Tips For Flying Business Class To Europe Using United Miles

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As I mentioned previously, over the coming days and weeks you’ll see the occasional post from a fellow reader who has applied to write for OMAAT on an ongoing basis. It’s possible that posts will still be in the publication queue after we’ve announced our decision, so we’ll be publishing these anonymously. We hope you enjoy the different perspectives!

This post was written by Sam Roecker.


Summer is almost here and it’s the perfect opportunity to redeem some of those sign-up bonus miles! How does business class to Greece sound?

United has a massive European network and great partners, so it’s possible (although not always easy) to book a flight to just about any major city in Europe. United is also launching several new routes to Europe this summer, including Newark to Porto, Newark to Reykjavik, San Francisco to Zurich, Denver to London, and Washington Dulles to Edinburgh.

This topic came to mind specifically because a friend just asked me last week, “how do I fly business class to Europe with MileagePlus?” He’s a total miles newbie and almost made the mistake of booking United’s dreaded three-class 777-200 (gasp!).

Where do I start?

United has a great tool for viewing award rates between origin and destination. Since Europe is definitely a summer favorite, I’ll focus on travel between the US and Europe, and I definitely want to splurge for business class.

One reason I love MileagePlus is simplicity. They have two very distinct categories: Saver Awards and Everyday Awards. A one-way Everyday Award to Europe in business class is 155,000 miles, more than double the miles of a Saver Award.

Of course, Saver Awards are much harder to find, but nowhere near impossible if you know where to start. It’s also worth noting an Everyday Award in economy is 70,000 miles, the same amount as a Saver Award in business. It sounds confusing, but the answer is quite simple: never book Everyday Awards.

Within the Saver Award category there are two subcategories:

  • travel on United metal
  • travel on Star Alliance/partner metal

United recently devalued its program (translation: increased miles needed); fortunately Europe received only a nominal increase in miles needed for redemption. One-way business class travel on United metal is 60,000 miles while partner travel is 70,000 miles.

One thing I like in particular about MileagePlus is that while partner flights are slightly more expensive, they do not add fuel surcharges which can often set you back several hundred dollars. It’s truly a sweet spot of the program. United miles are also easy to accrue, given the partnership with Ultimate Rewards.

Cards for earning United miles

For the sake of simplicity, “fixed prices” (i.e. no fluctuation) are great since you always know how much it will cost to get to your destination. Of course, not all airlines are created equal, and not all cabins and planes within each airline are created equal.

Flying United “Polaris” to Europe

I’ll spare you my full review of United Polaris, but the rollout has been challenging, to say the least. Your options to Europe are quite limited if you want the advertised experience with the Polaris seat.

The only aircraft fully configured with the new Polaris seat is the brand new 777-300ER, United’s replacement for the 747. They mostly fly to Asia and Tel Aviv, but there are a few routes to Europe this summer:

  • San Francisco – London Heathrow eff 23APR18
  • San Francisco – Frankfurt 23MAY18 – 03SEP18
  • Newark – Frankfurt 24MAR18 – 31JUL18

These routes are of course subject to change or last-minute substitutions, but given it’s now March, I’d feel confident booking one of those routes.

Now, this is where details are extremely important: while the 777-300ER has the best cabin, the 777-200 could be the absolute worst, depending on the configuration:

  • Three-class 777-200 (operated by United), mostly flying Chicago – Asia with the dreaded 2-4-2 business class and “Polaris First”
  • Two-class 777-200 HD (operated by United) “high density” cattle car almost exclusively flying to/from Hawaii and between hubs (and from Newark to Dublin, Barcelona, and Madrid this summer)
  • Two-class 777-200 (operated by Continental) with a more appropriate 2-2-2 configuration and a very sizable cabin of 50 seats; flies mostly ex-Continental routes from Newark and Houston

Unless the 777-200 shows a 2-2-2 business class, do not book it.

United is currently retrofitting its three-class 767-300ERs. Only a handful have been completed, (you can check the progress here) and right now they’re subbing in various flights between Chicago, Houston, Newark and Europe.

Two-class 767-300s, 767-400s, and 757-200s have the same seat, which is perfectly fine but not amazing. The 757-200s are especially tired, such a shame for an otherwise gorgeous plane!

There’s at least one thing United did well with Polaris, the bedding by Saks. It’s among the best of any airline in my opinion, and certainly a (small) reason to consider flying United metal on eastbound red-eyes where sleep is important. I brought my own Saks Polaris bedding on my Turkish flight this summer, but that’s a story for a different day.

The best Star Alliance options, plus the stepchild Aer Lingus

The first and most readily available option is United’s joint venture partner Lufthansa, which has consistently available business class options. While Lufthansa’s First Class delights, its business class merely satisfies; it is, however, a consistent hard product (seat) across the fleet. I’d recommend Lufthansa business on the 747-8 (upper deck), A380, and A350; but otherwise I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly them. Lufthansa stands out for consistency, which is something to be said for an airline its size.

Lufthansa Group subsidiaries SWISS and Austrian both offer a far superior experience in business class. You can find award space on both carriers, but their route networks are a fraction of the size of Lufthansa — you’ll need to be flexible.


Swiss business class

SAS Scandinavian Airlines has one of the best business class seats and is consistent on all routes (service is hit or very miss). The cabin finishes are so delightfully Scandinavian with truly incredible attention to detail. It’s gorgeous and absolutely worth trying.


SAS lounge Stockholm

Aer Lingus is an often overlooked option since they are not part of Star Alliance or any alliance, despite being part of IAG (British Airways). They offer a solid hard product and fast-growing network. If you’re flying to Dublin or the UK it’s a good option.


Aer Lingus business class

LOT Polish and Turkish Airlines are always available for a reason: the product is average and generic. Turkish does have incredible food—seriously—but in my opinion, excellent food served by completely disinterested cabin crew ruins the experience. The cabin was also at least 80 degrees… not fun when you’re trying to sleep.

TAP is just a mess. I’ll leave it at that.

Options are looking slim, what should I do?

You’ve searched all of the obvious routes and nothing is coming up except a two-stop itinerary with a twelve hour layover. I get your frustration; I’ve definitely been there!

As someone who searches for flights at least daily, there are a few “oddball” routes I always keep in my back-pocket. There’s nothing “odd” about the airline or product, its just a list of routes you wouldn’t normally think of (hence the availability).

In no particular order:

  • SWISS New York – Geneva [A330-300]
  • SWISS Boston – Zurich [A340-300]
  • Lufthansa Charlotte – Munich [A330-300]
  • Lufthansa Detroit – Frankfurt [747-400]
  • LOT Chicago – Warsaw [787-8]
  • Aer Lingus Boston – Dublin [A330-200/300]

These less-common routes can have significantly better availability:

I’m sure there are more out there. Does anyone want to share their “secret” route*?


As a reminder, this post was guest-written by a fellow reader. Feedback is appreciated, but please keep the comments kind and constructive.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Well thought out, informative and enjoyable read. I enjoyed the subtle wit and humor. I would welcome more posts by this author. Keep up the good work OMAAT Team!

  2. For a guest article the writing was relatively good. However, it feels to have been cut short at the end, because for many people (this far into the year), they will still not be able to find the better carriers’ award space they’re looking for. I think it would’ve done well to provide some additional strategies on what to do if no seats are found — book something by redeeming business but seated economy, with options on how to check back and waitlist/reticket if business opens up (and the differences in your ability to do this on UA vs partner flights). Something that continues the steps many people will have to experience in search of biz awards.

    Also, putting pictures of the other airline cabins in the middle are definitely “Lucky” style writing to promote his other articles, but are unnecessary and just fluff.

  3. Was the article cut short? Seems like the whole thing was the intro and ended before getting started.

  4. I like this article. We live in a world of negatives and humor is always what I look for. Just make reading enjoyable.

  5. Can you use United miles to book a flight on Air Canada? Is it as easy?

    Can you schedule a flight from the US to Europe through YYZ or YUL on Air Canada using UA miles?

  6. If you are 2 people and nab one of the side pairs of United’s 2-4-2 business class, it’s perfectly adequate. I’ve flown it several times. The biggest problem with it is the fact that there is no storage when seated, so everything must go in the overhead bin.

  7. Favourite so far! As a U.K. based global services member this is really useful info.

    Best route I’ve found is Swiss Zurich – Miami on the 777-300er.

    Reasonable availability at saver level, only problem is you have to deal with Miami airport at the end of it!

  8. Apparently, the guest editor is a short person (or at least one with small feet). Otherwise s/he would have found out that the foot/leg space on LX/OS/SN in Business is extremely limited and that at least LX severly resticts good/better seat choices to their own frequent flyer.

  9. Agree with Neal above for all the reasons he cited, and I’d also welcome my posts by this author. A frustration I have with these Europe premium strategy articles, however, is that the vast majority tend to focus on East coast departures. I get that in large part it’s an award seat supply issue, but for those of us living on the West coast it would be really nice to understand the detailed options out of LAX/SFO, etc. If I score a premium lie flat cabin seat award, I want it for the 10-11 hour duration, rather than flying sub par domestic biz class to the east coast for a connection.

  10. Good article. Plus the referral pimping must definitely earn him points with Lucky and Tiffany 😉

  11. Don’t understand why “777-200 could be the absolute worst”. For most of us who don’t enjoy business class daily, can you please elaborate?

  12. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I don’t mind the pmUA seats at all. I’d take them over pmCO seats any day. For the same reasons, I’d go for LO or TK over other options.

    Also, spending extra 70k for EI on BOS-DUB always seems like a poor deal unless you’re rolling in signup bonuses.

  13. @George

    “Worst” is relative.

    “Guest” was discussing the various business class configurations on UA’s planes, and the old-United 777’s are the worst among the group.

    I’ve been on that product – there is a wide open cabin with entirely straight lines and right angles. if you are in the middle on this 2-4-2 product, you will have neither a window nor an aisle. And will far more private than coach, it has just about the least privacy of any major business product.

    United may suffer for the same reasons that BA does – they pioneered flat bed business among US carriers,as BA did on the entire planet, and others have passed them by.

  14. Welll written… Seems pretty basic… as anyone in this hobby would know that partners cost more, aircraft type matters and creativity is a must. And I still don’t know how to get to Greece.

  15. If you’re flying in summer and you keep your eyes peeled in late winter and spring, you can almost always score a round-trip fare right around the $2000 mark. Once you calculate the $300-$500 worth of miles you’ll earn by buying the fare, then factor the fuel surcharges and copays you’ll pay on a points ticket, it’s next-to-impossible to justify using airline miles.

    If I were really short on cash, I’d try to use the Chase Reserve portal to buy the cash ticket with 1.5x UR and still earn all of those points.

  16. I’m a very frequent EU-US flyer. With my home base in Sweden, I’ve flown SAS business a lot and found it to be an average but consistant product. I’m a bit surprised that you prefer LH/LX/OS over TK and LOT. I for one REALLY love TK and I really like LOT, and I hate Swiss’ super cramped and rock hard seat, awful amenities and average food. I’m flying OS C to LAX in a couple of days but I’m not looking forward to it – would much rather travel on TK.

  17. While UA provided me with my worst long haul business class to date, the 2-4-2 configuration was actually great for us as we were traveling with two daughters (one of them infant). A two-two configuration would have made everything much more difficult. But that was the only positive thing of our ORD-FRA flight.

  18. @Mark F, @Tiffany

    In addition to YYZ and YUL, Air Canada also flies to Europe from YVR, YYC, YOW, YHZ, and YYT. May as well look. You might luck out and find availability. Personally, I would stick to the 777 & 787 product, as it’s the newer reverse herringbone seat, rather than the old (and worn) herringbone seats you’ll find on the 767s and A330s. And IIRC, they’re introducing 737s with non-lie flat seats on routes ex YYT and YHZ, so beware those routes.

  19. I’ve seen a few good posts, but this one resonates with me. I feel like UR is hyped by Lucky and other bloggers more than the other programs (maybe better referrals?), and so I figure most readers will get the most out of posts discussing things like this (since UR->United and Chase partners with United for their CC). At least for me, UR and Star Alliance are my go-tos.

    Maybe on the sole basis of subject content I like it most, don’t quite feel it was the best writing quality of all of them, though I wouldn’t go so far to complain. And agree with others that it felt cut short.

  20. Nice piece. One point about TAP: they may not be great from a redemption perspective ( at lease in access to awards, clarity of process, etc) but one thing they do well is sensible o/w fares, at least in economy.
    For example, most flights from US east coast to Europe are overnight and consequently best done in business. Flights back are mostly daytime and bearable in economy ( just…). TAP offers o/w Lisbon -Miami for €217-230 ( USD 250+). It’s a short flight , 8 hours or so, morning departure, early afternoon arrival with easy connections. I would consider splitting the trip into reward business to Europe, paid economy back. Not for everyone but that’s how I would do it.

  21. I think this topic is a bit too broad. Availability to Europe on star alliance, especially in the summer, depends HIGHLY on what city you’re starting from in the US (good luck on diect SFO/LAX flights!), how far ahead or last minute you’re booking, what day of the week you want to fly (not everyone can be flexible), and how many people you’re trying to get tickets for (one ticket in business class maybe easy to fine, but most people don’t travel single for an international trip ). Also, I am someone who values not having a connection in the US after I land from Europe. I want to just be home.

    Personally, I would be so excited to find saver availability for business on United, even if it was the old 777, that I would book it instantly if it was for that date and route I wanted. Sure, Swiss business class is lovely – if your employer is just buying you a ticket.

  22. The fatal flow to this post is you should use Aeroplan aka AMEX MR to fly any of UA/LX/SAS/LOT because of the lack of YQ charged for these specific carriers and because MR are less valuable than UR. Conversely, I would use UA MP aka Chase UR to fly AC/LH/OS. But probably not because I save them for Hyatt.

  23. An excellent, well-written, thoughtful, delightfully tongue-in-cheek summary of the options using United miles to fly to Europe.

    I am a solo traveler, who enjoys being alone. So I favor carriers that have single business-class seats. IAD is the nearest international airport to me. The top three from IAD are DUB on Aer Lingus (especially on returns to IAD), VIE on Austrian and CPH on SAS. Of these, VIE is the main one I book with United miles, but I used United miles to book a return in July on Aer Lingus. I typically would book Aer Lingus using 50K Avios with fuel charges under $150 and SAS using 55K Aeroplan miles.

  24. I’ve flown in both the old UA and the old CO seats dozens of times. While I understand the reasons why people hate on the pre-merger UA seats, I don’t think they are that bad and in fact I find that they are actually a bit more comfortable and a better “fit” for me. If someone flies in business class a lot they will have their own preference. If they don’t normally fly in business class, they will still be very happy with the old UA seat and I don’t think we need to warn them away from it so strongly.

    When I first reached 1K status 8 years ago, I had to be very careful about 777 configurations too. That was because some still had recliners instead of the “new” flat beds which are now being disparaged!

  25. Now, if I could only get business class from LAX-MOW on American. Cash in 55k miles plus taxes. LAX-LHR in economy. LHR-MOW on BA in business class. What a screw job.

  26. I booked a biz-class during the Big3 fare war out of PDX last week.
    UA is running the 787 from DEN-LHR and I locked in a seat, but was unable to find it on the return leg (a Sunday). It’s definitely worth it to fly on the 787 because you’re fighting fit the second you land.

  27. Have not found LH availability (outside of near departure) to be anywhere near as generous as the writer is suggesting. Furthermore, the idea that BOS-DUB on EI is a secret route of the writer’s is absurd given that it was arguably the most notorious TATL route for miles for a number of (recent) years. The other information is fine, and I have no issue with the writing quality, but I still think the best of these so far was the one on AC discounts intra-Canada.

  28. I thought there would be tips on how to get award seats to Europe. “Fly to Poland” or “Fly via IST” is not hugely helpful. How can I get an award seat on ORD-EDI nonstop (UA)? I’ll never know.

  29. wife and i live near Sacramento airport. leaving for Europe April 10, returning May 2. we were able to book United business saver awards to Berlin and from Munich flying to Denver and then Lufthansa to/from Germany. 70,000 each to Berlin; 57,500 each coming home.

  30. It’s sad that most of these guest contributions revolve around “I have used miles for this and I think it’s genius”. How about doing actual reviews?

  31. Great post! Very informative and helpful for me as a miles newbie. I just got a United Explorer Card and looking for a way to use my sign up bonus. Europe here I come!

  32. Loving the refreshing attention to detail regarding seating in the various planes here and the no holds barred review. This guest writer needs to be invited back on some other topics—I would love this type of detail and plane dissection on, say, a South American route.

  33. I would like to see more from this author. Really good info and things I didn’t think of. Funny, but to the point.

  34. I’m with the majority. Definitely one of the best posts by a Guest author. Useful information presented with an easy-to-read style.

  35. Yay for guest articles… more of the nitty gritty details on awards and points (that was original reason for following this blog).

    While Air Canada is stingy with premium summer space, adding YUL and even YYZ to list of origins opens some interesting options (5 biz seats on Swiss, as I found last year).

  36. Seem the minority, but I didn’t find this appealing at all. Quite targeted/less relevant, and a ‘gee-whiz’ style of writing that also seemed to state the mostly obvious. Weakest guest contribution I’ve read.

  37. Literally my first comment on this website, despite being a longtime reader. This is the person you need to hire. A great blend of wit, links to other articles on the site and solid, workable advice. As a United MileagePlus collector, since they serve my local airport, this has been the most useful article on the website in a long time.

  38. We flew TAP last year, LBN to EWR.Service was terrific.Food quite good, too. But when I tried to find TAP flight from Lisbon to EWR next spring, none were shown on the United site. Is this a new wrinkle, and if so, how do I use MilagePlus for TAP flights?

  39. Will take TK (as long as it’s not a J middle seat) over LX any day. Overall, I find this post boring compared to most other ones.

  40. One of your guest writers should research and write an article on bag allowance: carry on and checked, number, weight, elite allowance, alliance allowance, interline, and overnight holding. That would be very useful information all in one article. Everyone carries some sort of a bag on the plane right? You would get a fantastic click through for new visitors searching Google for baggage allowance.

  41. I flew Swiss from Zurich-Los Angeles last summer and it might have been my favorite business class experience. Excellent all around. Another flight scheduled this June on Austrian from Vienna to LAX. Looking forward to a similar experience.
    If the routes work for you you’ll be glad you chose carries like Swiss/Austrian/Air Canada over the primary SA carriers like UA & LH.

  42. Information about SFOFRA is wrong wrt/ 777-300ER. There has been a year-round 777-300ER (US 58 and US 59) using the 777-300ER for a while now. During peak Late Spring / Summer / Early Autumn travel peaks, an additional round trip is run. It is starting off this season with an pmUA 777-200ER aircraft but will switch to a new 777-300ER later in the season as more of these aircraft are delivered to United.

    United also currently flies to Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels. Some of these flights are flown on pmCO 767-400ER aircraft or in upgraded but non-Polaris pmUA 757-300ER aircraft, that although not Polaris-configured (don’t know if or when that may or may not happen), their 2-1-2 business class seating is quite comfortable. The single seat in the middle is especially desirable and are grabbed up quickly as those cabins are booked.

  43. Useful article for me as I live near IAD and if I want a direct flight, it’ll likely be on UA whether I like it or not.

    They forgot to mention that if you have a United Mileageplus credit card, that opens up more availability/flights. You have to log in with your MP account, and it’ll show you which flights are open to you just because you have that card. To me, that’s worth the $99/year I pay for my MP Explorer card, even though most of my purchases go on my Chase Sapphire Reserve.

  44. 1. How to fly to Greece from LAX using UA miles via Star Alliance: Turkish Air via Istanbul. Nonstop LAX to IST. And I love flying TK-/ have you been in their lounge in IST??- tho I DONT love their phone service ugh!
    2. Secret Flight to use UAL miles via Star Alliance with Super Saver Award: Austrian Air LAX to VIE nonstop. I’ll twll you more in a week. Lol
    3. Secret return flight from Europe to West Coast using Alaska miles: LIS to LAX — Going EAST on Emirates with FREE Stop in Dubai! More on that in a month.
    4. UAL has NO nonstops to the Continent from LA. And if you use miles to upgrade to Business Class, that upgrade is only good for the leg “across the pond.” — they can and DO bump you on legs within USA. Go nonstop LON— at least you get your Business Call seat l the way LA to LON

  45. Why is IB not mentioned pretty good hard product 1-2-1 excellent redemption rates (even without the recent promo)?

  46. Great article, easy to follow, very informational, a dash of humor, didn’t heap on needless superlatives, or trash anything/anyone without reason.
    Really enjoyed their writing style and attention to details with research.
    I hope this writer makes the cut.

  47. @IKC

    Why on Earth would you want to fly to Europe from the US via Turkey?

    @Patrick Oh

    Why on Earth would you want to fly to Europe from the US via Dubai?

  48. Julia,

    You inquire of IKC “[w]hy on Earth would you want to fly to Europe from the US via Turkey?” Perhaps you should have your coffee prior to writing.

    Why on Earth do you not already know why? TK has a very nice business product and has for some time. And it has a beautiful lounge in IST. As for distance travelled, for trips to the Balkan peninsula, any side tracking or backtracking is minimal. Indeed, I have friends whose family rather needs to travel through IST as they nationality status makes traveling through EU hubs rather difficult.

  49. Agree with others that this is a great post. The best kind of post.

    Also agree with others that I would like much much more about tips for starting west coast. Have had LAX success with LX and soon to try SAS and OS. But any tips to finding availability appreciated.

  50. Random thoughts . . . just my own 2¢, and no doubt worth far less; feel free to keep the change.

    1) The article is well-written.

    2) The article seems poorly edited, as it does seem to stop rather abruptly without a real finish/ending/conclusion (and I can’t imagine it was written that way, unless OMAAT gave the author a specific word count and so he/she stopped at exactly that number!).

    3) The information contained in the article seems rather basic. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing — one would presume that OMAAT has a readership with varying levels of knowledge, from those who are just starting out and have only a rudimentary knowledge of “all this,” to those who have been involved in this “hobby” for years and have (almost) as much knowledge as Tiffany or Lucky. Thus, I would expect some articles to be aimed at a more “basic” readership, while others aimed at a more knowledgable base.

    4) When it comes to “best/worst” designations, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. In other words, no one size fits all. For example, there *is* something to be said for the 2-4-2 seating IF, as someone pointed out above, you are traveling with children. I would MUCH PREFER this option were I flying overseas with small kids (mine are grown now) than flying (e.g.) VS Upper Class. Conversely, were I traveling alone, I’d rather fly in a window seat on an aircraft with direct aisle access (e.g.: one of the single seats on a SWISS or Air Canada 777-300ER, or on SAS, etc., etc.).

    5) As someone else pointed out above, the majority of *all* articles on OMAAT suffer from an “East Coast bias,” meaning that when speaking of flights to Asia, blog posts will talk about West Coast departures, and also mention any East Coast/Midwest nonstop flights, BUT when it comes to flights to Europe, often only East Coast departures are mentioned, and the article above is no exception. While I know that a) no single article can cover every departure point to a particular destination, and b) not all of your readership is US-based, it IS true that this is a US-based blog and that it often overlooks West Coast departure points to Europe. (Food for thought.)

    6) While TAP used to stand for “Take Another Plane,” this is far from the case today. While true that, at 60″ of pitch/20″ of width, the seats are not the largest Business Class seats in the air¹, the service and food are vastly improved over what was being served a decade ago. Further, their on-time performance has improved significantly. (BTW, the business class seats on Lufthansa are 64″/20″; on Swiss, they are 60″/20.5″.)

    etc., etc., etc. . . .

    _______________
    ¹ And, it’s important to point out, that some TAP A330s planes still operate with “angle lie flat” seats rather than true flat bed seats. As with some UA flights, always best to check out the specific plane type before booking.

  51. Great post! I typically look for UA saver business awards for RT from LAX to either Europe / Japan in shoulder seasons. But I have really hard time finding both outbound and inbound for business saver at the same time and typically ended up with one way with economy saver and one way with business saver. As the post noted some routes may have more business saver availabilities (Lufthansa Charlotte – Munich, Lufthansa Detroit – Frankfurt etc.), are there any ways to search for LAX to FRA via Detroit (or LAX to MUC via Charlotte) without searching multi cities and then booking separately for LAX -CLT (25k) and CLT-MUC (70k)?
    Looking forward to see more from this writer!

  52. There are a couple of references above to SWISS business being “cramped” or similar, or more so than sas, etc. And a comparison to LH based on pitch. Is reported pitch really a good measure? It seems like it is applies differently to different seat designs, or is reported differently by different airlines. Eg seatguru does have Swiss as 60”. And sas at 77”. But there’s no way these seats – different generations of same designs, I believe – are that different in space.

    Is there a way to get an objective, comparable *density* measure between business classes?

  53. @jfhscott

    I did have my coffee. The comment was still ridiculous.

    There are European and North American airlines whose product is on par with TK, and some, depending on what city you are flying from, have an even better hard product than TK (reverse herringbone on Air France and Air Canada, as 2 examples).

    Sorry, but even to the Balkans, it is too much of a side-track or back-track to go through Turkey when it is just so much easier to go through Europe proper than through Turkey.

    If you are legally in the US, then you should have no trouble transiting through EU hubs with a valid US visa at the minimum.

  54. I have NEVER found a saver business class to Europe from the US. It’s not for lack of trying. I routinely find them on American and Delta. Been keeping a MileagePlus card around because they’re supposed to show you more availability if you have one, but it rarely does and never has on a business class flight. My US cities are a-typical so that might be why.

  55. Writing: 8.5/10 (good writing.)
    Content: 7/10 (this is a tough one to give a score. But i go with many comments that this article felt like it was cut short. This is a broad topic, and content score would be much higher if author had rated the ranking of his transaltantic options in terms of preference from comfort perspective (so we know what to choose if we have a range to pick from), plus also highlight 5th freedom routes that many people may miss out on, ie man-iah and fra-jfk for transaltantic (and i believe most will agree that sq J is one of the best product around). Guest author covering these would score higher in content; the writing itself is good. On balance, especially missing out on the 5th freedom routes, i thought this will be fair.)

  56. This is an incredibly broad subject so any experienced writer is not going to hit the mark for everyone. It’s a good start 🙂

    My 2 cents’ worth. I live in Wyoming (USA) so I always have to go through DEN if I’m going to Europe. Choices are 2 or flights on UA metal or taking LH and now the direct to LHR. I am re-sampling all options this year to make decisions. The direct is nice but means a long layover, like 5-6 hours coming back. LH has a solid middle-of-the-road J service and their connections in MUC/FRA are pretty good. Out of high season you have plenty of choice in terms of seats even though you can’t get advance seating on awards. (Tip; if you break up your connecting flight to DEN or start at DEN, you can now get at least assigned seating and it will show you what you have got.) Taking 2 flights to Europe on UA metal can be a hassle in terms of weariness, especially with jet lag coming back. And that’s with no surprises due to delays, although most of the time they have worked out ok. Avoid EWR and ORD in summer: total zoo. Even IAH can be horrible to go through TSA after landing with pre but you can take the deep subway to Term C as it’s a lot quieter and walk back to term E.

    On 2-4-2 in older-configured b777s: although less desirable, I travel alone most of the time and I’d rather lie down in a middle block in J than tough it out in E+ on overnight flights.

    I’m not a fan of TK and usually I would have to double back to where I am going big time. Maybe the new Istanbul Airport provide better experiences landside. LX is ok but prefer OS in J.

    I learned my lesson this year in snagging too many one-way awards on RTs!

  57. This article is boring. The information provided is readily available. The title is misleading. Reading this article is a waste of my time.

  58. Marissa, what does this mean? “I learned my lesson this year in snagging too many one-way awards on RTs!” I do that all the time, mainly because I use the trip as a repositioning to/from Hawaii.

    But regarding Wyoming, do you have direct flights to SLC or SEA? I’ve been doing a lot of flights on Delta that are non-stop from SLC or SEA, for 70k miles.

  59. Even thou I am a United Club Gold member I am sort of a newbie at using my bonus miles. I am planning a European trip in 2019 so this article provided a lot of insight in planning for my trip. Appreciate the info. Great article!!!

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