You can now use Malaysia Airlines miles to book Emirates Economy and Business Class. Malaysia Airlines is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points. 

Malaysia Airlines started up a partnership with Emirates in the end of last year, but they just released mileage earning and award redemption charts in the beginning of this month.

For Emirates flights, Malaysia Airlines uses a distance based award chart. The price of your award is determined by the cabin and distance flown, which you can check on Great Circle Mapper. If you fly multiple segments like New York to Dubai to Sydney, you sum up the total miles flown each direction and read the total miles off the chart.

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A “return” is a roundtrip flight.

Note that you cannot use Malaysia Airlines miles to book Emirates First Class. You used to be able to efficiently book Emirates First Class with Alaska Airlines miles or Japan Airlines (JAL) miles, but Alaska Airlines massively devalued their Emirates chart with no notice, leaving Japan Airlines as the only reasonable way to book Emirates First Class with miles.

Routing Rules

One Way Awards

You can book one way Emirates awards with Malaysia Airlines miles for half the price of a roundtrip award.

Stopovers and Open Jaws

Stopovers are not allowed on partner redemptions with Malaysia Airlines miles, according to the their terms and conditions page. Open jaws are not allowed on roundtrip awards, but since one way redemptions are allowed for half the price of a roundtrip, you could book two separate one ways to create a roundtrip with zero, one, or two open jaws.

Fuel Surcharges

I called the Malaysia Airlines Enrich loyalty program and asked an agent to quote me the total price in miles and out of pocket costs for a roundtrip Business Class award between New York City and Milan flying Emirates. I was given a figure of 96,000 Enrich miles + $110. 

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If you purchased the same ticket in cash, ITA matrix shows taxes of $97.36 and fuel surcharges (YQ) of $946, meaning that he was quoting a price with no fuel surcharges.

However New York to Dubai to Sydney in Business Class priced at 87,000 miles + $776 one way, exactly the same as the taxes plus fuel surcharges on the route, according to ITA Matrix.

Your guess is as good as mine which routes have fuel surcharges and which don’t.

Japan Airlines Miles vs. Malaysia Airlines When Redeeming on Emirates

Auckland to Sydney

  • 21,000 JAL miles in Economy or 42,000 JAL miles in Business Roundtrip between Auckland and Sydney
  • 36,000 Enrich miles in Economy or 66,000 Enrich miles in Business Roundtrip between Auckland and Sydney
  • This flight isn’t even possible to book with Alaska Airlines miles

New York to Milan

  • 39,000 JAL miles in Economy or 63,000 JAL miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Milan
  • 54,000 Enrich miles in Economy or 96,000 Enrich miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Milan
  • 95,000 Alaska miles Roundtrip in Economy, 210,000 Alaska miles Roundtrip in Business Class

New York to Dubai

  • 55,000 JAL miles in Economy or 85,000 JAL miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Dubai
  • 72,000 Enrich miles in Economy or 132,000 Enrich miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Dubai
  • 85,000 Alaska miles in Economy or 165,000 Alaska miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Dubai.

As you can see though, all of these Emirates flights are cheaper redeeming with JAL miles as opposed to Enrich miles. The fact that you can book Malaysia Airlines awards for half the price of a roundtrip, while one way awards cost way more than half for JAL awards, evens out the price disparity for one way awards somewhat. But all of the above examples are still cheaper using JAL miles one way rather than Enrich miles. For example:

  • New York to Milan in Emirates Business Class = 48,000 Malaysia Airlines miles one way
  • New York to Milan in Emirates Business Class = 42,000 Japan Airline’s miles one way

So the value isn’t that Malaysia charges fewer miles than JAL–because it doesn’t. JAL charges fewer. The value is that JAL miles are hard to get. You can really only get them by transferring hard to get SPG Starpoints. Malaysia miles are easier to get. You can get them by transferring easier-to-get Citi ThankYou Points.

Possible Sweetspots Redeeming Malaysia Airline Miles on Emirates flights

The value in Malaysia Airlines’ redemption chart with Emirates can theoretically be found redeeming on long distance flights. Any flight that flies a distance longer than 9,600 miles will cost 60,000 Enrich miles one way in Economy, and 87,000 Enrich miles one way in Business. Those are the most expensive redemption rates using Enrich miles. Prices for long distance flights climb all the way to 150,000 JAL miles in Economy  and 210,000 JAL miles in Business for any flights longer than 34,001 miles.

For example: Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney is a total of 15,819 miles flown.

  • Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney, in Emirates Business Class = 100,000 JAL miles one way

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  • Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney in Emirates Business Class = 87,000 Enrich miles one way

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How to Book Emirates Awards with Malaysia Airlines Miles

Find award space at alaskaair.com. Contact the Malaysia Airlines Enrich call center at +6 03 7843 3000 and feed the agent the flight numbers, dates and desired cabin for the award space you found on alaskaair.com.  Be prepared for a wait, I had hold times of up to 30 minutes at some points. Unfortunately there’s not another contact number listed for award booking.
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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 and fuel surcharges.

Transferring ThankYou Points to Malaysia Airlines

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 12 airline transfer partners.

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To read more about what you can do with your Citi ThankYou Points, check out this series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners

How to Collect ThankYou Points to Transfer to Malaysia Airlines

The best card to rack up Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles is the:

Bottom Line

You can now redeem Malaysian Airlines miles on Emirates Economy and Business Class flights. Redemption rates aren’t quite as good as using Japan Airlines miles for most Emirates flights, but there could be some sweetspots flying long distance, like to Australia from the United States via Dubai.

Malaysian Airlines is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, so you can collect Enrich miles via the Citi Prestige® Card.  

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying Los Angeles to Dublin to Addis Ababa on June 18, 2015 with a 787 Dreamliner. Ethiopian will have fifth freedom rights, meaning you will be able to fly any single segment of the flight, including Los Angeles to Dublin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.37.36 AM
Source: gcmap.com

Normally direct award space from the West Coast to Europe is tough to find. (Solution: route via Canada.) This is such an exciting addition to the Star Alliance’s transatlantic routes because the route has great award space for two passengers in economy and Business Class.

The flight will be bookable with United miles and any other Star Alliance airline’s miles. Crucially, with United miles, you can connect Los Angeles to Dublin with the rest of Europe by using United’s non-alliance partner Aer Lingus.

Right now, if you search united.com, Los Angeles to Dublin is showing 2+ economy seats and 2+ Business Class seats in both directions from next month until late March 2016. Unfortunately a lot of that award space is phantom award space.

  • How do I know the space is phantom? Where can you see real award space?
  • How much does the award cost?
  • How is Ethiopian Business Class?
  • Connection possibilities?
  • How can you book award space?
  • A full example of a roundtrip award with a (nearly) Free One Way

Phantom Award Space and Real Award Space

If you search united.com for two passengers from Los Angeles to Dublin on days on which the Ethiopian Airlines flight operates, you’ll see a lot of this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.04.58 PM
Apparently there is award space for 2+ people in each cabin on this flight

Nearly every flight has award space.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.02.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.02.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.04.25 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.04.44 PM

Unfortunately if you try to book the space, you may see this error:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.44.22 PM

And other Star Alliance search engines like Aeroplan and Avianca don’t match up with the space on united.com. Other sites are right, and united.com is wrong, showing “phantom” award space.

I called United to try to book the space shown online on June 27 from Los Angeles to Dublin; it doesn’t exist. I asked about July 25, which online shows two economy and two Business Class seats. The agent only saw two Business Class and zero economy seats.

The upshot is that united.com is unreliable about this Ethiopian Airlines award space. There is award space on the route, and I suggest searching it on aeroplan.com, which matched award space seen by United’s agent.

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Unfortunately sites like aeorplan.com don’t let me show 10 months of award space in five images, so I can’t as easily show you the award space. Just go search the dates you want.

Award Price

You can book the Ethiopian award space you find on aeroplan.com with any Star Alliance miles. The one way prices (economy/Business):

  • United: 30k/70k
  • Aeroplan: 30k/45k
  • Asiana: 25k/40k
  • Lufthansa: 25k/52k
  • Singapore: 27.5k/65k
  • LifeMiles: 30k/63k

United and LifeMiles never charge fuel surcharges. Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on this route. I didn’t test Asiana, Lufthansa, or Singapore, but I would expect them to collect fuel surcharges on this award. That’s about $124 one way in Business Class from Los Angeles to Dublin.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 2.00.08 PM

Ethiopian Business Class

Ethiopian’s Dreamliner has economy and Business Class. Business Class is in a 2-2-2 configuration. Choose a middle seat, so you and your seatmate both have aisle access.

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Business Class is angled lie flat. Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 2.17.52 PM

Here is a full trip report from One Mile at a Time.

Connection Possibilities

United charges 30k/70k miles each way in economy/business between the United States and Europe on partner flights. You can connect to non-Star-Alliance-partner Aer Lingus flights in Ireland to the rest of Europe for zero extra miles on a United award. Aer Lingus flies to the following cities from Dublin:

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.03.27 PM

Dublin isn’t a Star Alliance hub, so other Star Alliance airlines that do not partner with Aer Lingus will have fewer connection options. Of course, you can always hop a super-cheap Ryanair flight from Dublin, its hub, to the rest of Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.02.50 PM

If you fly all the way to Africa on the Ethiopian flight, United charges 40k/80k miles each way in economy/Business. From Addis Ababa, you can connect to the rest of Africa. The Star Alliance has the best network in Africa with Egyptair, Ethiopian, and South African.

Book Award Space

If you are booking with Aeroplan miles, book right on aeroplan.com after searching. You can also book the United and LifeMiles awards online on their respective websites.

For other types of miles like Singapore, Asiana, and Lufthansa, you book by calling the airline whose miles you’re using. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of all the award space you find on aeroplan.com, and call to book.

Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, 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.

Full Roundtrip with (Nearly) Free One Way

What I like about this award space between Los Angeles and Dublin is that:

  1. it is available for the heart of summer and bookable right now
  2. Ireland is a very low aviation tax country.

Most award space to Europe in premium cabins is currently unavailable for the summer and will only open up within a few days or weeks of departure. A lot of that award space returns from England ($300 one way in taxes) or Germany ($150.)

To take advantage of these benefits of the Ethiopian space, I put together an award that has last second award space in Business Class on United to England but returns in Business Class from Dublin (get between the two on a separate ticket). For fun, I added a Free One Way in First Class from Los Angeles to Maui for next year. Except, it is not free; it adds 5,000 miles to the total award price for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has read Master Thread: Free Oneways on United Awards.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.22.39 PM

The roundtrip in Business Class plus the First Class to Maui eight months from now costs 132,500 United miles + $52 in taxes. Since the departure is less than 21 days from now, there is a $75 fee (that is reduced or waived for elites.)Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.22.33 PM

Bottom Line

Ethiopian begins its Los Angeles to Dublin to Addis Ababa route in a few weeks with good award space in economy and Business Class that you should search on aeroplan.com because of phantom space on united.com.

I like that the route is bookable in advance for the next 11 months including over the peak summer season and that departing Dublin has very low taxes.

You can book the space cheaply with Aeroplan or Asiana miles or use United miles if you want to connect within Europe on its partner Aer Lingus. If using United miles, consider adding a Free or Cheap One Way.

Hat Tip Gary Leff for reminding me about the route which I wrote about last October

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Update 10/23/14: Commenter Jeremy finds the award space now on aeroplan.com, and I can confirm that the space on these Ethiopian flights is now bookable and is still excellent! (None of the rest of the post has been updated to reflect this information.)

Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying Los Angeles to Dublin to Addis Ababa in June 2015 with a 787 Dreamliner. Ethiopian will have fifth freedom rights, meaning you will be able to fly any single segment of the flight, including Los Angeles to Dublin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.37.36 AM

This is an exciting addition to the Star Alliance’s transatlantic routes, especially if the route has awesome award space, since direct award space from the West Coast to Europe is tough to find. (Solution: route via Canada.)

The flight will be bookable with United miles and any other Star Alliance airline’s miles. Crucially, with United miles, you can connect Los Angeles to Dublin with the rest of Europe by using United’s non-alliance partner Aer Lingus.

Right now, Los Angeles to Dublin is showing 4 economy seats and 2 business class seats in both directions from June 2015 and beyond. But there’s a problem…

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.59.58 AM

  • What are the flight times?
  • How is Ethiopian Business Class?
  • Where does Aer Lingus fly within Europe?
  • What is the problem with the award space on united.com?
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

26

A few months ago, Bill wrote a great piece titled Beware Phantom Award Availability at United.com. It’s true that United.com occasionally lists Saver award space that just doesn’t exist and that you can’t book online or by phone.

I’ve just come across the opposite: phantom non-award space. United.com is showing no availability in business class on the Ethiopian 787 Dreamliner from Toronto to Addis Ababa when such space is in fact bookable with United miles by phone.

This is huge news because this is a solid product (angled lie flat bed on a 787) to Africa with award space this summer that most people don’t know about. That means you can get the award space for yourself if you follow a few simple steps.

I’ll discuss my findings and how you can get this secret award space after the jump.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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