There are tradeoffs to spending miles on international business class tickets. However, the benefits of being able to use your frequent flyer status for premium perks can outweigh these costs in certain situations.

The “how many points for business class” is a question that has been asked by many people. The answer to the question, however, varies depending on what airline you are traveling with and what type of ticket you have.

The Tradeoffs We Have To Make Spending Miles On International Business Class Tickets



The Tradeoffs We Must Make When Purchasing International Business Class Tickets With Miles

on December 5, 2021 by Gary Leff

Airlines provide tickets as rewards at the lowest level that they believe they will not be able to sell for cash. They also don’t want to give up seats to anyone who are willing to pay cash. So you’ll be eating the scraps.

If you start by stating, “Here’s where I need to go, here’s the dates I need to go, and here’s when I need to make my reservation,” you’ll need to be flexible.

Rather of booking a vacation and then searching for awards, I like to wait till tickets I may desire become available and then grab them. I prefer to start with airline award availability and create a trip around it.

Steve Belkin (author of the new book Mileage Maniac), one of my award booking partners, wrote me his opinions on these tradeoffs and what they indicate for valuing partner airline awards when considering the worth of miles.

Mileage values are an intriguing intellectual exercise, but none of our clients have crunched those statistics in my 10 years and over 5 billion miles of worldwide premium class award reservations. Rather, a client’s ultimate choice to accept the low-cost/’Saver’ prize that we provide is based on a series of real-world trade-offs.

1st TRADE-OFF: Routing With low-cost award redemptions, there are usually an additional 1-2 stops, regardless of the most efficient route available with bought ticket. The inflection point is the additional travel time. Some consumers may just smile and tolerate the additional 3-5 hours. Some lounges are so well-equipped with superb food and alcohol, as well as showers and massages, that a stopover seems like a mini-spa day or a day of gourmet sampling. Some people see a 20-hour stopover as a chance to see a new place rather than a stress.

There is no way to objectively assess people’s tolerance for more roundabout routes in order to earn a low-cost reward.

2-DOMESTIC SEGMENTS TRADE-OFF There is often no Business Class award space on the domestic sector to get to the airport where the international Business Class award begins, especially on East Coast to Asia or West Coast to Europe itineraries. More than 80% of the time, there isn’t even Economy Class award space between the origin and hub airports. Instead, the consumer is obliged to agree to buy a separate Economy ticket, which comes with a number of drawbacks. To begin with, airfares vary from inexpensive to prohibitively expensive, but there is a new hard cost whatever. Frequently, the paid trip is not part of the award flight partnership. As a result, a customer with a substantial Business Class free luggage allotment is charged baggage costs on the domestic segment. Then, upon arriving at the hub airport, there is no interline agreement with the award airline, so the luggage must be claimed and rechecked, often at a whole different terminal, with all of the associated logistical cumbersome. The icing on the cake is having to go through security again.

This domestic segment hurdle can fundamentally change the tone of a trip from a seamless and leisurely option to a harried hot mess, often in both directions, unless the client wants to burn a separate domestic award at the peak rate to ensure no extra airfare and baggage costs and the time suck of claim/recheck/security.

3. Taxes/Fuel Surcharges TRADE-OFF Of course, the Big Three domestic airlines have cheap taxes and no fuel surcharges on their own flights, but finding low-cost award space on Delta and American is difficult. We typically locate more appealing and accessible low-cost award space with alliance partners or credit card airline transfer partners that have no qualms about charging large out-of-pocket expenses. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are held prisoner by London Heathrow’s high airport fees, which drive out-of-pocket expenses into the four figures. Air France/KLM offer adequate award capacity, with roundtrip taxes/fees ranging from $500-800. Other well-known high-fee airlines are ANA and Lufthansa.

The argument is that award travel is not the same as free travel.

AIRLINE OPTIONS 4. TRADE-OFF With partners Egypt Air and Ethiopian, Star Alliance award space to Africa is available 95% of the time. I’ve flown both of them many times and can attest to the fact that the ground and inflight experiences are excellent. Do I miss being a touch tipsy on EgyptAir’s no-alcohol policy in flight? Not at all. Am I disappointed that Ethiopian Airlines’ lounge does not compete with Turkish Airlines’, Qatar Airways’, or Singapore Airlines’ lounges? It’s not really a problem since it’s clean, cozy, and quiet. However, convincing customers to fly these airlines based on their impressions rather than fact may be difficult, and most clients believe they would be sacrificing the value of their miles by doing so. (Interestingly, when customers have finished their journeys with stated airlines, we have gotten almost no bad comments.) When it comes to going to South America, Star Alliance has the same expectation vs. reality difficulties. United and Air Canada’s lie-flat long-haul planes are seldom accessible for low-cost award travel. Rather, Panama-based Copa or Colombia-based Avianca are the preferred airlines, with domestic-style First Class (think Barca-loungers). Some partners, like as Singapore Airlines USA-Singapore or Air New Zealand USA-Auckland, simply do not offer capacity to partners (or do so seldom).

Saudia is SkyTeam’s only Middle East/Africa/India gateway airline. Saudia is another dry choice, with a serviceable but not spectacular flying experience. Kenya Airways is another alternative, and I’ve flown it without problem and without reservations, although clients are generally skeptical. They don’t know why, but it’s a challenging sale for them. However, they are the only viable possibilities.

The United States’ oneworld allies might also provide pause for consideration. Iberia, which only flies out of a few of East Coast airports and offers mediocre award capacity, is a good way to dodge BA’s outrageous taxes and surcharges. Otherwise, the only way to travel to Europe is to go to Helsinki and then retrace, or to fly with Royal Air Maroc, which is a good airline with a bad public image.

As a result, although brand name airlines are featured as theoretical partners on airline program websites, such brand names might be elusive real alternatives.

Is An Award ‘Valuable’? To summarize, it seems that there are several moving pieces and aspects that influence how an international Business Class award is valued in real-world scenarios. With our award booking service, we don’t get a range of values; we only get a straightforward ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ So, either rewards are worth 100% of their redemption value, or they are worth 0%.

I don’t agree with Steve’s phrasing entirely, but the tradeoffs are essential to consider. You can’t merely use the price of the ticket to establish the worth of your miles if you either (1) wouldn’t have paid that much money for that ticket or (2) would have selected a different route if you were paying that much money.

With miles, I’ve done really well for myself – and others. I’ve received the precise rewards I’d hoped for, on the airlines I’d hoped for, and at the times I’d hoped for. However, maximizing the value of miles may need some flexibility.

More From the Wing’s Perspective

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The “how many airline miles to fly to europe” is a question that has been asked for a while. The answer is that it depends on the destination, but generally speaking, you would need about 60,000 airline miles to fly in business class from the US to Europe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many miles for international business class?

A: The international business class flight from Atlanta, GA to Montevideo, Uruguay is about 2850 miles.

How many United miles to fly business class to Europe?

A: There is no option to choose a specific number of miles.

How many mile points to fly to Europe?

A: It depends on the time of day you are flying and which airport youre going to. If, for example, the current price is $11 a mile then it would be about 550 miles from here in New York City to Paris.

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