|photo courtesy visit-palau.com|
I’ve rattled on about how much I enjoy redeeming OneWorld American Airlines AAdvantage miles on Qantas. A comment last week had me thinking about the other Alliances. This week, I’ll look at some of the possible money-saving redemptions with the Star Alliance.
- Wholly within Oceania, 12,500 miles each way, and
- between Australia/NZ and Oceania, 17,500 miles each way.
The later is “cheaper” than the 20,000 miles required for an AAdvantage award on OneWorld carriers.
I looked next at the countries in the Oceania category: American Samoa, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Tonga, Vanuatu, Palau, Marana Islands, Federal States of Micronesia, Guam, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, and Western Samoa. Some of these tiny island nations have only one or two airlines serving their remote havens. To me, this signifies major money-saving opportunities.
The Deal of the Day last Friday (the 6th) included the possibility of 60,000 miles with the United Explorer Card. (It really only generates 50,000 miles with the first purchase as the last 10K isn’t rewarded until you’ve reached a $25,000 spend). This number of miles would provide me with enough for a return business seat from Sydney to any of the island nations. Although not quite enough from North America, a round-trip economy ticket is 70,000 miles. I imagine many of you reading this either have 20,000 United miles in your accounts or have the ability to obtain the necessary additional 20,000 miles to bring you up to the amount required to get to the South Pacific from North America.
|Again photo courtesy visit-palau.com|
So I picked my spot: Palau. This tiny island nation is relatively new as a self-governing sovereignty. Ratification of their independence came in 1994. Palau is 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2000 miles south of Toyko. Koror International Airport is served by Asiana and Korean Air from Seoul, Delta from Tokyo, United from Guam, and China Airlines from Taipei. Star Alliance and Sky Team have positioned themselves nicely here. Notice my trusty OneWorld is nowhere to be seen.
Next I hit up Kayak.com and picked random dates in May 2012 and click Star Alliance as my preferred carriers. Asiana Airlines came up — Sydney to Seoul to Koror, Palau — for $3,662. I knew this was going to be a pricey ticket, therefore I get more bang for my bucks when I redeem my miles. So hypothetically, I signed up for the United Explorer Card in order to obtain the 50,000 miles currently on offer (unfortunately I recently did a card application and obtained a different United offer). A round-trip economy Australia to Oceania ticket is only 35,000 miles. Voila! Enough miles to save me a fortune on a ticket to what appears to be a stunningly beautiful country!
This, for me, is the thrill of the game: saving big money and traveling to remote locations. This has been a lesson to me to not put all my miles in one Alliance. Diversification makes some places seemingly far away not so remote after all.