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For the next installment of my series on reward charts, I’m going to look at rewards between Europe and East Asia. Each frequent flyer programme takes a different view of what it defines as “Asia”, which is of course a large continent. Even when splitting the continent into two or three sub-sections, few can agree on whether to call Japan, South Korea and occasionally China as “North Asia”, “Northeast Asia”, “Far East” or “East Asia”. I’ll call it East Asia but, to be clear, I am referring to: Japan, South Korea and China. I’ve included Hong Kong and Taipei as well.
If you haven’t already, have a read of the previous posts in this series:
- Europe to North America
- Europe to Middle East / India
- Europe to sub-Saharan Africa
- Europe to Australia
As before, I am aiming to cover programmes that are:
- Popular with British residents / travel hackers
- Available as an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner (UK cardholders)
- Particularly attractive reward charts
- Sells miles cheaply
- Available as a Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott Rewards transfer partner
Here is the chart I have prepared. As before, I highlight in yellow what I find to be particularly attractive.
If you’ve been following along with this series, you might have sensed a pattern. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will charge fewer miles in Economy and Premium Economy, but you know you will pay a substantial amount of surcharges (and UK APD for that matter). Continental European airlines such as Lufthansa, SAS and Air France / KLM have few sweet spots to speak of; understandable since their main clientele will be European. Turkish Airlines is potentially useful, but only if you are willing or able to fly on Turkish Airlines itself, requiring a connection in Istanbul that may or may not be en route. An Asian airline or two – usually ANA Mileage Club, but potentially one of their Asian competitors – will charge many fewer miles, but those miles can be hard to accumulate.
But when it comes to East Asia, an astute travel hacker must always be thinking HONG KONG! I have mentioned this several times in a variety of posts on InsideFlyer UK, but you don’t pay surcharges on reward itineraries departing Hong Kong. This means that it is well worthwhile to book your trip and two one-ways and position yourself to Hong Kong for your return flight home. You can use your Avios to get from just about everywhere in the region to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. For flights from Hong Kong to Europe, you have a wide variety of airlines and frequent flyer programmes.
And of course, Joe would complain if I didn’t mention our treasured Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. A one-way award ticket from Hong Kong to Europe on Cathay Pacific – I believe they fly to London and Manchester, as well as a handful of cities in continental Europe – will cost 42,500 miles in Business Class. With no surcharges to be added, this is one of the sweetest bargains in this hobby. Don’t forget to book as your “companion you” – as I wrote in this post – in order that Cathay Pacific have details of your Oneworld elite status.
With peak cherry blossom season fast approaching, I am tempted to hop on a plane to Japan. Hopefully this post has helped you to determine which mileage programme is going to be cheapest…