Which frequent flyer programs will get you on the world’s longest flights?

Posted on October 7, 2014 by in Emirates Reviews & Skywards, Etihad Reviews & Etihad Guest

During your next dinner party, wouldn't it be fantastic to tell your friends about your flight in a luxurious business class cabin on one of the longest flights in the world?

You will be able to enjoy some of the world's finest airlines for an extended period of time, while ensuring you are up-to-date on all recent Hollywood productions, since these flights run for almost 17 hours non-stop!

The flights

These are the world's longest commercial, non-stop flights according to Wikipedia:

1) Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney on Qantas – this is a recently-introduced 8,578-miles monster on their Airbus A380-800

2) Johannesburg to Atlanta has been operated by Delta for many years now. It is 8,439 miles long and is flown on a Boeing 777-200LR

3) Etihad started the Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles service last June and also runs this 8,390 long-haul on a Boeing 777-200LR

4) Emirates upgraded the strategic Dubai to Los Angeles route to an A380-800 two years ago and just about maxes out the range at 8,339 miles

5) Saudia runs from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles at just about 60 miles less than Emirates, but on a 777-300ER

The miles

Now we all know that business class fares can be mighty pricey. Delta charges almost $9,000 for the return business class ticket from Johannesburg to Atlanta and Emirates isn't shy in lightening your wallet by another $8,000.

Frequent flyer programs can get you the return trip for as little as 90,000 miles. We have run all routes through the MightyTravels Trip Planner and here are the results to how YOU can fly on one of the WORLD'S LONGEST FLIGHTS in BUSINESS CLASS.

1) Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney on Qantas

The first biggest problem with award bookings on Qantas is that award availability is really tight! I was able to find one seat every Wednesday next year in July/August in business class on QF 8.

If you can find availability, you can either use 110,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or US Airways Dividend Miles for the return flight. AAdvantage charges a bit more at 125,000, but this is still a great deal!

2) Johannesburg to Atlanta on Delta Airlines

Finding the required 'Saver Award' availability with Delta is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I was unable to find a single business class seat from Johannesburg to Atlanta in the next 12 months. The outbound from Atlanta to South Africa is a bit easier though, with a couple of seats sprinkled in.

Once you have travel dates, you can use 105,000 (Brazilian-based) GOL Smiles for the return trip or 120,000 miles with either Korean Air SKYPASS or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

3) Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles on Etihad

When first introduced, this flight was available almost every day in business and first class. Availability is a bit more spotty now, but since Etihad isn't part of any major alliance, there is still just a limited amount of partners who can book the flight using miles.

The easiest way to book is with 135,000 AAdvantage miles followed by 140,000 Korean Air SKYPASS. air berlin's topbonus wants 190,000 miles and is a transfer partner just for European-based AMEX cards.

4) Dubai to Los Angeles on Emirates

Emirates award availability has been steadily getting better in business and first class cabins over the last couple of months.

The lowest of miles needed for the return trip is with Virgin America Elevate – just 90,000 – but you will pay for fuel surcharges. Both Korean Airlines SKYPASS and Alaska Airlines allow redemptions for 140,000 miles on Emirates A380-800 aircraft. If you have the miles, use 180,000 for the first class and use of the shower.

5) Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles on Saudia

Saudia often has the best availability of any SkyTeam partner with several seats (!) in business class available for miles. It's not easy to get a visa for Saudi Arabia, so you will probably be connecting through the country.

Korean Air SKYPASS can book you the flight for 120,000 miles, as can partner Alitalia's MilleMiglia (AMEX 1:1). Delta will charge you 140,000 miles for the return trip.

The results

Rather surprising to me, Korean Air SKYPASS (an Ultimate Rewards 1:1 partner) provides access to 4 or 5 of the longest business class flights. It does add fuel surcharges though, which vary by partner. The phone agent will be able to tell you the exact amount before booking.

AAdvantage is America's most generous frequent flyer program. We established that based on economy redemptions two weeks ago. Our assessment also holds true for business class flights on the world's longest routes.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a great program with several great partner redemptions on Alaska Airlines' partners. However, it provides just a limited amount of earning opportunities as of now.

One of the exotic programs (one not part of any of the major credit issuers' transfer programs) is GOL Smiles. It has a very attractive redemption chart and partners with Delta, Qatar and Qantas. However, I have not yet found a sensible way to earn miles there.

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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]

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