Is Premium Economy from LAX to Europe Worth it?

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One of the toughest award flights has to be business class from the west coast to Europe.  First of all, there aren’t a whole lot of nonstop flights to Europe from the west coast.  If there is, it most likely will be British Airways which charges from $500+ to $800 one-way!  There are many options to get to Europe from the east coast, but it is hard to beat a nonstop flight from the west coast.  Business class is a real treat, but will premium economy get you there comfortably?  The answer varies, but I think Premium Economy from LAX to Europe can be worth it.

First of all, looking into flights way in advance for next summer, I don’t see any dates with two seats from LAX to Europe on business class on either American Airlines or United.  I do see a few economy seats on United and American Airlines in June 2015, but not many.

No Business Class Seats on United

No Business Class Seats on United

No Business Class Nonstop Seats

No Business Class Nonstop Seats

I did see better availability on AA.com when flying British Airways, but fuel surcharges are over $500 each way.  I think 50,000 AA miles and $500 with a connection is not that great of a deal.  I think if it were a nonstop flight, I might consider it.  I really value nonstop flying sometimes more than the hard product.

There’s one secret weapon of getting from LAX to London nonstop in a comfortable way.  That way is flying premium economy.  Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have premium economy awards.  From LAX, it costs the following miles and dollars on premium economy:

  • 37,500 Miles one way and about $300 on British Airways
  • 35,000 miles one way and about $250 on Virgin Atlantic

I think paying 35,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and about $250 is well worth it for the convenience and the comfort.  You can obtain Virgin Atlantic miles by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink credit cards.  You will have to create a Virgin Atlantic account to make award searches.  Once you find your ideal flight, transfer instantly points from Ultimate Rewards.

Nonstop business class flights from the west coast to Europe are extremely rare nowadays, so this is a great alternative.

Only 35,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles and $234 for one-way LAX-LHR in Premium Economy

Only 35,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles and $234 for one-way LAX-LHR in Premium Economy

Premium economy seats have about the same seat pitch as US domestic first class seats.  I find these seats manageable and quite nice for a couple.  The seat layout is 2-3-2, so if you are traveling by yourself, the middle aisle seats might be nice for direct access to the aisle.  Here is more info on the premium economy seats from Virgin Atlantic.

Passenger relaxing in the Premium Economy cabin

I would try to just do one-way from LAX-LHR on premium economy and try to find another way back with either United or American miles.  It may require a connection, but at least your trip on the way there will be a nonstop.  This is because flights departing from London have additional taxes that are quite heavy.  It’s almost $600 departing from London in taxes on an award ticket! Yikes!

Roundtrip LAX-LHR Cost, LHR-LAX has heavy taxes.

Roundtrip LAX-LHR Cost, LHR-LAX has heavy taxes.

It still might be decent value to pay 70,000 miles and $800 if you are traveling during peak season and plan to stay around western Europe.  I don’t like paying heavy taxes, so I’ll avoid the LHR-LAX flight.

Does anyone think premium economy awards are worth it?

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3 comments for “Is Premium Economy from LAX to Europe Worth it?

  1. Marilyn B
    July 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    We are flying to Hawaii from the East Coast, so I think that’s comparable to flying from the West Coast to Europe. On our outbound flight EWR-HNL, we are flying premium economy on United to save the miles, but we are flying business on the return overnight flight so we can (hopefully) sleep.

    On our most recent flight to Europe, we did the same – business class award on the overnight, premium economy for the daytime return.

    Don’t have unlimited miles, and can’t to all the MS to get so many new cards every few months, so this seems to work for us. Plus it has been easier than trying to get business class round trip for the dates we can travel (we can only be flexible by 2-3 days based on work schedules).

    • July 31, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Yeah, if you are specific about your dates, premium economy may be easier to obtain.

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