufthansa flights.
Getting United Miles
It’s easy to get to Europe with United miles this summer, but how do you get the United miles, and how many do you need?
Each way is 30k miles per person in economy and 70k in business, so for one person:
- You need 60k United miles for a roundtrip to Europe in economy.
- You need 100k United miles for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in economy and one way in Lufthansa Business Class.
- You need 140k United miles for a roundtrip to Europe in Lufthansa Business Class.
For two people, double those amounts.
Luckily United miles are extremely easy to earn. All these cards earn Ultimate Rewards, which can transfer 1:1 to United miles.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred currently offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months (as well as some pretty awesome category bonuses.)
Opening a Sapphire Preferred for yourself (and adding an authorized user) and an Ink for your business would result in more than 100k Ultimate Rewards after meeting the minimum spending requirements. That’s enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one direction in the comfort of business class.
I personally have booked myself a first class ticket on Lufthansa from Toronto to Munich for Oktoberfest in the fall (before the United devaluation), but due to a scheduling conflict, I won’t be able to take the trip. I haven’t redeposited my miles yet because I am hoping that more award space will open up for a different weekend…. crossing fingers!