People are traveling again, but years of unprecedented “deals” on business and first class fares have now given way to tickets starting at circa $5,000 and only going up.

That’s fine for some, but for others, it calls in a desire to save some cash and finally burn some of those hard (or easily) earned points.

There are plenty of obvious and straight forward ways to do that, like using Delta SkyMiles to fly Delta, or British Airways Avios to fly with British Airways, but there are a few overlooked ways to make the journey across the pond in comfort and style, using points you may already have laying around.

Here are a few overlooked options to get you a flat bed between the US and Europe in the comfort of business or first class.

Italy-Milan-Duomo
Duomo at sunrise, Milan, Europe.

Emirates 5th Freedom & More

When people think Emirates, they think Dubai and the UAE. That’s a good thought, but Emirates operates a series of 5th freedom routes, which mean not all Emirates flights start or end in Dubai.

Emirates flies between New York and both Milan and Athens, offering direct access to two incredible European gateways. They also have a new flight between Mexico City and Barcelona.

If any of these cities could make sense in your travel plans, Emirates Skywards Miles are a great way to enjoy max comfort, without maxing out your budget. With points, many of these flights.

Points You Can Use: you can instantly create Emirates Skywards Miles by transferring points from Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

How Many Points You Need: Business Class is as low as 90,000 miles round trip and First Class is 170,000 miles round trip. One way trips are fully possible, but will require slightly more than half the mileage cost of a round trip. First class between New York and Athens is just 85,000 miles one way, with low taxes.

Bonus Tip: Emirates Skywards is a partner of JetBlue, which means you can also use Emirates Skywards Miles to book JetBlue flights between New York and London for 64,000 miles each way, and low taxes (under $250 round trip).

Singapore Air 5th Freedom Routes

There’s hardly an airline that does it better than Singapore. Amazing economy experience, stellar premium economy — and things only get better in business and first class.

Many people are already aware of Singapore’s New York-Frankfurt flight, but people forget that there’s also Manchester-Houston too. Both provide a lesser considered way to cross the pond with much better flight availability than most other airlines offer.

Singapore regularly makes its (absolutely stunning) first class suites available using points and the rates remain incredible, given just how extraordinarily nice it is. Dom, or Krug, am I right?

Points You Can Use: you can instantly create Singapore KrisFlyer Miles by transferring points from Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You Points.

How Many Points You Need: Business Class is as low as 72,000 miles one way and First Class is as low as 86,000 miles one way too. Round trips trips are easy and taxes remain really low. Manchester to Houston is also 72,000 miles one way.

Bonus Tip: Singapore has slightly “dynamic” pricing for flights, which means some days will require more points than others. Singapore allows you to waitlist for flights though, so you can always declare your interest and hope for a notification.

palm trees avios

Air Tahiti Nui LAX to Paris

Tahiti is lovely, so you could totally use this to get there. But with that said, LA to Paris is a route which is often extortionately expensive, and points can also help here, with a cool side dish of novelty.

Air Tahiti Nui flies between Paris and Los Angeles, and you can use points to book these flights from time to time. That’s the catch — space isn’t as easy to come by as it is with the other options.

Points You Can Use: these flights can be booked using American Airlines AAdvantage Miles or with Flying Blue Miles. Flying Blue is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards and also Citi Thank You Points.

How Many Points You Need: Business Class can be achieved for just 57,500 miles one way if you use American Airlines Miles. Flying Blue is sadly much more difficult to find space, since most of it is blocked, for some odd reason. LA to Tahiti isn’t for what it’s worth!

Bonus Tip: If you can find space, this is a good option for American Airlines Miles, but if that’s the currency you want to use, you have other options like American, Finnair, BA and Iberia as well, in case you have a preference.

Premium Economy (Cash) + Points Upgrade

Airlines are desperate to win over leisure customers as the world gets back to traveling and that means so far, the sales are in premium economy — not business class. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fly business for roughly the price of premium.

Most airlines offer an easy path to pay cash for a premium economy ticket (and earn miles and elite status by doing so), but then upgrade your ticket with points. Emirates even allows you to upgrade most economy tickets directly to business class.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are two of your other best bets, each adding about $100 and 20,000 miles to your total for each one way upgrade, but allowing one cabin upgrades on all fares, not just expensive fares.

When cash tickets in business are crazy expensive, spending $100 and 20,000 points to swap a seat for a bed feels like a dream.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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8 Comments

  1. There is also the ability to book cheaply if your trip starts in Europe. For instance, I can fly Biz class RT from Los Angeles to Barcelona for about $3800 this summer, but if I were to originate in Barcelona and fly RT to Los Angeles, I can get fares from under $1,700 on American Airlines.

  2. If I wanted to go SFO-NYC-MXP on Emirates what would that cost out? And I am assuming booking on Skywards? But who is their partner SFO-NYC? JetBlue? And can it all be booked as one reservation?

  3. 150k avios points I also have Amex / BA companion ticket. i want to do (with my partner) Round the World Economy from Lon then San Francisco then Hawaii(Kona), Christchurch then Brisbane onto Hong Kong then Lon, is this possible or is the BA ticketing system restrictive. I expect the trip will about 2-3 months although the SF is only a stop over or short stay. Cant seem to find out how I can check this out please. Is it worth purchasing additional Avios points if they do any special offers

  4. How is Emirates availability on NYC-MXP flights? Tried to log in to check but site is not cooperating for whatever reason.

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