United has a similar award sale to Europe last year. You get 20% discount on return awards that are entirely on United metal. You need to ticket the award between November 8 and November 15, 20120, for travel between January 15 to March 13, 2013. There is no need to register for this award sale.
Here’s a pricing experiment that I made; one way from Los Angeles to Istanbul and return from Frankfurt to Anchorage with a stopover in Washington.
The website was able to price it correctly at 48K miles and displayed the taxes/fees (I love the breakdown so that you know where the money is going to) and the price of a paid itinerary for the same flights.
When you are trying to book something like this, make sure that all the flights are on United metal. If you have even one segment on partner airline, this won’t price at the 48K level. It also helps to have a look at the United’s route map for Europe.
United’s economy awards are overpriced at 60K level to Europe and are not even a good deal at 20% off.
American has Europe on 40K level for 7 months of the year AND you can use all their partner airlines as well. American also allows travel between Hawaii and Europe at the same 40K level.
My advice is that if you are going to Europe during the low season and you are considering to fly in on economy, just pay for the trip. You can always find good deal for Europe travel during the low/shoulder seasons. Business class tickets are often on sale as well for relatively reasonable amount.