TPG Readers’ Best Tips for Visiting Southeast Asia on Points and Miles

Oct 28, 2018

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We recently asked our TPG Lounge readers to share their best tips and go-to ways for traveling to Southeast Asia on points and miles. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

Using United and Its Star Alliance Partners

With members like Singapore Airlines, EVA Air, ANA, Air China, Shenzhen Airlines, Juneyao Airlines and Thai Airways, it’s no wonder TPG Lounge members love using United miles and other Star Alliance mileage currencies to book award flights to Southeast Asia.

“I typically fly EVA Air on points through United. If you are flexible, you can find pretty good availability for business saver seats.” — ‪Michael A.

“Just booked Seattle (SEA) to Singapore (SIN) round-trip for 56,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with United.” — ‪Josh S.T.

“ANA [Mileage Club] has great business-class round-trip award rates — you can only do round-trip though.” — ‪Zachary T.P.

“[United] MileagePlus [partners] hands down. Not even close, particularly with Asiana.” — ‪Matthew C.

Singapore Suites from New York-JFK to Singapore, obviously. Got one-way for the wife and me for 240,000 miles all in, saver levels. We got the seats next to each other that turn into a private bedroom in the sky. I had to wake up at 3:30 a.m. or so a year in advance to snag them. It obviously depends more on if you want the two seats that combine together or saver level.” — ‪Nicholas C.

“Hello Kitty! [on EVA Air]” — Clive B.

EVA Air is well known for its Hello Kitty livery aircraft.
EVA Air is well known for its Hello Kitty livery aircraft. Photo by TPG Staff.

“Just used my United miles for a first-class flight with Asiana.” — ‪Steven W.

“Booking via the United app — I love the consistency with United economy awards. Though I will give credit to American Airlines, as I just booked Denver (DEN) to Bangkok (BKK) one-way for 37,500 miles, however the consistency with AA awards is just not there so I’ll attribute that to luck.” — ‪Nick E.

“I have always enjoyed my EVA Air economy flights.” — Daniel N.

“United had a sale a few weeks ago for 64,000 points round-trip in economy (it’s usually around $2,800 to fly from my small town). Also using the Excursionist perk.” — ‪Brad B.

“United: find a discount coach fare mid-week thru Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), then use 30,000 miles plus $350 co-pay to upgrade to business or first. I’ve done this for around $1,500 round-trip compared to paying $10,000 or $12,000 for the full cost or having to use 240,000 miles). Mid-week is [where you’ll find the] lowest fare and best availability for upgrades to business or first. And the upside is you still get full credit for miles flown.” — ‪Dave F.

Cathay Pacific and Korean Air

Two other airlines stood out as favorites for flying to this part of the world — one reader was nice enough to detail exactly how he books so others could do the same.

“[I use] Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific first class. You have to call Alaska Airlines to book the ticket but first, I search for available awards seats through the British Airways website, and once I find a flight with first-class availability, I call Alaska Air to book it for me.” — ‪William D.Y.

“I use American Advantage miles to fly in business class on Qatar and there always seem to be seats. I prefer Cathay Pacific’s first class but find it extremely hard to get seats, also with American miles.” — ‪Judith E.K.

“Cathay Pacific has a great first-class lounge, planes and staff.” — ‪Alex M.

“Used to be Korean Air but Chase couldn’t keep them around.” — ‪Matthew J.

“Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Seoul (ICN) and Bangkok via Korean Air.” — ‪Andrew B.

Cathay First was a popular pick for many of our TPG Lounge members.
Cathay Pacific’s first class was a popular pick for many of our TPG Lounge members. Photo by TPG Staff.

Having More Than One Favorite Way

Of course, some of our TPG Lounge Members are racking up miles across several airline alliances, maximizing their miles to work best for them.

“It depends on which airline my miles are with. I really enjoyed flying first class on Cathay Pacific from Los Angeles to Hong Kong (HKG) to Bangkok. I also did business class on Emirates and that was pretty awesome from San Francisco (SFO) to Dubai (DXB) to Bangkok. I have done several business and first class flights on United as well and I would say they were not worth it. With Korean Air, I have also done both business and first class. Korean Air is a sweet spot for the cost. I’ve also done Singapore Airlines — it’s a nice flight and the service was great, but for the miles, I would pick either Cathay Pacific or Emirates.” — ‪Daniel N.

“ANA, EVA Air and China Airlines.” — ‪Chie M.

“EVA Air! Mileage redemption at 77,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to Aeroplan, plus a $5 fee for a one-way business-class ticket.” — ‪K.C.V.

“LifeMiles, Asiana Miles, AAdvantage miles, Alaska miles and any other transferable miles.” — ‪Ben K.

“Booked Singapore Airlines using either Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. Return trip was booked using Alaska miles to fly Cathay Pacific.” — David O.

Readers Helping Readers

We love it when our TPG Lounge members get so involved in a given topic they take it upon themselves to respond to each other’s questions with their own personal advice. That’s what happened when reader Wendi C. asked David O. to elaborate more on how he was able to book his award with Singapore Airlines.

“Hi David, I’m trying to do the same but I’m new to Singapore Airlines and couldn’t find the indicator for price/availability for miles rather than dollars. Can you help?” — Wendi C.

“You have to join the [Krisflyer] Miles club. It will then come up on the top of the page.” — Bruce B.

Featured photo by ronniechua / Getty Images.

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