When Are The Extra Miles For Business Class To Europe Worth It?

One question that seemed to get raised pretty regularly is when is it worth it to spend the extra miles on a business class redemption to Europe? In my opinion, this is a question that is strongly dependent on your home airport, the operating airline and the aircraft operated on the route. So let’s take a closer look at when it may make sense to spend the extra miles for a business class redemption to Europe.

I will start this post out by saying that since I live on the East Coast of the US, I generally tend to not want to spend the extra miles on a business class redemption to Europe. But I will also add the caveat that a lot of times it can make a lot more sense to redeem the extra miles for flights from the East Coast. Let’s take a closer look at when that may be true.

Where you are flying from and to is a huge factor in the decision of whether it is worthwhile to spend the extra miles for business class to Europe. If you are flying from Boston (BOS) to Dublin (DUB) where the flight is around 6 hours, paying double for business class does not really make a whole lot of sense unless you have a glut of points or miles to burn on the redemption.

On the other hand, if you are flying from Seattle (SEA) to Helsinki (HEL), it probably makes sense to spend the extra miles for business class since you are likely to have a few connections along the way and will be in the air for 14+ hours. The question it really boils down to is this – how much time will I be spending in the air? If that number exceeds 10 hours, business class may be worth the extra miles. If that number is less than 10 and is split between 2 or more flights, it likely makes more sense to save the extra miles and just fly economy.

Europe 7.2Austrian Airlines Business Class

The next thing you have to factor in to your decision is what aircraft is operating the route(s) you are looking at? Airlines have a plethora of aircraft that they utilize for flights between the CONUS and Europe. This includes everything from an all business class A318 to a double decker A380 featuring one of the best first class products in the sky. That means you really need to do your homework on the aircraft operating on the route you are looking at. If you are looking at a flight to Amsterdam for example and have a choice between business class on an American 757 or economy class on a KLM 747, you are probably better off taking the KLM 747 in economy. Why? Because the American 757s are old and worn out, feature angle flat seats in business class and have outdated (and often non-working) in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems. Of course if you ever have questions about which aircraft to pick, you can always drop me an e-mail at Adam@ThePointsJetSetter.com or send me a message on Facebook (after liking the page of course ::grin::).

IMG_4278Would you rather fly this?
Europe 2.2Or this?

The next thing I would factor in is whether or not you have lounge access already via elite status, a credit card or lounge membership. If you do, and the flight is short, then spending the extra miles for business class can make little sense. If you do not already have lounge access though, that can be a big deal – especially if you have a long layover. A 4 hour layover with lounge access is much more palatable than a 4 hour layover with no lounge access in my opinion. This is really down to personal taste and preference though as some people care little about lounge access. Me on the other hand, I live and die by the lounge access so it is a huge deal to me to have a place to escape the madness of the crowds.

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Checked baggage is the next thing I would factor in. I have not checked a bag in 20+ years, but I know a lot of people do. If you are one of those people and do not have access to free checked bags via elite status or a credit card, then the added cost of checked bags can substantially eliminate the savings from flying economy over business class. On the other hand, if you always carry on your bags, or have free checked bags already, this is not a factor I would even consider in the decision on whether to pay the extra miles to fly business class.

The last thing I would factor in is travel and layover times. If you only have a week of vacation and are spending 40+ hours of it in an airport just so you can fly business class, just bite the bullet and fly economy if it offers a much better schedule (which it often does). You will remember the memories made on the trip seeing the wonders of this world much more than you will those made in the business class cabin on a sub-10 hour flight. Put another way, which would you rather be doing – watching a sunset in Portugal while enjoying a frosty beverage followed by an incredible local dinner, or watching a sunset from a crowded and hot lounge where you will not actually reach your destination until several hours later and dinner will consist of a portion too small to leave you completely satisfied?

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Just some food for thought!

Final Thoughts

There really are not that many factors to consider, but you do need to weigh all of them when deciding whether spending the extra miles for a business class ticket to Europe is worth it to you personally. Everyone values their points and miles differently, so at the end of the day you are really the only person who can make the determination as to whether or not it is worth it. Just make sure you take a good hard look at the pros and cons before spending roughly double the miles for a business class award ticket to Europe.

When are you willing to spend the extra miles for business class to Europe?

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2 thoughts on “When Are The Extra Miles For Business Class To Europe Worth It?

  1. All good advice, I think, but also to be considered is how easily you can refill your miles account after buying business class. I’m a lot more inclined to ante up extra for business on United/Star Alliance, for example, since I have an Ink and I know where those miles will come from.

    1. I think the consideration of how quickly you can refill your miles is inherent in every decision to spend them, but it is still a great point nonetheless. People also value their miles differently, so where I may not re-up quickly on my United miles, I also tend to travel more often to places where my OneWorld and SkyTeam miles are better options. There is definitely no “one size fits all” approach to the points and miles game.

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