Ok so in my last post I mentioned that I scored our family’s business class tickets with Asiana for an upcoming trip to Tokyo. Here is my guide on travelling to Asia from Australia for the price of a flexible economy ticket…. You can use this method to get discounted business class travel for any destination, however Australia / Asia represents a real sweet spot in award redemption tables.
Now I will start off by prefacing this by saying to be able to do this you will:
a) be flexible with your travel dates, and your routing (we routed through Seoul to get to Tokyo, although this was not a concern as we were interested in seeing a bit more of Korea)
b) book either close to your departure date, OR 10-12 months out depending on the airline.
c) be willing to put a little time into researching award flight availability and how frequent flyer programs work
Step 1: Determine where you want to go and what airlines fly there.
Step 2: Does the airline you want to fly with sell frequent flyer miles/points? If not, do they have a partner airline that does? E.g. JAL does not sell miles, but their partner American Airlines does, and you can redeem American Airlines (AAdvantage) miles for flights on JAL. At this point, also check out how many miles you would need for your particular redemption. *click here for some inspiration on where you could go and what airline / frequent flyer combo to use (link coming soon)
Step 3. Research your little heart out. Find out when your preferred airline usually releases award space (usually between 10-12 months depending on the airline) and how many seats do they usually release? When are their blackout dates? Sometimes airlines release more award space a fortnight out from departure, but this is a real gamble. Have an itinerary in mind before buying any points.
Step 4. Periodically throughout the year frequent flyer programs will offer significant discounts on buying airline miles. It is during one of these promotion periods that you should buy your miles. Normally I would never advocate buying airline miles but IF you have a specific redemption in mind it can save you a fortune. It is important to note that some frequent flyer programs require you to have enrolled prior to any promotions, so go do that RIGHT NOW. It is also important to sign up ahead of time because they will email their members advising of such promotions **Click here of a list of previous promotions (link coming soon)
Some airlines also have a cap on how many points you can buy each year, so you may have to have more than one account for your family.
Step 5. Once you have purchased your points, you can use these to redeem for flights and all that is left is to pay fees and taxes.
So by now you are probably a bit confused, so let me use the example of our holiday to show you how to put this into practice…
- We wanted to fly from Sydney to Tokyo in mid December and return mid January.
- I identified the airlines that fly to Tokyo (that have useful partner mileage programs for this purpose) are Qantas, JAL, ANA and Asiana via Korea.
- Qantas, JAL and ANA were all out because I ideally needed 4 award seats on the same flight, though in a pinch the Princess could fly on one flight with her dad and I would fly with Touristo. Asiana however has started a daily A380 service to Seoul over this period so I knew it would be raining award seat availability.
- To buy points I could use either United Mileage Plus or Avianca Life Miles. At the time Life Miles was running a promotion that allowed me to buy points at a rate of 1.37(US) cents a mile.
- For each return ticket with Asiana I needed 80,000 miles which cost me 1,096USD.
- When it came time to redeem the points for flights through the Life Miles site, I had to pay about 150USD per return ticket in fees and taxes, so all up it was about $1,600AU per person!
This admittedly might take a little bit for beginner point hackers to get their heads around, but feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I hope to have a video demonstrating exactly how to do this step by step in the coming weeks. Remember if you found this helpful, hit subscribe and head over to Facebook and like us over there.
If you want someone to walk you through step by step, please hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org for a points consultation.