My most anticipated award flights

7

Yesterday, I posted my 10 most anticipated award stays.  This was a list of the top 10 hotels and resorts in the world bookable with points that I haven’t yet stayed at, but I’m most looking forward to.  In that post, I promised to follow-up with my most anticipated award flights and so this post is that.  Both posts are follow-ups to the list of my top 10 all-time favorite award redemptions.

I was very lucky in that I flew Etihad First Apartments in late 2019.  Since then, Etihad has stopped flying A380 aircraft, which are the only ones that featured this incredible product.  See my review here: Etihad First Apartment Review: Simply Awesome.  Fortunately, there are plenty more drool-worthy flights which can be booked with points, but the Etihad example is important: things change all the time.  If there’s an award available today that you’d be very sad to miss out on, I recommend booking it as soon as you can.  If necessary, build a vacation around it.  I bet you’ll find it’s worth it.

Here now, in descending order, are my top 10 most anticipated award flights (but first a special mention)…

Special Mention: ANA Round the World Award

ANA’s Star Alliance Round the World award is one of the awards that I’m most highly anticipating.  For as few as 115,000 ANA miles, it’s possible to fly around the world in business class on Star Alliance airlines.  The actual price depends upon how far you end up flying, and so it is more likely that you’ll pay around 145,000 miles for the award.  Still… that’s an incredible deal.

The reason I didn’t include this award in the top 10 list below is that the Round the World Award attracts me because of the incredible award price rather than the airlines I might fly.  The top 10 list below is specifically about business and first class products on specific airlines that I’m looking forward to flying.

If you’re interested in learning more about ANA Round the World awards, see these posts:

You can get ANA miles by transferring from American Express Membership Rewards.  Now back to the top 10 list…

#10 Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Suite

Somehow, I’ve never flown Virgin Atlantic.  In the past, though, I’ve heard great things about their in-flight service, but not great things about their hard-product.  Their old business class reportedly wasn’t all that desirable, but their new product looks very nice.

Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Suite doesn’t follow the naming convention of other airplane suites: it doesn’t offer a door.  That said, it does offer a good amount of privacy, and it looks fantastic.  Upper Class Suite passengers also get access to “The Loft” which is a lounge-like space on the plane which can be a great place to socialize.

Virgin Atlantic offers the Upper Class Suite on their Airbus A350 aircraft which currently fly between London (LHR) and the following North American airports: Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO).

The best way to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is with Air France Flying Blue Miles.  For the flight from San Francisco to London in Upper Class, Air France charges 72,000 miles and $212 in fees.  Virgin Atlantic charges fewer miles but much higher fees.  Delta charges lower fees but far more miles.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 1 (~10 minutes to 1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)

#9 JetBlue Mint

JetBlue flies from New York (JFK) to both London Heathrow (LHR) and to London Gatwick (LGW).  On these flights, their Mint business class product is reportedly phenomenal.  Mint class includes suites with doors and restaurant quality food.  Supposedly the service is out of this world good as well.

There currently aren’t any great ways to get outsized value when booking with points.  In most cases you’ll be better off paying for these flights directly.  JetBlue usually charges around $2,000 round-trip.  Alternatively, you can pay with JetBlue points or with Emirates miles but it’s definitely worth comparing to paid rates to see if you’ll get good value.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Emirates Skywards1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)
JetBlue250 to 200 plus excise tax (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 12.5K (Unknown)

#8 Cathay Pacific First Class

Carrie flew Cathay Pacific First Class a few years ago. As you can see, the first class seat is enormous.

Cathay Pacific’s first class has long been considered among the best in the world.  As you can see in the photo of Carrie above, Cathay Pacific’s first class isn’t nearly as private as the suites offered by many of their competitors, but you certainly won’t feel boxed in!

Alaska Airlines offers the best award prices for flying Cathay first class and you can throw in a stop-over in Hong Kong for no extra fee.  Here are some example one-way award prices from the U.S. in Cathay first class:

  • 70K to Africa (including South Africa), Asia, India, or the Middle East
  • 80K to Australia or New Zealand

While Alaska offers the best award prices, Cathay Pacific itself offers better award availability and their miles are much easier to get since they are transfer partners with a number of programs:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)

Another advantage of booking with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is that there are some great ways to save on the cost of your flights.  See these posts for more:

#7 Oman Air First Class

Oman Air First Class Suite 787

One Mile at a Time lists Oman Air as one of the World’s Best First Class Airlines.  I’d certainly like to give it a try!  Unfortunately, their first class isn’t widely available.  According to FlightConnections they currently fly first class only between Muscat and Dubai, Frankfurt, and Kuala Lumpur.

Oman Air can be booked with Etihad Guest miles or Air Canada Aeroplan points.  Both types of points can be transferred from several transferable points programs:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Air Canada Aeroplan1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Etihad Guest1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~1 hour)60K to 25K (3 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Instant)

#6 Qatar Q-Suites

Qatar’s Q-Suites business class is widely considered to be one of the best business class products available worldwide.  Seats can be configured to be either very private or with shared space as shown above.  And service and food is reportedly first class quality.  I haven’t personally had a chance to fly Q-Suites yet, but I’m anxious to!

You can fly Q-Suites to Doha from any of these North American airports: Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Montreal (YUL), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), or Washington DC (IAD).

Qatar Q-Suites flights are best booked with miles from American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, or Qatar.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
American AAdvantage60K to 25K (~2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Qatar Privilege Club1 to 1 (1 to 2 days)60K to 25K (3 to 4 days)

#5 ANA’s “The Room”

ANA’s new business class is called “The Room”. Photo courtesy of ANA’s website

ANA offers their new business class product, called “The Room,” only on select 777-300ER aircraft.  This is the only business class product that has lead to reviewers stating that Qatar’s QSuites are no longer the best business class in the sky.  The combination of this great new seat with ANA’s famously good food and service make this one of my most highly anticipated ways to fly.  Unfortunately, to-date, this new product is available on very few routes and therefore awards are very hard to find.

The best way to book ANA business class is with ANA miles.  ANA offers great business class award pricing and better award availability when booked directly rather than with partner miles.  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Avianca Lifemiles also offer very good award prices.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
ANA Mileage Club1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (4 to 7 days)
Avianca LifeMiles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)

#4 ANA’s “The Suite”

ANA 777-300ER First Class The Suite. Image courtesy of ANA’s website.

A level up from Al Nippon’s business class “The Room” is their new first class product: “The Suite.”  Interestingly, while “The Room” is arguably the single best business class available anywhere, “The Suite” looks very nice, but not as nice as suites available from Emirates and Singapore Airlines.  Still, I’d love to try “The Suite”!

The cheapest way to book ANA First Class is with Virgin Atlantic miles: 55K one-way between the U.S. west coast and Japan or 60K one-way from the rest of the country.  That said, you might have better luck finding award availability by booking directly with ANA miles.  Between the U.S. and Japan, ANA charges 150K or 165K (high season) for first class round-trip.  ANA doesn’t allow one-way awards, but you can book one way in first and the other way in business or economy.  If so, the total award price will be the average of the two.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
ANA Mileage Club1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (4 to 7 days)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)

#3 Singapore Suites for Two

Singapore Airlines’ new Suites. As shown above, adjoining suites can be opened up to create a double bed suite for 2!

Singapore Airlines’ new Suites product has received mixed reviews, but as you can see above, it’s certainly enormous.  I flew their much smaller old Suites many years ago and loved it.  Now, my goal is to share the experience with my wife.  Regardless of whether we book the old Suites or the new, if our Suites are next to each other, they’ll offer to make up our beds together as one double bed.  This, I’ve gotta try!

Singapore Suites can only be booked with Singapore’s own KirsFlyer miles.  Singapore’s award chart can be found here.  Their Saver award prices range from 27,500 miles to 132,000 miles one-way, depending upon the route.  “Advantage” award prices (much easier to find availability) range from 52,500 miles to 237,000 miles one-way.

Fortunately there are many options for transferring points to Singapore Airlines:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~17 hours)1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (~7 hours)1 to 1 (Instant)

#2 Air France La Première first class

Air France “La Première” first class.  Image courtesy of Air France.

One Mile at a Time calls Air France’s La Première first class “perfection.”  He found the service to be flawless and asserted that the food was the best he’s had on any airline.  He goes on to state that Air France offers the world’s best first class lounge experience at its Paris Charles de Gaulle hub.  OK, I’m sold.

The problem is that there’s no practical way to book Air France first class with miles.  The best option that I can think of is to book a business class award and then wait for an offer to pay up to first class.  When Nick and I flew Air France business class to Dubai recently, we were each asked if we wanted to pay $1,824 to upgrade to first class on the DC to Paris leg, or $1,291 to upgrade the Paris to Dubai leg.  We declined.  But if I were to do a similar flight again, I might decide to spring for one upgrade just for the one-time experience.  It’s definitely not cheap, but it’s a big discount off of paying for first class directly.

Air France business class is best booked with either Air France / KLM Flying Blue miles or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 1 (~10 minutes to 1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)

#1 Emirates New First Class (777-300ER)

Emirates First Class 777-300ER. Image courtesy of Emirates.com.

Emirates’ old first class (where the suite walls only rise half way to the ceiling) is still considered one of the best first class products in the world, but their new first class (pictured above) is arguably the best of the best.

Unfortunately, finding a flight featuring the new first class is really tough.  You can’t go by the plane type since they fly 777-300ERs with both the old and new first class.  Plus, they’ve been (understandable) regularly adjusting schedules due to pandemic flight restrictions and ongoing changes in demand.  Supposedly they’re currently flying the new product between Washington Dulles (IAD) and Dubai, so that could be a great option for many of us.

The next challenge is that finding award availability can be really, really tough especially if flying with more than one person.  Your best option may be to book a business class award and then use miles at the airport or onboard to upgrade to first class.

The best way to book Emirates award flights is with Emirates miles.  For business class from the U.S. to Dubai, Emirates charges 145K round-trip or 100K one-way (there’s a big round-trip discount).  For first class to Dubai, Emirates charges 136,250 miles one-way (there’s no longer a round-trip discount for first class).  There are many options for transferring points to Emirates:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Brex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Emirates Skywards1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Unknown)

What did I miss?

Are there any awesome flight products bookable with points that I missed here?  Keep in mind that I didn’t list Lufthansa First or Thai First (each with their incredible first class lounge experiences) because I’ve flown them before.  Also, did I miss any great ways of booking these exciting ways to fly?  Please comment below.

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paul goecke

You missed the best one of all, the Apartment and/or the residence

Christian

Great list for sure. At the risk of being a party pooper, the really desirable flights that you list are somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible to book. I’ve been actively hunting for a Cathay first class seat for a while, but no luck. Likewise with Singapore to Asia. The same with the new ANA first class. There’s no question that Covid has made things tougher but if you can’t actually book these amazing aspirational products it takes a lot of the fun of of things.

Lukas

Flew #8 several times (perhaps 8, including two flights with my son for the $1,000 roundtrip first-class error fare), always a great service. Flew #2 for $3,000 roundtrip JFK-CDG-BCN 4 years ago (I got a brand-new FA, wasn’t polished at all and my F experience was actually disappointing). Flying #1 this February IAD-DXB 🙂

Bill

ANA’s Star Alliance Round the World award is one of the awards that I’m most highly anticipating. For as few as 115,000 ANA miles, it’s possible to fly around the world in business class on Star Alliance airlines. The actual price depends upon how far you end up flying, and so it is more likely that you’ll pay around 145,000 miles for the award.”

Not trying to be pedantic here. But the first time I did an ANA RTW I was just getting going in the hobby and pretty light on points, so I booked a trip for 105,000 each for me and P2. JFK-VIE-BKK-HKG-NRT-SFO comes in at 17,511 miles.

Lukas

nm

Last edited 1 month ago by Lukas