Over the last couple of weeks no less than 10 people approached me with the same question – what to do with hundreds of thousands of AMEX Membership Rewards points for flights to Europe in Business Class.
And the answer isn't easy unfortunately. The days of easy awards with the old AMEX transfer partner Continental in Star Alliance are over. Others have high fuel surcharges.
This multi-part series will focus on getting value from your American Express points to Europe first without high furl surcharges.
So here we go – Using American Express Points for Business Class Travel to Europe – Part 1 Aeroplan
Air Canada Aeroplan has been a transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards for a long time. The transfer rate is 1:1.
1) Transfer Bonus
American Express usually runs no bonus promotions for this partner. Aeroplan had a promotion back in 2011 where all Business Class awards could be booked for the Economy price but this was a unique promotion so far.
2) Award Chart
The Aeroplan award chart can be seen here.
Business Class tickets from the US/Canada to Europe will cost you 90,000 miles for Europe 1 and 105,000 miles in Europe 2.
Europe 1 Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain (incl. Balearic Islands; excl. Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Europe 2 Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldovia, Romania, Russia (Western), Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine.
3) Award Rules
Award rules are fair with an open-jaw and a stop-over allowed.
4) Fuel Surcharges
Aeroplan does impose fuel surcharge since 2011. These can be really high – easily exceeded $1,000 on a trans-atlantic ticket.
Aeroplan fuel surcharges (YQ) are collected on the following airlines:
Air Canada (AC)
All Nippon Airways (NH)
Austrian Airlines (OS)
LOT Polish Airlines (LO)
TAP Portugal (TP)
Adria Airways (JP)
Aeroplan fuel surcharges (YQ) are NOT charged on these airlines:
Air Canada Rouge
Aegean Airlines (A3)
Air China (CA)
Air New Zealand (NZ)
Eva Air (BR)
South African Airways (SA)
US Airways (US)
From the airlines that do not charge a fuel surcharge business class availability isn't great usually.
– United is probably your best bet with flights from Chicago, Houston, Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more to Europe
– Turkish Airlines availability in business class is tight – try their connections from Los Angeles, Chicago, New York to Istanbul
– SAS availability is even harder for their flights from Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and New York
– Brussels Airlines has some good availability from New York usually
– Singapore Airlines does not release business class seats but often has great availability on their New York to Frankfurt route
– Swiss airlines often has some availability 330 days out or from Montreal or New York
Picture courtesy of http://modera.co.