Asiana

Award space is wide open in Business Class on Austrian flights from Los Angeles to Vienna for Spring and Summer 2017 for 2-6 people per flight. Flat bed award space from the West Coast to Europe is rare, so hop on this now!

Product

Austrian Business Class features a staggered layout so that your bed’s foot area is under the arm rest of the row in front. This is not ideal because you can feel a little cramped, but this is a mere quibble with a flying flat bed.

I flew the product in 2013 from Vienna to Chicago, and I was impressed by the food (prepared by an onboard chef.) Others rave about the coffee selection.

Antipasti Cart

Award Space

Award space is wide open for 2-6 people in Business Class from Los Angeles to Vienna and back.

Connections are widely available to/from Los Angeles and to/from Vienna for no extra miles. From Vienna, Austrian serves all these destinations:

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Award Space to Vienna

All screen shots in this post show award space for two people. Dotted lines indicate Saver Business Class award space; solid lines indicate Saver economy award space.

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Los Angeles to Vienna starts five times a week on April 10, 2017 and increases to six times a week in June 2017.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-1-24-09-amHere is the award space for six people on the direct flight.

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You can see that basically every day has economy award space for six people and most days have Business Class award space for six people. If you look for award space for only two people, even more days have Business Class award space.

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Award Space Back from Vienna

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Here is award space for two people from Vienna to Los Angeles. Almost every day has economy and Business Class award space.screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-1-28-22-amscreen-shot-2016-09-20-at-1-28-35-amscreen-shot-2016-09-20-at-1-28-45-am

Cheapest Miles

The award space is on Austrian Airlines planes, but you can use any Star Alliance mils to book it. Here are the award prices for this award space one way between the United States and Europe with different types of Star Alliance miles.

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Let me explain a few things:

  • United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners like this Austrian route.
  • Aeroplan divides Europe into two regions. The cheaper region is for Western Europe (including Vienna) and the more expensive region is Eastern Europe. You can see the complete region definitions here.
  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on Austrian flights. Asiana, ANA, Singapore, Lufthansa, and Aeroplan do.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. In this case, Los Angeles to Vienna roundtrip in Business Class has $873.50 in fuel surcharges (YQ + YR) and $1,005 in taxes plus fuel surcharges.

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Often fuel surcharges vary dramatically by route, so I also searched Los Angeles to Oslo roundtrip because I have seen low fuel surcharges out of Oslo before. It also had about $1,000 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

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However, a one way ticket from Oslo to Los Angeles in Austrian Business Class has only 1883 Norwegian Krona ($227) in taxes and fuel surcharges.

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For a one way award back from Europe on a low-surcharge route, I’d use 40,000 Asiana miles for Business Class and pay the fuel surcharges. For a roundtrip, I’d rather pay 126,000 LifeMiles or 140,000 United miles to avoid fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

The only ways to get Asiana miles are from the Asiana credit card or transfers from SPG points.

The easiest way to get LifeMiles is to buy them when they are on sale for under 1.5 cents like they are until September 30, 2016. You could buy enough LifeMiles for a roundtrip award in Asiana Business Class for under $2,000, which is quite a bit under the retail price of the flights.

The easiest miles to get are United miles since United releases several credit cards and is a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards.

Right now the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months.

The card earns 3 points per dollar on travel and dining expenses and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

After spending that $4,000 in the first three months, you will end up with at least 104,000 Ultimate Rewards–more if some of that $4,000 was spent on travel or dining. That’s almost enough (115,000 miles) for a roundtrip United award in Business Class to Europe.

The card also offers a $300 statement credit each calendar year to offset travel expenses including the taxes you’d pay on the United award. (And including hotels, car rentals, or flights in Europe.)

Bottom Line

There is excellent Austrian Business Class award space from Los Angeles to Vienna next spring and summer for up to six people with connection options throughout the United States and Europe. West Coast to Europe Business Class award space for so many people is almost unheard of.

Book the space with any Star Alliance miles. I recommend Asiana miles for one ways from Europe to the US and United miles or LifeMiles for roundtrip awards.

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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.

I’m mentally preparing for the Cigar Room, bubble bath, “First Class” stamped butter, Porsche rides, and the rest of the Lufthansa First Class Terminal and First Class experience because I just booked Lufthansa First Class from Zagreb to Washington-Dulles for 50,000 Asiana miles + $442.

This month I’ll get to spend a day in Munich at Oktoberfest with my sister and then luxuriously fly back to the United States. And I booked the ticket for less than half the miles United would charge for the identical ticket.

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I did have to start planning my trip a month before booking and wait until within 15 days of departure to finally book. Plus I had to endure a 30 minute phone call that doubled as a free lesson for the Asiana employee on how award tickets work and pay a few hundred dollars in fuel surcharges. But I still think I came out way ahead!

Asiana Miles

Asiana Airlines is a Seoul-based member of Star Alliance. Its miles can be used to book any Star Alliance airlines’ award space. Some of its award prices are terrible, but between the United States and Europe and the United States and South America, Asiana’s prices are incredibly cheap.

  • 27,500 miles one way in United First Class from US mainland to Hawaii
  • 27,500 miles one way in Business Class from US to Northern South America
  • 35,000 miles one way in Business Class from US to Southern South America
  • 40,000 miles one way in Business Class from US to Europe
  • 50,000 miles one way in First Class from US to Europe

Asiana collects fuel surcharges on flights that have fuel surcharges, except United flights. Flights to South America don’t have fuel surcharges, though, so those awards can be a great deal.

Flights from Europe to the United States have much lower fuel surcharges than vice versa, so I have recommended using Asiana miles to book Lufthansa First Class to the United States in the past. For as little as $150 in fuel surcharges, you can book Lufthansa First Class for 50,000 miles one way instead of the 110,000 miles one way United charges (with no fuel surcharges.)

Preparation

Lufthansa First Class is only ever made available to partners, like United or Asiana, within 15 days of departure. Transfers from SPG Starpoints to Asiana miles can take a few weeks.

About a month before you want to fly Lufthansa First Class with Asiana miles I recommend searching for award space on the route that interests you to see if you are reasonably likely to find it in a few weeks, and if you are, to transfer Starpoints to Asiana miles.

I did that a few weeks ago, and I detailed the process here.

Award Search

Once I got within 15 days of departure, I started award searching. I was looking for a very specific set of flights:

  • The 6:45 AM flight from Zagreb, where I’ve been most of the last few months, to Munich, where I had convinced my sister to meet me for a day of Oktoberfest.
  • The 7:00 AM flight the next day from Munich to Frankfurt because it takes off 23 hours after I land in Munich and because it gives me a 5 hour 15 minute layover in the First Class Terminal before…
  • The afternoon Lufthansa flight on a 747-8 from Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles

I could have instead looked for the quickest itinerary from Zagreb to DC. That would have been a one stop award with the layover in Munich or Frankfurt. If I’d chose Munich, though, I’d miss the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and if I’d chosen Frankfurt, I’d miss Oktoberfest in Munich. So I wanted this more convoluted itinerary.

The first two flights have economy and Business Class. Like almost all intra-Europe Business Class, you get no extra legroom compared to economy; you just have the middle seat in your row blocked off for more elbow room. I’d slightly prefer that, but I was almost indifferent between finding economy and Business Class award space on those flights.

For the longhaul flight, I needed to find First Class award space for maximum enjoyment in the air and all the attendant benefits of flying Lufthansa First Class out of Frankfurt: namely access to the First Class Terminal and car rides over the tarmac to and from my flights.

I searched united.com for the award space because it is an easy place to search Lufthansa and Croatia Airlines award space, and any award space for those airlines on united.com is bookable with Asiana miles. (Miles truism: in almost all cases, airlines release award space equally to all partners.)

The rarer space was the Lufthansa First Class award space, so I started by searching for that. I was looking for this exact itinerary, and after a few days of searching, it became available for my preferred dates. I noted the flights times, flight numbers, and cabins.

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Then I searched for Zagreb to Munich for the day before the First Class flight, and found award space on the morning flight like I needed. I noted the date, cabin, and flight number.screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-8-43-17-pm

Award Booking

To book, always call the airline whose miles you’re using, so I called Asiana. Asiana has a weird two-step system for award booking. You have to call reservations Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM PT to reserve the ticket, and then you have until 5:30 PM PT the next day to ticket the award with Asiana Club.

I called Asiana at 213-365-4500 and followed automated prompts to reservations. The agent asked for my date and cities of travel. I gave them to her, and her computer spit out some convenient one stop First Class itineraries that I didn’t want because I wanted the complicated one discussed above.

I asked her to to look up the three flights I wanted by date, cabin, and flight number, and she said she couldn’t do it on one ticket. She could only ticket the options her computer gave her.

I said, “Fine, let’s just look up all three of these flights separately and see what they cost.” She had no problem finding the award space I fed her from united.com.

She confidently quoted me a price of 90,000 Asiana miles and $442.

I had no idea where 90,000 came from, and I told her that my reading of Asiana’s award chart and award rules indicated that the price should be 50,000 miles one way. (I wasn’t 100% sure I was right because maybe Asiana has a maximum layover time other than 24 hours, which is the award ticket standard but is not universal. But I figured it might pay off to be polite and confident.)

She put me on hold and came back to quote me a price of 75,000 miles. I knew where this price came from. The intra-Europe Business Class price is 25,000 Asiana miles and the Europe-to-USA First Class price is 50,000 miles. The ticket was apparently pricing as two separate awards, presumably because of my 23 hour layover.

I pushed back again and said, “I don’t understand. Flyasiana.com shows a price of 50,000 miles. Can you double check this?” She put me on hold for 10 more minutes and came back with good news.

“The [I forget what she said, maybe “Asiana Club experts” or “Star Alliance desk” or something] confirmed that the price is 50,000 Asiana miles and $442.

At this point she offered to connect me to Asiana Club to ticket the award, but this 30 minute call had made me late for something else, so I just took down the 8 digit reservation code to call Asiana Club back the next day before 5:30 PM PT.

A word on the $442

I have discussed how you can limit the out-of-pocket price of a Lufthansa First Class award booked with Asiana miles to $203 by returning to the US from a city with low taxes on a route with low fuel surcharges.

I didn’t have flexibility on my return city, though. A normal Lufthansa First Class ticket from Zagreb to Washington-Dulles has 1,860 Croatian kuna ($276) of taxes and fuel surcharges according to ITA Matrix.

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My ticket has $442 because the taxes and fees are being calculated as Zagreb to Munich plus Munich to Washington-Dulles because of the long layover in Munich.

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I considered other options like taking a seven hour bus ride to Munich for 20 euros and then starting the award there, but that would actually have only saved me about $60 on the award because awards from Munich have high taxes and fuel surcharges.

So I could have spent a lot less than $442 out of pocket, but I paid that high of a price to get the exact cities I wanted. This $442 out of pocket is ripe for the use of a Travel Statement Credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which gives you a $300 credit per calendar year to offset any travel expense, including fuel surcharges and award taxes. That’s in addition to the card’s 100,000 point sign up bonus.

Ticketing

I called back the day after I reserved my Asiana award to ticket. This time I followed prompts for Asiana Club and gave my reservation number. The agent found my award, quoted me the 50,000 miles + $442 price, and took my credit card number.

A few hours later, I had my ticket by email.

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Seat Selection

To double check that the airline I’m flying sees my ticket, and to get the seats I want, I always contact the airline I’m flying to select seats.

In this case, I entered the six character “Reservation No.” from the email Asiana sent me into the home page of Lufthansa.com to manage my reservation. I was able to select seats or special meals for both the Croatia Airlines flight and Lufthansa flights.

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First Class on the Lufthansa 747-8 as three rows in the nose of the main deck. The first and second row just have two window seats each. The third row has window seats and a pair of connected middle seats, ideal for people traveling together. I chose seat 1K to be right in the nose.

Getting the Miles

Asiana miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints, which you can get from the American Express SPG personal and business credit cards. For every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 bonus Asiana miles, so this award cost me 40,000 Starpoints.

Additionally, Bank of America just increased the sign up bonus on its Asiana credit card to 30,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Bottom Line

I had to plan ahead, use obscure miles, wait until the last 15 days before departure to finally ticket my award, pay fuel surcharges, and endure over 30 minutes on the phone.

But all that was worth it to pay 40,000 Starpoints (50,000 Asiana miles) to fly Lufthansa First Class from Zagreb to Washington DC with a 23 hour layover at Oktoberfest and a five hour layover at the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. For the same ticket, United would charge 110,000 miles.

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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.

7

Bank of America issues an Asiana Visa Signature Card, and it now comes with 30,000 Asiana miles after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it. I bet you weren’t aware this card existed since the prior sign up bonus was a meager 10,000 Asiana miles. It’s actually worth some attention now. Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 5.43.00 PM

Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: 30,000 Asiana miles after $3,000 in spending in the first three months
  • Category Bonuses:
    • 3x on Asiana purchases
    • 2x on gas station and grocery store purchases
  • $100 rebate on Asiana purchases annually
  • Cardmember anniversary retention bonuses: 10,000 Asiana Mile Bonus Certificate and two Asiana Lounge invitations
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $99

This is a Bank of America Card

Before I dive into the specifics of the sign up offer, I want to point out that this card is issued by Bank of America, and Bank of America is known for relatively easy approvals. For example, people have been getting multiples of the same Alaska Airlines cards for years now. These type of loopholes tend to tighten over time, but at least for now the Alaska Airlines cards still look churnable. Does this mean the Asiana card is churnable? Maybe. We won’t know until we see more data points.

For those of you getting tripped up by Chase 5/24, Citi’s new sign up bonus rule, or Amex’s once in a lifetime bonus rule, getting the Asiana card should still be pretty easy.

Sign Up Bonus

You will earn 30,000 Asiana miles after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it. Scott values Asiana miles very highly at 2 cents each, making this sign up bonus worth approximately $600.

Asiana has the best award chart in the Star Alliance. That means that you can book any of the 27 Star Alliance airlines, including United, for fewer miles on many routes with Asiana miles than with better known programs like United, Lufthansa, LifeMiles, Singapore, and Air Canada.

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Unfortunately some Asiana awards have fuel surcharges. But not all of them do, and some are worth it anyways because of the dirt cheap mileage price.

Here are some examples of high value Asiana awards:

  • USA to Southern South America in Business Class for 35k Miles and no fuel surcharges. I love flying to South America, and no Star Alliance flights to South America have fuel surcharges, meaning I get the insanely good award chart without having to pay much cash out of pocket.
    • With the sign up bonus from this card + the spending it takes to unlock that bonus ($3,000) + at the most $2,000 more in spending, you’d have 35,000 Asiana miles. You probably wouldn’t even have to spend an extra $2,000 if your expenses are heavy on groceries and gas like most people, since there’s a 2x category bonus for those types of purchases. 35,000 Asiana miles is enough for a Business Class ticket to Southern South America (i.e. Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago, etc.).
  • USA to Europe in Lufthansa First for 50k Miles Plus Fuel Surcharges. To some regions, Asiana’s award chart is so under-priced that some awards are a good deal even after fuel surcharges.
    • With the sign up bonus from this card + the spending it takes to unlock that bonus ($3,000) you’d have at least 33,000 Asiana miles. Like I said above, if you spend a lot at grocery stores or at gas stations, you’ll probably earn miles at an even higher rate than that. You can make up the difference in what you’d need by transferring SPG points to Asiana at 1:1 (remember you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred) and be flying to Europe in Lufthansa First Class by next month.

Read Scott’s post about Asiana Sweet Spots to learn more.

Category Bonuses

Category bonuses included 3 Asiana miles per dollar spent on Asiana Airlines purchases and 2 miles per dollar spent on gas and at grocery stores.

What merchants are included in the category of gas and grocery stores? The following is from the card offer’s terms & conditions:

Earn 2 miles (consisting of 1 bonus mile and 1 base mile) for every $1 spent on purchases at eligible gas and grocery store merchants. Eligible merchants for the Bonus Categories include:

  • (a) Gas (representing Service Stations & Automated Fuel Dispensers – please note that superstores and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered service stations)
  • (b) Grocery Store (representing Grocery Stores/Supermarkets, Freezer/Meat Lockers, Candy/Nut/Confection Stores, Dairy Product Stores, Bakeries, and Misc. Food Stores– please note superstores, discount stores and warehouse clubs are not included in this list).

$100 Rebate on Asiana Purchases

You will get a $100 rebate (credited back to your Asiana card after purchase) when you buy an Asiana Airlines ticket (purchased through Asiana) on your card.

It looks like it’s possible to get two $100 rebates before your second annual fee hits, as this user on Flyertalk commented that how often you get the rebate is based on the calendar year as opposed to card anniversary.

10,000 Asiana Mile Bonus Certificate

They should really call this benefit a 10,000 Asiana Mile Discount Certificate. The way it works is that you will receive a certificate in the mail during the month of your card membership anniversary every year, and you can choose to use the certificate for 10,000 Asiana miles off of an Asiana Airlines international or Korea domestic air ticket, cabin class upgrade, or excess bag allowance. You fax it Asiana Reservation center, 213-380-1688, and then they credit you back your miles if you choose to use it as a discount on an Asiana award or cabin class upgrade. If you want to use it to cover excess baggage costs you just present the certificate at the counter when you check in.

I tend to agree with Doctor of Credit that this annual benefit will most likely not be available the first year of card membership, because the terms and conditions state …”One (1) 10,000 Bonus miles Certificate every year in the month of your anniversary date.”

So this benefit is probably only valuable to you if you’re going to keep the card for a second year and you fly Asiana.

Two Asiana Lounge Invitations

You get two Asiana Lounge passes every year in the month of your anniversary date.

It’s not exactly clear whether you can get this benefit in the first year of card membership, but the wording in the terms and conditions makes me think that you won’t and that you have to wait until the first anniversary.

You have to present your card with the lounge pass, and terms state that “only one invitation per person per visit allowed to the Asiana lounge”.

Bottom Line

This Asiana Visa Signature Card card could easily be worth it to you if:

  • you value Business and First Class awards to Europe and Southern South America, because Asiana miles are extremely valuable to those regions.
  • if you fly Asiana often, because the annual $100 Rebate on Asiana Purchases and the 10,000 Asiana Mile Bonus Certificate more than negate the $99 annual fee.
  • you’re locked out of other sign-up bonuses on cards from other issuing banks.

BONUS tip: It requires some paperwork,  but you can actually pool Asiana miles between five family members for free.

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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.

Next month I want to fly Lufthansa First Class from the United States to Europe, like I did a few years ago, because I love the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, the luxury of sitting in the nose of a 747-8, and the onboard food and drinks.

But I want to do it smartly. Instead of paying 110,000 United miles one way, I want to pay 40,000 Starpoints. To do that, I needed to do a few things today, a month before my planned flight to get in position to book.

First a few facts about Lufthansa First Class bookings:

  • Lufthansa miles can book Lufthansa First Class up to a year in advance.
  • Partner miles can book it up to 15 days in advance.
  • Partner award prices vary greatly from 50,000 Asiana miles one way between the United States and Europe to 110,000 United miles. Some partners collect fuel surcharges on Lufthansa First Class award tickets; some don’t.
  • Taxes and fuel surcharges vary greatly by route.

The best way to book Lufthansa First Class is to use Asiana miles and book one way from Europe to the United States on a route with low taxes and fuel surcharges. This uses the fewest miles (50,000 Asiana miles = 40,000 SPG Starpoints), can cost as little as $200 out of pocket, and means you can enjoy the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt before your flight.

To set myself up to book an Asiana award, I needed to do a few things today, about a month before I plan to fly.

#1 Check the Award Chart

I haven’t checked Asiana’s award chart for a few weeks. It is still the same, showing 100,000 miles for a First Class roundtrip between the USA and Europe. You can book one way for half price.

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#2 Check Award Space

No award space is available in Lufthansa First Class for my preferred dates because I want to fly more than 15 days from now and award space is only open to partners 15 days out in Lufthansa First Class.

But as I often say, the best way to estimate whether award space will be available for you on your date at the last minute is to search for last minute award space now.

My ideal itinerary is Zagreb to Munich to Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles. I’d like to have a 23 hour layover in Munich during Oktoberfest, then a 3-6 hour layover in Frankfurt to enjoy the First Class Terminal, and then fly to DC.

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I searched the next few days to see if such an itinerary is likely. I think it is. There is a flight from Zagreb to Munich that lands at 8 AM that would be ideal (and if there’s no space on it, then I can probably find a one stop way to get to Munich.)

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 10.01.06 PMThen there are flights every hour from Munich to Frankfurt including a 7 AM departure that would give me five hours and fifteen minutes in the First Class Terminal. There is also plenty of award space on the daily 1:15 PM Frankfurt to Dulles flight in First Class.Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 10.03.06 PM Satisfied that I could find award space, I decided to go to the irreversible step three.

#3 Transfer Starpoints to Asiana Miles

I need to transfer from SPG Points to Asiana miles with some anticipation because my last transfer took a week to post, and the transfer can take as long as two weeks.

Once I make the transfer, I can’t send the Asiana miles back to SPG points. So there is some risk of losing my most valuable points (SPG) and not getting the ticket I want. You have to be comfortable with that risk to make the transfer. I am, because even if I can’t get Lufthansa First Class, there are great deals with Asiana miles between the United States and South America, which is a trip I take often.

To transfer points, sign in on spg.com and choose to Redeem Starpoints.
Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 4.17.55 PM Select the option to transfer to airline miles and select Asiana Club. For every 20,000 Starpoints, you get 5,000 bonus miles, 40,000 Starpoints equals the 50,000 Asiana miles I need.Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 4.19.52 PM

#4 Wait and See

Now I’ll wait to see when my Asiana miles post. Then 15 days before my desired date, I’ll start searching for award space, and hopefully I can book it about a week before departure. I’ll keep you posted.

Bottom Line

For Lufthansa First Class awards, you should use Asiana miles, and you should start planning and complete your preliminary steps about a month before departure.

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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.

1

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the phenomenon called Pokemon GO. It’s creating quite a stir as people run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to bag rare Pokemon. Even if you don’t play video games, it’s probably caught your attention in some way or another as the application has more users than Twitter, and more hours of engagement by users than Facebook. It’s the biggest mobile game the United States has ever seen and it only launched at the beginning of this month.

There are 26 new European markets that just launched Pokemon GO two days ago:

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screenshot from Pokemon GO’s official Facebook page

One of the basic premises of Pokemon GO is to catch Pokemon via augmented reality that uses your device’s camera and GPS (the creatures show up on your phone as though they are in the real world). The game is still very new so it’s hard to see any established patterns yet, but variance of location and geographies will increase your chance of seeing certain types of Pokemon. There appear to even be a few that are specific to certain regions.

Below are some suggestions of how to get to a few these countries where you can keep up your Pokemon GO game. Gotta catch ’em all?

Using Asiana or ANA Miles to Get to Europe in a Premium Cabin Cheaply

Asiana and ANA are Star Alliance members with very cheap redemption charts to Europe. You can book Business or First Class with just 40k or 50k Asiana miles one way (SPG points transfer to Asiana 1:1 and also get 5k bonus Asiana miles for transferring in 20k point increments). Or if you prefer to save those valuable SPG points, another cheap option is to transfer Membership Rewards to ANA Mileage Club. You can book a roundtrip in Business Class for 88k ANA miles. The award has to be booked as a roundtrip, however, as ANA doesn’t allow one way redemptions.

Both Asiana and ANA charge fuel surcharges on awards flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket, with the exception of United flights. So make sure when looking for award space on united.com to single out a United flight (normally I would say to use the United only filter, but there is a glitch with it currently, so you’ll have to search day by day).  All award space on united.com that that is labeled Saver space is bookable with Asiana and ANA miles.

Even if you don’t live in the American cities mentioned below with good award space, you can add a United flight from your hometown airport to the gateway city (or vice versa) for zero extra Asiana miles as long as it’s in the same or a lower level cabin than the transoceanic flight, and you don’t exceed more than two connections per award. The same applies when redeeming ANA miles, except you can’t have more than two connections on the entire roundtrip since awards can’t be booked as one ways.

Award Space

Chicago to Brussels

All of the days shaded in with green or blue have space for two people in either Business or First Class on United flights between Chicago and Brussels– that’s 25 days in what remains of July and August.Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 8.59.18 PM

The return back to Chicago is just as wide open for two travelers in August and September.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.08.17 PM

Washington D.C. to Amsterdam

All of the days shaded in with green or blue have space for at least one person in either Business or First Class on United flights between Washington D.C. and Amsterdam– that’s 22 days in what remains of July and August.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.11.43 PM

The return home to Washington D.C. from Amsterdam doesn’t have quite as much space but you still have plenty of options.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.14.08 PM

Newark to Geneva

All of the days shaded in with green or blue have space for at least two people in either Business or First Class on United flights between Newark and Geneva– that’s 17 days in what remains of July and August.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.52.10 PM

The return to Newark from Geneva has almost any options.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.17.52 PM

Buy it With Your Prestige

Use your Citi Prestige® Card to pay the taxes & fees for these awards, as you will earn 3 Thank You points for every dollar spent on air travel.

Bottom Line

If you’re really into Pokemon GO, use Pokemapper to help plan your trip. It’s a crowd-sourced map of Pokeman sightings around the world.

But whether you’re into it or not, these places are great destinations in their own right and the award space is useful for a last minute summer getaway.

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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.

Today (May 11, 2016) is the last day to take advantage of the 30% discount on Virgin Atlantic economy awards that brings the price of an award between select U.S cities and London down to only 12,250 Virgin Atlantic miles and $134.60 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

If you stack that Virgin Atlantic economy sale with the current deal American Express is offering– a 30% transfer bonus of Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic through May 31, 2016–then you can book an award to London for only 10,000 Membership Rewards +$134.60!! Book now, but not as a roundtrip.

Why You Shouldn’t Book Awards Departing Britain

It can cost upwards of $300 in departure taxes to leave Europe on an award from London. That is atrocious and can easily be avoided by returning home from a low tax country instead. You can use British Airways Avios or a low cost carrier to get to the low tax country.

Low Tax Countries

I’ve ordered the cities from cheapest to most expensive.

  • Oslo: $31.70
  • Istanbul: $32.50
  • Warsaw: $33.80
  • Stockholm: $36.30
  • Dublin: $39
  • Belfast: $42.20
  • Geneva: $42.90
  • Venice: $43.40
  • Barcelona: $43.50
  • Shannon: $43.60
  • Copenhagen: $43.80
  • Lisbon: $47.40
  • Amsterdam: $48
  • Madrid: $48.40
  • Brussels: $50
  • Milan: $50
  • Zurich: $56.50
  • Rome: $60
  • Hamburg: $82.70
  • Vienna: $87
  • Munich: $94.80
  • Frankfurt: $112.10
  • Berlin: $119.20

Cheapest Award Space From Low Tax Countries in Europe

I searched to find the cheapest award space from Europe to the United States– in economy and in First Class–that you can pair with your Virgin Atlantic Award to London. Depending on whether you want to keep up the savings or treat yourself to something more luxurious on your way home, here are two of the cheapest options doing either:

Dublin, Ireland to Philadelphia – 20,000 Alaska Miles + $54

Spend New Years in Europe and save money on the way home by flying American Airlines economy back to the U.S. from Dublin after the holidays. There are 24 days in January with award space for two people that you can book for only 20,000 Alaska Airlines miles and $54 in taxes per person.Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 6.24.30 PMThe calendar barely changes if you modify the search for up to four people.

If you don’t have Alaska miles, you can also book the same space with Etihad miles for the same price. Both Alaska Mileage Plan and Etihad Guest program maintained the pre-American Airlines devaluation prices between the US and Europe, as well as the prior American Airlines Off Peak dates to Europe. You can fly between the US and Europe for that same price anytime between October 15 and May 15.

If you don’t live in Philadelphia and want to book this with Alaska miles, you can add another leg to get to your hometown without changing the mileage price as long as it’s on American Airlines or Alaska and is economy Saver space. You can also add a leg flying American Airlines to get to your hometown on an Etihad award without changing the mileage price, under the same conditions.

You can search for award space on aa.com or alaskair.com. If using Alaska miles you will need to book on alaskaair.com, and if using Etihad miles you will need to call Etihad Guest at (1 888 8 ETIHAD, available 24/7).

Oslo, Norway to Chicago – 50,000 Asiana Miles + $192.54

Pamper yourself after trotting around Europe with a luxurious Lufthansa First Class flight experience on the way home. You can fly it for 50,000 Asiana miles plus taxes and fuel surcharges that amount to $192.54 between Oslo and Chicago (fuel surcharges are much lower Europe to USA than vice versa on Lufthansa flights.)

Asiana is 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints.

Getting into Lufthansa First Class is a gimme if you can book at the last minute. Unfortunately Lufthansa doesn’t release its First Class award space to partners until about 15 days before departure, but once it does, space is quite available. If you’re comfortable booking the return last minute, it’s a great deal for First Class.

For example, here is a Lufthansa Business Class award from Oslo to Chicago in about two weeks:

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 8.37.58 PM
$247.60 CAD in taxes/fees = $192.54 USD in taxes/fees

This search result is from aeroplan.com, but the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges there should equal what Asiana charges. For instance, this Oslo to Chicago one way award costs 247.60 Canadian Dollars ($192.54) out of pocket. (Ignore the 70,000 mile price, Asiana charges 50,000 miles.)

If you don’t live in Chicago, you can add a leg on United to your hometown without affecting the mileage price. It can be in any cabin since your transatlantic flight is First Class, just make sure it’s Saver space.

You can search for Lufthansa award space on aeroplan.com, like I did above, or on united.com (probably easier on united.com as you don’t need an account). To book with Asiana miles you will need to call 800-227-4262 (I’ve booked myself two Asiana awards– here is my experience).

How to Get the Miles

For the American Airlines flight from Dublin you’ll need 20,000 Alaska Airlines miles or Etihad miles.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cards (personal and business) both offer 25,000 miles just for signing up. The business card requires you to purchase one item to qualify for the bonus.

While I can not directly link to the current Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Etihad miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points. The Citi Prestige® Card earns 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

You could also transfer SPG Starpoints to Etihad at a 1:1 ratio. See links for cards that earn SPG Starpoints below.

For the Lufthansa First Class flight you’ll need 50,000 Asiana miles.

SPG Starpoints transfer to Asiana at a 1:1 ratio. The SPG cards from American Express currently offer 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the first three months of card membership.

Bottom Line

Virgin Atlantic has a sale on economy awards between London and North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia that ends today. You can book awards to London from the U.S. for as little as 12,250 Virgin Atlantic miles and $134.60 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

If you have Membership Rewards from American Express, you can stack that sale with the 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic to make that mileage price drop to 10,000 Membership Rewards. This transfer bonus lasts through May 31, 2016 so if you miss the opportunity today for the Virgin Atlantic economy sale, you can still book an economy award to London for 13,000 Membership Rewards through May 31.

For the return trip, fly back to the U.S. from Dublin in American Airlines economy for only 20k Alaska or Etihad miles, or from Oslo in Lufthansa First Class for only 50k Asiana miles. Departing from either city will avoid the high departure taxes you would incur on an award returning from London.

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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.

25

Forget paying 110,000 United miles one way for Lufthansa First Class. You can book the same flight for 40,000 points + $203 (and there is even a way to avoid the $203.)

Lufthansa First Class flying from Europe to the United States is a fantastic product.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.19.48 PM

The onboard First Class product is solid–a step above American carriers and a step below Asian and Middle Eastern carriers.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.20.10 PM

And the ground experience in Frankfurt is my favorite in the world. First Class passengers have their own terminal.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.18.53 PM

In the First Class terminal, you can enjoy the buffet, a la carte dining, a bubble bath with a rubber ducky, or the Cigar Room.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.18.41 PMThen when it’s time for your flight, you are driven to your plane in a Porsche.
Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.19.12 PM You get amazing and unique, up-close views of the planes.Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.19.22 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.19.32 PM

Lufthansa First Class is bookable with all Star Alliance miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.14.50 PM

Getting into Lufthansa First Class is a gimme if you can book at the last minute. Unfortunately Lufthansa doesn’t release its First Class award space to partners until 15 days before departure, but once it does, space is quite available.

The problem is that with most miles, Lufthansa First Class is a lot of miles or a lot of fuel surcharges.

  • United charges 110,000 miles one way between the United States and Europe. It doesn’t collect fuel surcharges, just taxes plus a $75 for booking within 21 days of departure
  • Aeroplan charges only 70,000 miles (Western Europe) or 80,000 miles (Eastern Europe) one way, but it collects fuel surcharges that can be as high as $500 one way.

The solution is to book Lufthansa First Class with Asiana miles from a city in Europe that has low taxes and fuel surcharges. Asiana charges only 50,000 miles one way in First Class from Europe to the United States.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.43.26 PM
Roundtrip Prices, One Ways Are Allowed for Half Price

Taxes vary by city, country, and airport. Here is a list of low tax cities in Europe. Fuel surcharges vary by market. They are much lower from Europe to the United States than vice versa. You can figure out the fuel surcharges on a route by searching ITA Matrix.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 4.24.59 PM

They are listed on individual tickets as YQ and YR.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 4.40.51 PMIn preparing this post, though, I didn’t use ITA Matrix. I just searched for awards on aeroplan.com. The taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges there should equal what Asiana charges. For instance, this Oslo to JFK one way award that has almost six hours at the First Class Terminal has 266.80 Canadian Dollars ($203) out of pocket. (Ignore the 70,000 mile price, Asiana charges 50,000 miles.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 4.42.56 PM That’s a lot better than a one way from New York to Oslo, which has $450 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 6.57.50 PM

Low Out of Pocket Cities

I searched 22 European cities on aeroplan.com to find the out-of-pocket taxes and fuel surcharges on a one way award to New York City that connects in Frankfurt. These are the results. (If you know another low out-of-pocket city, put it in the comments.)

  • Oslo $203
  • Dublin $204
  • Stockholm $220
  • Helsinki $240
  • Copenhagen $251
  • Istanbul $256
  • Prague $257
  • Riga $257
  • Warsaw $263
  • Barcelona $268
  • Madrid $284
  • Amsterdam $300
  • Lisbon $302
  • Brussels $317
  • Ljubljana $321
  • Geneva $328
  • Zurich $341
  • Rome $343
  • Frankfurt (direct) $347
  • Milan $350
  • Vienna $356
  • Munich $364

Booking the Award

  1. Get 50,000 Asiana miles
  2. Find award space from the European city of your choice to the American city of your choice on aeroplan.com or united.com (Saver space only) in Lufthansa First Class. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you found.
  3. Call Asiana at 800-227-4262 to reserve the flight with reservations. Feed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number. You will be given a reservation code.
  4. Ask to be connected to Asiana Club to ticket the award. Give the agent the reservation code.

I’ve booked myself two Asiana awards. Here is my experience.

Getting Asiana Miles

The only reasonable way for Americans to get Asiana miles is to transfer SPG Starpoints. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Asiana miles.

Plus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you get 5,000 extra Asiana miles. That means you’d need only 40,000 Starpoints (=50,000 Asiana miles) to book Europe to USA in Lufthansa First Class.

In the past, transfers from Starpoints to Asiana have taken me two weeks. My most recent transfer took a little less than seven days.

Avoiding Out of Pocket

Instead of paying the $203+ out of pocket, you can pay the taxes and fuel surcharges with a Citi Prestige® Card. Since the charge is coming from an airline (Asiana), it will activate the $250 per calendar year Air Travel Credit. On your next Prestige statement, the entire charge (up to $250) would automatically be offset by a statement credit.

My review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like 40,000 bonus points, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to Priority Pass lounges, and 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels.

 

Bottom Line

While some luxury First Class awards are out of reach, Lufthansa First Class is actually very cheap if you have Starpoints.

Transfer them to Asiana miles and book a one way trip home from a low taxes/fuel surcharges city.

Fuel surcharges are too high to Europe for this idea to interest me. On a trip like this, I’d get to Europe on a one way award using a different type of miles.

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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.

You can book yourself a tour around the Caribbean and South America stopping in three places for only 64,500 miles total with half the trip in a flat bed. By stopping in three places, I am referring to actual destinations, not connections that have to be under 24 hours.

This incredible deal relies on piecing together four sweet spots awards into one big trip. Even if you never take a trip like this, you should know about these sweet spot awards.

For the purposes of this example, this will be the route we examine:

Philadelphia > Aruba > Bogota, Colombia > Rio de Janeiro, Brazil > Philadelphia

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 7.46.00 PM

However the price is the same no matter where your home airport is, and no matter where you choose your destination in Southern South America to be.

You can tweak the route to your liking and keep the same prices as long as each destination falls in the right region for the pricing of the award.

What does that mean exactly?

  • Aruba could be replaced by anywhere that is in the region defined by American Airlines as Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America for no extra miles
  • Bogota could be replaced by any nearby city with direct LAN flights from the Caribbean or Mexico, though the miles price will probably go up if you choose a different city since this part of the award is flown with distance-based Avios
  • Rio de Janeiro could be replaced by any destination in South America for no extra miles

United States to Aruba

American Airlines post-devaluation award chart has flights to Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean during the off peak season priced at just 12,500 miles one way in economy.  

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.20.37 PM

The off peak season for these regions is defined as:

  • April 27 – May 20
  • September 7 – November 14

Taxes: $16

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.20.42 PM

Where to search for award space: aa.comHere’s how to search aa.com, award space is great to Aruba during off peak season

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.19.52 PM

How to Book: on aa.com

Aruba to Bogota

It costs 4,500 British Airways Avios to fly from from Aruba to Bogota, Colombia on LAN in economy.

Taxes: $49 (my ba.com is in euros for this reason)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.18.01 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.18.11 PM

Where to search for award space: ba.comHere’s how to search ba.com. This route has the worst award space in the post, so if you copied this routing, you’d build the trip around award space on this leg. You can pick a place with better award space to Bogota (or wherever you decide to go), but the Avios price will probably be higher. Aruba to Bogota is only 605 miles flown, so it is the cheapest price of 4,500 Avios. Flights 651-1,150 miles flown are 7,500 Avios and something like Cancun to Bogota is 10,000 Avios.

How to Book: on ba.com.

Bogota to Rio de Janeiro

For 12,500 Singapore or American Airlines miles you can fly from Bogota, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Avianca/TACA (if using Singapore miles) or LAN (if using American Airlines miles). You could book the same flights in Business Class for 20,000 Singapore miles, or 25,000 American Airlines miles. 

Taxes/Fees: $62 (ignore the miles price in the screenshot, we pay the price on Singapore’s chart, not United’s chart when using Singapore miles)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.14.19 PM

Where to search for award space: If using Singapore miles, united.com. Here’s how to search united.com. If using American Airlines’ miles, ba.comHere’s how to search ba.com. Award space is very good on Avianca’s direct Bogota to Rio flight, especially in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.14.08 PM

How to Book: If using Singapore miles, on singaporeair.com. If using American Airlines miles, call American Airlines’ AAdvantage customer service at 1-800-882-8880.

Rio de Janeiro > United States

It costs 35,000 Asiana miles to fly Business Class on Copa Airlines, Avianca, United, or Air Canada from Southern South America to the United States. I booked Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile in Copa Business Class for 35,000 Asiana miles this year.

Taxes/Fees: $57 (ignore mileage prices below, Asiana has lower prices than United for the same flights)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.22.31 PM

Where to search for award space: united.com. Here’s how to search united.com. There is great award space between Rio and Philadelphia.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.21.52 PM

How to Book: call the Asiana Club at +1-800-227-4262.

What Do Those Awards Add up to?

    United States to Aruba = 12,500 American Airlines miles

    Aruba to Bogota, Colombia = 4,500 British Airways Avios

    Bogota, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil = 12,500 Singapore or American Airlines miles

 + Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to United States = 35,000 Asiana miles in Business Class


    64,500 miles and under $184 in taxes

Or, if you wanted to fly the leg between Colombia and Brazil in Business Class, it would cost 72,000 using Singapore or 77,000 American Airlines miles.

Consider it from this angle as well. Heading southbound, you spent only 12,500 + 4,500 + 12,500 = 29,500 miles/Avios, and you visit three places. Normally a one way award to Southern South America would cost 30,000 American Airlines/Delta/United miles, and no stopovers would be allowed.

Why are There No Fuel Surcharges Mentioned in This Post?

Because fuel surcharges are not levied on any airline, on any ticket, w the Americas that I am aware of. Great news for our mega-trip!

How to Get the Miles and Points Needed for this Trip

American Airlines Miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

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

Singapore Krisflyer Miles (transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points)

The Citi Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Asiana Miles (transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express, personal and business versions, both are offering 25,000 Starpoints each for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively within three months of the accounts opening.

British Airways Avios 

British Airways Visa Signature card by Chase is offering 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 within three months of the account opening.

While I can not directly link to the current offer from British Airways Visa Signature card by Chase, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

If you have some (emphasis on some, not many are needed!) American Airlines, Singapore, and Asiana miles as well as a few British Airways Avios, you can piece together an amazing multi-award trip that spans all over the Caribbean and South America with three different destinations. It would be a great way to use up smaller amounts miles hanging around in your frequent flyer accounts, leftover after larger redemptions.

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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.

Starpoints can transfer to 30 different types of airline miles by logging into your account and going to this page.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.08.39 PM

For every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, Starwood adds 5,000 bonus points. That means for 1:1 transfer partners, 20k SPG points in your account equals 25,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 2.08.20 PM

The best transfer partner for your Starpoints depends on your trip goal. There are scenarios under which at least a dozen of the partners would be your best option. However, I think there are four that are generally the best option for a large number of awards.

  1. Asiana Miles
  2. Aeroplan Miles during a frequent transfer bonus
  3. Alaska Miles
  4. American Airlines miles today

1. Asiana Miles

In my Top 11 Most Valuable Miles post, I have Asiana miles worth 2 cents each.

High Value Awards: USA to Southern South America in Business Class for 35k Miles and no fuel surcharges, USA to Europe in Lufthansa First for 50k Miles Plus Fuel Surcharges

To some regions, Asiana’s award chart is so under-priced that some awards are a good deal even after fuel surcharges. Plus, I love flying to South America, and no Star Alliance flights to South America have fuel surcharges, meaning I get the insanely good award chart without having to pay much cash out of pocket.

There is an Asiana credit card, but it only earns a 10,000 mile sign up bonus, 3x on Asiana purchases, and 2x on gas and groceries, so the only way to get Asiana miles in bulk is through Starpoints transfers.

2. Aeroplan Miles During a Transfer Bonus

I value Aeroplan miles only at 1.4 cents each because its chart is fair, but not cheap, and it collects fuel surcharges on many partners, but not nearly all.

High Value Awards: USA to Western Europe in Business Class or Southern South America for 55k miles and no fuel surcharges, USA to Asia in Business Class for 75k or 77.5k miles and no fuel surcharges

As you can see, those are not nearly as cheap as the listed Asiana awards, but Aeroplan has frequent transfer bonuses during which it offers extra miles for transferring in SPG points. There is one running through April 18, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.19.21 PM

During the current transfer bonus, 160,000 Starpoints = 255,000 Aeroplan miles, which is enough to offset the not-quite-cheap chart as long as you only fly partners with no fuel surcharges on Aeroplan awards:

  • United
  • Singapore
  • South African
  • Egyptair
  • Air China
  • Ethiopian
  • Avianca
  • TACA
  • Copa
  • Swiss
  • Turkish
  • Brussels
  • Scandinavian

Aeroplan is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

3. Alaska Airlines Miles

I value Alaska miles at 1.75 cents each for the cheap award charts and variety of partners from oneworld, SkyTeam, and un-allied airlines.

High Value AwardsEmirates First Class on an A380 costs 100,000 miles one way for two flights from USA to Africa, Asia, or Europe; USA to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 miles one way in Business Class with a free stopover in FijiUSA to Southern South America in AeroMexico Business Class for 45,000 miles (temporarily unbookable); Cathay Pacific First Class to Asia plus Business Class to South Africa for 70,000 miles total with free stopover

Beyond SPG transfers, there are churnable Alaska Airlines credit cards to pick up the miles.

 

4. American Airlines Miles Today

If you transfer to American Airlines miles today, and they post by Monday, you’ll have miles I value at 1.8 cents each. if they arrive Tuesday, you missed the devAAluation, and they’ll be worth 1.5 cents each to me. Transfers take 2-3 days to get to AA usually.

High Value Awards: Cathay Pacific First Class to SE Asia for 67,500 miles one way; Etihad First Class to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent for 90,000 miles one way; off peak to Europe or Southern South America in economy for 20,000 miles one way; many, many more

Beyond SPG transfers, there are several American Airlines credit cards that earn miles.

Do you have a different favorite transfer partner for SPG points? Share it in the comments.

Don’t forget the SPG personal and business credit cards are currently offering their biggest sign up bonuses ever–35,000 points each.

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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.

Updated 1/29/16 to reflect new Aeroplan award prices effective for awards booked 12/15/15 or later.
Updated 10/6/15 to reflect new ANA award prices effective for awards booked 10/15/15 or later.

In the last few weeks, I have published some comparative charts of Star Alliance award charts. I’m putting all of those charts into this post for easier reference.

You can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book almost any Star Alliance flight. (Swiss, Lufthansa, and Singapore hold back some premium cabin award space for their own members. United gives extra award space to elites and United cardholders.) The 27-member alliance has more than a dozen frequent flyer programs, many of which offer good or great deals on some routes.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.14.50 PM

I’ve taken the time to make a comprehensive spread sheet of eight programs’ award prices from North America:

  • United (on United flights and on partner flights)
  • Copa
  • Asiana
  • Singapore (on Star Alliance partner flights)
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Lufthansa Miles & More
  • ANA

These programs were chosen because they all have at least some awards that are really cheap. And other than Copa and LifeMiles, Americans can easily get all these miles through transferable points programs:

  • United: Ultimate Rewards
  • Copa: no easy way to get the miles yet, but the program is brand new
  • Asiana: SPG
  • Singapore: ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, SPG
  • LifeMiles: buy miles for 1.5 cents each
  • Aeroplan: Membership Rewards, SPG
  • Lufthansa: SPG
  • ANA: Membership Rewards, SPG

There are other Star Alliance programs into which Americans can transfer miles–Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 to EVA and Thai miles–but their charts don’t offer any value compared to the eight I’ve selected.

Of course, the charts below only captures one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Here are a few big things that applies to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

For specific information on fuel surcharges to each region and other important routing rules, click on the individual posts where I really analyzed awards to each region.

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

The Charts

Below the award charts show the one way price in thousands of miles from the United States mainland to the region listed for the eight types of miles listed. For information on slashes, click the links above to get more information.

Within Mainland United States and Canada

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.42.55 PM

Alaska

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.44.14 PM

Hawaii
Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.44.25 PM

Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.29.00 AM

Northern South America

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.29.12 AM

Southern South America

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.30.52 AM

EuropeScreen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.31.05 AM

Middle East

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.28.47 AM

Africa

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.29.08 AM

North Asia

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.41.47 AM

Southeast AsiaScreen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.30.44 AM

Indian SubcontinentScreen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.30.58 AM

Australia and New Zealand

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.06 AM

Oceania

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.16 AM

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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.

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I just booked myself an award from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile in Business Class for 35,000 Asiana miles + $24. United would have charged 55,000 miles for the same flights!

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 8.47.54 AM

Why Asiana Miles

Asiana has really cheap awards to Europe and South America and really expensive awards elsewhere. Asiana does collect fuel surcharges on awards when similar cash tickets have them, which is why Asiana awards to South America are so awesome: none of Asiana’s partners to South America have fuel surcharges on their flights within the Americas.

I already had exactly 35,000 Asiana miles in my account from previous Starpoint transfers. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Asiana miles with the standard 5,000 bonus miles from transferring 20,000 Starpoints. That means 35,000 Asiana miles equals 30,000 Starpoints.

Searching

I plan to spend February through May in South America, mostly in Buenos Aires, but I can only spend 90 days there on a single visit, so I was looking to fill a few weeks with other stops first. I considered grand adventures in Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil, but eventually settled on a first trip to Santiago, Chile.

I decided to book a two week trip there, though I may leave the capital for a few days or a week in the middle.

I have very little flexibility for the Los Angeles to Santiago trip; I need to leave on one of two days. I searched on united.com for award space between Los Angeles and Santiago because any Copa, Avianca, or TACA space on united.com and any United Saver space on united.com can be booked with Asiana miles. I found pretty good space.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.11.48 AM

On the search results, I clicked the Business Saver award column, so itineraries with Business Class award space would show up at the top.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.12.13 AM

On the days I need to travel, the only Business Class award space is on one stop itineraries on Copa through Santiago. (Humorously, the itineraries don’t have Saver economy space, so a Business Class award is cheaper than an economy award with United miles.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.11.42 AMThe flight times and route are great, but Copa Business Class stinks. It is just a regular recline seat like you’d find in domestic First Class.

Booking and Seat Selection

Still I decided to book the Copa space since I don’t have date flexibility.

Booking the award is straightforward though not as streamlined as it should be. Always call the airline whose miles you’re using, so I called Asiana at 800-227-4262.

Here’s where it gets weird:

  1. First you need to reserve the ticket with reservations.
  2. Then you need to pay for the ticket with Asiana Club.

I followed automated prompts to reservations. I gave the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment that I had found on united.com.

The agent put the award together and gave me a confirmation number, which was the last eight digits of my phone number, then transferred me to Asiana Club. I gave them the confirmation number and my credit card. They ticketed the award for 35,000 Asiana miles + $24 in taxes. (There is no phone fee, there are no fuel surcharges, and there is no charge for booking at the last minute.) I got an email receipt a few hours later.

To confirm that everything ticketed correctly, I tried to select seats from Copa. I didn’t have the Copa confirmation number to select seats on copaair.com, so I called Copa and read the ticket number from my Asiana receipt to get my Copa reservation number. Then I went back to copaair.com and could pull up my reservation.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 6.43.30 PM Oddly, the flights are listed as “Economy Class (I)” even though I is the booking code for Business Class award space. I was able to select Seat 1A on each flight, further easing my worries that Copa will put me in economy.

I am not going to investigate “Economy Class” farther. I expect I will be flying Business Class, and if not, I will probably get a nice refund from Asiana.

Future Changes

As mentioned, Copa Business Class stinks. I would much rather fly from Los Angeles to Houston to Santiago with the last leg in United flat bed Business Class on the 787-9 Dreamliner.
Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.14.58 AM

United is very stingy with this award space but opens some in the last few weeks before departure. As of yesterday, there was award space on the flight on January 18, 19, 22, 26, 27, and 28. That makes me hopeful that the days I want to fly will soon have flat bed Business Class award space. If that happens, I expect to be able to change the award for free based on my previous experience changing an Asiana award.

Bottom Line

I paid 35,000 Asiana miles for Business Class award space to Chile. To put in context how cheap that is, let me compare it to United’s award prices to Chile, which I consider eminently reasonable:

  • 30,000 United miles each way in economy
  • 55,000 United miles each way in Business Class

I will spend two awesome weeks in Chile and then fly my British Airways Avios award to Buenos Aires.

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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.

7

Award space is wide open in Turkish Airlines Business Class between the United States and Europe for four people per flight over the heart of the Summer.

This is amazing news because normally award space over the summer is the toughest to find, finding four seats on the same flight in Business Class is almost unheard of, Turkish flies to more countries than any other airline, and you can book the space for as cheap as 40,000 miles one way with no fuel surcharges.

Turkish Routes

These are Turkish’s routes to the United States.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 8.33.44 PMFrom Istanbul, there are great connections within Europe, to Africa, to the Middle East, and to the Indian Subcontinent.

Award Space

Unfortunately, United made united.com worse, so I can’t isolate the direct award space.

All these calendars show award space for four people. Green and blue days have four Business Class seats, not necessarily on the direct Turkish flight (but probably.)

Boston to Istanbul

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.34.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.34.43 PMLos Angeles to IstanbulScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.51.51 PM Istanbul to New YorkScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.56.07 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.56.11 PM

Check the route that most interests you for award space. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Product

Here is the “catch.” Turkish’s Business Class is 2-3-2 across each row. That’s a terrible configuration. You could get a middle seat in Business Class (although you almost certainly won’t if you select a seat soon after booking.) Seat Guru describes the seats as having 177 degrees of recline, which is basically flat.

Here is a recent video of Turkish Business Class.

Other than the seats, Turkish Business Class looks top notch, including having an onboard chef.

Searching, Connections, Booking

Search Turkish award space on united.com. Any Turkish award space you find there, you can book with any Star Alliance miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.14.50 PM

If you don’t live in a city served by Turkish, that’s no problem. You can hook up any United Saver award space in economy or first class to get to a Turkish gateway for no extra miles. If you want to connect to somewhere else in Europe or to Africa or Asia, you can definitely do that too, though other continents will cost extra miles.

Book online on the website of the airline whose miles you want to use, or if that’s not possible, by calling the airline whose miles you want to use. I’d recommend booking with:

Bottom Line

No excuses for not taking your whole family to Europe this summer in Turkish Business Class.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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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.

0

To anyone who will listen, I say that you should not expect to use your miles at peak times on high demand routes. Airlines use miles to get rid of distressed inventory–seats they don’t expect to sell. If you want to go where you want, when you want with “miles,” use credit card points like Arrival or Capital One Miles, which both let you book any flight with no blackouts.

But I’ve been surprised a few times that award space is pretty open for what I consider to be peak times, like when I booked an award to go to the World Cup in Brazil last year.

Rio has two big events next year: its annual Carnaval that will take place from February 5-10, 2016 and the Olympics from August 5-21, 2016.

Award space is available to both at the moment. Some of the award space is on Copa, which you would want to book with Asiana miles for 25,000 miles one way in economy or 35,000 miles in Business Class with no fuel surcharges. That’s a lot better than the 30,000 and 55,000 United miles for the same flights.

Some of the award space is on Azul, a Brazilian low-cost carrier with flights to the United States that is a non-alliance partner of United. That space, you’d have to book with United miles.

You can search Copa and Azul space on united.com. Any Azul space, you’d book right there with United miles. Any Copa or United Saver award space, you’d book with Asiana miles or whatever other Star Alliance miles you want to use by calling the airline whose miles you’re using.

The Award Space

I just searched for one passenger from New York to Rio in February and August. That’s not necessarily your home airport, but the results are representative because the United, Copa, or Azul international flights should be the ones in demand, not the United domestic flights to hook up with the international flights.

New York to Rio for Carnaval

In the week before Carnaval, Copa is releasing a lot of Business Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.40.14 AM

In the week after Carnaval, award space is wide open in economy and Business.Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.40.36 AM

This roundtrip with the outbound in Business and return in economy is 85,000 miles + $67. Since the return is on United planes, you could probably even get it in Business Class at the Saver price with Plan B.Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.41.56 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.42.00 AM

New York to Rio for Olympics

If you need to make the August 5th Opening Ceremony, your best option is in economy a few days before. If you just want to see some of the games, there is plenty of Business and economy award space between August 5th and August 21st.
Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.42.38 AM

During and after the Olympics, there is great economy and Business Class award space.
Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.43.22 AM

Here’s a roundtrip flying Azul economy there and Copa Business back for 85,000 United miles + $71.Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.44.13 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.44.19 AM

 

Bottom Line

I am surprised to see plenty of award space to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for the biggest two events for tourists: Carnaval and the Olympics.

 

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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.

7

A few weeks ago, I used 27,500 Asiana miles (transferred from 22,500 Starpoints) to book myself a Business Class award from Honolulu to Bogota, Colombia. Now I’ll tell you how to change an Asiana Club award.

I chose to use Asiana miles because it has a number of ridiculously cheap sweet spots including from Hawaii to South America. United would have charged me 45,000 miles for the exact same flights.

At the time I booked, there was only economy award space on one of the two segments that made up my award.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 7.21.03 PM

I booked anyway and tried to set up an automatic email alert to let me know if premium cabin award space opened up on that flight. Award space did open up on that flight, so it was time to change my award.

Changing the Asiana Award

I had the United award space up in front of me, and I called Asiana at 800-227-4262.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.37.33 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.37.47 PM

The change process is identical to the annoying two-step process used to book a ticket. First you have to talk to Reservations, then Asiana Club.

I told Reservations that I had booked my Business Class award a few weeks ago, and that award space had since opened up in Business Class on the first flight, so I wanted to change it from economy to Business Class. (Note that United calls its premium cabin on two cabin planes “First Class,” but partner phone agents call it “Business Class” because United uses the Business Class award space code “I” for that space, reserving the First Class code “O” for international three-cabin First Class award space.)

The agent said he made that change and then connected me to Asiana Club.

The Asiana Club agent said he would ticket the award and send me an email with the changes.

While I was on the phone, I was logged into my united.com account, refreshing my award to see if changes had been made. While I was on the phone, the “Fare Class” on the first flight changed to “United First (I).”

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.23.31 PM I never did get a change email, but I can see the changes in my United account, and I was able to select a First Class seat for the first segment, so I know that the change was made.Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.23.38 PM

I was not charged a change fee. As far as I can tell, Asiana has no award change fee. Award cancellations cost $30.

Bottom Line

Other than having to talk to both Reservations and Asiana Club, changing my Asiana award when United First Class opened up was easy and free. Now the award is perfect and complete, and I can’t wait to fly it next month as part of my End of 2015 Travel.

 

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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.

20

Last week I used 27,500 Asiana miles + $38.30 to book myself a Business Class award from Honolulu to Bogota that I’ll fly next month.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.26.02 PM

This is a steal of a deal because United would have charged 45,000 miles for the same ticket.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 7.20.42 PM

While I am ticketed, one of my two legs is in economy, so I have set an automatic alert to let me know if Business Class space opens on the leg on which I’m currently ticketed in economy.

  • Why use Asiana miles?
  • How to get Asiana miles and transfer time
  • Route planning
  • Award Search
  • Award Booking
  • Setting alerts to improve cabin

Why Asiana Miles?

Asiana has a super cheap award chart that I’ve mentioned before for awards to Europe like 50,000 miles one way in Lufthansa First Class. Here is the roundtrip award chart for awards originating in Hawaii; one way awards are half price.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.09.57 PM

In general Asiana’s awards to South America are very cheap. Asiana only charges 27,500 miles one way in Business Class to Northern South America and 35,000 miles to Southern South America. United charges 35,000 and 55,000 miles respectively.

Plus United charges extra miles if you start in Hawaii instead of the continental United States. In this case, Asiana doesn’t.

Asiana collects fuel surcharges on awards except on United, Copa, Avianca, and TACA flights, making Asiana miles ideal for awards to Latin America.

How to Get Asiana Miles

The only reasonable way for Americans to get Asiana miles is to transfer SPG Starpoints. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Asiana miles.

Plus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you get 5,000 extra Asiana miles. That means I’d need only 22,500 Starpoints (=27,500 Asiana miles) to book Honolulu to Bogota in Business Class.

In the past, transfers from Starpoints to Asiana have taken me two weeks. My most recent transfer, initiated last week, took a few hours less than seven days.

For this award though, I already had Asiana miles sitting around from a transfer I made in May, in anticipation of possibly booking an award from the United States to Europe with Asiana miles that I never booked.

Route Planning

I prefer to fly as few segments as possible because it means less chance to mis-connect, less time spent on layovers, and longer individual segments, which is what you want when you fly in the comfort of Business Class.

There are several ways to get from Honolulu to Bogota with one stop. On American, you can stop in Dallas. On United, you can stop in Houston. With a combination of United and Avianca, you can stop in several places including Los Angeles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.26.02 PM

The Los Angeles option was the best because of the short layover time. The layovers in Texas would have been all day layovers–no thanks!

To figure out possible routes, start on the Wikipedia pages of your starting and ending airports and look for common connection cities.

Award Search

I could have just plugged Honolulu to Bogota into united.com, but I would get a lot of long, terrible itineraries. I wanted to isolate itineraries with award space from Los Angeles to Bogota, so I started by just searching that segment. There is very little award space on that route, but there is some if you’re flexible like I am.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.09.37 PM

Since this flight leaves in the morning, I next searched for Honolulu to Los Angeles flights for the night before.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.11.05 PM

Award space is very good on United’s many Honolulu to Los Angeles flights, but there is a lot more economy award space than First Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.10.40 PM

When flying international Business Class, you are entitled to hook it up to domestic First Class for no extra miles, but there just wasn’t space on the day I wanted to fly.

I decided to book the mixed cabin itinerary anyway.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 7.21.03 PM

I figure that a good itinerary with one stop, a short layover, and 7 of the 13 flying hours in Business Class for only 27,500 Asiana miles is better than not booking the award or booking the award in economy 17,500 miles one way.

I noted the date, flight, and cabin of each segment and moved on to booking.

Booking the Award

Booking the award is straightforward though not as streamlined as it should be. Always call the airline whose miles you’re using, so I called Asiana at 800-227-4262.

Here’s where it gets weird:

  1. First you need to reserve the ticket with reservations.
  2. Then you need to pay for the ticket with Asiana Club.

So I followed automated prompts to reservations. I gave the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment. (Remember to call domestic First Class “Business Class” though in this case I was flying domestic economy.)

The agent put the award together and gave me a confirmation number, then transferred me to Asiana Club. I gave them the confirmation number and my credit card. They ticketed the award for 27,500 Asiana miles + $38 in taxes. (There is no phone fee, and there are no fuel surcharges on either of my flights.) I got an email receipt a few hours later.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 2.23.34 PM

The miles came out of my account immediately.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 7.22.21 PM

Setting an Alert to Move Up to First Class

If United opens up award space in First Class on either of its Honolulu to Los Angeles redeye flights, I want to make a change and get that space. Asiana charges $30 or 3,000 miles to make a change. I would pay the $30, which is a steal to “upgrade” almost six hours from economy to domestic First Class.

I could frequently check united.com to see if space opens up in First Class from Honolulu to Los Angeles, but there is an easier way. Set up an alert on Award Nexus.

Will space open up for me?

[Award space did open up for me, and I am now booked in United First Class on the first segment.]

No one knows for sure, but I think it will. I’d give my chances of flying First Class from Honolulu to Los Angeles at 80%.

As I said in “Will You Find Last Minute Space? Here’s How To Estimate Your Chances,” the best way to estimate is to look at space on the route for the next few weeks.

Space is really good in United First Class from Honolulu to Los Angeles for the next four weeks with 25/28 days having First Class space. That tells me that in a few weeks, space on the flight I want might open up!

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 3.02.19 PM

It is instructive to click a day to see which flight has First Class award space because I need one of the two redeyes. Those are not particularly popular flights, so they have good award space.
Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 3.02.27 PM

Bottom Line

I booked Bogota to Honolulu for 27,500 Asiana miles, transferred from 22,500 Starpoints, plus $38. United wants 45,000 miles for the same flights.

I couldn’t find both segments in a premium cabin, so I booked economy on the first leg and Business Class on the second. I then set an alert, so if the premium cabin opens on the first leg I’ll know, and I can make the change for $30. I do expect that award space to open up for me, but there is no guarantee, and I am happy with my award as is.

 

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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.

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