How to use airline miles for the best awards of 2015

Posted on May 7, 2015 by in American Airlines AAdvantage, Krisflyer

how to use airline miles on Cathay Pacific First Class

2015 hasn’t yet seen a major devaluation in any major US airline mileage programs, but I always expect one to be just around the corner, so here is what I think are great uses of airline miles for this year.

Use AAdvantage airline miles to Africa

AAdvantage has an odd set of routing rules and I was long under the impression that you can’t route in one award from the US to Africa with the Middle East carriers. I tried Etihad before and the computer priced it as two awards right away. Over several calls, the agents kept reminding me of the rules and mentioned British Airways as the only carrier with a valid routing.

However, it turns out that you can also use Qatar (even though it goes through the Middle East region!) So I booked myself a seat in business class from San Francisco (via New York outbound and via Dallas inbound) to Kigali, Rwanda and then returning from Cape Town with AA Domestic First and Qatar Business Class.

I consider this amazing value for 75,000 miles each way.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Hawaii – Central America combo

I outlined this cool award here – for me, it will be Mexico City, Acapulco, Hawaii and Aruba next year all from one award (two additional one-ways added to the 35,000 KrisFlyer award).

how to use airline miles

AAdvantage First Class Cathay Pacific from the US to Southeast Asia

This award seems too good to be true, given the devaluation of other programs. It’s 67,500 for anywhere in the US to anywhere in Southeast Asia. Availability isn’t easy to find, but it can be found, as I have booked some for myself for next year.

AAdvantage from Europe to the Maldives

Since I will spend quite some time in Southern Europe this year, this is a great way for me to go from Southern Spain all the way to the Maldives on Etihad Business Class from London to Abu Dhabi (sadly, it seems my equipment changed from A380 to an A340, though).

This is just 30,000 miles in business class and I get long layovers in Madrid and Berlin on the way.

Korean Airlines First Class from Brazil to Los Angeles

Now that Korean Airlines is back as an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, we can book awards again. Unfortunately, Korean has cancelled the Seoul-Nairobi flights, so no more business or first awards from the US to Africa for 80,000 miles (since they all need to be on Korean Airlines metal).

From Brazil, there are no fuel surcharges to consider (otherwise they amount to about $300 per flight). From Sao Paulo, Korean Airlines flies into LAX on a 777. Sadly there’s no A380 first class for this trip, but this is still a great award!

Other good ways on how to use airline miles

Another great redemption is using AAdvantage on Etihad First Class to Abu Dhabi or all the way to the Maldives (AUH-MLE is business class only), though it’s a bit pricey at 90,000 one-way.

United MileagePlus from Southeast Asia to the South Pacific zone is just 45,000 miles one-way in business, but availability is a real problem, with Air New Zealand making it almost impossible for you to fly in business class – but you may get a lucky break.

United MileagePlus is a great tool to use when flying inside Africa – almost any routing is allowed (if you can make it work online) and there are some awesome places to see in between with all these layovers.

how to use airline miles

What else would I like to see?

I want to return to Australia and the South Pacific soon, now that the Australian dollar is a bit more affordable. Places on my list are Melbourne, Papua New Guinea, Noumea and, of course, finally to Papeete.

The biggest problem is finding a seat with stingy Qantas in the A380 first or business class – this needs to be booked at least a year out and by the time AAdvantage lets you book, the seat is usually already booked by someone else (on Qantas or other Oneworld partners), so you need to make a booking somewhere else and cancel it just before you call AAdvantage to book the flight.

What are your favorite mileage redemptions for 2015?

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