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Middle Age Miles

How About a Late Summer Holiday in Europe with AA Biz Class Saver Awards? Try PHL-BLQ or PHL-SNN!

american airlines aa business biz class saver level award tickets summer 2019 vacation holiday travel Philadelphia PHL Bologna Italy BLQ Shannon Ireland SNN
Bologna, Italy [featured image courtesy Marius Roman/Getty Images/Departures.com]

Introduction

Would you like to take a late-summer European vacation? Do you have a nice stash of AA miles? If you answered yes to both of these questions, we have a couple of intriguing ideas for you with good availability.

We surveyed AA Business Class Saver award space today for the rest of the summer, focusing on AA’s primary launching spot for European flights these days, Philadelphia (PHL). Business Class Saver award space to Europe from any US destination is few and far between. But we found 2 options that would make for great late-summer holidays – Bologna, Italy (BLQ), and Shannon, Ireland (SNN).

AA Business Class Saver Award Availability

Business Class Saver award tickets between the US and Europe cost 57,500 AA miles each way. In addition, these flights on AA metal incur minimal fees, as AA does not impose fuel surcharges on award tickets (which we very much appreciate). The combination of these 2 factors makes AA Business Class awards between the US and Europe a very nice sweet spot redemption.

Disclaimer – Remember that the award availability discussed in this article is as of a moment in time on the afternoon of Friday, June 14, only. Availability could change at any time as people purchase tickets and/or AA changes the seats it makes available for Saver award redemptions.

Philadelphia to Bologna, Italy

Starting in mid-July and looking through the end of August, we found great availability for 2 Business Class Saver award tickets on the PHL-BLQ route. There are 2 Biz Class Saver award tickets available on each of the following dates:

  • Outbound (PHL-BLQ, AA 130, dep PHL 6:45 pm, arr BLQ 9:15 am):
    • July 14, 16, 20, 21, 23, 27, 28, 30
    • August 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 13, 18
  • Return (BLQ-PHL, AA 131, dep BLQ 12:10 pm, arr PHL 3:45 pm):
    • July 22, 28, 29
    • August 11, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30

These flights are operated by an AA 767-300. The business class seats are configured 1-2-1 with lie-flat seating throughout. We reviewed business class flights on the AA 767-300 that we took last year between PHL and Prague (PRG) in this article:

Taxes and fees on the outbound flight are minimal – only $11.20 total for 2 people, or $5.60 each:

Taxes/fees on the return flight are only slightly higher – $81.46 total for 2 people, or $40.73 each:

Philadelphia to Shannon, Ireland

Business Class Saver award availability between PHL and Shannon, Ireland (SNN) isn’t quite as good as the PHL-BLQ route, but almost. There are 2 Biz Class Saver award tickets available on each of the following dates:

  • Outbound (PHL-SNN, AA 88, dep PHL 9:20 pm, arr SNN 8:55 am):
    • July 15, 17, 22, 23, 31
    • August 12, 14, 19, 27
  • Return (SNN-PHL, AA 89, dep SNN 11:05 am, arr PHL 1:35 pm):
    • No availability in July
    • August 7, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27

PHL-SNN is actually a pretty short route for a transatlantic flight, about 3,175 miles each way. The flight is blocked at only 6 hours 35 minutes on the outbound and 7 hours 30 minutes on the return. AA flies a narrow-body 757 on the PHL-SNN route, so the Business Class seats on this plane will be domestic first class-type seats with modest recline.

As with the PHL-BLQ route we discussed above, additional fees on award tickets between PHL and SNN are low. Taxes and fees on the outbound flight are only $11.20 total for 2 people, or $5.60 each:

And taxes/fees on the return flight are only a bit more – $85.86 total for 2 people, or $42.93 each:

Philadelphia to Lisbon, Portugal

We also found some availability between PHL and Lisbon, Portugal (LIS). It wasn’t enough to feature in this article, but there’s enough availability to piece together a round trip if you act quickly.

Here are the dates of availability for 2 Business Class Saver awards between PHL and LIS:

  • Outbound (PHL-LIS):
    • July 22, 29, 30
    • August 5, 16, 18, 19
  • Return (LIS-PHL):
    • No availability in July
    • August 15, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30

Ideas for When You Get to Bologna

Flying into Bologna would give you several options, any of which sound great to us. You could:

  • Stay in Bologna – explore the city and take day trips to some of the many wonderful places nearby
  • Drive or take a train to another more prominent Italian vacation city nearby
  • Jump on another plane to head off to a different vacation spot entirely

We haven’t been to Bologna ourselves, so we’ll rely on others to give you an idea what you might like to do and see there:

Next, let’s take a look at the map, where we can see that Bologna is very centrally located in Italy, conveniently close to many other places of interest:

At Middle Age Miles, we love to take day trips – either hopping on a train or taking a rental car – and Bologna is within close enough driving distance for day trips to (numbers in parentheses are one-way driving times without significant traffic):

  • Parma (0:59) – home of Parma ham & parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Ravenna (1:06) – see the famed glass mosaics
  • Florence (1:20) – and explore the surrounding regions of Tuscany
  • Verona (1:24)
  • San Marino (1:38) – see the rugged landscape and imposing towers of the 3rd smallest country in the world
  • Venice (1:39)
  • Milan (2:14)
  • Cinque Terre (2:44) – on the outer edge of day-trip length, but worth it for the spectacular views and the 5 villages

Rome is almost 4 hours away by car, so too far for a single-day trip, but easy enough to reach by car or train if you’d like to go spend a few days there.

Finally, if you want to hop on another plane, you can reach an astounding variety of European destinations with one more flight. Most notably, Ryanair operates flights to dozens of destinations from its BLQ hub:

To see a full list of flight destinations from BLQ, check out its Wikipedia page here (jump to section 2 – Airlines and destinations):

Ideas for When You Get to Shannon

Ireland is one of Middle Age Miles’ very favorite places. So, what you do when you get to Shannon is roll directly into a great Irish adventure. SNN airport is perfectly-located as a launching point for all of the glories of southwestern Ireland – the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, the 3 southwestern peninsulas – Dingle, Ring of Kerry, and Ring of Beara, Skellig Michael, the wonderfully fun town of Killarney, the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, and much more.

Here’s a map showing the location of SNN airport:

And these maps will orient you to some of the other attractions of Ireland:

For more information on Ireland, and particularly these attractions in the southwest quadrant of Ireland, check out our Ireland trip report:

Middle Age Miles at the magnificent Cliffs of Moher

We can’t wait to get back to Ireland in August 2020!


We hope you’ve enjoyed our suggestions on how you can still make last-minute plans for a summer holiday in Europe this year with Business Class Saver award availability on AA. It was hard to write this without making new trip plans for ourselves!

Can you use these great AA deals? Any other good ideas for scoring Saver-level business class space to Europe this summer? What would you do if you traveled to Bologna or Shannon? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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2 thoughts on “How About a Late Summer Holiday in Europe with AA Biz Class Saver Awards? Try PHL-BLQ or PHL-SNN!

  1. HS

    I realize by then it is football season, but I was finding a smattering of workable dates PHL-LIS-PHL in October. This was last week and a few weeks before that — have not checked in the last few days, so apologies if this tip is out of date.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Thanks HS! I only looked through the end of August. I’d think October would be a great time to visit Portugal. Aside from missing part of football season, of course – you’ve come to know us well! ~Craig

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