Getting To Zambia With Airline Miles

Most frequent flier programs place Zambia into the Africa zone. You can find some generic recommendations on how to get to East Africa here.  You can also fly to South Africa and then get a flight from JNB to LUN. I already have a blog with my recommendations for which programs to join if you are new to the world of miles and points.

The major gateway city for Zambia is Lusaka (LUN).  There are also international flights to Livingstone (LVI).  Once you have been in the miles and points game for awhile, you will get a feel for which airline to use where but if you are just starting out Wikipedia will show you all the airlines that fly into  Lusaka and Livingstone.

ONE WORLD OPTIONS

LUSAKA:  No One World airlines fly here.

LIVINGSTONE:  Comair (British Airways subsidiary) flies from JNB.

STAR ALLIANCE OPTIONS

LUSAKA:  Ethiopian flies from Addis Ababa and South African flies from JNB.

LIVINGSTONE:  Ethiopian flies from Addis Ababa and South African flies from JNB.

SKYTEAM OPTIONS

LUSAKA & LIVINGSTONE:  Kenya Airways serves both airports from Nairobi.

NON-ALLIANCE OPTIONS

Emirates serves LUSAKA from their hub in Dubai with connections world wide.

HOW MANY MILES WILL IT COST?

Every airline member of the 3 main alliances has it’s own frequent flier program. Examples are in my East Africa post.

IHG Pointbreaks Through 31 Oct 2017 – Good Options In South America

The quarterly PointBreak list is out and valid for bookings between 31 July and 31 October for a mere 5000 IHG points.  As usual, domestic USA hotels dominate but for eco-tourists, there are some good options in South America.

ENTIRE LIST

LINK TO BOOKING PAGE

Due to the limited availability, each member may only book two PointBreaks® Reward Nights reservations per hotel during the special offer time period. Offer and participating hotels are subject to change at any time, valid for booking through Oct 31, 2017. All other Reward Night terms and conditions apply. To view participating properties, simply click one of the regions below.

Please note that Reward Nights booked through PointBreaks® may not be sold or used for commercial gains. Doing so is a program violation and may result in the freezing of your account, the forfeiture of all point transfers, rewards, vouchers, or merchandise issued pursuant to point redemptions and any accrued points or miles in your account, as well as cancellation of the account and your future participation in the Program.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

HOLIDAY INN GUAYAQUIL AIRPORT – We stayed here in 2016 so I have a detailed review.  Good option for convenience to the airport and a good staging point for birding in Cerro Blanco Reserve.

HOLIDAY INN MANAUS – You may be passing through Manaus on the way to an Amazon adventure or making day trips to Adolpho Ducke Reserve to the north.

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BELEM ANANINDEUA – Another staging point for the Amazon River in Brazil, also check out the Parrot Island to see 1000’s of Orange-winged Amazon Parrots!

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PUERTO MONTT – Gateway to Patagonia and Chiloe Island which are good birding areas.

 

Mid-year Assessment, Mileage Accounts Decimated But It’s All Good

Well I did it!  Next year’s trip to Bolivia and Brazil is officially booked and my USA based airline miles accounts are pretty much wiped out.  This is the culmination of what I had been working towards, after all what good are miles sitting in cyberspace?  You need to use them and enjoy them!  So where did I end up?

Brisbane-Santa Cruz, Bolivia:  Used AA miles on QF & LA taking my account down to a measly 25,000 although I do have the Barclay’s Aaviator card with the annual 10,000 mile annual bonus so this account will slowly rebuild.

Santa Cruz-Sao Paulo-Fortaleza:  Used Flying Blue miles for the Gol connecting flights, account is wiped out.

Sao Paulo-Auckland:  Used British Airways Avios sourced from Ultimate Rewards, only had enough to get as far as Auckland.  BA charges a higher amount if you use 2 or more partner airlines so I had to use Latam all the way and Sydney would have put us into a higher bracket.  BA account now under 1000 miles.

Auckland-Brisbane:  Used United (husband) & Singapore (me) small balances for this short segment.  First time we have been on 2 separate PNRs but I got seats assigned in the same row (window & aisle) so no worries!  Both accounts down to less than 500 orphaned miles.

All flights are in Y, I expected that J wouldn’t be available (it wasn’t) and that was all I could afford miles-wise.

SO WHAT NEXT?

Now that the 2018 trip is safely booked, I have discovered to my shock that I don’t need the US based accounts anymore.  For the next 3 years, all trips are easily covered with miles/points earned through Aussie shopping programs (Coles-Velocity & Woolworths-Qantas) and use of my Aussie Amex 3x on grocery store shopping.

2019 – We will use Velocity and Qantas points to do some Pacific Island hopping with birding of course.  I have all the miles & points required already!

2020 – We will use a combination of Singapore, Velocity & Qantas for birding in Indonesia (with some domestic flights paid in cash).  I have about half the points required, will easily get them all by year’s end via shopping at Coles & Woolies.  For now the plan is to fly in Y but maybe I can get enough shopping points to upgrade at least the BNE-SIN segment.

2021 – I’m eyeing a Papua New Guinea Cruise which can combine birding and a bit of luxury.  Princess often has discounts on this cruise which sails from Brisbane.  No flights this year, except maybe domestic Australia.

2022 – The Last Hurrah!  I have 4 years to get as many as possible:  Amex Membership Rewards, Qantas & Velocity for one last mega-trip to South America.  This is so far ahead of the game I can’t even be sure miles and points programs won’t be obsolete.  Worst case scenario would be using the Amex points to pay for tickets on the Amex travel portal.

So I have come to the surprising realization that I no longer need the USA credit cards or mileage programs.  I have lost all interest in United due to devaluations and the routing restrictions.  If I have any Ultimate Rewards left, I will send them to BA as I can always use them for Qantas or Latam and I can keep the account alive with the shopping portal.  I’ll be cancelling the USA credit cards with annual fees when they next come due but will keep the AAviator for the annual AA 10k bonus well worth a $89 fee and the IHG card whose $49 fee gives us a free night in any of their hotels and platinum status.

It’s kind of hard and bittersweet to cut the USA programs loose as I have gotten some incredible flights out of them over the past 10 years but the Aussie game has been steadily improving and I find I can easily get what I need simply by strategic grocery shopping!

Getting To Ethiopia With Airline Miles

Most frequent flier programs place Ethiopia into the Africa zone. You can find some generic recommendations on how to get to East Africa here. I already have a blog with my recommendations for which programs to join if you are new to the world of miles and points.

The major gateway city for Ethiopia is Addis Ababa. Once you have been in the miles and points game for awhile, you will get a feel for which airline to use where but if you are just starting out Wikipedia will show you all the airlines that fly into Addis Ababa.

ONE WORLD OPTIONS

The only One World member serving Addis Ababa is Qatar Airways via Doha. You can reach Doha from anywhere in the world where Qatar flies to.

STAR ALLIANCE OPTIONS

Ethiopia’s national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines is a member of Star Alliance so you can get just about anywhere in Africa via Addis Ababa.  If you are only connecting, even on a miles award ticket and you have an overnight connection, Ethiopian Airlines will give you a free Visa and accommodation with meals.

Other Star Alliance carriers serving Addis Ababa include Egypt Air via Cairo, Lufthansa via Frankfurt and Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

From Europe you can use Egypt Air via Cairo, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

From Australia and New Zealand there are no direct flights, you need to get to Singapore or Bangkok, then you can pick up Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines or Turkish Airlines.

SKYTEAM OPTIONS

From North America you can use Kenya Airways via Europe.

From Europe once again Kenya Airways via Nairobi is the only option.

From Australia Skyteam isn’t the best option unless you travel via Dubai and pick up Kenya Airways from there.

NON-ALLIANCE OPTIONS

Emirates serves Addis Ababa from their hub in Dubai with connections world wide.

HOW MANY MILES WILL IT COST?

Every airline member of the 3 main alliances has it’s own frequent flier program. Examples are in my East Africa post.

United Devaluation Takes Effect 1 Nov, 2017; Aussies Lose Asian Sweet Spot….But One Silver Lining

Coming on the heels of last year’s United devaluation which saw the loss of being able to cherry pick your segments on an award to having to accept whatever routings the search engine spit out, we now get slammed again.  Loyalty Lobby has a comprehensive post on the changes that affect everyone.  Most of the Boarding Area bloggers have covered ex-USA devaluations to premium cabin awards so I am going to concentrate on the effects to Australian and eco-tourists.   In general, business and first class awards are up all over but even more so for awards from Australia and New Zealand.

The sweet spot between Australia and South-east Asia is disappearing.  Awards will be increasing from 17.5k to 25k for economy, business class goes up from 30k to a whopping 50k!  Given that most Aussies source United miles via the SPG/Marriott route or buy them during promos, this may no longer be viable when it is so much easier to get SQ Krisflyer miles via Amex cards.  I enjoyed the cheap trip to Asia in 2015 but this devaluation is pretty much killing my interest in United moving forward.

ONE SILVER LINING

The only good thing to come out of this devaluation is that SOME partner awards will be cheaper if they are less than 800 miles.  The full award chart is here.  None of the routings involve Australia but you will be able to get Air New Zealand domestic routes for 8000 miles as they all fit in the 800 mile zone.  The other routes will remain at 17.5 to Australia and 22.5 to the Pacific Islands.

 

If you want to hop around South-east Asia, the routes with the blue dots (for example) are under 800 miles and will cost 8000 UA miles.  The longer routes will cost 17.5k.

 

There are some bargains to be had in the bird-rich countries of Central and South America.  These sample routings on Copa (ex-Panama City PTY) and Avianca (ex-Bogota or Lima) that fall into the 800 mile zone will cost 8000 miles.  The longer routes will cost 10k for Central America and 12.5k for routes in North or Southern South America.

Africa is pretty much Star Alliance territory with Ethiopian (ex-ADD) and South African Airways (ex-JNB) offering destinations all over Africa.  In the next two images you can see which sample routes will cost 8000 miles (blue dots) and the longer sample routes that will be 17.5k United miles.  Regional flights within Africa can be very expensive so it’s worth considering these options.

Getting To Uganda With Airline Miles

Most frequent flier programs place Uganda into the Africa zone.  You can find some generic recommendations on how to get to East Africa here.  I already have a blog with my recommendations for which programs to join if you are new to the world of miles and points.

The major gateway city for Uganda is Entebbe.     Once you have been in the miles and points game for awhile, you will get a feel for which airline to use where but if you are just starting out Wikipedia will show you all the airlines that fly into Entebbe.

ONE WORLD OPTIONS

The only One World member serving Entebbe is Qatar Airways via Doha.  You can reach Doha from anywhere in the world where Qatar flies to.

STAR ALLIANCE OPTIONS

From North America you can use Egypt Air via Cairo, Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa, South African Airways via Johannesburg or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

From Europe you can use Egypt Air via Cairo, Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa, South African Airways via Johannesburg (a bit out of the way but UA might allow it) or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

From Australia and New Zealand there are no direct flights, you need to get to Singapore or Bangkok, then you can pick up Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines or Turkish Airlines.

SKYTEAM OPTIONS

From North America you can use KLM or Kenya Airways via Europe.

From Europe KLM flies direct from Amsterdam with connection to most European cities or Kenya Airways.

From Australia Skyteam isn’t the best option unless you travel via Dubai and pick up Kenya Airways from there.

NON-ALLIANCE OPTIONS

Etihad and Emirates serve Entebbe from all over the world via their hubs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively..

HOW MANY MILES WILL IT COST?

Every airline member of the 3 main alliances has it’s own frequent flier program.  Examples are in my East Africa post.

Getting To The Philippines With Airline Miles

Most frequent flier programs place the Philippines into the South-east Asia region.  I already have a blog with my recommendations for which programs to join if you are new to the world of miles and points.

The major gateway city is Manilia (MNL) from which you can get domestic flights throughout the country.    Once you have been in the miles and points game for awhile, you will get a feel for which airline to use where but if you are just starting out Wikipedia will show you all the airlines that fly into Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

ONE WORLD OPTIONS

From North America you can use Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines or Malaysian via their respective hubs.

From South America there are no direct flights so you must go via Europe or the USA.

From Australia and New Zealand you can use Qantas, Malaysian, Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines.

From UK and Europe you can use Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways or Malaysian via their respective hubs.

From Asia or Africa you can use Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways or Malaysian via their respective hubs.

STAR ALLIANCE OPTIONS

From North America you can use Air China, ANA, Asiana, Eva, Singapore, Thai or United via their respective hubs.  You may need more than one airline to connect.

From South America there are no direct flights so you must go via Europe or the USA.

From Europe you can use Air China, ANA, Asiana, Eva, Singapore, Turkish or Thai via their respective hubs.

From Australia and New Zealand you can use Air China, ANA, Asiana, Eva, Singapore, or Thai via their respective hubs.

From Africa you can use Ethiopian, Singapore, Turkish or Thai via their respective hubs.

From other Asian countries there are numerous non-stops on Air China, ANA, Asian, Eva, Singapore and Thai.

SKYTEAM OPTIONS

From North America you can use China Airlines or Delta.

From South America there are no direct flights so you must go via Europe or the USA.

From Europe you can use China Airlines or KLM.

From Australia and Africa there are no direct flights, you’d best try another alliance or LCC.

NON-ALLIANCE AIRLINES

Noteable non-alliance airlines who may be partnered with you program to check out include:

Air Asia (low cost carrier)

Cebu Pacific (low cost carrier)

Emirates (has individual partners but no alliances).

Etihad (has individual partners but no alliances).

Philippine Airlines (has individual partners but no alliances).

HOW MANY MILES WILL IT COST?

Every airline member of the 3 main alliances has it’s own frequent flier program.  They often have alliances with other airlines outside the program.  I have made some reference charts for the airline alliances and I strongly recommend that you check out the program of the airline in your country and the USA based partners of each program as the USA airlines tend to have the most lucrative bonuses.  Americans can get very generous credit card bonuses.  Details of credit card partners (and other partners) will be on each airline’s website, however often there are more lucrative sign up bonuses.  Details are usually posted in the Flyer Talk thread so I strongly suggest you read this thread and the Miles Buzz forum before you apply for any cards just in case a better bonus has been offered.  I don’t have any affiliate links and I recommend you do extensive research on your own when applying for airline credit cards.

USING ONE WORLD

AMERICAN AIRLINES

No matter where you live, frequent flyer programs based in the USA usually offer the best deals but it’s still a good idea to look at other members of the alliance.  Try to avoid carriers that charge a fuel surcharge.  Looking at AA’s award chart, we can see that Manila is in Asia 2 Region.

So let’s look at the chart.  AA no longer has all zones on one convenient chart so you need to look at the website for the region you are departing from.  You will notice there are taxes and fees with certain routes and that the awards are priced as one way trips.

We can see that a South Pacific to Asia 2 award will cost 30,000 miles each way (60,000 round trip) in economy, 40,000 (80,000 round trip) in business class and 50,000 each way (100,000 round trip in first class.  This is an excellent use of AA miles for Aussies!

If you are based in North America, economy will cost 37,500  each way (75,000 round trip), business class  is 70,000 each way (140,000 round trip) and first is 110,000 each way or 220,000 round trip.  You would be flying on AA or LATAM.

AVIOS (BA OR IB)

Avios can be a great bargain for shorter flights.  The awards are priced by distance flown per segment rather than zone to zone.

Avios

Avios chart

In my opinion, Avios are best used for multi-destination Asian trips.  The 3 main hubs are Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.  Using the Great Circle Mapper, we can see that Hong Kong at 711 miles is in Zone 2, Kuala Lumpur at 1546 miles and Tokyo at 1893 miles both fall into Zone 3.

 

QANTAS FREQUENT FLYER

For Qantas, it is easiest to use their points calculator to see how many points you need, then look for availability.  A random check on BNE-MNL shows good availability via HKG on CX for 42,000 in Y or 63,000 in Premium Economy.  I didn’t have much luck finding J but this would be an extremely popular route for Aussies!

 

If you are based somewhere else, leave a comment if you don’t understand this part and I will help you out.  Meanwhile, here is a reference list for other One World carriers.

USING STAR ALLIANCE

United, Avianca and Singapore are probably the most common Star Alliance programs in use because of good credit card deals and buy miles promos.

UNITED AIRLINES

United Airlines is a USA based carrier that offers one way awards on its own flights and other Star Alliance carriers.  Due to the size of their award chart, I can’t paste it here so will link to it and give examples.  For example Denver to Manila has limited availability on several dates which I picked at random.  They are colour coded for economy, business/first or all three classes.  Make sure you scroll all the way down to see all the options.

AVIANCA TACA LIFEMILES

Lifemiles has some very attractive promos to buy and share miles.  While this doesn’t give you a free trip, it can greatly reduce the cost of a trip especially if you are after business or first class awards.  You need to be an existing member of Lifemiles when they announce  a promo so join now if you haven’t already.  Use their calculator to get an idea of award costs.  This will be a range which depends on class and any promos. They have a Star Alliance Award chart and you can see that Manila is in the North Asia chart.  The chart shows one-way awards.

 

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

SQ miles have become much easier to get in recent years.  Americans can use Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, Amex Membership Rewards.  Aussies can use the Australian Amex Membership Rewards.  Everyone can use SPG.  Award rates have/will be increased but thankfully fuel surcharges are gone which makes this an attractive Star Alliance partner for Manila.

The Phillippines is in Zone 3 but the chart is huge so please view it on their site.

I don’t use all the programs that are out there but these are the most commonly used programs by travel hackers in the USA and Australia so do some research to see which one works for you!  Bear in mind that the tickets are not completely free, there is usually a booking fee of $25-50 and various taxes, but you would have to pay the taxes whether you pay cash or miles for the ticket in any case.

WHAT ABOUT JUST PAYING CASH (WELL, CREDIT CARD)?

Being an Aussie, I really can’t NOT mention Air Asia.  They have frequent sales and serve several airports in Australia.  You transfer in KUL if you’re headed to Manila, Cebu or Kalibo-Boracay.  This looks really good!

 

 

 

 

Oh Joy, Another Devaluation, This Time It’s Avianca Lifemiles

Got this email which has some unwelcome news for Aussies who buy Avianca Lifemiles for cheap Star Alliance awards.  It’s not all bad, some awards to South America went down.  Thankfully I burned my balance last year in Ecuador and Colombia!

This is why I always say don’t buy miles unless you are redeeming them straight away.

We want to inform you that starting May 15th, 2017, the amount of miles required for redemption of air tickets of routes from Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, in Economic, Business and First class from Star Alliance table will have some changes. The changes for some routes will be reductions, and for others they will be increments, while some other regions will remain the same.

Remember you can use your miles to redeem Round-trip, One-way, Multi-City tickets, and use flexible payments combining LifeMiles + Money. General terms and conditions for ticket redemptions apply.

Review the table here

Are Daily Getaways Worth It Anymore?

Old-timer travel hackers will remember the golden days when buying Wyndham points could mean ultra-cheap airline miles when Daily Getaways used to be interesting.  Those days are long gone and no further proof is needed than seeing 1143 Wyndham packages still for sale at 5pm EST.  I remember back in 2012 (before I started this blog) setting an alarm for 2am my time to get ready with browsers loaded to compete to buy Wyndham points and they would sell out in seconds.  Nowadays these point packages have such limited use and you can often find these hotels cheaper on online booking sites that it’s no longer worth it.  Sad!