ACT FAST! Wide Open Business Class Award Space To Europe!

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If you have plans to go to Europe in the next 11 months, stop everything! Star Alliance carrier Austrian Airlines has released a ridiculous amount of award space on routes to and from North America, through the end of the schedule.

How ridiculous?

Like 8+ business class award seats per flight, nearly every day, from all North American destinations to the Austrian hub in Vienna.

Typically Austrian only releases space to Star Alliance partners within 90 days of departure, so this is fantastic and rare. Seriously, you want to book this.

Is space actually that good?

Yes. Here’s the availability for 8 people out of New York over peak summer dates (the dots are premium cabin space):

Austrian-Award-Space-004

And from Miami over the winter holidays:

Austrian-Award-Space-006

The situation is similar from other destinations — a little bit less space over the winter, but as you get into Spring and Summer availability is plentiful.

Where does Austrian fly?

In North America, Austrian flies to:

  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • Newark
  • New York JFK
  • Toronto
  • Washington Dulles

Austrian-Award-Space-001

They have several destinations beyond Vienna, obviously, and you can connect with other Star Alliance carriers on either end.

What miles can I use?

You can use miles from any Star Alliance carrier, at the following rates:

Airline ProgramOne-way Miles Required - BusinessTransfer Partners
Air Canada AeroplanEurope 1: 55,000
Europe 2: 57,500
American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
ANA Mileage Club88,000 (roundtrip)American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
Avianca LifeMiles63,000
Lufthansa Miles & More52,500Starwood Preferred Guest
Singapore KrisFlyerSingapore Only: 48,875
(includes 15% online booking discount)
Partners: 65,000
American Express Membership Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Citi ThankYou Points
Starwood Preferred Guest
United Mileage PlusUnited: 57,500
Partners: 70,000
Chase Ultimate Rewards

Really though, you want to use United MileagePlus miles.

United doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on award tickets, and they’re going to be high on Austrian otherwise (~$600). You’ll pay just a few dollars in fees on United award tickets:

Austrian-Award-Space-002

United also allows a stopover on award tickets (for now), so you could pair this with another destination in Europe, or continue on to Asia or Africa.

What is Austrian’s business class like?

Austrian operates newly-reconfigured planes with a lie-flat seats in a staggered configuration:


Austrian business class


Business class seatmap

Catering is by Do&Co, so is fantastic, and Austrian is unique in having a full specialty coffee menu:


After dinner coffee on Austrian

You can read Ben’s reviews of Austrian here, if you’re interested:

It’s a solid product, and a great way to get to Europe.

Bottom line

Book now, adjust later. United will allow you to make changes or cancel within 24 hours for no penalty, and I wouldn’t expect this space to be available for more than a day or so.

Please let me know what you book in the comments!

About Tiffany

Tiffany Funk is a passionate traveler who splits her time between California and Italy (when she’s not traveling elsewhere!) Her posts offer a different perspective on earning miles, tricks for balancing multiple household accounts, and break down the basics of redeeming miles for aspirational travel -- whatever those aspirations may be!

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Comments

  1. I want to travel to Europe in 9/2017. Can I book for an existing date and postpone my ticket for the later date when it opens up?

  2. Numbers on Aeroplan are old. Think its 55K one way to Europe 1, and 57.5K to Europe 2 now. ANA number is roundtrip, comparing to one way for others. Still, UA MP is probably the right way to go to avoid surcharges elsewhere.

  3. @ Shan — Not reasonably, no. Tickets are valid for one year from date of issue (so no later than August 18, 2017 if you ticket today). There’s also no guarantee the same space will be available at that time, so you might want to wait in your shoes.

  4. The mileage requirements for Aeroplan are at the pre-devalued amounts. Europe 1 is now 55,000 oneway and Europe 2 is 57,500 oneway

  5. I just booked MIA-VIE, and FCO-MIA a few days ago using Aeroplane miles. The taxes were not that bad (if you stay away from TAP). For some reason if you book it as a RT vs. two one-ways, then the fuel charges fell significantly

    Two RT (open jaw) was like $595.00 for biz class…used Prestige for flight delay ins.

  6. Highly recommend this. Thanks for point it out. I flew OS in J from VIE to IAD in October last year and it was great. I loved it. One thing to note – keep in mind that OS uses 767-300s on many US routes – including IAD and JFK. Those are still in good in J, though a little tighter.

  7. I think there is a mistake, you will not get the 15% kris flyer booking discount on star alliance award flights.

  8. @ Joel — Not a mistake, the Singapore and Partner rates are listed separately. I knew if I didn’t include it someone would say “But wait! I thought SQ was only 48,875 to Europe in J!” so seemed better to list both.

  9. WARNING – careful. I too saw that and rushed to make some changes to some upcoming trips I have planned. I couldn’t ticket it online. So I called United directly. The agent said they couldn’t see ANY of this award space on Austrian that the website is showing, and she put me on hold. Talked to their .com desk and their .com people couldn’t either. The .com desk said they specifically are having availability issues with Austrian right now, and that the web site is showing a lot of stuff that isn’t truly available.

  10. @ Jason — That’s not good! The space shows on the Aeroplan and Avianca sites as well, and doesn’t seem to be phantom. Austrian could be starting to pull the space back though.

  11. @ Tiffany — Just booked MIA-VIE without noticing the equipment is 767-300…argh..are the seats the same as 777?

  12. Just booked Memorial day weekend on Austrian Airlines and got the confirmation from United via email

  13. @ Jeff – YES!!! It’s $1,200 in fees alone for a round-trip ticket on ANA compared to $92 (I just looked) on United. It’s extra 52,000 United miles but saves you ~$1,100 which is 2.1 cents per mile which is higher than general consensus of 1.2 cents per United mile.

  14. @ Jeff, actually ANA charges “just” $983 in fees which still translates to 1.7 cents per United miles. The earlier quote was from Aeroplan charges.

  15. Dang thanks for the heads up. Probably sitting this one out but trying to learn more about Star Alliance award bookings. Bulking up my UR stash. Waiting for the CSR next week.

  16. Would LOVE to take advantage of this using Aeroplan, but they’re showing more than $1,200 *per ticket* for RT ORD-VIE in April, 2017. Could that be right??? I don’t have any Aeroplan miles in my account yet, so I’m wondering if that could be skewing things?

    Carrier Surcharge $1,102.80

    U.S. International Transportation Tax $45.80

    U.S. Passenger Safety Fee $7.20

    U.S Passenger Facility Charge $5.80

    Austria Passenger Service Charge $26.70

    Austria International/Domestic Passenger Security $12.10

    Austria Air Transport Levy $50.70

    U.S Agriculture Fee $5.10

    U.S.A Immigration User Fee $9.00

    U.S. Customs User Fee $7.10

    Total per passenger $1,272.30

    Total passengers 3

    $3,816.90

  17. @ Jim, YES, that’s the correct surcharge on Aeroplan, unfortunately! Try ANA for 88,000 miles (vs. 110,000 Aeroplan miles round-trip) with $290 cheaper fee to boot.

  18. I just booked using lifemiles, it is 63,000 one way and not 75,000. The 75,000 rate is for North of Central America to Europe.

  19. ORD-VIE April 11, 2017 return April 25, 2017 business class

    ANA: $1,000 in fees
    Air Canada: $1300 in fees
    Singapore: Showed no availability

    I have a surplus of AMX points so that’s all I checked. Bummer.

  20. Wow! Thanks for the heads up. Just booked ARN(Stockholm)-Vienna-Miami in Business class with Lifemiles (63K plus $90) for next June. Was wondering how I was going to get back to the states from Stockholm. This works well!

  21. SQ doesn’t allow you to book partner awards online. Does anyone have an idea what the total fees would be for US-VIE using SQ miles?

  22. Flew the ORD-VIE with my family two years ago to get to FCO. Enjoyed both the seats and the service. Have already booked LAX-IAH-MUC-FCO and return ATH-MUC-IAH-SNA on UA for 57.5k each way or I would have jumped all over this. Thanks for the updates even if I didn’t take advantage.

  23. You are the best! I just booked my trip for July with UA points and got my fave seats! Thank you!

  24. So, any advice on how to select seats on the Austrian award ticket (through Lifemiles). Through Austrian airlines site? Do I need to call? Advice appreciated.

  25. @ Terri M — You can add domestic segments as long as they have save availability. Chicago and Toronto will probably be the easiest for finding connecting space.

  26. @Tiffany,

    The record locator from LifeMiles works on the Austrian website, but I will check and see if Austrian does have a different locator number. Thanks for the suggestion.

  27. So I have 65,000 miles on miles and more, sounds like I need to transfer to Starwood’s, and then book? Is it a one to one exchange?

  28. On United, I can see ORD-VIE business available, but as soon as I try to add an additional domestic segment to ORD using their craptastic multicity search tool, all business availability to VIE disappears.

  29. I think the 767 may be preferable as it is 1-2-1 in C class. I flew it a couple of years ago VIE-IAD. I wasn’t especially impressed with VIE. The OS lounge was pretty horrible for what should be their flagship airport. And the whole security and boarding process was even more screwed up than most places. On-board product was fine though.

  30. Tiffany,

    My wife and I are planning a trip from CLE to BUD on 11/12 and returning VIE to CLE on 11/19. Currently, I only have enough miles to book the CLE to BUD flight. My 70k United miles and 156k AMEX MR won’t become available until my statements close on the 20th. Is there any way to hold the return flight?

    Also, in your opinion, would this be the best way to get to Budapest in Business Class?

  31. One additional question! Looking at seats for the leg from ORD to VIE, it says advance seat assignments aren’t available and to see an airport agent during check in. Is there a way to ensure my wife and I sit next to each other on this flight?

  32. Avianca booking complete! Two ORD – VIE tickets in April (school break week) for me and my 13-year-old son were 252,000 LifeMiles and only $233.06 all-in. Well worth it, thanks for the post!

  33. ORD-VIE in business on aeroplan points
    impossibly uncomfortable seating with tiny foot space making turning impossible
    the flying chef is a joke….serving very dried out tasteless food on my flight, served ‘restaurant style”…with the exception of the strudel! and yes very good coffee Ben
    would not repeat

  34. Someone needs to answer @Tyler’s question above. I’m also trying to book on the United website, and am getting a message that I can “choose my seats from the gate agent when I check in for the flight.” What?!? I don’t want to take a chance on making a reservation for long flights like these in business class and NOT be seated near my spouse! Am I doing something wrong?

    [Also, about half of the flights out of SFO and LAX are on Turkish Airlines with stops in Istanbul. Um, no thank you!]

  35. @ Tyler @ Terri M — You always have to contact the partner carrier directly to secure seat assignments. Once you’ve booked your flight, you will get confirmation numbers for both United and Austrian. Call Austrian, give them the confirmation number, and they’ll help you select seats.

  36. @ Scott B — You can transfer miles fromSPG to Miles and More, but not the other way around. The exchange rate is 1:1, but with a 5k bonus if you transfer 20k.

  37. Tiffany,

    Thanks for your help! We booked CLE to VIE on 11/12 through United/Austrian. I only have 77k Chase UR points left. I also have 50k Delta points and 156k Amex Member Rewards. Do you have any thoughts on the best way to book business class for the return flight on 11/19? We would likely do VIE to CLE again…or possibly Prague to CLE. Thanks for all your help! This article really helped make a dream trip start to come true for us.

  38. @ Tyler — Well, CLE can be tricky, but maybe look at flights through Aeroplan. The fuel surcharges are steep for Austrian flights on Aeroplan though, so you could book one ticket with United, and one through Aeroplan, or look at other carriers.

  39. 140k miles on United is a bit high… especially for those of us in the west who would rather fly direct from the west to europe. But, it’s not easy to get business class availability. Are these lie flat seats?

    I can get these rates to come up connecting through to major hub cities, but not my city. Maybe because it requires me to spend a night in the hub city. So in that case should I call reservations and can they work it out?

  40. @ Cindi Anderson — Yes, they are lie-flat seats, and it’s rare to see so many seats together. Connections can be tricky, but I’d suggest searching segment by segment (so I would search for San Diego to Chicago, and then Chicago to Vienna separately, for example), but domestic award space has been pretty bad with United lately.

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