The Best Ways to Fly to Southeast Asia With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

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Whether you’re scheming your next big vacation or passively looking for travel destinations, you are sure to have encountered the picturesque scenery of Southeast Asia. Perhaps you’ve also seen the amazing and ultra-cheap street food available on the curbs deep within major cities.

Well, exploring the vast depths of Southeast Asia should be on everybody’s bucket list. The diversity, vast culture, phenomenal food, and amazing attractions make it a must-visit. Southeast Asia hasn’t always been the most accessible travel destination for U.S. citizens. Luckily, we’ve got the inside scoop on the best ways to fly to Southeast Asia with points and miles.

There’s tons of value to be had here, but it’s important to understand the best routes to take en route to Southeast Asia. There are very few nonstop flights from the U.S., so you’ll most likely have to take a connecting flight to get to your final destination.

For the purposes of our analysis, we’re going to consider Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam as “Southeast Asia.” Notably, we are generally going to be excluding China, Hong Kong, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Let’s get started.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

Because of the diverse route network of connecting flights from the U.S. to Southeast Asia, there is an unbelievable number of redemptions you can make to book flights there. We’ve analyzed all of the booking programs and definitively came up with the top frequent flyer programs to focus on when booking flights.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club

ANA Business Class Seat 2
Enjoy the comfort of ANA business class. Image Credit: Stephen Au

The first choice to book sweet spots award tickets is using All Nippon Airways’ frequent flyer program, Mileage Club. Abbreviated ANA Mileage Club, this loyalty program features astonishingly good redemption rates (especially for business class redemptions), a great set of routing rules, and excellent access to Southeast Asian routes from major U.S. hubs.

ANA has several restrictions on award bookings; namely, you cannot book one-way flights using miles. Depending on which airline you fly, ANA may pass on fuel surcharges as well. Even so, paying a couple of hundred dollars in fuel surcharges is absolutely worth saving tens of thousands of points.

To begin, let’s talk about how ANA prices award tickets. There are 2 award charts:

  1. Cheaper priced ANA-operated flights (subject to seasonality rules).
  2. Higher priced ANA partner flights.

Currently, your best options to fly to Southeast Asia would be on ANA-operated flights due to the mileage you’ll save when flying with partners. For example, if you wanted to fly to Indonesia from North America, you’d pay:

  • 100,000-115,000 ANA miles for ANA business class through Tokyo (HND or NRT).
  • 136,000 ANA miles for partner business class through Tokyo (HND or NRT).

Because of this large mileage differential, you generally will want to focus on booking ANA business class.

ANA splits their Asia award chart into 2 zones:

  • Asia 1 (Zone 3) — Guam, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, the Philippines, Taiwan.
  • Asia 2 (Zone 4) — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

Here is the ANA partner award chart:

ANA Partner Award Chart North America
ANA partner award chart North America. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

Y, C, and F Class of Service each denote economy, business, and first class respectively. If you fly from North America to the Philippines (which is in Asia 1/Zone 3), you will pay round trip costs of 60,000 miles in economy, 95,000 miles in business, and 180,000 miles in first class.

Compare this to the Asia 1 and Asia 2 award charts for ANA flights:

ANA Award Chart Asia 1
ANA award chart Asia 1. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways
ANA Award Chart Asia 2
ANA award chart Asia 2. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

As you can see, the range of costs for ANA-operated flights depends on seasonality. L, R, and H represent low, regular, and high season respectively. Here are the dates that correspond to each seasonality bucket:

ANA Seasonality
ANA seasonality. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

To put all these charts together, let’s take an example itinerary. Suppose you want to fly to Kuala Lumpur in ANA business class and have found award availability on April 22, 2020. Since this falls under low season and consists wholly of ANA flights, your cost will be 100,000 ANA miles round-trip.

ANA’s mileage scheme is a bit complex, but those who take the time to learn the ins and outs of ANA Mileage Club will reap the rewards of very cheaply priced award flights. If you’re not willing to fly on ANA business class, check out some other partners that will be useful in planning your Southeast Asia itineraries:

  • Air China (via Beijing (PEK)).
  • Air India (via Delhi (DEL) or Mumbai (BOM)).
  • Asiana Airlines (via Seoul-Incheon (ICN)).
  • EVA Air (via Taipei (TPE)).
  • Garuda Indonesia (via Jakarta (CGK) or Bali (DPS).
  • Philippine Airlines (via Manila (MNL)).
  • Singapore Airlines (via Singapore (SIN), Tokyo-Narita (NRT), or Hong Kong (HKG)).
  • THAI Airways (via Bangkok (BKK)).
  • Vietnam Airlines (via Hanoi (HAN) or Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)).

By putting all of this knowledge together, let’s talk about some excellent route options you can take:

  • U.S. – Tokyo (HND or NRT) – the Philippines round-trip in ANA business class during low season for 80,000 ANA miles + $247 in taxes and fees.
  • U.S. – Tokyo (HND or NRT) – Jakarta (CGK) round-trip in ANA first class, then business class during regular season for 110,000 ANA miles + $291 in taxes and fees.
  • U.S. – Beijing (PEK) – Singapore (SIN) round-trip in Air China and Singapore Airlines first class for 240,000 ANA miles + $256 in taxes and fees.
  • U.S. – Malaysia round-trip in EVA Air business class for 136,000 ANA miles + $194 in taxes and fees.
  • U.S. – the Philippines round-trip in Philippines Airlines business class for 95,000 ANA miles + $246 in taxes and fees.

Hot Tip: You can always add 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw on itineraries booked using ANA miles. Be sure to incorporate this into your trip to visit multiple cities for free!

Here are the steps you can take to begin booking your flights with ANA miles:

  1. If you are searching for flights on Star Alliance partners, you can use ANA’s website directly.
  2. On the right-hand side of the top banner of ANA’s website, click ANA Mileage Club.
  3. Click International on the left-hand side of the following page. Then, click Award Reservation.
  4. Log in with your ANA member number and password.
  5. Type in your cities, travel dates, class of service, number of passengers, and click Search.
  6. Once you’ve found award availability, you’ll want to transfer your points. Be sure to incorporate any transfer times into your booking.
  7. Click on the flights you want.
  8. If searching for award space separately from ANA, such as through ExpertFlyer, you’ll want to call ANA at 800-235-9262 after finding availability for your desired flights.
  9. Confirm your reservation and pay for any taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Mileage Plan Miles

Earning ANA miles is made easy by the fact that it is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. You can transfer at a 1:1 ratio from Amex or a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 mile bonus from Marriott when you transfer 60,000 points.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $2,700+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a HUGE welcome bonus of up to 100,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 after you spend an additional $15,000, on purchases within the first 3 months.

We get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks.

This is the best business card for lounge access as you'll get into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a simple card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year! The card has no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Cathay Pacific 777 first class couples picture
Cathay Pacific’s first class is gigantic. It fit both of us comfortably! Image credit: Stephen Au

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is, unsurprisingly, right at the top of our best ways to book travel to Southeast Asia. With amazing airline partners, sweet spot redemptions everywhere, and awesome routing rules, it’s no wonder that they are our highest-value airline mileage currency.

There are a ton of ways to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for huge value, and this one is no exception. The most useful airline partners will be:

  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Japan Airlines.
  • Korean Air (round-trip flights only).
  • Hainan Airlines.
  • American Airlines.

The best airlines on the list are the first 2, and the award redemption rates are phenomenal. Additionally, you can add on a stopover for free on one-way flights, effectively getting you a free flight!

Fuel surcharges will not be passed on with Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, which is the icing on the cake. If you’re still hesitating, check out our spectacular experiences in Cathay Pacific First Class and Japan Airlines First Class.

Here are some example routes you can take to Southeast Asia using Alaska Airlines miles:

  • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Surabaya (SUB) one-way in Cathay Pacific first class and Cathay Pacific business class for 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles + $55 in taxes and fees.
  • Seattle (SEA) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Bangkok (BKK) one-way in Japan Airlines business class for 65,000 Alaska Airlines miles + $54 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Cathay Pacific business class for 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles + $58 in taxes and fees.
  • Chicago (ORD) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL) one-way in Japan Airlines first class and business class (Sky Suites III) for 75,000 Alaska Airlines miles + $53 in taxes and fees.

If you’re ready to book using Alaska miles, here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Visit Alaska Airlines’ website.
    • You can’t search Cathay Pacific or LATAM using Alaska Airlines’ website. Instead, visit British Airways and search from there.
  2. There will be a search box on the homepage. Check off the box that says Use Miles.
    • Check off the box that says Multi-city if you’re going to add stopovers or open jaws.
  3. Type in your search criteria, which includes dates, destination and origin cities, number of passengers, and trip type (one-way or not).
  4. Select the best flights for your situation and check out by spending your Alaska miles and paying for taxes and fees.
    • If you’re booking Cathay Pacific, you’ll need to call Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 and give them the flight numbers, dates, and other information.
  5. Choose the best seats in advance by using your airline record locator (not Alaska Airlines’ record locator!).

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

There are a number of ways to earn Alaska miles. Alaska Airlines’ singular transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy, but there are tons of other ways to get your hands on Alaska miles, including using the co-branded Bank of America credit cards and purchasing miles during sales. You can transfer Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Alaska Airlines.

Since the best way is arguably transferring from Marriott Bonvoy, we’ve also written a guide on the best ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points.

Bottom Line: In all, Alaska Airlines is a gem when booking flights to Asia. Whether it’s the numerous airline partners with sensational premium cabin products, the awesome mileage price, generous stopover and open-jaw policy on one-way awards, absence of fuel surcharges, or easy booking process, Alaska Airlines should be on your radar when booking flights to Southeast Asia with points. 

Delta SkyMiles

China Airlines Business Class
China Airlines business class. Image Credit: China Airlines

Although the value of Delta SkyMiles for business/first class redemptions is extremely limited on Delta Airlines’ own flights, partner airlines are a completely different story.

In fact, much of Delta SkyMiles’ value proposition lies in business class flights on partners. In this case, you can pay as little as 85,000 SkyMiles plus minimal taxes and fees for one-way flights in business class deep into Southeast Asia!

To fly to Southeast Asia using Delta SkyMiles, you’ll want to take advantage of the relationship they have with their 18 SkyTeam alliance partners. Specifically, these airlines will be useful for planning travel to Southeast Asia:

  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern (no longer in SkyTeam, but still a Delta partner)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Korean Air
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines

As you can tell, 6 out of the 18 partners (plus non-SkyTeam partner China Southern) are located centrally within Asia, so this will be a tremendous advantage in terms of award availability, route flexibility, and more.

Hot Tip: We’ve written detailed route guides for China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, and Korean Air, so be sure to check those out to aid in planning your award travel.

Neither Garuda Indonesia nor Vietnam Airlines operate nonstop routes to the U.S., so keep that in mind too.

All in all, using Delta SkyMiles on one-way flights with partners will be priced as follows:

Class of ServiceDelta SkyMiles Cost
Economy35,000
Business85,000

Here are some example routes you can take:

  • Ontario (ONT) – Taipei (TPE) – Penang (PEN) one-way on China Airlines business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + $85.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Xiamen (XMN) – Phnom Penh (PNH) one-way on Xiamen Airlines business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + $35 in taxes and fees.
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Shanghai (PVG) – Cebu (CEB) one-way on China Eastern business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + $120 in taxes and fees.
  • New York City (JFK) – Guangzhou (CAN) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way on China Southern business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + $280 in taxes and fees.
  • Boston (BOS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Phuket (HKT) one-way on Korean Air business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + $40 in taxes and fees.

You can make your award search much quicker by using Delta’s flexible award calendar search.

If you ever thought about booking Delta One using SkyMiles, you’d see prices anywhere from 200,000 to 600,000 miles on round-trip flights, which is a jaw-dropping number.

Here are the steps you’ll want to take to book travel to Southeast Asia using Delta SkyMiles:

  1. Search for availability segment-by-segment on Delta, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, or ExpertFlyer.
  2. Once you’ve located the flights you want, write down the flight numbers, travel dates, booking class, and number of passengers.
  3. Call Delta at 800-323-2323 and give them your flights, dates, and other information.
  4. Wait for the agent to hold the award ticket, and finish reserving your ticket by paying with miles and for any taxes and fees using your credit card.
    • Delta transfers from American Express are instant, whereas transfers from Marriott Bonvoy take up to 2 days, so keep that in mind.
  5. Write down your airline record locator and visit their website to reserve seats.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

There are lots of ways to earn Delta SkyMiles. Currently, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio plus a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred (for a total of 25,000 Delta SkyMiles per 60,000 Marriott points).

Another excellent way to earn Delta SkyMiles is direct via the American Express co-branded credit cards, both personal and business.

Recommended Delta Cards

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express - The current welcome bonus is earning 30,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Plus, with a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95), this is a solid Delta card. Click here for rates and fees of the Gold Delta.

American Airlines AAdvantage Program

Japan Airlines 777 First Class Seat
Measuring 33 inches wide, the Japan Airlines 777 First Class Seat will give you more space than you know what to do with! Image Credit: Stephen Au

American Airlines belongs to the Oneworld alliance. Notable Asian partners include:

  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Japan Airlines.
  • Malaysia Airlines.

By strategically leveraging these partners, you’ll be able to piece together an itinerary to Southeast Asia much quicker than usual. Here’s American Airlines’ award chart for partner flights originating from the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada:

AA Award Chart from the U.S.
AA award chart from the U.S. Image Credit: American Airlines

All of the countries in Southeast Asia correspond to Asia Region 2. Specifically, here’s the one-way mileage costs on partner flights between the U.S. and Southeast Asia using AA miles:

Class of ServiceAmerican AAdvantage Miles Cost
Economy37,500
Business70,000
First110,000

American Airlines AAdvantage does not allow stopover or open-jaws on award tickets. If you want to stopover in a certain country, you’ll need to pay the mileage price for each individual segment.

For example, if you wanted to fly on Japan Airlines business class from the United States to Japan followed by another flight several days or weeks later to Southeast Asia, you’ll need to pay 60,000 AA miles for the first segment and another 30,000 AA miles for the second segment.

Neither Cathay Pacific (based in Hong Kong) nor Japan Airlines (based in Tokyo) offer first class flights from their hub airports to destinations in Southeast Asia, so your connecting segment to your final destination in Southeast Asia will, at best, be in business class.

Remember also that American Airlines allows only transpacific routes from the U.S. to Southeast Asia, so you won’t be able to fly the “long way” across the Atlantic to get to Southeast Asia.

Here are some great example routes you can take while trying 2 distinct premium cabin products:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL) one-way on Japan Airlines business class and Malaysia Airlines business class for 70,000 AAdvantage miles + $20 in taxes and fees.
  • New York City (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Bali (DPS) one-way on Cathay Pacific first class and Cathay Pacific business class for 110,000 AAdvantage miles + $32 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way on Japan Airlines first class and business class for 110,000 AAdvantage miles + $20 in taxes and fees.

To begin using AAdvantage miles for Southeast Asia travel, follow this procedure:

  1. Locate award availability by searching on British Airways. Alternatives include Qantas or American Airlines if British Airways doesn’t work.
  2. Log into British Airways by typing in your Executive Club member number and password on the top-left side of the page. Click Login.
  3. Type in your travel route, travel dates, class of service, and number of passengers.
  4. Write down the flight information for the flights you want to reserve.
  5. Call AAdvantage at 800-882-8880.
  6. Give them your flight information including the number of passengers and cabin class you want to book.
  7. Provide any additional information and pay with AAdvantage miles and a credit card for taxes and fees.
    • AAdvantage transfers from Marriott Bonvoy take around 2 business days, so plan accordingly.

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

There are 2 main ways to earn AAdvantage miles from credit cards:

Besides this, there are a lot of other ways to earn a lot of American Airlines miles.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers to AAdvantage at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, you’ll receive a bonus 5,000 AAdvantage mile, upping your total to 25,000 AA miles per 60,000 Marriott points.

Bottom Line: The possibilities with AAdvantage are honestly limitless. While you can’t add stopovers and open jaws to your AAdvantage reservation to Southeast Asia, we believe the best utilization of your American Airlines miles is in business class. First class is significantly more expensive, and there aren’t many itineraries deep into Southeast Asia wholly in first class. 

Air Canada Aeroplan

EVA Air Business Class
EVA Air business class. Image Credit: Travel Wire Asia

Air Canada Aeroplan is an unbelievably consistent frequent flyer program. Over the course of the years, they’ve maintained great redemption prices, consistent airline policies, and a streamlined booking process.

Redeeming Aeroplan miles is possible on Star Alliance flights, along with select Air Creebec, Bearskin Airlines, Calm Air, Canadian North, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, First Air, GOL Airlines, Middle East Airlines, and Olympic Air flights.

Here’s some notable pros of using Aeroplan:

  • No close-in award booking fees.
  • Fuel surcharges are limited on most airlines.
  • 1 stopover or 1 open-jaw allowed on round-trip awards.
  • Great prices for business class itineraries.
  • Excellent access to Asia with the partner network.

Here are some notable cons of using Aeroplan:

  • Higher mileage costs for first class itineraries.
  • No stopovers permitted on one-way itineraries.

Here are the mileage prices for flights to/from Canada or the Continental U.S.:

Aeroplan Award Chart from Canada and the U.S.
Aeroplan award chart from Canada and the U.S. Image Credit: Aeroplan

Asia 1 includes these countries:

Asia 1 List for Aeroplan Awards
ChinaMongolia
Eastern RussiaNorth Korea
Hong KongSouth Korea
JapanTaiwan
Macau

Asia 2 includes these countries:

Asia 2 List for Aeroplan Awards
BruneiMyanmar
CambodiaPhilippines
IndonesiaSingapore
LaosThailand
MalaysiaVietnam
Micronesia (includes Guam)

As you can probably imagine, Asia 2 will be the most applicable zone we’ll be looking at in this guide. Here are the mileage costs to fly to Asia 2:

Class of ServiceAeroplan Miles Cost
Economy90,000 (45,000 one-way)
Premium Economy130,000 (65,000 one-way)
Business155,000 (77,500 one-way)
First215,000 (107,500 one-way)

Here are some cool sample routes you can take:

  • New York City (JFK) – Beijing (PEK) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL) one-way in Air China first class and business class for 107,500 Aeroplan miles + $149 in taxes and fees.
  • Washington D.C. (IAD) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Da Nang (DAD) one-way in ANA first class and business class for 107,500 Aeroplan miles + $220 in taxes and fees.
  • Houston (IAH) – Taipei (TPE) – Hanoi (HAN), Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) – Taipei (TPE) – Houston (IAH) in EVA Air business class for 155,000 Aeroplan miles + $86 in taxes and fees with an open jaw in Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City.
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Yangon (RGN) round-trip in United Polaris class and Cathay Dragon business class for 155,000 Aeroplan miles + $68 in taxes and fees with 1 stopover in Hong Kong (HKG).
  • Chicago (ORD) – New Delhi (DEL) – Singapore (SIN) one-way in Air India first class and Singapore Airlines first class for 107,500 Aeroplan miles + $22-$36 in taxes and fees.

As you can imagine, there’s a huge list of possible routes you can take. The best product with ANA has the highest taxes and fees, whereas other airlines don’t have such high surcharges.

Here’s the steps you’ll take to book using Aeroplan miles:

  1. Visit Air Canada Aeroplan.
  2. Click Log in on the top-right corner of the homepage. Type your Aeroplan number followed by your password. Click Enter to log in.
  3. Hover over Book travel on the top ribbon of the page and click Flights.
  4. Enter your flight information, which includes travel dates, trip type (one-way, round trip, or multi-city), destination and origin cities, number of travelers, and cabin class.
  5. Click Search.
  6. Click the flights you want to book and complete the booking.
    • Amex and Capital One both transfer instantaneously, whereas Marriott Bonvoy takes up to 4 days.
  7. If you have searched segment-by-segment and Aeroplan is giving you difficulty booking a connecting flight online, you can call them at 800-361-5373.

Earning Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

It’s extremely easy to earn lots of Aeroplan miles. Aeroplan has 3 transfer partners:

Amex transfers at a 1:1 ratio instantaneously, whereas Capital One Rewards transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio instantaneously.

On the other hand, Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio and takes around 4 business days. Also, for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Aeroplan, you’ll get a bonus 5,000 Aeroplan miles.

United MileagePlus

air china first class
Air China has a great first class product. Image Credit: TheDesignAir

Booking United MileagePlus awards to Southeast Asia is super easy. Currently, the cost of partner awards is competitive in business class.

To begin, here’s the award chart for Star Alliance partners:

Class of ServiceUnited MileagePlus Cost
Economy40,000
Business90,000
First140,000

The countries included in South Asia are:

  • Bangladesh.
  • Bhutan.
  • Brunei.
  • Cambodia.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Indonesia.
  • Laos.
  • Macau.
  • Malaysia.
  • Myanmar.
  • The Philippines.
  • Singapore.
  • Thailand.
  • Vietnam.

If you decide to fly on United metal, you’ll be pay this price on flights before November 15, 2019:

Class of ServiceUnited MileagePlus Cost
Economy40,000
Business75,000

Starting on November 15, 2019, United is modifying their award pricing to reflect variable prices, so it’s impossible to pinpoint how much awards will cost from November 15, 2019 on.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Newark (EWR) – Mumbai (BOM) one-way on United Polaris class for 75,000 MileagePlus miles.
  • Washington D.C. (IAD) – Beijing (PEK) – Chiang Mai (CNX) one-way on Air China business class for 90,000 MileagePlus miles.
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Palau (ROR) one-way on Asiana Airlines business class for 90,000 MileagePlus miles.

Booking award flights on United MileagePlus is easy. Just follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to Southeast Asia in no time:

  1. Visit United.
  2. Choose from Roundtrip or One-way.
  3. Check the box that says Book with miles.
  4. If you want to view as many dates as possible, also check off the box that says Calendar shop
  5. Type your departure and destination airports
  6. Toggle your dates, number of travelers, and class of service.
  7. Click Find flights.
  8. You’ll be prompted to log in with your MileagePlus account.
  9. Choose your flights and complete the booking completely online by paying with your MileagePlus miles and a credit card for taxes and fees.
    • Transfers from Chase are instant, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers take up to 2 business days to execute.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

There’s a number of ways to earn United miles, and using credit cards is one of the best ways to do so. You can earn United miles from credit cards as follows:

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio and are instantaneous. On the other hand, transfers from Marriott Bonvoy are at a 3:1.1 ratio. This 3:1.1 ratio is slightly better than their usual airline partners.

Also, you will receive a 15,000 Marriott points bonus transferred to United when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points. This means you will get a total of 27,500 United miles when transferring 60,000 Marriott points.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $450 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Easy earning at 1.5% on all purchases. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the best no annual fee business cards.

Avianca LifeMiles

Asiana A380 business class. Image Credit: Airbus

Avianca LifeMiles is extraordinarily useful, particularly if you’re a Citi ThankYou Rewards loyalist.

Up until now, there haven’t been any options to redeem Citi ThankYou Rewards points for flights to Southeast Asia. That changes with the introduction of one of the most underrated airline loyalty programs in the business.

Here’s what Avianca LifeMiles has to offer:

  • Great first class award prices.
  • No fuel surcharges.
  • No close-in booking fees.
  • Ease of earning LifeMiles.
  • Star Alliance network of partners.

For flights to Southeast Asia, the mileage price is as follows:

Class of ServiceAvianca LifeMiles Cost
Economy39,000
Business78,000
First99,000

The countries included in the South Asia region are:

  • Bangladesh.
  • Brunei.
  • Cambodia.
  • Indonesia.
  • Laos.
  • Malaysia.
  • Myanmar.
  • Singapore.
  • Thailand.
  • Vietnam.

Note that areas like Guam, Palau, the Philippines, and Taiwan fall under the North Asia pricing, which is as follows:

Class of ServiceAvianca LifeMiles Cost
Economy35,000
Business75,000
First90,000

The routes you can take are identical to the other Star Alliance routes we presented above. Here’s how to get started booking your LifeMiles reservation:

  1. Visit LifeMiles.
  2. Change the language as necessary to English by clicking on the flag in the top-right corner.
  3. Click Log in on the top-right corner with your LifeMiles Number and Password.
  4. Click Fly on the top banner.
  5. Type your route, class of service, and number of passengers. Click Find Flights.
  6. Finish booking your flight by paying with LifeMiles and taxes/fees.

Earning Avianca LifeMiles

As mentioned above, Avianca LifeMiles is transfer partners with Citi ThankYou Rewards, along with American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Both Citi and Amex transfer instantaneously at a 1:1 ratio. Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio instantaneously, and Marriott Bonvoy transfers in less than 1 business day at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

In addition to regular credit card transfers, you can re-purchase LifeMiles with huge bonuses regularly. In fact, the largest bonus was a whopping 150%, so it’s definitely worth it to wait until these sales to buy LifeMiles.

There are other ways to earn lots of Avianca LifeMiles as well.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines Business Class 777 - Cabin
Singapore Airlines business class 777 cabin. Image Credit: Alex Miller

The very last option we’re including in this guide is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. Known for their luxurious business class and over-the-top first class products, Singapore Airlines offers one of the best ways to fly to Southeast Asia.

Since they are based in the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore, they are one of the absolute best candidates to traverse Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, the only way you’re going to book airline awards in business/first class on Singapore Airlines (with the exception of intra-Asia flights) is by redeeming KrisFlyer miles.

Singapore Airlines enjoys the most versatile route network due to its centralized home airport located in the heart of Southeast Asia. Also, no fuel surcharges will be levied for Singapore Airlines flights, though the case is not the same with partners.

Hot Tip: If you want to figure out how you’re going to cross the Pacific from the United States aboard Singapore Airlines, check out our definitive guide on Singapore Airlines’ direct U.S. routes

Here are some Singapore Airlines routes you can take to Southeast Asia:

  • New York City (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Singapore (SIN) one-way in Singapore Suites for 132,000 KrisFlyer miles.
  • Newark (EWR) – Singapore (SIN) – Siem Reap (REP) one-way in Singapore Airlines business class for 99,000 KrisFlyer miles.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Singapore (SIN) – Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN) one-way in Singapore Airlines business class for 95,000 KrisFlyer miles.
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Singapore (SIN) – Mandalay (MDL) one-way in Singapore Airlines business class and Silkair business class for 95,000 KrisFlyer miles.

When flying nonstop to Singapore, you get to fly to exotic/relatively inaccessible cities such as Bandung (BDO), Koh Samui (USM), and Kota Kinabalu (BKI) with a one-stop itinerary, which is great news.

Here how you can book your KrisFlyer itinerary:

  1. Visit Singapore Airlines.
  2. Log into your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account.
  3. Click Redeem Flights.
  4. Select your dates of travel and airports.
  5. Choose your class of booking by selecting either Business or First/Suites if you’re a premium cabin traveler.
  6. Click Search.
  7. Choose your flight and pay for any taxes and fees.

Hot Tip: Need help booking? Check out the step-by-step guide for booking Singapore Airlines business class or first class.

Earning Singapore KrisFlyer Miles

There are tons of ways to earn KrisFlyer miles.

Singapore Airlines is transfer partners with every major transferable currency: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Chase, Citi, and Amex are 1:1 transfer partners and they all take 1-2 days to execute. Capital One Rewards is a 2:1 transfer partner and also takes 1-2 days to transfer.

Marriott Bonvoy is 3:1 transfer partner, and you’ll receive a 5,000 KrisFlyer miles bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, up to 240,000 Marriott points per day. Transfers take up to 2 business days to complete.

Bottom Line: The only way to book Singapore premium cabin awards from the United States is by using their own frequent flyer program, KrisFlyer. While the mileage prices are not the best out there for a similar route, the difference is flying on one of the best airlines in the world. Luckily, there are loads of ways to earn KrisFlyer miles. 

Final Thoughts

In all, we’ve presented a vast list of ways you can use points to fly to Southeast Asia. We analyzed comprehensive route information from the 3 major alliances in this guide: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam. With a huge list of excellent airlines to choose from, you’ll be sure to find an itinerary that fits your needs to help plan and guide your travel.

Now, you know the absolute best ways to fly to Southeast Asia using points and miles.

 


FAQ

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to Southeast Asia?

The amount you’ll pay in taxes and fees is ultimately dependent not only on the airline you fly, but primarily on the loyalty program you use.

For example, you can fly on ANA business class and spend either $30 when using Avianca LifeMiles or $200 when using ANA miles. The flights are identical, but the different booking programs have implications on the out-of-pocket cost.

As a general rule of thumb, expect fuel surcharges on ANA, Asiana Airlines, and Air Canada. In any case, these surcharges aren’t severe, reaching a maximum of around $200 one-way per person.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to Southeast Asia?

You can pay as little as 55,000 ANA miles to book round-trip economy using ANA miles.

ANA is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

What is the fewest number of miles required to fly business class to Southeast Asia?

To book the cheapest business class, you can pay as little as 100,000 ANA miles to Asia 2 (Zone 4), which includes most of Southeast Asia. This is during low season and only on ANA-operated flights.

If you book flights to Asia 1, which includes Guam, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, the Philippines, and Taiwan, you can pay as little as 80,000 ANA miles during low season.

You can also pay 50,000 Alaska miles one-way for Cathay Pacific business class to Southeast Asia.

Alaska Airlines is transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy only, but you can also earn more Alaska miles by spending on the co-branded Bank of America Alaska credit cards.

What is the fewest number miles required to fly first class to Southeast Asia?

The absolute cheapest way to fly to Southeast Asia in first class is using Alaska miles. You can pay 70,000 miles one-way on Cathay Pacific or 75,000 miles one-way on Japan Airlines.

Other options include 195,000 ANA miles round-trip on ANA during low or regular season or 99,000 Avianca LifeMiles one-way.

Avianca LifeMiles is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

What are the best business class airlines to fly to Southeast Asia?

Some of the best business class airlines that fly from the U.S. to Southeast Asia are ANA, China Airlines, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlines.

Check out our post on the best international business class airlines in the world to learn more.

What are the best first class airlines to fly to Southeast Asia?

Some of the best first class airlines that fly to Southeast Asia are ANA, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlines.

To learn more about the best international first class airlines, check out our post.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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