Star Alliance members Lufthansa, Swiss, TAP, and United are all offering very cheap tickets from various Spanish airports to many US-destinations. There are cheap destinations on both coasts of the United States. The only downside to this deal is that adding a piece of luggage will usually cost an additional €100. There’s high availability until March 2022, except during the summer vacation.
Worldwide travel restrictions are in place to slow the spread of Covid-19. We strongly recommend gathering detailed information about the travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to your desired origin and destination.
A good start is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website. It provides current updates on a country’s immigration policies. Even better, the Covid-19 Travel Regulations Map is one of the most useful tools you can find.
Here are some of the destinations that we found:
If you’re flying with TAP, you’ll have a layover in Lisbon. SWISS will first fly you to Zurich, and Lufthansa will either take you to Frankfurt or Munich for its long-haul connection. Either way, the service that you can expect is very similar on all airlines – complimentary food & snacks and a free piece of hand luggage + a personal item. Even the flight times tend to be rather similar. You can generally fly from all major Spanish airports, e.g. Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, Malaga, Seville…
By the way, we also have other economy class deals for our Spanish readers:
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We weren’t able to find an expiration date in the fare rules. For some destinations, a minimum stay requirement of 6 days seems to apply and availability is limited to the following travel periods:
- Before June 17
- August 29 until December 15
This is a Star Alliance fare that does not include check-in luggage. Additionally, some other disadvantages may apply, especially when flying with United:
Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian
Lufthansa Group airlines call this fare Economy Light. You can select your seats during the check-in process. While these airlines still allow Star-Alliance-Gold customers to bring one 23kg bag, it is said that this benefit will soon be eliminated without much warning.
The long-haul United Basic Economy allows Star-Alliance-Gold customers to fly with 2 x 23 kg luggage, or even 3 x 32 kg if you’re a MileagePlus frequent flyer. Nevertheless, there are other restrictions:
- You cannot reserve your seats. Even at the time of check-in, you’ll be automatically assigned a seat, which you cannot change.
- You’ll be the last one to board the plane (except if you’re a frequent flyer).
- Additionally, if you’re a MileagePlus-customer:
- No free Economy-Plus upgrades
- Only 50% PQM instead of 100%, and only 0.5 PQS per flight
- No modifications (e.g. Same Day-Changes) possible
- Upgrades are not permitted
On flights with Air Canada, there is also a Basic Economy, but it is not quite as restrictive as United’s. If you have a Star-Alliance-Gold-Status, you can give up a 23 kg luggage, and Air-Canada-Altitude status holders can even be allowed up to 3 x 32 kg.
Other restrictions include:
- You can reserve seats, but at a higher price than usual for Economy.
- For Air Canada Altitude customers:
- 25% miles for transatlantic flights, none for domestic.
- Upgrades are not permitted.
- From Prestige 25K onwards you can select your seats.
If you feel that these restrictions are unbearable, you should book over Lufthansa.com or United.com and select the rate that includes luggage for roughly €100 more.
Why is booking with an airline better than with an online travel agency?
More often than not, online travel agencies offer lower fares than airlines do. We still recommend booking with the airlines directly. There are three main reasons for that:
- The Covid-19 Pandemic
During the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19, planning international travel got more and more risky because of ever-changing restrictions. In contrast to many online travel agencies, most airlines modified their terms & conditions to become more customer friendly. Rebooking conditions are eased, change fees are waived and cancellations are much easier when there is no third party involved.
Further, by adding an OTA to your plans, you increase the risk of one service provider involved going bankrupt. Now, the airline and the online travel agency involved could vanish along with your money.
- Better Customer Service
In case any problems like delays, cancellations or missed connections arise, you can communicate directly with the airline. The airlines has to take care of you because you have a contract with them.
If a travel agency issues your ticket, you may have to reach out to them first. You also depend on your OTA to forward you information like flight changes instead receiving them directly from the airline. You may get a prime exhibition of responsibility shifting rather than problem solving.
This especially applies for premium tickets. You don’t want to spend more than €1,000 to wind up with some budget OTA’s telephone hotline in case anything goes wrong.
- Baggage Fees
Economy fares not including hold luggage are more and more common. In most cases, travel agencies charge much higher baggage fees than the airlines themselves. If bags are not included in your fare, airlines are often the cheaper alternative.
The tickets are generally issued in booking class K. To give you an example, a roundtrip from Madrid to Chicago via Munich, flying with Lufthansa, would get you:
- 3,268 Miles on ANA Mileage Club
- 2,724 Award Miles + 546 PQP on United MileagePlus
- 2,508 Miles on Miles&More
- 2,508 Points on SAS EuroBonus
- 0 Miles on Asia Miles
Information & Tips for USA
The USA offers many sights, natural wonders and cultural significance. Thanks to numerous airlines offering flights across the Atlantic, it is always pretty inexpensive to get there. Alternatively, you can also cross the Atlantic by boat.
Immigration, ESTA & Visa Requirements
The USA has one of the strictest entry regulations in the world. Most EU citizens, among others, are lucky to be able to participate in the so-called Visa Waiver Program. If you get an electronic entry permit (ESTA) for about €12, you don’t need a visa for entry.
The Best Time to Visit
Due to its sheer size, the perfect time to visit the USA varies greatly from region to region. In winter, Florida is very popular due to the mild temperatures. In the summer the West and East Coasts are flooded by tourists which drives up the prices for hotels and flights and during the Indian Summer in late autumn New England is a very popular destination. The hurricane season between July and September can be dangerous in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida and the southern states are regularly struck by these tropical storms. Blizzards occur from the East Coast to the Midwest during the winter months and regularly put air traffic and public life on hold.
The US dollar is widely used throughout the world and accepted as a currency in most tourist hotspots worldwide. That being said, carrying cash isn’t necessary in the US, all you need is a credit card! These are very common in the USA and are accepted pretty much everywhere without any issues. If you already have a credit card in your wallet, you should make sure that it does not charge a foreign currency fee if possible. Carrying a few dollars in cash doesn’t hurt though. You might need cash e.g. for the bus ticket if you want to buy it directly from the driver. Most of the time you even have to give exact change.
→ All Dealz for USA
Cover Picture: Ditmar Lange