When you travel to Europe, consider visiting a few countries in one trip. Just pick a starting point anywhere on the continent. It is small enough that getting from one country to another can be as easy as getting from Manhattan to the Hamptons.
When you go to Austria, for example, you can take a day trip to Munich, Germany from Salzburg. Or a one-hour bus or train ride from Vienna will bring you to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
From there, you can go north and visit the Czech city of Brno (1.5-hour train ride), or go south to go to Budapest, Hungary (2.5-hour train ride).
If you make Vienna your base for exploration of Eastern Europe, there are some other options as well. You can go directly to Budapest or Prague. A train ride to Budapest will take you 3.5 hours, and the journey to Prague is 5 hours. Buses will take slightly longer.
So how do you get to Vienna? Austrian Airlines (also called Tyrolean Airways) has direct flights to Vienna from New York, Newark, Chicago and Washington.
Austrian Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your United MileagePlus miles. And scoring a direct flight to Vienna is not that hard, especially outside of travel peak dates in the summer. If you can’t find a non-stop flight on Austrian, there are many other airlines that will fly you to Vienna with a layover:
- Adria Airways
- Brussels Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Tap Portugal
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
Remember that not all these airlines are shown on the United website, so you might have to call if you have a preference. There are usually several options that are visible so you probably don’t need to. A roundtrip flight to Vienna will cost you 60,000 miles.
If you are a holder of American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you will have a layover—neither American nor other oneworld members fly non-stop to Vienna. But American has a fantastic off-season milesaver rate. If you are flying between October 15 and May 15, your round-trip flight will only cost 40,000 miles instead of the regular 60,000. That’s an incredible bargain, so take advantage of it if you can.
The oneworld airlines below fly to Vienna. Iberia inventory is not displayed on the AA website so you would have to call AA if you want to book an Iberia flight:
- Niki Airlines (airberlin affiliate)
- Iberia Airlines
- British Airways
As always, don’t fly British Airways over the ocean because of the huge fuel surcharges.
Delta and SkyTeam airlines charge the same 60,000 miles to get to Vienna as others, but their Saver award availability is unpredictable. Here is a short list of Delta SkyTeam members that fly to Vienna:
- Air France
If all else fails, try to find availability to other cities in Eastern Europe to use as a base, such as Prague or Budapest. Both American Airlines and United Airlines allow you to book one-way travel, so you can fly into one city and go back from another. United and Delta also allow you a free stopover and an open jaw, so try to use that during your adventure.