Scott Grimmer

1757 POSTS 5988 COMMENTS

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Qatar’s A380 First Class looks fantastic. It is not the best Middle Eastern product and looks a half step behind Emirates First Class and Etihad First Class on their A380s, but overall the Qatar A380 is definitely a plane I would love to fly in First Class, especially for 40,000 or 45,000 miles.

The spacious seat/beds are not fully enclosed, but are luxurious.

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You and a companion can dine at one table.

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The bathrooms are large, but do not contain showers like Etihad’s and Emirates’.

The star of the Qatar A380 is the bar behind Business Class. Yes, Emirates has one also, but this one looks larger, nicer, and better designed.

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Here’s a video shot in Qatar A380 First Class:

  • What routes does the Qatar A380 fly?
  • What are the award prices?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • How can you get the miles for a roundtrip in Qatar A380 First Class from one card?

Routes

Qatar flies its A380 between London, Paris, and Bangkok and Doha.

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All three routes are also serviced by planes other than the A380, so look for these flight numbers, which are operated by A380s:

  • London <-> Doha: QR1, QR2, QR3, QR4
  • Paris <-> Doha: QR39, QR40, and most of QR41 and QR42 until September 16, 2015 when QR41 and QR42 are no longer operated by the A380
  • Bangkok <-> Doha: QR830, QR831, QR833, QR836

Award Price

From anywhere in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent to Europe in First Class is 40,000 American Airlines miles one way. To SE Asia plus China (Asia 2) is 45,000 American Airlines miles one way.

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Award Space

You can search award space for Qatar flights on ba.com. (Here’s how.) Any Qatar award space on ba.com can be booked with American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines.

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Click the flight number to get a pop up that confirms the operating aircraft.

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Here’s a look at award space this week on the three routes in both directions. The most last minute award space appears from Paris to Doha. (Images from Award Nexus searching ba.com.)
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You don’t want to go to Doha in August though. Here’s what award space looks like in February. You can see there is award space in both directions on the Paris and Bangkok routes, but no London award space in either direction.Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.35.52 PM

Getting the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. Meeting the minimum spending requirement would give you more than enough miles for a roundtrip in Qatar First Class between Europe and the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent.

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.

Booking the Award

Note the date, cabin, and flight number on ba.com. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed the agent that information.

You will pay 40,000 or 45,000 miles one way plus taxes. There are no fuel surcharges on the award, and no phone fee.

Pay the taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Bottom Line

There is award space on the super-fancy Qatar A380 in First Class on its routes from London, Paris, and Bangkok to Doha. Awards start at 40,000 miles one way.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

There are a lot of reasons to collect miles and points.

  • For free luxury hotel stays and First Class flights
  • To travel to more countries than you could otherwise afford
  • To take your family on vacation
  • To visit home for the holidays
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending

Whatever your reason for coming to MileValue, there is a rewards card or cards that suit your needs.

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Busting out of the stocks at Trakai Castle, Lithuania

In the last few years, I’ve been to dozens of countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

If you don’t have the money to take your dream trips, the good news is that you don’t need much money. By maximizing the sign up bonuses on rewards cards, anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere in the world.

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Where I’ve Been, Mostly with Miles

1. Citi AAdvantage Executive

Just improved July 1: For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. American Airlines miles are the best for super-cheap economy redemptions and ultra-luxury redemptions.

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. New membership in the Admirals Club normally costs $500, but it is included in the $450 annual fee of Executive card.

For those who want American Airlines status, the card offers 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent in purchases each calendar year.

The card offers a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® has no foreign transaction fees, and earns two miles per dollar on American Airlines and US Airways purchases.

Once the card is associated with your American Airlines number, you and up to eight companions on the same reservation will get your first checked bag fee on all American Airlines and US Airways itineraries.

  • This card is so awesome for its huge bonus of American Airlines miles, which are currently the most valuable miles, and its lounge access.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

I recently used 90,000 American Airlines miles to book myself a First Class award from India to Los Angeles that will fly two amazing First Class products, including one with an onboard shower and a couch in my suite.

2. Citi Prestige Card

For a limited time, the Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, three free rounds of golf per year, and a $450 annual fee.

I got the Citi Prestige when it only offered 30,000 bonus points for its amazing benefits. Now that it also has one of the biggest sign up bonuses on the market, it shoots up my rankings. I value the current sign up bonus at $1,250.

The Citi Prestige® Card is premium card that is designed to give travelers huge benefits to offset the big annual fee. For the first 12 months of holding the card, you are guaranteed to get more than $450 from the card if you maximize the $250 worth of statement credits for purchases of airline tickets or airline fees each calendar year (that’s $500 worth in the first 12 months), a $100 statement credit to offset Global Entry, and Priority Pass and American Airlines lounge access.

Beyond the 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Citi Prestige® Card earns:

  • 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment

ThankYou Points transfer to 11 airlines and one hotel. Or you can use the points for 1.33 cents off any flight on any airline with no blackouts or 1.6 cents off American Airlines and US Airways flights. Here’s how to use ThankYou Points.

Click these links for a full explanation of the card’s benefits and for a comparison to the American Express Platinum Card.

You can get both the Prestige and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card (#3 below) eight or more days apart and combine the 100,000 bonus points into a single ThankYou account.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

I recently used 30,000 ThankYou Points, transferred to Singapore miles, to book myself United First Class from Houston to Honolulu.

3. Ink Plus

The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

The Ink Plus earns 5x points on internet, phone, and cell phone bills; 5x points on purchases at office supply stores; 2x points on hotels and gas; and 1x points on everything else.

The annual fee is $95, though it is waived for the first year.

Application Link: Ink Plus

4. Citi ThankYou Premier Card

For a limited time, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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I get more value out of transferring the points to airline miles. My favorite transfer partner is Singapore Airlines. For 30,000 Singapore miles, you can book a one way award to Hawaii in United First Class.

My second favorite partner is Flying Blue. Flying Blue miles can book Promo Awards that cost only 12,500 miles each way to Europe or Israel. You can also use Flying Blue miles to book one way awards on Delta like 15,000 miles to Hawaii, Central America, or the Caribbean.

The card offers 3x points on travel (broadly defined) and gas plus 2x on dining out and entertainment.

The card has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

I recently used 30,000 ThankYou Points, transferred to Singapore miles, to book myself United First Class from Houston to Honolulu.

5. Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 40k Ultimate Rewards after spending $3k in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 45k bonus point card. (Adding an authorized user does not prevent that person from getting the card at the same time or in the future as a primary account holder and getting the full sign up bonus.)

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

Application Link: Sapphire Preferred

6. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is the best card for giving you free luxury hotel nights. The card comes with two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months. The free nights are best spent at top-tier Hiltons and Conrads that can go for $1,000 or more per night.

This card is perfect to get aspirational stays at top tier properties like the Conrad Koh Samui that goes for 95,000 Hilton points per night and costs more than $1k per night.

The card also comes with Hilton Gold Status, so you can enjoy free internet and breakfast on those free stays.

The card earns 10x points on Hilton stays, 5x on airlines and car rentals, and 3x on all other purchases.

There card has no foreign transaction fee. The annual fee is $95.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

7. Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, and British Airways.

The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status.

For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

Landing Page: Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

Some people will consider the Platinum Card from American Express for Ameriprise Financial to be a better offer.

The card has a smaller sign up bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months, but the card waives the annual fee for the first 12 months ($450 thereafter.)

Otherwise the card has nearly identical benefits to the Mercedes-Benz Platinum.

Landing Page: Platinum Card from American Express for Ameriprise Financial

The “regular” Platinum card is worse than both offers because it has the smaller sign up bonus of the Ameriprise version, but with the annual fee not waived.

8. British Airways Card

The British Airways Visa Signature card comes with 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months on the card.

The card comes with 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on other purchases.

British Airways Avios are perfect for short, direct, economy flights on British Airways partners that do not levy fuel surcharges like these partners.

For instance, the west coast to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights for 12,500 Avios or only 4,500 Avios between New York and a dozen destinations are two of many sweet spots.

The card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first 12 months.

Application Link: British Airways Visa

9. Club Carlson Visa

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 85,000 bonus Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.

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The card earns 5 points per dollar on all purchases and 10 on purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels, so you’ll earn at least another 12,500 points from meeting the minimum spending requirement. After meeting the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have at least 97,500 Gold Points.

  • Free nights at Radisson, Park Plaza, and other properties start at 9,000 Gold Points

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must have if you are traveling near the 1,000 participating Club Carlson hotels. I picked up the card in 2013 and don’t ever plan on canceling it because of the 40,000 points I earn every year on my card’s anniversary upon paying the $75 annual fee.

Application link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

10. Citi Hilton HHonors

Just Improved 7/7/15: For a limited time, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card offers 75,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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The card has no annual fee ever, and comes with automatic Hilton Silver Status, which means you get the fifth night free on all award stays.

Award stays start at 5,000 points per night. With the fifth night free, 80,000 Hilton points can book 20 free nights (as four five-night stays)!

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Last week, I re-published my guide to using Singapore miles to book United flights to Hawaii. The idea is that you are better off using Singapore miles than United miles to book the United flights because both can access the same award space, but Singapore charges fewer miles, and its miles are easier to get. Understanding scenarios like that one are key to becoming an intermediate player of the miles game, so I really recommend you check out the post even if you don’t want to go to Hawaii.

The post generated a comment that showed another very common beginner misunderstanding of how miles work.

“If I am planning to use Singapore Air to Hawaii in 16 months, should I transfer my Thank You points to Virgin Atlantic, get the 25% premium, and still use Singapore Air to Hawaii because they are a VA partner or am I missing a step?”

The commenter is asking if he can use his Virgin Atlantic miles to get in on the deal, since Virgin Atlantic partners with Singapore. The answer is a resounding “No.” Your miles need to partner with the airline flying the plane, which in the case of the deal to Hawaii is United. Your airline partnering with a partner of the airline flying the plane is irrelevant.

Below are Virgin Atlantic’s airline partners. United is not on the list, so you cannot use Virgin Atlantic miles to book United flights.

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Virgin Atlantic does partner with several Star Alliance carriers–Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Singapore, and South African Airways. If you had any of those miles, you could book United flights, since all Star Alliance miles can book any other Star Alliance carriers’ flights.

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Star Alliance Carriers

Furthermore there is no way to transfer Virgin Atlantic miles to Singapore miles even though they are partners. One airline’s miles can never become another airline’s miles. (The only things that transfer are transferable points like ThankYou Points, which transfer to Virgin Atlantic miles or Singapore miles.)

Bottom Line

There is no transitive property of miles. This statement is false: Virgin Atlantic miles can book Singapore flights, and Singapore miles can book United flights, so Virgin Atlantic miles can book United flights.

To book a partner with your flights, that partner needs to be listed as a partner on the partner page of the miles you’re using.

You can never transfer one airline’s miles to another airline’s miles.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM Romanian–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select North American cities to anywhere in Europe or to Israel for as little as 18,750 miles each way in economy plus fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints. You can get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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These Flying Blue Promo Awards must be booked in August 2015 for travel in October 2015. There are two American cities on the discounted list with discounts for Premium Economy and Business Class travel. There are also three Brazilian cities on the list, which is a huge deal, since Promo Awards leaving Brazil are the only Promo Awards with no fuel surcharges.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for? What if you don’t live in one?
  • Why do you care that three Brazilian cities are on the Promo Awards list?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • How can you eliminate the out-of-pocket cost of the award?

Flying Blue Promo Awards Explained

Miles Price

Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified American cities to anywhere in Europe for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price. Flying Blue’s definition of Europe includes Israel.

The current list of promo awards is available for booking through August 31, 2015 for flights from October 1 to October 31, 2015.

There are two North American cities on this list: Boston and Dallas.

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  • Flights from Boston in Air France economy are 25% off and 18,750 miles one way.
  • Flights from Dallas in KLM economy are 25% off and only 18,750 miles one way.

Boston and Dallas both have a lot of American Airlines flights, which greatly expands the number of cities from which you can get in on the deal with Avios. For 4,500+ Avios each direction, you can get from much of the country to Boston and Dallas and from there to Europe.

Out-of-Pocket Cash

Promo awards have the same out-of-pocket taxes and fuel surcharges as normal Flying Blue awards. The taxes are the same as you would pay on any award ticket. The fuel surcharges are listed on this table (click to enlarge):

From the US to Europe, the fuel surcharge each way is 50 euros in economy, 110 euros in premium economy, and 180 euros in business or first.

That works out to:

  • a modest $110 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in economy
  • an annoying $242 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip awards to Europe in Premium Economy
  • a punitive $395 + taxes out of pocket on roundtrip Business Class awards to Europe.

Booking

To book a Flying Blue Promo Award, go to the Flying Blue Award Search and sign in or create an account. You can search with zero miles in your account, but you need to be signed into an account.

Promo awards are valid for one ways or roundtrips.

Under “Which class?”, select your cabin and leave “Show Flex options only” unchecked.

In your search results, the discounted Promo Award prices are already coded into the price displayed on the calendars, which will display the one way price.

Examples

These examples are from a previous round of Promo Awards. Everything is basically the same this time except that the euro keeps weakening making the out of pocket expense in dollars lower.

Here was a roundtrip economy class search from Detroit to Paris. The green dates are days with Promo Award space available for 12,500 miles each way. That’s basically every day in November.

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Flying Blue classifies Israel as part of Europe, so the Promo Awards can fly to Tel Aviv.

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Many days had multiple possible routings available at the discounted price.

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I priced out an award from Detroit to Barcelona roundtrip in November. It came to 25,000 miles + $283 all in, including $132 in fuel surcharges. (This would now be only $110 in surcharges.)

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I priced out the Washington DC to Paris roundtrip in Air France Premium Economy in November. It came to 50,000 miles + $433, about $300 of which is fuel surcharges.

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By the way, the Air France Premium Economy product is roughly equivalent to domestic First Class on American airlines.Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 1.54.00 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 1.54.15 AM

Triangle Trip to Brazil and Europe

In “Incredible Trick: Flying Blue Promo Awards with No Fuel Surcharges,” I explained that Brazilian law prohibits fuel surcharges on all tickets including Promo Awards.

Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo to Europe is on the current list with discounts for Premium Economy and economy travel.

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If a triangle trip to South America and Europe in a few months sounds amazing, this is an unbeatable deal for the hypotenuse of that triangle.

Getting the Miles

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, and Starpoints. And as usual, increments of 20k Starpoints transfer to 25k Flying Blue miles.

You can get 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which has a huge sign up bonus and big category bonuses.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Bonus

The drawback for the Promo Awards is the out-of-pocket cash needed to book them. You can eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Promo Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Recap

Book by August 31, and fly in October, and you can enjoy 25% off awards from Dallas and Boston to Europe or Israel.

Get Flying Blue miles by transferring points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, and avoid the out of pocket expenses with Arrival miles from the Citi Prestige® Card.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Australia and New Zealand. American Airlines miles have access to incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand and to some of the best First Class space in the world that flies down under.

Fireworks in Sydney over NYE. Source:
Fireworks in Sydney over NYE

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

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Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are part of the South Pacific region on American Airlines’ award chart. This post only focuses on Australia and New Zealand. Some of the Pacific Islands will be covered in a future post. Here are all the places in the South Pacific:

  • Australia
  • Easter Island
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of Tonga
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa

The Partners for Australia and New Zealand Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to Australia and New Zealand must fly directly from North America to the South Pacific region. They cannot transit East Asia. That would break the trip into two awards and increase the miles price.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Australia and New Zealand from North America:

  • American Airlines (starting December 17, 2015)
  • Qantas
  • Hawaiian

Other American Airlines partners with on which you can reach Australia and New Zealand on a single award:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Fiji Airways

Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways aren’t all that useful to Australia and New Zealand because no connections of longer than 24 hours are allowed on American Airlines awards. If you want to stop in Fiji on the way to Australia, use Alaska miles instead.

Award space on American, Qantas, and Hawaiian is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space on Air Tahiti Nui is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Fiji Airways is searchable on alaskaair.com. Here’s how to search alaskaair.com.

Pricing

From North America to the Australia and New Zealand, American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles one way in economy
  • 62,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 72,500 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges much cheaper prices!

United charges 40k/70k/80k on its own planes and much more if you use partners. Delta charges 50k/80k/(First Class not bookable with Delta miles) for Australia.

Routes & Award Space

American will fly from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney (starting December 17, 2015)

Qantas flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne
  • Dallas to Sydney
  • San Francisco to Sydney (starting December 20, 2015)
  • Honolulu to Sydney
  • New York-JFK to Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne

Hawaiian flies from:

  • Honolulu to Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane

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Award Space on Hawaiian

The Hawaiian Airlines routes have uniformly excellent availability in economy for two passengers. You can connect to Honolulu with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, US Airways, or Hawaiian Airlines flights for zero extra miles.

Hawaiian has two-cabin planes with economy and First Class. American prices Hawaiian First Class at the Business Class price, which is fair since it is just a large recliner seat with a lot of legroom, not any sort of bed. I flew in Hawaiian First Class from Honolulu to Los Angeles. Here is the trip report.

Honolulu to Auckland runs three days a week. There is space almost every flights for two passengers in economy.

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Honolulu to Brisbane runs four days a week. There is economy space for two almost every flight.

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Honolulu to Sydney runs daily and award space is excellent for two passengers in economy.

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Business Class space is almost non-existent on all three routes.

Award Space on Qantas

Qantas runs three-cabin planes with economy, Business (trip report), and First. Economy award space for two passengers is excellent on all routes for most of the year. I never see Business or First Class space for two passengers on the same Qantas flight between the United States and Australia. Occasionally there is one award seat in Business or First Class, but even these are extremely rare.

Los Angeles to Melbourne typifies the excellent award space on Qantas flights in economy for two passengers.

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Business Class award space on Qantas between the United States and Australia is rare, but it exists if you’re traveling solo.

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First Class award space is even rarer. I sometimes see it like these seats that were available for booking in February 2015 for October 2015 travel, but I don’t see any at the moment.

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It is a shame because Qantas First Class looks awesome!

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Award Space on American

There is literally zero MileSAAver award space in any cabin in either direction on the new Los Angeles to Sydney flight from American Airlines. I expect this to change, but I don’t expect to see much Business or First Class space on the route.

Another American Airlines Option to Australia

I can’t mention Australia with American Airlines miles and not mention Etihad’s First Class Apartments from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

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For only 60,000 American Airlines miles, you can get about 14 hours in the world’s nicest First Class. Getting to Abu Dhabi would require a different award.

Read my full write up in Amazing Award Space for Two on Nicest First Class in the World? 14 Hours in Etihad A380 First Class for 60,000 Miles.

Bottom Line

American Airlines are fantastic to get to Australia and New Zealand in economy. There is almost zero premium cabin award space.

(The best miles to Australia and New Zealand in Business Class nonstop are Delta miles flying Virgin Australia. There is award space for five people in Business Class on Virgin Australia flights even at peak times.)

Awards to Australia are cheap, especially in Business and First Class if you can snag those rare seats.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Loyal reader Drew sent along an amazing targeted offer he received to continue spending on his Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard (which is what US Airways cards turned into after the US Airways/American Airlines merger.)

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If he spends $500 per month on his card in August, September, and October, he’ll get 15,000 bonus miles!

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That means for a total of $1,500 in spending, he will earn 16,500 miles, which is 11 American Airlines miles per dollar!

The email came to Drew with the subject “Earn 15,000 bonus miles with your card!” Check your email for a similar offer if you have a Barclaycard American Airlines card.

Barclaycard seems to recognize that fact that its US Airways card (now American Airlines card) is not great for ongoing spending and offers frequent promotions to encourage us to get in the habit of regular spending on the card. These offers are targeted, but it seems like everyone eventually gets targeted for one or more:

Is This a Good Promo?

Yes, Drew should definitely take advantage of earning 15,000 bonus American Airlines miles for spending $500 per month for three months. It works out to 11 miles per dollar, which is on par with meeting the minimum spending requirements on some of the best sign up bonuses.

These aren’t just any old miles either. American Airlines miles are my favorite miles because they are great for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

Similar Promos on Other Barclaycards

Barclaycard also puts out similar targeted and frequent bonus offers on its other cards like the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® (up to 7x on certain categories for a few months) and Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® (15,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $750 in three consecutive months.)

How Can You Get Targeted?

I asked Drew some follow up questions to see what might have triggered his targeting.

He told me that he got his US Airways card in August 2013 and didn’t really use it after his first purchase.

He was offered this promotion in 2014 right when his annual fee was due in August, and now he’s being offered it again right when his annual fee is due in August 2015. I see a pattern!

Don’t cancel your card early. Hold it until just before the annual fee is due to see if you’re targeted.

Recap

The AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard has a targeted offer for 15,000 bonus miles after spending $500 per month in the next three months. If you’ve been targeted, take advantage.

If you haven’t, keep checking for the frequent targeted bonus mile offers this card offers for ongoing spending.

If you don’t have the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard, you can NEVER get it. It is a vestige of Barclaycard’s relationship with US Airways and the US Airways/American Airlines merger. You can, however, get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, which offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

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Award taxes and airfare add up for everyone reading this blog, especially if you book yourself reimbursable tickets for work. What credit card should you use to pay the airfare and award taxes for your travel?

Bonus Spending

Many cards offer bonus points for “airfare” or “travel” purchases. In practice, these bonus any spending that an airline processes, which includes:

  • airfare
  • award taxes
  • fuel surcharges on awards
  • fees (seat selection, upgrade, cancellation, baggage, etc)
  • onboard food

It also sometimes includes mileage purchases. American Airlines and LifeMiles, for instance, process their own mileage sales, so buying miles counts as an “airfare” or “travel” purchase with cards that offer those bonus categories. United and Alaska use points.com to process mileage sales, so purchases of those miles do not count as an “airfare” or “travel” purchase.

Three Best Cards for Airfare Spending

The three best cards to pay an airline are the American Express Gold cards, Citi Prestige® Card, and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. All three cards offer three points per dollar on airfare spending (the business Gold only earns 3x if it is your biggest spending category), and I value points from all three similarly.

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All three cards offer no foreign transaction fees, which is very important for airfare and award taxes, since I book with a lot of foreign airlines.

What About Online Travel Agencies?

If you are booking with an online travel agency–like Orbitz, Expedia, or Priceline–use your Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. They earn 3x points per dollar when booking airfare through an online travel agency.

The AMEX Gold cards only earn 3x points when booking directly with an airline.

Airline Specific Cards

Most co-branded airline cards offer 2x miles on purchases with that airline. For instance, the United Explorer card offers 2x miles on United purchases. The American Express Gold cards, Citi Prestige® Card, and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card always offer a better return than 2x airline cards.

There are airline cards that offer 3x though:

Virgin American points are worth over 2 cents each, so if you fly Virgin America and have its credit card, use it for Virgin America purchases.

Alaska miles are a close call. It just depends on whether you value Alaska miles, Membership Rewards, or ThankYou Points the most.

Avios are definitely worth less than ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards in general, but if you want to build an Avios balance, earning them at 3x can make sense, since Membership Rewards-to-Avios transfers are getting worse October 1, 2015.

Let Me Preempt Your Questions about Other Cards

Other than 3x airline cards when purchasing from that airline, yes, the the American Express Gold cards, Citi Prestige® Card, and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card are the best cards to purchase airfare, pay award taxes, or pay airline fees.

They are better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar, worth about 2 cents each.

They are better than the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, which earns 5 Hilton points per dollar on airfare and car rentals, because Hilton points are only worth 0.4 cents each to me.

Bottom Line

The American Express Gold cards, Citi Prestige® Card, and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card are the best cards to purchase airfare, pay award taxes, or pay airline fees. All earn 3x points per dollar on those purchases. The American Express Gold cards do NOT earn bonus points if you book through an online travel agency, but the Citi cards do.

When not purchasing British Airways, Virgin America, or Alaska Airlines airfare, you should be using one of these three cards. Which one exactly depends on whether you value ThankYou Points or Membership Rewards more. (Here’s How ThankYou Points Work.)

Right now, the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card each offer 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months. The biggest offers on the Gold cards are 25,000 points, though there are often 50,000 point bonuses.

Application Links:

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Updated and expanded 7/31/15 because I booked myself another First Class award to Hawaii on United flights with Singapore miles this week.

It is cheaper to book the exact same United flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer miles than with United miles.

  • United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
  • Singapore charges 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles each way in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 United miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 70,000 Singapore miles. Instead of paying 160,000 United miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 120,000 Singapore miles–even occasionally for flat beds!

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore has access to all the same Saver award space United releases to people with United miles (except for some space set aside only for United elites and credit card holders.)

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one.

  • Singapore awards cost fewer miles than United awards
  • Singapore awards are way cheaper to change or cancel than United awards if your plans change
  • Singapore awards do not have a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like United awards do (though here is how to get out of that fee on United awards)
  • Singapore awards of United flights do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of around $11 roundtrip.
  • Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles, and even share a key transfer partner.

Getting Singapore Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of the four major transferable points program:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1:1
  2. Citi ThankYou Points, 1:1
  3. American Express Membership Rewards, 1:1
  4. SPG Starpoints, 1:1 with a bonus. Every 20,000 Starpoints transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus, so the ideal transfers are in exact increments of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Singapore miles.

Right now, I carry the two best cards to earn Singapore miles:

To compare this to earning United miles, United has its own co-branded personal and business cards plus is a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards but not any of the other three transferable points programs.

Searching for Award Space, Transferring Miles, and Booking the Awards

You will have to search for award space on the United flights on united.com; then you will call Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 to book the awards.

Here’s how to search united.com. Make sure that you do NOT sign into united.com when searching for award space that you plan to book with another type of miles because signing in can cause award space set aside for elites or credit card holders to appear, and that space is not bookable with other types of miles like Singapore miles.

How to Interpret the Calendar

The first thing you’ll notice when you search for award space to Hawaii on united.com is that it’s widely available for much of the year. Here’s a calendar of the next two months from Houston to Honolulu. Yellow days have Saver economy award space; blue days have Saver First Class space; green days have Saver space in both cabins. Singapore miles can book all the Saver space that is depicted on these calendars.

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How to Interpret the Itineraries

Once you select a date, the itineraries will be displayed from shortest travel time to longest travel time. Most results will have four columns of award space. You can ignore the Economy Standard Award and First / BusinessFirst Standard Award columns. Singapore miles cannot book that space.
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We’re looking for a blue button in one of the Saver columns.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.01.08 PM

The “First / BusinessFirst” column is especially interesting and potentially confusing to people unfamiliar with award terminology.

Two vs. Three Cabin First Class

The vast majority of United’s domestic flights have two cabins that are sold as Economy and First. Internationally, United’s two cabin flights are sold as Economy and BusinessFirst. Whenever United operates a two-cabin plane, the premium cabin’s awards are priced at the Business Class award price by United and by Singapore.

Extremely rarely, you will encounter a plane on a domestic route with three cabins: Economy, Business, and First. Whenever any itinerary is available with any flight with three cabins, the four columns you’re used to seeing on the search results turn into six columns.

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United charges 50,000 miles if any of the segments is in First Class on a three cabin plane. Singapore would charge 40,000 miles. But again, these flights are rare, and you can get flat beds in two cabin planes for 30,000 Singapore miles.

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Flat Beds

Both Business and First Class on three cabin planes have flat beds.

On two cabin planes, you can occasionally find flat beds in First Class. To find out if your plane has flat beds, click View Seats on the itinerary. Regular seats look like squares with rounded edges.
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Beds look like little beds.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.02.26 PM

Some 777-200s feature flat beds, and all 767-400ERs feature flat beds. Flights from Newark and Washington-Dulles to Honolulu all feature flat beds, and some San Francisco and Houston flights feature flat beds.

Mixed Cabin Awards

Many awards on united.com in the premium cabin columns say “Mixed Cabin.” Holding your cursor over “Mixed Cabin” launches a pop up that says which cabin is available on each flight.

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You always have to pay the full price of the premium cabin award even though part of the award is an inferior cabin.

Singapore Airlines also lets you book mixed cabin awards for the full Business Class price.

In April, I booked myself a mixed cabin award to Hawaii because my first flight was about 2 hours in economy, and the next was 8.5 hours in a flat bed. That seemed worth paying 30,000 Singapore miles.

Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles all take about 19-48 hours. My most recent transfer in July, 2015 from Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles were in my Singapore account when I checked 19 hours after the transfer. SPG transfers take at least as long as the other three.

Once I find award space, I initiate the transfer.

Award space changes all the time, so in a worst case scenario, your award space could disappear before your miles posted. If you can’t handle this outcome, transfer Ultimate Rewards to United miles instantly instead, and pay the extra miles.

I can handle the small chance that my award space will disappear. Maybe it will reappear later. If not, I can always use Singapore miles in the future for a different high value award.

How to Book Singapore Awards

Once your miles post, you have to call Singapore Airlines to book the award. Call 213-404-0301 and be ready with your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account number and six digit PIN.

Feed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of each flight you want.

For cabin, call United First Class on its two cabin planes “Business Class” because that is what the agent needs to search for.

The agent will charge you taxes denominated in Singapore dollars. If you convert that price to US dollars, it should be about $5.60 per person per direction, the standard taxes on domestic awards.

Within a few minutes, you should get an email from Singapore Airlines with an attachment like this.

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Picking Seats

To pick your seats and confirm that your reservation was ticketed correctly, head to united.com and input the Singapore Airlines confirmation number on the home page where it says “Find a Reservation by Confirmation Number.” The Singapore Airlines confirmation number is the six letter/number code listed on your email attachment next to “Booking Reference.”

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United.com will recognize the Singapore Airlines confirmation number. You can select your seats and note your United confirmation number, which will be a different six letter/number code. You can also permanently add this reservation to your united.com account, which will be convenient for checking in without having to search for it again. To do that, click “Add to Account” from the tiny links above “United Confirmation Number.” That option isn’t available in the screen shot below because I clicked it a few days ago.

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Other Benefits of Singapore Airlines Awards Over United Awards

  1. United charges $75 to book an award within 21 days of departure. Singapore charges no fee for such bookings.
  2. United charges $200 to cancel an award booking and get your miles back. Singapore charges $30.
  3. United charges $75 to $100 to change an award booking. Singapore charges $20.

My Experience Booking United to Hawaii with Singapore Miles

In April, I found out that my mainland plans had fallen through, so I could start my trip to Hawaii a few days later. Booking so late in the game is no problem because United offers excellent last minute award space to Hawaii.

I needed to book an award from Atlanta to Honolulu, so I searched united.com and found a mixed-cabin award with Atlanta to Houston in economy and Houston to Honolulu in a flat bed in United First Class on a two cabin plane.

A short hop in the back before a long flight in a bed
A short hop in the back before a long flight in a bed

The award would have cost 40,000 United miles and $80.60 to book including United’s $75 fee for booking within 21 days of departure. I noted the flight number, dates, and cabins plus my KrisFlyer number and PIN.

I already had 30,000 Singapore miles in my account because I transferred Citi ThankYou points and Chase Ultimate Rewards weeks earlier in anticipation of booking an award to Hawaii in First Class when I knew what date I wanted to fly.

I called Singapore Airlines and fed the agent the information and called the First Class cabin on my United flight “Business Class.”

He priced the award at 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles + 7.8 Singapore dollars ($5.66.) I booked the ticket with my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card because it has no foreign transaction fees and earns 3x points for airfare purchases and got an email confirmation a few minutes later. I input the Singapore confirmation code into the United app on my phone and selected my seat and bed.

Just this week (July 2015), I booked myself another United First Class award to Hawaii for 30,000 Singapore miles. I will be in Houston for a wedding in a few months and then want to fly to Hawaii to see family.

From Houston to Honolulu, there is usually a lot of First Class award space if you connect in Los Angeles or San Francisco and a lot of economy space on the direct flight. If you want First Class on the direct flight, which some days features flat beds, you normally have to book within a few days or weeks of departure.

But I got super lucky!

When I searched for award space, the monthly calendar of the direct flight looked like this. There was literally one day with First Class award space, and it was the exact date I wanted to fly.

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I transferred my 30,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles, and they posted within 19 hours. Within 20 hours, I had ticketed the award for 30,000 Singapore miles + $6. I will get 8 hours in First Class to Hawaii. Unfortunately, it will not be flat bed First Class.

Bottom Line

Use Singapore miles instead of United miles to book economy and First Class awards to Hawaii on United flights. You’ll pay fewer miles, lower fees, and be able to book the exact same seats. Plus Singapore miles are so easy to get as a transfer partner of pretty much everyone.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

United is offering tons of Business Class award space for the next 11 months on its flights to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Santiago, Chile.

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Both routes will soon be flown by United’s brand new 787-9 Dreamliners with flat beds in Business Class. You can book either route for as little as 35,000 miles one way.

United 787-9 Dreamliner

The United 787-9 Dreamliner has 48 beds in Business class in a 2-2-2 configuration. I would choose a middle seat, since both have direct aisle access. If you choose a seat on either side of the plane, you’ll either need to climb over your seatmate or be climbed over during the flight.

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Each seat converts to a fully flat bed with 6’6″ of sleeping space.

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Miles Price

Between the United States and Argentina, United charges 30,000 miles each way in economy and 55,000 miles in Business Class.

But you don’t have to book the United award space with United miles. You can book the space with miles from any Star Alliance partner. If you want to book with another partner, search united.com without signing in. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of any Star Alliance flights with a blue button in its Saver award space column; then call the airline whose miles you’re using to book the award.

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Here are the prices charged by some other Star Alliance partners (economy/Business one way) with their transfer partners in parentheses:

UR = Ultimate Rewards, MR = Membership Rewards, TY = ThankYou Points, SPG = Starpoints

  • Asiana (SPG) : 25k/35k
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (MR, SPG): 30k/47.5k
  • Singapore (UR, MR, TY, SPG): 30k/50k
  • Lufthansa Miles & More (SPG): 30k/52k
  • United (UR): 30k/55k
  • Avianca LifeMiles (none, must buy): 30k/60k

United flights to South America do not have fuel surcharges, so no matter what miles you use you’ll just pay taxes of $53 roundtrip to Chile and $60 roundtrip to Brazil.

Award Space Picture

All the calendars below are for direct flights to and from Houston for two people. It is zero extra miles to start your award anywhere else in the continental United States, Alaska, or Canada and connect to Houston as long as you find Saver award space on united.com for those connecting flights.

Yellow dates have Saver award space for two passengers in economy. Blue dates have Saver award space for two passengers in Business Class. Green dates have Saver award space for two passengers in both cabins.

Houston to Rio de Janeiro

The 787-9 Dreamliner starts flying on August 18, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.19.28 AMBusiness Class award space is available over the whole schedule except Christmas, New Year, and Carnaval (February 5-9, 2016). Award space is particularly good in March and April , 2016.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.19.15 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.20.08 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.20.27 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.20.49 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.21.05 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.21.23 AM

Rio de Janeiro to Houston

The northbound flight is a slightly longer redeye.

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Return dates show similarly excellent award space in Business Class.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.27.47 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.28.19 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.28.32 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.28.46 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.29.00 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.29.13 AM

Houston to Santiago

The 787-9 Dreamliner takes over this route on January 5, 2016. Just like Rio de Janeiro, both directions are redeyes.

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Award space is fairly available in January, February, and March 2016, summer down there. April through June have plenty of economy award space.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.26.09 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.26.32 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.26.45 AM

Return space is more widely available in Business Class.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.31.15 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.31.45 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.32.01 AM

More People

All the calendars above were for two people. I did one search for eight people from Houston to Rio in April and May 2016. Many of the dates have award space for eight people in flat beds!

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.33.45 AM

Other Houston Dreamliner Routes

United is also placing its 787-9 Dreamliner on several other routes from Houston over the coming year: Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. None have very good award space in Business Class with Buenos Aires space particularly abysmal.

Bottom Line

There is excellent award space for two people in economy and Business Class from Houston (or elsewhere in the United States) to Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. United puts its 787-9 Dreamliner on the Rio route in a few weeks and on the Santiago route in January.

Just because the space is on United planes doesn’t mean you should use United miles to book. You can use any Star Alliance miles.

  • Asiana charges only 35,000 miles one way in Business Class, compared to United’s 55,000 mile price. You can transfer SPG points to Asiana miles in about two weeks.
  • Promiscuous transfer partner Singapore Airlines, a transfer partner of Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG, offers the routes for 50,000 miles one way in Business Class.

The best cards to get Singapore miles?

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also earns 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment. The Citi Prestige® Card also offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. American Airlines miles are the best for super-cheap economy redemptions and ultra-luxury redemptions.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.

What is less known about the card is that it offers the ability to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.

  • What are Elite Qualifying Miles?
  • When do the EQMs post?
  • What are 10,000 EQMs worth?
  • Should You Try to Earn the EQMs Bonus?
  • How Can You Spend $40,000 in the next five months?

What are Elite Qualifying Miles?

Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) are one way to earn American Airlines status. (The other two are Elite Qualifying Points and Segments.) You basically earn one EQM per mile flown on paid tickets in economy and 1.5 per mile flown on paid tickets in First Class. Click here for full information from American Airlines.

EQMs are just a counter toward status and cannot be redeemed for anything. You need to earn in a calendar year:

  • 25,000 EQMs for Gold Status
  • 50,000 EQMs for Platinum Status
  • 100,000 EQMs for Executive Platinum Status.

Those statuses come with perks like free upgrades, free checked bags, waived fees, and faster mileage earning on paid tickets.

Check out this chart of the benefits of each level of status.

What Is This Offer?

Spend $40,000 on your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® that posts on your January through December statements (slightly different than a calendar year), and you earn 10,000 EQMs.

The EQMs are in addition to the normal AAdvantage award miles earned on the spending, which would be at least 40,000 miles for the spending, plus probably the 75,000 bonus miles for signing up, plus any bonus miles for making American Airlines/US Airways purchases.

When Do EQMs Post?

Within a few days of your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® statement closing that shows you’ve spent more than $40,000 in the calendar year, your EQMs post according to the experience of FlyerTalkers.

That means if you hit $40,000 in spending by the December statement, you should get the EQMs this calendar year.

What are 10,000 EQMs Worth?

I cannot answer this fully for you. I can give some guidance.

If the 10,000 EQMs don’t bump you to the next status level, they are worth $0. For instance, if you have never flown American Airlines or its partners, 10,000 EQMs are worth nothing. Or if you’ll have 55,000 EQMs at the end of the year, 10,000 more EQMs are worth nothing because the next threshold is 100,000 EQMs.

If the 10,000 EQMs do bump you to the next status level, you need to figure out how much extra the next level of American Airlines elite status is worth to you.

Here are, in my opinion, reasonable valuations for moving from one status level to the next:

  • No status to Gold (assuming you fly 15,000 miles per year): $500
  • Gold to Platinum (assuming you fly 40,000 miles per year): $800
  • Platinum to Executive Platinum (assuming you fly 90,000 miles per year): $4,200 because of the eight systemwide upgrades you earn

The 10,000 EQMs are not worth those amounts; those are just the maximum they can be worth. If you can get 10,000 EQMs for cheaper than $4,200, it would be unfair to value 10,000 EQMs at $4,200.

Your best bet to get EQMs is flying cheap economy fares, and you can often find flights for around 5 cents per mile, meaning that 10,000 EQMs would be $500 worth of flights. Add to that the value of your time for flying flights to nowhere but subtract the value of the award miles earned from the flights to get the lowest cost alternative way to get 10,000 EQMs.

Your personal value of 10,000 EQMs should be the lesser of the alternative price to earn them from flying and the value of moving up a status level.

For most people, this will be in the $300 to $1,000 range depending on the value of their time, which is the biggest variable in determining whether flying to nowhere (mileage running) is worth it for you.

Should You Try to Earn the EQMs Bonus?

If you can’t spend $40,000 in year, no.

If you can, maybe.

Spending $40,000 on one card to earn 40,000 American Airlines miles plus 10,000 EQMs needs to be compared to spending $40,000 on another card or cards.

For instance, spending $40,000 on the SPG card would earn 40,000 Starpoints. Those can transfer to 50,000 American Airlines miles normally and 60,000 at the moment. You have to decide whether you want 10,000 or 20,000 extra American Airlines miles by spending on the SPG card or 10,000 extra EQMs by spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®.

Or spending $40,000 could unlock 10 new credit card sign up bonuses, which would be a haul of around half a million points and miles. Would you rather have that or 10,000 EQMs?

How Can You Spend $40,000 in the Next Five Months?

To get 10,000 EQMs, you need to $40,000 in spending by the close of your December statement, which is 4-5 months away. (In 2016, of course, you’d have the full 12 months.) That’s a lot of money to spend.

If your normal spending on credit cards doesn’t get you to $40,000, you may want to consider alternatives like paying taxes with a credit card, paying your mortgage or rent with a credit card, or paying tuition or student loans with a credit card. All of these have 2-3% fees, so subtract that from the value of the EQMs you’ll earn.

Bottom Line

In addition to the 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months and Admirals Club lounge membership, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 on your January through December statements.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

If those 10,000 EQM bump you to the next status level, they are probably worth $300 to $1,000 to you.

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Delta is advertising a fare sale for travel from August 6 to December 16, and, in a first, is advertising a concurrent sale on the award prices on the same routes.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.04.49 PM

There are 29 listed sale routes.

When 5,000 mile awards started in May, I wrote that this was mixed news:

  • Good: Some awards are 60% cheaper, and hopefully more routes with 5,000 mile award space are added.
  • Bad: By picking 5k routes on cheapness not distance, Delta is taking a step away from award charts (which it deleted from the internet already) and toward revenue-based redemptions. If Delta makes award redemptions based on the ticket price, Business Class awards, and all the other best values, will surge in (miles) price.

Since then, Delta has taken further steps toward revenue-based award redemptions, so forgive me for not being very excited about this sale, which also appears to be worse than previous sales. (See the section on city pairs below.)

Award Space

Award space is excellent at the 5,000 mile price on routes that are offering it. Here is Cincinnati to Memphis in October and November for four people.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.06.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.06.53 PM

Routes with 7,500 and 10,000 mile awards also have great space. Here is New York to San Antonio in August and September.Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.07.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.07.39 PM

City Pairs

Previously, these discounted award segments could be added together, and the rules were like this:

  • At the time of research, no 5k segments could be added together.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • Combine a 10k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.

Now the rules have changed. Here’s what the screenshots below show:

  • Combine a 5k segment and a 5k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 7.5k segment and a 7.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.

I saw the pattern a few months ago, and I do not see it anymore, so I conclude that Delta has now set award prices based on city pairs–just like with revenue tickets–that have nothing to do with the prices of each segment.

Boise to Spokane: 10k miles

Boise to Seattle (5k) + Seattle to Spokane (5k) = 10k

Boise to Seattle: 5k miles

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.09.39 PM

Seattle to Spokane: 5k miles

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.09.58 PM

Boise to Spokane: 5k miles Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.10.11 PM

Phoenix to Spokane: 10k

Phoenix to Seattle (10k) + Seattle to Spokane (5k) = 10k
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.11.45 PM

Los Angeles to Bozeman: 12.5k

Los Angeles to Seattle (7.5k) + Seattle to Bozeman (7.5k) = 12.5k
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.12.28 PM

I don’t discern any pattern of the price for the trip based on the price of each segment, which leads me to believe that each city pair has a mileage price that is no dependent on the price of each segment.

Bottom Line

Certain Delta city pairs have awards as low as 5,000 miles one way for late Summer and Fall travel. Check out the full list here.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Until August 31, 2015, you can buy IHG Rewards Club points and get up to a 100% bonus on the points purchased.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 1.37.14 PM

Head to this page and enter your IHG Rewards Club number to what bonus between 50% and 100% you get. I got a 100% bonus.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 1.38.21 PM

IHG is the loyalty program of these brands, including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.44.58 PM

IHG points normally cost 1.15 to 1.35 cent each.

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $12.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 60,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points

With the 100% bonus, the price drops to 0.575 to 0.675 cents per point. If you buy 26,000 IHG points before August 31–the smallest number that gets the lowest price–you’ll receive 52,000 points for $299 or 0.575 cents each.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.36.20 PM

The maximum number of points you can purchase is 60,000 plus bonus points, meaning 90,000 to 120,000 total points depending on your bonus.

IHG has nine categories of hotels that cost 10,000 to 50,000 points per night. There are some OK deals on this chart, but the best use of IHG Rewards points is always to book PointBreaks hotels for 5,000 points per night.

Buying points for 0.575 cents each and redeeming free nights at the 5,000 point PointBreaks price means hotels cost $28.75 per night.

When to Buy (Math)

If you have a 50% or 60% bonus, do not buy. Points are more than 0.7 cents each, and you can always buy points for 0.7 cents each with this method. If you have a 70%+ bonus, points are less than 0.7 cents each, and you can consider buying.

Is buying IHG points for 0.575 to 0.677 cents each a good deal?

I would not buy IHG points speculatively for 0.575 cents each because I value them at 0.5 cents each. But if you have an immediate high value redemption in mind or if you are preparing your account for future PointBreaks, buying points can be a good deal.

For instance, with a 100% bonus, PointBreaks hotels are $28.75 per night. Category 1 properties would be $57.50 per night. Top tier Category 9 properties would be $287.50 per night. For all these categories, you can get a big discount off the retail nightly rate if you travel at a peak time.

Search your dream hotel to see how many points you’d need to book the hotel you want for a night. Search the dates you’d like to stay to see the paid price. If buying the points makes sense, there is award space on your dates, and you are ready to redeem now, buy the points.

For instance, this summer The InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea Hotelin French Polynesia costs 40,000 points (Category 7) per night or about $313 after taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.45.42 PM

For $690, you can but 120,000 IHG Rewards points and redeem them for three free nights at the hotel, saving $249 off of retail.

Buy IHG Points with These Credit Cards

IHG points purchases are processed by points.com, so the purchases will not code as a bonus “travel” or “hotel” purchase on any credit card. You will not earn category bonuses from the purchase of IHG points.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.31.02 PM

That means you should make the purchase with whatever card you need to meet a minimum spending requirement on.

Bottom Line

You can buy IHG Points for as little as 0.575 cents each if you are targeted for the 100% bonus. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate awards you can book where that price offers great value.

The best use of IHG Rewards points is always to book PointBreaks hotels for 5,000 points per night.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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About 1 AM today, my friend and I hopped in a taxi outside a well known nightlife area in Belgrade, Serbia and were the almost-victims of a taxi scam.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 3.11.04 PM
Sava and Danube Rivers Meeting in Belgrade

We were just taking a 4 km ride to another bar, and we hopped into one of several waiting taxis. The ride took under 10 minutes, with part of it at over 80 miles per hour as our taxi driver barreled down empty streets.

Late in the ride, I noticed the meter was over 2,000 dinar (110 dinar = $1.) That was ludicrous since the ride should cost around 400-500 dinar tops.

The meter had started at 170 dinar correctly and was ticking up in 3 dinar increments correctly, but it was ticking up about 10 times faster than normal.

When we arrived the meter was 3,050 dinar ($28.) I got out of the cab. I don’t want to get into an argument and be trapped in the car or within arm’s reach of the driver. My friend pulled out his wallet, sitting in the cab. I barked at him: “Get out of the cab.”

Through the window, I said: “How much?” And the driver said, “Three thousand dinar,” to which I burst out laughing.

Me: “You mean 300?”

Him: “3,000”

Then he said some nonsense about different prices for pink taxis, phone taxis, and his taxi that I didn’t understand because of his limited English.

At this point, I was 100% sure that 3,000 was an unfair price, but I wasn’t 100% sure that it was an illegal price. In some cities, taximeters can charge whatever they want (Charlottesville, Virginia) though everywhere I’ve been prices need to be posted somewhere, and they weren’t posted in this cab.

I decided to tell him flat out that I wasn’t paying 3,000 dinar and to call the police. I figured the worst that could happen–if the price was legal–was that a cop would tell me to pay the $28, an annoying, but hardly life-changing scam amount. In the best case, the cabbie was breaking the law and would back down.

The cabbie countered that I should get back in, and he’d drive us the two minutes to the police to sort this out.

Yeah, right!

I wasn’t getting back in the taxi, so I told him again to call the police if he wanted 3,000. We were going to get a beer. We walked over to an outdoor bar a few meters away and ordered a beer. The taxi driver “made a phone call” (possibly fake) in Serbian and walked over to tell us the police would be there in 15 minutes.

“Great, we’ll be right here drinking our beer.”

Not two minutes later, the cabbie drove the 20 meters to where we were made some offensive hand gestures, cussed us out in Serbian (I assume) and then reversed down the street.

Free taxi ride for us!

Draw your own lessons from the episode. I’m still going to take street taxis in Belgrade, and just dispute the fare if it’s outrageous. On our ride home later in the night, my friend was watching the meter like a hawk, and I joked, “I hope it’s too high. Another free ride.”

At least in Bucharest, my next stop, I’ll thankfully be freed from taxi tyranny and get to use Uber. (Check out this attempted Uber scam I foiled.)

Bottom Line

I’d like to say this shows that cheaters never prosper, but it shows the opposite.

If the ride should have been 400, and he gets even 2 out of 15 people (13%) to pay 3,000 he breaks even. I imagine he gets a much higher percentage of foreigners to pay the scam rate than 13%.

What travel scams have you encountered and how have you handled them?

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

I tweeted this deal first from @MileValueAlerts. Follow @MileValueAlerts on Twitter and follow these directions to get a text message every time I tweet from that account. I tweet from @MileValueAlerts only a few times a month because it is designed to be used only for the best and most limited-time deals–like mistake fares–so that you aren’t bombarded by text messages.

This one is a multi-city fare with four parts:

  1. Travel from Prague, Budapest, Shannon, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Warsaw, or other European cities to Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg or other African/Asian cities
  2. Travel from your first destination to Madrid
  3. Travel from Madrid to an American city
  4. Travel from your American city to London

All that travel costs as little as 407 GBP ($636). That’s basically two roundtrips that start in Europe. One to Africa or Asia and one to the United States. This is a mistake fare and fuel dump.

$636 Fare

Sample Dates:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 1.13.35 PM Changing the dates and starting city upped the price to $1,089.Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 1.15.36 PM

All these mistake fares ticket as British Airways flights (even if partners are operating them.) You can see that these are mistake fares by comparing the prices to what other carriers are charging.Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 1.16.45 PM

 

 

Play with different cities of departure, different destinations, and different dates to find cheap fares. Book on ebookers.com.

 

Getting to Europe

The ticket starts in Europe. I generally don’t post deals that start in Europe, but this one is too good to ignore. You can get to Europe very easily with miles on a one way award ticket. And you can get back home on miles with a one way award ticket (or you can fly the third part to your home in the United States and not use the fourth part of the ticket.)

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

You should definitely purchase this ticket with a credit card that imposes no foreign transaction fees. Your top choice should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the purchase of this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting $250 credit on your next statement resulting in a ton of flying for under $400!

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like it annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

My second choice would be the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which offers 3x on all travel and gas purchases and also has no foreign transaction fees. The card comes with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.36.03 PM

Mistake Fare Caveat

Wait a few days or even a few weeks to book other things like hotels and tours. The airline may (try to) cancel these tickets.

Hat Tip Secretly Flying

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. American Airlines has the best award space to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent by far and some of its nicest partners fly these routes.

Etihad First Suite on 787
Etihad First Suite on 787. I have mine Booked for May.

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent is one very large region on the American Airlines award chart. It contains:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • the United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan

The Partners for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent must fly directly from North America to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent or can transit Europe. They cannot transit East Asia even though trips from the West Coast to India might be as convenient or more convenient via Asia.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Middle East or India from North America:

  • Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)
  • Qatar Airways (Doha)
  • Jet Airways (Mumbai)

Other American Airlines partners with hubs in the region:

  • Gulf Air (Bahrain)
  • Royal Jordanian (Amman)

Plus any partner that flies between the United States and Europe or Europe and the Middle East can be potentially useful, so don’t forget about:

  • American Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Airberlin
  • Qantas (London to Dubai)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • British Airways

Award space on American Airlines, US Airways, airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, and Qantas is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Awards space on Iberia, Royal Jordanian, and Qatar is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Award space on Gulf Air is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Etihad is searchable on etihad.com. Here’s how to search etihad.com.

Award space on Jet Airways is searchable by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

Pricing

From North America to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, American Airlines charges:

  • 45,000 miles one way in economy
  • 67,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 90,000 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges fair prices. Compared to the rest of American’s outstandingly cheap award chart, these prices are unfortunately more expensive than I’d like. Ultimately though I have paid 90,000 miles for one way in Etihad First Class from Chennai, India to Los Angeles.

American is not the leader to the Middle East and India because of its pricing as much as its partners. American partners with two of the big three Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad and Qatar. Add in the other Middle Eastern and Indian partners, and American really has a lock on the region.

Booking the Awards

To book 99% of Middle East and Indian Subcontinent awards, you need to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. You will not have to pay a phone fee since the award is not bookable online. I recommend searching award space on aa.com, ba.com, Expert Flyer, and etihad.com before calling and feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight with award space instead of relying on the agent’s searching skill.

Routes

There are too many routes to cover all of them, so I’ll restrict myself just to the direct Etihad and Qatar flights from the United States the Middle East.

Etihad flies from six American cities to Abu Dhabi and from there throughout the region including 11 cities in India and five in Pakistan.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 6.57.44 PM

Etihad flights feature First, Business, and economy class.

I find award space to be excellent on Etihad. This is my go-to airline when I am looking for award space for MileValue Award Booking Service clients to the Middle East and India. With flexibility, you can find two seats in any cabin.

Qatar flies from seven American cities to Doha and from there throughout the region including 12 Indian cities.Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.00.44 PM

Qatar’s flights to the United States do not feature First Class, just Business and economy.

In my experience, Qatar award space is not as strong as Etihad award space.

I realize I haven’t said much useful about the award space to the Middle East, but it is difficult to sum up space on dozens of routes across several airlines and cabins. Better to just tell you which airlines to start with and where to search that award space.

Bonus

Europe to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way in Business Class and 40,000 in First Class. There are some awesome products you can fly for those prices:

Bottom Line

American Airlines has amazing partners to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, topped by Etihad and Qatar.

Awards are pricier than most places on the American Airlines award chart at 45,000/67,500/90,000 miles one way in economy/Business/First. Awards must fly directly from North America to the region or connect in Europe. They cannot go via East Asia.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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