How to Easily Fly a Family of Four to Europe Nearly Free via @GotoTravelGal - In just a few steps, find out how to take advantage of this great deal that takes you to Ireland from major US cities. From there, you can fly cheaply or on points to other major European cities!

Looking for cheap flights to Europe? I’ve got one better: how about a nearly free flight to Europe for a family of four? And without pulling your hair out! I’ll show you how we did it.

I like to keep my travel hacking simple (ie the Keep It Simple Stupid or KISS method) and that’s what I try to show you here on Go to Travel Gal. Collecting miles and points and booking free flights can get complicated fast, but I focus on how to do it quickly and with minimal effort.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for which I may earn a commission or referral points if you make a purchase or are approved after clicking through.

Brad over at TravelMiles101.com tipped me off to an amazing way to fly to Ireland for just 26,000 round-trip per person on Aer Lingus. I never dreamed we’d be traveling to Europe this year, as we’ve focused on traveling free around the USA on Southwest. Download my free guide to find out how we do it.

Download Your FREE Guide & Start Flying FREE on Southwest!

Powered by ConvertKit

This deal “sounded” pretty easy to me 🙂 — and guess what? It is! I’m going to show you step by step how you can fly your family (up to four) to Europe for between ~$105 and ~$155 per person and 104,000 miles (26,000 x 4 people)!

The Deal:

Cheap Flights to Europe

Fly a Family to Dublin Nearly FREE with This Simple Process; Credit: Aer Lingus

Fly from one of six U.S. cities, including Chicago, New York City, Hartford, Newark or Washington D.C., to Dublin, Ireland (and in a few cases Shannon, Ireland) on Aer Lingus for 26,000 Avios points round-trip per person. Avios are the currency for both Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia, and you can transfer your points between all.

We live in Indianapolis so Chicago works well for us, because it’s less than a three-hour drive. You could drive to the closest major airport to you or use your Southwest points to fly to any of these departure cities. We chose to drive to Chicago the night before our flight and stay at the awesome Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel that offers runway views and an underground tunnel to the airport!

Taxes, Fees & Surcharges on European Flights

With these flights, there is a hefty fuel surcharge which I did not expect and which you should be aware of. It ranges from between $90-$150 per person PER WAY, depending on which U.S. airport you are departing from.

Chicago O’Hare is a $110 fuel surcharge per person per way. Additionally, there is a small surcharge of less than $10 each. Our extra taxes, fees and surcharges totaled $112.50 each per way. Here is the complete list of Aer Lingus taxes, charges and fees you can expect from various cities. The further the departure city from Dublin, the higher the fuel surcharge.

Want to Start Traveling Nearly FREE?

Subscribe to get Go to Travel Gal's latest tips and posts on how to travel nearly free.
Powered by ConvertKit

Off Peak Dates on Aer Lingus

The 26,000 points work for Aer Lingus‘ “off peak” dates, which run two-thirds of the year. For 2017, they are:

  • January 5-April 6
  • April 24-June 16
  • September 11-December 15

Forget Cheap Flights to Europe: How to Fly a Family of Four to Europe Nearly FREE Step by Step

Pouring a Pint at Guinness Storehouse Dublin small

Learn how to pour a proper pint at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin like we did!

Step 1: Accrue 104,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

I know that sounds like a lot, but you actually can accomplish this by simply applying for one or two Chase credit cards with 50,000-100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonuses.

Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to several airline programs, including Southwest and British Airways. British Airways Executive Club (their loyalty program) points called Avios are what you will use to book your trip to Ireland. You will then transfer them to Aer Lingus to book your tickets.

You’re going to want to be careful applying for card, however, because Chase will not approve you for any new cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months. So FIRST, get your Southwest cards — IF you want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for this year and next year — and THEN look at what other cards you want to apply for.

Download Your FREE Guide & Start Flying FREE on Southwest!

Powered by ConvertKit

Your Chase credit card options include:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – Currently 50,000-point bonus after $4000 minimum spend
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – Currently 50,000-point bonus after $4000 minimum spend (my favorite travel credit card! Great perks and no annual fee the first year)
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred – Currently 80,000-point bonus after $5000 minimum spend
  • British Airways Visa Signature Card – Currently 50,000-point bonus after $3000 minimum spend

To apply for any credit cards included in this post, please start at the TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS link in the Go to Travel Gal main menu above. This allows me to earn a commission — at no cost to you — to help pay the blogging bills and continue to bring you great content — free! I sincerely appreciate you taking this step!

First method: You can apply for one card and continue to spend on it until you reach the points you need. Many of these cards offer 2X and 3X points on dining and other expenses, so points accrue more quickly. Use Plastiq to pay bills that ordinarily do not accept credit cards.

Second method: You could also apply for two cards to quickly hit your 100,000 points (plus your minimum spend will get you the additional 4000 required points, earning 1 to 3 points per dollar spent). Ideally, you would need to space your applications by at least 30 days. Otherwise, you may be declined. Here’s what to do if you are declined by Chase and what to expect when you call the Chase Reconsideration Line.

Third method (the quickest): You could apply for one Chase credit card and your spouse could apply for another and you could transfer points in 1000-point increments to one person’s Chase Ultimate Rewards account (see note under Step Three below to be sure you are OK with the requirements to do this).  To do so, you will need to be authorized users on each other’s credit card accounts. British Airways also lets you pool points across accounts with up to four people.

How we did it: My husband applied for Chase Sapphire Reserve when it was at a 100,000-point sign-up bonus and we prepaid some large payments on it to quickly get to the minimum spend.

Step 2: Check Flights

Aer Lingus Ireland Airline

Check available “Saver” flights on Aer Lingus, Photo credit Aer Lingus

Before you transfer any points, you will want to be sure there is a flight open that can be booked with points that works for your family.

You can search Avios.com to flight availability. First, you will need to sign up for AerClub (Aer Lingus’ frequent flyer program) in order to search fares. Log in via your AerClub account information and then click on Spend. Enter your flight details with dates in the “off peak” period along with your home airport and DUB for Dublin as your arriving airportand then select Search Flights. It will only show you flights available for booking with your Avios points.

Select the flights you are interested in, and once you have made your selections, you will see the total Avios required at the bottom of the screen along with any taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. You can also pay partially with miles and partially with cash!

OK, so once you have a flight that works for you, you’ll need to get all your points in order to book the flight.

Step 3: Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios

To book the flight, you will be using British Airways Avios points. Before you can do that, you will need to set up a free loyalty account through the British Airways Executive Club. Sign up for your free British Airways Executive Club account. You may want to do this early on in the process just to make sure it’s set up and ready to go.

Once you have done that, log into your Chase credit card account and then click on Chase Ultimate Rewards. Select Use Points and then Transfer to Travel Partners. Look for British Airways Executive Club and then select Transfer Points. Transfer the number of points you will need to book your flight. Unfortunately, you cannot transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Aer Lingus’ AerClub, so you have to go through British Airways.

To confirm your points transferred properly (it typically happens instantly or at maximum within one business day), log into your British Airways Executive Club account to verify. Ours transferred INSTANTLY.

If you secured the 100,000 points using cards from two different people, you will need to transfer points to one person’s account. Chase lets you transfer points to ONE other person and that person MUST BE LISTED AS AN AUTHORIZED USER on your account. If that is not OK, then don’t choose the multi-person method.

Next, you will need to transfer your British Airways Avios to Aer Lingus Avios. You do this on Avios.com. Once logged in through either your British Airways or Aer Lingus accounts, click on My Account and Combine My Avios under Overview. At this point, you may need to log in to the other loyalty account (if you are logged in as Aer Lingus, you’ll need to log in as British Airways or vice versa).

Choose the direction you want to transfer Avios, which will be British Airways to Aer Lingus. Enter the number of points you want to transfer and select Transfer Points.

Want to Start Traveling Nearly FREE?

Subscribe to get Go to Travel Gal's latest tips and posts on how to travel nearly free.
Powered by ConvertKit

Step 4: Book your Flight

Cheap flights to Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin; Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool, Brian Morrison

To book your flight, you will follow the above process on Avios.com to find a flight and then choose Continue With Booking, which will take you to the payment screen.

When booking on Avios.com, you will not be able to pre-select your seats, which is a free option. To do this, you will need to contact Aer Lingus at 1-800-IRISH-AIR. During busy times, it can be very difficult to get through and there is no call-back option. Use the IRISH AIR phone number, as it is the most likely to get through, and ignore the phone numbers on their Contact Us page. I also suggest calling as early as you possibly can in the morning for shorter hold times.

If you’re having no luck by phone (this happened to me), try them on Twitter,  as early as possible on Irish time (5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time), at @AerLingus. They were the most responsive to me on Twitter, though did not handle everything I needed.

Aer Lingus Kids meal

Our kids’ Aer Lingus child-friendly meal, which you can order ahead of time — at no cost — by calling Aer Lingus

When you call Aer Lingus to preselect your seats (a family of four can ask to sit in the four seats together in the middle of the plane), you can also ask for kid-friendly meals for your flight. There is no extra charge for these, but you will need to book them in advance.

Finally, everything can check one 20-kilogram (44-pound) bag, as well as bring one carry-on and one personal item. Plan accordingly!

Getting to the Rest of Europe

Eiffel Tower from below

Fly Ryanair or use more Avios to book Aer Lingus flights to other major European cities. I highly recommend Paris!

Once you arrive in Dublin, you can continue on to other major cities in Europe like London and Paris on a discount airline such as Ryanair.

Alternately, you could sign up for the British Airways Chase credit card to earn 50,000 Avios after a $3000 minimum spend to use on flights once you are in Europe (4000 points one-way per person off peak from Dublin to London) or continue to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

These points will allow you to continue to fly Aer Lingus or British Airways for intra-Europe flights. Aer Lingus flights are as cheap as 8000 points round-trip depending on the distance between cities. Dublin to London or Dublin to Paris flights on Aer Lingus are just 8000 points round-trip.

Lastly, if you hold one of the Starwood Preferred Guest cards or have Starpoints with Starwood Hotels’ loyalty program, SPG, you can transfer Starpoints to British Airways. For every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to an airline miles program, SPG throws in a bonus 5000 — a great perk!

Once you cross the water, you can usually then find a train to take you where you want to go across the continent, rent a car through a company like Hertz or continue to take cheap flights on Ryanair (we found flights were cheaper — even paying extra for bags — than taking a train for some longer distances between countries).

Thanks again for using the TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS link in the main menu for your credit card applications!

Want to Start Traveling Nearly FREE?

Subscribe to get Go to Travel Gal's latest tips and posts on how to travel nearly free.
Powered by ConvertKit

Read About Our Journey to Europe on Aer Lingus:

Read More About Travel to Europe:

Join the Free Flight Challenge

Airplane_sky_clouds

Earn a FREE round trip flight in the U.S. without signing up for a credit card OR stepping foot on a plane!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.