Paris, France is a favorite trip for many, but with ticket prices soaring even for economy tickets, and business class often going for $3000-8000, it's time for some tips on booking award flights to Paris.
- Now that Lufthansa and Swiss have virtually eliminated advance first class award availability (see How to Deal with No More Lufthansa Advance First Class Availability), the best Star Alliance first class product that is bookable in advance is arguably United; US Airways Envoy Suites offer better value if you can get them at the off-peak saver rate
- The best oneworld first class product is British Airways, but you'll incur high fuel surcharges flying into London. It can still be well worth it if you have plenty of Avios points to burn, or are using a Travel Together Ticket, however: two first class roundtrip tickets for 120K Avios + ~$2000
- The best business class award products, at least if you want a fully flat seat, are the US Airways A330-200 Envoy Suites, United 767-300, and Delta 767-400ER to London (then Eurostar or flight to Paris)
- For a business class award, if you hope to get some sleep, avoid carriers with an angled flat seat or recliner seat. This includes Lufthansa (angled flat), Air France (angled flat), American Airlines (angled flat), United 767-400 (recliner), US Airways 767-200 (recliner) and Airbus 330-300 (recliner)
- The cheapest business class award is Boston-Dublin roundtrip on Aer Lingus for 50,000 Avios; then grab a cheap flight to Paris (see Maximizing British Airways Avios-Aer Lingus Business Class Available)
- Since there are a number of low-cost European carriers, consider flying into another European city and taking a cheap flight to and from Paris
- If flying into London or Brussels, you have the option of taking the Eurostar train to Paris
First Class on a United 767-300 from EWR to Paris via Zurich: 135,000 United Miles
- Just 6 seats in United First
- Great first class seats are comfortable for sleeping, although blanket a bit thin
- Soft product (service and food) are typically average, and inferior to Asian carriers such as Singapore and Cathay Pacific
- Links to earn the miles:
- United MileagePlus Explorer (up to 65,000 miles–see Best Travel Credit Cards)
- Ink Bold Business Card – 50,000 points (50,000 points transfer 1:1 to United miles)
- Ink Plus Business Card – 50,000 points (50,000 points transfer 1:1 to United miles)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa – 40,000 points (40,000 points transfer 1:1 to United miles)
First Class on Lufthansa (Last Minute): 135,000 United Miles
- This is only an option if booking last minute; first class award space is no longer released in advance. Below, I found availability for a May 2 flight BOS-MUC-CDG
- 8 seats in the Lufthansa First
- Lufthansa's new first class suites on the A340-600 are very comfortable and offer more privacy than the old Lufthansa first class, but aren't as private as, say, Cathay Pacific. Turndown service provides a comfortable mattress, duvet, and pillow.
- Soft product remains strong, with usually attentive service, although food by most accounts isn't as stellar as Asiana or Singapore
- See links above to earn the miles
First Class on British Airways to London: 120,000 Avios + $1097 plus Eurostar or cheap flight to Paris
- 14 seats
- British Airways' new First Class is available on NYC JFK-London LHR flights
- New First Class seats are wider at the shoulder and turndown service is offered, with mattress, 400-thread count Egyptian cotton duvet and pillow
- Individual wardrobe to hang coats and suits
- Soft product: in-flight service generally very attentive and friendly; food is very good, Concorde Room design and facilities excellent, although lounge service can be lacking.
Business Class on a United 767-300 to Paris: 100,000 United Miles
- United usually has good saver business class availability between Washington Dulles (IAD) and Paris (CDG). Just make sure your aircraft is the 767-300 with fully flat seats, and not the 767-400 with recliner seats
- 26 business class seats: Here's an example of the seat map:
- Fees can be very reasonable–see this example of one-way business class EWR-IAD-CDG for 50,000 United miles + $5
- If flying from the West Coast, consider an itinerary that goes through Brussels, such as the following: SFO-BRU-CDG for 50,000 United miles + $25 one-way in Business Class, or 67,500 miles + $25 one-way in First:
Business Class (Envoy) on US Airways A330-200 to Paris: 60,000 Dividend Miles (Off-Peak)
- While it will probably require some planning ahead, and you do have to go during low season to get the off-peak saver award (Jan. 15-Feb. 28 2013 currently bookable), this is a great deal if the flights and timing work for you.
- If you have the US Airways MasterCard, the award costs just 55,000 Dividend Miles
- Here's a LAX-PHL-CDG route; you can see that one-way pricing is 30,000 miles + $30
Business Class on Delta 767-400ER: 100,000 Skymiles (Low level award)
- While I personally don't earn or redeem Skymiles, I've heard good things about Delta's fully flat business class product on the 767-400ER
- Keep in mind that Delta doesn't offer first class to Europe, and Skymiles partner awards are only for business class; no first class award redemptions on partners
- Apart from earning Skymiles directly by flying Delta or via a Delta credit card, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card is good for earning Membership Rewards points, that you can then transfer to Delta, hopefully during a time when they're offering a transfer bonus.
Business Class on Aer Lingus Boston to Dublin: 50,000 British Airways Avios points + cheap flight to Paris
- If you can manage to leave from Boston and get a cheap flight from Dublin to Paris, this is a great deal: 50,000 Avios points roundtrip (flight from Dublin to Paris is additional)
- If you and your spouse or friend both sign up for the British Airways Visa and each just use the card once, you have enough points for each of you to get a round trip business class award to Europe
- Main con is that Aer Lingus Business Class seats are angled flat, so you may not get great rest on them. Boston-Dublin is only a 6 hour flight though, so not as crucial as, say, U.S. West Coast to Paris
Coach on Aer Lingus to Dublin: 25,000 British Airways Avios points + cheap flight to Paris
- If you're simply looking for the cheapest award flight, it's hard to beat Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin in coach for 25,000 Avios + $146 in fees, then get a cheap flight on Ryanair to Paris. That way you get to see Dublin as well, while avoiding the hefty fees associated with most Avios award redemptions to Europe.
Airlines and Routes with First and Business Class Award Availability for Europe
Best International Business Class Seats for Sleeping
Maximizing British Airways Avios-Fly Aer Lingus to Europe and Avoid Fuel Surcharges
How to Find Star Alliance Award Space
How to Find Oneworld Award Space
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