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American Airlines joined Delta and United in awarding miles for flights based on the cost of a ticket rather than the distance you fly.
Your cheap tickets don’t get you very much when you fly anymore. Even your more expensive tickets come out behind on long distance flights.
Elite frequent flyers will probably still suck it up and credit their cheap flights to these programs because distance flown still matters for earning elite status, and because of the better treatment as an elite their status with the airline gets them.
However most passengers – who do not have status with the airline – should credit their miles to a partner frequent flyer program.
- With United that means Singapore Airlines, where you still earn 100% of flown miles in the KrisFlyer program even on cheap K fares (which is what most the super deep discount trips I’ve written about lately have been in).
- I wrote about how American’s partner Etihad Guest still gives you 100% of the miles flown when you credit an American flights to your Etihad account. Just give American your Etihad number, and a $300 base fare roundtrip to Hong Kong earns 19,000 miles instead of 1500 when credited to AAdvantage.
In my post about the benefits (and a handful of downsides) about crediting American flights to the Etihad Guest program an anonymous commenter reminds that you can also earn 100% of flown miles when crediting to Cathay Pacific’s AsiaMiles program.
Like Etihad, you can top off an AsiaMiles account by transferring points 1:1 from American Express Membership Rewards and from Citi ThankYou Rewards.
Cathay Pacific has multiple award charts. For simplicity in this post the ones I’ll focus on here are their chart for their own flights (where you fly Cathay Pacific and up to one partner) and their oneworld award chart (for 2 or more oneworld airlines not including Cathay Pacific).
Their award charts are distance-based. Flying on Cathay Pacific, you can include a partner airline to reach the Cathey Pacific international gateway (eg include an American flight to get to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc).
Los Angeles – Hong Kong is under 7500 miles one-way, so costs 120,000 miles roundtrip in business class. One-way awards cost more than half the price of a roundtrip. Since New York, Chicago, and Boston are more than 7500 miles each way to Hong Kong, those roundtrips cost 145,000 miles.
First class long haul gets pretty expensive (though less expensive on some routes than American AAdvantage). Business class remains reasonable. And while AsiaMiles adds fuel surcharges to awards, fuel surcharges to and from Asian destinations Hong Kong and to the North have fallen substantially.
Their oneworld award chart is distance-based as well. This is what you’ll use, for instance, if you want to fly between the US and Europe on oneworld airlines (airberlin, American, British Airways). The longer the trip the more expensive it is, but there are some real values as well.
Business class between New York and London is 6903 miles roundtrip. Fly British Airways one way and American the other direction for just 80,000 miles in business class or 105,000 miles in first class.
You can do up to 10,000 miles of roundtrip flying for 95,000 AsiaMiles in business class or 130,000 in first. This is useful because of their routing rules:
You can make a maximum of five stopovers, two transfers and two open-jaws at either origin, en-route or turnaround point, subject to airline partners’ terms and conditions.
Partners will need to update their mileage-earning charts once American introduces premium economy, so we may see some of these charts renegotiated.