My favorite flights and award redemptions for 2016

Posted on May 2, 2016 by in American Airlines AAdvantage, Best use of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, Delta Skymiles, Krisflyer, United Mileage Plus

Lots has changed since late 2014 when I last updated my favorite mileage redemptions. Award programs have changed and my personal taste for trips I’d like to take have changed too. Here are my favorite options.

Aeroplan awards to Europe I (55,000 miles) and Europe II (57,500 miles) using Turkish Airlines in Business Class


Turkish Airlines Business Class (Review) is a great product (even if the connection in Istanbul isn’t. Aeroplan (still) allows redemptions from anywhere in the US to Europe via Istanbul for just 55,000 – 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class. That’s a great deal and availability is usually quite awesome!

How to earn?

Aeroplan points can be accumulated via the 1:1 transfer from American Express Membership Rewards earning cards and TD Aeroplan™ Visa® Credit Card.

AAdvantage Awards to Europe, Middle East & Maldives (Etihad, Qatar), Africa (Qatar) and Asia (Cathay Pacific) in Business Class

While the AAdvantage award chart has become expensive in First Cass the changes for Business Class flying have been modest.

American Airlines itself has been making big strides in improving their own Business Class product not just on the A321T transcon (Review). American AAdvantage now charges 57,500 to destinations in Europe in Business Class one-way.

American also partners with two of the three excellent Middle Eastern Airlines – Qatar Airways (Review) and Etihad (Review) – the Middle East zone is huge with AAdvantage and includes the Maldives – just 70,000 miles will pay for a one-way award ticket in Business Class.


In order to get to Africa Qatar is your best choice – the carrier has just announced a number of new African destinations and we highlighted the chances of getting a lie-flat seat on Qatar Airways recently.


To (South-East) Asia AAdvantage now charges 70,000 on Cathay Pacific (Review) which is a great, solid product as well.

In terms of availability it seems Business Class ward space is most restricted on American Airlines itself, slightly better on Cathay and Qatar and Etihad can be excellent.

How to earn?

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® – you can sign up for them here and compare them with other cards. Also consider transfers from the Starwood points earning cards.

Singapore Airlines to Asia and or Europe in Business/First Class

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is likely the loyalty program that will devalue next. So far they have not and that’s your chance!

Singapore Airlines redemptions can be done online and you should search for flights from/to their US destinations San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston. New York is an A380 destination but availability is tough and fuel surcharges high on the short route to Frankfurt. The easiest awards are Moscow-Houston and another option is Sao Paulo to Barcelona.


Prices vary but ~52,000 Krisflyer miles already can get you a Business Class seat one-way when booked online (saves 15%). Also interesting with Krisflyer if you search say San Francisco to Johannesburg the miles are not much more than San Francisco to Hong Kong but the surcharges jump (though it is still a decent deal).

How to earn?

Krisflyer is a partner of many transfer programs and can be earned with American Express Membership Rewards earning cards, Citi ThankYou points earning cards, Chase Ultimate Rewards Earning Cards and the Starwood points earning cards.

Delta awards to the Indian Ocean (Air France)

Before Turkish Airlines started service to Mauritius and Madagascar Delta has somewhat of a monopoly with awards to the Indian Ocean (for good value Business Class awards).

After several rounds of devaluation Delta now charges 80,000 miles for a Business Class flight to the Indian Ocean including Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar.

MightyTravels 2016-05-02 at 3.29.57 PM

Air France is rolling out the new lie-flat Business Class product this year. The A380 are done (i.e. from Los Angeles to Paris) and the 777 are to follow this year (for the Paris to Mauritius).

How to earn?

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express & Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express – You can sign up for both cards here (and compare with other excellent cards).

American Express Membership Rewards earning cards are another great bet because of the 1:1 transfer option.

United Mileage Plus awards to Africa and Eastern Russia plus South America in Economy

United Business (and First) Class awards have been expensive since the devaluation in 2013 – however now that Turkish Airlines flies to Madagascar and Mauritius and United can book those awards for 80,000 miles one-way. However availability has gone to almost zero recently – I hope this will improve soon.


Turkish Airlines also goes all the way to Novosibirsk – just 70,000 miles will get you there with United Mileage Plus one-way in Business Class.

As a bonus United Mileage Plus awards in Economy to South America seem great value. United has many partners in the region and anywhere in the US to Ecuador (incl. the Galapagos islands) is just 20,000 miles one-way in Economy.

Galapagos Islands

How to earn?

United has a long standing partnership with Chase so you can get the co-branded cards United MileagePlus® Explorer Card or earn via any Chase Ultimate Rewards Earning Cards.

Lufthansa Miles & More awards Hawaii to Central Asia 35,000 miles

I booked a Lufthansa Miles & More award Hawaii to Central Asia for 35,000 miles just a few weeks ago. This is an awesome redemption in my book since flights to Hawaii are cheap from the West Coast hubs usually.

Samarkand, Central Asia

How to earn?

Barclays partners with Lufthansa and you can transfer Starwood points on a 1:1 basis.

Alaska Mileage Plan Awards to South Africa, Middle East or Asia (Cathay Pacific)

Alaska Mileage Plan shocked everyone (including me) with their botched ‘insta-devaluation’ of the Emirates award chart.

However the Cathay Pacific award chart DID NOT change and redemptions to Asia and Africa in Business and First Class are an excellent deal now. In fact I have two awards with a stop over in Hong Kong booked – so for the price to the Middle East you get the flight to Asia (and an unlimited stopover) and the flight to Africa and the Middle East. That’s quite amazing!

Hong Kong

Alaska Airlines co-brands cards with Bank of America or you can transfer Starwood points on a 1:1 basis – best earned with the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card.

You can sign up for all these cards here (and compare them with others).

Catch some cheap fares Business Class fares between Northern Africa, Sri Lanka and Asia


If you are planning between Northern Africa, Sri Lanka and/or Asia you may be able to make use of the cheap Business Class fares between some of the destinations. With a Mighty Travels Premium Subscription you get unprecedented overview over available fares – often starting for as little as $300 on Qatar Airways Business Class.

Short-haul awards

Flying Blue, British Airways Executive Club are usually my favorite place to redeem for short-haul travel – if cash tickets are too expensive because of their many partners and favorable award charts for short-haul (Economy travel).

Avianca Lifemiles can be great in South America (if both airports have Avianca/ TACA service).

What are your favorite awards?