Asia Miles is a very interesting frequent flyer program which most Australian points collectors are likely to be less familiar. But it should be in your box of tricks, due to the great value you can get out of Asia Miles for around the world flights.
Considering Asia Miles can be earned relatively easily through American Express Membership Rewards, ANZ Rewards and Westpac Altitude Rewards, there are some good value opportunities here for using your points.
If you’re completely new to Asia Miles, then start with our intro guide here. This guide will focus on how to use Asia Miles on an around the world trip, primarily in Business or First Class – but there’s also value to be had with Economy redemptions too.
The basics: Asia Miles is a part of oneworld
oneworld is a strong alliance of around 13 member airlines, including Qantas. Here’s the full list:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qantas Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- Sri Lankan Airlines
LATAM Airlines left Oneworld in 2020 and Alaska Airlines will join as a 14th member of Oneworld by the end of this year.
And Asia Miles is a points transfer partner of:
Getting into Asia Miles around the world redemptions
There is no specific award chart for around the world redemptions with Asia Miles, however, the oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart is the chart you need to refer to for around the world redemptions. It applies when you redeem a round-trip award ticket with an itinerary which covers:
- Two oneworld alliance airlines, where Cathay Pacific (CX) or Cathay Dragon (KA) is not included; or
- Three or more oneworld alliance airlines when Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon is included.
This might be slightly more limiting than the comparable Qantas award, as only up to two oneworld partners can be included if you don’t have Cathay Pacific in your itinerary.
However, this is not a major problem for us in Australia as Cathay Pacific flies to all major Australian cities and as part of an around the world trip, it’s not that inconvenient to have Hong Kong as a major hub.
Here is the award chart (as of July 2020):
And the rules, in a nutshell:
- You must redeem a roundtrip award ticket.
- Your itinerary must include two Oneworld airlines not including Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon, or three or more Oneworld airlines including Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
- The maximum distance range is up to 50,000 miles.
- You can have a maximum of five stopovers, two transfers, and two open jaws either at the origin, en-route, or the turnaround point.
- A oneworld Multi-carrier Award does not offer travelling in Premium Economy Class.
If you can maximize the 5 stopovers and 2 open jaws, you can essentially plan a trip around the world.
The major advantage of this Asia Miles redemption over Qantas’ equivalent is that it is far cheaper on a number-to-number basis!
Qantas allows an around the world itinerary up to 35,000 miles, but charges 318,000 Qantas Points in Business Class, and 455,000 in First Class.
For a similar distance, Asia Miles only charges 210,000 in Business and 300,000 miles in First class for distances up to 35,000 miles.
Comparing Qantas to Asia Miles, this is a whopping 155,000 points saving for First Class! So is there a catch? Not really, but it is harder to earn Asia Miles than Qantas Points in Australia (and transfer rates from credit card programs might be higher), so take that into consideration.
An example itinerary
In the example below, you could have stopovers in
- Hong Kong
- San Francisco
This routing comes in at 37,262 miles which is more than the distance Qantas would permit for their comparable round the world redemption, and costs less.
Now, here are the limitations
- You can have up to 5 stopovers
- You can have up to 2 open-jaws (where you arrive into one city, but depart from another)
- According to the rules you can only have 2 transits. This means if you need to use short-haul connecting flights to get to non-hub destinations, you can only have up to 2 in your itinerary, otherwise it will be considered as a stopover. This restriction is actually more onerous than Qantas, who allow for up to 2 transfers at any one city
- To use this chart, you must use at least two oneworld partners
- You can’t use more than two oneworld partners without including Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon
- You can’t include Cathay Pacific’s non-oneworld partners such as Air China or Alaska Airlines (until the latter becomes part of Oneworld).
Other than these few limitations, it can be great value if you maximise the 5 stopovers, 2 transits and 2 open jaws – if you do you can potentially visit up to 9 cities with much lower miles than required with Qantas Frequent Flyer.
To make things a bit easier, you can use the Asia Miles’ Award finder and type in your itinerary and see how many miles you will need, or do the same via gcmap.com.
How do I make a booking? How much are taxes?
For tips and tricks for making Asia Miles redemptions, check out this dedicated guide.
Asia Miles does impose fuel surcharges and taxes on their awards, so the usual tactics to minimise these would apply – these include avoiding high tax departure cities such as London or Frankfurt, and airlines like British Airways.
Taxes and fees should be comparable to if you used Qantas Points for the same flights.
Summing up – Asia Miles multi-carrier awards
These have to be redeemed over the phone with Asia Miles, and – big caveat – I am yet to redeem for one, so don’t have any personal experience to share with booking. Yet.
That said, on paper these seem like an excellent choice for holders of points balances that can be transferred to Asia Miles, and who wish to travel on a lengthy around the world itinerary in Business or First Class.