How to Book Cathay Pacific Award Flights with Alaska Miles

Booking Cathay Pacific to fly to Asia with Alaska miles is one of the best redemption possibilities out there. The cheap redemption rates along with the flexible routing rules makes for easy and effecient redemptions. The only slight drawback is that you have to find the awards with other programs and then have to call in to book. Here’s a breakdown of how to book Cathay Pacific award flights with Alaska miles.

Amazing redemption rates

The redemption rates on Cathay Pacific when flying to to Asia are outstanding. For example, with the Alaska Award chart on Cathay Pacific you can fly from North America to Asia one-way at the following rates:

  • Economy — 30,000
  • Business Class — 50,000
  • First Class — 70,000 

These rates are extremely competitive compared to other programs. For example, for a one way first class ticket from NYC to Hong Kong would require the following mileage amounts from other programs:

  • 95,000 United
  • 100,000 Singapore
  • 105,000 Aeroplan
  • 110,000 American

The rates are also among the best (if not the best) for flying from other regions to Hong Kong, such as Europe where you can fly a one-way in first class for 70,000 miles and business class for 42,500. Just keep an eye out when booking from other regions because you may not be able to book the same type of stopovers permitted from North America.

Broadly defined Asia region

Alaska defines Asia very broadly and doesn’t break Asia down into sub-regions like most award programs do. This is is terrific for when you’re flying on Cathay Pacific to other destinations in Asia besides Hong Kong. For example, if you wanted to fly to Manilla or Bangkok from LAX you could get there for the same low mileage requirements of 50,000 for business class or 70,000 for first class.


One of the biggest perks of booking with Alaska miles is that you can add stopovers even on one-way awards. So if you wanted to spend a little bit of time in Hong Kong you can stay there for a few nights and then make your way onward to your next destination. Not many other programs allow stopovers on one way awards, so this is a great perk.

Repositioning flights

Alaska allows you to add repositioning flights (though they need to be on Alaska). So if you’re flying out of LAX or SFO, you could add a positioning flight from Seattle for no additional cost. Cathay Pacific flies to the following destinations in the US so these are cities that you might have to position yourself to:

Searching for Cathay Pacific flights

The drawback to booking Cathay Pacific flights with Alaska miles is that they currently don’t show up when you search for them on Alaska’s website. The good news is that you have plenty of options to search for these flights. You can use Qantas, JAL, or British Airways to search for Cathay Pacific flights.

Qantas has a great monthly calendar view which make can it easier to find open awards.

However, I personally prefer to search via the British Airways website because I’m able to view exactly how many seats are open for each flight. Anytime I search for anything on British Airways’ website (and most others), I always search for flights by each individual segment. 

Booking Cathay Pacific Flights with Alaska Miles

Even though you have to call in to book your awards, the process is pretty straight forward. For my bookings I called 1-800-252-7522 which I believe is open more hours than the standard number 1-800-654-5669. 

For the most part I’ve found Alaska reps in the international booking department to be pretty knowledgable although at times some have been inexperienced and have tried to book me on “unbookable” flights (premium cabins on Singapore Airlines). Thus, I’d recommend finding the specific flight you want to book and relaying those specifics to the representative on the phone.

Once they find the flight you’ll have to pay your fees. In my experience, the fees associated with the ticket are very reasonable though they depend on your route. When flying first class within Asia, our fees were only about $44 per person.

Booking fees

When you make your booking over the phone Alaska will also charge you a couple of fees including a $15 telephone reservation fee along with a $12.50 partner award ticket fee for each direction (not segment) of travel. I have not ever had success with getting these fees waived so I’m not sure if that’s possible or not.

One thing I do love about Alaska is that changes can be made freely to your booking so long as you make those changes more than 60 days out. If you wait until within 60 days you’ll have to pay $125.

Update: no longer the case.

Final word

When it comes to booking partner awards over the phone, the process can be quite painful sometimes. However, this is not the case with booking Cathay Pacific awards with Alaska miles. The ease of booking over the phone along with the incredibly cheap awards and reasonable fees make Cathay Pacific awards one of my top redemption possibilities.

7 Reasons Why Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a Powerhouse Program

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a powerhouse program, no doubt.  It offers some of the most valuable redemption possibilities out of any airline for not just getting around the US, but for getting around the world with its many quality partners. Here are 7 reasons why Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a powerhouse program.  

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

1) Bank of America credit cards

Bank of America offers the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card which comes with a 30,000 miles sign-up bonus after spending just $1,000 in 90 days. There’s also a business version of this credit card offering a 30,000 mile sign-up bonus, too.

While these cards aren’t as easy to get approved for as they were a year or two ago, for some people they’re able to take advantage of these cards and rack up a lot of Alaska miles over the course of a year. 

The only thing is that you have to be careful that you get approved for the Visa Signature version of the card, otherwise, you might stuck with a inferior sign-up bonus. Typically, if you get approved for this card and your credit limit is over $5,000, there’s a great chance you’ve got the Visa Signature version.

If you do get stuck with the inferior version, you can always cancel the card before opening it. You’ll still get hit with the hard pull on your credit report but it shouldn’t show up as a newly opened account on your report.

2) Non-revenue earning miles

Alaska MileagePlan is one of the last airline loyalty programs to offer members the chance to earn miles based on the distance flown rather than the price of the airfare. This means that true mileage runs are still possible with Alaska, making it more fun and obtainable to chase elite status.

Also, you can earn status purely with flights on partners, so the possibilities for mileage runs are even easier (although partner miles require a higher threshold for status).

3) Status matches

Alaska is one of the few airlines that will offer you the chance to get your status matched from other major airlines like United, American, Delta, etc. They will even match you up to their top level of elite status MVP Gold 75K! Once you hit the top level of elite status, you’re rewarded with exceptional bonus earning rates and other perks like confirmed upgrades among others.

4) Stopovers on one way awards

Alaska is also one of the last loyalty programs that allows you to do stopovers on one-way awards. These are ideal for when you’re flying on partners like Cathay Pacific and have to fly through Hong Kong, as it essentially adds on a free one-way segment to your next destination and give you the chance to visit another city.

5) Cheap redemptions on Alaska

Alaska now operates a distance-based redemption chart that greatly reduced the mileage requirements for some routes, especially those for certain short-haul flights. Below is a list of some of the changes that were made (using the same terminology that Alaska is using).

“Hop”: trips less than 700 miles

  • Main Cabin: 5,000 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was previously 12,500 miles, so that’s a fantastic reduction. You can now get between destinations like SFO-SEA for only 5,000 Alaska miles!

“Skip”: trips between 701 and 1,400 miles

  • Main Cabin: 7,500 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was also previously 12,500 miles.

“Jump”: trips between 1,401 and 2,100 miles

  • Main Cabin: 10,000 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was also previously 12,500 miles.

“Leap”: trips longer than 2,101

  • Main Cabin: 12,500 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This essentially preserves the previous standard redemption route for getting around North America with Alaska miles.

6) Cheap partner redemptions

The redemption rates on partner awards is what makes Alaska is so special in my opinion. They consistently offer redemption rates they blow others out of the water and they have great partners despite the fact that they don’t belong to an alliance.

For example, you could use Alaska miles to fly business class on Cathay Pacific to South East Asia for only 100,000 miles. American would require 40,000 additional miles for that same booking. United would require 60,000 more for that route, too.

These cheap redemptions are found all across the board, whether you’re traveling to Asia, South America, and even Europe, you’ll find that Alaska offers some of the most competitive pricing for redemptions available. And the fees are often very reasonable.

Alaska also partners with airlines like Emirates, although the most recent sneak devaluation really hurt that redemption (and Alaska’s credibility to an extent).

The big thing to remember with Alaska is that they offer different redemption rates based on the airline that you’re flying with. So if you’re using Alaska miles to fly to Asia, the miles needed might be different depending if you’re flying on Korean, Cathay Pacific, JAL, etc.

7) Great customer service

In my handful of experiences with Alaska Airlines representatives, the experience has been great. They’ve been courteous, professional, and knowledgable, even about booking on partner awards which is something I’ve learned not to take for granted with phone reps. Although my experiences are bit anecdotal, I feel that Alaska is one of the airlines that have provided me with consistent quality when trying to sort things out.

Final word

The only drawback to the Mileage Plan program is that they are not a transfer partner of a major rewards program like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. They are a transfer partner to SPG but that only goes so far. Still, with the Bank of America Alaska cards it’s not that that difficult to earn enough miles over the course of about 6 months to a year, to have enough miles for a premium redemption to somewhere across the globe. For that reason, and all of the reasons above, I think Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the top loyalty programs out there.

New Alaska Sign-up Bonus Offer with Free Companion Pass & Statement Credit

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card is offering 30,000 miles for its sign-up bonus but it’s coming with a $100 statement credit AND a free companion pass ticket for the first year. Here’s a look at the offer.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

Sign-up bonus

  • 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days

30,000 miles doesn’t sound like a lot but Alaska miles are worth more than many other programs. They offer some of the best redemption rates on many routes and have flexible routing rules allowing for one way awards and for stopovers on those awards, too. In my experience, they are fantastic with helping to piece together one way awards on round the world trips.

Here are just a couple of examples for redemptions in business class:

  • 30,000 one way to South America in business class
  • 50,000 miles one way to Hong Kong in business class (on Cathay Pacific)
  • 55,000 miles one way to Australia in business class

If you could get the business version of this card, too, you’d be looking at an additional 30,000 miles!

Companion Pass ticket

To take advantage of the Companion Pass ticket you’ll need to book a paid (non-award) round trip award on Alaska or Virgin America in economy using Typically, you’d have to pay a total of around $120 to take advantage of this perk but now it’s available for only $20 since he $99 is waived.

Note: If you were planning on taking a roundtrip economy ticket, I’d check with what routes are served by Alaska and Virgin America first to make sure you could use this on your travels since their networks don’t cover the US equally.

  • This special Companion Pass offer expires July 10th, 2017

$100 statement credit

The annual fee for this card is $75 and it is not waived the first year so this $100 statement credit is a fantastic way to offset the fee.

  • You need to place a dummy booking to access the offer with the $100 statement credit. For more about how to do that, read here.
  • Update: There’s now a direct link for this offer which you can find here.

Bonus earning potential

The card also earns the following bonus rates:

  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases

A word of warning

There are potentially two issues with getting this card. Sometimes Bank of America will deny you if you have tons of inquiries and no prior relationship with them. This is not always the case but it’s good to be aware of.

Another issue is that you need to be approved for the Visa Signature version of this card to get the best bonus. However, sometimes Bank of America will approve you for a lower tier visa, which comes with a weaker sign-up bonus.

You should be able to tell which type of Visa you’re approved for by the language found on the welcome message or your credit limit (it should be at least $5,000). You can also check by simply calling in. If you do get a lower tier Visa, you can refuse to activate the card and it cancel it and that often prevents it from showing up as a new account (although the hard pull inquiry will still be there).

Final word

It’s always a nice thing to have Alaska miles on deck in case you need them. I’ve been able to put together complex trips much more easily because of the different partners that Alaska has. If you’re not familiar with them, I suggest reading up on Alaska Mileage Plan and looking at how valuable these miles can be. Once you do that, you’ll probably see that this is a strong credit card offer.

New Changes to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska’s new changes to its frequent flier program are truly a breath of fresh air. Typically when you find out an airline is “revamping” its frequent flyer program, this news comes with a host of devaluations, more restrictions on routing, and maybe a redemption or two that gets a little bit better. In short, the news is generally bad. However, on the heels of announcing its merger with Virgin America, Alaska has rolled out a number of very positive changes to its program.

Why is Alaska Airlines a big deal? 

A lot of people are fans of Alaska Airlines because it’s historically been easy to accumulate tons of miles with them through both the personal and business Bank of America credit cards (usually offering 25,000 to 30,000 miles). In addition, Alaska Airlines offers some superb redemptions for partners like American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, JAL, and others. The ability to accumulate tons of Alaska miles and use them efficiently on partners is one reason why Alaska Airlines is extremely popular. 

But now there’s another reason why Alaska is going to be popular since it’s now offering some cheap ways to get around the US on short-haul flights and new ways to accumulate miles with Virgin America. 

Alaska Airlines routes

Alaska Airlines operates with a hub in Seattle (Sea-Tac) and secondary hubs in Los Angeles, Portland, and Anchorage. It operates flights all over the US, and some destinations in Canada, Mexico, and Central America. With its hubs concentrated in the west, it’s a great choice for getting around and to and from the western United States. 

Alaska Airlines destinations from SEA-TAC.

Cheaper redemptions

The most welcomed change in this program is the new distance-based redemption rates that greatly reduced the mileage requirements for some routes, especially those for certain short-haul flights. Below is a list of some of the changes that were made (using the same terminology that Alaska is using).

These rates below are for non-refundable one-way flights and there are a few things to keep in mind. One, you may not always be able to find the lowest routes (although I had no issues finding these redemption rates about 2 to 3 months out). Also, while these redemption rates are low, many of these routes can be purchased for cheap already on airlines like Southwest, Virgin America, and Alaska so you always want to consider if using cash is a better option. Finally, stopovers are still allowed on one-way awards, so you can further maximize your value on these routes.  

“Hop”: trips less than 700 miles

  • Main Cabin: 5,000 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was previously 12,5000 miles, so that’s a fantastic reduction. You can now get between destinations like SFO-SEA for only 5,000 Alaskan miles! This makes up for the recent devaluation that hit British Airways’ short-haul flights in North America that many people used to rely on.

“Skip”: trips between 701 and 1,400 miles

  • Main Cabin: 7,500 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was also previously 12,500 miles.

“Jump”: trips between 1,401 and 2,100 miles

  • Main Cabin: 10,000 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This route was also previously 12,5000 miles.

“Leap”: trips longer than 2,101

  • Main Cabin: 12,500 to 20,000
  • First Class: 25,000

This essentially preserves the previous standard redemption route for getting around North America with Alaska miles.

New transfer ratio with Virgin America

Starting January 9, 2017, you will be able to transfer Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines. The ratio of this transfer is 1 Virgin America mile to 1.3 Alaska Airlines miles. This is not quite as good as some were hoping for since Virgin America’s revenue-based miles are worth more (usually 2 cents per point) and come with better flexibility, but it’s still better than a 1:1 ratio, so I’ll take it. 

The big play on this is that Virgin America is a transfer partner of SPG (and so is Alaska). So instead of transferring SPG points directly to Alaska at a 1:1 ratio, it now makes more sense to transfer those SPG points to Virgin America and then to Alaska to maximize your points. For example, if you were to transfer 30,000 SPG points to Virgin America and then to Alaska, you’d end up with 45,500 miles with the 20% SPG bonus factored in versus just 35,000 Alaska miles if you had transferred SPG points straight to Alaska.

Virgin America is also currently a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points, so there’s also the possibility of transferring from those programs but there are a couple of problems with that. First, Citi is dropping Virgin America in January of 2017 and also the ratio from both of those programs will cut your points by 50% (2:1 ratio) so it’s a no-go for many. However, if you just need to top-off points for a redemption, this may be a solid choice.

And don’t forget that Comenity Bank offers two Virgin America credit cards. The sign-up bonuses are on the lower end at 10,000 and 15,000 but with the 1:1.3 transfer ratio, you could convert 15,000 miles into nearly 20,000 Alaska miles. Also, sometimes targeted offers roll around for these cards with offers up to 30,000 miles. If you were planning on using Alaska miles for a partner redemption, it might not be a bad idea to consider a Comenity Bank Virgin America card to supplement your Alaska miles. 

Increased mileage accruals with partners

Another change in effect it that you’ll be able to earn more miles when flying with partners. In some cases, you might be able to earn up to 80% more miles when flying first class or business on different partners, such as British Airways or Cathay Pacific.  

Bye, bye to Delta

Alaska announced that they are dropping Delta as a partner starting May 1, 2017. This means that you will no longer be able to earn Alaska miles with Delta and also not be able to book Delta flights with Alaska miles. For folks like myself who never fly Delta, this isn’t a problem but it really was a blow for many who earned Alaskan miles with Delta.  

Final word 

It’s great to see positive changes happening for a frequent flier program. There’s now additional options for getting around the country with miles for cheaper and more ways to rack up Alaska miles so that you can take advantage of their great partner redemptions. The loss of Delta as a partner hurts some pretty bad, but overall, I think these changes are more on the positive side. 



You Can Now Use Alaska Miles to Fly Emirates to Australia

Assuming this isn’t an error that will be shortly remediated, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has potentially unveiled yet another addition with routing now available to Sydney, Australia on Emirates.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

For those unaware, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the most valuable programs for award redemptions since it offers some of the best redemption rates, flexible routing rules (stopovers on one-way awards), and if you’re in good with Bank of America, it’s not hard to accumulate miles in batches of 25K to 30L with their personal and business Alaska Airlines credit card. With all of that said, this new redemption possibility is definitely not for everyone.  

Booking partners with Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines doesn’t belong to a major alliance like OneWorld or Star Alliance but instead it partners with a number of different airlines, Emirates being one of them. Also, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of those unique programs that has a different award chart for each partner. 

The tricky thing about booking partner awards with Alaska Airlines is that you can only book certain partners between designated regions. I learned this a while back when I tried unsuccessfully to search and book an Emirates flight from the Middle East to Asia and sworn up and down that the “damn thing was broken.” Turns out, I just didn’t know what I was doing, since Alaska Airlines only allows one to book Emirates from the continental US. 

You can experiment with the award chart here but note that Emirates to Australia is not showing up on the chart yet (but will show up when searching specific routes). 

The new routes to Australia 

So now a new route has opened up and you can use your Alaska Airlines miles to book Emirates to the Land Down Under. Specifically, the ideal route shows JFK -> DXB -> SYD.

Other routes go through Milan (MXP) en route to DXB and Bangkok (BKK) en route to SYD. This is such a long journey that a stopover might prove to be a necessity. 

If you’re aware of the most recent devaluation for Emirates’ awards, you probably already know that this isn’t going to be cheap. 

Here are the rates for one-way travel: 

  • Economy: 65,000 miles one-way
  • Business: 120,000 miles one-way
  • First Class: 225,000 miles one-way

Cheaper ways to get to Australia 

If you’ve read my best ways to use miles and points to get to Australia, you know these figures are nowhere near any of the sweet spots. In fact, you could use Alaska Airline miles to get a round trip in business class on Qantas for 110,000 miles or even go on Cathay Pacific for 120,000 miles round trip. Fiji Airways and Korean Air are also much cheaper options, but availability can be a real issue for those. And don’t forget a roundtrip from North American to Australia on ANA could be as low as 105,000 miles in business class!

Obviously, Emirates is one of the top 3 airlines, so you have to factor that in, but 120,000 miles for a one-way business is hard to stomach for me considering the cheaper alternatives (although it’s nice to see total fees for even a one way first class ticket are only around $50 USD). 

As Point Me to the Plane remarks, this may be an option suited for those who are sitting on a ton of Alaska miles and are just looking for a way to finally burn them. If you’re “rolling in the dough” of Alaska miles and have been eyeing a journey on Emirates first class (especially a long one), then you could incorporate a stopover into your journey and potentially spend close to two days living in an Emirates plane and indulging in the Emirates lounge at DXB. 

Alternative for booking Emirates 

If you really want to fly Emirates, Japan Airlines (with its distance-based chart) is still probably the most effecient way to book a premier cabin on Emirates, but you have to contend with the fact that it’s only a transfer partner of SPG, so accumulating JAL miles can be somewhat of an issue. 

Final word 

Overall, this is a very expensive way to get to Australia and is probably only for those who really want to have the Emirates experience and have stockpiled plenty of Alaska miles. If you just want to make your way to Australia, there are plenty of cheaper options out there that still offer high quality premium cabins so consider those.

HT PMTTP; original HesBeenVeryNaughty via Reddit

The Best Ways to Use Miles and Points to Get to New Zealand

My number one bit of advice to someone planning on making it to New Zealand on miles and points would be to plan as far in advance as possible and to stay as open-minded as you can about taking longer routes through other continents, such as Asia. Yes, that means more flying time but it will also make your booking experience much easier given the difficulty involved with getting to New Zealand on award flights. With that said, here are the best ways to use miles and points to get to New Zealand.

Limited direct flights 

The first thing to be mindful of is that there are only a handful of direct flights to New Zealand from the United States.

These include:

  • Houston (IAH) to Auckland (AKL) – Air New Zealand
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland (AKL) – Air New Zealand and American Airlines
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL) – United and Air New Zealand

Unfortunately, award spots on these flights are extremely hard to find. This is why you need to be open to routing through Asia or Australia to get to New Zealand.

Economy vs business class 

If you want to get to New Zealand in economy, it’s not very difficult to find flights. In fact, your experience with finding award tickets will be much more pleasant than looking for business class routes.

However, if you want to get to New Zealand in business class or first class (at the saver level), you’re going to have to really plan ahead (7 months plus) and be open-minded about jumping on longer routes. Instead of flying directly to the home of the Kiwis, more than likely you’ll be routing through Australia or Asia (or both) so that your final route might end up looking like: US -> Asia -> Australia -> New Zealand. That might not sound like fun, but because you’ll be in business class it should be a lot more bearable. 


  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, SPG

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 75,000
  • Business class: 120,000

United Airlines

My preferred method of getting to New Zealand would be to book a roundtrip with ANA miles on United Airlines since they don’t pass on fuel surcharges and your total fees would be minimal. The problem is the abysmal open award space. At the time of this article, April 2017 had one of the best months for availability and for Saver business class seats and you can see how limited it was to Sydney in April/May in the image below.

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 5.33.48 PM

When I searched for availability from the US to Auckland with United on Aeroplan’s website, I found a lot of United award availability for flights 5+ months out and decent availability for flights only a couple of months out but it wasn’t the kind of availability I liked. The major issue with these flights is that the business class redemptions were mostly mixed-class fares, often with economy being the longest leg. If you search long and hard enough (for flights 6-7+ months out) you might be able to find itineraries with business class for the long-haul legs but it’s probably still going to come down to getting a little bit lucky. 

Thus, while getting to New Zealand via United with ANA miles would be terrific,  I definitely recommend expanding your searches to routings via Australia and Asia that involve other partners. Awards seats in business class may still be a little hard to come by but by getting creative with your routes and combining alliance partners, you should eventually be able to piece something together.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand offers the most routes from the United States to New Zealand but the problem is that the award availability is very limited and historically has been. You might get lucky and come across some good availability here and there but for the most part I wouldn’t count on there to be open seats on Air New Zealand.

ANA (plus Asian airline partners)

Using ANA to book ANA plus Asian airline partner airlines to get to New Zealand can be a great option but will obviously require you to connect through Asian airports to get there and back. A lot of the routing through Asia include partners: Singapore Airlines, Asiana, Air China, and Thai Airways. For example, take a look at this sample itinerary from IAH to AKL utilizing ANA and Air China. 

Routing through Asia is probably the easiest way to find awards to New Zealand.

One of the issues for business class redemptions is that the business class fares are often mixed with economy on long segments. For example, most of the routes involving Singapore Airlines options included a long economy leg from Singapore to Sydney or Auckland. The key again is try to book as far in advance as possible, search routing options day-by-day, and experiment with routes through Japan, China, Southeast Asia, etc. If you are relentless with your efforts, you should eventually be able to piece together an all-business class itinerary. 

ANA routing rules regarding connections are a little complex so if you want to try to learn more about them check our this article. If all of that seems a bit over your head, you can just play around with the search function on ANA’s website and try to find connecting flights that work for you based on what they provide.

The total fees at about $465 for a roundtrip is a little high, but you can’t forget that you’re getting an awesome redemption rate of 120,000 for your roundtrip, or if you book with ANA’s own metal, just 105,000!

Stop over and open jaw possibilities

Don’t forget that you’re allowed a stopover and open-jaw with ANA as well. If you’re routing through Asia, it might make sense to book your stopover there in a place like Tokyo or Beijing to help break up your flights. 

Many people who make the trip all the way down to New Zealand like to combine their trip with a trip to Australia or perhaps an exotic destination like French Polynesia.

If you wanted to include a stopover in Sydney you could do the following:

  • Outbound: SFO -> AUK
  • Inbound: AUK -> SYD [stopover] -> SFO

Or, if you wanted to hit up Australia and still make your trip even more exotic by stoping over in a place like French Polynesia you could go with the following:

  • Outbound: SFO -> AUK
  • Inbound: SYD [open jaw] -> Tahiti (PPT) [stopover] -> SFO

You’d have to take care of your flight from AUK to SYD and your fees might be a little higher since your flights might not include just United, but for 120,000 miles, getting to New Zealand, Australia, and French Polynesia is superb, even if you have to shell out a little in fees.

Alaskan Airlines

Alaskan Airlines offers great redemption rates to a number of destinations around the globe and New Zealand is one of those places. As usual, the rates differ depending on the partner, so here are a few of the best ways to use Alaskan miles to get to New Zealand.

Cathay Pacific B777-300
Cathay Pacific is a great use of Alaskan Miles to New Zealand, Photo by Alvin Law.


  • 85,000 in economy
  • 110,000 in business class

The 110,000 is business class roundtrip to New Zealand (via Australia) and sounds exceptional, right? The problem is that almost all of the search results you find for business class redemptions will be mixed-class cabins, with the long legs from the States being in economy or at best premium economy. Unfortunately, much like Air New Zealand, business class award availability with Qantas is one of the hardest to come by. Every once in a while they roll out with more open dates but for the most part if you want to find open business class seats, you’ll have to do a lot of searching and will probably struggle to find suitable options for a roundtrip (though it can be done).

However, if you’re interested in economy you should be able to find plenty of open seats; it’s just that the deal isn’t quite so sweet at 85,000 miles roundtrip.

Fiji Airways

  • 80,000 in economy
  • 110,000 in business class

Fiji Airways offers more outstanding rates to get to New Zealand but it’s got the same issues as Qantas in terms of very limited business class availability. I searched for months on Alaskan’s website and only found a couple of days with open business class seating but others have had more luck finding business clas availability (via Fiji). Much like Qantas, economy had wide-open dates, however.

Korean Air

  • 85,000 in economy
  • 125,000 in business class

Booking business and/or first class on Korean Air’s metal with partner miles is extremely difficult because they have been known to limit their inventory to partners, sometimes with only one business class seat. I searched through months on Delta and Alaska’s website and only found a seat here and there for business class and economy wasn’t much better. Therefore, while the redemption rate with Alaskan miles is tempting, this isn’t a very practical option for getting to New Zealand for the time being.

Cathay Pacific

  • 80,000 in economy
  • 120,000 in business class

You’ll need to search for award availability with British Airways or Japan Airlines since Alaska often doesn’t show Cathay Pacific award availability. A quick search for availability about 7 months out showed many open business class seats (sometimes up to 5 seats open) between Hong Kong and Auckland and so you’d just need to find Cathay Pacific flights from departure points in the US (SFO or LAX).

The product level on Cathay Pacific and redemption rates make it one of the best ways to get New Zealand and definitely one of the best ways to use Alaskan miles. While award availability is not phenomenal it’s still better than many of the other options for getting to New Zealand, so if you have Alaskan miles then consider Cathay Pacific as a primary choice.

Remember, Alaskan Airlines has a very generous stopover policy allowing one stopover on one-ways and two stopovers on roundtrips. A route through Asia to Oceania is a perfect time to take advantage of these!

United Airlines 

  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles:  Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase cards, SPG (2:1)

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 80,000
  • Business class: 140,000

As stated, award availability for (saver) business class to New Zealand on United is not great and you’ll need to book far in advance if you want to even have a chance to snag redemptions with business class seats between the US and Australia/New Zealand. On the other hand, if you’re searching for economy flights, you should be able to find plenty of flights 6+ months out and decent availability for flights under 6 months out.

The same logic applies from the ANA bookings: you want to explore routing options with Star Alliance partners through Asia and Australia to New Zealand. United will not allow you to route through Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, to New Zealand (or Australia), so you’ll be primarily looking at bookings through Asia with Star Alliance partners, such as ANA, Singapore, etc.

Another routing rule for United to be aware of is that when routing from North America to the South Pacific, you can only have 3 connections, which means 4 total segments one-way. So keep that in mind when piecing together your routes through Asia. 

United allows one stopover on roundtrips although there appears to be some changes rolling out

Delta Airlines

  • Alliance: SkyTeam
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, American Express Delta cards, SPG

Virgin Australia

  • Business class: 160,000
Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300ER in LAX (VH-VPH)
Photo by wilco737

Delta has some pretty horrible redemptions to Australia and New Zealand and the lowest I found when I searched was 300,000 miles roundtrip. However, Delta has access to non-SkyTeam partner Virgin Australia which has the largest inventory of business class awards to Australia even in peak times and no fuel surcharges. You may have to route through cities like Brisbane or Melbourne but you should be able to connect to New Zealand with Virgin Australia or SkyTeam member China Airlines. These routes are as low as 160,000 round trip and the business class product looks pretty great on Virgin Australia.

My issue is that I wasn’t able to find these awards on Delta’s site but it’s good knowing that this option is at least offered on occasion and/or that you have the possibility of tracking down these awards.

Another option for getting there with Delta but via Asia is China Eastern. 

Singapore Airlines

  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Ways to earn miles: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thankyou points, SPG

Singapore Airlines is a bit of a pricey option for getting to New Zealand but it still makes the list since it’s a transfer partner to the major reward programs (and thus easy to accumulate miles for) and it offers one of the best business class and economy products out of any airline.

Photo by Bruno Geiger

Singapore airlines with online 15% discount factored in

  • Economy: 85,000
  • Business class: 170,000

Singapore’s award booking still confuses me, however, when it comes to getting to New Zealand. First, when I input routes from the West Coast to New Zealand, like SFO -> AUK, I get an error message that states:

The Origin and Destination you have selected constitutes a backtrack routing. Backtracking is not permitted except as required by routing restrictions. Backtracking occurs when a journey does not continue in the same direction as that in which it was begun.

I don’t know why their system defaults to that. To work around that error, I searched for award availability in segments, SFO -> SIN and SIN -> AUK.

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 9.50.26 AM
Singapore showing 110, miles needed from SIN to AUK

The rate that pops up for SIN -> AUK (seen above)  is 110,000 in business class, which is the amount stated on the award chart for Zone 9 Australia “excluding New Zealand.” So that doesn’t makes sense to me but I guess that is the requirement for getting to New Zealand.

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 9.44.42 AM

The biggest issue with Singapore Airlines (besides fuel surcharges sometimes) is that availability can be terrible. For business class, though, it’s not always that bad and I found a decent amount of open seats for the SIN to AUK segment for dates about 6 to 7 months out. The segments from SFO and LAX to SIN (via oneway or connecting Asian flights) can be a little harder to obtain but with enough flexibility and planning, you should be able to find something. And as usual, economy redemptions are much easier to find.

Remember, you’re given one complimentary stopover when you book a Saver roundtrip on Singapore Airlines.

Star Alliance partners

  • Economy: 110,000
  • Business class: 195,000 

The redemption rates on partner awards are much worse than on Singapore’s own metal. Thus, I personally would avoid trying to book Star Alliance partners with Singapore and try to do such bookings with ANA, United, Aeroplan, etc.

American Airlines 

  • Alliance: OneWorld
  • Ways to earn miles: SPG, Citi credit cards

Miles needed:

  • Economy: 80,000
  • Business class: 160,000

Unfortunately, American doesn’t allow you to transit 3rd regions subject to exceptions and North America to South Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) is not given an exception. This means that routing through the Middle East with Qatar and Etihad or through Asia with airlines like Cathay Pacific will cost you additional miles. Therefore, I’m leaving them and others off the list.

American + Qantas

American Airlines runs a direct flight to Auckland from LAX but as you’d probably expect it’s very difficult to find open seats on that flight. However, if you route your flights through Australia and take American Airlines from LAX -> SYD you can find some pretty good business class SAAver availability at times, although you’ll need to searching for about 9 to 10 months out. Check out the SAAver seats below for business class from LAX -> AUK flying American to Sydney and then Qantas to Auckland.

Great business class availability about 10 months out.

Also, although American Airlines does not allow stopovers, the fees are very reasonable and for the roundtrip business class seats found above, you’d be paying about $73 in total fees!

Only $73 in fees!

You could also try to find other Qantas routes that depart from the United States but as already stated when it comes to business class, those can be pretty difficult to find. However, there are routes from LAX, SFO, and DFW you could at least look into.

Final Word 

Getting to New Zealand with miles and points in economy is not very difficult with sufficient planning but getting there in business class requires: 1) ample planning often 7-10 months out; 2) relentless searching; and 3) flexibility with routing connections through different regions of Asia and/or Australia. If you can handle those three things, you should be able to eventually put together routing to New Zealand; otherwise, you might just have to get lucky and come across sporadic award space. 

Cover photo byDarren Puttock via Flickr

Two New Credit Card Offers

[Offers contained within this article may no longer be available]

Per Reddit, two new credit offers (one from Alaskan Airlines and the other from United)  have just rolled out as we roll into the month of June and one of them is one of the best ever offered (although it’s targeted). Here’s a look at the two offers and some insight into whether or not you should apply.

Alaskan Airlines 30,000 miles 

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card is now offering a 30,000 miles sign-up bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days. Many are attracted to the extra 5,000 miles being offered for this card, however, the another offer for 25,000 miles and a $100 statement credit is still available as well.

The latter offer grants you the 25,000 miles upon approval so there’s no spending required for the bonus. If you do get around to spending $1,000 within 90 days of opening the card, you’ll get a $100 statement credit. That statement credit can more than offset the annual fee of $75 which is not waived the first year.

Which offer is best for you depends on whether or not you want to bother with the spending requirement and what kind of value you plan on getting out of the miles. For example, Alaskan miles can be redeemed on partner airlines like American Airlines and Delta. If you can redeem your Alaskan miles for over 2 cents per point, then those additional 5,000 points you get from the 30,000 miles offer would bring more value than the $100 statement credit. On the other hand, maybe you’re not keen on paying annual fees and you’d rather have the statement credit offset the $75 annual fee. It all comes down to personal preference.

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card 70,000 miles

The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card is now offering a 70,000 miles sign-up bonus for $3,000 worth of spending within the first 90 days. 

This is a targeted offer so you’re going to have to be a bit lucky to receive it. To my knowledge, this is the highest bonus ever offered on this card (the standard offer is only 30,000 miles!). I would definitely jump on this offer if I received it. 70,000 miles can go pretty far with United — it’s enough to get you round trip business class tickets to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America, and it is just 10,000 miles short of earning you a round trip business class ticket to places like Hawaii. The value of those 70,000 miles could easily surpass $1,400 when redeemed for premium fares.

If you happened to have already applied for this card in the past 90 days you should definitely send a secured message to Chase requesting a match for the offer. If you’ve actually received an offer for the 70,000 miles you should have no problem receiving the match but even if you haven’t received the offer you might get lucky and get matched anyway.

Keep in mind that this is one of the co-branded cards subject to the new 5/24 Rule. However, some targeted offers (those that come in the mail providing you with an application code) allow you to circumvent the rule. Personally, if I was over 5/24, I don’t think I would apply for this card unless I received an application code, as data points suggest you may get denied.

Chase Ink Plus 70,000 Ultimate Rewards 

And just as a bonus, here’s a reminder about the Chase Ink Plus offer.

This offer was already out but has since been extended for the length of the summer season until August 20, 2016. I think this a superb offer since the annual fee is typically waived the first year. However, the offer is only available in branch (subject to certain exceptions).  To read more about this offer click here.


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