Cleared for Takeoff: Miami to Singapore and Mumbai in business class
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Cleared for Takeoff is a weekly series showing readers like you the best ways to book post-pandemic adventures using points and miles.
Reader Mark R. reached out to us recently for advice on booking an award ticket for next year. He's headed to Singapore, where he is taking a cruise to Mumbai. With a stash of AAdvantage miles and Citi ThankYou points, he wants to know the best option for premium cabin airfare.
I am planning a cruise next march from Singapore to Mumbai. I would like to use either my 550,000 AA miles or my 300,000 Thank you points or a combination if necessary. First or business class. Do you have any tips for getting the most out what I have now?
We will be flying out either Miami to Orlando. The cruise is in March of 2022 so the weather is good in either place. The cruise is with Crystal so I don't think it would be possible to use points, but what do I know! We will be sailing out of Singapore going to Mumbai where we plan on a 3-day side trip to Taj Majal before flying home. Thanks!! - Mark R.
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Current points stash
Mark currently has 550,000 AAdvantage miles and 300,000 Citi ThankYou points. That's more than enough for two round-trip business class tickets within the same frequent flyer program.
- 550,000 AAdvantage miles
- 300,000 Citi ThankYou points
Related: 4 easy strategies I use to earn over 500,000 points and miles a year
Airfare to Singapore
Route: MIA-SIN, BOM-MIA
Miles needed: 140,000 miles + $120.12 per person
Mark's best option is to redeem his AAdvantage miles for two one-way tickets. Why not an open-jaw? Because those price out at 150,500 miles round-trip rather than 140,000 when you book two one-way awards.
American Airlines partners with Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific, which offer terrific business-class products with plenty of availability. On the return flight from Mumbai, Mark can fly either Cathay Pacific or Etihad. He'll be redeeming the same number of miles. Booking this far in advance gives him the added advantage (no pun intended) of having access to lots of award space.
AAdvantage miles might get devalued this year as travel demand picks up. So putting them to use on a trip like this is really ideal because he'll get to use his miles before they devalue while getting lots of value out of them. Citi ThankYou has 16 transfer partners, so there is no fear of devaluation and plenty of opportunities to put them to use in the future.
Related: Here’s how to get to Singapore using points and miles
How to book this award with points
The best thing about using his AAdvantage miles for this award to Singapore and Mumbai is that Mark can book these tickets online. The process is simple: Head to aa.com and type in the first segment of your trip (MIA-SIN) and check off the "redeem miles" box. I don't know Mark's precise travel dates, so I'm entering a random date in March 2022:
On the search results page, you can filter your results by cabin class and redemption rate. Keep in mind that even though some awards price out as business class, they may contain multiple segments in economy. Be on the lookout for a message in orange that says, "The class of service you searched may not be available on one or more flights."
I managed to find an all-business-class itinerary, with the first two segments operated by American Airlines and the last one in Cathay Pacific business class.
Next, you'll need to hit the "login" button on the lower right side of the page and type in your AAdvantage credentials. You'll have the opportunity to choose your seat and pre-order meals (within 30 days of travel).
Once you've booked this segment, you'll want to head back to aa.com to book your return flight out of Mumbai. The award will cost the same number of miles, though the taxes will be around $81.22 if you're flying back on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong.
Related: How to fly round-trip to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles
How to earn enough miles for this award
Mark has more than enough AAdvantage miles for this award to Singapore and Mumbai. However, if you're looking to replicate this award for your own post-pandemic adventure, you can earn AAdvantage miles with a co-branded American Airlines credit card.
AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard: Earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Additional 10,000 miles when an employee card is used for a purchase.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 American Airlines bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening.
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: Earn 60,000 bonus miles and a $99 companion ticket awarded after making a purchase within the first 90 days of card opening.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: For a limited time earn 75,000 miles after you spend $3,500 on purchases within the first four months of account opening.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, AAdvantage Aviator Red and the AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Cleared for Takeoff: A post-pandemic trip to Spain with a backup plan for Colombia
Hotel and cruise expenses
Mark isn't using points for the hotel and cruise portion of this trip, but he certainly can. Assuming he hasn't prepaid the cruise, he could charge it to his Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. He will earn 2 miles per $1 spent and could redeem those miles at a rate of 1 cent each towards his cruise booking.
The card currently has a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
India is one of those hotel markets where you can book really nice hotels for relatively few points. Mark is spending three days exploring the Taj Mahal in Agra, where he'll have several options. There's the Doubletree hotel, requiring just 10,000 Hilton points. Since nightly rates are around $100 and TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, this is a great redemption value.
For a luxury option, Marriott's ITC Mughal is a solid choice that's located near the monument. It's a Category 3 property requiring 15,000-20,000 points per night. In my search of March 2022, most dates price out at 15,000 points per night. With nightly rates of around $150 per night, you'll get more than TPG valuation out of each point.
Related: 3 reasons why you should visit Mumbai
If you have a destination in mind and need help figuring out your points strategy, send us an email to be featured in the next installment of Cleared for Takeoff.
Featured photo by May_Lana / Shutterstock