Are you planning to travel to Europe between June and August 2020? You’re not alone! Australians love to visit Europe during the peak northern summer period, with many Aussies flying there during the July school holidays.
The trip from Australia to Europe is a long one, so most of us prefer to fly in Business class. And the cheapest way to do that is to redeem frequent flyer points. But with so many Australians seeking to travel to Europe at almost exactly the same time, the competition for award seats is intense.
If you’re thinking about redeeming points to travel to Europe in June or July of 2020, now is the time to book. Most airlines release award seats between 330 and 360 days in advance. 330 days from today will be 21 July, 2020 – which covers up until the end of school holidays in most Australian states.
At this point, the only seats you won’t have access to are on Jetstar flights, or Qantas long-haul flights if you don’t have Gold or higher Qantas Frequent Flyer status. So, now is your best opportunity to redeem your points and book your seats before everyone else does!
If you are planning to redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points to fly to Europe next summer, now is also a good time to book because Qantas will increase the number of points required for premium cabin awards on 18 September 2019.
On 18 September, Qantas will also reduce some carrier charges on its own flights. But Qantas releases almost no premium cabin award availability to London – its only European destination – anyway. This means you’ll probably need to fly with Qantas’ partner airlines, for which carrier charges are not changing. So, in our opinion, it’s not worth waiting.
Which is the best frequent flyer program for award travel to Europe?
In our opinion, the best frequent flyer program to use for award travel from Australia to Europe is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. It costs fewer KrisFlyer miles to fly to Europe than it does using Qantas or Velocity points. There are also no fuel or carrier surcharges when redeeming KrisFlyer miles for Singapore Airlines flights. Plus, you’ll have access to far better Business and First Class award availability. Qantas and Oneworld award availability to Europe has been particularly limited lately.
If you have Velocity points, you can redeem these for travel to Europe in a few different ways. The best award availability is with Etihad Airways, however you’ll need to pay the Etihad Airways carrier charge unless you’re booking award travel that originates in the Philippines. Other options with Velocity points are to fly with Singapore Airlines via Singapore, or Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic via Hong Kong. You may also be able to redeem Velocity points to fly Hainan Airlines Business Class to Europe.
If you happen to have (or are able to buy) American Airlines AAdvantage miles, these are also a great currency for award travel from Australia to Europe. It costs just 85,000 AAvantage miles one-way for Business class, or 115,000 AAdvantage miles one-way for First Class between Australia and Europe. There are also no fuel or carrier surcharges when redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles, unless you fly with British Airways or Iberia. And in addition to award seats on Oneworld airlines, you can redeem AAdvantage miles to fly with Etihad Airways.
When is the best time to buy airfares to Europe?
Although now is the best time to redeem points to Europe for travel in June or July 2020, it’s not yet the best time to book if you plan to buy regular airfares.
Most airlines traditionally offer early-bird specials on commercial airfares from Australia to Europe around the end of September or start of October, for travel during the following year. That is typically the best time to book. (See what Europe Early Bird deals were available last year.)
Get help from Award Flight Assist
For personalised assistance with redeeming frequent flyer points to Europe, our sister website Frequent Flyer Solutions offers an Award Flight Assist service.