Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 11: Asia
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You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points. Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline partners when you’re ready to book.
The AMEX Membership Rewards program has 17 direct airline partners. Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners as well, which gives you choices for flights to Asia!
I’ll show you the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for flights to Asia!
The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:
- Part 1 – Transfer Partners
- Part 2 – How to Transfer Points
- Part 3 – Best Ways to Fly Within Continental US
- Part 4 – Best Ways to Fly to Hawaii
- Part 5 – Best Ways to Fly to Canada & Alaska
- Part 6 – Best Ways to Fly to Caribbean & Mexico
- Part 7 – Europe
- Part 8 – India & Middle East
- Part 9 – Africa
- Part 10 – South America
- Part 11 – Asia
AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Flights to Asia
There are several AMEX airline transfer partners that are great for flights to Asia.
But before you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to an airline partner consider:
- Destination you’d like to visit
- Which airlines fly from your home airport
- Your airline & alliance preferences
And keep in mind Asia is a huge continent. This means many airlines charge different prices for award flights depending on the region you’re traveling to.
If you don’t have the time or don’t want to book your own award tickets, you can consider using an award booking service.
1. Air Canada
Link: Air Canada Award Chart
Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance. So you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Air Canada and then book flights to Asia on partner airlines like:
- Air China
- EVA Air
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- United Airlines
Keep in mind, you’ll pay fuel surcharges when you redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles on certain airlines. These charges can range from ~$50 to several hundred dollars.
The number of miles you’ll need for an award flight varies depending on the region in Asia you’re flying to.
Air Canada has 2 regions in Asia. The good news is you’ll pay the same amount regardless of your US departure city.
Asia 1 includes:
- Eastern Russia
- Hong Kong
- North Korea
- South Korea
For a one-way award flight from the US to Asia 1, you’ll pay:
- 37,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
- 62,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
- 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
- 105,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class
For example, a round-trip, non-stop Business Class award flight from Los Angeles to Taipei costs 150,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles and ~$38 in taxes and fees.
And Air Canada includes these countries in the Asia 2 region:
- Micronesia (including Guam)
You’ll pay slightly more for one-way award flights to Asia 2 countries:
- 45,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
- 65,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
- 77,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
- 107,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class
For example, a non-stop, round-trip coach award flight from New York to Singapore costs 90,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles and ~$38 in taxes and fees.
You’ll actually fly around the world with this sample itinerary. Because you’ll fly to Asia from New York for the departure. Then, fly back through Europe on the way home.
Link: ANA Award ChartANA is based in Japan and has many options for award flights from the US to Asia. The airline is also part of the Star Alliance, which means you can book award flights to Asia on partners like United Airlines.
You can only book round-trip award flights with ANA. And there are a few complexities with ANA award flights to Asia.
Because the airline has different award charts for flights directly on ANA versus a partner airline. And ANA adds significant fuel surcharges (up to ~$1,000) on partner award flights to Asia.
Plus ANA has different seasons (low, regular, and high), which changes the price of an award flight on their airline. But this doesn’t apply to award flights on partner airlines.
Depending on the season, round-trip award flights to Tokyo on ANA cost:
- 40,000 to 50,000 ANA miles in coach
- 75,000 to 90,000 ANA miles in Business Class
- 150,000 to 165,000 ANA miles in First Class
You can fly non-stop to Tokyo on ANA from:
- Los Angeles
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco
For example, I found a non-stop, round-trip coach award flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo for 40,000 ANA miles and $86 in taxes and fees. That’s a phenomenal deal!
For partner award flights, ANA separates Asia into 2 regions.
To Asia 1, a round-trip award flight costs:
- 60,000 ANA miles in coach
- 95,000 ANA miles in Business Class
- 180,000 ANA miles in First Class
And you can fly to destinations like:
- Hong Kong
And to Asia 2, round-trip award flights cost:
- 80,000 ANA miles in coach
- 136,000 ANA miles in Business Class
- 240,000 ANA miles in First Class
Asia 2 destinations include:
- East Timor
- Sri Lanka
One thing to watch out for with ANA award flights are waitlisted seats. If you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to ANA to book a waitlisted award seat, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it.
3. Singapore AirlinesSingapore Airlines is a direct AMEX transfer partner.
The airline uses a zone based award chart, which means award flight prices change based on the zone you’re traveling to.
Singapore Airlines has separate award charts for flights directly on the airline and for flights on Star Alliance partner airlines.Note: You’ll NO longer get an automatic 15% discount when booking Singapore Airlines award flights online.
Award Flights on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir
There are 7 zones in Asia on the airline’s award chart, including:
- Zone 1 – Singapore
- Zone 2 – Malaysia, Indonesia & Brunei
- Zone 3 – Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
- Zone 4 – South China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
- Zone 5 – North China (Beijing and Shanghai)
- Zone 6 – Bangladesh, Maldives, South Asia, and Sri Lanka
- Zone 7 – Japan & South Korea
To figure out how many miles are required for a one-way award flight from the US to Asia, you can reference Zone 13 and Zone 14 in the award chart.
Zone 13 includes West Coast US cities. And Zone 14 includes East Coast and Houston.
You’ll use the fewest number of Singapore Airlines miles for flights from the West Coast to Tokyo. You’ll pay:
- 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
- 80,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
- 107,500 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class
Singapore Airlines no longer adds fuel surcharges to their award ticket prices, which will save you money!
And it can make sense to pay extra miles if you’re looking to fly Business Class, First Class, or on the airline’s A380 First Class suites. Because these flights regularly cost several thousand dollars if you paid cash.
For example, I found a one-way Business Class award flight from Houston to Singapore for 92,000 Singapore Airlines miles and ~$24 in taxes and fees. This same flight costs ~$2,900 if you pay cash.
And Singapore Airlines is known for its amazing service and cuisine, especially in the premium cabins.
Team member Keith used Singapore Airlines miles to fly First Class suites with his wife on their honeymoon. He really enjoyed the food and comfort!
Award Flights on Star Alliance Partner Airlines
The Singapore Airlines award chart for Star Alliance partner award flights is slightly different and has less zones. A one-way award flight from anywhere in North America to Southeast Asia costs:
- 55,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
- 97,500 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
- 112,500 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class
Southeast Asia includes:
And to North Asia, a one-way award flight on a Star Alliance partner airline costs:
- 45,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
- 87,500 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
- 100,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class
North Asia includes:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
For example, I searched United Airlines for a non-stop flight from Chicago to Beijing. The trick is to find “Saver Award” seats in coach, Business Class, or First Class. This will let you know that you can use Singapore Airlines miles for the same flight.
To book your award flight, call Singapore Airlines at 800-742-3333.
Keep in mind, the number of Singapore Airlines miles required for an award flight might be different than if you booked directly with the airline’s currency.
4. Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
Asia Miles is the frequent flyer program for Cathay Pacific.
Here’s the award chart for Cathay Pacific award flights:
As an example, the distance between Los Angeles and Hong Kong is 7,260 miles. So a round-trip award flight would cost:
- 60,000 Cathay Pacific miles in coach
- 72,000 Cathay Pacific miles in Premium Economy
- 120,000 Cathay Pacific miles in Business Class
- 180,000 Cathay Pacific miles in First Class
And you can book Cathay Pacific award flights online just by going to the Asia Miles website. Cathay Pacific adds fuel surcharges to award flights, but the cost can be minimal for certain routes. For example, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, you’ll pay ~$14.
If you’re looking to book the same award flight on a partner airline, you can refer to the airline’s oneworld award chart.
So the same 7,260 mile example round-trip award flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on a partner airline would cost:
- 60,000 Cathay Pacific miles in coach
- 80,000 Cathay Pacific miles in Business Class
- 105,000 Cathay Pacific miles in First Class
Award flights on partner airlines carry fuel surcharges (except Air Berlin), which can cost several hundred dollars depending on the route.
Remember to check out Million Mile Secrets contributor Andy’s post about taking advantage of Cathay Pacific’s lenient routing rules.
5. British Airways
British Airways is a direct AMEX transfer partner. But the airline has a less favorable transfer ratio (5:4).
That said, you can use British Airways Avios points to fly to Asia on airline partners American Airlines and Cathay Pacific!British Airways has a distance-based award chart. So the amount you’ll pay depends on the length of your flight.
For example, one-way coach award flights cost:
- 22,750 British Airways Avios points for flights between 6,501 and 7,000 miles
- 32,500 British Airways Avios points for flights 7,001+ miles
As an example, I searched one-way coach award flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong in April 2017. On the date I selected, you have the choice of using British Airways Avios points to fly on American Airlines or Cathay Pacific.
To find available award seats to Asia on American Airlines or other partner airlines, I recommend searching the American Airlines website for low-level “SAAver” seats. These are the only type of award seats you can book with British Airways Avios points.
Keep in mind, you’ll pay fuel surcharges using British Airways Avios points for award flights on partner airlines to Asia. Depending on the route, the amount can vary from ~$50 to ~$150 each way.
There are 2 ways to use Etihad miles for award flights to Asia.
One way is similar to British Airways. You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Etihad and then book American Airlines award flights. But the transfer ratio to Etihad is better at 1:1.
Etihad has 2 zones for American Airlines award flights to Asia. To Zone 1, a one-way award flight costs:
- 25,000 Etihad miles in coach (off-peak)
- 32,500 Etihad miles in coach (peak)
- 50,000 Etihad miles in Business Class
- 62,500 Etihad miles in First Class
Off peak dates are October 1 to April 30.
Zone 1 includes these countries in Asia:
One-way award flights to Asia Zone 2 cost:
- 37,500 Etihad miles in coach
- 62,500 Etihad miles in Business Class
- 72,500 Etihad miles in First Class
Zone 2 countries include:
- Hong Kong
- Sri Lanka
To find award seats eligible for using Etihad miles, you can search on the American Airlines website or call Etihad.
The trick is to find award seats with eligible booking codes, which means you’ll be able to use Etihad miles. The eligible codes are:
- Booking code “T” for coach
- Booking code “U” for Business Class
- Booking code “Z” for First Class
For example, I found an American Airlines award flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, which is eligible to book using Etihad miles.
To book your award flight, you’ll have to call Etihad at 877-690-0767.Note: You can not use Etihad miles to book award flights on American Airlines partner airlines.
You can also use Etihad miles to fly to Asia directly on the airline with a layover in Abu Dhabi. From Abu Dhabi, you can fly non-stop to these Asia destinations:
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Kuala Lumpur
Etihad doesn’t publish an award chart for their flights. But you can use the Etihad mileage calculator to quickly find out how many miles you’ll need to fly in coach, Business Class, and First Class.
For example, I searched a one-way coach award flight from New York to Bangkok which costs ~75,000 Etihad miles.
To book an Etihad award flight, you can check out my step-by-step guide to finding available Etihad award seats.
You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta to book award flights to Asia on the airline or on SkyTeam partners like Aeroflot or Korean Air.
Remember you’ll pay an excise fee when you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta.
Delta does not publish an award chart. So you’ll need to search specific award flights to find prices.
The cheapest one-way award flights I found to Asia cost:
- 35,000 Delta miles in coach
- 80,000 Delta miles in Business Class
The best departure options are from Delta hub cities:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Salt Lake City
For example, I found a one-way, non-stop Business Class award flight from New York to Seoul for 80,000 Delta miles. This flight is on partner airline Korean Air.
Redeeming Delta miles is not always the cheapest option for award flights, but it’s very easy to search available award seats and book online.
Save Lots of Points With This Business Platinum Perk
Link: AMEX Pay With Points
When you redeem points through the AMEX travel portal, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket with most cards.
But with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, you can get some of your points back using the Pay With Points perk. This rebate changed for folks who applied for the card after June 1, 2017, and will change for previous cardholders after the first year of card membership.
This is a great option for folks looking to save time and avoid blackout dates.
For example, I found a round-trip United Airlines coach flight from San Francisco to Beijing which costs ~$518 or ~51,800 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
You could book this same flight by transferring points to AMEX airline partners Air Canada, ANA, or Singapore Airlines. Assuming award flights are available on the same dates, you’d pay:
- 60,000 ANA miles
- 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles
For example, if United Airlines is your selected airline, you’ll pay ~51,800 AMEX Membership Rewards points for the sample round-trip flight to Beijing. But you’ll get some of your points back.
You’ll have lots of great choices for flights to Asia if you collect AMEX Membership Rewards points.
You can transfer points directly to partners like Air Canada, ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines.
One of the best redemptions is a round-trip award flight to Tokyo for only 40,000 ANA miles.
You’ll also have the option to book award flights on partner airlines. For example, you can transfer points to Delta and book award flights to Asia on Korean Air.
Each airline partner uses a different method to price award flight to Asia. Certain partners like British Airways and Cathay Pacific use distance based award charts, which is better for folks on the West Coast. Others designate zones in Asia to price award flights to different regions.
You can also use AMEX Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal to book cheap coach or Business Class airfare. This can be a fantastic deal for folks with the AMEX Business Platinum booking a coach flight on their selected airline or any Business Class or First Class ticket.
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