This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Malaysia Airlines is changing over to a new reservation system on June 10 to “enable Malaysia Airlines to meet passengers’ changing travel needs.” Whatever that means. While Malaysia’s reason for making the change is unclear, one thing is clear: the airline is taking this opportunity to devalue its miles.

Here’s what’s changing and what you might want to use your Malaysia Enrich miles — or Citi ThankYou Points, if you can ever get them to transfer — to book before the change.

In This Post

Award Redemptions — Malaysia Airlines Flights

After Malaysia’s horrible 2015, you might not have any interest in flying the airline’s own flights. However, we actually found Malaysia’s economy product to be nice.

Malaysia devalued its own award chart in 2015, making its award flights already a bad deal. Turns out, the airline isn’t done cutting.

Award redemptions: As part of the new reservation system, Malaysia Airlines is switching to a full revenue-based system for its own flights — basing the price of the award on the revenue price of the flight rather than a fixed award chart price. No redemption rate has been stated yet, but Loyalty Lobby calculates it to be an abysmal ~0.33 cents per mile based on examples provided by Malaysia Airlines.

Revenue-based redemption programs aren’t always bad. After all, you can get sometimes redeem miles for JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America flights for cheap during a sale. However, it’s clear Malaysia wants to avoid any sweet spots: Discount economy fares (Q, O, G) and discount business class fares (Z) “are excluded and cannot be booked in miles”. So, you’re likely going to have to redeem miles for a more expensive ticket that the cheapest-available option.

Upgrades: Similarly, the bottom five economy booking fare codes (S, N, Q, O, G) cannot be upgraded from economy to business class. The cost of the upgrade depends on whether you look at the website version of the updates or the PDF version.

Malaysia’s website lists these new upgrade prices:

Malaysia

The PDF version of the Malaysia changes shows different upgrade prices:

Malaysia pdf version upgrades

Malaysia notes that it’s removing the cash fuel surcharges on award redemptions on its own flights. But, you’ll still be paying these fuel surcharges as part of the total revenue-based redemption price.

Good news for families: Rather than charging a full adult redemption cost, you can “redeem an Award Ticket on Malaysia Airlines operated flights for your infant based on infant far.” [sic]

Miles & Cash: Malaysia is eliminating its current option to buy miles to top off your account for a redemption — currently called “Enrich Express”. It’s adding a new “Miles & Cash” option, allowing you to partially pay with miles. Note that you won’t earn mileage credit for any flights purchased with Miles & Cash, and there’s no refund of the miles portion if you cancel your booking.

Questions about the new Enrich program not covered in the Q&A? Looks like you’ll have to wait: “Please refer to Enrich programme’s terms and conditions which will be made available on 10 June 2017.”

Award Redemptions — Partner Flights

While Malaysia is switching to a revenue-based program for its own flights, partner awards will remain distance-based. However, the distance bands are different before and after June 10 making an apples-to-apples comparison is hard. Due to this quirk, some awards will actually decrease, but most will increase. The biggest jump: one-way, premium cabin and ultra-long-haul awards.

Current award chart:

Malaysia Airlines one-partner award chart

New award chart:

Malaysia Airlines post June 10 one-partner award chart

As you can see, one-way awards are currently priced at half of the round-trip cost. Starting June 10, one-way fares will be around 65% of the round-trip cost.

For premium cabins, it’s bad news. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Partner Cabin Route Before After Increase
Emirates Business JFK-MXP 48,000 o/w
96,000 r/t
82,000 o/w
125,000 r/t
71%
30%
Emirates Business JFK-DXB 66,000 o/w
132,000 r/t
131,000 o/w
202,000 r/t
98%
53%
Emirates Business LAX-DXB 72,000 o/w
144,000 r/t
131,000 o/w
202,000 r/t
82%
40%
Cathay Pacific First JFK-HKG 102,000 o/w
204,000 r/t
172,000 o/w
264,000 r/t
69%
29%
Japan Airlines Premium
Economy
DFW-NRT 47,000 o/w
94,000 r/t
90,000 o/w
129,000 r/t
91%
37%

What to Book Before June 10

Based on the changes noted above, here are the flights you’ll want to book before June 10:

  • Any awards on Malaysia Airlines flights
  • Non-Oneworld partner one-way bookings
  • Premium cabin partner awards
  • Ultra-long-haul partner redemptions

So, that’s pretty much everything.

Since redemptions for Malaysia’s own flights are already a pretty bad deal, you’re going to want to focus your Enrich miles on partner awards — particularly if you want to get a one-way business/first class award.

The terms and conditions note that you won’t be able to cancel an award ticket purchased before June 10 after the reservation system change. However, you can make changes to your travel dates “within ticket validity.”

If you’re set on an Enrich redemption, but there’s no award availability for your preferred dates, it might be worth booking an award now and changing the dates later. If you only change the dates, you’ll have to pay change fees “subject to the terms and conditions at time of the original redemption ticket issued.” If you change the destination, change fees and the difference in mileage will apply to the change.

If you need to top off your account for a redemption, Citi ThankYou Points transfer to Malaysia’s Enrich program at a 1:1 ratio. However, our test transfer didn’t go so well.

Bottom Line

If you’ve got a stash of Enrich miles, you’re going to want to burn through them in the next 2.5 weeks. If you’re not already acquainted with the Enrich mileage program, there are a few gems. But, you’re going to need Citi ThankYou points, some patience and persistence to get to them.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.