Score Big: Swiss Business Class Award Space Wide Open From NY, DC, Chicago And West Coast

Business class award space is wide open on Star Alliance member Swiss. You’ll find availability from New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare and even from Los Angeles and San Francisco, with two passengers easy to find and some dates offering as many as 9 or more seats on the same flights. This space was first noted by The Points Analyst.

West Coast routes are tougher, with only a little space from LA and a bit more from San Francisco while greatest from New York JFK and Washington Dulles. You’ll find the most space November through February – the slower winter months to Europe. You can use it to connect beyond Zurich to other cities in Europe or even to Africa or Asia for additional miles.

Here’s Zurich – New York JFK for the month of February. Every single day there’s at least two business class award seats on Swiss. Note though that:

  • There are days when there are actually 9 or more business class award seats available
  • Where you see 80,000 points rather than 88,000 that means United has award space, and it’s connecting space (e.g. Zurich – Chicago, connecting to New York JFK).

Booking options:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan 60,000 – 70,000 points each way depending on distance, no fuel surcharges. Air Canada is an American Express, Chase, Capital One and Bilt transfer partner.
  • United MileagePlus: 88,000 points each way, no fuel surcharges. United is a Chase and Bilt transfer partner.
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 56,000 – 63,000 points each way, no fuel surcharges. Avianca is an American Express, Citi and Capital One transfer partner.
  • ANA Mileage Club: 100,000 points roundtrip but with taxes and fees that will hit ~ $2,000. ANA is an American Express transfer partner.

One advantage to booking through United, despite higher mileage cost, is no change or cancellation (mileage redeposit fees). If you have a big United balance, consider booking even speculatively. Similarly, Avianca’s new subscriptions include options that waive redeposit fees which makes a similar strategy attractive.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I quite like it but Swiss First ruined me forever so I can’t fly their biz class anymore. So so easy to raise your standards. Just flew to Switzerland on their first and back on business class and was like “WTF is this?” despite full well knowing that coach is the smartest purchase nearly all the time.

  2. I just did this 3 days ago, ZRH – MIA. Using Lifemiles a total of 63K, a very good deal because it also included Biz seats from VIE to ZRH. The long haul was a 777 with odd seating arrangement, but if you can get one of the super-sized solo seats, or you are with a partner and choose the middle two-sie, which has one seat w/privacy (mine!) and one seat with more aisle access & no privacy (which I gave to my 77 y/o spouse who has mobility issues) it’s not a bad deal.

    Our flight was 10 hours, with a very good meal served in the first two hours with a liberal hand at the drinks cart, rolling up and down the aisle multiple times. There was a light snack service on request towards the end of the flight, and snack baskets in the galley for the asking.

    Swiss can’t be compared to the ME or Asian airlines, but for 63K and a combo of 2 Biz flights totaling 14 hrs TATL, no complaints other than the very austere and single-minded decor of ZRH airport: 90% of wall space is advertised for private banking and investment firms.

  3. Still available – unfortunate that all the connections to West Coast seem to require a stop in IAD or EWR. Also seeing spotty avail for TK and LOT at 88k.

    Pretty sad that this price point is now considered a good deal.

  4. @ Gary — Junped on a pair of these CA-ZRH for our annual visit to PH Zurich. Love this hotel!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *