Get 38 Hours In Long-Haul Business Class For 90,000 Miles (Or Amex Points)!

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Yesterday I published an explanation of why I now think that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is by far the most valuable American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. I then shared a couple of deals to help illustrate the point:

If you haven’t read those articles yet (particularly the first one), I would recommend doing so now – otherwise, the following piece will be very difficult to understand, as I’m not going to repeat what is in those articles again here.

38 hours in Business Class for 90,000 Asia Miles (or Amex Membership Rewards Points)

I admit this is a very extreme example of what is possible with Asia Miles – but it’s actually something I can imagine at least some readers taking advantage of. Regardless, it’s the general principles that are important to understand.

First up, we are talking about using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to book British Airways Business Class (Club World) this time. The old version isn’t everyone’s favourite product – but the new Club Suites are pretty good.

If you have digested the previous posts about Asia Miles, you will understand that redeeming them for BA flights can potentially be a great option. But, you might also have clocked that there is a problem from a UK perspective – you will need to start your itinerary somewhere outside the UK (ideally as far away as possible) in order to really maximise the benefit. So, this redemption starts in Sydney Australia 😉 .

Also, when I say 38 hours in Business Class, there are some qualifications that I need to make clear:

  • The Sydney to London Heathrow flight may be blocked in at 23 hours and 15 minutes, but that does include a quick 1-2 hour stop in Singapore, so I should probably knock a couple of hours off the ‘time spent in Business Class’.
  • I’m not actually suggesting that anybody flies this itinerary straight through. Assuming there was availability, you could do so – but it makes much more sense to split things up into 2 completely separate trips, despite the fact the flights have to be booked as 1 award.

Anyway – back to the deal.

With Asia Miles, you can book Sydney-London-Santiago in BA Business Class for just 90,000 Miles (+ taxes and surcharges). You can stop over in London for as long as you want – days, weeks, months – as long as it’s all still within the booking window, and then carry on to Chile:

First Class would be 135,000 Asia Miles.

Business and First Class award space is very rare between Sydney and London, but I did find some and the following itinerary was bookable at time of writing:

Note that because the stop in Singapore is just a tech stop, Flight BA016 in its entirety is still considered as 1 flight by Asia Miles.

If you can’t see the images above clearly enough, what they show is a 23 hour 15 minute flight from Sydney to London (via Singapore) on 3rd August 2020, and then a 15 hour 35 min flight from London to Santiago on 1st September.

In other words, you’ve got about 38 hours of Business Class flying in total, broken up by a 1 month stopover in London – all for 90,000 Asia Miles (+ taxes and surcharges).

For those who prefer to think in terms of distance, you are looking at just short of 18,000 miles according to GC:

It really is a lot of Business Class or First Class flying for very few miles.

By comparison, you would need 275,000 British Airways Avios on Peak Dates or 192,500 on Off-Peak dates to book the same flights through BA Executive Club.

Taxes + Surcharges

As many readers will be all too aware, when you book BA flights using Avios or other types of points and miles, you normally get clobbered with significant surcharges. Unfortunately, this is no exception.

I was quoted a total of ~£650 ($6,246 Hong Kong Dollars). That is almost exactly the same as what you would anticipate if you looked at ITA:

It is also extremely similar to what you would pay if you booked using Avios through British Airways Executive Club. I’ve read elsewhere that Asia Miles sometimes charges less in surcharges for BA flights than BA Executive Club itself does, but I don’t know how common that really is yet.

Bottom line

As I stated at the beginning of the article, this is definitely an extreme example (and there are infinite, less extreme, variations). It’s not a completely impractical example though.

For instance, imagine if you had already booked London to Sydney on Cathay Pacific with a stopover in Hong Kong as a separate Asia Miles redemption, clearly you would still need to get home to the UK from Sydney.

By then following what I’ve outlined in this article, you could get your flight back to the UK and the outbound leg of your next long haul trip, for less than just Sydney-London would be if booked using Avios. You could then keep stacking/nesting your itineraries together ad infinitum (or at least until you run out of miles!).

Remember that Asia Miles and BA Executive Club are both 1:1 Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners, so comparing the amounts the two programmes charge is a reasonable comparison.

Finally, If you can find the award space, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t do something like the above, but starting from the UK, with Qantas – for example, London-Sydney-Los Angeles.

I only wanted to include examples that I’ve personally confirmed can be booked and finding BA award space quickly is a lot easier than most other airlines thanks to (the superb) Reward Flight Finder.

If you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

Comments

  1. Spk307 says

    Trying to get my head around this – does it mean a stopover is allowed on ‘multi-city’ itineraries as long as they are on same airline?
    For example, would LAX-SYD-LHR on Qantas be available for 90k with a stopover at SYD?

      • Andrew M says

        Did you ever find any Business or First availability on Qantas during your research? I haven’t been able to find any, though without a tool like Reward Flight Finder it’s not easy to track down. I’ve been using the AA site which isn’t ideal.

        • Joe Deeney says

          Apart from for BA, I was mainly just using the Asia Miles site and to be honest I’m not even 100% sure if they actually show Qantas availability on there or not (despite them showing the option online, it might have to be via call centre). It’s slow going and I was looking at the routes probably least likely to have availability (probably checked about 30 dates), so although the answer is technically no, I imagine with perseverance something can be found.

  2. Spk307 says

    Another qn – what’s the best way to use this feature if we definitely need a break at SG or HK? For example, can we book with a 22 hour layover at these places?

    • Joe Deeney says

      No – Asia Miles are incredibly flexible but there is 1 key restriction, which is that you are only allowed 2 segments on a one way award. So, Sydney-London is one segment and London-Santiago is one segment. The only reason the stop in Singapore is allowed in this example is because it’s just a tech stop – the same plane continues onto London with the same flight number. If you changed to a plane with a different flight number (even if it was just a few hours later) that would count as an additional segment, and would therefore cause the award to price as a return rather than a one-way.

  3. niko says

    nice info about these deals.
    but how to go about even getting anywhere north of 50k amex points in the uk?

    • Joe Deeney says

      Very fair point. These days it’s not so easy, but there are still ways. Plat (or Business Plat) still have decent signup bonuses, and more importantly, generous referral bonuses (I believe self-referral still works…https://insideflyer.co.uk/2019/04/refer-friends-family-amex-card-plus-earn-18000-points/ – note that the amounts per referral are now different though). Pay for absolutely everything possible using your amex (even if it makes you ‘that guy’ at dinner 😉 ), etc. I’m lucky because I can also put substantial business spend through too. Even without that though, 100k MR Points in a year isn’t an unreasonable target if you were eligible for Plat signup bonus and made good use of the referrals.

  4. JoshO says

    Great article! I sense some Q Suite action coming up! However – what is the best way to work out the miles between two cities – the distances the airline consider at least (I’ve heard they sometimes mess around with ‘actual’ distances to suit themselves). I presume there is a fairly reliable website to use? Many thanks!!!

  5. Andrew M says

    Routing GIG-LHR-SYD means none of BAs infamous fuel surcharges can be applied to the ticket. The total for taxes and charges according to ITA for that routing would be £274 (£176 of which is UK APD).

    A slightly shorter route than SCL-LHR-SYD but far less hard cash to pay out.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Absolutely – and the subject for another post 😉 I wanted to test how different agents price it up though before writing about it – just to be sure.

      • Andrew M says

        Looking forward to your article. Asia Miles is a great scheme. I can’t believe I ignored it for years as a distance based scheme and not so hackable. That cap on the number of miles for a redemption is just asking to be pushed to the limit!

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