The best business-class seats to book using Amex Membership Rewards points
Editor's note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
It's fairly easy to rack up American Express Membership Rewards points, between lucrative welcome bonuses and generous earning rates on many American Express cards. However, earning points is one thing — redeeming those points for maximum value (and comfort) is an entirely different story.
Getting the most value out of Amex Membership Rewards points usually involves transferring them to an airline or hotel partner and then redeeming the points or miles through that program. Today, we're going to look at some of the best business-class products you can book by leveraging these partners.
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Qatar Airways' Qsuite is one of the world's best business-class products. The suites are spacious and offer a ton of privacy thanks to sliding doors. Plus, if you're flying with a companion and assign yourself to the two center seats positioned closest together, you can set up a side-by-side double bed — a rarity in business class.
Qsuites can be found on select Boeing 777-200LRs, 777-300ERs, Airbus A350-900s and all A350-1000s, on flights between Doha, Quatar and U.S. cities like New York, Seattle, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others. However, there's no need to fret if you don't land yourself a Qsuite-equipped aircraft since you'll still get to enjoy top-notch amenities on board and restaurant-quality food.
How to book
You can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles program and book business-class awards from the East Coast to Doha for 75,000 miles one-way. Taxes and fees run around $500 each way. As long as all of your flights are on Qatar Airways, you can search and book the award online.
Another option would be to book your award with British Airways Avios — but that would require 105,000 miles each way, plus taxes and fees.
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Another top-notch business class product you could book is ANA's "The Room." The seats offer excellent privacy thanks to closing doors and are incredibly spacious, measuring a whopping 38 inches wide. TPG's Zach Griff went as far as calling it the gold standard for the industry. The only catch is that it's currently only available on select Boeing 777-300ERs flying from Tokyo to cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Business-class seats on ANA's other long-haul aircraft don't have doors but still offer direct aisle access. You'll also still enjoy ANA's impeccable service and amazing cuisine. Besides the usual bedding, which typically consists of a pillow and comforter, business-class passengers flying ANA can also expect a mattress pad and slippers on all long-haul flights.
How to book
ANA's Mileage Club program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex and offers fantastic award availability on many of its U.S. routes. Round-trip business-class awards between the U.S. and Japan range between 75,000 and 90,000 miles depending on the season, plus about $500 in taxes and fees.
If you only need a one-way ticket on ANA, you could book with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club from 45,000 miles each way. Other transfer partners to consider include Avianca LifeMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan — neither of which impose fuel surcharges.
The Delta One suite is the only business-class product offered by the big three legacy U.S. carriers to feature sliding doors. Aside from the excellent privacy, the seats are very comfortable when in bed mode and the new eco-friendly bedding is great.
You can find these private suites on Delta's Airbus A350s and A330-900neos flying to select Asian and European destinations. Plus, you'll occasionally find them on some domestic routes. Although they don't offer doors, Delta also offers updated business-class seats on some 767s and A330s.
How to book
Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, though, booking awards with Delta SkyMiles can be extremely frustrating. Because the airline doesn't publish an award chart, award pricing can vary greatly — we've seen Delta One Suite awards to Asia for as low as 80,000 miles one-way and as high as 375,000 miles one-way.
Your best bet would be to transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club and book your award through that program. As long as there is saver award availability (typically whenever Delta charges under 100,000 miles one-way), you can book Delta One awards to Europe at a flat 50,000 miles each way and awards to Asia for 105,000 miles and up, depending on the distance. Plus, you'll pay the same taxes and fees when redeeming Flying Club miles for Delta flights as you would when booking directly through Delta.
Whether or not you're flying on the A380 that features the airline's latest and greatest seats, flying business class on Singapore Airlines is always a treat. Singapore Airlines' long-haul aircraft feature stylish business-class cabins in a 1-2-1 configuration with fully lie-flat beds.
Business-class passengers can take advantage of the famous "Book the Cook" service and pre-order scrumptious meals — like the popular Seafood Thermidor — from extensive menus with over 60 dishes.
And if you're lucky enough to be flying on the A380 with the airline's latest business-class product, you can enjoy a double bed with your travel companion by selecting two seats in the middle section of the cabin.
How to book
Booking Singapore Airlines business-class award tickets on long-haul routes is challenging since you can only do so through Singapore's KrisFlyer program. Fortunately, that's not a problem for Amex Membership Rewards-earning cardholders — or cardholders of any of the three other major transferable points programs (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One) — since you can transfer points to KrisFlyer at a 1:1 ratio.
Singapore Airlines operates several flights between the U.S. and Asia, as well as several fifth-freedom routes between the U.S. and Europe. Award pricing varies based on zones and whether you need to add a connection on a Star Alliance partner, but here are some of your booking options:
|New York – Frankfurt||72,000 KrisFlyer miles|
|New York – Singapore||99,000 KrisFlyer miles|
|Houston – Manchester, England||72,000 KrisFlyer miles|
|San Francisco – Hong Kong||89,000 KrisFlyer miles|
|Los Angeles – Tokyo||92,000 KrisFlyer miles|
If you can't get to Europe with Singapore Airlines or a Delta One suite, your next best bet would be with Air France. The French carrier offers updated business class seats aboard its A350s, 777-300ERs, 787-9s and a few 777-200s. The carrier is also refitting its existing A330s with new seats. Aside from the A330s, the new business-class cabins utilize a 1-2-1 configuration and provide each passenger a lie-flat seat, direct aisle access and plenty of privacy.
France is known for its fine cuisine, and the food on board the country's flag carrier is no exception. The airline has partnered with Michelin-starred chefs like Régis Marcon, Michel Roth and Guy Martin to prepare multicourse meals that include an amuse-bouche, salad, main course, cheese course and dessert, complete with fine wines and champagnes selected by sommelier Paolo Basso and wine-guide authors Thierry Desseauve and Michel Bettane.
How to book
Air France/KLM's Flying Blue program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex. The program doesn't publish award charts, but to give you an idea, a one-way business-class award ticket between New York and Paris will usually range between 57,500 and 75,000 miles. However, you'll need to fork over a few hundred dollars in taxes and fees.
You may be able to save some miles by booking through Flying Blue's Promo Awards, a rotating set of cities with discounted award rates to Europe. For instance, we recently saw business class awards to various destinations across Europe for less than 40,000 miles each way.
Earning Amex points
|Card||Welcome offer||Bonus category earning rates||Annual fee|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||100,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on your new card in your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.||5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (earn 5 points per dollar on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year).
5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
|$695 (see rates and fees).|
|American Express® Gold Card||60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.||4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar) and dining at restaurants worldwide.
3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel.
|$250 (see rates and fees).|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your card within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.||5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel.
1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more; on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year (then 1 point per dollar).
|$695 (see rates and fees).|
You may even be targeted for a higher welcome offer through the CardMatch tool. Keep in mind that CardMatch offers are subject to change at any time.
American Express Membership Rewards points offer flexibility and allow you to experience some of the world's best business-class products for very little out of pocket. The ones covered in this post are just some of our favorites, but there are plenty more fantastic options that will put your points to good use, including on Cathay Pacific and Emirates.
While points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all of the partners mentioned, that is not the case for all Amex's other partners. Additionally, it's not uncommon to see transfer bonuses that give you an additional 30% or sometimes more, so you may get even greater value from your points.