I do what I can to write about the best deals for earning and redeeming miles. In this post I wanted to share what I consider to be some of the most useful sweet-spot award redemptions right now. I wrote a similar post a few month ago, but some things have changed, so I wanted to provide an updated list.
While there are lots of great redemption values out there, my focus here is on ones that are actually practical for the average person looking to travel internationally (especially in premium cabins), rather than focusing on super niche redemptions.
For example, there are lots of amazing niche redemptions, though I’m guessing they’re not useful for most:
- You can redeem just 25,610 Etihad Guest miles for Czech Airlines business class from Prague to Seoul
- You can redeem just 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for South African Airways business class from Washington to Dakar
So here are what I consider to be the most useful and valuable sweet-spot award redemptions available right now:
Royal Air Maroc business class one-way to anywhere for 44,000 Etihad Guest miles
Etihad Guest partners with Royal Air Maroc, and they charge 44,000 Etihad Guest miles for a business class ticket covering a distance of over 2,000 flown miles.
Now, Royal Air Maroc doesn’t have that huge of a route network, but in the US they fly to Boston, Miami, New York, and Washington.
So you could redeem 44,000 Etihad Guest miles to fly from Miami to Casablanca to Frankfurt, or to fly from New York to Casablanca to Doha, or to fly from Washington to Casablanca to Cairo, just to give a few examples.
Royal Air Maroc has a solid business class product, and one benefit of flying with them is that their short haul aircraft feature proper business class seats. Contrast that to most European airlines, where business class is just economy with a blocked middle.
These redemptions are subject to carrier imposed surcharges, though they’re mild — think around $200 one-way.
Redeem Etihad miles for Royal Air Maroc’s 787-9 business class
How to redeem Etihad miles on Royal Air Maroc
Search award availability directly through Royal Air Maroc’s website, and then call Etihad Guest to book. They can be reached at 877.690.0767.
How to earn Etihad miles
Etihad Guest is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou, so there are quite a few ways to earn their points.How to earn Etihad Guest miles
ANA first or business class roundtrip from the US to Japan using Virgin Atlantic miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has some great niche redemptions, though arguably the best use of their miles is flying ANA first or business class between the US and Japan. Here’s their award chart for that:
So for example, you can redeem just 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to fly ANA business class from the US West Coast to Japan, or 110,000 miles to fly first class. This is an exceptional deal, especially when you consider that there are often transfer bonuses when converting points to Virgin Atlantic.
There are some carrier imposed surcharges, which you can expect to total under $300 roundtrip.
Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for ANA’s 777 first class
How to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on ANA
Search award availability through another program (Aeroplan, United, etc.), and then call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book. They can be reached at 800.365.9500.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles
Delta business class to Europe or Asia using Virgin Atlantic miles
Not only can it be a great deal to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on ANA, but it can also be a great deal to use Fying Club miles for Delta flights.
Virgin Atlantic should have access to all Delta “saver” award space, so you can redeem:
- As little as 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one-way Delta business class ticket from the US to Europe (there are no surcharges if you originate in the US and travel to somewhere in Europe other than the UK)
- As little as 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one-way Delta business class ticket from the US to Asia, India, or Africa (there are no surcharges for these redemptions)
This is an exceptional use of Virgin Atlantic miles, and the costs are much lower than when booking directly through Delta SkyMiles.
Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for Delta’s A350 business class
How to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta
You can book Delta awards using Virgin Atlantic miles directly on Virgin Atlantic’s website.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou, so there are quite a few ways to earn their points.
Qatar business class to the Middle East, India, or Africa, using American miles
Qatar Qsuites is my favorite business class product in the world, and the single best value for experiencing that is booking through American AAdvantage.
You can redeem 70,000 AAdvantage miles one-way if traveling to the Middle East or India, or 75,000 AAdvantage miles one-way if traveling to Africa.
There are no fuel surcharges on these redemptions. This can be useful whether you’re looking to travel to India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, South Africa or wherever else. Note that for those redemption rates you can also fly Etihad Airways, though I do have a slight preference for Qatar.
Redeem American miles for Qatar’s 777 business class
How to redeem American miles on Qatar
You can book Qatar Airways awards directly on aa.com, so you can search and book there.
How to earn American miles
While American AAdvantage doesn’t belong to any transferrable points currency, there are several co-brand credit cards with which you can earn miles.
Star Alliance business class to Europe using Aeroplan miles
Air Canada’s Aeroplan program charges just 55,000-57,500 miles for one-way business class tickets from the US to Europe, depending on the part of Europe you’re traveling to.
This gives you access to lots of options, though the way to really maximize your value is to fly one of the airlines on which Aeroplan doesn’t impose surcharges. These airlines include Brussels Airlines, SAS, SWISS, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish, and United.
Redeem Aeroplan miles for Turkish’s A330 business class
How to redeem Aeroplan miles
You can book many Aeroplan awards directly on their website, though if you’re planning a complicated itinerary with a stopover you’ll have to call.
How to earn Aeroplan miles
Air Canada Aeroplan is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Capital One.
Cathay Pacific business class to Australia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or India using Alaska miles
Alaska Mileage Plan is one of my all around favorite frequent flyer programs, thanks to their unique partnerships. Among my favorite uses of Alaska miles is for travel on Cathay Pacific.
What makes these redemptions so great is that you’re allowed a free stopover enroute to your final destination, so you can spend a few days in Hong Kong before continuing to your final destination.
Alaska has some really generous routing rules for Cathay Pacific redemptions, as you can redeem:
- 50,000 miles for a one-way Cathay Pacific business class ticket to Asia
- 60,000 miles for a one-way Cathay Pacific business class ticket to Australia
- 62,500 miles for a one-way Cathay Pacific business class ticket to Africa, India, or the Middle East
All of these are spectacular values, and there are no carrier imposed surcharges on any of them.
Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class
How to redeem Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific
Alaska’s website doesn’t show Cathay Pacific award availability, so you can search availability through British Airways’ website, and then call Alaska to book. You can reach Mileage Plan at 800.654.5669.
How to earn Alaska miles
Japan Airlines business or first class to Asia using Alaska miles
Much like the great value of redeeming Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines can be a great value using Alaska miles as well.
You can redeem 65,000 miles for a one-way Japan Airlines business class ticket to Southeast Asia, or you can redeem an extra 10,000 miles to fly first class.
Why is this such a good deal? Because many people want to visit both Southeast Asia and Japan on a single trip, and flying from Tokyo to Singapore is a flight of over six hours.
So to be able to visit both on a single award ticket is a spectacular value.
Redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines’ 787 business class
How to redeem Alaska miles on Japan Airlines
Alaska’s website shows Japan Airlines award availability, so you can search and book directly at alaskaair.com.
How to earn Alaska miles
Alaska or American economy to Hawaii using British Airways Avios
British Airways Executive Club has a distance based award chart, and they charge just 13,000 Avios for a one-way economy ticket covering a nonstop flight of 2,001-3,000 miles.
This means that you can redeem just 13,000 Avios for a one-way ticket nonstop from the US West Coast to Hawaii on either American or Alaska. This is potentially a really good deal.
However, do be sure you compare the value of this to a paid ticket (especially when using an Alaska companion ticket). We’ve seen a huge drop in airfare to Hawaii, and as Southwest continues to expand between the West Coast and Hawaii, I’d expect we’ll see even more fare sales.
Redeeming 13,000 Avios is a great deal if a one-way ticket would otherwise cost $300+, but is not a very good deal if the one-way fare would otherwise cost $125.
Redeem British Airways Avios for a flight to Hawaii
How to redeem Avios on American or Alaska
American awards show up directly on British Airways’ website, while Alaska awards don’t. So for Alaska you’ll have to call British Airways to book, after searching availability on either the American or Alaska websites. They can be reached at 800.452.1201.
How to earn British Airways Avios
British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
United economy or business class on domestic flights using Turkish miles
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is a zone based award chart, and they have some incredible redemption opportunities. Possibly the best is their redemption rates for travel within the 50 United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
You can redeem just 7,500 miles for any domestic economy ticket, or 12,500 miles for any domestic business class ticket. Turkish’s only US partner is United Airlines, so that’s the airline you’d be flying with.
Redeeming just 12,500 miles for a domestic business class ticket is an outrageously good value.
Redeem Turkish miles for United first class
How to redeem Turkish miles on United
Search award availability through another program (Aeroplan, United, etc.), and then call Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles to book. They can be reached at 800.874.8875.
How to earn Turkish miles
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is transfer partners with Citi ThankYou.
Best award sweet-spots summary
The above are just nine of what I consider to be the best redemption values out there right now, mostly from a US perspective.
There are lots of other amazing values out there, though the above are among my favorites. There’s never going to be a “one size fits all” list, given that we all live in different places, have different travel preferences, etc.
But hopefully this inspires at least some of you to book one of the above awards.
What other sweet-spot redemptions do you particularly like?