TRAVEL TIPS:MILES AWAY
Updated: Dec 28, 2017
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Today i will be talking more on purchase of frequent flyer miles. What's the trade off and how can it be beneficial to you in your travel.
Frequent flyer miles is basically a royalty program by an airline in layman terms. Most of the airlines does offer some sort of royalty programs to allow passengers to earn miles mainly thru flight purchase or if not affiliates/partners companies such as hotels & car hire services.
Basically, the higher the amount you spent, the more miles you will earn. These miles can then be used for flight redemption or using it for an upgrade from economy to business class or business to first class. These miles are best used for award ticket redemption(I will talk more about it in a while).
On top of earning miles just for flight redemption & upgrades, you will also gain frequent flyer status. These status comes with a handful of priority privilege like dedicated check in lines, lounge usage, priority boarding as well as priority queue for standby flights.
Signing up as a frequent flyer member is usually free with most big airlines but to get to the next tier, requires quite a fair bit of travel. Definitely more than just regular yearly vacation. On average, we are looking at 25,000 miles for silver tier and 50,000 miles for gold tier. These numbers are just some example and doesn't reflect the actual.
You are looking to spend at least few thousand dollars for sure unless there is a promotion like what malaysia airlines offered just last month.
As you see, Malaysia Airlines is literally offering free silver tier if you book a Kuala Lumpur - London return flight during the stated period.
Back to my main intention of this post, today i will be sharing on the purchase of frequent flyer miles. I am a member of Mileageplus since 2015. MileagePlus is the loyalty program of United Airlines and Aeromars and from time to time, they do offer the option to purchase miles. Of course to entice travellers, they do throw in bonus miles which vary depending on how much miles you buy in and also the period of the promotion. Here is the table below.
Price is quoted in USD. So let's say you were to purchase 75,000 miles, you will receive a 100% bonus. So total will be 150,000 miles. You don't always get the 100% bonus miles, sometime it might be just 50%.
Although the miles cost USD$2625.00, there is this Tax Recovery Fee. Which i don't know what exactly is it. But it certainly sounds like some taxes for sure LOL. For the price of USD$2821.88, you will be receiving 150,000 miles in total. That's SGD$3781.32 based on the exchange rate of 1.34. So per 1000 miles you are paying about SGD$25.20.
United Airlines is a member of Star Alliance. It's partner airline includes big carriers like Singapore Airlines & Thai Airways. With these miles, it's actually serves as a "bridge" for you to book on SQ/TH via UA. Given the option of United Airlines or Singapore Airlines, there is absolutely no brainer to go for SQ if possible. Also try to redeem for Business Saver or First Saver award which is also another no brainer. Earning miles solely based on flying takes quite a bit of money, not mentioning purchasing almost $4000 on miles so spend your miles wisely!
To add on, mileageplus recently devalue their miles. Making it even more "expensive" to redeem miles. Long were the days where redemption are totally worth. It's like a inflation if you call it.
I picked Hong Kong as an example because i fly there at least once a year. As you can see, it takes 17.5K for an Economy class ticket and 25K for a Business class ticket. No brainer once again to pick Business Class for just a 7.5K difference. On monetary terms, we are looking at 17.5 X $25.20 = $441 for Economy and 25 X $25.20 = $630 for Business. Figures quoted are for one way and airport taxes are not included in the redemption. (which is SGD$34 here.)
When redeeming my miles, i do try to fly the longest way possible so as to be able to try out different airlines and their products. Here are a few example for some interesting routes and the "cheapest" route for flights out of Singapore.
1)SINGAPORE TO BANGKOK VIA JAKARTA
From Singapore to Bangkok route, i find this to be a really interesting flight for aviation enthusiast. With 35K miles(SGD$882), you get to enjoy Singapore Airlines First Class from Singapore to Jakarta leg of this trip. Singapore Airlines First Class ground experience is really something not to miss. I also realise that SQ hardly open up First Class award seats or maybe it's just me.
With the 11 hours connection, it also allows you to perhaps do some small shopping in town.
For Jakarta - Bangkok leg, Thai Airways will be using their B787. Yummy new plane but Thai airways are notoriously known for their last minute equipment change. Meaning it might be an older plane that's serving you that particular day. It all depends on your luck.
2)SINGAPORE TO HONG KONG VIA BANGKOK
The second route i am recommending will be Singapore to Hongkong route, where you get to fly with TG's New A350s on Royal Silk Class(Business Class) as well as the Royal First Class(First Class) on the 2nd leg of this journey. This particular route with Thai's First Class Saver Award is pretty consistent. Meaning pretty much daily that i am able to book on one of these flights. How generous of them as compared to SQ. I couldn't find any First Saver Awards for SQ beyond January 2018. *As of december 2017
The A350s are currently plying on Bangkok to Milan and Bangkok to Rome, so if you don't have the luxury of time but still would like to try their new aircraft, Singapore to Bangkok or Bangkok to Singapore is your best "short" option.
As you can see, i posted the one with the shortest connection time but i do encourage that you do a overnight layover at Bangkok, have a walk at the night market then rest for the night before heading back to the airport again for the First Class experience on ground.
First Class travellers are entitled to a free thai massage session. It's a first come first serve basis hence you require a bit of luck here as well.
Unless you are rushing for time, i do recommend you to fly a longer way to your destination. So as to try out different airline, their services and short shopping or a meal in town.
For flights redemption to other destination, here is some figures that i managed to find. All miles quoted are one way business class redemption :
1) Singapore to Seoul via Bangkok by Thai Airways - 45,000 miles
2) Singapore to Narita via Jakarta by Singapore Airlines and ANA - 50,000 miles
3) Singapore to Taipei via Jakarta by Singapore Airlines and EVA Air - 45,000 miles
4) Singapore to Dubai via Bangkok by Thai Airways - 60,000 miles
5) Singapore to Paris via Delhi by Air India - 100,000 miles
6) Singapore to Los Angeles via Beijing & Seoul by Air China and Asiana Air - 90,000 miles
I feel that Mileageplus miles aren't that very affordable but certainly still worth the buy if you have some spare cash set aside for vacation/enjoyment. It's a pretty huge lump sum to fork out for a normal joe like me. But given the option to buy rather than earning it solely from flying, i personally will still go for it. It's same logic like if you were to spend real cash for an online game, you will certainly one step ahead than your peers in terms of "weapons and equipments."
For example, based on the calculation of 150,000 miles, i can redeem 3 return(50K per trip) business/first class ticket to Hong Kong on Thai Airways. Each return flight would have cost you about SGD$2700 if you were to pay by cash.
So for 3 flights, that will be SGD$8100. As compared to my initial "investment" of SGD$3781, i am already looking forward to save a couple of thousand dollars for my shopping.
Thank you for reading. It's a long and pretty dry post i know but i hope it's useful for newbie in miles redemption just like me. Feel free to leave a comment, feedback & like my facebook page and check back for more travel post.