If you THINK BIG, and take an amazing multi-destination trip, you’ll need to book several tickets to hop between destinations.
In the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia, flights are fairly cheap because of the many competing airlines, including low cost carriers. In other regions, like Africa and South America, short flights can be exorbitantly expensive as a lack of competition drives up prices.
When ticket prices are expensive, that’s the time to use miles. I’ve already laid out the cheapest intra-region bargain awards with American Airlines and United miles. There are also some excellent deals within a single region on the American Airlines, United, Singapore Airlines, and US Airways award charts.
Hop Around My Favorite Continent for 12,500 of Which Miles? (from google.com)
The key to finding great miles uses within a single region is finding award charts with big regions.
For instance, Singapore Airlines categorizes all of South America as one region and charges only 12,500 miles each way in economy within the region. One route I’m looking at for a big trip in December is from Medellin, Colombia to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The ticket would cost $755 or 12,500 Singapore miles + $75. That’s over 5 cents of value per mile on an economy ticket!
With the demise of American Airlines Explorer Awards, big trips will require many awards. Choosing the right miles for each of the small awards will really add up, so make sure you know the top intra-region awards.
- What are the top intra-region awards with American Airlines, United, Singapore Airlines, and US Airways miles?
- What about British Airways Avios?
This is the twentieth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.
I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics of several international airline programs which are transfer partners of one or more of the following types of points:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints
- Citi ThankYou Points
I think of these international airlines programs as niche programs. Most of their redemption options are terrible because of fuel surcharges, but a few redemptions with each program are great because of no fuel surcharges or a super cheap miles price.
Know the great options in each program to save yourself miles and cash by maximizing these programs:
- Singapore KrisFlyer (UR, MR, SPG, and TY)
- Air Canada Aeroplan (MR, SPG)
- Lufthansa Miles & More (SPG, also the only one of these programs that offers a big 50k sign up bonus on an American credit card every few months)
- ANA Mileage Club (MR, SPG)
- Air France Flying Blue (MR, SPG)
- Korean SkyPass (UR, SPG)
Why Collect These Miles?
Most of these programs have a sweet spot that lets you book the same flights for fewer miles than if you used United or Delta miles. For instance, pay 30,000 Singapore miles each way in First Class between the continental United States and Hawaii instead of 40,000 United miles.
Korean, Singapore, and Lufthansa miles allow the booking of mind-blowing First Class products you can’t book with Delta and United miles.
- What airlines can you fly with these miles?
- What are the routing rules for these awards (stopovers, open jaws, free one ways)?
- What are the special deals in each program?
- What about fuel surcharges?
Last year I wrote “How to Book Multiple Awards from Different Accounts on the Same Flights.”
The idea is that you can never transfer miles from one airline to another, even if they are airline partners, but you can book two seats on the exact same flights with two different types of miles.
Last week I used 30,000 Singapore miles and 35,000 Lufthansa miles to book myself and a friend one way First Class flights on United from Honolulu to San Francisco.
United flies one flight a day from Honolulu to San Francisco on a 767-400ER with fully flat beds in First Class (in addition to the flights to Newark and Washington-Dulles which are always on 767-400ERs.)
Sleeping in a flat bed on a previous United flight to Hawaii
Since my friend had never flown in First Class, since I really wanted to sleep the entire flight, and since Lufthansa and Singapore have reasonable miles prices for the flight, I decided to book us two First Class tickets.
I booked one ticket for 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles + $5.68 and the other for 35,000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + $5.60.
This guide will be useful whenever you want to book two or more seats on the same flight with two or more types of miles from airline partners. One common situation is to book the same oneworld flights with American Airlines, US Airways, and/or British Airways miles.
- How did I search for the award space?
- How did I book the awards?
- What big risk did I take?
- What other types of miles work together like this?
Lufthansa First Class is no longer bookable using LifeMiles.
For the past few years, Lufthansa has only released first class award space to its Star Alliance partners 15 days before flight departure. LifeMiles, which is in the Star Alliance, used to be an excellent program with which to book these last-minute luxury flights.
Recently, however, Lufthansa first class award seats have not been showing availability on lifemiles.com. When I called and talked an LifeMiles agent, he was also unable to find any Lufthansa first class availability.
This is another significant blow to the value of LifeMiles. Lufthansa first class is a great product, and enjoying the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is on many frequent travelers’ bucket lists.
- What’s so great about Lufthansa First Class?
- Why is losing the ability to book Lufthansa First with LifeMiles such a big deal?
- What other mileage programs can be used to book Lufthansa First?
Singapore Airlines’ award chart has some phenomenal sweet spots, which I’ve covered extensively:
Yesterday I published comparison tables of United’s award chart for United flights versus Singapore’s award chart for United flights.
While compiling those charts, I saw that Singapore has an incredible sweet spot from the United States to the Middle East. Look at these prices (economy/business/first one way):
- Singapore charges 27.5k/65k/85k to Europe
- Singapore charges 37.5k/57.5k/75k to the Middle East
- United charges 30k/57.5k/80k to Europe
- United charges 42.5k/70k/90k to the Middle East
In case you need to brush up on your geography, the Middle East is quite a bit farther away than Europe, but Singapore charges fewer miles for a Business Class or First Class award to the Middle East than to Europe.
United flies to four destinations in the Middle East:
- Washington-Dulles to Dubai to Doha
- Washington-Dulles to Kuwait to Bahrain
We can use the Singapore sweet spot to book United’s Middle East flights cheaply in Business Class or First Class or to save miles on awards between the United States and Europe.
Singapore miles are extremely easy to get since you can transfer all of the major transferable points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles, and Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
The major transferable points are:
How do you book Singapore awards?
What are the out-of-pocket costs?
How can you use the cheap award price to the Middle East to save miles to Europe?
How can you add a one way in United First Class to Hawaii onto this award for only 2,500 miles?