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There are currently 13 airlines operating the Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airliner. While the aircraft has not been the commercial success Airbus hoped for, when it comes to #avgeeks, the community could not be more pleased. The massive, two story plane still impresses me every time I see it parked at a gate or taxiing across an airport.
Boasting cabins that include the most luxurious product flying the sky and, in my opinion, the most comfortable economy cabin, a flight on an A380 is an experience you have to try. Let’s take a look at the best ways to book an award ticket to fly on this mammoth aircraft.
Who Flies the A380?
Here are the 13 current operators of the A380 in commercial service:
- Air France
- Asiana Airlines
- British Airways
- China Southern Airlines
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Thai Airways
Japanese airline ANA is scheduled to put its new A380s into service next year on the Tokyo to Honolulu route, making it the 14th airline to operate the plane. With 13 operating airlines representing hundreds of partnerships, there are dozens of ways to book award tickets. To narrow things down a bit, we’ll go through first, business, and economy class separately and show you three of the best ways to book an A380 flight for each class of service.
A word of caution: many of the operating airlines shift the A380’s operating routes and dates on a rather dynamic basis. Make sure you book the correct flight scheduled for the A380, and keep an eye on your flight all the way up to departure.
New York (JFK) to Seoul (ICN) — Asiana A380
80,000 Asiana Club miles and ~$125
TPG himself just enjoyed the transpacific flight on the Asiana A380. You can book the long haul for just 80,000 of Asiana’s own miles, and the airline is an SPG transfer partner. When you include the SPG transfer bonus, the flight will set you back just 65,000 SPG Starpoints. Alternatively, you can book the flight like TPG did for 90,000 Avianca Lifemiles, which is a Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partner.
Dallas (DFW) to Sydney (SYD) — Qantas A380
70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and $42
Enjoy the A380 to the extreme when you fly 16 hours in first class from Dallas nonstop to Australia for the incredible price of only 70,000 miles and no fuel surcharges (though be forewarned that award space can be very difficult to come by).
If you can find award space, this is without a doubt the best value and the best way to enjoy the A380.
Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Paris (CDG) — Etihad A380
62,500 American AAdvantage miles and $32.70
Blocked at seven and a half hours, you’ll enjoy an overnight flight in arguably the best first class product in the sky. The Etihad First Apartments have yet to disappoint any flyer I’ve spoken with, and for only 62,500 miles and no fuel surcharges, this is a heck of a deal.
For additional award options in even more of the best first class A380 cabins — including options on Emirates and Lufthansa — check out our story on “The Best A380 First-Class Options and How to Redeem Miles to Fly Them.”
Singapore (SIN) to Shanghai (PVG) — Singapore A380
35,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and $25
Enjoy business class on one of the world’s best carriers for five and a half hours for a low amount of miles and no fuel surcharges.
Frankfurt to New York (JFK) — Lufthansa A380
40,000 Asiana Club miles and $300
Lufthansa has a fantastic transatlantic A380 flight, made even better by Star Alliance partner Asiana charging only 40,000 miles for the one-way trip. There is a bit of disappointment in the Lufthansa business product, as not every seat has aisle access, but I’ll overlook that for the cheap cost of the flight and the A380 experience.
New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) — Air France A380
42,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles and $126
Two of Air France’s daily Paris to New York flights are currently operated by the A380. There’s great news here, as Air France flights are searchable on the Japan Airlines website. JAL is a transfer partner of SPG, meaning the flight will cost you 37,000 Starpoints with the 5,000 mile transfer bonus. Fuel surcharges are also much lower than you might expect, making this a great A380 business class, transatlantic redemption.
Bonus: Tokyo-Honolulu — ANA A380
60,000 ANA Mileage Club miles round-trip
Assuming the current ANA award chart stays the same, you’ll be able to fly the new ANA A380 next spring for only 60,000 miles round-trip during low season in business on the long-haul route between Japan and Hawaii. High season pricing only goes up to 68,000 miles round-trip, making this a great route to fly no matter what time of year you need to travel.
Chicago/Boston/Miami to London (LHR) — British Airways A380
25,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and $185
Make sure you check the daily schedule, as the A380 is coming to these cities on a seasonal basis. In Boston’s case, only one of the four daily flights on Monday, Friday, and Sunday has the A380. This is a great price for the transatlantic A380 flight, and Asia Miles charges less than half of the fuel surcharges of other programs for the flight on British Airways.
For the best seats on the plane, make sure you sit in the back of the upper deck where the economy cabin only has two seats instead of three next to the windows.
Guangzhou (CAN) to Beijing (PEK) — China Southern A380
12,500 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles and $7.86
The three hour domestic flight between two of China’s largest metropolises is operated by an A380 twice a day. Cash prices look to be $300 and above for the one-way trip, giving you almost 2.5 cents/mile when redeeming Flying Blue miles for the A380 flight.
Abu Dhabi to Paris — Etihad A380
20,000 American AAdvantage miles and $36
One of the two daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Paris is operated by the A380, so make sure you’re on the correct flight. The Etihad flight must show Guest seat availability on the Etihad award search engine in order to book it with AA miles.
Bonus: Sydney to Christchurch (CHC) — Emirates A380
~12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards
The Emirates fifth freedom route from Australia to New Zealand has cash prices right now for $172 on almost any day. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeem points at 1.5 cents each through the Chase travel portal, the flight will set you back 11,467 Ultimate Rewards. Or if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 1.25 cent/point redemption rate, the flight will cost 13,760 Ultimate Rewards.
There are dozens of additional ways to book an A380 award flight — the good news is any A380 you fly on an award ticket is going to be a memorable experience. If I had to chose the absolute best way to book an A380, it would be paying 70,000 Alaska miles and less than $50 to fly in Qantas first class from Dallas to Sydney. I guarantee when you sit down in that seat, having paid only that relatively small about of miles and cash, you’ll feel like you’ve won.
Featured image of Asiana Airlines’ A380 first class.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees