How We’re Getting to Asia Using American Airlines Miles – A $22,800 value!!

How We’re Getting to Asia Using American Airlines Miles – A $22,800 value!!

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A few weeks ago I posted about our 9 nights in hotels on points, but…

What about our flights?

Tomorrow is the last day to book your AA awards at (mostly) lower prices.

Here’s what we’re doing and booked at the lower AA prices:

  • New York (JFK) – China, Beijing (PEK), via Hong Kong (HKG)
  • China, Beijing (PEK) – Tokyo, Haneda (HND)
  • Tokyo, Narita (NRT) – New York (JFK)

gcmap asia

One of the best values in the points and miles world for premium travel to Asia is using your American Airlines miles to fly Cathay Pacific Business or First or Japan Airlines Business or First.

Currently (one way/per person):

  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 1 in Business Class  – 50,000
Japanese Airlines - Business Class
Japanese Airlines – Business Class
  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 1 in First Class – 62,500
Japanese Airlines - First Class
Japanese Airlines – First Class
  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 2 in Business Class – 55,000
Cathay Pacific - Business Class
Cathay Pacific – Business Class
  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 2 in First Class – 67,500
Cathay Pacific - First C
Cathay Pacific – First Class

On/After March 22:

  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 1 in Business Class –  60,000
  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 1 in First Class –  80,000
  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 2 in Business Class – 70,000
  • From U.S. 48 to Asia 2 in First Class – 110,000


How I Earned the Miles

Prior to the merger between US Airways and American Airlines, Barclays increased the bonus from 40,000 to 50,000 US Airways Miles. The card had an annual fee but no spend requirement! Both the wife and I opened these cards up, netting us 100,000 miles each.

Later that same year, my wife applied again and earned the bonus again! (It’s hard, but it’s certainly possible to earn Barclay’s bonuses while you currently have their card product open). 150,000 U.S. Airways miles. Finally, I opened up the Citi AAdvantage Business Card to earn 50,000 miles.

At that point, it was only a matter of time before the frequent flyer programs merged and thus point balances would merge, too. And merge they did, netting us enough miles for two one-ways in Business Class on Cathay Pacific from New York to Hong Kong – Beijing. In the other account, the 100,000 transferred over, earning us enough for the return from Asia 1, or Japan, at 100,000 miles (50,000 per passenger), in business class.

What This Would Have Cost Me

The estimated total value of this trip is around $11,400 per person, so a total of $22,800!

JFK-HKG-PEK, Business

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 1.22.14 PM

PEK-HND, Economy

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 1.21.10 PM

NRT-JFK, Business

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 1.21.34 PM

 How YOU Can Earn the Miles

American and Citi offer 4 American Airlines Credit Cards. Here they are with their bonuses (remember, only sign up for them when they’re at their highest!) and spend requirements (indicated by the “/”).

Remember: With Citi applications, you can open up 1 of these cards on Day 1, a second card on Day 8 (or 9 to be safe) and then day 65 (or 66), a third card. Declines count towards these day limitations.

The only points that transfer at 1:1 to American Airlines are SPG points, of which American Express offers two cards, both at their highest right now:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest, Personal – 35,000/$3,000
  • Starwood Preferred Guest, Business – 35,000/$5,000

Remember, if you transfer 20,000 points to any of their partners, you earn a 5,000 bonus, so it’s effectively 1:1.25.

Wrapping Up

If you have AA points balances, use your miles before March 22. If you don’t have any/enough AA miles now but still want to get to Asia 1 or 2 in style, Business Class to Asia 1 (on Japanese Airlines) and Asia 2 (Cathay Pacific) will still be in reach. First class to Asia 1 will still be attainable by many, and not as bad as First Class to Asia 2 which is increasing by 48%!

What award will you book before the devaluation?


-The Miner

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