Best Ways to Use Miles and Points to Get to Paris, France

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Paris is one of the top destinations for travelers and a top destination for many people looking to book award tickets as well. The good thing is that there’s plenty of different award programs and routing that you can take advantage of to get to Paris, so you should always be able to find something that works. Here’s a look at 11 of the best ways to use miles and points to get to Paris, France (not Paris, Texas) 

1) Flying Blue

  • Alliance: SkyTeam
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thankyou points, SPG

Miles needed:

  • Economy:
    • 25,000 miles (best promo)
    • 50,000 miles – Standard redemption to Europe
  • Business class:
    • 125,000

Flying Blue offers amazing promo deals that sometimes offer as much as 50% off to Europe! These deals pop up at the beginning of each month so you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to take advantage of them. If you can ever find a promo award to Europe for 25,000 in economy, that’s one of the most valuable sweet-spot redemptions available. It’s just a rare offer so I wouldn’t count on it but instead just monitor the promo awards. The business class awards to Europe on Flying Blue aren’t the best bargains available but they’re still not that bad at 125,000 miles.

Air France

I don’t generally recommend to use Flying Blue miles to book tickets on Air France. And that’s because you’ll have to pay high surcharges. For example, if you booked a roundtrip from ATL to CDG with Air France, you’d be looking at paying over $500 USD in fees!

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SkyTeam partners/Delta

If you can book awards on SkyTeam partner Delta, you can dramatically limit the fees you’ll pay. For example, here’s a flight with Delta from ATL to CDG with fees totaling around $156 USD.

Ignore the backwards itinerary.

For economy awards with Delta, you can book tickets with fees as low as $113 USD. And for 50,000 miles, that’s not bad at all.

I searched for availability for flights to Paris about 6 months out and for economy the availability was exceptional and even for business class it was pretty good as well. It wasn’t very hard at all to find Delta flights, either. Below is a snapshot of the business class availability for April/May with the red squares showing Delta flights departing to CDG.

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Stopovers 

Flying Blue also allows for stopovers, so you could always try to work one of these in en route to or form Paris. The rules for Flying Blue stopovers are the following.

  • You are allowed an open jaw on your destination so long as you remain in the destination zone
  • You are allowed one stopover (you must book over the phone)
    • Stopover must be different from country of departure
    • Maximum of three segments allowed to get to destination
The Eiffel Tower.

2) British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios operates on a distance-based chart, so your points requirement depends on how many miles your trip covers. Generally, when going to Europe it’s recommended to use Avios on partner airlines in order to avoid the high fuel surcharges that you get hit with on British Airways when flying through London.

a) Aer Lingus

Off-peak rates: 

  • 26,000 Avios – Boston to Dublin
  • 26,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago/Toronto to Dublin
  • 32,500 Avios – LA/San Francisco to Dublin

One popular way to get to Europe with British Airways is to book flights with the Irish airlines, Aer Lingus. The Boston to Dublin route is highly valuable because it contains a total of 2,987 miles, which puts it just under the 3,000 mile range of the next bracket for British Airways and many of the other routes only require 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Check here for a list of all Aer Lingus direct flights from North America.

December 11, 2016 update: Rates have changed with using Avios to book Aer Lingus. To read more check out my article here.  

You can always book a connecting flight with Avios from Dublin to Paris. The distance is under 500 miles so you would be looking at about 9,000 additional Avios for a roundtrip. If you wanted to save on the Avios you could always pay out of pocket for the two hour flight to Paris. You should be able to find roundtrips between Dublin and CDG for less than $200 with most airlines and less than $100 if you fly into other Paris airports with Ryanair.

To book these awards, you’ll need to search United’s website to find availability for Aer Lingus availability and then call in to British Airways to proceed with the booking.

b) British Airways

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC to CDG

Off-peak flights from the East Coast to Europe can be as low as 34,000 Avios. However, I don’t generally recommend to fly with British Airways to Europe because you will get hit with heavy fuel surcharges. For example, while it’s only 34,000 Avios to get to CDG from JFK, if you’re routing though London (which most do) you’ll be paying $740 in total fees. 

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If you take an alternate route to DUB the fees are lower but still very high at $537. 

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And if you dare to fly business class from JFK to CDG through London, you’ll have to cough up over $1,000 in fees! 
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For those reasons, I’d generally try to avoid flying on British Airways.

c) Air Berlin

  • 40,000 Avios – NYC to Berlin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Boston to Düsseldorf
  • 50,000 Avios – Chicago/Miami to Berlin
  • 50,000 Avios – Ft. Meyers/Miami to Düsseldorf

Air Berlin is a solid choice to get to Europe from the East Coast with minimal fees. Just take a look at the redemption below… the $93 in total fees pale in comparison to what you would have to pay if you booked a British Airways flight on its own metal. All you’d have to do it make your way to Paris from Germany, which wouldn’t be very difficult.

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And remember, with British Airways you can stopover and/or open jaw pretty much anywhere but you’ll have to factor in the increased distance added to your redemption.

d) American Airlines

If you can find the availability, you can always use Avios to book American Airlines flights. The fees aren’t quite as steep as some of the other partners but they are still pretty high at over $300.

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3) Iberia Airlines Plus

  • 34,000 – NYC/Chicago to Madrid
  • 42,500 – Miami to Madrid

Iberia Airlines Plus is part of the same Avios system as British Airways and implements a distance-based system as well. However, it has its own unique redemption policies that do differ and has an advantage over British Airways in that you can avoid higher taxes and fees.

One sweet redemption is getting from Chicago or New York to Madrid for only 34,000 Avios and “only” about $180-$200 in fees (which compared to British Airways is actually not bad). At that point you could either use more Avios to get to Paris or as discussed hop on a low budget airline. 

You should be able to lower the fees by booking flights on American Airlines, but keep in mind that the milage requirement will go up since Iberia charges more miles for certain partners and you can’t book one-way awards on American Airlines with Iberia. 

Chimera on the Notre Dame Cathedral.

4) ANA Airlines

  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, SPG

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 55,000
  • Business class: 88,000

The economy redemption to Europe for 55,000 miles is decent but the mileage requirement for 88,000 miles to Europe in business class is one of the best sweet spot redemptions out there. ANA will pass on heavy fuel surcharges with many of its partners but United is an exception. Thus, if you’re thinking about using ANA miles to get to Paris, then I recommend trying to book United flights.

I found flights in economy flying on United to Paris with fees of only $113.  I wasn’t able to pull up an all business class United flight on ANA’s website but the total fees for such a flight shouldn’t be unreasonable since there shouldn’t be surcharges.

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ANA’s search feature is great when it works but many times it’s a PIA with its incessant error messages. Thus, sometimes you may want to search for United flight by segment on United’s website and/or Aeroplan’s website. Those sites will give you a good indication of whether or not there are any United flights available to Paris and then if you need to you could call in to book them.

ANA allows for one stopover but they do limit their award tickets to only roundtrips.

L’Escargot in Paris.

5) Japan Airlines 

  • Alliance: One World 
  • Ways to earn miles: SPG

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 40,000+
  • Business class: 65,000+

JAL offers a number of tremendous rates for redemptions but the problem with JAL is always that the only major transfer partner is SPG. This makes it very difficult to accumulate lots of miles compared to most of the other programs.

JAL operates with a distance-based award chart, so your redemption requirement to Paris will obviously be better the closer you are. You can get to Paris in business class from the places like New York, Miami, and Chicago for only 65,000 miles which is insane! If you’re heading to Paris from the West Coast your mileage requirement will be over 11,000 miles so you’ll be bumped up to the 80,000 mile requirement for business class which is still an awesome deal. Also, if you fly on American Airlines, fees can be as low as $130!

If SAAver awards weren’t so hard to find in business class and JAL was a transfer partner of an additional rewards program, JAL would be much higher on the list. 

La Joconde aka The Mona Lisa.

6) Singapore Airlines

  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thankyou points, SPG

Miles needed:

Singapore Airlines offers two routes to Europe. One from JFK to Frankfurt and another route from Houston (IAH) to Manchester (MAN).  Those routes can be redeemed with Singapore Krisflyer miles in the following ways.

  • Economy: 34,000
  • Business class: 97,750

It’s worth noting that the JFK to FRA route is on the A380, which of course is the aircraft with the Singapore Suites.

Singapore Suites First Class A380
Singapore Suites.

Both redemptions will require some pretty hefty surcharges, however. For economy you’re looking at around $311.

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And for business class, around $475.

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Those fees aren’t that bad considering that the mileage requirements are pretty low and Singapore’s business class product is one of the best in the game. However, when it comes to getting to Paris, you’d still have to find a connecting leg to Paris.

If you book awards on Star Alliance partners the requirements go up and there’s no discount so your redemption requirements would be: 

  • Economy: 55,000
  • Business class: 130,000

Although Singapore Airlines allows stopovers on roundtrip saver awards, they do not allow stopovers on itineraries with only European cities. 

The Seine Paris France
The River Seine.

7) Korean Air

  • Alliance: SkyTeam
  • Ways to earn miles: Chase Ultimate Rewards,  SPG

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 50,000
  • Business class: 80,000

Korean Air offers one of the best ways to get to Europe in business class with its ridiculously low redemption of 80,000 miles. Unfortunately, you will pay surcharges for most airlines and those can get quite high. I’ve heard conflicting reports about the surcharges for booking Delta flights with Korean Air but when I called in and checked with a Korean Air agent and inquired about an all-Delta itinerary, I was told the fees for a Delta flight would be over $600 (and that was just in economy).  

The drawback to Korean Air (in addition to fees) is that you have to jump through some hoops for your bookings. If you’re booking for more than person, you’ll probably have to send in an application for the “family plan.” In addition, for partner awards you usually have to call in or worse, send in an application. It can all be a PIA but with such low mileage requirements for business class, many people happily comply with these requirements. You can read more about booking with Korean Air here.   

Alleyway in Paris, France.

8) Alaskan Airlines 

  • Alliance: Select partners
  • Ways to earn miles: SPG and Bank of America Alaskan credit cards 

Alaskan Airlines offers rates that differ depending on the partner. There are several different partners you can utilize to get to Europe and they are below: 

Air France/KLM

  • Economy: 65,000
  • Business class: 125,000

American Airlines

  • Economy: 40,000 (off-peak); 60,000 (peak)
  • Business class: 100,000

British Airways

  • Economy: 65,000
  • Business class: 120,000

Delta

  • Economy: 65,000
  • Business class: 125,000

Emirates (New York to Milan)

  • Economy: 95,000
  • Business class: 210,000

Icelandair

  • Economy: 45,000 (low)
  • Business class: 100,000

Out of all these partners, I think American Airlines is probably the best bargain for both economy and business class (100,000 in business class is great). Icelandair options are decent too, but their product isn’t exactly on par with American Airlines. Also, some of the other economy redemptions are higher than they would be if you just booked with the partner airline’s own miles (Air France, British Airways, etc.) and some redemptions like those for Emirates are just sky high. Thus, I’d probably try to use Alaskan miles on American to get to Europe, and although finding availability in business class can be difficult, that off-peak 40,000 redemption in AA economy is very nice.

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9) Aeroplan (Air Canada)

  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, SPG

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 60,000
  • Business class: 110,000 miles roundtrip

Aeroplan has a decent redemption rate for getting to Europe in business class and if you want you can even book one awards. The key to booking with Aeroplan miles to try to make your bookings on the airlines that don’t require you to pay fuel surcharges. 

The following airlines do not carry surcharges when you book them through Aeroplan:

  • Air China
  • Brussels
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • Scandinavian
  • Singapore
  • Swiss
  • Turkish
  • United
  • LOT (has small surcharges)*

With these Star Alliance partners it’s not usually difficult to find some way of getting to Paris with limited fees. 

The Louvre.

10) American Airlines

  • Alliance: OneWorld
  • Ways to earn miles: SPG, Citi credit cards

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 45,000 (60,000)
  • Business class: 115,000

American Airlines operate the following direct flights to CDG.

  • BOS
  • CLT
  • DFW
  • MIA (no)
  • ORD
  • JFK
  • PHL

I struggled to find MileSAAver availability in business class on American Airlines’ own metal from various airports to CDG but economy SAAver seats were much easier to find. If you are lucky enough to find SAAver business class awards, total fees in business class can be as low as $120 (and fees can be as low as $80 in economy).

One World Partners

When searching for flights to Europe with American Airlines you’ll see a lot of search results for British Airways and some other partners. Here’s a look at a couple of those partners you might want and not want to book with.

British Airways

I  highly recommend to avoid booking British Airways flights with American Airline miles unless you’re okay with paying very high surcharge rates. For example, the roundtrip below on British Airways flights comes out to over $1,000 in total fees for just one person.

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Finnair

A much more reasonable option and one of my favorite uses of American Airlines miles is to use American miles to book on Finnair and route through Finland on your way to Paris. The total fees on that partner for a roundtrip business class trip are only $117!

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American Airlines doesn’t allow you to route through a third region subject to exceptions and Europe is not one of those exceptions. Thus, you can’t go through the Middle East or Africa to get to Europe without paying the higher mileage requirement. Also, American Airlines does not allow stopovers, so you lose some flexibility.

11) United

  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles:  Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase cards, SPG (2:1)

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 60,000
  • Business class: 115,000; 140,000 (partners)

Award availability for saver economy was good when I searched but not the greatest when I searched for business class awards from some hubs like ORD and IAH. However, once I got very far out on the calendar (like 9 to 11 months), the availability opened up and I found some United flights on their new Polaris product. On those flights, fees only came out to $126 USD. 

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The vast majority of the flights I found were on partners, such as Turkish Airlines, LOT, SAS, and Air Canada. For some of the partners like LOT and SAS, the total fees for the round trip were only $88 USD. These fees aren’t bad at all but you have to keep mind United has a much higher mileage requirement for partners that requires 25,000 additional miles. 

Final word 

There are tons of different ways to get to Paris, whether flying directly or indirectly through other European locations. I suggest you playing around with some searches from your nearby airports and taking note of the different routes and availability. Then with that in mind, you should be able to find the right program to get you to Paris in no time. 

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