15 Best Uses of American Airlines Miles [2020]

The American Airlines (AA) award chart is full of sweet spots to destinations all over the globe. There are a few quirky routing rules that AA forces you to deal with but there’s still a tremendous amount of value to obtain within their award charts.

This article will first explain the AA award chart(s) and then go into detail about various sweet spots that exist within the award charts.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

Earning American Airlines miles

American Airlines is not a transfer partner of any of the major credit card issuer rewards programs like Chase, Amex, and even Citi.

However, they still have co-branded credit card relationships with Citi and Barclays. These credit cards often come with large bonuses making it very easy rack up AA miles.

Citi AAdvantage credit cards

Citi AA Card

Citi regularly offers 60,000 offers on its AAdvantage cards and sometimes you can even get matched to higher offers up to 75,000!

Two of the cards to look into are the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

Barclays AAdvantage credit cards

Then there’s the AAdvantage Aviator Red which often comes with a high bonus that gets up to 60,000 miles after just making a single purchase!

And there’s a business version which is pretty solid, too.

If you’re able to just get two of these credit cards you could easily hit 120,000 AAdvantage miles plus.

So that would be enough to try out some of the best first class products in the world, which is very exciting. You can find out much more about all of the different AA credit cards in this article.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

AA flight route map

American has a tool to view their routes and partner routes, which can be helpful in finding available flights.

  • You can find that route map here.
  • You can also use Google Flights to search schedules and cash prices for those routes. Read how to use Google Flights here.  

I don’t think there is an official American Airlines miles calculator.

Route map of American Airlines flights out of Dallas.
The AA flight route map.

How to use the AA award chart

American uses region-based award charts. This means that in order to figure out how many miles you need for a “free” flight, you just need to find the set award rate for going from region A to region B.

The first thing that you want to do is find where you are going to be traveling from. Let’s assume you’ll be traveling from the continental US. So on the AA award chart website, you’ll first click on “Contiguous 48 U.S. states.”

That is going to bring up the award chart for American Airlines flights departing from the continental US (so everywhere in the US except for Alaska and Hawaii). I’ve constructed my own award charts below for traveling from the US.

AA Main Cabin award chart

MileSAAver Off PeakMileSAAverAAnytime Level 1AAnytime Level 2
Contiguous 48 US & Canada125002000030000
Contiguous 48 US & Canada (≤ 500 miles)75002000030000
Central America12500150002750037500
South America Region 117500200003500050000
South America Region 2300005500075000
Asia Region 132500350006250080000
Asia Region 232500350006500085000
South Pacific400007000090000
AA Main Cabin award chart

The first AA award chart that you’ll see is for economy class which American calls “Main Cabin.” The Main Cabin chart has four different tiers of pricing known as:

  • MileSAAver Off-Peak 
  • MileSAAver
  • AAnytime Level 1
  • AAnytime Level 2

MileSAAver Off-Peak awards will be the cheapest while AAnytime Level 2 awards will be the most expensive.

The off-peak dates will differ depending on your destination but they have all of the off-peak dates listed on the website.

Also notice that for flights 500 miles or fewer, the lower redemption rate applies of 7,500 miles.

AA business and first chart

The next chart is for Business/First while the second chart is for first class. Both of these charts do NOT have off-peak awards. Note that for flights offering only two classes of service, the Economy and Business / First Class awards apply.

MileSAAver Off PeakMileSAAverAAnytime Level 1AAnytime Level 2
Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada*250004500055000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada (≤ 500 miles)^150004500055000
Central America*250005000060000
South America Region 1*300006500090000
South America Region 257500110000150000
Asia Region 160000120000155000
Asia Region 270000140000175000
South Pacific80000175000195000
AA business and first chart.

First class AA award chart

For flights offering three classes of service (Economy, Business, and First) the First Class award chart below apply.

MileSAAver Off PeakMileSAAverAAnytime Level 1AAnytime Level 2
Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada500008500095000
Central America5000090000100000
South America Region 155000105000130000
South America Region 285000160000190000
Asia Region 180000170000200000
Asia Region 2110000180000210000
South Pacific110000220000260000
First class AA award chart

AA partner award chart

AA has some terrific partners that fly some of the best first class and business class cabins in the world. Between Etihad, Qatar, Cathay Pacific, JAL, and Qantas, there’s a lot to choose from.

In fact, since I don’t live near an AA hub,  I’ve almost exclusively used my AA miles to fly on partners.

Below is the award chart that will be used when making bookings on partners.

Main Cabin Off PeakMain CabinBusiness/FirstFirst
Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada+125002500050000
Central America+175002750052500
South America Region 1+200003000055000
South America Region 2300005750085000
Middle East*4000070000115000
Indian Subcontinent~4000070000115000
Asia Region 1^350006000080000
Asia Region 2^3750070000110000
South Pacific^4000080000110000
AA partner award chart

Oneworld partners

Here is the list of oneworld Alliance partners.

American Airlines 
British Airways 
Cathay Pacific 
Japan Airlines 
Malaysia Airlines 
Qatar Airways 
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines 
S7 Airlines 
SriLankan Airlines 
One world airline partners

List of other AA partners

AA also has a lot of partners that are not a part of the oneworld alliance.

Air Tahiti Nui 
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air 
Cape Air 
China Southern Airlines
Etihad Airways 
Fiji Airways 
GOL Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines 
Seaborne Airlines 
Other airline partners
Qatar is a great AA partner.

AA award chart upgrade amounts

There’s a separate chart for figuring our the mileage requirements for upgrades. You can access that for AA flights here  and for British Airways and Iberia here.

AA award chart upgrade amounts
AA award chart upgrade amounts

AA award chart regions

American defines their regions in a pretty common sense way.

Here are the AA award chart regions:

  • Caribbean: includes Bermuda and The Bahamas
  • South America Region 1: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Manaus (Brazil)
  • South America Region 2: Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela
  • Asia Region 1: Japan, Korea
  • Asia Region 2: China, Hong Kong

You can find a much more extensive list of their regions used by their partner chart on their website by scrolling to the bottom to “Region Definitions.”

AA award chart routing rules

American Airlines has some specific and quirky routing rules that you definitely need to be aware of.

First, they do not allow stopovers which really blows because that would open up so many great travel opportunities at exciting partner hubs like Hong Kong and Sydney.

Second, American usually does not allow you to route via a third region. So for example, you can’t usually route from North America to Australia via Asia. However, they do have some exceptions depending on the route and the airline you’re flying with.

There a few other rules and nuances that you probably want to read about if you’re trying to fly multiple segments and regions. 

Booking AA partners online

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JAL
  • Qantas Airways
  • Qatar
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines

You can use other websites to search for oneworld flights like the British Airways Avios search engine, JAL, and Qantas.

American charges a fee for bookings on the phone but it’s possible to get the fee waived if you tell them that the airline is not bookable online, and I’ve never paid a booking fee for partner flights not bookable online.

Best uses of American Airlines miles

The AA award charts are full of sweet spots as you will see below.

1. US to Europe

  • Economy: 22,500 (off-peak); 30,000
  • Business: 57,500
  • First: 85,000

The awards rates to Europe using AA miles are pretty decent all around. Fees on American Airlines to Europe in business class aren’t terrible as you can fly roundtrip to Paris for $135 total in fees

Availability can be difficult but sometimes American Airlines will dump inventory.

You can try to fly to Europe on partners like Iberia and Finnair with fees as low as $100 but beware of “phantom availability” with Finnair.

British Airways usually has great availability but their surcharges can run you over $1,000 on a roundtrip.

However, it’s not that bad connecting one-way through the UK. For example, when we checked out the northern lights, we flew OSL->LHR->IAH in British Airways first class and the fees were “only”  $270. That’s still high but it’s not $1,000.

  • You can check out other ways to get to Europe on miles and points here.
First class seat on British Airways with window shades halfway down
British Airways First Class.

2. US to Middle East

  • Economy: 40,000
  • Business: 70,000
  • First: 115,000

The rates for economy and business class from the US to the Middle East with AA miles are great.

The price for first class is pricey thanks to devaluations but you’re able to fly on the Etihad Apartment for only about $100 fees.

I flew from AUH to JFK on the Etihad Apartment and it was one of the best flights of my life, so even though the miles are a bit high, I think it’s still a sweet spot given the product level you can experience with low fees.

Etihad first class suite with beds made.
The Etihad Apartment.

3. US to India subcontinent

  • Economy: 40,000
  • Business: 70,000
  • First: 115,000

Both the economy rate and the business class rate are among the best for this route.

It’s also nice that it’s the same price as the Middle East so you can utilize connection flights on Qatar and Etihad from the Middle East to get down to the Maldives for no additional cost.

We once flew Qatar business class down to the Maldives and Etihad on the way back which was a great way to use our AA miles.

Related: Hilton Conrad Maldives Review (Deluxe Beach Villa, Retreat Water Villa)

Aerial view of overwater villas at Conrad Maldives.
The Conrad Maldives.

4. US to Japan

  • Economy: 35,000
  • Business: 60,000
  • First: 80,000

The rates to Japan in business class and first class are solid on American Airlines.

These rates apply to flights on both AA and also partners. This is great because you can fly on partner JAL to Japan, which is one of the best first class products.

While you can route to Asia 2 via Japan, you’re not allowed to route to Japan via Asia 2 so that means you can’t use miles on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong unless you pay more. You can read about other ways to use miles and points to get to Japan here.

Related: Japan Airlines First Class 777 Review (HND to JFK)

Skyline of Tokyo over river.
Tokyo, Japan.

5. US to South Africa

  • Economy: 40,000
  • Business: 75,000
  • First: 120,000

The rates to places in northern Africa aren’t as great because American Airlines doesn’t divide Africa up but the rates to South Africa in economy and business are solid.

Africa is also made tricky by American Airlines routing rules. You’re only allowed to connect on through Europe or the Middle East (but only on Qatar). Qatar has a fantastic business class product and they also have the new Qatar Q-Suites so this is a great option.

British Airways is another option but they are going to force you to cough up some green for the surcharges. However, if you decide to go the British Airways route they fly to the following destinations:

You might have some luck checking Iberia, since they fly to a few African destinations including Johannesburg, South Africa.

View of Cape Town from helicopter.
Helicopter ride over Cape Town, South Africa.

6. US to South America 1

  • Economy: 20,000
  • Business: 30,000
  • First: 55,000

The business class rate of only 30,000 miles to South America 1 is fantastic and the economy rate of 20,000 miles isn’t bad either. There’s not a lot of options for direct flights to many of these cities like Bogota and Lima since Avianca is not a partner and can’t be used.

British Airways Avios can often be a great way to get from the US to the northern part of South American depending on where you’re departing (especially in economy) so be sure to consider using them if you can.

The rates to South America 2 (southern South America) aren’t quite as good but 57,500 miles for a one-way in business class isn’t that bad.

7. US to Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America

  • Economy: 12,500 (off-peak), 15,000
  • Business: 25,000
  • First: 50,000

The economy rates and business class rates to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America are among the best. However, you might want to think about booking these routes with Avios. Fees can range due to mandatory fees imposed by many Caribbean destinations but the Avios requirements for getting around the Caribbean on American are pretty fantastic coming from certain places in the country like Texas and Florida.

Diver swimming with whale shark
Whale shark diving off Holbox Island, Mexico.

8. Australia/New Zealand to Asia 2

  • Economy: 30,000
  • Business: 40,000
  • First: 50,000

If you ever want to experience Qantas first class on the A380, you can find some great availability on this route. Since Australia is such a difficult place to get to on miles (especially in business or first), you can fly to Asia and then make a separate booking on another airline back to the US (or vice versa).

This isn’t a bad strategy because American has one of the cheapest redemption rates for flying this route in business or first class. Fees flying Qantas first class to Singapore can be around $50 for a one-way. You can also look into other airlines for this sweet spot like Cathay Pacific and Malaysia.

House in Hobitton
Hobitton in New Zealand.

9. Australia to South America

  • Economy: 45,000
  • Business: 82,500
  • First: 112,500

Australia is probably the destination I get asked about the most. People really struggle to find nonstop flights and then aren’t sure how to get there or back. But getting there via South America can be a great option.

10. Australia to Asia 1 (Japan and Korea)

  • Economy: 30,000
  • Business: 40,000
  • First: 60,000

You can get from Australia to Japan or Korea for some of the best redemption rates available in business class and first class. JAL is going to be a good bet to Tokyo but Qantas also flies to Osaka so that can be another option. Fees for this route on Qantas to Osaka can be under $70, making this a fantastic redemption.

Only $68 in fees from Australia to Japan.

11. Australia to Asia 2 (Hong Kong, China, SE Asia, etc.)

  • Economy: 30,000
  • Business: 40,000
  • First: 50,000

The business class and first class rates from Hong Kong to Sydney are some of the best and both Qantas and Cathay Pacific fly this route so you’ll have two options to choose from. There’s also always Malaysia that you can use to get around this region as well. The fees on this route using AA miles should remain reasonable as well.

First class seat on Cathay Pacific.
Fly on Cathay Pacific first class.

12. Intra-Australia flights

  • Economy: 10,000
  • Business: 20,000
  • First: n/a

AA miles are a fantastic way to get around Australia. If you’re flying from one end of the country to the other (Perth to Sydney), you can utilize these ultra-low rates in economy and business class. And once again, fees are going to be very low. If you fly Qantas, you can expect to pay under $20 in total fees for a one-way.

13. Asia 2 (Hong Kong, China, SE Asia, etc.) to the Middle East

  • Economy: 25,000
  • Business: 40,000
  • First: 50,000

Using AA miles to fly from Hong Kong to the Middle East is one of the top sweet spots out of any redemption. The prices in all three classes: economy, business class, and first class are all great for this route.

Not only does Cathay Pacific fly to the Middle East (DXB) but Etihad and Qatar also fly to Hong Kong so you should have a number of choices to go with for this route. If you can’t find a straight shot you can always try to connect to a random place like Bangalore, where Qatar also flies.

View from the lounge at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.

14. Intra-South America flights

  • Economy: 10,000 (w/in South America 1); 12,500 (between regions); 
  • Business: 20,000 (w/in South America 1); 25,000 (between regions); 
  • First: N/A

AA miles are a great way to get around the continent of South America. This is especially true because these flights can sometimes get very pricey when flying within South America.

With the loss of LATAM this is no longer a great option.

15. Europe to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

  • Economy: 20,000
  • Business: 42,500
  • First: 62,500

I recently used AA miles to book Etihad and Qatar first class flights from Europe to the Maldives and back (the Maldives is the same price as the Middle East).

These redemptions were fantastic value, and I got to experience some of the best first class cabins in the world (and some great lounges, too). This could also give you the chance to fly on Q Suites if you can find availability.

While the rates to the Middle East are decent, the rates to the Indian Subcontinent (home to the Maldives) are among the best for both business class and first class so that’s the true sweet spot.

Also, the fees flying on Qatar and Etihad are pretty reasonable as well depending on the direction and location ($75 to $150).

Qatar Airways business class
Use AAdvantage miles to fly the new Qatar Suites.

Final word

The AA award chart is one of my favorites because they have some of the most competitive rates for redemptions all around the world. And it’s often possible to pay very low fees on these awards, too. And finally, you can fly on some of the best products with partners like Etihad, Qatar, JAL, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific. For those reasons, you should give the AA award chart a lot of consideration.

20 Best uses of Alaska Airline Mileage Plan Miles [2020]

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is without a doubt one of the best miles and points programs.

One of the biggest reasons is that they have a ton of sweet spot redemptions and a lot of the taxes and fees that you have to pay are very minimal.

You also can search and book flights online with a lot of partners which makes things very easy. And lastly, you can take advantage of stopovers on one way flights.

In this article, I’ll give you 20 of the best uses for Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles.

I focused largely on first class and business class redemptions since those are where the most value is but in a lot of cases main cabin redemptions can be lucrative on those same routes as well.

Earning Alaska Airline miles

Alaska Airlines is not a partner with a major transferable program such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou Points.

However, they are a partner of Marriott Bonvoy and you can transfer your Bonvoy points at a ratio of 3 to 1 and receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer over.

So 60,000 Marriott points would translate into 25,000 Mileage Plan miles.

This means you can use cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless to supplement your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan balances.

But there are also two great options to go with from Bank of America. There is the personal Alaska Airlines credit card and also the business version.

You can find these cards with bonuses around 40,000 points so it’s not terribly difficult to earn around 70,000 to 80,000 miles pretty quickly.

If you combined those earnings with a Marriott card you could quickly be working with over 100,000+ Alaska Airline miles. And as you’ll see below, that amount of miles could take you pretty far.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Alaska Airlines booking fees

When you make an Alaska Airlines booking, in many cases you can avoid high surcharges. But you will have to pay certain types of fees in some cases.

First, there is a $15 fee for booking over the phone. You should be able to book most partners online but some will have to be booked over the phone.

There also is a $25 fee for booking partner awards.

If you need to change or cancel your booking after 24 hours, you have to pay a $125 change/cancellation fee.

Your miles will be redeposited and you will be refunded any taxes/fees on the award booking except for phone booking fees and the partner award fee.

Best uses of Alaska Airline miles

Cathay Pacific First Class (US to Asia)

  • 70,000 miles one-way

Cathay Pacific first class is widely regarded as one of the top first class experiences in the world. It’s an ultra-luxurious flying experience with a super spacious seat and arguably the most comfortable bed in the sky.

The suites are not fully enclosed but have partitions that extend out pretty far offering tons of privacy. When dining, you can choose to join a companion and eat right across from each other while in the sky.

Speaking of the dining experience, you’ll enjoy fine champagne, caviar, and some other amazing dishes during your flight.

The first class cabin is also very intimate with only six suites located at the front of the plane.

Tip: Try to sit in “Aisle A” For maximum privacy.

If you are flying out of Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), you can experience the highly reviewed lounge known as The Pier. It’s an elegant lounge with quality dining, a beautiful bar area, day beds, a spa, and really nice showers.

Related: Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong review

Cathay Pacific first class seat with  three windows
Cathay Pacific first class

First Class on JAL (US to Asia)

  • 70,000 miles one-way

Japan Airlines first class is another one of the top first class products.

Just like Cathay Pacific first class, the suites are not fully enclosed. However, they are quite spacious. You’ll enjoy top amenities like ETRO amenity kits, Bose headphones, and comfy pajamas.

The dining and drinking experience on JAL first class will be top notch. In the past, they have served up Cristal champagne and Salon 2007, the latter of which goes for $600 a bottle.

Tip: If you are flying from Japan, consider flying out of Haneda (HND) instead of Narita (NRT) for Red Suites.

The Red Suites are located in the Japan Airlines first class lounge at HND and are very private. The experience is almost like a Japan Airlines AvGeek (aviation geek) museum, complete with features like an adult game room, shoe shining, and champagne sake room.

If you don’t want to shell out for first class or if you can’t find availability, you can get to Asia for only 60,000 miles in JAL business class and around $30 in fees.

JAL first class suite with three windows
JAL First Class.

Singapore Airlines First Class (US to Asia)

  • 130,000 miles one-way

One of the best changes that came to the Alaska Airlines mileage program is that you can book first class on Singapore Airlines.

If you’re flying from the contiguous US to Southeast Asia, you can redeem at 130,000 miles one way. But you may want to look into flying between other destinations where you can enjoy the Singapore Suites.

Singapore Suites are definitely one of the top three first class products currently available and some might even put them at number one. You’ll enjoy a ridiculously spacious suite along with some of the best service you will probably ever encounter anywhere.

And then there is the champagne and dining. You’ll be offered premium champagne like Dom Perignon and Krug along with elaborate dishes and fine caviar.

Singapore Suite 1st class seat
Singapore Suites on the A380.

Cathay Pacific Business Class (US — Asia)

  • 50,000 miles one-way

If you want to conserve your points a little bit better, consider flying business class on Cathay Pacific from the US to Asia. At 50,000 points one way, it is one of the best sweet spots to get to Asia in business class one-way.

In my experience, the Cathay Pacific business class product is pretty solid. It offers a fair amount of privacy with a privacy shield that extends out a little bit and has a fair amount of legroom with fully lie flat seats.

I would definitely feel okay with crossing the Pacific in Cathay Pacific business class.

Cathay Pacific business class window seat with screen out.
Business Class on Cathy Pacific A350.

Emirates Business Class (US — Asia)

  • 105,000 miles one way

Flying Emirates in business class to Asia is going to be an expensive trip at 105,000 miles one way. So this is not the way to go for people trying to conserve their miles.

However, some people may want to try out the highly respected business class on Emirates and make a trip through Dubai out of it. Fees for this route could be as low as $29 so it’s not quite as bad as it seems.

So if you are in the aspirational crowd, you might want to give this redemption consideration.

Cathay Pacific Business Class (Intra-Asia)

  • 22,500 miles one-way

If you need to travel within Asia, using your Alaska miles can be one of the best ways to get around. At only 22,500 miles one way, it’s definitely a sweet spot. So if you needed to get between say Hong Kong and Bangkok, you could fly on Cathay Pacific.

Just note that stopovers are no longer allowed on intra-Asia flights.

Cathay Pacific First Class (US — Middle East)

  • 70,000 miles one-way

One of the best ways to fly first class on Cathay Pacific could be flying between the US and the Middle East because 70,000 miles is a steal. Having a layover or stopover in Hong Kong would also be awesome.

Even though it is quite the long distance from the US to Hong Kong to the Middle East, I would be okay with flying such a long-haul in first class on Cathay Pacific any day of the week.

Dish with slices of fish.
Dining on Cathay Pacific first class.

British Airways First Class (US — Middle East)

  • 80,000 miles one-way

If you are planning a trip to the Middle East, your natural inclination might be to use Alaska miles on Emirates. But there is a sweet spot if you choose to book first class on British Airways at only 80,000 miles.

First class on British Airways doesn’t get a whole lot of respect to be honest. However, I feel that it is a tad bit underrated.

It may not blow you away like some of the top airline products out there but I think it is still good enough to woo someone not completely spoiled by the likes of things like the Etihad Apartment.

The major drawback to booking British Airways first class is that you will have to fly through London and pay some massive surcharges and fees. So while the mileage requirement is very low be prepared for some sky-high fees.

For example, for the one-way flight from SFO to DXB via LHR, your fees could be a minimum of $930!

British Airways First Class on the 747.

Emirates First Class (US — Middle East)

  • 150,000 miles one-way

If you don’t mind shelling out miles then Emirates First Class could be a good use of your points.

The Emirates first class experience is something that you will never forget. It’s known for its amazing showers in the sky and the popular in-flight bar which is one of the best bars in the sky.

But it’s also a great hard product with a fully enclosed suite and in my experience: top-notch service.

Some might not even think about spending so many points on a redemption but Emirates is a bucket list experience that some people will feel okay splurging on.

The good thing about going with Alaska miles is that your fees will be very minimal although Emirates did recently lower their fees across several bookings. For example, I saw one-way flights with fees as low as $20 for first class!

Related: Etihad vs Emirates First Class on the A380

Emirates first class shower.

American Airlines business class (US — South America)

  • 30,000 miles one-way

If you want to head down to northern South America which would include countries like Columbia and Peru, using Alaska miles on American Airlines business class is a great sweet spot.

Fees for these redemptions are as low as $34 so it’s a very cheap redemption all around.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

LATAM business class (US — South America)

  • 45,000 miles one-way

If you want to head to southern South America, meaning places like Brazil or Chile, the price goes up to 45,000 miles one-way in business class but it’s still a pretty great offer.

If you don’t mind shelling out more miles, you could head down in first class on American Airlines with 57,500 miles one way and fees as low as $19!

LATAM dreamliner.

LATAM business class (Intra-South America)

  • 25,000 miles one-way

If you want to get around South America comfortably in business class, then using Alaska miles can be a smart choice. Once again, you’ll be flying on LATAM.

Sometimes flights within South America can be quite expensive, especially in business class so you can also net a lot of value with your miles this way.

LATAM business class (Easter Island — South America)

  • 35,000 miles one-way

If you want to explore the mysterious island of Easter Island and all of the cool ruins, Alaska miles are a great choice.

You might also think about using a different program like British Airways Avios for this route as it is one of the best sweet spots available for Easter Island.

Qantas business class (US — New Zealand)

  • 55,000 miles one-way

If you want to head down to New Zealand and explore things like Hobbiton and the glowworm caves, using your Alaska miles on Qantas is a super efficient way to get there.

A business class redemption will only require 55,000 miles one way which is a great sweet spot.

Availability may be an issue with this redemption so it could require a lot of persistence.

House on a lake at Hobbiton Movie Set.
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour.

Qantas first class (US — New Zealand)

  • 70,000 miles one-way

Qantas is known for having a pretty solid first class product and for only 15,000 more miles, you could fly down to New Zealand in first class. Once again, availability can be tough.

Aer Lingus business class (US — Europe)

  • 60,000 miles one-way

If you know anything about using miles and points to get to Europe, you know that the fees can be outrageous sometimes.

However, if you use your Alaska miles to fly on Aer Lingus your fees can be under $20 on a one-way flight from JFK to DUB!

60,000 miles is not super cheap but considering that the fees can be so low it can be a good option for people who don’t want to come out of pocket when flying to Europe.

Alaska Airlines (Flights across the US)

Using Alaska miles can be a great way to get around the US. The prices will change depending on the distance and specific fare you take (the highest prices hard for refundable awards).

Here are some prices you can expect:

  • Main cabin less than 700 miles: 5000 to 30,000
  • First class less than 700 miles: 15,000 to 40,000
  • Main cabin 701 miles to 1,400 : 7,500 to 30,000
  • First class 701 miles to 1,400: 25,000 to 60,000
  • Main cabin 1,401 miles to 2,100 miles: 10,000 to 40,000
  • First class 1,401 miles to 2,100 miles: 25,000 to 60,000

If you book a first class flight, just like on other airlines, you won’t have to worry about paying for your checked baggage for your first couple of bags. And something unique about Alaska Airlines is that they will grant you lounge access even on domestic first class flights.

Also, if you are an Alaskan resident you may want to look into a Club 49 membership that can save you in different ways.

American Airlines business class (Flights across the US)

  • 25,000 miles one way

If you want to fly around the US in first class then using Alaska miles on American Airlines can be a great option. The price is not heavily discounted but it is pretty standard at 25,000 miles one way.

American Airlines first class.

Cathay Pacific First Class (US to Canada)

  • 35,000 miles

If you are not planning on making the long-haul trip over the Pacific to Hong Kong but you still want to experience the awesome first class feeling on Cathay Pacific consider using your Alaska miles to fly from Vancouver to New York for only 35,000 miles.

It’s not going to give you the full experience where you will be dozing off for hours but for many people this is a great way to test out or just experience one of the best first class products while not having to leave North America.

Update: This route is no longer available.

American Airlines business class (US — Mexico)

  • 27,500 miles one way

Alaska Airlines has a tiered award structure for flights down south to Mexico from the US. Depending on the type of fare booked and the length of your trip, your price will fluctuate.

But you can find flights in first/business class for some great rates like 27,500 miles and only around $44 in fees even when flying from destinations like Northern California to San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

If you are okay with flying main cabin, you can get down there for only 10,000 miles!

Alaska Airlines FAQ

What are the Alaska Airlines booking fees?

There is a $15 booking fee for bookings made over the phone and also a $25 fee for all partner awards.

Where can I transfer points to Alaska from?

Alaska is a transfer a partner of Marriott but they are not a transfer partner of a major flexible rewards program like Chase, American Express, or Citibank.

Can I book a stopover on a one-way flight?

Yes, Alaska Airlines allows you to book a stopover on a one-way flight.

What are the Alaska airline partners?

American Airlines
Aer Lingus
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
EL AL Israel Airlines
Fiji Airways
Hainan Airlines
Japan Airlines
Korean Air
LATM Airlines
Singapore Airlines

Final word

As you can tell, Alaska Airlines has some pretty amazing redemptions to offer. The only drawback to the program is that it can be difficult to accumulate miles outside of the Alaska credit cards. However, if you can rack up some miles then you have some of the best sweet spot redemptions to take advantage of along with low fees.

15 Best Ways to Redeem Delta SkyMiles [2020]

Delta SkyMiles is an overlooked miles currency that people tend to give up on. You might be used to seeing Delta One (aka Delta’s name for business class) redemptions going for over 300,000 miles one-way. However, when focusing on Delta’s partners, you will see that Delta SkyMiles can take you further than you thought. Here’s a thorough review of the 15 best ways to redeem Delta SkyMiles.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out!

Earning Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles are moderately easy to earn. There are 7 different Delta SkyMiles cobranded American Express credit cards available for you to grab.

  • Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card
  • Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card

Here is a quick look at two of my favorite Delta co-branded credit cards.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

The Delta Gold card is a perfect way to quickly rack up a lot of SkyMiles while paying no annual fee the first year. The key with this card is to time your application so that you end up applying for the best welcome bonus that’s offered. 

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

  • 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases
  • First checked bag free
  • Annual fee $195
  • 1 time economy companion pass
  • Annual miles and MQMs after spend requirement

The Platinum Delta card (full review) also often comes with a great welcome bonus, but it’s even better for those who are trying to earn elite status with Delta since you’re able to earn MQMs along the way.

I really recommend reading up on our guide for applying for American Express cards.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Amex Membership Rewards

You can also transfer your American Express Membership Reward points to Delta. However, Amex Membership Rewards does impose an excise tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point (with maximum fee of $99) for transferring your Membership Rewards points to Delta. I personally would only transfer to SkyMiles if I needed to top off for an award redemption. Otherwise, the excise tax adds up and devalues the points.

Delta SkyMiles Calculator and Award Chart

The first thing people need to know, Delta SkyMiles is a dynamic mile’s currency that has no award chart or calculator. This means, we don’t know what the redemption cost will be in the future, especially for Delta’s own flights.

Dynamic pricing works by changing the miles needed for a redemption based on the cash price. So, when the price goes up, Delta will slightly raise the miles for an award that was once less. This is also related to seasons. So, when redeeming one month a Delta One seat might go for 80,000 miles, but the next month it could be 86,000 miles for saver level redemptions.

Having no calculator or award chart makes it hard to know exactly how many miles one needs for certain redemptions. Luckily, for Delta’s partners it’s typically easier to know the lowest redemption price, since Delta’s partners will only show up when there is availability. Otherwise, Delta’s partners won’t show up if there is no availability.

Delta SkyMiles Value

Generally, you can expect an average 1.1 cents per point for economy class redemptions, but the value will go up much further when booking premium class tickets. Looking at the current price of a Virgin Australia ticket from SYD to LAX, you’d get about 6.3 cents per point in value after redeeming 100,000 miles.

At the standard economy valuation, if you were to collect 50,000 Delta SkyMiles you’d get about $550 in value and if you earned 100,000 Delta SkyMiles you’d get about $1100 in value. But using the premium Virgin Australia redemption above, 50,000 Delta SkyMiles would be worth about $3,150 and 100,000 Delta SkyMiles would be worth about $6,300.

Depending on how you use your miles, the Delta credit cards can be very valuable. However, take these numbers with a grain of salt. Your own valuation might be higher, but might be lower. This goes for any miles and points currency.

Award Regions Chart

Delta once had a regions chart, and we already know the outcome. It’s not published anymore. Therefore we base the regions off the old published regions award chart that is not available anymore. Luckily, the regions chart is still kinda holding true today.

North America

USA, Canada, Mexico



Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and US Virgin Islands. Central America-Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Northern South America

Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Southern South America

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.


Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania; Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Island, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

Middle East

Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.


Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Indian Subcontinent

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Indian Ocean Territory, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

North Asia

China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, South Korea, Micronesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Russia (East of the Ural Mountains), Guam, and Saipan.

Southeast Asia

Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

Southwest Pacific

American Samoa, Australia, Christmas Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tongo, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis, and Futuna Islands.

Now, this regions chart isn’t the official one. I do wish Delta will publish a real regions chart so we know exactly every region, but if you have a correction to it please let me know so I can update it.

Routing Rules

Delta allows you to route through certain regions for no extra miles, like Australia to Europe you can route through North Asia or Southeast Asia. However, for Australia to Europe you cannot route through North America. Delta will always favor the shortest route with the least amount of connections.


Connections with Delta SkyMiles are also really interesting. They are based on that days availability and the least amount of connections available that day for that route. Delta will usually prioritize 1 connection routings over 2 connections. This makes the 2 connection routings need more more miles than 1 connection routings.

Basically, Delta adds extra miles on routings that have one more connection than what else is available for that day. However, if there are no routings that have 1 connection, than Delta will allow the 2 connection routings to be redeemed for the lowest amount of miles possible.

Open Jaws and Stopovers

Delta does allow open jaw since Delta will charge for each way on awards, similar to how United or American Airlines charge for each way. However, Delta doesn’t allow stopovers. If there is a connection, then the connection has to be less then 23 hours and 59 minutes.

SkyTeam Alliance and Delta Partners

Delta is part of the SkyTeam alliance, which means that you can use your Delta SkyMiles to fly any airline in the SkyTeam alliance.

The SkyTeam alliance has a huge presence in Asia, Europe, and the North America. Plus, Delta has a few non-alliance partners like Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Jet Airways, GOL, and WestJet. There is a full list of all Delta’s partners below.

Air France
China Eastern
Korean Air
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia
Aerolineas ArgentinasAeroflotMEAKenya Airways
China AirlinesChina SouthernCzech AirlinesGaruda Indonesia
Xiamen Air
Vietnam AirlinesSaudiaWestJet
Jet AirwaysGOLHawaiian AirlinesAir Europa
TaromGreat Lakes Airlines

Delta SkyMiles restrictions

Sadly, Delta doesn’t allow you to redeem for international first class like Korean Air first class, where it’s all about the dining experience.

While business class is fine, it’s nice to have the option to use your hard earned miles for first class on their partners. There are some cases that SkyMiles will allow you to book international first class, but it’s very rare and limited.

(Do note that if there isn’t any business class seats, you will be seated in first class. This is very common for regional products where some airlines don’t have business class on regional flights.)

Currently you cannot book Aeroflot using your SkyMiles. This isn’t a SkyMiles problem, but a problem with Aeroflot sharing their award inventory with their partners.

1. Delta SkyMiles Redemption Flash Sales (as low as 5,000 roundtrip)

Delta randomly runs flash sales for certain city pairs from 5,000 miles roundtrip. That is a crazy good redemption! That’s because the exact same domestic route on United Airlines would be 20,000 miles roundtrip or 25,000 miles roundtrip with American Airlines.

Flash sales usually start at 5,000 miles and go up from there. Sometimes, the flash sale might not have 5,000 miles redemptions. It is usually random for the redemption cost, so this isn’t the most guaranteed way to redeem your miles.

The city pairs are also random and might not be desirable. (Do you see a trend that SkyMiles loves to be random?) Luckily, their redemption sales happen multiple times a year with new city pairs for better odds. Sometimes they will have flash sales for international destinations in both economy and Delta One. (Sadly, the most recent sale doesn’t have any sales on Delta One.)

Typically, you can only take these flights on Delta metal (aka, their own planes and not their partners), so if you want to fly one of their partners, flash sales isn’t for you.

You can look at the ongoing deals right now here.

The current SkyMiles Award Sale. (ending October 19th)

2. Fly China Airlines Between Europe and Australia in Business Class for 90,000 Miles One-Way

With decent availability between Europe and Australia, you can easily redeem 90,000 miles for one-way in business class flying China Airlines. China Airlines flies their flagship A350 or 777 from Taiwan to London, Amsterdam, Rome, Vienna, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane making it easy to have a consistent experience.

My fiancé and I flew China Airlines from Rome to Melbourne via Taipei back in May on their A350. I will say this with certainty, China Airlines has a much-underrated business class product. We were amazed with the crew being very professional and attentive. The seat very stylish and comfy. Plus, it was a nice surprise to have a few flight attendants able to speak Japanese.

Of course, if you don’t want to fly China Airlines, you can redeem 90,000 miles for any of Delta’s partners.

(Tip: China Southern, China Eastern, Garuda Indonesia, and Xiamen Airlines flies mostly their sub-par hard products between Asia and Australia. Sometimes you can find their new hard products on the routes, but you have to check the equipment and configuration. Vietnam Airlines and Virgin Australia run their flagship products constantly on these routes.)

Availability between Rome and Melbourne.
China Airlines A350 B/E Super Diamond Business Class Seat. (FCO-TPE)

3. Fly Between North America and North Asia in Business Class for 85,000 Miles One-Way on Partner Airlines

Want to fly on the upper deck of a Korean 747-8 in business class? Or do you prefer a 777, 787, A380, or A350? For 85,000 miles you can fly any of those on one of Delta’s partners in business class.

Korean Air 747-8 or 787 would be my go to airline since they use Apex Suites for their new business class hard product. Availability is typically great for Delta’s Asian partners since there is a handful to choose from, but typically China Southern, China Eastern, and China Airlines have the best availability.

Availability on Korean 747-8 is tough to find, but still possible.
Flights to China and onward on either China Southern (as shown in screenshot) or China Eastern have availability almost everyday.

4. Fly Between Europe and Asia in Business Class for 80,000 Miles One-Way

For only 80,000 miles, you can fly between Europe and North Asia and Southeast Asia in business class one-way.

Availability isn’t bad either from many cities. There is typically wide-open availability for these transcontinental routes between Europe and Asia.

My friend and I flew China Southern A380 from Beijing to Amsterdam in August and loved having half the cabin to ourselves. The flight attendants were great, funny, and definitely made the flight special. However, the catering was just okay. If you wanted a special flight, KLM flies their 747-400 combi to Asian cities like Hong Kong and they have business seats in the nose. 😉

Be aware, some of the routes will have sub-par leisure business class product to leisure destinations. I would highly recommend looking at the configuration of the aircraft for the best experience. Departing Asia will result in lower surcharges, while departing Europe will result in the usual high fuel surcharges.

KLM and China Southern availability for Beijing to Amsterdam is almost available everyday.
China Southern A380 Business Class. (PEK-AMS)

5. Fly between Seoul and Guam in “Business Class” for 30,000 Miles One-Way

Why does business class have quotation marks around them? Well it’s because on this particular flight between Seoul and Guam it’s bookable for Korean 777-300er first class. SkyMiles sometimes will have loopholes, if you must call it that, where you can book international first class even though you’re booking business class.

For example: You were once able to book China Airlines 747 first class with SkyMiles, but not anymore since they have corrected the loophole. 🙁

So, if you’re in Seoul or a short hop away, it might be worth it to visit Guam to fly Korean first class. 😉

Availability is almost daily. (36,000 Won ~ $32 USD)
Unfortunately everyday I have checked only has 1 seat available.

6. Fly between North Asia and Southeast Asia in Business Class for 40,000 Miles One-Way

Want to fly between Tokyo and Jakarta (NRT-CGK) or Beijing and Bali? 40,000 miles in Garuda Indonesia 777 business class for 7 hours in the sky isn’t bad.

Availability is easy to find from many cities. Vietnam Airlines typically flies their A350 or 787 for many of their intra-asia routes. Sometimes, Korean flies their 747-8 on some routes, but changes frequently. Some of China Easterns A330s will have 1-2-1 configuration using Zodia Cirrus seats.

Just be aware that some routes might have a regional product instead of a lie-flat seat. Therefore, if you want the most value, routes that are on the airline’s flagship aircrafts will usually allow you to have the best experience.

Tokyo to Jakarta Business Class availability. (prices in Yen ~ $23 USD)
Vietnam Airlines A350 and 787 business class. (Image source: Vietnam Airlines)

7. Fly Between North America and Europe in Business Class for 75,000 Miles One-Way on Partner Airlines

If Asia isn’t your thing, you can fly Air France, KLM, Alitalia, or Virgin Atlantic in business class between America and Europe. Just be aware the flights leaving Europe will have high fuel surcharges (over $250) and flights leaving America will have low fuel surcharges ($5.60).

If you’re flying Air France, both their 777 and 787 has their best business class product, while their A380 has their dated subpar product. KLM 787 has their wonderful new business class product. Alitalia is decent, but because of recent money troubles I suggest you skip Alitalia. For Virgin Atlantic on any aircraft the bar is fun with a wonderful soft product, but their business class hard product is cramped.

Virgin Atlantic availability from Washington Dulles to London.
The Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.

8. Fly Between North America and Middle East in Business Class for 85,000 Miles One-Way

I think the Middle East should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s one of my favorite places for food and certainly the only reason to travel is to eat, right?

Go to the Middle East for only 85,000 miles with Delta partners only. Most availability is with Saudia, but it could be any other one of Delta’s partners like Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, etc.

Or for 86,000 miles you could fly Delta halfway there. Most of the time you will connect through Paris or Amsterdam, but try to position yourself at DTW so you could take the new Delta One Suites to Amsterdam and then connect onward to the Middle East with KLM. It’s worth it I think to try the new Delta One Suite, I certainly loved it. I was more surprised by the huge footwell compared to reverse herringbone seats.

You could fly KLM to Muscat with a stop in Dammam and it’s one of the few routes that KLM Delft Blue houses aren’t filled with alcohol because of Saudi Arabian laws. (Makes for a great souvenir.) There is tons of availability on the AMS-DMM-MCT route and offers cheap business class fares from Muscat to America.

Availability throughout America to the Middle East is easy to come by.
For only 1,000 miles more you could fly in the new Delta One Suite with a door.

9. Fly Between Asia and Africa in Business Class for 80,000 Miles One-Way

For 80,000 miles you can fly between Asia and Africa. Experience the beautiful continent.

Availability is good between the two regions. Most of the time the flights will route through Europe on KLM or Air France, but other partners that offer limited routes and availability to Africa would be Saudia and China Southern. You could time your connection to be long for a nice short visit in Paris or Amsterdam.

However, Kenya Airways is tough to book on Delta’s website. So, if you wanted to Fly Guangzhou to Johannesburg while connecting in Nairobi to fly Kenya Airways the rest of the way. You will have to call up Delta. Delta’s representatives tend have a hard to booking Kenya Airways, so you might have to try a few times. Delta and Kenya Airways did start a codeshare agreement recently, but virtually no of flights are redeemable online.

Tokyo to Johannesburg flying Air France in business class.
Availability is great between Tokyo and Johannesburg. (7,290 Yen ~ $64 USD)

10. Fly Between Europe and South America in Business Class for 90,000 Miles One-Way

With wide open availability between Europe and South America, you can enjoy flying most days between the two continents. And when I say wide open, I mean wide open most dates. From my findings, Argentina has the most availability.

The primary airlines flying between the two continents would be Air France and KLM. While Alitalia and Aerolineas Argentinas have very limited availability, but you aren’t missing much not flying those two airlines.

If you want lower fuel surcharges, depart from South America instead of Europe.

Buenos Aires to Paris has ton of availability.
Air France business class seat. (Image source: Air France)

11. Fly Kenya Airways Between New York and Nairobi for 95,000 Miles One-Way

Why is this one of the best ways to redeem SkyMiles? Because it’s Kenya Airways and it’s their first route to North America! While their business class product is subpar with a 2-2-2 layout, the soft product is wonderful. Plus, it’s a brand-new route on their beautiful 787. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot wait to fly on this on this route.

Do take note that this route has high fuel surcharges (around $400). You can only book this route by phone (check availability on ExpertFlyer). Plus, it’s difficult to book this route since Delta’s systems aren’t easy for booking Kenya Airways. If one rep gives up, call back and try to get a rep that will power through it. However, none of that will stop me from flying their first ever transatlantic route.

If you want to visit other destinations or fly other partner airlines, it will still be 95,000 miles.

Kenya Airways 787-8 (Image source: Kenya Airways)

12. Fly Between Australia and North and Southeast Asia in Business Class for 65,000 Miles One-Way

Fly any of Delta’s partners between Australia/New Zealand and North/Southeast Asia for 65,000 miles in business class.

There is tons of availability between the two regions flying Delta’s partners, especially Vietnam Airlines having the most availability. You could even fly Virgin Australia A330 to Hong Kong from either Sydney or Melbourne. Plus, Virgin Australia’s business class between Australia and Asia can be redeemed anytime, unlike flights going to America on Virgin Australia, which have the 14 days limit.

Melbourne to Hong Kong availability for both Virgin Australia and Vietnam Airlines. ($85 AUD ~ $60 USD)
Virgin Australia A330 business class turndown service.

13. Fly Virgin Australia Between America and Australia in Business Class for 100,000 Miles One-Way

Lastly, flying Virgin Australia between America and Australia for 100,000 miles one-way in business class is a treat.

Virgin Australia is a wonderful experience and well worth it. In fact, Daniel had tons of fun flying business class on Virgin Australia 777 that sometimes had a first class feel to it. From the bar to the service and seat, it should be on everyone’s bucket list to fly Virgin Australia 777.

However, there is one issue about booking Virgin Australia business class on routes between Australia and the USA. You must redeem miles for Virgin Australia business class less then 14 days in advance of the departure date. So, if you search and try to redeem your miles on the 10th of October, you can only book between the 10th and 24th of October. It’s great for last minute awards, but not great if you’re planning a family vacation.

Virgin Australia’s bar on their 777.

14. Fly Between Indian Subcontinent and Africa in Business Class for 70,000 Miles One-Way

Want to go from India to Africa? You can fly from Delhi to Johannesburg for 70,000 miles in business class. Most flights will once again route through Europe, lots of them are with KLM, Air France, and sometimes Saudia.

I would only suggest not flying Jet Airways, their business class is not only cramped and subpar, but it’s also really dirty in the galleys where they prepare the food and usually different parts of the seats will be broken.

Availability is good in business, plus fuel surcharges are relatively low for this redemption.

Availability is not an issue flying KLM between Delhi and Johannesburg.

15. Fly Between Middle East and Europe in Business Class for 42,500 Miles One-Way

Side trip from the Middle East to Europe? For 42,500 miles you can fly business class to visit the tallest building in the world.

Availability is good between these two regions, almost everyday for airlines like KLM, Saudia, and Air France.

Fuel surcharges leaving from countries within the Middle East will be low, but fuel surcharges leaving Europe will be much higher.

Dubai to Paris has almost everyday availability. (120 UAE Dirham ~ $33 USD)
Paris to Dubai has lots of availability, but has high fuel surcharges because of leaving Europe.

Other uses for Delta SkyMiles

Miles + Cash Redemptions

Miles + Cash redemptions are a way to add a cash surcharge to your award ticket to reduce the amount of miles needed for a redemption. Miles + Cash still issues an award ticket that doesn’t earn any MQMs, MQSs, and MQDs.

Usually using the Miles + Cash option is great if you don’t have enough miles. However, you’re effectively paying for miles by adding a surcharge. I suggest doing the math to see if you come out ahead for particular bookings.

Pay with Miles

Paying with miles is unlocked when you hold one of the Delta credit cards. Paying with miles will allow you to redeem 1 mile for $0.01 off the ticket. 5,000 miles would equal to $50 off the cash price. $100 for 10,000 miles, $150 for 15,000 miles, etc. This won’t allow you to get much value out of your miles, but it does allow you to earn MQMs and miles.

Delta Vacations

You can redeem your miles for the whole vacation like hotels, flights, rental cars, and activities. Plus, it will cover the costs of others, as long as they are on the same reservation. Using your miles for Delta Vacations isn’t going to get great value out of your miles since 1 mile is worth 1 cent. You do earn miles and MQMs when redeeming miles on vacations.

Delta Experiences

Bid your miles for experience like backstage at a concert, special seats at sporting events, once in a lifetime activity, etc. Anything is possible with Delta Experiences and it’s done auction style. Sometimes you can get great value or bid so much that you lost the concept of valuing your miles. Otherwise, this is one way to burn your SkyMiles for once in a lifetime experiences.

Final word

While Daniel has his views about Delta SkyMiles, I for one think SkyMiles are useful for a backup miles currency. Especially when it’s the same redemption cost as American Airlines or United Airlines miles. When there is availability, Delta SkyMiles goes a long way. Most of the best redemptions are for their partners, and that isn’t a bad thing, but Delta SkyMiles is just another tool to achieve business class award flights. I just hope Delta adds functionality to book SkyTeam first class inventory and maybe, just maybe, add an award chart.

13 Best Uses of Korean Air Miles [2020]

Korean Air has a great premium product that serves many international locations and Korean Air also has some great airline partners that you can use your miles on.

In this article, I will cover some of the best uses of Korean Air SKYPASS miles that include redemptions on Korean Air and also on different partners.

Earning Korean Air miles

Korean Air used to be a partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and so it was very easy to earn tons of Ultimate Rewards with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and simply transfer out your points to Korean Air SKYPASS at a one to one ratio.

However, they are no longer a transfer partner of Chase and the only transfer partner you can use is Marriott Bonvoy which transfers points out at a ratio of three Marriott points to one Korean Air mile. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott points over at a time, you can receive an additional 5,000 mile bonus so that 60,000 points equals 25,000 miles.

But, you can also earn Korean Air miles with one of the Korean Air credit cards, such as the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card. That card comes with the following perks:

  • 2X on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2X at gas stations and hotels
  • 1X on everything else
  • $50 Off coupon for Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2 KAL Lounge coupons each year
  • $95 annual fee

The SKYPASS Visa Signature Card is a decent co-branded airline credit card, but if you are interested in one of the top travel rewards credit cards I would look at cards like the Platinum Card or Gold Card which earns 4X on dining and US supermarkets.

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Things to know about Korean Air miles

Roundtrips on partners

The biggest thing to note is that when booking partners you will have to book a roundtrip.

Some of the roundtrip prices can be extremely competitive but being forced to book a round-trip makes it tougher to find open awards sometimes. Also, it doesn’t allow you to select routes that can minimize fees. So be prepared to deal with that when booking partners with Korean Air.

Booking partners online

You can book a lot of SkyTeam partners online but you will have to call in to book other partners and that can result in a cumbersome process.


A lot of Korean Air redemptions that I researched contained high fees of a few hundred bucks so be prepared to potentially deal with high fees on your awards.

Family bookings

You can only book award tickets in the name of certain family members like your spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren. There is a process for adding family members and sometimes it can be cumbersome.

It can also take a couple of weeks to process so you want to be sure to get this done as soon as possible. Read more about the family plans here.

Mixed itineraries?

I’ve read online that you are not allowed to book mixed itineraries (different airlines together). However, I have been able to proceed to booking when mixing airlines together for partner bookings so I think it may be possible to book mixed itineraries?

Korean Air Partners

Here is a look at the main Korean Air SkyTeam partners:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentina
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • TAROM Romanian Air Transport
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines

All of these partners above use the following award chart for flights from North America.

In addition to the SkyTeam partners, there are also bonus partners which include:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines

However, if you want to book with one of the bonus partners they will have different mileage requirements. Also, you likely will not be able to book bonus partners online and instead you will have to call the Korean reservations line at 1-800-438-5000

Delta/Alaska/Hawaiian (US — Hawaii)

One of the great things about the Korean Air SkyTeam award chart is that they lump the state of Hawaii in with the rest of the mainland US. This means that you can fly a roundtrip in economy to Hawaii for only 25,000 miles on an airline like Delta. That’s a fantastic sweet spot.

If you choose to fly to Hawaii with other partners like Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines, you will need to shell out a little bit more miles but a round-trip will still only cost you 30,000 miles which is excellent. (With other legacy carriers like United or American Airlines, you likely would be paying around 45,000 miles.)

Therefore, Korean Air is one of the best ways to use miles and points to get to Hawaii.

The tricky part with flying to Hawaii will always be finding open awards. I’ve searched Korean Air’s website over the years for availability and rarely have I ever found more than one open award. It’s not impossible but just be prepared to work for it.

Related: 20 Best uses of Alaska Airline Mileage Plan Miles

Delta (Domestic routes)

Korean Air miles can be a great way to get around the US via Delta.

The redemption rates for a round-trip flight in economy will be 25,000 miles which is on par with the standard redemption rate with many other programs. You can use the online search tool to locate Delta flights making it an easy process to book.

Korean air website showing delta flights.
Use Korean Air miles to fly on Delta around the US.

While the rates for economy are pretty standard, if you can find availability in business/first class on Delta you can redeem a round-trip for only 45,000 miles. The standard pricing for a roundtrip in business class on a domestic flight is 50,000 miles so this is a slightly discounted redemption price.

My issue with this is I had trouble finding availability for roundtrips in business class but that might just come down to your timing and route.

Tip: If you can find open awards, using Korean Air miles on Delta is a great way to avoid the unpredictable dynamic pricing found on Delta awards.

Alaska (Domestic and US/Canada routes)

If you want to fly Alaska around the US or to Canada, things are even sweeter when using Korean Air miles. Alaska has its own unique award chart for using Korean Air miles and you can get a round-trip in economy for only 20,000 miles or a roundtrip in business/first class for only 40,000 miles.

Most likely, you will need to call in to book Alaska with Korean Air miles.

Delta (US — South America)

If you want to head down from the US to South America or vice versa, Korean Air miles can be a fantastic choice. You can fly down to South America on Delta and other partners like Aeromexico if they also have routes to your liking.

One thing that is great about Korean Air is that they do not divide South America up into separate regions. This means that whenever you are flying down to the southern regions of South America such as Chile, you can get an extra bargain for your mileage.

Round-trip economy tickets to South America are only 50,000 miles, which is one of the most competitive rates for an economy redemption down to South America.

Business class redemptions will cost you 110,000 miles round-trip which aren’t the cheapest options out there but are still pretty solid.

Expect to pay very little on fees if you go with Delta. Check out the sample redemption below for economy on Delta Airlines which had fees at only $77 for the round-trip!

Fees down to South America can be pretty low.

Etihad (US — Middle East)

A lot of people don’t even know that you can use Korean Air miles to book Etihad. In fact, you can fly the First Class Etihad Apartment for 210,000 miles round-trip between the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

There is a special award chart just for Etihad that you will want to study before using your miles. These prices tend to be expensive so you most likely won’t find a cheap bargain but Etihad is a bucket-list experience for many miles and points enthusiast so it could be worth the splurge in some cases.

The biggest thing to note is that if you use your miles for a connecting flight, you will have to pay for each segment separately so you really want to focus on nonstop flights for the best value.

The First Class Etihad Apartment.

Emirates (US — Europe)

Emirates is in the same boat as Etihad in terms of having its own unique award chart that also forces you to pay extra for connecting flights. One of the bucket list experiences is Emirates First Class which is bookable with Korean Air miles.

If you fly between Dubai and the US in Emirates First Class, it will cost you 210,000 miles which is nothing to scoff at. However, it is still cheaper than using Alaska miles to fly on Emirates which would run 300,000 miles round-trip between North America and the Middle East.

You could also fly a route between Europe and the US in Emirates First Class and it would only cost you 170,000 miles round-trip.

In fact, I have flown between Milan, Italy and New York on Emirates First Class and it was an extremely memorable experience. If you fly out of Milan you can also check out the Business/First Lounge which has direct access to the jet bridge which is pretty cool.

Emirates A380 First Class window seat.

Etihad/Emirates (Singapore — Australia)

If you are looking for a way to get between a place like Singapore and Australia, a great redemption is using Korean miles on Etihad for a roundtrip in economy class. At 45,000 miles round-trip, it is one of the best prices on this route.

You might also be able to find Emirates flying between Singapore and Australia so you could potentially have two options, both of which have great redemption rates.

Emirates (New Zealand — Australia)

If you’re trying to get between Australia and New Zealand, using Korean Air miles on Emirates can be a great bargain. You can fly in business class for 50,000 points round-trip or in economy for 25,000 miles round-trip. Both redemptions are pretty good value. Emirates no longer flies its A380 on this route but if at some point it returns, look for this redemption.

KLM/Air France/Delta (US — Europe)

One of the best sweet spots for using miles and points to get to Europe is using Korean Air miles in business class.

You can get a round-trip for only 80,000 miles which is definitely one of the best rates you’ll find. The issue is that fees will add up and you can expect to be paying around $500 to $600 in fees in many cases.

Mileage prices are super cheap to Europe but fees are quite high.

If you want to explore the Netherlands or use it as a gateway city to Europe, using your Korean Air miles on KLM can be a decent redemption in terms of the miles required. For a round-trip in economy it will cost you 50,000 miles.

The problem is that once again the fees are going to be high as shown below. You may be expected to pay close to $500 in total fees for each passenger.

Fees are also high for economy class redemptions.

You could also use Delta Airlines to fly to Europe which will have the same mileage requirement at 50,000 miles roundtrip but I noticed that the fees were slightly higher with an all Delta flight as the fees came out to $498.

Delta/Partners (US — South Africa)

You can get down to Cape Town, South Africa to swim with sharks or take some extravagant helicopter rides for only 120,000 miles round-trip in business class. 120,000 miles for a round-trip all the way from North America to the tip of Africa is excellent.

Once again, the issues may be fees depending on which airline and route you take. I found availability with a combination of Delta Airlines and Air France and the fees came out to over $900.

Flying to Africa can be cheap in miles but expensive in fees.

Note: Atlanta has a direct flight to Johannesburg, South Africa and I found award seats open on that route and the fees were more manageable at around $500.

Korean Air (US — Korea)

If you were heading to Asia/Korea, Korean Air miles can be extremely valuable. I have used them to fly first class from LAX to ICN for 80,000 miles one-way. Fees will likely be around $135.

The first class product on Korean Air on the A380 is especially memorable because it has multiple onboard bars/lounges. It also is unique in that it has a duty-free shop on the plane.

In my personal experience, availability has always been pretty good so I am a big fan of using Korean Air miles for this first class redemption.

If you don’t want to shell out quite as many miles, you can redeem in business class for only 62,500 miles one way, which is a great rate.

Korean Air (Europe — Korea)

Korean Air also offers some decent rates when flying between Asia and Europe. Once again, you can fly first class one way for 80,000 miles which is a pretty good deal.

JAL (Korea to Japan)

Using Korean Air miles to fly on JAL between Korea and Japan can be a decent redemption. You can get a roundtrip in business class for 45,000 miles which is not bad. The economy price of 30,000 miles roundtrip is less competitive but at least it gives you another option to use your miles.

The route between Japan and Korea is the only route displayed on the JAL award chart so it’s possible that this may be the only possible use of your Korean Air miles on JAL. However, perhaps sometime in the future you will be able to use your miles on JAL and experience amazing products like first class on JAL.

Final word

Korean Air offers several lucrative ways to use your miles. They have some fantastic products that are reasonably priced when flying across the Pacific, especially their first class experience. But there are also many partners which are bucket list worthy like Emirates and Etihad.

The Best Bars & Lounges on Airplanes (A380s, 777s, & More) [2020]

There’s a handful of aircraft out there that take the flying experience to the next level by offering bar and lounge areas for passengers to relax in. There are six different commercial airlines to date that offer true bar experiences on board: Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Qatar, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia.

There is a seventh is on its way as well with ANA (other airlines might have mini-bar areas but I’m not counting those.)

Brad and I were able to try out each of these six bars recently as part of one mega, round the world trip that lasted an entire moth. Each of the bars had something special to offer but some of the bars stood out more than others. Here’s my list of the best bars on airplanes and why I thought each bar earned its spot on the list.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

Things to know about the bars

Before I get into the list of the top bars, I wanted to point out a few things that I noticed about visiting these bars that you should be aware of. Knowing these will hopefully help you have a better day/night/14 hours at the bar.

The bars are usually in the back of business class

If you’re flying first class, chances are that the bar is going to be near the opposite side of the plane from where you’re sitting.

This means it’s going to be a little bit of a hike to get back to the first class cabin as you make your way through a dimly lit, narrow aisle with endless rows of passengers sound asleep. If you get a little wobbly after a couple of drinks, this is something to consider.

Only first class and business class passengers get access

These bars are only available to business class and/or first class passengers. Some bars may allow economy passengers access in the future *gasp* but for now unless you’re flying in business class or first class, chances are you won’t have access to the bar.

There are exclusive first class bars

Some of these aircraft have special areas reserved just for first class. This might be where they store the more premium drinks so if you go to those bars you can self serve yourself some of the most premium alcohol at your own mini (open) bar for hours on end.

Be easy on the self-service

On Virgin Australia, a crew member told us tales of people finding their way behind the bar and bar tending themselves. In most cases, you’re not allowed behind the bar and so you shouldn’t take that as your chance to show off why you should have been a mixologist. Just flag down a crew member for help.

The exception to this would be those exclusive first class bars where self service is encourages. Also, you usually can get a photo-op behind the bar so long as you ask the crew first.

Bring your premium drinks to the bar

If you’re flying first class and have special access to super-premium drinks like Dom Perignon you might want to request for them to be brought to the bar so that you can partake with it at the bar. Just try not to make everybody too jealous.

A little turbulence is okay

If you’re at the bar and turbulence hits, they’ll probably just ask you to sit down (and possibly strap in to the seat belt). If it’s really bad they might clear off the bar and then possibly ask you to return to your seat. But if it’s just a few bumps for a little while, you’ll probably be okay just hanging out at the bar.

The bars can re-up anytime

If you’re at the bar and notice your preferred drink of choice is getting low or empty, you can request for that drink to be taken from the galley and they’ll probably bring it out to the bar for you or at least pour you a glass.

The bars can get crowded

The bars on planes can get very crowded so you might want to try to time your visit.

The bars take a little while to get set-up. Chances are they won’t have the bar set up until about 15 minutes after reaching altitude. If you really want to check out these bars (and get photos) you might want to get there as soon as they open because they can get quite crowded.

You’ll likely want to return to the bar later because they usually adjust the lighting at the bar throughout the flight and I always found the lighting to be better and more interesting later on in the flight.

Don’t be one of those people

A lot of people underestimate how much easier it is to get hungover on a plane. A lot of people are also d-bags when they drink. Don’t be one of those people.

Emirates first class champagne.

So that’s it for the tips and below is the list of the best bars. If you want to find more about how I used miles to book these flights you can follow the links found below.

6. Virgin Atlantic 787

Virgin Atlantic gets some points because they have their bars fitted on multiple aircraft. Whether you’re flying the 747, 787, A330, A340, you’ll find a bar on board (except for the new A330-200s). The design and layout of the bar is a bit different for some of these but we flew on the 787 Dreamliner so that’s what I’m going to focus on.

The bar on the Virgin Atlantic 787 is located at the end of the Upper Class cabin and it’s very open — there are no curtains acting as a divider to the rest of the cabin. This means that bar-goers can create a lot of noise in a hurry and might need to be shushed, which puts a bit of a damper on the experience.

Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.

If you’re taking a day-flight from the East Coast to the UK, the odds are probably higher that more people will be visiting the bar and noise might be an issue. Since we departed LAX on a late flight, most people were snoozing away for most of the flight and noise wasn’t an ongoing problem.

While the bar area is quite small, it’s extremely sleek once the flight gets underway and the cabin crew turns the mood lighting on. There are only a couple of stools to relax on on the 787, so you might be standing if you want to check out the bar.

Snacks are offered at the bar but they were among my least favorite out of all of the bars we tried. So while the Virgin Atlantic bar is pretty striking, it’s my least favorite due to the small size and lack of food and drink options.

Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.
Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.

5. Etihad A380 — “The Lobby”

The Etihad A380 is a magnificent aircraft. While only flown on six routes, it’s a thing of beauty especially its first class cabin which is home to the Apartment (and the Residence) not to mention a shower as well. The bar on the Etihad A380 is known as “The Lobby” and it’s open to both first class and business class customers.

The Lobby reminds me of a booth you’d reserve at a nice lounge or wine bar where you’re there just to relax and chat with colleagues. It’s not a large area, but there’s room for about six people to relax on some comfortable seating and take advantage of power outlets if needed.

There’s no bartender present in the room for the most part so it’s a good place to have a private conversation/business meeting. The crew will come by to serve you up some drinks and/or serve you up some light snacks but you kind of feel like you are on your own at The Lobby and the snacks aren’t very extensive.

The Lobby on the Etihad on the A380.

Overall, The Lobby is a cool place worth checking out but it’s not the most memorable in-flight bar out there. It’s also a bar that’s one of the tougher to find since Etihad only flies the A380 to six cities:

  • New York
  • Mumbai
  • London
  • Paris
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

4. Korean Air A380 — “The Celestial Bar”

The Korean Air A380 houses the aptly-named Celestial Bar which is one of the most interesting bars in the sky. This cosmo-inspired bar is a pretty spacious area with comfy benches to relax on and a bartender who remains on-duty at all times.

Korean Air A380 Celestial Bar.

The Celestial serves up a whole roster of vodka drinks, which you can order from their special menus. Many of the drinks, served in martini glasses, are pretty satisfying but if you’re not a vodka person, you may want to bring your own wine, champagne, or beer with you from your seat.

They’ll also have a good mix of savory snacks and desserts on a rotation, some of which consisted of tasty items I’d never tried before.

Korean Air A380 Celestial Bar.

The Korean Air A380 actually has two other smaller bar/lounge areas, including one on the bottom deck of the A380 that’s exclusive to first class passengers. In this area, you can have more snacks all to yourself and also fix up your own drink, making it as potent as you’d like.

The first class bar on the A380.

Oh yeah, and I realize it’s not a bar but I felt the need to point out that there’s also a duty-free shop on the Korean A380 as well.

Duty-free shop on the Korean Air A380.

3. Virgin Australia 777 — “The Bar”

The Virgin Australia 777 is home to a beautiful bar area located between the two business class cabins on the 777. This is one of the toughest bars to fly on because LAX is pretty much the only place that these 777s fly to from Australia.

On our visit, the bar tender/flight attendant got the party started for us and the bar ended up being the funnest experience out of all of these in-flight bars during our flight from SYD to LAX. The nice vibe I got at the bar is why I’ve put this bar at number 3 — it was truly an enjoyable bar visit.

There’s a decent selection of beverages to choose from, including a selection of whiskies like Maker’s Mark and Aussie wines, though no truly premium drink is served.

Virgin Australia bar on the 777.

You can snack on chips, chocolates, and some other light bites and check out a nice selection of magazines as well. If you ever find yourself in need of a refill with no bartender in sight, there’s a call button located at the bar you can use to get service as soon as you can.

The back side of the bar has an iconic Virgin Australia logo and makes the bar look pretty epic with the right lighting.

2. Emirates A380

The Emirates A380 is another pretty magnificent aircraft. It’s got an amazing first class complete with tricked-out suites and even showers. But it also has one of the best onboard bars that’s open to both business class and first class passengers.

There’s also a lot of tasty desserts and snacks to choose from like olives, fruits, and even some sandwiches. I really liked this bar because the cabin crew was great, the snacks were on-point, and the crowds never got that bad. It’s also a pretty cool looking bar.

Emirates A380 bar.

The bar area is pretty spacious and I thought it was great for socializing. If you have a middle seat in business or first class, you can come out to the bar and enjoy the views for a while, too.

Emirates A380 bar.

Emirates also has a special bar only available to first class passengers which is found at the front of the plane. This is where they store the high-end stuff like Dom Perignon and Hennessy Paradis, which is a Henny that goes for close to $800 per bottle.

The Emirates first class bar on the A380.

There’s also new version of the bar being rolled out which steps up the elegance game but we really enjoyed this version.

1. Qatar Airways A380

Qatar also has a beautiful A380, including an awesome first class cabin. While there’s no shower on board the Qatar A380, I think Qatar has to win for the best bar. The bar area is just immaculate with beautiful lighting and decor that exudes elegance.

The design of the bar is also seamless and it’s put together in a way that’s perfect for socializing and relaxing. The only problem with the bar is that it’s very popular with passengers and can start to fill up pretty quickly.

The Qatar A380 onboard bar.

Qatar serves Krug in first class but not in business class. However, you can still get served Krug at the bar even as a business class passenger, which is a major plus for this bar.

The snacks, desserts, and canapé offered at the bar are gourmet and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a bar at the Ritz-Carlton. Even the glassware and silverware has an elegant feel to it. For all of the reasons above, I have to give Qatar the nod as the best airplane bar experience.

Qatar doesn’t operate its A380 on many true long-haul flights but you can find it on the following routes:

  • Bangkok
  • Guangzhou
  • London
  • Melbourne
  • Paris
  • Sydney

Final word

Getting out and stretching your legs in a bar is a fantastic way to refresh on a long-haul flight. Some of these bars will amaze you with great drinks and atmospheres so much that you’ll forget your on a plane.

How to Use Amex Membership Rewards to Fly United Airlines [2019]

Offers contained within this article maybe expired.

Many people who fly United might initially be interested in choosing Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards since Chase is a 1:1 transfer partner with United. However, some people don’t realize that you can still use your Amex points to fly with United. In fact, in some instances it’s even better to do this.

In this article, I’m going to show you how you could use your Amex Membership Rewards to fly United. And not just that — I’ll show you just how much better value you can get for your points when using your Amex points!

Scroll down to the bottom of the article you check out the YouTube video!

Amex Travel

Amex Travel will allow you to book any flight with your Amex Membership Rewards. If you see an open seat, you can snag it. This is great for those who don’t want to bother with transferring points and dealing with limited award availability.

However, it does mean you’ll often get less value for your points. With most Amex cards you can use your Membership Rewards to book United flights through Amex Travel at a rate of 1 cent per point.

This is not a good redemption rate as you’ll usually be able to get much more value when transferring your points out to other programs or when using different travel portals. Thus, I’d generally recommend not going this route.

However, with the American Express Business Platinum Card you get a 35% rebate on your points when you redeem them for airfare for premium fares (business and first class) or economy fares on a select airline. This allows you to redeem points for 1.54 cents per point which is actually quite attractive and even better than the Sapphire Reserve rate with the Chase Travel Portal

I’ll show you why it’s so attractive.

Let’s assume you wanted to use United miles to book a roundtrip economy flight from Houston to Orlando to go check out Disney World. That flight would cost you 25,000 United Airline miles.

Now, let’s say you wanted to use the American Express Business Platinum Card to book your flights using American Express Membership Rewards.

Let’s say you found the rate below for a $161 roundtrip in economy. Well, that flight would only require a net 10,455 Amex points to book versus the 25,000 miles required for United.

Even if you booked that rate at 1 cent per point the redemption wouldn’t be bad at 16,100 points compared to 25,000 United miles, but I’d rather just pay cash for such a cheap flight than redeem Amex points at 1 cent per point.

But you get the point — Amex points can be used to book United flights on the cheaper side and be a much more efficient use of points than United miles in those cases.

Booking with partners

Since United is not an American Express Memberships Rewards partner, you cannot transfer Amex points to United Airlines.

Instead, you’ll need to transfer your Membership Rewards to United partners in order to fly with United. Once those points are in your loyalty account for the partner, you can then use those points to book flights on United.

By the way, I’ve supplied the estimated transfer time for all of the partners below (some are instant).

When using the partners below, the best thing to do is to first search the United Airlines website for open Saver Awards and then try to locate those Saver Awards on the partner’s website (or call in if needed).

You can tell if an award is a Saver Award easily because the search results will state “Saver Award” as shown below.

Make sure that when you are searching for United awards you are NOT logged in to the United website because cards like the United Explorer Card can show you increased Saver availability at times (XN fares) and those awards may not be available to the partners below.

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club (ANA)

  • Transfer ratio: 1:1
  • Transfer time: 48 hours
  • Good for: Roundtrips to all destinations

The Japan-based carrier ANA is one of the best frequent flyer programs for ultra-low redemptions and is a fantastic use of your Amex Membership Rewards. With ANA, you can book United flights at some of the lowest prices around and you can also avoid high fees.

Let’s say you wanted to fly to Europe from the US. With United miles that would cost you 120,000 miles roundtrip in business class. With ANA you could get a roundtrip booked to Europe with only 88,000 miles roundtrip. That’s a savings of over 30,000 miles!

Here’s a look at a United roundtrip to London for a total of $183 in fees (fees might be outdated). Believe it or not, United wanted to charge $286 in fees for this same flight, not to mention over 30,000 more miles, so this was a much better option. So the total fees were cheaper than United’s and the mileage requirement was much lower, too.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.09.55 AM
ANA required only 88,000 miles and $183.70 to fly business class roundtrip to London from North America

You’ll find lower mileage requirements for other United flights, too. Using ANA miles to fly down to South America in business class for 88,000 miles roundtrip and around $50 in fees is fantastic, especially since United would require 120,000 miles!

Flying United to Japan roundtrip in business class would require 140,000 United miles but you could book that same route with only 85,000 ANA miles (55,000 fewer miles). However, the fees with United would be about $46 and with ANA they would be $340, so sometimes you’ll have to decide how you want to handle paying fees versus saving miles. 

Let me know in the comments below how you feel about using your miles versus paying fees!

And with ANA you can also book stopovers as well so you could hang out in a city for a while if you wanted to.

In order to use this program you’ll need to create an ANA MileageClub frequent flyer account. Then go here and click on “Award Booking” to get started and work through the search process.

The ANA search feature can be a bit glitchy at times and kind of annoying to deal with so you might need a little bit of patience. But once you find a deal, you’ll see that ANA could offer you some of the best redemption rates for United flights to places like Japan and South America, among others.

Aeroplan (Air Canada)

  • Transfer ratio: 1:1
  • Transfer time: instant
  • Good for: Domestic, Europe, South America, and Australia

Aeroplan was just purchased by Air Canada so it will no longer be a spin-off program in the future and some things might change. But for now it’s one of my favorite programs to use and it’s great that it’s also a Capital One transfer partner.

It’s pretty easy to use the Aeroplan search feature (though it can be rather slow). With Aeroplan you’ll find the same redemption prices for non short-haul flights in the US for economy and business at 25,000 and 50,000 miles roundtrip respectively. And what is great about Aeroplan is that you can book one-way awards. 

For flights to “Europe 1,” you can get there for 110,000 miles roundtrip in business class versus the 120,000 United miles required for a United flight. So it’s an easy way to shave off some miles there.

Europe 1 consists of:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain (incl. Balearic Islands; excl. Canary Islands)
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

Europe 2 consists of:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia (Western)
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

We used Aeroplan to book business class fights on SAS to check out the northern lights and the fees only came out to about $12 and the value in cents per point was extremely high!

If you’re booking other airlines with Aeroplan you do need to be mindful of fees because those can get quite high with some other carriers but the following airlines typically do not carry surcharges when you book them through Aeroplan:

  • Air China
  • Brussels
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • Scandinavian
  • Singapore
  • Swiss
  • Turkish
  • United
  • LOT (has small surcharges)*

To use this program join Aeroplan and then log-in and then log-in and select “Book Travel” and then click on “Flights.”

Business class on SAS.

Avianca LifeMiles

  • Transfer ratio: 1:1
  • Transfer time: instant
  • Good for: Domestic, Europe, South America, and Australia

Avianca is the new transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards and it has a lot to offer. Avianca joined Citi as a transfer partner in November 2017 and also joined Capital One recently so it’s very easy to rack up miles with them.

Here are some of the highlights.

  • Some pretty competitive redemption rates
  • Allows you to avoid surcharges
  • Allows you to book one-way awards
  • Allows you to make your bookings through their website (though sometimes not all open partner awards show and there’s a $25 booking fee)
  • Allows you to avoid close-in fees (booking a United award ticket less than 21 days before departure incurs a fee of $75 per ticket).

Avianca breaks down the US into three separate zones and this allows you to book short-haul flights for as low as 7,500 miles one-way with United in economy or 15,000 miles one way in business class.

Their medium-haul flights can be a nice sweet spot, too. For example, I could book a roundtrip economy flight from Houston to New York for only 20,000 miles roundtrip for 30,000 miles in business class. 

And if you book a standard domestic flight outside of the short-haul zones you’ll be spending the same amount of United miles in most cases: 25,000 miles for a roundtrip in economy and 50,000 miles for a roundtrip in business class.

Avianca has a few other good redemptions but one stand out redemption is their business class to Brazil. You could get from the US to Brazil for 100,000 miles roundtrip while United requires 120,000 miles.

To use this program, simply create an account and then log-on here. Click on “Use” and then “Airlines” and you’ll be taken to where you can search and book your flights. I’ve found the search feature to work pretty well other than dealing with missing Saver awards not showing up.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

  • Transfer ratio: 1:1
  • Transfer time: up to 24 hours
  • Good for: Domestic, Canada, South America, and Middle East.

Singapore devalued their partner award charts semi-recently and after that some partner awards are no longer as lucrative as they once were but there are still some great uses for their miles. Also, Singapore is a transfer partner of Amex, Citi, and Chase, so it’s very easy to rack up their miles.

You’ll be able to book domestic United flights at familiar rates of 25,000 roundtrip in economy and they do allow one-way flights to be booked. 

You’ll also be able to find domestic United business class flights for 20,000 one-way, 40,000 roundtrip which is 10,000 miles cheaper than United. 

Award prices from the US to Europe in economy are pretty good at 55,000 miles roundtrip but they are on the higher side for business class at 130,000 miles (this is still lower than the partner award rate for United).

If you ever want to fly United Airlines in business class to Canada from the US, Singapore offers some of the best redemptions you’ll find at 40,000 miles. Also, Singapore Airlines is great for heading down to South America in business class, as flights are only 100,000 miles for a roundtrip! 

To use this program simply create a KrisFlyer account and then log-in here and enter in your search details but be sure to select “Redeem Flights.”

Aer Lingus (the hidden option?)

  • Transfer ratio: 1:1
  • Transfer time: instant

Aer Lingus has always felt like the red-headed step-child of the Avios family but this Irish carrier might be able to be used to book United flights at times. It could have been a glitch in the past but at least one person had the option to use Avios to book a United flight.

You’ll likely need to call in to book [try: (855)585-8264] and they should waive the phone booking fee since you can’t book online.

I tried to call in for domestic flights but Saver awards could not be booked. This makes me think that only international United flights to/from Ireland might show up from time to time? 

I definitely wouldn’t count on this method to work but it’s something to be aware of. In case you were curious, here’s the Aer Lingus award chart.

The drawbacks

The biggest drawback to not transferring your points directly to United Airlines from Chase is that you cannot take advantage of the increased award inventory if you have the Explorer Card. Sometimes, I struggle to find open saver awards but when I log in I find many open awards as a United Explorer cardmember.

Also, you have to deal with the added hassle of going through these partners which sometimes can be annoying when they cannot locate the same open awards that you find on the United Airlines website.

So while it is still very doable to use American Express points to fly on United Airlines, it is not without its drawbacks.

YouTube Video

Final word

As you can see, there are quite a few ways to utilize your American Express points to fly on United Airlines. Many of these methods offer more efficient uses of your points. And what’s great is that they almost all have pretty easy to use search and booking features online. It might take a little bit more patience to do this but it’s great to know you have so many options for flying United.

Best Ways to Book Emirates First Class with Points (And Avoid Fees) [2020]

Flying first class on Emirates is a bucket list goal for many travelers. And for good reason: both the soft product and the hard product are tremendous and industry leading. But booking Emirates first class with miles and points isn’t quite as easy as it once was and the fees can get very pricey. Luckily, there are still some solid methods for flying first class on Emirates and some ways to avoid those high fees.

This article will walk you through the best methods for booking Emirates First Class, including using partners like Alaska Airlines, JAL, Qantas, and Korean Air.

Be sure to check out the YouTube video at the end of the video as well!

Interested in finding out the hottest travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

Emirates US destinations

It’s a good idea to be aware of the the cities served by Emirates when starting your research so here’s a list of US cities that Emirates serves:

Something that you will notice after reading this article is that flying to or from the US on Emirates will usually result in a lot of fees. But you can avoid fees by flying between destinations in other parts of the world (which I’ll discuss below). So keep that in mind when planning your Emirates First Class flight — things will often be much cheaper abroad!

Related: Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard Review

Emirates gateway cities in the USA.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Different first class products

There are two main different first class cabins on Emirates that you’ll likely be booking in the future.

The Emirates A380

Emirates is pretty much the only reason why the A380 has a future and they fly these jumbo jets more than any airline in the world. Thus, you’ll likely be flying on the A380 if you’re flying first class on an Emirates A380. You can find the Emirates A380 routes here.

The Emirates A380 is definitely bucket-list worthy. It has the best shower in the sky in my opinion and also one of the best bars in the sky. (There are actually two bars on board, with a smaller bar only available to first class passengers.) You can read about my experience on board the Emirates A380 here

Emirates A380 shower.

Boeing 777-300ER (three class)

Emirates released its new first class suites in 2017 which fly on the 777-300ER. This aircraft doesn’t have the on-board shower and bar but the suites are very impressive. They are much bigger and feature fully enclosed suites with walls that reach all the way up to the top of the aircraft. The suites are climate controlled and are even more tricked out than the old suites.

Right now these are only flown on limited routes between Dubai and Brussels, Geneva, Munich, Vienna, and London-Stansted (I believe Tokyo HND is coming soon).

There are some Emirates 777s that do offer “old” first class awards and these will have essentially the same suite as the A380 but the first class cabin will be smaller and won’t come with the shower or bar.

The new Emirates first class.

Boeing 777-300ER (two class)

There are some aircraft that do not have a first class such as some versions of the Emirates 777-300ER and A380s so be on the lookout for those.

Is Emirates First Class really that good?

Because it’s going to take a lot of your hard-earned miles and points, potentially a wad of cash, and perhaps a lot of patience to earn enough miles, you probably want to know is Emirates first class really worth it?

The answer in my opinion is a definite: yes.

The hard and soft product are excellent on Emirates first class. You’ve got a fully enclosed suite with a mini-bar, large TV screen, and a comfortable bed to relax in along with great dining and premium champagne like Dom Perignon. The service is also top-notch and I was really impressed with how nice and professional the flight crew was. And then there’s the unique experience of showering on a plane and hanging out at the in-flight bar on the A380.

So there’s really no doubt in my mind that Emirates is worth shelling out extra miles or cash for. With that said, in some cases, your miles could last much longer if you went with other airlines so don’t pull the trigger too quickly and make sure experiencing Emirates is truly a priority before you cash in your miles and points life savings.

Emirates bar on the A380.

Emirates first class lounges

If you’re planning a first class flight with Emirates, I suggest that you consider booking a flight from or through Dubai so you can get to experience the Emirates First Class Lounge at DXB, which is one of the nicest (and biggest) airline lounges in the world.

If you can’t book through Dubai, there are several other Emirates lounges you can enjoy around the world. They won’t be as extravagant and they might be for both business class and first class but there are some pretty nice Emirates lounges around. I recently made my way through the lounge in Milan and thought it was very nice and it even offered direct boarding from the lounge.

You may not be that into airport lounges but they can add an additional exciting element to your travel experience, especially when we’re talking about the top first class flagship lounges.

Emirates Business/First Class Lounge in Milan (MXP).

Visiting Dubai (stopovers)

If you’re going to fly Emirates consider planning a stopover in Dubai. Not only will you get two first class flights to enjoy and be able to experience a really nice airport lounge, but Dubai is an interesting city to visit and you can do things like scuba dive in the mall, check out the tallest building in the world, dune bashing, etc. While the heat and humidity can be downright unbearable in the summer, at other times of the year the weather can be more pleasant.

There’s also a lot of really, really nice hotels to choose from in Dubai and many of them are members of the major loyalty programs like Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and others. In the past we stayed at the W Dubai Al Habtoor which was awesome but now that property is the “V Hotel” and part of Hilton (as are some other former SPG hotels in Dubai).

There’s also a way to get a free hotel stay on layovers called Dubai Connect which you can read about here. Basically, if you have a connection more than 6 hours and less than 24 hours you can get free lodging, meals, and visa costs. You probably wouldn’t want to go scuba diving with such a short layover but there’s plenty of other things you could find to do.

scuba diving in the Dubai Mall.

How to find Emirates award seats

There are a few ways that you can search for Emirates awards.

Emirates Skywards

I like to just utilize the Emirates website to search for first class awards. You can do so by creating an Emirates Skywards account and then clicking on Book Classic Rewards now.

Qantas Frequent Flyer

You can also try to use other parter sites to search for availability, such as Qantas. (You’ll need to create an account with them first to use the award search tool.) Qantas is pretty easy to use but the online search tool won’t show you the total fees due for your flight (you’ll have to call in to get that information).

JAL Mileage Bank

You can search and book Emirates first class awards on the JAL website. Simply create a JAL account and then log-in to the main page. You should see an area you can click on called “Award Redemption (Air)” and then click on “Book JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket.” After that simply select Emirates as the partner airline and proceed to search for flights as you normally would do.

The cool thing about JAL is that you can see the total fees for the award without having the need to call in.

Amex Membership Rewards

If you’re really interested in flying first class on Emirates, then I highly suggest that you consider focusing on earning Amex Membership Rewards. That’s because Emirates Skywards is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express and so it’s very easy to accumulate miles for them. (I’ll talk more in depth about Emirates Skywards below.)

Another option for using Amex Membership Rewards would be to use the Amex International Airline Program, which can save you a lot on certain premium flights if you have a Platinum Card. If you have the Business Platinum Card from American Express you could redeem your points at a rate of 1.54 cents per point.

You’d be spending a whole lot of points on Emirates First Class even if you found a good discount. But I know some business owners who have hundreds of thousands of points they don’t even have time to use so splurging on a bucket list flight that way could make sense for them.

For earning a lot of Membership Rewards, I recommend going for the Amex Platinum and/or the Amex Gold Card. The Amex Platinum card comes with a 60,000 point welcome bonus after you spend $5,000 in the first three months and a host of benefits, so it’s a great way to jump start your Emirates Skywards balance.

Click here to learn more about this card. 

Also, the Amex Gold Card comes with amazing earning potential with 4X on U.S. dining and U.S. supermarkets, so if you’re thinking more long-term the Gold Card can be one of the best Amex cards to get.

Emirates first class champagne.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Alaska Mileage Plan

Alaska Mileage Plan was the long-time preferred way to book Emirates first class tickets because it offered a way to avoid high surcharges and had some very low redemption rates. However, in March 2016, Alaska Mileage Plan increased the redemption rates for Emirates first class by a lot without any notice whatsoever. Some prices increased as much as 100% which quickly made Alaska Mileage Plan one of the tougher redemption options.

Here are some examples of the pricing which is based on region.

  • North America to Africa: 200,000 miles
  • North America to Asia: 180,000 miles
  • North America to Australia: 225,000 miles
  • North America to Europe: 180,000 miles
  • North America to Middle East: 150,000 miles

The good news is that there are still no surcharges when using Alaska Mileage Plan to book Emirates first class. So if you’re trying to keep your cash in your wallet, then using Alaska Mileage Plan to book your tickets might be the best way to go. The fees for these awards will be very low — we’re talking $20 to $50, which is fantastic.

One thing to keep in mind about using Alaska Mileage Plan to book Emirates first class tickets is that all trips must end or begin in North America. Also, they allow stopovers even on one-way awards so many people try to schedule a stopover in Dubai (the hub of Emirates), so they can enjoy two first class flights and experience the magnificent lounge in Dubai. Also note that chauffeur service is not available for these rewards.

Alaska is not a transfer partner of Chase or Amex but you can transfer points from Marriott at a 3:1 ratio.

The view from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Japan Airlines (JAL)

JAL has some of the best redemption options but a major weakness to the program is that they are not a transfer partner to any other major transfer program, such as Chase, Amex, etc.. This makes accumulating a high amount of JAL miles a bit tough.

JAL has been another solid way to book Emirates First Class but they unleashed fuel surcharges on awards recently which made booking Emirates with JAL much less attractive.

However, from a miles standpoint, JAL is still the cheapest route to book Emirates first class. JAL utilizes a distance-based award chart which allows you to book either one-way or roundtrip awards (though note that roundtrip awards are cheaper).

If you’re departing from the US, you might be charged as much as $1,700+ in fees! I can deal with being gutted with fees to a degree and $1,700 is still much cheaper than paying cash for these flights, but paying for $1,700 for an award flight is still a tough pill to swallow for me.

Luckily you can avoid high fees by booking Emirates First Class on specific routes, such as those departing from Hong Kong where fees will be very low. Other cities you may want to look for to find cheaper fees are:

  • Colombo (CMB)
  • Manilla (MNL)
  • Sydney (SYD)
  • Tokyo (HND & NRT)

The bad news is that JAL is about to get hit with a devaluation and some of these routes are going to get more expensive. It’s not a horrible devaluation though because many shorter (one-way) routes won’t even be affected so it’s not something that should keep you from using JAL miles to book Emirates.

Here’s a look at the award chart and what the new changes will look like.

Here are some examples of what you can expect to pay — as you can see some of the fees and mileage requirements can be quite cheap.

  • HKG to DXB: 65,000 miles + $46 in fees
  • SYD to DXB: 63,000 miles + $67 in fees
  • JFK to MXP: 65,000 miles + $540 in fees

So JAL is still definitely a sweet spot for some Emirates bookings.

Emirates Skywards

One of the simpler ways to book Emirates First Class is to just go through Emirates’ own loyalty program.  When using Emirates Skywards, you’re going to have to pay surcharges and the miles aren’t going to the cheapest but I still think it’s a great way to book Emirates First Class.

That’s because Emirates Skywards is a 1:1 transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards. There are so many ways to earn Membership Rewards that paying higher mileage prices isn’t that big of a deal. Here are some one-way prices in miles and the corresponding fees but note that roundtrips will be cheaper than two one-ways (and you can book a stopover).

  • JFK to JNB: 178,750 Miles + $852
  • JFK to HKG: 131,250 Miles + $852
  • JFK to DXB: 136,250 Miles + $842
  • MXP to JFK: 85,000 Miles + EUR 254

If you want to avoid high fees then once again consider flying out of a city like Hong Kong where such fees aren’t allowed by law. For example, check out the route from Hong Kong to Dubai where fees are at a total of $45.

And it’s not just flights from Hong Kong to Dubai that have low fees, you could extend your flight to the US from Hong Kong and the fees are still going to remain very low at around $70.

One of the perks about using Emirates Skywards is you’ll be able to take advantage of the ride service from Emirates and get taken to the airport in a luxury vehicle. If you’re getting picked up in Dubai, you’ll likely be picked up in a Mercedes-Benz V Class vehicle marked with “First Class” on the exterior. In other cities, transportation will be arranged with a contracting service (which can be a bit hit or miss).

Emirates ride service in Milan.

Citi ThankYou Points

Citi is partnered with Qantas which can be a pretty good option for Emirates first class under the right circumstances. Citi has clamped down on welcome bonuses over the past couple of years so it’s not as easy to accumulate ThankYou Points but they do have cards like the Citi Premier and the Citi Prestige which sometimes offer pretty high sign-up bonuses.

But you’ll likely need much more miles than that so you might want to consider alternative ways to earn Qantas miles.


Qantas is another option for flying first class on Emirates. The fees for Qantas will be similar to the fees for Emirates routes but not all of the time.

Korean Air

Korean Air is another option for booking Emirates first class awards. There are a couple of big issues with trying to go the Korean Air route.

For one, Korean Air is no longer a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means that it is much more difficult to accumulate Korean Air miles for a lot of people so this option might not be as appealing.

To make matters even worse, you can only book roundtrips on partners so you’re going to need a lot of Korean Air miles to be able to fly first class on Emirates and still have to pay a lot in fees. And things can get difficult when trying to book partners sometimes so Korean Air isn’t the most attractive option.

As an example, a booking for a roundtrip from JFK to DXB would cost 210,000 SkyPass miles and $1,600+ in fees so you’ll need to be ready to shell out a little bit to make this booking work.

Emirates first class caviar.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

After Korean Air was dropped as a partner from Chase Ultimate Rewards, that really left Chase with no direct route to book flights on Emirates. But you can still transfer points out to Marriott and then transfer those at a 3:1 ratio to JAL, Emirates, Korean Air, and Alaska.

Although you’d typically not want to do that, from a value perspective, you’d actually still be getting a decent deal in some cases, at least when it comes to the value of your points.

Let’s say you transferred 300,000 Ultimate Rewards to Marriott and then to JAL so you end up with 100,000 JAL miles. You then book a roundtrip on Emirates First Class from Hong Kong to Dubai and pay 100,000 JAL miles and about $82 in fees (which is about what you’d probably pay).

That’s a $9,444 flight so $9,344/300,000 comes out to 3.1 cents per point in value for your Ultimate Rewards so you’re still getting decent value for your points so long as you can keep the fees down. Of course, you could put those 300K Ultimate Rewards to use to fly first class on an airline like Singapore Airlines or transfer them to United to fly first class Lufthansa with points left over. So the opportunity cost is huge here.

Personally, I’d rather not transfer that many Ultimate Rewards to Marriott but for those who may not have an alternative and really want to experience Emirates First Class, this at least is a way to make that dream happen.

Consider booking first class on other airlines like Singapore to preserve your Chase points.

Malaysia Airlines Enrich

You might be wondering what about Malaysia Airlines, aren’t they a partner of Emirates? The answer is yes but you can’t redeem your miles for Emirates first-class awards (only business class and below). So for now Malaysia Airlines is not an option to fly first class on Emirates.


JetBlue is a partner of Emirates so you might be wondering about how to use your miles on Emirates first class. Unfortunately, JetBlue is only an earning partner and you can’t redeem JetBlue miles on Emirates.


Final word

Flying first class on Emirates can get very pricey with both fees and miles but there are still some routes that offer great value with very little fees. Flying first on Emirates is a special experience though and for many people it will be worth it to splurge for a bucket-list worthy flight. Just be sure to consider your alternatives before you go all-in with the splurge because in some cases, you could really stretch your points a lot further!

List of Cathay Pacific Partners & Fee Examples

From alliance partners to codeshare partners, there are a lot of Cathay Pacific partners worth looking into. This article will take a look at the different partners and also look into what you can expect to pay in fees with some of these partners. 

What alliance is Cathay Pacific in?

Cathay Pacific partners
The Oneworld Alliance.

Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld Alliance which means that they are partners with all of the following airlines.

Additional Cathay Pacific partners

In addition to the Oneworld partners, Cathay Pacific also has several partnerships with other airlines which include codeshares and Joint Operating Services/Strategic Agreement. Notice that several of these partners are actually in the Star Alliance.

Using Cathay Pacific partners

Using your Asia Miles on Cathay Pacific partners isn’t very straightforward because they operate two different award charts that only apply to airlines based on specific criteria.

Here are the to award charts:

Asia Miles Award Chart

One chart called the “Asia Miles Award Chart” is for:

  • Cathay Pacific/Dragon flights
  • Flights including one OneWorld partner
  • Flights including one OneWorld partner and a Cathay Pacific/Dragon flight

For this chart, you calculate your mileage requirement by finding the distance one way and then finding the corresponding zone. (If connecting sectors are involved, the sector distances should be added together to determine the total one-way distance and the applicable award zone.)

In that zone column, you will see totals for both one way trips and for round trips based on that distance.

Note: The roundtrip distances offer better deals.

  • S7 Airlines does not participate in the “Asia Miles Award Chart”

The following airlines can only be booked using the Asia Miles Award Chart:

  • Royal Brunei Airlines
  • Gulf Air
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Air New Zealand
  • Aer Lingus
  • Award zone “S” is not applicable to one-way tickets on Aer Lingus. Award zones “S” and “A” are not applicable for Alaska Airlines flights to or from Mexico with sector distances of less than 1,200 miles.

You are allowed one stopover en route a one-way ticket but for round-trip redemptions, you get two stopovers, two open-jaws, or two transfers.

OneWorld Multi-Carrier Awards Chart

Then there’s another award chart called the “OneWorld Multi-Carrier Awards Chart” for:

  • Flights involving two OneWorld partners
  • Flights involving Cathay Pacific/Dragon flights and two or more OneWorld partners

You calculate the mileage requirement of this chart by calculating the total distance of your trip (add together all segments) and then see what award zone the distance falls into.

  • It’s a little unclear if you get 5 stopovers or 4 stopovers + your destination, but either way that’s a lot. Plus you can get two transfers and two open-jaws at either origin, en-route, or turnaround point.

You can only book roundtrip awards for the following Cathay Pacific partners:

  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines

*Remember, even though you can book one way awards on many different airlines you always want to consider booking roundtrips because you will often save a lot of miles.

Fees on Cathay Pacific partners

The following airlines do not incur surcharges or at least incur minimal surcharges:

  • American Airlines (varies based on route)
  • Qantas
  • Cathay
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • S7
  • Aer Lingus

Examples of fees on Cathay Pacific partners

Here are a few specific examples of fees on Cathay Pacific partners that should help you get a better idea of what to expect. All of the prices in miles and taxes are for business class bookings and keep in mind that these are estimates which could change depending on the exchange rate and other variables.

Cathay Pacific on Qatar (London to Doha)

A roundtrip business class ticket from London to Doha would cost 80,000 Asia Miles and about $500 in total fees so it’s good to know that these awards can get a little pricey with the taxes.

Cathay Pacific on JAL (US to Japan)

A roundtrip business class ticket from HND to SFO would cost you 120,000 miles but the fees would be pretty reasonable at about $240 USD.

Cathay Pacific on LATAM to (US to South America)

A roundtrip business class ticket from SCL to JFK in business class will run you 120,000 Asia Miles and only about $52 USD in total fees, which is pretty excellent. The mileage requirement isn’t the best but the low fees make the redemption much more attractive.

LATAM dreamliner.

Cathay Pacific on Aer Lingus (US to Europe)

Cathay Pacific has one of the greatest sweet spots to Europe at 80,000 miles for a roundtrip business class ticket. That’s almost impossible to beat. When booking with partner Aer Lingus, total fees for this trip should be under $100, making this a fantastic redemption.

For a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe using Cathay Pacific on American Airlines, you’re looking at 80,000 miles roundtrip and about $294 in total fees. So maybe not quite as good as Aer Lingus, but still reasonable. It’s worth noting that on some occasion, I’ve had trouble with Cathay Pacific locating AA SAAver availability, although the phone agents.  

Other partners like Iberia or British Airways will require much more in fees to the tune of $600 to $700.

 Cathay Pacific on Qantas /AA (Australia to US)

I got a quote on a one-way award from SYD to LAX on American Airlines for only $85 USD which isn’t bad at all considering that the mileage requirement is only 70,000 miles. However, the quote on fees for a one way trip to LAX from SYD on Qantas was $336, so that’s not quite as much of a sweet spot.

As a point of comparison, for a Cathay Pacific flight, you’re looking at around $330 in fees for a roundtrip from North America to Australia.

Cathay Pacific on AA from (Japan to US)

Finally, I decided to test out one more route: NRT to LAX on American Airlines. The fees for this one way flight were only $40 USD, proving once again that using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles or AA flights can be a great use of points with low fees.

Final word on Cathay Pacific partners

There are a lot of great partners that you can use your Asia Miles on. It’s a good idea to study up on some of these partners and get familiar with the fee structure for partner awards. If you do that, you’ll see that there are lots of opportunities to create “super sweet spots” that come with low mileage requirements and low fees. If you’re interested, you can learn more about Cathay Pacific business class sweet spots here. 

The British Airways Avios Award Chart Guide (Redemption Calculator) [2020]

British Airways is a well-known airline that offers some great redemption opportunities.

British Airways Avios is a partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. They also have a co-branded credit card with Chase, making it pretty easy for people to earn Avios. But because the British Airways Avios chart is distance-based, some people are still not clear on how the redemptions work.

This article will explain how the British Airways Avios Award Chart works and how to best take advantage of it with sweet spots and help from the reward redemption calculator. 

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

British Airways distance-based awards

The BA award chart utilizes a distance-based redemption scheme.

This means that your mileage requirements are determined based on the length of miles flown for a single journey (i.e., a one-way journey). Compare this to traditional award charts that determine your mileage requirements based on the different regions you are traveling to.

This is simple enough to figure out but this chart also goes by both a peak and an off-peak calendarTwo thirds of the year is off-peak, so the majority of the prices will be cheaper throughout the year. When booking reward flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates, or a mixture of the two.

If you book a partner award with Avios, you’ll be going by the off-peak rates (unless you’re booking Aer Lingus or Iberia flights).

However, if you’re booking partner awards with connections between two or more oneworld airlines, this partner chart will apply. This chart can result in significantly more expensive award prices at times, so I would generally try to avoid using Avios to book flights with two or more oneworld partners.

You can see this oneworld Avios partner chart below.

Avios Award Chart with two or more oneworld partners.

The British Airways Avios award chart

Below is the British Airways distance-based award chart.

British Airways Avios Award Chart -- BA Award Chart
The British Airways Avios Award Chart.

Reward flight calculator

British Airways also has a Reward Flight Calculator you can use to help figure out your mileage requirements.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Calculating mileage requirements with the Avios chart

To find your mileage requirement, you’ll calculate the length of each each segment of a given flight and then find the corresponding zone for that distance. If a connecting segment puts you above a certain zone, then you will have to pay that price even though the straight-line distance between your origin and destination falls in a lower zone.

Here’s an example of how to determine the Avios needed by the Avios chart:

  • Determine if you have you are flying with two or more oneworld partners — if so use the partner BA award chart.
  • Determine if you are choosing off-peak or peak dates (remember, these can be mixed)
    • I’ll go with off-peak for this example.
  • Determine the distance of each segment of your journey. So if you were flying JFK-LHR-OSL, you would determine the mileage between JFK and LHR (3,452 miles) and then again for LHR and OSL (751 miles).
  • Determine the BA award chart zones of your segments and their corresponding Avios requirements
    • (3,452 miles = Zone 5 = 13,000 Avios) and
    • (751 miles = Zone 2 = 7,500 miles).
  • By adding up the Avios required for each zone, you would determine your total Avios needed (13,000 + 7,500 = 20,500) Avios.

This award structure allows you to string together multiple stop-overs for cheap, which is always something to think about doing with BA Avios.

To figure out the distance of each of your one-way journeys, use the Great Circle Mapper.

*You should note that British Airways explicitly removed the Boston to Dublin route from Zone 4 to Zone 5 even though that route is under 3,000 miles. Also, short-haul flight within North America under 651 miles will be counted in Zone 2 and will require 7,500 miles.

Best uses for the British Airways Avios award chart

Now that you know how to find the prices for different awards, let’s take a look at some good uses of BA Avios that really show the different ways to maximize the BA award chart.

1. East Coast to Europe

  • Economy
    • Off-peak: 26,000 Avios
    • Peak: 40,000 Avios
  • Business:
    • Off-peak: 100,000 Avios
    • Peak: 120,000 Avios

Even after the 2016 devaluation, the British Airways reward chart offer some decent rates to Europe. The above rate could get you a roundtrip to Dublin from the following cities:

  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Hartford
  • Washington DC
  • Toronto 

The fees on thee flights can be a bit high even when you use your Avios to book AA flights to Europe. Below is a roundtrip flight in economy using 55,000 Avios. Notice the Avios requirement is higher than 40,000 — that’s because these flights route from BOS-JFK-DUB. That small, quick connection through JFK tacks on 15,000 Avios. That’s something you definitely want to avoid.

The total fees for a roundtrip to Dublin with Avios on American Airlines comes out to $403. That’s pretty high considering the route below doesn’t even touch London (LHR) where fees usually spike.

It’s important to be aware that Iberia actually has better business class redemptions to Europe for many cities. These redemptions often require fewer points and less fees.

For example, look at the BA booking for a roundtrip from MIA to MAD flying in Iberia. The first image shows that BA would require 105,000 miles and over $1,000 in fees. Meanwhile, if you booked the same exact flight with Iberia, you would save $800!

Fees booking with British Airways Avios.
Fees booking with Iberia Avios.

So it could make sense to transfer your Avios over to Iberia if you were flying from Miami to Madrid for example. You can read more about those Iberia business class sweet spots here.

2. North America to Hawaii

  • Economy: 25,000
  • Business: 75,000

When flying from the West Coast to Hawaii, Avios offers one of the best redemptions. 12,000 Avios for a one way is fantastic and only Singapore Airlines beats out Avios. As a point of comparison, programs like United, Delta, and American would require over 20,000 miles for a one way for the same route! 

For this particular redemption, you’ll be flying with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, which gives you access to a number of departing locations all along the West Coast and Alaska.

Availability for these routes can be very limited though so you’ll need to be very flexible. (Being able to book on short notice helps to take advantage of this route.) Fees are also negligible as shown by the below $5.60 fee for a one-way trip in economy.

Note: if you used Iberia Avios for this redemption you could get it as low as 62,500 Avios roundtrip (but you can’t book one ways on American with Iberia.

3) North America to South America

  • Economy: 40,000+

The British Airways Avios chart can offer you some of the best redemption rates for getting to South America. You’ll usually be flying on Latam or American Airlines.

Take a look at economy rates for getting to two popular South American destinations, Lima and Santiago Chile from Texas and New York.

  • 40,000  Avios -DFW/JFK to LIM
  • 50,000  Avios – DFW/JFK to SCL

The distances between these destinations stays in Zones 5 and 6 of the Avios award chart so the rates are pretty reasonable. But the real sweet spot is getting to destinations in the southern part of South America, such as Santiago.

25,000 miles from DFW/JFK to SCL for a one-way in economy is among the best redemptions available for this route and a great sweet spot. And as shown by the MIA to LIM flight below, the fees can be very low when heading to South America with Avios.

Fees are very reasonable — only $20 for a one way business class flight from MIA to LIM using Avios on Latam.

4) North America to Mexico or the Caribbean

  • Economy: 15,000+
  • Business: 30,000+

Using British Airways Avios to get to Mexico and some Caribbean destinations can be a great way to use them. As you can tell from a couple of the examples I’ve posted, the deals can be great even if you are flying from the Northeast or Midwest. The fees are pretty reasonable too (remember, many Caribbean destinations impose mandatory fees on flights). 

Here are some roundtrip prices:

Getting to Mexico

  • 15,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 20,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

The DFW to CUN for 7,500 Avios one-way is extremely cheap. United would require 10,000 more miles for a one-way and American would require 2X the miles.

Getting to the Caribbean (Jamaica)

  • 20,000 Avios – ORD to MBJ (Jamaica)
  • 25,000 Avios – LAX to MBJ
$80 in fees + 15,000 Avios for a roundtrip to Mexico.

When flying from hubs in the southern part of the country, the redemptions for business class are an absolute steal to Mexico and the Caribbean, assuming you can find direct shots. Even when you’re departing from northern states, the redemption rates are still very competitive.

Here are some roundtrip prices:

  • 30,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 60,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

To show you how good this sweet spot is for the BA award chart, United would require 60,000 miles for a roundtrip business class redemption from DFW to CUN which is 30,000 more than Avios (and twice the price)! 

5) Short-haul economy flights in North America

  • Economy: 15,000+

The recent devaluation to short-haul flight redemptions with Avios was a pretty big hit to the program but there’s still some pretty good redemptions to be had. The devaluation basically did away with the first zone and made it so that the cheapest short-haul flight in economy would require 7,500 Avios, and business and first class were changed to Zone 2’s requirements as well.

Even with that devaluation, it’s still a good deal to use Avios for flights 2,000 miles and under in the U.S. because you can save 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Here are some roundtrip prices:

  • 15,000 Avios for routes up to 1,150 miles (e.g., MIA – JFK)
  • 20,000 Avios 1,151 miles to 2,000 miles (e.g., SFO – IAH)
  • 25,000 Avios 2,001 miles to 3,000 miles (e.g., LAX – JFK)

Other domestic carriers like Delta, United, and American would require several thousand more miles to book these short-haul flights.

The key with these is that you usually need to live by an American Airlines hub in order to take advantage of these redemptions. Otherwise, you’ll have to add connecting flights and those connections will cost you more Avios.

Booking American Airlines flights with BA miles is still a good deal with fees only at $5.60.

6) Intra-continental flights in South America

Avios can also be used efficiently to book intra-continental flights in South America. I’ve recently used Avios to book some pretty otherwise expensive flights between Lima and Santiago. The particular flight I booked costed $2,000 for a one-way business class ticket. I used 20,000 Avios for a 10 cent per point redemption, a great value that you usually find on higher-end first class suites.

But even the economy redemptions can be great because they are so much cheaper than other options. The below redemption is cheaper than what any other program would offer for this route. And it’s also a great redemption since a one-way economy could cost you $500+.

Economy one-way from LIM to SCL with Avios. Only $30 in fees.

These kind of redemptions can be had in other continents, too. I’d always do some research on One World partners in Africa, Australia, and Asia in order to seek out valuable Avios redemptions.

7) Creative Routings 

Sometimes it’s cheaper to book multiple segments with BA Avios than it is do book a straight shot.

One common example is that it requires 50,000 Avios to get from LAX to Sydney, Australia. However, if you broke this up so that you fly from LAX -> Hawaii -> Sydney, the total Avios required would be 37,500 Avios due to quirks in the award chart.

Always be on the lookout for sweet spots like this. 

Final word

Avios are actually a very valuable currency, especially if you’re located near an AA hub. The British Airways Avios Award Chart has several sweet spots that you can utilize to save a ton in miles and points and also allows you to get away with low fees. Generally, long-haul premium awards are not going to offer much value but as shown above short-haul and medium-haul flights can be some of the most valuable award redemptions.

The Best Chase Sapphire Airline Partners for Using Your Ultimate Rewards

Your Ultimate Rewards earned from your Chase Sapphire cards can be transferred to nine different airline partners. These points can be transferred regardless of whether you earn them with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Just remember that Ultimate Rewards earned from the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cannot be transferred to these airlines unless you have a Sapphire card. Here’s a look at the different Ultimate Rewards/Chase Sapphire airline partners and how to maximize points with each of them. 

Update: Korean Air is no longer a transfer partner.

List of Chase Sapphire airline partners

Here is the complete list of Chase Sapphire airline partners (note that you can also transfer your Ultimate Rewards earned with the Ink Preferred or Ink Plus to these partners). As you can tell, they all transfer at a 1:1 ratio and almost all of them transfer instantly.

AirlineTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClub1:1Instant
British Airways Executive Club1:1Instant
Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM1:1Instant
Iberia Plus1:1Instant
Korean Air SKYPASS1:1Instant
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1:112 to 48 hours
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®1:1Instant
United MileagePlus®1:1Instant
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1Instant

So now that you know what all the Sapphire airline partners (or Ultimate Reward airline partners) are let’s take a look at what each partner has to offer in terms of redemptions.

I’m going to review over some of my favorite redemptions with these different airlines to give you an idea of the kind of value you can obtain with these partners.

Sapphire airline partners

Sapphire airline partners
Complete list of Ultimate Rewards/Sapphire airline partners.


Flying Blue

Flying Blue offers some pretty great sweet spots for different destinations.

These include:

Getting to Europe

Roundtrip in business class to Europe for 125,000 miles and only $164 in total fees and $118 in economy.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.42.51 AM
Delta charges $164 in total fees

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.50.07 AM
Delta charges about $120 in total fees for economy bookings

Getting to Tel Aviv

Roundtrip from the US to Tel Aviv for only 50,000 miles roundtrip and $240 in fees is another steal.

via Air France and KLM

Getting to Mexico and some Caribbean destinations

Roundtrip to Mexico and Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, etc.) and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also some great redemptions. I don’t know of any other program that lumps all of these countries and territories together but this is another sweet spot because it will only cost you 25,000 miles for a round trip.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.06.11 PM
Getting to Cancun Via Delta and Aeromexico

Getting to Hawaii

Getting to Hawaii via Flying Blue is very cheap too. Here’s how cheap a roundtrip can get with Flying Blue.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 2.46.16 PM
Only 30,000 miles and $5 via Delta!

There are many other sweet spots with the Flying Blue program and you can read about them here.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines consistently ranks as one of the top airlines in the world. They’re known for their remarkable level of service offered and their outstanding premium products like the Singapore Suites. They also offer some decent redemptions on partners like United. What’s great about this program is that it is also a transfer partner of both Amex and Citi. So it’s really easy to rack up Singapore Krisflyer miles.

Amex Membership Rewards
Use Amex Membership Rewards to book a flight on Singapore Suites.


Even though points transferred from your Sapphire cards don’t count towards the Companion Pass, Southwest can still be a terrific transfer partner. You just have to be careful when transferring points to Southwest because sometimes your value will be better preserved when using the Chase Travel Portal if you have the Sapphire Reserve.

That’s because the Sapphire Reserve gets 1.5 cents per point when redeeming. As the flight examples below show, the value in cents per point for Southwest flights is usually between 1.4 and 1.6 cents per point.

HOU to OAK (Oakland)

  • $404 round trip
  • 24,468 Rapid Rewards + $11.20 in fees

$404 – $11.20 = $392.80

$392.80 / 24,468 = 1.6 cents per point.

HOU to MBJ (Jamaica)

  • $404.76 roundtrip
  • 17,500 Rapid Rewards + $114.66 in fees

$404.76  – $114.66 = $290.10

$290.10 / 17,500 = 1.6 cents per point.

HOU to MDW (Chicago)

  • $332.95 roundtrip
  • 21,584 Rapid Rewards + $11.20 in fees

$332.95 – $11.20 = $321.75

$321.75 / 21,584 = 1.4 cents per point 

HOU to CUN (Cancun)

  • $459.70 roundtrip
  • 24,998  Rapid Rewards +$74.10 in fees

$459.70 – $74.10 = $385.60

$385.60 / 24,998 = 1.5 cents per point

But, if you hold the Southwest Companion Pass then you’re getting double the value out of your points. In that case, transferring your Ultimate Rewards to Southwest results in netting Rapid Rewards valued at 3 cents per point. In that situation, Southwest becomes a great candidate for point transfers.


United has some decent redemption opportunities but again if you have the Sapphire Reserve, you need to pay special attention to the prices that your tickets would cost. This is because you could be losing out on a ton of value by transferring your points to United.

As an example, you can fly from Houston (IAH) to Orlando (MCO) for as low as $83 roundtrip.

Booking this flight through the Chase Travel Portal that would only require 5,533 Ultimate Rewards. If you transferred your Ultimate Rewards to United, you’d have to shell out  25,000 miles! That’d be a waste of about 20,000 Ultimate Rewards all because you chose to book the flight differently. So always check the cash prices.

For international itineraries, United actually offers some decent rates to various places around the globe. But what’s best about them is that you typically pay very low fees on you award tickets, so even if their mileage requirements are a bit higher, you can save cash on your awards.

Aer Lingus AerClub, Iberia, and British Airways

I lump all of these three airlines together because Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways, and Iberia are all linked rewards programs. They each have a distance-based reward chart but they all offer different redemption possibilities.

Here are the three award charts of the programs.

British Airways 

Aer Lingus 


Aside from some small differences with the Aer Lingus chart, the zone requirements are all the same between the charts. You’ll notice that Aer Lingus and British Airways have the exact same Avios requirements. However, Iberia has different requirements. Interestingly, Iberia’s requirements for the first three zones in business class are worse than than British Airways and Aer Lingus, but after that they actually offer better redemptions.

Each program has different calendars for their off-peak days, which can affect the price of the flights.

Aer Lingus AerClub

Aer Lingus AerClub has a few decent sweet spots that they share with British Airways Avios. The good thing about using Avios for Aer Lingus is that the fees will be lower than booking with Brith Airways (though still significant). Check out the below bookings in economy and business class for a roundtrip between Boston and Dublin.


Iberia can be a terrific partner to use for booking business class flights from certain locations within the US to Spain. There are some Iberia sweet spots like getting from Chicago to Madrid for only 68,000 points roundtrip and around $200 in fees. If Amex ever runs another Avios bonus promotion (very likely), then this redemption can get even sweeter, making it one of the most lucrative ways to get to Europe in business class out of any program.

Secret sweetspot from Chicago to Europe

British Airways

British Airways Avios also offers a number of good uses for Ultimate Rewards. Even though there have been devaluations, British Airways Avios can still be put to use on American Airlines short-haul flights around the US and to places like the Caribbean.

You can also still get to the East Coast to Europe for 100,000 Avios roundtrip in business class which isn’t that bad, especially if you can book a partner with limited fees like Aer Lingus. You can also utilize British Airways Avios for getting around South America, getting to Hawaii, and for various other medium-distance flights around the globe.

The below example shows one of the best Avios redemptions which is flying between SCL and LIM in South American for only 10,000 Avios and $30 in fees.

Virgin Atlantic

The biggest knock against Virgin Atlantic is that using points for flights on their own metal can result in some pretty high fuel surcharges. The plus side is that some of the rewards are pretty cheap so it’s like getting a big discount when paying cash in some cases.

While Virgin Atlantic is not a member of a major alliance, they partner with several airlines, such as Delta, Singapore, ANA, Hawaiian, and a few others. On several of these partners, fees can be pretty minimal. The drawback is that one way awards typically cost the same as roundtrip awards so you pretty much want to just stick to booking roundtrips.

If you do enough research, you’ll find some pretty good sweet spots for some of these partner awards. For example, one very popular sweet spot is using 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a roundtrip first class ticket to Japan with ANA and only about $180 in fees. That’s around 100,000 miles cheaper than what Star Alliance partners United and Aeroplan would require. That redemption also offers around 23 cents per point which is straight up ridiculous!

Korean Air

Korean Air has some very cheap sweet spots to regions all around the world. They also have a co-branded credit card which sometimes comes with a targeted offer of 40,000 or even 50,000 miles. Combined with Ultimate Rewards, you can quickly earn enough miles to get to places like Asia and South American in a hurry. The 80,000 redemption to Europe for a roundtrip business class ticket is extremely cheap too (though the fees can be a bit high).

Two solid redemptions on Korean Air include:

North America to Korea

      • 70,000 miles in economy
      • 125,000 miles in business class

North America to Japan

      • 70,000 miles in economy
      • 125,000 miles in business class

Also, here’s a look at the SkyTeam award chart and some of my favorite Korean Air redemptions on SkyTeam partners.

North America to Hawaii

      • 25,000 miles in economy
      • 45,000 miles in business class

North America to South America 

      • 50,000 miles in economy
      • 110,000 miles in business class

North America to Europe

      • 50,000 miles in economy
      • 80,000 miles in business class

Find out more about Korean Air here.


Final word on Chase Sapphire airline partners

Aside from Hyatt redemptions, transferring your Chase Sapphire Ultimate Rewards to airline partners is where you’re going to get the best value most of the time. Although Chase doesn’t have as many airline partners that American Express has, there are still some solid Chase Sapphire airline partners to maximize your points with.

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