There are a number of options for getting to Scandinavia (or northern Europe) with points and miles. What’s more, you can often find booking options with little to no fees so that you’ll be able to book roundtrip business class tickets and pay as little as $90! But you’ve got to know which partners are best to utilize in order to make such a booking. Here’s an overview of some of the best ways to use to miles and points to get to Scandinavia.
Aeroplan (Air Canada)
- Alliance: Star Alliance
- Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, SPG
- Economy: 60,000
- Business class: 110,000 miles roundtrip
This is one of the best ways to get to Scandinavia from North America if you think that you might be flying business class on a Star Alliance flight.
The following airlines do not carry surcharges when you book them through Aeroplan:
- Air China
- EVA Air
- LOT (has small surcharges)*
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
One of the best ways to use Aeroplan is book with alliance partner Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).
SAS is the flag carrier of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and the largest airline in Scandinavia. The have direct routes to different airpots in Scandinavia from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington.
It shouldn’t be difficult for you to find routes to Copenhagen (CPH), Stockholm (ARN), or Oslo (OSL). In fact, SAS availability in my experience is pretty exceptional and far outnumbers the availability from other airlines that flight into the region.
And the great thing about SAS is that if you’re wanting to catch a connecting flight to smaller Scandinavian cities they’ve got you covered. For example, for routes to places like Tromsø, Norway (one of the top places in the world to catch the northern lights), SAS offers many flights. A lot of times the only other airline offering flights to those cities is Norwegian Air, which is not a partner to any of the big three alliances. This is a great advantage to going with Star Alliance partners over booking with another alliance since you would have to pay out of pocket for your flight from a place like Oslo to Tromsø and those flights can be a bit pricey sometimes.
Another major reason to book with SAS is that just rolled out a fantastic new business class product. Check out a review of the newly launched business class cabin here.
And finally, when you book SAS with Aeroplan the fees are very low. You might pay up to $80-90 for a roundtrip business class with SAS! Other partners listed above and discussed below will offer you very small fees as well, but none of them can compete with the availability that SAS offers, in my experience. Therefore, SAS is my preferred option to getting to Scandinavia.
Swiss Airlines is a solid second option for using Aeroplan miles to get to Scandinavia. They fly out of the following cities: Boston, Chicago, Newark, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. Fees might be a little bit more than SAS but they are still very reasonable, often around $130. When I searched for flights for my Norway trip I didn’t find a lot of Swiss Airlines flights so you might have to do some extra work if you want to fly with Swiss.
Turkish Airlines flies out of the following cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington. I’ve found more award availability with Turkish Airlines than Swiss, but still pretty limited overall.
United flights directly to Scandinavia are few and far between, and I definitely did not see much if any availability when searching. If you do end up finding a transatlantic route with United, you’ll most likely land somewhere in Europe and then connect to Scandinavia with SAS or some other Star Alliance partner. That’s not a bad way to do it, but if you can swing the straight shot with SAS (which should be much easier to find), I see no reason to not go with them instead.
- Alliance: Star Alliance
- Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, SPG
- Economy: 55,000
- Business class: 88,000 miles roundtrip
ANA is very tempting with its ridiculously low 88,000 miles requirement for a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe (with stopover allowed). The issue with ANA is that it will pass on pretty significant fuel surcharges if you book with partners, such as SAS. These fees for a roundtrip ticket will be about $500 or more.
ANA will not pass on heavy fuel surcharges if you book with United but it’s going to take some extra effort to get to Scandinavia since you’ll likely have to connect with a Star Alliance partner that passes on more expensive fees, such as Lufthansa or Brussels Airlines. If you end booking a United flight through a city like Amsterdam and then connecting to a city like Oslo, you can expect to pay around $300 to $500 in fees for business class.
Thus, in some instances it may be worth it to book a business class United flight from the US to a random city in Europe, such as Amsterdam and pay the small fees incurred (usually less than $90). And then, you could pay for a budget airline to take where you want to get in Scandinavia for as little as $150-$175 round trip. Such a routing could end up saving you a couple of hundred bucks and allow to capitalize with points by booking such a low fare to Europe.
- Alliance: OneWorld
- Ways to earn miles: SPG
- Economy: 45,000
- Business class: 115,000 miles roundtrip
If you’re not able to make it to Scandinavia with Star Alliance partners, OneWorld does offer a few decent redemptions to get there. The issues I ran into with One World partners were limited availability and the fact they they didn’t offer many connecting flights to smaller Scandinavian towns like Tromsø. Still, even with some limitations, the redemptions to get there at 115,000 miles roundtrip is very competitive.
One obvious choice to go with when trying to get to Scandinavia is Finnair (I’m just gonna roll with Finland being considered a part of Scandinavia). They have flights out of Miami, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, though flights do not depart everyday of the week. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find open seats on the direct flights to HEL and the awesome thing is that you can redeem these routes for less than $80 in total fees! Thus, if your final destination is within Finland, this is a great option.
If you’re wanting to get somewhere else in Scandinavia like Norway, Sweden, or Denmark, Finnair can still be a solid choice. The issue is just that your routing options are going to be a bit limited. You’ll find fewer flights to fewer locations than you would with SAS but it’s still a smart way to get your connecting flights covered with miles and points and although there are fewer flights, the availability can be great.
American Airlines is a great way to get to Scandinavia if you can find SAAver availability. Most of the options found searching the American Airlines website will probably be British Airways flights routing through London but if you look hard enough you can also find American Airlines flights to other destinations in Europe. Try to find connecting flights to Scandinavian destinations with Finnair or Air Berlin to avoid going through London and you can minimizes the fees.
The fees for booking with Air Berlin are very reasonable and can be under $100. Air Berlin flies directly from its German hubs to and from New York, Ft. Meyers, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Find out more about their routes here. I found the availability from North America to Europe very poor for business class but very good for economy. If you want to book with Air Berlin, it might take some extra effort but it will likely be worth it.
Of course, there’s always British Airways to get you where you need to be. Availability for British Airways usually outnumbers every other airline when searching on sites like the American Airlines site. The issue with BA is always the fuel surcharges. In my experience, you can sometimes mitigate the damage by only booking BA to get back to the US from Europe. However, if you book a round trip business ticket you’re likely looking at over $1,000 in fees.
- Alliance: SkyTeam
- Ways to earn miles: Chase Ultimate Rewards, SPG
- Economy: 50,000
- Business class: 80,000 miles roundtrip
Korean Air’s 80,000 mile redemption to Europe (roundtrip) is an absolute steal. Korean Air will slap you with some decent fuel surcharges unless you’re able to book with Delta. Thus, I highly recommend trying to find Delta over any of the other partner airlines to Europe because you will likely be forced to pay hefty fees that make that great redemption rate of 80,000 less appealing.
The major issue with Korean Air is that it’s a logistical headache to book award flights with partners. You have to call in to make the bookings and submit special applications for your tickets. You can read more about booking award tickets with Korean Air here. If you’re willing to deal with the extra legwork, however, the 80,000 business class redemption is very hard to compete with.
- Alliance: SkyTeam
- Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thankyou points, SPG
- Economy: 50,000
- Business class: 125,000 miles roundtrip
Flying Blue is a very solid option for getting to and sometimes even getting around Scandinavia. If you can find availability with Delta to get to Europe, the fees will be very manageable, and maybe around $130. I was able to find Delta availability getting back to the States in business class but struggled to find open spots for getting to Europe. If you fly over the Atlantic with an airline like KLM, you’re going to pay significant fees totaling close to $500, so be aware of that.
The strategy for Flying Blue is the same for the previous airlines in terms of avoiding fuel surcharges. That strategy is to find availability to Europe with the low-fee airline (in this instance Delta) and then focus on finding your connecting flights.
- Alliance: Partners include American Airlines, Iceland Air, Air France
- Ways to earn miles: Alaskan Airlines credit cards, SPG
- Economy: 40,000 (off peak) to 65,000
- Business class: 100,000 to 125,000 miles roundtrip
Alaskan Airlines is one of the best ways to book American Airlines flights since you can get to Europe in business class for as low as 100,000 miles and in economy for as low as 40,000 miles.
The issue with using Alaskan miles to book American when getting to Scandinavia is that you can’t book multiple partners together (American gateway cities aside). Because American Airlines doesn’t fly to Scandinavia, you’d be left with the option of hopping over to Europe and then finding a budget airline to get to Scandinavia, which isn’t a horrible option considering the low fees and mileage requirement but it is an extra hassle.
I found a lot of availability with Icelandair and it’s a lower redemption rate of only 110,000. The biggest knock is that its business class seats are not on the same level of quality that you could get when you book with other airlines to Scandinavia and most Icelandair routes found on Alaskan depart from the west coast (Seattle). Moreover, many of the itineraries are mixed-class, meaning that you might be flying in economy from Seattle to Scandinavia! Thus, the comfort factor may come into play and may not make this option for business class as appealing as it appears to be at first.
Overall, my favorite way to get to Scandinavia is to book SAS business class through Aeroplan. The availability is great and the fees are non-existent. My next favorite option would be using ANA miles to book a United flight to Europe and then connecting to my desired city in Scandinavia. American Airlines, Korean, Flying Blue, and Alaskan all also offer decent options but they don’t seem to offer quite as many attractive (and practical) options for getting to a bunch of locations throughout Scandinavia.
Cover photo by Mariusz Kluzniak via Flickr.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.