Scott Grimmer

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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 Twitterand 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.

Travel to Cancun, Mexico roundtrip for $198+ on American Airlines, Delta, and United from:

  • Newark
  • Washington (DCA)
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Cleveland
  • other cities, check yours

The fares are valid for the next 10 months on select dates including Spring Break. Each airline’s sale fare are from the other airlines’ hubs. Ain’t competition great?

Contents:

  1. When are the $198 fares?
  2. Mileage Earning
  3. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket

$198 Roundtrip from USA to Cancun

Sample Dates: March 1 to March 9 on American Airlines from Newark to Cancun

Search on ITA Matrix by calendar of lowest fares for acceptable trip lengths.

 

 

Hover over a date with cheap roundtrips.

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Select the number of nights you’d like the roundtrip to be.

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You cannot book on ITA Matrix. Instead note the dates and search on an airline site or online travel agency.

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Mileage Earning

If you fly American, you’ll earn one American Airlines mile per mile flown, which are worth about 1.8 cents each to me.

If you fly United or Delta, you’ll earn 5 miles per dollar of the base fare (more if you have status), which should be far fewer miles.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

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 credit on your next statement: a completely free ticket!

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.

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Hat Tip The Flight Deal

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

Korean Air has multiple award charts when redeeming its SkyPass miles. There is one award chart to fly Korean, one award chart to fly SkyTeam partners, and award charts to fly Alaska, Hawaiian, Gol, and Emirates (click logos). Each award chart has sweetspots, so I will run through all the sweetspots in three posts. The post on Korean Air sweetspots is here. The post on SkyTeam sweetspots is here. This is the last post, about sweet spots when flying Korean’s non-alliance partners.

Korean SkyPass miles should have your attention. You can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles and then book cheap, abundant award space on Korean and its partners.

Korean SkyPass awards that fly non-SkyTeam partners have the following rules:

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  • Roundtrip and one way awards are the same price, so book roundtrip awards.
  • Emirates and Hawaiian awards are priced per segment, so connecting itineraries are really two awards.
  • Alaska and Gol awards are NOT priced per segment, so connecting awards are allowed for the price on the award chart.
  • You get one stopover per roundtrip award in addition to the destination on Alaska and Gol awards. You can also feel free to stopover between segments on Emirates and Hawaiian awards, since connecting itineraries are really separate awards.
  • You get one open jaw, at the destination only

Add that up, and you see that awards on Alaska and GOL can include time in four cities.

  • A to B (stopover)
  • B to C (destination, open jaw between C and D)
  • D to A

You can include more if you want to take advantage of 23 hour layovers, but I’ll ignore that option for the rest of the post.

SkyPass awards will include fuel surcharges when an identical cash ticket would have fuel surcharges. You can use ITA Matrix to look up fuel surcharge info for the awards in this post. Only the awards flying Emirates, not the awards on Gol, Hawaiian, or Alaska have fuel surcharges.

 

So what are the good deals on the non-alliance partners’ award charts? Let’s look at the charts one by one.

Emirates Chart

This award chart takes up the most space, so I have just excerpted it:

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Every roundtrip direct flight is a new award, and there are no bargains on the award chart. The United States to Dubai roundtrip is 210,000 miles plus fuel surcharges. Alaska charges 180,000 miles with no fuel surcharges and is also an SPG partner.

Better yet, Alaska allows one way awards to Africa, Europe, or Asia for 100,000 miles in First Class and allows a free stopover in Dubai. I have about 22 hours of Emirates First Class booked this month for 100,000 Alaska miles plus small taxes. Don’t book longhaul Emirates flights with Korean miles.

The short haul flights are probably not a great deal either. Yes, Hong Kong to Bangkok roundtrip is 70,000 miles in First Class, and Auckland to Australia roundtrip is 75,000 miles in First Class. That’s two showers for not a ton of miles, but there are fuel surcharges, and it’s probably not convenient for Americans to fly roundtrips on these routes.

Alaska Chart

The Alaska award chart is very good when you consider that you are allowed a free stopover and free open jaw.

 

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You could fly something like Washington DC to Seattle (stopover), to Honolulu, returning from Maui to Washington DC for 30,000 miles total.

For direct flights, though, you are probably better off using British Airways Avios to book the same Alaska award space.

Hawaiian Chart

Within Hawaii, tickets for 10,000 miles roundtrip are a decent deal if the flights are going for about $100 one way.

 

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From New York (JFK) to Honolulu for 30k/60k roundtrip is a very good deal, but there is precious little award space on the route. From Hawaii to Tahiti or Samoa for 60k/90k is a decent deal if you have a need for those routes.

The awards to Australia and Asia in First Class are much cheaper with American or Hawaiian miles.

Gol Chart

The Economy Comfort deals are awful, but the economy prices could be worth paying if you can maximize the itinerary.

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For instance, for 25,000 miles, you can book something like:

  • Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires (destination, open jaw between Buenos Aires and Montevideo)
  • Montevideo to Porto Alegre ( stopover)
  • Porto Alegre to Sao Paulo
Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 25,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 20,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

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The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

The non-alliance partners offer fewer sweetspots than flying Korean Air or SkyTeam partners. Check out the the Korean Air sweetspots and the SkyTeam sweetspots. I see some value in flying Alaska to Hawaii with a stopover (though remember that it is cheaper to fly Delta to Hawaii with Korean miles) and some possible value on Gol intra-South America.

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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.

Alaska Airlines is having an award sale from 47 of its cities. Awards start at 5,000 miles one way, and I see Hawaii and Mexico awards discounted to 12,500 miles one way.

Start on the award sale page. Select your city from the dropdown menu to see its sales. For instance, here is the sale from Kona, Big Island (Hawaii.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.50.42 PM If there is a discount in the market you’re searching, it is good in both directions, so San Jose to Kona would be only 25,000 Alaska miles roundtrip. Click the VIEW DATES button for the search page to be brought up.

I see some good deals out of Los Angeles…

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.51.44 PM …out of Seattle…Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.52.02 PM

…and out of everywhere else on the dropdown menu.

No purchase date or travel dates are listed on the sale page or in the email announcing the sale, but The Points Guy says the sale is good for awards booked by September 13 and flown from September 9 to December 16.

How Good Is the Sale? Avios are Often Better

San Jose to Kona for 12,500 Alaska miles is very good, but you can always book the exact same award space for 12,500 British Airways Avios by calling British Airways.

Los Angeles to Los Cabos for 12,500 Alaska miles is good, but you can always book the exact same award space for 7,500 Avios.

Many of the routes are also included in Delta’s 5,000 mile award sale.

Any discounts are always welcome, but this is probably not even the deal of the week, let alone century. I’ll be keeping my Alaska miles to fly Emirates First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and AeroMexico Business Class to Argentina.

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

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 September 2015 for travel in November 2015. This list is very disappointing. There is only one American city on the discounted list. 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 September 30, 2015 for flights from November 1 to November 30, 2015.

The only American city on the list is Houston, though there are four Canadian cities.

  • Flights from Houston in KLM economy are 25% off and 18,750 miles one way.

Houston does not 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.

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 Business Class, 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 September 30, and fly in November, and you can enjoy 25% off awards from Houston or Brazil 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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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

Travel to Bogota, Colombia roundtrip for $228+ on American Airlines from:

  • Newark
  • Washington (DCA and IAD)
  • San Francisco
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Cleveland

The fares are valid for the next 10 months other than the period over Christmas and New Year.

Contents:

  1. When are the $228 fares?
  2. Why Bogota?
  3. Other Colombia Options
  4. Mileage Earning
  5. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket

$228 Roundtrip from USA to Colombia

These fares are all on American Airlines flights from United hubs. Search on aa.com with the flexible dates feature or kayak.com to find these amazing fares in the $220 – $240 range.

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Why Bogota?

I’ve spent a little over three weeks there in the last year, and I’ll be there for another week this month. Other than the weather, which is generally brisk, cloudy, and rainy, I love the city.

Hike Monserrate, hit the Gold Museum, go to the restaurant/nightclub Andres Carne de Res (all ages), and eat at El Corral and Sipote plus more sophisticated places. If you like nightlife, stay in Zona Rosa (AKA Zona T) or Rosales.

Most importantly, on any Sunday or holiday, rent a bike and participate in the original ciclovia, which has spawned worldwide imitations. You can bike on 121 km of roads closed to cards. I took the opportunity to roll through the South of the city which would otherwise be far too dangerous to visit alone.

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Other Colombia Options

Here are other places I like or want to go in Colombia:

  • Medellin
  • Cali
  • Parque Tayrona
  • El Camino a La Ciudad Perdida
  • Cocora Valley
  • Cartagena

All of these can be reached with Avios on LAN Colombia from Bogota or on low cost carriers. This fare is a gateway to all of Colombia.

Mileage Earning

You’ll earn one American Airlines mile per mile flown, which are worth about 1.8 cents each to me.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

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 credit on your next statement: a completely free ticket!

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.

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American Airlines cards would be my third choice for 2 miles per dollar. 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.

Hat Tip The Flight Deal

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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.

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

British Airways is launching a new route from San Jose to London on May 4, 2016.

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The new route will be flown by a 787-9 Dreamliner with flat beds in Business and First Classes. I wrote about the British Airways Dreamliner product and award space on its first four announced routes here.

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The new route has excellent Business Class award space at the moment (not quite as good as a few days ago), and this is extra relevant because 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’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in Business Class.

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You’re probably thinking, ‘Yeah, but what about the fuel surcharges?” They’re not nearly as bad as you think. Frankly most people look at British Airways award space wrong. For instance, this post by The Points Guy shows the price of a roundtrip in British Airways Business Class from San Jose to London costs 100,000 American Airlines miles + $1,258.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.45.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.46.02 PM

That’s true, but that’s also literally the worst way to book this award space. British Airways award flights have fuel surcharges when booked with all types of miles, but there are ways to greatly minimize these fuel surcharges.

For instance, just booking that exact same roundtrip as two one way awards will drop the fuel surcharges a couple hundred bucks.

The outbound one way is $480.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.12.12 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.12.16 PM

The return one way is $565.

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That’s $1,045 roundtrip, which is $213 cheaper than booking a roundtrip.

But even better than that, just book a one way from Europe to the United States and start it from a low-tax, low-surcharge city.

How to Save a Ton on British Airways Fuel Surcharges

There is no way to save on fuel surcharges when departing from the United States to Europe on British Airways flights, so don’t fly those flights. Use United miles or another type with no fuel surcharges to get to Europe.

There is a way to save a lot on fuel surcharges and taxes when flying home from Europe though.

Taxes vary greatly by city of departure in Europe, and so do fuel surcharges, which British Airways changes based on competition in the market and other factors that have nothing to do with the price of fuel.

Book yourself a one way award home from Europe on British Airways flights, but don’t start in London. London has the highest departure taxes. Return from a lower tax country, which might also have lower surcharges.

Remember that just London to San Jose cost $565.

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Berlin to London to San Jose is $148 cheaper. Taxes drop $170 though the fuel surcharges actually rises.
Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.47.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.47.59 PM

Oslo to London to San Jose is $308 cheaper than starting in London. Taxes are $228 cheaper and fuel surcharges are $80 less too.
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If you want to go to multiple cities in Europe on one trip, play around to see how much money you can save by returning from the city with the lowest taxes and fuel surcharges.

I would gladly pay 50,000 American Airlines miles plus $257 for a one way award from Oslo to San Jose. United wants 70,000 miles for a comparable Business Class product, and Delta wants 62,500 miles. Saving all those miles for only about $200 more than the taxes on United and Delta awards would be is a fair trade off.

Award Space London to San Jose

Having said that the way to book British Airways award space is to book the return from Europe only, let’s look at award space from London to San Jose next Spring and Summer on the new direct flight. Remember that you will not start in London, but in another European city. Award space intra-Europe is excellent.

Award space from London to San Jose is widely available from May 4 until June 30. Then it abruptly ends, with no award space in July.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.42.29 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.42.48 PM

Contrast that with San Jose to London space (which you probably don’t want to book because there is no way to lower the fuel surcharges dramatically), which is most available in July 2016.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.43.10 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.43.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.43.56 PMEconomy award space is also widely available, though I cannot justify the fuel surcharges since United and Delta charge the same price as American for economy awards to Europe. First Class space is almost non-existent, though I did spot one day.
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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. That’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in Business Class.

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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.

Bottom Line

Award space is widely available on British Airways’ new San Jose <-> London flight that launches May 4, 2016 on a 787-9 Dreamliner.

Here’s how to save a grand: Instead of paying 100,000 miles + $1,257 for a roundtrip in Business Class on the direct flights, pay 50,000 miles + $257 for a one way return from Oslo to London to San Jose, and book a one way to Europe for just $6 in taxes with another type of miles.

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

Today (August 31, 2015 until 11:59 PM ET) is the last day to buy Hilton HHonors points with an 80% bonus.

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Hilton points normally cost 1 cent each. With the 80% bonus, the price drops to 0.56 cents per point.

If you buy the maximum 80,000 Hilton points today, you’ll receive 144,000 points for $800. With the bonus, you can buy any amount of points from 1,800 to 144,000 in 1,800 point increments.

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In June, we saw a 100% bonus on buy Hilton points brining the price down to 0.5 cents. Since July 7, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card has offered 75,000 bonus Hilton points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

When to Buy (Math)

Is buying Hilton points for 0.56 cents each a good deal?

Here is the Hilton award chart.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.26.13 PM

I would not buy Hilton points speculatively for 0.56 cents each because I value them at 0.4 cents each. But if you have an immediate high value redemption in mind, buying points can be a good deal.

For instance, at these prices, Category 1 properties would be $28 per night. Category 2 properties would be $56. Top tier Category 10 properties would be $389 to $528 per night. For all these categories, you can get a big discount off the retail nightly rate if you travel at a peak time.

Check out: Free Spreadsheet to Download of Category 1, 2, 9, and 10 Hilton Properties Plus the Only Two Good Hilton Strategies

Consult the Hilton award chart 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.

Also keep in mind, that you don’t need to buy points when you can just open Hilton branded credit cards for free stays.

Right now, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card comes with Two Free Weekend Nights (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months. The card also comes with free Hilton Gold Status (upgraded internet, breakfast) as long as you hold the card. All that more than offsets the $95 annual fee.

Instead of free nights, the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card comes with 75,000 bonus Hilton points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Check out my review of the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, which explains how the sign up bonus is worth 18 free nights at Category 1 hotels. The card also comes with automatic Hilton Silver Status and no annual fee ever.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 2.12.34 PM

Buy Hilton Points with These Credit Cards

Hilton 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 Hilton 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 1,800 to 144,000 Hilton points for 0.56 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate awards you can book where that price offers great value.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card with Two Free Nights worldwide at top tier Hiltons after spending $2,500 in four months

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card with 75,000 bonus Hilton points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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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.

8

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Update 8/30/15: This offer ends Monday August 31, 2015.

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Until August 31, 2015, you can transfer 20,000 SPG Starpoints to 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. This is a repeat of an awesome promo we saw July 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 2.45.27 AM

 

This is not the only SPG transfer bonus at the moment, with Aeroplan offering something similar.

  • How many Starpoints can you transfer?
  • Do Starpoints transfer instantly to American Airlines miles?
  • In what increment must you transfer Starpoints to maximize this deal?
  • How many Starpoints should you transfer speculatively?

Here’s what American Airlines says:

From July 1 through August 31, 2015, convert your Starpoints® to AAdvantage miles and earn a 20% bonus on the amount of AAdvantage miles you receive from the conversion.

As always, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, SPG® will automatically add another 5,000 Starpoints.

With the additional 20% mileage bonus offered by the AAdvantage program, you’ll receive 30,000 miles from the transaction.

The bottom line is 20,000 SPG Starpoints = 30,000 American Airlines miles until August 31.

  • 20,000 Starpoints = 20,000 AAdvantage miles (1:1 transfer partner)
  •  Standard SPG bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles per 20,000 Starpoints transferred
  • AAdvantage 20% mileage bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Total: 20,000 Starpoints = 30,000 AAdvantage miles

How Many Starpoints Can You Transfer?

You can transfer up to 79,999 Starpoints per 24 hours to an airline. Since you need to send Starpoints in exact 20k point increments to maximize transfer bonuses, the effective limit is 60,000 Starpoints per day to 90,000 American Airlines miles.

Starpoints do not transfer instantly to American Airlines miles. The transfer usually take 2-4 days in my experience.

Other than the daily limit, there is no limit to the number of Starpoints you can transfer to American Airlines miles during this promotion.

Speculative Transfers

I value Starpoints at 2.5 cents each and AAdvantage miles at 1.8 cents each, so I’d rather have 30,000 American Airlines miles than 20,000 Starpoints. However, I am not going to rush off and convert all my Starpoints to American Airlines miles for two reasons:

  1. Transferring kills the option value of holding transferable points. What if for my next award Asiana or Singapore or British Airways or Delta miles are better than American Airlines miles? I’d rue my transfer.
  2. I expect an American Airlines award chart devaluation announcement in the next few months that kicks in around the beginning of 2016. Here’s a post where I asked several miles experts to predict the next American Airlines devlauation’s size and timing.

For that reason, I’ll only transfer Starpoints to American Airlines miles that I reasonably expect to burn by the end of 2015 for travel through late 2016.

Getting Starpoints

You can’t get Starpoints by August 31 by opening a new credit card, but this promotion highlights one of the many reasons you’d want to get a new Starwood Preferred Guest personal or business card.

Both cards offer 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Get More American Airlines 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. 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.

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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.

Update August 30, 2015: You must book your Hawaiian Airlines awards between the United States mainland and Hawaii by Monday August 31 if you want to use American Airlines miles.

Starting September 1, 2015, you can no longer use your American Airlines miles to book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.32.30 PM

You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly inter-island flights on Hawaiian and to fly to Hawaiian’s destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.

How Big of a Loss for AAdvantage Miles is Losing Hawaiian Flights to Hawaii?

I’d categorize this as a minor loss. Hawaiian has a nice route network to the west coast, but so do Alaska, American, and US Airways. All this cities will still have direct flights to Honolulu that you can book with American Airlines miles after September 1. (Of course, if you only want the direct flight, book it with Avios not American Airlines miles to save 5k to 10k miles each way.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.40.40 PM

The big losses are Hawaiian’s flights from Las Vegas and New York-JFK to Honolulu. If you live in Las Vegas, substitute with cheap cash fares on Allegiant and consider upgrading to its First-Class-sized Giant Seat. If you live in New York, you can fly United’s direct flight from Newark to Honolulu, which features a flat bed in First Class (trip report), and costs only 30,000 Singapore miles one way.

It’s not like Hawaiian offers great award space from New York to Honolulu any way. There’s a smattering of days with economy award space for two on the route, but no days with First Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.34.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.44.45 PMHawaiian First Class is a little bit nicer than American, US Airways, or Alaska First Class on their mainland routes (Trip Report: Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas), but losing the ability to book it on mainland flights isn’t huge.

If you want to book Hawaiian Airlines award space between the mainland and Hawaii with your American Airlines miles, you can do that through August 31, 2015 at which point flights will be bookable through July 2016. American charges:

  • 17.5k miles each way in economy during off peak dates
  • 22.5k miles each way in economy during peak dates
  • 37.5k miles each way in First Class

Even after September 1, American miles will remain a valuable currency to Hawaii for the award space on American, Alaska, and US Airways flights.

Flights You Can Still Book with American Airlines Miles After September 1

Interisland

Hawaiian Airlines and subsidiary Ohana have an extensive intra-Hawaii route network that you can book for 5,000 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.10.00 AM

Generally I pay for interisland flights with cash as they’re often about $80, which I think is a better deal than 5,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60, but if flights are expensive when you want to travel, this can be a good deal.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.11.45 AM

Hawaii to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.10.18 AM

Hawaiian flies from Honolulu to:

  • Japan: Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka-Kansai, Sapporo, Sendai (ends 9/30)
  • China: Beijing
  • Australia: Sydney, Brisbane
  • New Zealand: Auckland
  • South Korea: Seoul
  • Tahiti: Papeete
  • American Samoa: Pago Pago

Australia and New Zealand could be useful destinations with American Airlines miles. Sometimes the only premium cabin awards to Australia and New Zealand are bookable in Hawaiian First Class for 62,500 miles one way because Qantas releases very little space on its American flights in Business and First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.14.50 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.14.57 AM

Bottom Line

If you want to book Hawaiian Airlines flights to Hawaii with American Airlines miles, do it now.

  • Starting September 1, 2015, you can no longer use your American Airlines miles to book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.
  • You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly inter-island flights on Hawaiian and to fly to Hawaiian’s destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.
  • You can also book Hawaiian Airlines flights with Hawaiian miles, a transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints

Hat Tip The Forward Cabin

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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.

Malaysia Airlines has an incredible First Class product on its A380, on par with the best in the world. I flew Malaysia First Class from Paris to Kuala Lumpur in 2013 and loved the service, luxury touches, and satay cart.

You can fly the same product between London and Kuala Lumpur for 70,000 American Airlines miles with great award availability.  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. That’s enough miles for one way to between Southeast Asia and Europe in Malaysia First Class.

Unfortunately Malaysia Airlines is in terrible financial shape after losing two planes last year, so it is completely revamping its company and dumping some A380s. It has cut the A380 from its Paris <-> Kuala Lumpur route, but the plane remains on twice daily services between London and Kuala Lumpur.

Product

I love Malaysia Airlines First Class. It is reminiscent of Cathay Pacific First Class to me. A super wide throne that makes for a very comfortable bed.

The only quibble I ever have with flat beds on airplanes is when they aren’t very wide, making me feel a little claustrophobic. There are no such issues in Malaysia First Class. The 26.1″ wide, 7’3″ long bed was plenty big.

The Malaysia A380 has eight First Class seats arranged 1-2-1.

Dom Perignon and caviar are served onboard.

The service on my flight blew me away, especially all the small touches like multiple flight attendants introducing themselves and thanking me for flying Malaysia Airlines to the flight attendants kneeling down to seat level when interacting.

Award Price and Where You Can Fly

The only route with Malaysia Airlines First Class on the A380 is London <-> Kuala Lumpur. You can connect anywhere in Europe and anywhere in Asia 2 (Southeast Asia plus China) for the same 70,000 American Airlines miles one way.

There are no fuel surcharges on the flight; you just pay government taxes. Departing London, those taxes are about $300 one way, so if you want to start in Europe, you’ll save a lot of money by starting NOT in London and just connecting there on a British Airways or other oneworld flight.

I’d recommend starting in Kuala Lumpur to save hundreds of dollars on taxes and get an extra hour (13.5 hours) in flight.

Award Space

Award space is excellent in First Class for one passenger and in Business Class for one passenger per flight. I searched this week and the first weeks of November, January, March, May, and July for First Class award space to see how it varies by season and time.

On every Malaysia Airlines flight, I found either zero or one First Class award seat, never a second. If you have a companion, either book two Business Class seats, one First and one Business, or one First and hope for a second to open up later.

London to Kuala Lumpur
  • This week: 2/7 days have First Class space
  • November: 6/7 days  (one day had one First Class seat on each flight)
  • January: 3/7 days
  • March: 7/7 days
  • May: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)
  • July: 7/7 days (all 14 flights had 1 First Class award seat)
Kuala Lumpur to London
  • This week: 0/7 days
  • November 5/7 days
  • January: 3/7 days
  • March 7/7 days
  • May: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)
  • July: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)

The main patterns I discern are that:

  • First Class award space is generally excellent for one passenger but more so within 2-7 months of departure as both directions had zero First Class award space in the first week of May.
  • During periods of zero First Class award space, there were plenty of flights with Business Class award space
  • Award space is a bit better from London to Kuala Lumpur in First Class than vice versa.

Searching and Booking

Search on ba.com. Here’s how. Note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find. You can double check the A380 operates the route by clicking the flight number.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.01.48 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.05.57 AM

I prefer the redeye MH1 timing going east. Heading west, I’d probably take the MH4 flight times.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.01.48 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.10.21 AM

You can book any Malaysia Airlines award space you find on ba.com with American Airlines miles. To book, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Give the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found. Confirm that the agent is NOT charging you a $40 phone fee, since the award cannot be booked online with American Airlines miles.

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.

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.

Bottom Line

Flying Malaysia Airlines First Class was one of the best flights of my life. You can fly it for only 70,000 American Airlines miles one way, and award space is excellent in both directions.

Search on ba.com, and book by calling American Airlines.

Use the flight as part of a round-the-world trip. Nowadays, RTW awards are poor values, so you need to construct them out of a series of cheap, one way awards like this one.

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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.

22

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

Until 2014, the best way to use miles to book a round-the-world (RTW) trip was to save a lot of one mileage currency and book a special RTW award with those miles. If you’ve saved up miles for years to book yourself such a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’re probably dismayed that the best two RTW awards from American Airlines and Delta were eliminated in 2014.

You can still book RTW trips in 2015, but now the best way is as a series of one way awards across many different programs to take advantage of sweet spots on each airline’s award chart.

In this post, I’ll list some of the cheapest awards, or sweet spots, from each region. When planning your RTW trip in 2015 or beyond, refer to these lists to piece together your trip. For instance, if you know you want to visit South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia, look under each of those headings to find cheap awards to the next region.

But before getting to those lists, let’s consider other types of tickets that should be part of your RTW award.

Avios & Cash

All of the awards on the lists in the next section are from programs with region-based miles. These miles usually offer the best value for international awards.

But before using region-based miles consider using Avios or cash for appropriate flights on your RTW trip.

Cash

Use cash if the possible awards are not getting you a good return on your miles (1.2 to 1.8+ cents each, depending on the miles.) This will be very likely when a low cost carrier flies the route you want to fly, especially within Europe and Southeast Asia or to Iceland.

When cash flights are the best option, you don’t need to actually use cash to book them.

You can book them with points that can be used like cash toward any flight like ThankYou Points or Arrival miles, or you can use the $250 per year airfare statement credit on the Citi Prestige.

Avios

British Airways Avios are fantastic for short, direct, economy awards especially when you can fly a partner with no fuel surcharges. There are tons of times you would want to use Avios on your RTW trip. A partial list:

  • West coast of United States to Hawaii
  • Miami, Dallas, or New York to Latin America or Caribbean
  • Intra-Latin America international flights
  • Intra-Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador (including Galapagos), and Chile (including Easter Island)
  • Intra-South Africa
  • Intra-Australia
  • Intra-Europe, especially on airberlin or Niki for no fuel surcharges
  • Boston to Ireland on Aer Lingus
  • India to Sri Lanka to change zones on the American Airlines chart from India/Middle East to Asia 2
  • Europe to Israel

Region-to-Region Awards

For the longhaul awards, you’ll almost certainly get the best value by using airline miles that allow one way redemptions with the price based on a region-based award chart. A partial list of such airline miles:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Delta SkyMiles (transfer partner of AMEX Membership Rewards and SPG)
  • United MileagePlus (transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards)
  • Alaska Mileage Plan (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Singapore KrisFlyer (transfer partner of AMEX, Chase, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG)
  • Asiana Mileage Club (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (transfer partner of AMEX and SPG)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (transfer partner of AMEX, Chase, Citi, and SPG)
  • Air France Flying Blue (transfer partner of AMEX, Citi, and SPG)
  • Korean SkyPass (transfer partner of Chase and SPG)

Some of the awards below are listed because they cost very few miles. Some are listed because they present amazing value in a premium cabin. Links take you to longer articles on that award. Any prices listed are one way unless otherwise noted. If no cabin is listed, the award is in economy. If no fuel surcharges are mentioned, the award has none. Remember to check Avios redemptions and cash tickets before booking any awards on these lists.

From United States

To Europe

To Korea or Japan

To China or Southeast Asia

To Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador

  • with 15,000 American Airlines miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 (these off peak awards must be flown on American Airlines metal)

To Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

  • with 20,000 American Airlines miles each year from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30 (off peak awards)
  • with 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip on Delta flights
  • in Business Class with 35,000 Asiana miles on United flights
  • in Business Class with 45,000 Alaska miles on AeroMexico flights, try to fly the Dreamliner
  • in First Class with 45,000 Asiana miles on United flights

To Hawaii

To Fiji

To Australia/New Zealand

From Europe

When leaving Europe, don’t fly your longhaul flight out of London. You’ll pay $200 to $300 in taxes for starting a premium cabin itinerary in the United Kingdom. Hop a low cost carrier flight from London to somewhere on the continent and fly your longhaul award to the next region from there.

Intra-Europe

To United States

  • See From United States to Europe above

To Hong Kong

To Middle East/India/Maldives

To South America

To Australia

  • in Qantas First Class on the A380 with 80,000 American Airlines miles

To South Africa

  • in British Airways Business Class with 37,500 American Airlines miles plus about $550 in taxes and fuel surcharges
  • in British Airways First Class with 50,000 American Airlines miles plus about $550 in taxes and fuel surcharges
From the Middle East

Intra-Middle East

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Middle East above

To Australia/New Zealand

  • in Qantas Business Class on the A380 with 45,000 American Airlines miles
  • in Qantas First Class on the A380 with 60,000 American Airlines miles

To East Asia

  • in Business Class with 30,000 American Airlines miles
  • in First Class with 45,000 American Airlines miles
From North Asia

To United States

  • See From United States to Korea or Japan and From United States to China or Southeast Asia

To Australia/New Zealand

  • in Business Class with 45,000 American Airlines miles
  • in Business Class with 45,000 United miles
  • in First Class with 50,000 United miles
  • in First Class with 60,000 American Airlines miles

To Oceania

From Southeast Asia

Intra-China

Intra-Indonesia

To United States

  • See From United States to China or Southeast Asia

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Hong Kong

To Australia/New Zealand

  • with 17,500 United miles
  • in Business Class with 35,000 United miles
  • in First Class with 40,000 United miles, try for Thai First Class
From South America

Flights leaving Brazil cannot have fuel surcharges, so miles that otherwise collect fuel surcharges on most awards are especially well used from Brazil to Europe.

to United States

  • See From United States to Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador and From United States to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

to Europe

  • See From Europe to South America. Note that traveling South America to Europe is better than Europe to South America because flights leaving Brazil cannot have fuel surcharges.

Intra-South America

to Central America

  • (from Northern South America) with 10,000 United miles

to Africa

to Australia/New Zealand

From Australia/New Zealand

Intra Australia/New Zealand

To Rest of Oceania

To North America

  • See From North America to Australia/New Zealand and From North America to Fiji above

To South America

  • See From South America to Australia/New Zealand above

To Africa

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Hong Kong

Please add your other favorite awards in the comments, and I may include them in this post. Bookmark this post for reference when you want to book a RTW trip.

9

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

Singapore Airlines charges only 12,500 Singapore miles one way for awards within the Southwest Pacific, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and a bunch of island paradises.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.54.39 PM

Singapore Airlines’, Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand, flies extensively in the region from its hub in Auckland. Here are its flights to tiny islands.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.44.39 PM
Source: gcmap.com

And here is its route network from Australia.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.50.13 PM
Source: gcmap.com

Air New Zealand also has an incredible route network within New Zealand. Any award that starts in Australia, New Zealand, or a Pacific Island, and ends in Australia, New Zealand, or a Pacific Island is only 12,500 Singapore miles. That’s a steal considering Fiji to Perth is nearly 11 hours of flying!

Singapore awards normally have fuel surcharges, but Air New Zealand flights do not have fuel surcharges, so you pay just the miles and the taxes on these Singapore awards.

  • What is the award space on Air New Zealand intra-South Pacific?
  • How do you search and book the award?
  • How do you get Singapore miles?
  • For people not in Australia or New Zealand, how do you combine these awards with other cheap awards as part of a big trip?

Award Space

Economy award space is fairly open on Air New Zealand flights throughout the South Pacific. Business Class award space is non-existent, which is a shame because some flights are long and Singapore charges only 17,500 miles one way intra-Southwest Pacific in Business Class. The following calendars come from united.com, and yellow dates have economy award space for one passenger.

Auckland to Perth

This is a nearly eight hour flight!

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.15.28 PM

Award space is fairly good in economy, even during peak summer season.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.15.22 PM

Nadi to Perth

What about adding a connecting flight, so the award begins in Fiji? Award space on the two flights stays pretty good if you’re flexible.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.16.49 PMThat’s almost 11 hours of flying, and still for 12,500 Singapore miles.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.16.44 PM

There are way too many routes to look at, so search the routes that interest you on your own. I think you’ll find intra-New Zealand space is excellent and New Zealand to Australia space and New Zealand to Pacific Island space are good if you have flexibility +/- a few days. All that’s in economy. If you find any Business Class space at all, post it in the comments.

How to Search and Book the Award

Search the award on united.com

Singaporeair.com only displays Singapore Airlines award space, so search united.com, which displays nearly all of the Star Alliance, including Air New Zealand. Here’s how to search united.com.

Any Air New Zealand award space on united.com is bookable with Singapore miles. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space to later give to a Singapore agent. Ignore the miles price on united.com. United charges more miles for the exact same flights, which is exactly why we’ll use Singapore miles to book the space.

Book by calling Singapore Airlines

Once you find space, transfer your Chase, AMEX, Citi, or SPG points to Singapore miles. The credit card points take 24-48 hours to post. The SPG points take longer.

To book the award, call Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 and give the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you found on united.com. There is no phone fee for booking Singapore Airlines partner awards.

Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of the major transferable points programs: Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG. Cards I like that earns points that transfer to Singapore miles:

After meeting the minimum spending requirement on one of those cards, you’ll have enough for four one-way tickets within the Southwest Pacific on the Singapore Airlines award chart.

Combing This Award Into a BIG Trip

In 2015, there are no good round-the-world awards. You construct your big trip from the cheapest awards on several award charts. Here are some cheap awards you can hook up to a Singapore intra-Southwest Pacific award (everything below comes from How to Book a RTW Trip in 2015. Use These Underpriced Awards):

From United States:

To Fiji

To Australia/New Zealand

From Southeast Asia

To Australia/New Zealand

  • with 17,500 United miles
  • in Business Class with 35,000 United miles
  • in First Class with 40,000 United miles, try for Thai First Class
From North Asia

To Oceania

Bottom Line

Singapore Airlines miles are the best miles to hop around between Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania at only 12,500 miles one way with no fuel surcharges and good award space in economy to many interesting places.

Search united.com and book the award space by calling Singapore.

Hook up the award space to other cheap awards from the region to Southeast Asia, North Asia, or the United States to form a big trip.

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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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Korean Air has multiple award charts when redeeming its SkyPass miles. There is one award chart to fly Korean, one award chart to fly SkyTeam partners, and award charts to fly Alaska, Hawaiian, Gol, and Emirates (click logos). Each award chart has sweetspots, so I will run through all the sweetspots in three posts. The post on Korean Air sweetspots is here. You are reading the second post on sweetspots on the SkyTeam chart.This third post on sweetspots when flying Korean’s non-alliance partners is here.

Korean SkyPass miles should have your attention. You can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles and then book cheap, abundant award space on Korean and its partners.

Korean SkyPass awards that fly SkyTeam partners have the following rules:

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.29.54 AM

  • Roundtrip and one way awards are the same price, so book roundtrip awards
  • You get one stopover per roundtrip award in addition to the destination
  • You can have three segments maximum in each direction
  • You get one open jaw, at the destination only

Add that up, and you see that a SkyPass SkyTeam award can include time in four cities.

  • A to B (stopover)
  • B to C (destination, open jaw between C and D)
  • D to A

You can include more if you want to take advantage of 23 hour layovers, but I’ll ignore that option for the rest of the post.

SkyPass awards will include fuel surcharges when an identical cash ticket would have fuel surcharges. I used ITA Matrix to look up fuel surcharge info for the awards I’ll talk about in this post. You can do the same thing to estimate the taxes and fuel surcharges of an award you have in mind.

The regions for the SkyTeam award chart are mostly what you’d expect, with interesting exceptions highlighted.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.20.55 AM

So what are the good deals on the SkyTeam award chart?

Here are some deals I particularly like:

  • Mainland to Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class
  • Within USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class
  • North America to South America: 50,000 miles in economy
  • South America Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business
  • China Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business
  • Indonesia Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business
  • Middle East Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business
  • Europe Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy

Note that I don’t include the Vietnam Hopper or Taiwan hopper because of fuel surcharges on Vietnam Airlines and China Airlines.

Within USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class

Simple Mainland to Hawaii

Korean is the only airline I know of that puts Hawaii in the same region as the rest of North America for trips within North America. Take advantage with a roundtrip to Hawaii on Delta flights.

I’d search delta.com for award space one way at a time. Make sure your search on delta.com looks like this, including ticking the “Delta Only” circle (to avoid Alaska Airlines results, which you can book with Korean miles, but at a higher price.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.54.05 AMYour results need to be priced at 22,500 Delta miles one way in economy or 40,000 or 50,000 Delta miles one way in First/Business Class for Korean to have access to the award space. I won’t say there’s a lot, but there is some, and if you are flexible, you can get it for about half what Delta would charge for the same seats.
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.54.36 AM

If you’d like, you can fly into one island and home from another. Just book an interisland flight for under $100 per person to island hop in Hawaii. You can also have a stopover in one direction in a city like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, or Atlanta.

Other Options

Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands are all included in the region. You can fly to one, open jaw to another, and stopover in a third on your way home. This 25,000 miles award in economy is constrained only by your imagination.

There are no fuel surcharges on Delta flights within the region that Korean defines as North America.

North America to South America: 50,000 miles in economy

(Korean charges 110,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class to South America, which is better than Delta, but Alaska charges only 45,000 miles each way in AeroMexico Business Class.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.22.37 AM

Korean groups all of South America into one region, so this isn’t a good deal to Northern South America, which you can get to for as little as 15,000 American Airlines miles one way.

This is, however, a good deal to Southern South America, since the normal price is 60,000 miles roundtrip.

AeroMexico releases good award space in economy to many destinations in South America via Mexico City, and Delta and Aerolineas Argentinas release some award space. You can search all three airlines on delta.com.

All the Aerolineas Argentinas and AeroMexico award space there can be booked with Korean miles; only the Delta space priced at 30,000 miles one way can be booked with Korean miles. None of the award space within the Americas has fuel surcharges.

I’d look into flying to Southern South America with a stopover in Mexico City, and using an open jaw to return from a different part of South America. Look for an open jaw that you can fill with a cheap British Airways Avios award on LAN flights.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 6.32.35 PM

Within South America: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business

Your only option within South America is Aerolineas Argentinas, which has two hubs at the two Buenos Aires airports.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.25.08 AM

Here are its flights from the mainly domestic airport in the city (AEP).

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.13.19 AM

Here are its flights from the mainly international airport half an hour or more outside the city (EZE).

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.13.40 AM

Search for Aerolineas Argentinas award space on delta.com. There are no fuel surcharges on its flights.

China Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business

A footnote on the Asia 2 chart shows a fantastic discount for roundtrips within China.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.09.38 PM

With your stopover, open jaw, and destination, you can see a lot of China on China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen Airlines. I’d look to fill the open jaw with high speed rail.

  • A to B (stopover)
  • B to C (destination, train ride between C and D)
  • D to A

That’s four cities in China for 25,000 miles in Business Class plus taxes, plus the cost of a train ticket.

Search for the award space on airfrance.us. Within China, there are no fuel surcharges on these airlines.

Indonesia Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business

A footnote on the Asia 2 chart shows a fantastic discount for roundtrips within Indonesia.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.10.03 PMGaruda Indonesia doesn’t charge fuel surcharges within Indonesia, and its Wikipedia page lists three hubs, two secondary hubs, and two focus cities in Indonesia, so your options to see four cities on one award should be immense.

Middle East Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business

Saudia has four hubs in Saudia Arabia and flies throughout the Middle East. Again, you can construct quite an interesting five-city itinerary for a ridiculously low price. Saudia doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on its Middle East routes.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.45.50 AM

Europe Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy

SkyTeam has several European partners: Air France, KLM, Altialia, Air Europa, Czech, Aeroflot, and TAROM Romanian.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.25.37 AM

Unfortunately all of them charge fuel surcharges intra-Europe except TAROM. Here’s where TAROM flies. You could fly something like:

  • Bucharest to Paris
  • Munich to Iași
  • Iași to Bucharest

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 6.33.17 PM

Or you could use some TAROM segments and just pay fuel surcharges on one segment on another SkyTeam airline.

Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 25,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 20,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

SkyTeam awards with Korean miles are sometimes very cheap, especially within one region. You want to look for partners that don’t charge fuel surcharges on the routes you want to fly, and you want to take advantage of your stopover and open jaw for maximum value.

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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.

Until October 6, 2015, you can buy 56,000 or more Alaska Airlines miles for 2.11 cents each.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.55.11 PM

 

The sale is structured as a bonus on the normal number of miles you’d receive. The bonus is tiered, so the biggest 40% bonus comes from purchasing 40,000 miles at the normal price of about 2.96 cents each after tax.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.56.24 PM

 

To buy 56,000 miles (40,000 + 16,000 bonus) during this sale costs $1,182.50, which is 2.11 cents per mile. This is not the best sale we’ve seen. Just last month, we saw Alaska miles on sale for 1.97 cents each, but 2.11 cents each is the normal sale price.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 8.04.04 PM

I don’t think Alaska miles are worth 2.11 cents each, but they are worth close to that, and if you have a specific redemption in mind, it isn’t hard to get more than 2.11 cents of value per mile.

  • What are the best redemptions for Alaska miles?
  • Does this miles purchase count as airfare or travel spending for category bonuses?
  • How many miles can you buy during the promotion?

Airlines on which You Can Redeem Alaska Miles

Here are the Alaska partners on which you can redeem. (Plus Alaska Airlines will let us redeem miles on Hainan Airlines starting in November.)

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 3.03.05 AM

Four Favorite Redemptions

Here are my four favorite redemptions with Alaska miles:

1. Emirates A380 First Class

Emirates First Class on an A380 costs 100,000 miles one way for two flights to Africa, Asia, or Europe.

DSCN1588Emirates First Class

Here is my review of Emirates First Class on the A380. I am very excited to have two more segments in it coming up in September.

2. Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 miles one way from the United States to Johannesburg with a free stopover in Hong Kong.

Here is my review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

3. Fiji Airways Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 Alaska miles one way in Business Class with a free stopover in Fiji.

4. AeroMexico Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Southern South America like Brazil or Argentina in AeroMexico Business Class for 45,000 Alaska miles one way. Try to get at least one segment on AeroMexico’s Dreamliner.

I will fly AeroMexico Business Class in October.

Alaska Airlines Award Routing Rules

Alaska Airlines is extremely generous allowing a stopover on one way awards, anywhere you’d like en route.

Here are the basics for redemptions of Alaska miles.

Logistics of Buying Alaska Miles

Unlike many miles sales when you are capped at how many miles you can buy, with Alaska miles sales, you can generally make several maximum purchases to get all the miles you need.

Remember that Alaska Airlines miles sales are handled through points.com, so they are not considered airfare or travel purchases for the purposes of earning a category bonus on your credit card.

 

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

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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As of 7:30 AM ET on August 28, what’s working is calling American Express and asking to apply by phone. If they ask for the offer code:

POID BUIU:0001
OFFER CODE: 2AAY-8G05VV-4XCJ-FPP

Hat Tip: Graydon

There is a publicly available offer for 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 on the American Express Platinum. I value those points at about $2,000. Jump on this offer now because it will not last.

I was just approved for it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 2.34.29 AM

Here’s how you can apply:

  1. Open a Chrome, Safari, or Firefox Private/Incognito window.
  2. Click this link.
  3. You may get the 100,000 point offer. You may get a 40,000 point offer.
  4. If you get the 40,000 point offer, close your browser window, and open a new Private/Incognito window. (ie do not just open a new tab or hit refresh)
  5. Click this link.
  6. Repeat as necessary.

The above process failed for me. I tried all three browsers about 100 times. Reddit user linkx2252 said it had failed for him too, so he called in. I tried that.

I called 800-243-3888 and told the agent that I had been trying to apply for the 100k points/$3k spending Platinum Card offer, but that I was having trouble with my browser, so I would like to apply by phone. The agent had no problem accommodating that request. It is a bit slow, but 23 minutes later I was approved for the offer. I will have the card in a few days.

The card’s $450 annual fee doesn’t bother me. I will get $200 in airline gift cards this year, $200 in airline gift cards in early 2016, and lounge access to Delta SkyClubs and American Express Centurion lounges for a year for that price. Plus the 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards are worth about $2,000 to me because I will transfer them to partners for one or several high value awards.

See Get the Most out of Your American Express Platinum Card for a rundown of the benefits.

Eligibility

If you have ever had an American Express Platinum personal card, you are ineligible to get the bonus again. I have not had that card. I have only had the American Express Platinum Mercedes-Benz personal card and American Express Business card before. Those are considered separate products.

Post your application results in the comments.

Hat Tip Travel Codex via Reddit

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

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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