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!

 

6000 Velocity Points With Midas Car Service

The Midas promo is back and almost as good as before.  I got 10,000 points 2 years ago and my car is so sparingly used, it doesn’t really need another one or I would go for this.  6000 points is still pretty good for something most car owners do at least once a year.  This is a good one to combine with the free 1000 points new member bonus if you aren’t already a member.

DETAILS

*From 14 March 2017 to 21 April 2017, Velocity members can earn a bonus 6,000 Points on all vehicle services at Midas*! From 22nd April 2017, Velocity members will revert to the base earn 2 Points per $1 spent on all vehicle maintenance, maintenance services and Manufacturers Logbook Services. Service definitions are found at midas.com.au/car-service and midas.com.au/logbook-service.

The following additional maintenance service items are eligible for Velocity Points earn if deemed to be required and are additional to the service package: Brake fluid flush, Coolant system flush, Power steering flush, Transmission flush.

The following repair items are not eligible for Velocity Points earn: Brake parts, Exhaust parts, Drivetrain parts, Engine parts, Body parts, Suspension parts, Electrical parts, Climate control parts, Steering parts, Tyres and Non-related service labour.

Velocity members can book an eligible service by calling 13 MIDAS (64 32), booking online at midas.com.au or in any Midas Service Centre. Velocity Points will be loaded within 7 days of the completed service.

To earn and redeem Velocity Points, you must be a Velocity member. Velocity membership and Points earn are subject to the Member Terms and Conditions available at velocityfrequentflyer.com as amended from time to time.

1000 Free Velocity Points For New Members

Are you a member of Virgin Australia’s Velocity?  If not, now is your chance to join and start off with a FREE 1000 bonus points!  Use my referral link and I will also get 1000 points for referring you (thank you very much)!

 

You need to earn at least 40 points as per T&C’s which is very easy to do.  Here are some ideas.

  1.  Transfer points from Flybuys
  2.   Buy petrol at BP
  3.  Shop online
  4.  Get credit cards
  5.  Join E-Rewards and do a survey.
  6.  Transfer from Amex Membership Rewards
  7.  Keep an eye out for new promos, they have them all the time.  I just got 200 points from doing this survey!

Once you have qualified, then go out and refer your own friends to boost your balance and soon you will be on your way to a dream trip!

 

Singapore Krisflyer Program Changes 23 March

I’ve seen tons of posts on this subject in my rss feed.  Some people hate it because the miles required for most awards is going up.  Others love it because fuel/carrier surcharges are going away.  Here’s the details straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • Revisions to Saver Award levels in the Singapore Airlines and SilkAir Award Chart have been made to ensure that flight rewards remain sustainable yet competitive. We last made adjustments to award levels in various zones in 2012.

 

  • The 15% discount for redemption and redemption upgrade bookings made through singaporeair.com and the SingaporeAir app will be discontinued, and the same redemption fare will be applied across all channels.

 

  • Fuel and insurance surcharges from all redemption award tickets on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir operated flights will be removed.

 

> View the Revised Award Chart, effective from 23 March 2017

> View the Current Award Chart

 

Importantly, with this change, while there will be an increase in the number of miles required to redeem for flights in certain zones, you can also expect to enjoy savings in the amount of cash you would need to pay for your redemption ticket due to the removal of fuel and insurance surcharges. Here is a snippet of the old and new charts with emphasis on Zone 9 which includes Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne.  Old chart on top, new chart below.  A further 15% will be taken off the old chart if you book online.

This is further illustrated in the examples below.  I am using my own examples geared towards eco-tourists and birders ex-Australia.

EXAMPLE 1 SYDNEY TO JOHANNESBURG

The current prices reflect the 15% online discount and the carrier surcharge.  Below, you see highlighted in yellow how much surcharge is going away.  But the new mileage costs will be 47k economy, 60k premium economy, 78 business & 112k first.

Since most people prefer to redeem business class awards, the comparison is between 61,625 miles + $488 AUD vs 78,000 miles + $90 AUD in gov’t taxes which you always have to pay.  The economy example is 36,125 miles + $452 AUD vs 47,000 + $90 AUD gov’t taxes.

 

EXAMPLE 2 – BRISBANE TO KOTA KINABALU (SQ + SILKAIR)

This is a route I would actually be willing to do in SQ’s economy cabin which is one of the best in the world.  So I would be looking at 21,250 miles + $286 AUD old rates vs 28,000 miles + $88 AUD for gov’t taxes.

Are you a winner or loser with these new charts?  It all depends on what is easier for you to acquire, cash or miles.  If you get miles fairly painlessly with credit card spending and online mall portals then you will probably prefer the new charts.  If you have more cash to spare and don’t like bothering with the credit card game, you won’t be happy with these new changes.  As for me, I have grown away from SQ as a primary program mostly because of the fuel surcharges so this is encouraging to get me back on board.

Now if only Qantas would get rid of their surcharges!

Aussies: Qantas & Virgin Both Have Transfer Promos

These promos come up several times a year so no need to rush and transfer your points.  Best to wait until you are within a few months of booking an award to avoid being caught out by devaluations.

First up: Qantas is emailing members who have previously transferred credit card points with a tiered bonus promo.  Few people will be able to hit the 30% tier so I am calling this a 15% bonus for all practical purposes.  The link emailed to me is tied to my account so keep an eye out for it.  You may want to transfer a nominal amount of credit card points to keep you in the loop for future promos.

Not to be outdone, Virgin’s Velocity has a more accessible promo with Flybuys that anyone can do if you have linked your Flybuys and Virgin accounts. 

This promo was a real nice earner for me last year as I got lots of Flybuys points from maximizing shopping promos, then used a promo like this to get a 15% bonus!

Velocity 7 Million Points Promotion

The good news?  Everyone will win SOMETHING!

The bad news?  That SOMETHING may not amount to much as the prize pool will be divided evenly among all the entrants.  If you already collect Velocity points, my guess is that they will get about 700,000 entries (10% of all members) an everyone will get about 10 points.  Whoopie!  If you don’t have other sources of Velocity points such as Flybuys, don’t bother with this promo.