Cheap summer economy award flights to Europe with transferrable points

Summer is the peak time for flights across the Atlantic, and prices reflect how many travelers want to visit Europe in the sunshine.

Round-trip economy flights for less than $400 are common in the slower winter months. However, if you want to walk the cobblestone streets of Rome or take in the sunset on a Greek island next summer, you can expect to pay significantly more than this.

While redeeming points and miles for long-haul economy flights isn’t usually a great value — aim for premium cabin redemptions instead — $1,500 round-trip economy flights next summer are not unusual.

If taking a stroll past Buckingham Palace or the Eiffel Tower is more important to you than scoring a lie-flat bed, we’ve rounded up the best value economy award options for travel to Europe.

Loyalty programs for the “Big Three” U.S. airlines — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — have low fees, low taxes and good availability for economy class flights to Europe this summer. However, their dynamic pricing means you can expect to pay at least 80,000 points or miles round trip to Europe, which is not a great deal.

Instead, look at programs with fixed or more reasonable pricing.

The good news is these programs partner with several major transferable credit card points currencies, so you have plenty of options to top off your account.

Related: A review of United Airlines economy on the Boeing 767 from Newark to London

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club


If you plan to travel to the United Kingdom next summer, consider redeeming Virgin Atlantic points. You’ll need 40,000 points for a round-trip journey from the East Coast or 50,000 points from the West Coast on peak dates between June 16 and Sept. 2, 2024, which is a decent deal. If you can travel outside of those peak dates, you’ll only need half as many points.

Daily Newsletter

Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter

Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts

Virgin imposes fees, taxes and fuel surcharges of just under $500 per person round trip, so compare this against equivalent cash fares. If you can find a cash ticket for less than $800 on peak dates, paying cash is probably a better deal.

Award tickets include free seat selection and checked baggage.

If you’re traveling to other destinations in Europe, Virgin Atlantic is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, meaning you can redeem Virgin Points on airlines like Delta, Air France, KLM, Air Europa and Aeromexico.

Flights operated by Delta to the U.K. have their own award chart, with economy flights from 15,000 Virgin points each way for travel from the East Coast on standard (off-peak) dates. You’ll need to use up to 30,000 points for travel from the West Coast on peak dates.


Flights operated by Delta from the U.S. to mainland Europe are priced at 30,000 Virgin points each way on all dates.

Redemptions on other SkyTeam airlines are distance-based with no peak or off-peak pricing. Most destinations to Europe from North America will fall within the following distances (prices are per person each way and exclude fees, taxes and surcharges):

Flight distance (miles) Virgin points required (economy)
3,001-4,000 20,500
4,001-5,000 25,500
5,001-6,000 31,000
6,001-7,000 37,000
7,001-12,000 50,000

Air France-KLM Flying Blue


The Flying Blue program prices awards dynamically, meaning they can vary significantly. It’s common to see 100,000-plus miles for round-trip economy flights to Europe during peak periods.

However, starting saver prices to Europe were recently reduced to just 30,000 Flying Blue miles round trip. While these prices are scarce in summer, we found return flights for 40,000 Flying Blue miles plus a reasonable $218 in fees, taxes and surcharges on Air France and KLM on peak dates fairly easily. So, it’s worth your time to play around with dates and city combinations to see if you can find a good deal.


Also, watch out for Flying Blue’s fantastic monthly Promo Rewards, where a select number of routes can be discounted for a limited time.

Iberia Plus


Dreaming of sunny Spain? Iberia flies from a handful of destinations in the U.S., including Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

You’ll need just 20,000 Iberia Avios each way in economy to travel to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) from the Midwest and East Coast on peak summer dates.

The fees, taxes and surcharges are reasonable at around $100 each way, and these flights include checked baggage.

British Airways Executive Club


If a trip to the Emerald Isle is on your bucket list this summer, you can fly to Ireland via the British Airways Executive Club program. Aer Lingus flies to Dublin Airport (DUB) from several destinations in the U.S.

If you focus on the Northeast, consider New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). In that case, you can book round-trip economy flights for as little as 33,000 Avios plus about $360 in fees, taxes and surcharges, depending on the departure airport.


You can also combine your Avios across the four airlines that use it as a currency.

Related: 4 versions of Avios: When to use Aer Lingus, Qatar Airways, Iberia and British Airways

Avianca LifeMiles


The quirky Colombian airline loyalty program has long been an underrated option to book Star Alliance flights on airlines like United, Lufthansa and Air Canada.

Maintaining a zone-based award chart, the carrier’s chart is complex, with the U.S. and Europe divided into three different zones each, resulting in nine different award chart options just for economy. Most of these zone pairs are for 30,000 miles each way (so 60,000 round trip), which is an acceptable but not excellent deal.

There is, however, one sweet spot: Flying from the northeast U.S. to Northern Europe and some of Western Europe costs just 20,000 miles each way. This includes the U.K., Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway.


With minimal fees and taxes, this is a great way to fly to these selected countries in Europe. It is also handy that Star Alliance member Scandinavian Airlines has multiple bases in Northern Europe covered in this zone, opening up more flights and more redemption options.

How to earn transferable points

Earning transferable credit card points allows you to use them in various programs when and how they suit you. As major airline programs switch to dynamic pricing with those 100,000-mile prices for economy trips, having flexibility is more valuable than ever.

Related: Complete guide to airline and hotel transfer partners for the major credit card programs

You can transfer points into the following programs at a 1:1 rate:

If you’re looking for a new card in one (or more) of these programs as you plan future travel, here are some solid options:

For additional options, check out our best credit cards page.

Bottom line

If you want to book flights to Europe next summer, your affordable cash options may be few and far between now. Round-trip economy flights above $1,000 are the norm, not the exception.

This means points and miles can be a great way to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. While some programs will now charge you 100,000 miles or more for a round-trip economy flight to Europe, some affordable options exist.

If you have transferable points, you should focus on the programs above for the best value redemptions.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *