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TPG reader Alex tweeted me @thepointsguy and asked:

“I am looking to fly ORD to ICN this summer on Chase points. Can you recommend ANA business or should I search for Asiana or United business flights?”

Alex tweeted me to say that he is flying from Chicago O’Hare to Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, next summer and he is interested in using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book it. He wants to know if he should look for ANA, Asiana or United business class seats. I assume he is going to transfer his points to United and use them to book the tickets, which could be a good option here if he books before February 1, 2014, as United is drastically devaluing its partner redemption options and there are going to be some big changes there that make booking awards on partners like ANA and Asiana very expensive in terms of miles.

United will be replacing the current first and business class seats with its BusinessFirst lie-flat product.
United’s BusinessFirst lie-flat product.

Of course, it is logical to consider United first if your main Star Alliance airline program, or if you have a Chase card like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus that earns Ultimate Rewards, since the program is a 1:1 transfer partner of United.

There is currently good United availability for flights next summer to Asia. An award flight from Chicago O’Hare to ICN Incheon in July will require 60,000 miles one way in business class for a Saver Award ticket and 150,000 miles for a Standard Award ticket, with both ringing up at just $2.50 in taxes and fees.

ORD-ICN on United
ORD-ICN on United in Business class starts at 60,000 miles one way.

I would definitely prefer flying ANA or Asiana products over United even though they do not have totally horizontal lie-flat seats on many of the flights they use to serve the US, because with United are you are generally going to get worse food and worse service as a whole. The Asian carriers are just nicer overall experiences with better lounges and planes, though Asiana’s old business class is angled lie-flat, which is not as nice as United’s.

ORD-ICN on Korean Airlines
ORD-ICN on Korean Airlines

However, keep in mind that Chase Ultimate Rewards is also a 1:1 transfer partner of Korean Airlines, and there is currently very good availability for the Chicago O’Hare-Seoul/Incheon route in Prestige Class. I used Chase points last year to fly first class from Seoul to Madrid, which was a decent experience even though I was on their old first class product but it was still a nice way to go nonstop between two routes that I didn’t actually think would have nonstop service. Check out my review of my Korean Air First Class 777-200 ICN-MAD experience.

There are a bunch of other options to get from Chicago to Asia as well. You could use British Airways Avios to book a Japan Airlines award from Chicago to Tokyo – their first and business class products are pretty decent too (I actually flew JAL first class from ORD-NRT myself) – although their fuel surcharges are generally higher but do the cross-benefit analysis before you just assume that United is the way to go.

Avios miles ORD-NRT
Avios miles ORD-NRT

It will cost 75,000 Avios miles (60,000 mile for ORD-NRT, and 15,000  for NRT-ICN) for a one way trip from ORD-ICN booking through British Airways, as calculated using the British Airways Miles Calculator, totally 150,000 miles roundtrip.

Chase Ultimate Rewards can be used with a number of airline partners – not just United.

I previously compiled a full list of the airline partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards – including their alliance and non-alliance partners you can use their miles on, as well as oneway and roundtrip routing rules, that could help you decide which route might be the best to go.

For more information, check out the following posts:

Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

My Ranking Of The Top Chase Travel Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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