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These are the 3 award redemptions TPG staffers regret not booking

June 20, 2022
5 min read
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Are there any award redemptions you missed out on, and now you regret it? There are some amazing flights and hotels you can book using points and miles. Unfortunately, they don't all stick around forever.

We've compiled some "missed opportunities" of award redemptions that TPG staff members regret not booking while they had the chance.

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Etihad Apartments on the A380

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

I'll admit that I actually had reservations to fly the famous Etihad Apartments twice. Both were canceled, and now it looks like this ultra-luxurious product has gone away completely.

The Etihad Apartments were beyond simply first class. You had — as the name implies — an apartment in the sky. It included a bed, a recliner chair and tons of space. Your apartment included a door that you could close for privacy.

Etihad offered its Apartments (and the famous "The Residence," which was a three-bedroom offering) exclusively on Airbus 380 planes. Unfortunately, Etihad Airways stopped flying its A380 planes during the pandemic.

That makes Etihad Apartments inaccessible. While we saw rumors that the A380 might make a comeback, I'm not too optimistic. My chief reason for this is that Etihad has completely removed all mentions of the A380, Apartments and The Residence from its website in the "On board" section.

Related: My apartment in the sky: A review of Etihad’s first-class Apartment on the A380, Abu Dhabi to New York

Emirates first class using partners to save cash

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Emirates has first-class products on both Boeing 777 and Airbus 380 aircraft. The latter is famous for those dreaming of taking a shower in the sky or hanging out at the lounge-meets-bar on the upper deck of the flight. The 777 product now includes its latest variant, referred to as a "game changer." Just look at the photo above!

Emirates' first class exudes luxury during the flight and on the ground. And you can still book Emirates' first class using points and miles.

The issue here is that the options available for these bookings are fewer than in the past. While you could previously book your premium ride in the sky with miles from Alaska Airlines and JAL, those options no longer exist. You now have three ways to book: with Qantas Frequent Flyer, Korean Air SkyPass or with Emirates itself.

Each of these has some issues: Korean's program doesn't allow one-way bookings and lacks quality transfer partners, Qantas' program has high fees for award bookings and high prices for Emirates awards and then Emirates has huge surcharges on award flights in premium cabins.

That's why the old partners were so beloved — especially Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, which has its own credit cards, is a Marriott Bonvoy transfer partner and doesn't add heavy surcharges to award tickets. Imagine saving $800 or $1,000 in fees when booking an award flight in first class. And if you're flying with others, this could have equaled thousands of dollars in savings.

Sadly, booking Emirates' premium cabins with a reasonable number of miles and low out-of-pocket costs is basically gone, due to these changes.

Related: 14 thoughts after my first flight in Emirates’ game-changer first class

Garuda Indonesia first class

(Photo by Javier Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

Garuda Indonesia — a SkyTeam member — is flirting with bankruptcy. In response, the airline has drastically slashed its routes, is flying older planes to avoid extra costs for leasing or buying newer models and has very few options available for first class at the moment.

Adding further complications are the fact that U.S. flyers still have difficulty accessing some of these destinations and the fact that you cannot book Garuda's first-class seats using a partner. That's why we previously ranked these seats among the hardest first-class products to book.

If you want to experience this luxurious product, you'll need to book directly with GarudaMiles. Its only U.S. transfer partner is Citi ThankYou, which further complicates things. You may need several sign-up bonuses from Citi to get the number of miles you need for an award booking.

On top of this, Garuda has a reputation for swapping aircraft or changing schedules on some of its flights. This can mean not experiencing first class the way you wanted, such as newer cabins, or dealing with the headaches of schedule changes when you need to line up a positioning flight. All of these put together have made us skittish about booking first-class awards with Garuda Indonesia in the past. With the current state of things, we may not get another chance.

Related: Flight review: Garuda Indonesia first class (777-300ER) from Amsterdam to Jakarta

Bottom line

Only time will tell if these products become easier to access in the future. Additionally, products available today may be gone next year, earning a place on this list.

For us, these three first-class products jump out as award redemptions we regret not making — either because they're gone or because the best ways to book them went away.

The moral of the story is that, if there's a great flight product you want to try out, remember that it might not stick around forever. Earning and burning could help you avoid missing out on these flights and regretting it later on.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases