We’ve been getting bad news in the miles world lately, so let me state unequivocally: miles still offer unmatched value to travel the world more, better, and cheaper.
Here’s a round-the-world (RTW) trip you can take with miles that took me me about 10 minutes to find the award space for.
There’s nothing particularly important about the cities or even the regions where this trip stops. It just shows an easy RTW award using one way awards. (This is the way to construct RTW awards now that American and Delta eliminated their true RTW awards in 2014.)
- Virgin Australia flat bed Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney: 80,000 Delta miles
- Etihad First Class on its A380 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi: 60,000 American Airlines miles
- airberlin flat bed Business Class from Abu Dhabi to Berlin: 25,000 British Airways Avios
- airberlin and US Airways economy from Berlin to Los Angeles: 20,000 American Airlines miles
That’s 185,000 miles for an award that features mostly flat beds. One person could get the necessary miles from four credit cards.
There’s nothing crucial about choosing the three cities I chose for stops. You can choose other cities–or see many cities in each region.
The searching took me about 10 minutes. I chose a November/December time frame for the search to maximize the weather in Sydney and Abu Dhabi and because many people get some free vacation days around Thanksgiving.
I did not search sequentially. I started my search by looking for Etihad First Class award space, which is the second part of the trip. This follows the basic principle to always search the hardest leg of a trip first. Not that Etihad First Class award space on its A380 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is hard to find, but it is harder to find than the other awards on this trip, which are all gimmes.
Sydney to Abu Dhabi Search
First Class award space from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is excellent in November. All those days below that say “Miles 121597” have award space you can book for 60,000 American Airlines miles.
But note that there are two daily flights, and only the evening one is on the A380.
For full details on searching etihad.com, the A380 First Class Service, and award space on the route, see Amazing Award Space for 2 on Nicest First Class in the World? 14 Hours in Etihad A380 First Class for 60,000 Miles.
Los Angeles to Sydney Search
After picking November 22 from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, I circled back to the beginning and searched from Los Angeles to Sydney. There is award space nearly every day in Business Class on Virgin Australia on the route. It costs 80,000 Delta miles per person and is searchable on delta.com.
- Delta’s nonstop bed is 175,000 miles.
- Connecting in Korea is 80,000 miles but adds 10 hours.
- Virgin Australia’s nonstop bed is 80,000 miles.
Easy choice with the Virgin Australia bed.
For more info on the search, product, and award space, see Award Space for 12 to Australia over Christmas and New Year.
Abu Dhabi to Berlin Search
airberlin, the oneworld member, has daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Berlin. airblerin flights do not have fuel surcharges, so they are a great way to use Avios.
Award space is exellent on the flights in economy and flat bed Business Class.
This award will go up to 37,500 Avios in Business Class with the April 28, 2015 devaluation of Avios.
Berlin to Los Angeles Flight
For the last award, I wanted to book economy. Early December is part of American Airlines’ off peak season for economy awards between the United States and Europe (October 15 to May 15 every year.) These awards cost only 20,000 American Airlines miles.
Since we’re looking at daytime flights, economy seems bearable.
I found the following award for 20,000 AA miles + taxes.
The full trip looks like this.
- November 12: Los Angeles to Sydney in Virgin Australia Business Class
- November 22: Sydney to Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class
- November 25: Abu Dhabi to Berlin in airberlin Business Class
- December 2: Berlin to Chicago to Phoenix to Los Angeles in airberlin/US Airways economy
The total cost is 80,000 Delta miles, 80,000 American miles, and 25,000 British Airways Avios plus about $190 in taxes, no fees or fuel surcharges.
Getting the Miles
American Airlines miles are super easy to get.
Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.
Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.
The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards, and that would earn more than the 80,000 American Airlines miles needed.
The third card you’d want is the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz. The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status. For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.
The last card is the next Membership Rewards or Delta co-branded card that offers a 50,000 point/mile bonus. These offers are frequent, but I don’t know of any others right now besides the Mercedes-Benz Platinum card above.
With these four cards, you’d have 106,000 American Airlines miles and either 100,000+ Membership Rewards or 50,000+ Delta miles and 50,000+ Membership Rewards. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Delta miles and British Airways Avios, so you can spread them around to have 80,000 Delta miles and 25,000 Avios.
It’s really easy to put together a dream RTW trip with miles because miles still offer an incredible value. There’s nothing special about living in Los Angeles or visiting Sydney, Abu Dhabi, and Berlin as in my example. No matter where you live and want to go, these great deals exist. (I felt sad not including this flight in my example.)
What is your favorite string of one way awards that creates a RTW award?