I always talk about how to accumulate miles via manufactured spending or signing up for new cards, so what do you do once you have them? Redeeming miles is another part of the puzzle I want to help you figure out.
In one of my first redemption posts, I outlined how I flew JFK-HKG round trip in business class for $85.50 (here).
This time around, a couple of family members needed to fly to Hong Kong on fairly short notice (1 month out, which is very short, especially for award travel). Their requirements for flying were:
1. Not a very flexible schedule (+/- 3 days)
2. Ok with flying economy
3. Strongly prefer non-stop
4. Prefer flying Cathay Pacific
I did a quick search on Expedia to find what fares were like around that time.
Round trip per person in economy priced out at about $1250 per person (rounding down a bit).
Just like my redemption in my previous post, I wondered if I had enough AA miles to fly them on One World partner Cathay Pacific. For those of you who are new to the miles game, one of the biggest advantages of miles is being able to use them on partner airlines, especially if the partner charges low or no fuel surcharges.
Generally, award travel has to be booked about half a year out, so I didn’t have much hope Cathay would still have availability for partner awards. If anything, I expected to hear that they would still have some business or first seats open, which require more miles than I had. In the past, I NEVER found any economy awards when I was looking.
Well low and behold, this holiday season was good to me. I must have been a good boy this year. When the AA agent informed me economy award fares were available, and very close to the travel dates needed, I almost jumped out of my chair, literally.
My family members were prepared to pay $2500 to make this trip happen. Instead, we made it happen for them for $60.50 & 70,000 AA miles round trip per person! I was ecstatic.
The $60.50 was for:
– $35.50 – taxes
– $25 – phone booking fee (I’m still trying to get this waived since it cannot be booked online, and you are required to call, hence maybe less)
I had the AA agent create the record locator for the booking, which can hold a reservation in the AA system for 7 days without actually booking it, so if you were expecting some miles or transferring from Starwood, you wouldn’t lose the award to someone else.
Now, some of you may question a couple things:
1. Why would you use that many miles for someone else? Well, I didn’t see myself redeeming them any time soon. My family is going to benefit from this much more than I would having them just sit in my account “collecting dust”.
2. How did you amass so many AA miles? This trip required 140k. Your last trip required 110k. You’re full of … stuff. Remember these promotions?
– Citi AA card 75k x 2 (churnable, now 50k)
– Citi AA business card 50k
– Starwood transfers to AA at 20k = 25k
– Ameritrade funding new account bonus of 20k AA miles
– Manufactured spending (if you forgot what that is, refer here)
– Having a Citi AA required gave back 10% of miles used
So yes its a lot of miles, but if you’re good about collecting them, you have it available once you’re ready to book. It isn’t always fun searching for award seats and availability, but when you find it and all the stars align, you have a moment of miles bliss.
So for those of you with a pile of Starwood or American Airlines points, where do you want to go? There’s a lot of value to them.