By: Jeff Brownson
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From the luxury resorts and beautiful beaches of Koh Samui to the street markets and elephant adventures in Chiang Mai to the amazing food and bustling atmosphere of Bangkok, Thailand is a country that has something for everyone.
Khao Lak Beach Resort
Once on the ground, things are generally inexpensive but, for those of us in the United States, it’s quite far away. Getting there can get pricey, especially if you want to fly in business or first class. Staying at that luxury hotel overlooking the beach isn’t cheap either.
Luckily, we have a better way to travel for less.
Miles and points can get us to Thailand in comfort and make sure we are ready for fun when we arrive. Points can even pay for your hotels if you need that special luxury stay. With miles and points, taking a trip to Thailand can be cheaper than you think.
Here are 5 great ideas for using miles and points to get to Thailand that will help jump-start your planning.
1) Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
Using your Alaska Mileage Plan miles to fly on Cathay Pacific takes the least amount of miles to get to Thailand in every class of service. You will need 60,000 miles to fly round-trip in economy class, 100,000 miles for business class, and 140,000 miles for first class.
In comparison, United will charge you 140,000 miles to fly just one way in first class with one of their Star Alliance partners.
Using Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific is a great deal to fly an amazing airline!
How to Earn Alaska Miles
Other than flying and crediting your flights to Alaska, there are a couple of great ways to build your Alaska Mileage Plan balance.
You can transfer SPG Starpoints that you earn through either of these Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards issued by American Express. These points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio and for every 20,000 points you transfer, you get a bonus of 5,000 Mileage Plan miles. You can transfer up to 60,000 SPG points per 24 hours and receive the 5,000-mile bonus on each block of 20,000 Starpoints.
Additionally, Alaska Airlines has both business and personal co-branded credit cards issued by Bank of America. With signup bonuses that are regularly 30,000 miles, you can give your mileage-earning a solid jump start.
2) Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Miles
Using your JAL Mileage Bank miles gives you several airline and route options when searching for award space.
You can fly on any of these airlines with your Mileage Bank miles:
|Air France||Cathay Pacific|
|British Airways||Royal Jordanian|
JAL Mileage Bank is a distance-based program. This means that the award ticket price can vary quite a bit depending on your departure and destination cities, as well as the connecting cities for the airline you fly.
Round trip award seats from New York to Bangkok on Air France, for example, will cost you 80,000 miles for economy, 130,000 miles for business class, and 210,000 miles for first class.
Flying round-trip on Cathay Pacific from Vancouver to Bangkok, however, will only cost you 78,000 miles for economy, 126,000 miles for business class, and 200,000 miles for first class
With all of those options and a bit of flexibility, you are sure to find the award space you need. You can even mix airlines for a bit of variety on your trip.
How to Earn JAL Mileage Bank Miles
JAL Mileage Bank is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, so you can transfer in increments of 20,000 SPG points and get 25,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles each time.
Japan Airlines does have a co-branded credit card issued by First National Bank of Omaha, but it does not have a significant sign-up bonus or any bonus categories to boost your earning, so you are better off getting one of the Starwood cards from American Express and earning points that way.
3) All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club Miles
If you want to use the fewest number of miles possible, you’ll want to use your ANA Mileage Club miles to fly on their own flights. This could make finding seats a bit tougher, but you may have luck when starting your search far in advance.
With ANA miles, a round-trip flight from New York to Bangkok will cost you 65,000 miles in economy, 110,000 miles in business class, and 195,000 miles in first class.
How to Earn ANA Mileage Club Miles
ANA Mileage Club is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. First National Bank of Omaha does issue an ANA Credit Card, but it generally has a very small sign-up bonus and lacks bonus categories for continued earning.
Amex Membership Rewards and SPG Starpoints both transfer to ANA Mileage Club at a 1:1 while SPG Starpoints also provides a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.
While SPG has an advantage with its transfer bonus, American Express really shines with the number of credit card options and bonus categories offered by each of them. On top of that, transfers from Membership Rewards process much quicker than those from SPG.
4) American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
American Airlines AAdvantage miles are fairly easy to earn, but their premium class redemptions have become quite high so getting great value can be tough. We are including American Airlines here because they have a fairly reasonable award price for economy seats.
Using AAdvantage miles, you can fly on any of their Oneworld or partner carriers in economy for just 75,000 miles round trip, as long as the route fits within American Airlines’ routing rules.
On award tickets, American will not allow you to connect in a third region when traveling between two other regions unless they publish a specific exception. In this case, Thailand is located in the Asia 2 region, and American Airlines allows connections in the Asia 1 region when traveling from the US.
Available airlines with acceptable routes to Thailand include the following:
|American Airlines||Japan Airlines|
|Cathay Pacific||SriLankan Airlines|
Want to fly Cathay Pacific from San Francisco to Bangkok with a connection in Hong Kong? 75,000 miles.
How about Japan Airlines from New York to Bangkok with a connection in Tokyo? That’s 75,000 miles too.
How to Earn American AAdvantage Miles
American Airlines is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). You can transfer your SPG Starpoints to your American AAdvantage account at a 1:1 ratio. If you transfer a block of 20,000 SPG Starpoints, you’ll even receive a 5,000-mile bonus so your 20,000 points become 25,000 American AAdvantage miles.
Another easy to way to earn miles is with American’s co-branded credit cards provided by Citi and Barclaycard. Both Citi and Barclaycard have multiple cards that earn American AAdvantage miles directly and sign-up bonuses can reach as high as 60,000 to 75,000 miles.
5) Asiana Club Miles
Asiana Club Miles are a bit tougher to redeem, but as long as you are willing to put in the work, you can use them to fly on any of the Star Alliance partners or on Etihad Airways.
Round trip flights to Thailand from the US cost just 135,000 miles in business class when redeeming Asiana miles.
Another thing you need to keep an eye out for when looking for Asiana awards is that although you can travel on multiple partner airlines, you do have to watch out for other rules such as maximum permitted mileage—the maximum number of flight miles on an itinerary.
If you are planning to earn and redeem miles with Asiana, definitely do your homework first.
Consider flying some of the following airlines when booking with Asiana miles:
|Air India||Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||Singapore Airlines|
|Asiana Airlines||Swiss Air|
|Austrian Airlines||Thai Airways|
|Brussels Airlines||Turkish Airlines|
How to Earn Asiana Club Miles
If you’re starting to feel like Starwood Preferred Guest partners with everyone, we’re right there with you. Asiana Club is yet another transfer partner of SPG with a 1:1 transfer rate. Every 20,000 SPG Starpoints that you transfer will become 25,000 Asiana Club miles.
Asiana also partners with Bank of America to offer both personal and Business co-branded credit cards. The personal card typically comes with a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Asiana miles while the business card generally offers a bonus of 10,000 miles.
To Sum It Up
When it comes to exploring the world, Thailand is definitely a country that shouldn’t be missed. My family has been twice already and we will definitely be back for more!
Sunset in Ko Lanta
By using miles and points, you can drastically cut the price of your trip and you will have more money to spend on fun and food while you are there. All 5 options we’ve listed above will get you there and ready to explore with little out of pocket cost.
Now, you’re ready to plan that trip to Thailand and, who knows, maybe sometime down the road I’ll meet up with you on a dive boat off the coast of Koh Tao and we can explore the seas together.