Airline Mania: 3 Insanely Great Programs for Booking Premium Class Awards

Virgin Atlantic’s new in flight lounge area for upper class passengers

Airline Mania has begun! With many airlines shifting towards Dynamic Awards (side eyeing United and Delta), finding saver award flights in premium cabins has gotten tougher. Gone are the days of plentiful saver awards, but there is still hope! Here are 3 insanely great programs where you can still find great business class award flights.

3: Air Canada’s Aeroplan

Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is one my favorite programs to use. I was recently able to snag a pair of business class award flights from New York to Milan, Italy with a long layover in Brussels that Jen and I hope to use to explore the city. In a time when award prices are quickly increasing, I’ve had some luck with finding business class seats for trans-Atlantic flights.

Award Space with Aeroplan from New York to Europe next year

Aeroplan also has great deals to Asia as well. It might take some work to find the low cost routing options, but sticking to known Star Alliance hubs can help streamline your search.

How to Earn?

Air Canada is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, and Capital One. The program also offers a cobranded card with Chase making it super easy to earn Aeroplan miles. The Aeroplan Credit Card is currently offering 70,000 points with a $3,000 minimum spend.

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2: American Airlines

Dare I say it? American Airlines actually offers some enticing routing options from San Francisco to Europe. Before I had to switch my flight to Aeroplan so that Jen and I could visit Italy, we were booked on American Airlines business from San Francisco to London Heathrow. This great routing had sporadic availability, but using American’s calendar search tool, you should be able to find a few similar deals.

72,000 American Airlines Points + $5.60 in fees during the Summer of 2023
Be Careful with the huge fees on British Airways Award flights

Quick Tip:

Try searching American Airlines only before utilizing the partners as well. British Airways tends to have plenty of space from San Francisco to London for only 57,500, but those award tickets come with a hefty $750 in fees.

How to Earn?

American Airlines is only partnered with Citi. On the other hand, the airline offers a variety of credit cards (personal and business) with both Citi and Barclays. Barclays American Airlines cards have lower minimum spend requirements and great for the first year.

1. Virgin Atlantic

Some might disagree, but I personally love Virgin Atlantic’s award offerings. Virgin Atlantic is a standalone airlines that operated without an alliance affiliation, but rather a bunch of partnerships. Some of the more notable partnerships include Air France, Delta Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and ANA. Virgin Atlantic has an especially great partnership with Delta Airlines, allowing those flying in Delta One (Delta’s Premium Cabin) to get access to the Virgin Atlantic Upper Wing and Clubhouse in London’s Heathrow Airport. This pre departure experience is one of a kind, especially at Heathrow, one of the most hectic airports I’ve ever been to.

Virgin Atlantic uses a distance based award chart offering some great steals on flights from the East Coast USA to London.

Using Virgin Atlantic to Book Delta One is a great deal
If you’re lucky you can also find great deals for Air France KLM Business Class Options

If you’re lucky you can also stumble across Air France KLM awards. These awards will run you a cool 58,500 points and $273. But wait, with the current Virgin Atlantic 30% transfer bonus offered by Chase, this flight would only cost you 45,000 Chase Points and $273. If you can find space in February or March, you can also take advantage of a 50% points rebate offer, netting you 29,250 back in points within 28 days after you complete your flight. Talk about an amazing deal!

Final Verdict!

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to book premium flights using all three programs. Each program offers several sweet spots or perks that can be truly powerful. It was intriguing to see American Airlines offering award flights at a significantly lower price point than both United and Delta when I initially booked my trip from San Francisco to London. I found great value in each of these programs and hope you can do the same!

Have you ever used any of these programs? Let me know how your experience went!

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