The Best Ways to Fly to Vietnam With Points and Miles [Step-By-Step]

Hanoi

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Vietnam is the fastest-growing country for tourism, full stop. With an annual tourism growth rate approaching 30%, one might wonder why exactly Vietnam is poised to become one of the world’s economic powers after being ravaged by war in the mid- to late-twentieth century.

Simply put, Vietnam is more attractive than ever from a foreign investment perspective. In addition, the country has a relatively stable government and strong geographic centrality to the rest of Asia.

All of these factors contribute to the growth of tourism in Vietnam. While nonstop routes to America are not currently possible, they may soon become a reality since Vietnam has received the FAA certification to do so. With all being said, visiting this Southeast Asian country is a must-do for all travelers.

Flying deep into Southeast Asia can be challenging, especially with all the route possibilities of connecting flights such as on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and more. In this guide, we’ll be working to demystify the process for booking flights to Vietnam with points.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to fly to Vietnam using your hard-earned points and miles.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

With such a vast network of connecting flights to Vietnam, it can be easy to get overwhelmed quickly. When flying to Vietnam you will typically fly to 1 of 3 airport hubs:

  1. Hanoi (HAN) in North Vietnam.
  2. Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) in South Vietnam.
  3. Da Nang (DAD) in Central Vietnam.

Award bookings consist of 2 parts:

  • Frequent flyer miles.
  • Taxes and fees (of which fuel surcharges make up a majority).

While flights to Europe typically command $500-$1,000+ in fuel surcharges on top of the miles/points you pay, fuel surcharges above $300 per person round-trip to Asia are incredibly rare. In other words, seeing large taxes and fees above a couple of hundred dollars per person is more the exception than the norm.

This is good news because it’ll minimize your out of pocket costs when thinking about which flights to book. In any case, let’s take a look at the best programs to consider when booking flights to Vietnam.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Cathay Pacific 777 first class couples picture
Cathay Pacific’s first class is gigantic, fitting 2 comfortably! Image Credit: Stephen Au

Without a doubt, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the most attractive frequent flyer programs in the world. Alaska miles are worth 2 cents per point, making them the most valuable airline miles, according to our valuations.

The rich partnerships and best-in-class award redemption rates are why there are so many great ways to redeem Alaska miles for maximum value. Alaska Airlines has partnerships with some of the best airlines in the world, such as Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

In addition to this, they have generous low fuel surcharges, often less than $100 round-trip. Lastly, Alaska Airlines has an awesome stopover allowance on one-way flights, which is the icing on the cake.

These are the major reasons why Alaska Airlines has managed to preserve its mileage value in the face of competitors devaluing their currency. The most helpful airlines for flights to Vietnam are:

  1. Cathay Pacific
  2. Japan Airlines
  3. Korean Air (round-trip flights only).

The following table illustrates the one-way award costs to/from the U.S. and Southeast Asia, which includes Vietnam:

Cabin ClassAlaska Miles Cost for Cathay PacificAlaska Miles Cost for Japan AirlinesAlaska Miles Cost for Korean Air*
Economy30,00040,00085,000
Premium Economy35,000N/AN/A
Business50,00065,000120,000
First70,00075,000N/A

* Korean Air redemptions are only available round-trip.

As you can see, Cathay Pacific has the best mileage prices. Pair this with the quality of the Hong Kong-based airline and flying on Cathay Pacific is essentially a no-brainer.

Also, Hong Kong is a short, 2-hour hop away from Vietnam, so it’s as close to a nonstop flight as you can get without actually having a nonstop flight. In particular, the Cathay Pacific first class and business class prices are insanely good, especially when you take into consideration that you can book a stopover in Hong Kong for free.

Cathay Pacific is cutting back on first class in Asia; luckily for travelers originating in the U.S., you can book the majority of your itinerary in long-haul first class (14-16 hours). Be sure to refer to our guide on Cathay Pacific’s direct routes from the U.S. when planning your trip.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Cathay Pacific first class and business class for 70,000 Alaska miles + ~$71 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Da Nang (DAD) one-way in Cathay Pacific business class for 50,000 Alaska miles + ~$71 in taxes and fees.
  • Washington D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Cathay Pacific economy class for 30,000 Alaska miles + ~$71 in taxes and fees.

Hot Tip: Alaska Airlines doesn’t currently allow online bookings for Cathay Pacific, so you’ll want to call them to book Cathay Pacific first class and business class.

If flying on Japan Airlines or having a stopover in Tokyo is more desirable to you, you can make that happen with Alaska miles. Once you’ve taken a look at Japan Airlines’ direct routes from the U.S., you’ll probably want to book. Check out some great example routes you can take:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Japan Airlines first class and business class for 75,000 Alaska miles one-way + ~$33 in taxes and fees.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Japan Airlines business class for 65,000 Alaska miles one-way + ~$33 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Japan Airlines first class and business class for 75,000 Alaska miles one-way + ~$33 in taxes and fees.

Hot Tip: Japan Airlines’ first class and business class are industry-leading, so heavily consider this when thinking about how you’re gonna get to Vietnam. 

You can book your Japan Airlines flights completely online when using Alaska miles, so check out our step-by-step guides on the best ways to book Japan Airlines first class and business class for more information.

Although the award availability on Korean Air is limited and you’re required to book round-trip flights, some travelers may understandably be interested in either trying Korean Air business class (you can’t book Korean Air first class using Alaska miles) or stopping in Korea to visit the land of K-pop.

Korean Air’s nonstop U.S. routes are plentiful, so you have plenty of American airports to depart from. Remember that you must always connect in Seoul-Incheon (ICN). Let’s talk about some great example routes to Vietnam via Seoul.

  • Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Nha Trang (CXR) or Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Seattle (SEA) in Korean Air business class for 120,000 Alaska miles + ~$78 in taxes and fees.
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Hanoi (HAN) round-trip in Korean Air business class for 120,000 Alaska miles + ~$78 in taxes and fees.

Here’s how you can book Korean Air business class using Alaska miles:

  1. Visit Alaska Airlines.
  2. On the homepage, you’ll see a search box.
  3. Check off the box that says Use miles.
  4. Type in your city pairs.
  5. Choose your departure and return dates.
  6. Select the number of passengers.
  7. Click Find Flights.
  8. Find the Korean Air flights that work for your schedule and preferences.
  9. Check out, spend your miles, and pay for any applicable taxes and fees with your credit card.

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

While not as easy to earn as some other miles, you can still earn Alaska miles easily. The first option to explore is the co-branded Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. There is also a business equivalent, and both credit cards routinely offer welcome bonuses of 30,000-40,000 Alaska miles.

The second, and perhaps the easiest way to earn Alaska Airlines miles is to transfer from Marriott Bonvoy, Alaska’s only transfer partner. The transfer ratio is 3:1, and you’ll receive a transfer bonus of 5,000 Alaska miles for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. Transfers to Alaska Airlines take around 4 business days to complete. The maximum you can transfer in a single day from Marriott is 240,000 points, which would equate to 100,000 Alaska miles. There are loads of ways to earn lots of Marriott Bonvoy points, so don’t sleep on this method to accrue Alaska miles!

Hot Tip: Thinking of other ways to spend Marriott points? Check out our best ways to redeem Marriott points for flights as well as for hotel stays too.

The last major option to earn Alaska miles is to buy them. Alaska Airlines frequently offers sales with a 30-50% bonus on purchased miles, which can make business class and first class flights ridiculously cheap.

Recommended Marriott Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Bottom Line: Overall, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan’s partnerships with Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Korean Air make them an extraordinarily useful loyalty program to utilize on flights to Vietnam. Additionally, the award redemption prices, particularly on Cathay Pacific represent a too-good-to-pass-up deal, especially when taking advantage of their stopover policy and low taxes/fees. 

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club

ANA Business Class Seat
ANA business class. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Our next pick for the best booking programs is All Nippon Airways Mileage Club, or ANA Mileage Club for short. ANA offers spectacular value consistently, and this instance is no exception. However, ANA is subject to a few more rules that make it slightly more complicated than other booking programs.

These are:

  1. 2 award charts (ANA-operated versus partner flights).
  2. Seasonality rules (award price ranges depending on the dates you fly).
  3. One-way flights are not permitted.

ANA is in the Star Alliance, which includes airlines like United Airlines. In addition, you can also fly on one of their extremely useful non-Alliance partners, Vietnam Airlines.

Here are the most useful airlines that we’ll be exploring using ANA miles:

  • Air Canada (for Canada-based travelers).
  • Air China (based in Beijing)
  • ANA (based in Tokyo).
  • Asiana Airlines (based in Seoul).
  • EVA Air (based in Taipei).
  • United Airlines (based in Chicago).

Flying on ANA is the cheapest, especially when doing so during low season. However, the taxes and fees will generally be the highest, running at around $420 round-trip.

Here is the ANA award chart on their own flights to Asia 2, which includes Vietnam.

ANA Award Chart for Round-Trip ANA-Operated Flights to Asia 2 (Including Vietnam)
Cabin ClassLow Season CostRegular Season CostHigh Season Cost
Economy55,00065,00070,000
Premium Economy84,00094,00099,000
Business100,000110,000115,000
First195,000195,000210,000

To figure out whether your travel dates fall under low, regular, or high season, refer to the seasonality graphic below.

ANA Award Redemption Chart
ANA seasonality chart. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

As you can see, the difference in seasonality can have a huge impact on how many points you’ll spend on these flights, so it’s important to plan accordingly. Here are a few great example redemptions you can make for ANA flights to Vietnam using ANA miles:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) round-trip in ANA first class and business class during low season for 195,000 ANA miles + ~$420 in taxes and fees.
  • San Jose (SJC) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Hanoi (HAN) round-trip in ANA business class during regular season for 110,000 ANA miles + ~$420 in taxes and fees.
  • Houston (IAH) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) round-trip in ANA business class during low season for 100,000 ANA miles + ~$420 in taxes and fees.

If trying out ANA business class or first class is something you’ve already done, you can also book the partners we discussed above on flights to Vietnam. Here’s the ANA award chart for partner-operated flights:

Cabin ClassANA Miles Cost
Economy80,000
Business136,000
First240,000

You’ll pay 80,000 ANA miles for round-trip economy, 136,000 ANA miles for round-trip business, and 240,000 ANA miles for round-trip first class. We generally don’t recommend booking first class with partners using ANA miles for 2 reasons:

  • High mileage cost (better deals elsewhere).
  • No first class products flown to Vietnam from Asia.

You’d essentially be paying the difference between a business and first class round-trip booking for the initial long-haul flight from the U.S.

That being said, let’s examine some great example routes:

  • New York City (JFK) – Taipei (TPE) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) round-trip in EVA Air business class for 136,000 ANA miles + ~$102 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Beijing (PEK) – Hanoi (HAN) round-trip in Air China business class for 136,000 ANA miles + ~$82 in taxes and fees.
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Hanoi (HAN) round-trip in United Polaris business class and Vietnam Airlines business class for 136,000 ANA miles + ~$72 in taxes and fees.
  • Toronto (YYZ) – Shanghai (PVG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) round-trip in Air Canada business class and Vietnam Airlines business class for 136,000 ANA miles + ~$60 in taxes and fees.
  • Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) round-trip in Asiana Airlines economy and Vietnam Airlines economy for 80,000 ANA miles + ~$100 in taxes and fees.

Hot Tip: When using ANA miles, you can actually book up to 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw. Use these to add extra value and convenience to your trip. 

Here’s how to redeem ANA miles for flights to Vietnam:

  • Visit ANA’s website.
  • Click Award Booking on the homepage search box.
  • Log in with your ANA Mileage Club number and password.
  • Choose either Round-trip or Multiple cities/Mixed classes.
  • Type in your city pairs, travel dates, class of service, and the number of passengers.
  • Click Search.
  • Choose your flights and pay for taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Miles

Earning ANA miles is easy, especially with transfer partnerships from American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Transfers from Amex take around 2-3 days at a 1:1 ratio, whereas Marriott Bonvoy takes 4 days at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

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.

Bottom Line: ANA’s amazingly attractive redemption sweet spots are for business class redemptions on their own airplanes. In addition to this sweet spot, ANA Mileage Club offers some similarly fantastic rates for partner flights to Vietnam. Be sure to take advantage of the plentiful ways to earn ANA miles, stopover/open-jaw allowances, and unique non-alliance partnership with Vietnamese flag carrier Vietnam Airlines.

American Airlines AAdvantage

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

Spending American Airlines miles is very attractive for flights to Vietnam. Although award availability on American Airlines’ own long haul flights is terrible, you’ll have luck by exploring their Oneworld partners, specifically these airlines:

  • Japan Airlines.
  • Cathay Pacific.

The award cost for one-way flights to/from the U.S. and Vietnam is:

Cabin ClassAmerican AAdvantage Miles Cost
Economy37,500
Business70,000
First110,000

The main appeal of AAdvantage is that there are more ways to earn AAdvantage miles from credit card spending.

Unfortunately, there are no stopovers allowed, but your taxes and fees will be extremely low. Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • New York City (JFK) – Tokyo-Haneda (HND) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Japan Airlines first class and business class for 110,000 AAdvantage miles + ~$45 in taxes and fees.
  • Washington D.C. (IAD) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Cathay Pacific business class for 70,000 AAdvantage miles + ~$61 in taxes and fees.

You can book Japan Airlines itineraries completely online, whereas you’ll need to call American Airlines AAdvantage to book Cathay Pacific.

Here’s the way to book over the phone:

  1. Search for availability on Japan Airlines and/or Cathay Pacific using British Airways.
  2. Log in with your BA Avios Executive Club Member number and password.
  3. Click the button on the top banner that says Book, and then click Book a flight with Avios.
  4. Type in your departure and return cities, followed by the inbound and outbound dates.
  5. Choose One-way only if booking one-way flights.
  6. Select your Class, the number of passengers, and click Get flights.
  7. Find the flight you like and write down the flight information.
  8. Call AAdvantage at +1-800-433-7300 and feed them your flights.
  9. Pay with AAdvantage miles and use your credit card for taxes and fees.

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

By focusing on co-branded American Airlines credit cards, you can earn a lot of American AAdvantage miles. Both Citi and Barclays offer a number of American Airlines credit cards, so your options are plentiful.

Furthermore, Barclays and Citi are constantly fighting for market share, so you’ll routinely see huge welcome bonuses on these credit cards. Be sure to compare the benefits and perks of the best American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards as well.

If you don’t quite have enough AAdvantage miles to make a redemption, you can top off your balance of AAdvantage miles by transferring from Marriott Bonvoy. Transfers come at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 AAdvantage miles for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. This means that you can get up to 100,000 AAdvantage miles if you transfer the daily maximum of 240,000 Marriott points. Transfers take around 2 business days.

Bottom Line: Using American Airlines AAdvantage miles represents an easy way to book award travel to Vietnam. With a simple pricing structure, great redemption prices, and numerous ways to earn AAdvantage miles, it’s not exactly a secret why AAdvantage is a great program to leverage on flights to Vietnam. 

Air Canada Aeroplan

Asiana A380 Business Class
Asiana A380 business class. Image Credit: Airbus

Air Canada Aeroplan is a great partner to utilize, especially if you have lots of Capital One miles. Their award chart is as follows:

Vietnam is in the Asia 2 region, so one-way flights from Canada and the Continental U.S. are priced as follows:

Cabin ClassAeroplan Miles Cost for One-Way Flights
Economy45,000
Premium Economy65,000
Business77,500
First107,500

Aeroplan miles can be used for any Air Canada partners, which include the entire Star Alliance. Aeroplan is also partners with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, but their use is limited since you can only redeem award flights between Hong Kong and:

  • Bangkok (BKK).
  • Cebu (CEB).
  • Chiang Mai (CNX).
  • Hanoi (HAN).
  • Ho Chi Minh City (SGN).
  • Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
  • Manila (MNL).
  • Phuket (HKT).

Hot Tip: If you fly on round-trip itineraries between the U.S. and Vietnam using Aeroplan miles, you can add a stopover or open-jaw for free! 

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Tokyo-Haneda (HND) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in ANA business class for 77,500 Aeroplan miles + ~$182 in taxes and fees.
  • New York City (JFK) – Taipei (TPE) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in EVA Air business class for 77,500 Aeroplan miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees.
  • Newark (EWR) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in United Polaris class and Cathay Pacific business class for 77,500 Aeroplan miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees.

Air Canada Aeroplan presents an option for travelers to book Star Alliance flights at a great price without having to book round-trip flights as required when using ANA miles. Other highlights of this method include low taxes and fees and the round-trip stopover/open-jaw allowance.

Earning Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

Air Canada Aeroplan is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex Membership Rewards has the best transfer ratio, sitting at a simple 1:1 ratio. Also, earning Membership Rewards points is extremely easy, with the range of personal and business cards. Transfers from Amex to Aeroplan are instant.

Capital One Rewards transfers to Aeroplan at a slightly decreased ratio of 2:1.5 instantly. There are lots of ways to earn Capital One miles and redeem Capital One miles for maximum value, too.

The last transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy, which transfers in 4 business days at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 Aeroplan miles for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, up to 240,000 Marriott points per day.

Recommended Miles-Earning Capital One Cards (Personal)

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - This card is packed with a lot more benefits and perks. Earn a 50,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $500 toward travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. We recommend this as a no-brainer card if you even semi regularly stay at hotels.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This is an excellent card for those looking to earn 1.25x miles per $1 on every purchase. With a 20,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $200 toward travel) after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months and no annual fee, it's a strong choice.

Bottom Line: Over the years, Aeroplan has fallen off the radar of many points enthusiasts. However, the addition of Capital One as a transfer partner makes it most appealing for Capital One loyalists. Remember that round-trip flights are eligible for one free stopover, which can add significant value to your trip. Aeroplan provides a straightforward method to redeem your points for high-value flights to Vietnam. 

Avianca LifeMiles

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

LifeMiles falls closely behind Air Canada Aeroplan and ranks lower due to the relatively inflexible nature of their booking engine. Avianca LifeMiles struggles tremendously with any bookings with 2 stops. Furthermore, they are known to not show all available flights, which can be aggravating.

That being said, their abundance of transfer partners, competitive award pricing to Vietnam, and the absence of fuel surcharges makes LifeMiles an excellent option nevertheless.

Here’s the award chart for one-way flights from the continental U.S. to Vietnam:

Cabin ClassAvianca LifeMiles Cost
Economy39,000
Business78,000
First99,000

As you can see, LifeMiles only charges 500 more miles than Aeroplan for one-way business class flights, and they are significantly cheaper for first class bookings. Avianca LifeMiles is capable of booking Star Alliance itineraries, so you’ll want to stick with the airlines we mentioned in the ANA and Aeroplan sections to get inspiration for routes.

You can also explore the direct U.S. routes on Asiana and Air China for further analysis.

Earning Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca LifeMiles is one of the easiest types of miles to earn out there. You can earn LifeMiles easily by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Transfer from Amex Membership Rewards (1:1 ratio).
  2. Transfer from Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1 ratio).
  3. Transfer from Capital One Rewards (2:1.5 ratio).
  4. Transfer from Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 ratio with 5,000 bonus every 60,000 Marriott points).
  5. Earning directly on the co-branded Banco Popular Avianca credit cards.
  6. Buying LifeMiles.

Transfers from Amex, Citi, and Capital One are nearly instant, and transfers from Marriott take less than 1 business day, so you’ll have very little issues with transferring to LifeMiles. Furthermore, be on the lookout for transfer bonuses of 25-30% from Amex and Citi.

Avianca LifeMiles is partnered with Banco Popular, a Puerto Rican bank, to offer 2 co-branded credit cards that can earn LifeMiles directly.

Also, Avianca LifeMiles regularly offers mileage sales with up to a 125-150% bonus, which is a huge discount. You can purchase LifeMiles for around 1.3-1.5 cents per mile during these times.

Bottom Line: Avianca LifeMiles is one of the most underrated programs. There are tons of ways to redeem LifeMiles for maximum value, but the ease of earning, absence of fuel surcharges on award bookings, and easy online booking process makes this method a no-brainer, particularly for Citi loyalists. 

United MileagePlus

United Polaris Middle Seats
United Polaris class. Image Credit: United

United Airlines’ frequent flyer program is known as MileagePlus. Although their currency is technically called United MileagePlus Miles, they are colloquially known as United miles. As you’ll find out, booking using United miles is exceedingly simple.

That, along with the presence of Chase as a core transfer partner and the network of Star Alliance routes to Vietnam, is why United MileagePlus makes it on our list of best ways to fly to Vietnam.

Let’s first look at the partner award chart on one-way flights from the U.S. to Vietnam:

Cabin ClassUnited MileagePlus Cost
Economy40,000
Business90,000
First140,000

While using United miles for first class redemptions isn’t the best idea out there, it might be your only shot if you are especially low on other transferable currencies.

If you’re open to having a connection in Hong Kong (HKG), Tokyo-Narita (NRT), or Taipei (TPE), you might even be able to locate saver-level availability on United Polaris for a cheaper price of 70,000-75,000 United miles.

You can then purchase a cheap positioning flight to get to your final destination in Vietnam, saving 15,000-20,000 United miles in the process.

When using United miles, another luxury you’ll experience is the lack of fuel surcharges, which will do wonders to minimize your overall out of pocket costs.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Taipei (TPE) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in United Polaris class and EVA Air business class for 90,000 United miles + ~$11 in taxes and fees.
  • Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Asiana business class for 90,000 United miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

One of 2 Chase transfer partners covered in this piece, United Airlines MileagePlus is an extremely simple way to use points to book flights to Vietnam.

United Airlines miles are easy to earn due to the suite of co-branded Chase United credit cards and the abundance of credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, Chase’s proprietary rewards currency.

If this wasn’t enough, Marriott Bonvoy also transfers to United. What’s even better is that Marriott’s transfer ratio to United is slightly better, sitting at 3:1.1 instead of the usual 3:1.

With every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, you’ll also receive a slightly improved 5,500-mile bonus. This means that every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to United will result in a total of 27,500 United miles compared to the normal 25,000 miles elsewhere.

If you transfer the daily maximum of 240,000 Marriott points, you’ll earn 110,000 United miles.

Bottom Line: The process of using United miles to book awards online is probably one of the easiest in the world. If you’re looking for a simple way to book flights to Vietnam leveraging the Star Alliance and using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, United is probably your best bet. 

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.

Delta SkyMiles

Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class front cabin view 3
Vietnam Airlines 787-9 business class. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Delta SkyMiles is an extremely valuable frequent flyer program. With a simple, partner award chart, using SkyMiles is one of the best ways to book business class flights on SkyTeam airlines.

The most useful partners for flights to Vietnam are:

  • China Airlines (based in Taipei).
  • China Eastern (based in Shanghai).
  • Delta Air Lines (based in Atlanta).
  • Korean Air (based in Seoul).
  • Vietnam Airlines (based in Hanoi).
  • XiamenAir (based in Xiamen).

On top of this, Delta routinely offers award sales to Asia that cut economy award prices nearly in half, so be sure to hold out for one of those if you want to fly in economy. Here are the normal one-way award costs:

Cabin ClassDelta SkyMiles Cost
Economy35,000
Business85,000 (125,000 if within 21 days of departure)

Obviously, you want to avoid booking close-in departures of 21 days or more, since that will make your business class awards skyrocket in price. The best non-Delta SkyTeam partner options to fly to Vietnam are:

  • China Airlines (best business class product).
  • Korean Air.
  • XiamenAir.

Booking China Airlines business class necessitates connecting flights through Taipei before continuing on to Vietnam, just like Korean Air does with Seoul-Incheon, and XiamenAir with a Chinese airport.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • New York City (JFK) – Taipei (TPE) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in China Airlines business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + ~$6 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Xiamen (XMN) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in XiamenAir business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + ~$135 in taxes and fees.
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Korean Air business class and Vietnam Airlines business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + ~$40 in taxes and fees.
  • Chicago (ORD) – Shanghai (PVG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in China Eastern business class and Vietnam Airlines business class for 85,000 Delta SkyMiles + ~$298 in taxes and fees.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

Earning Delta SkyMiles is made easy by the fact that the airline is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Also, Delta offers many co-branded credit cards issued by American Express.

As usual, the Amex transfer ratio is 1:1, and Amex transfers instantaneously to Delta. Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 SkyMiles bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, up to a daily maximum of 240,000 Marriott points.

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.

Bottom Line: With so many ways to earn Delta SkyMiles and the ease of booking SkyTeam flights, Delta’s frequent flyer program is one of the best ways to fly to Vietnam using points. There are few fuel surcharges, and searching for SkyTeam award availability is ridiculously easy. 

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue’s Air France employs a variable award pricing structure, and it can be difficult to predict just exactly how much a certain ticket is going to cost in points.

Specifically, here is the best estimation for one-way flights from the U.S. to Vietnam using Flying Blue Miles:

Cabin ClassFlying Blue Miles Saver Cost
Economy34,500-37,500
Premium Economy68,000
Business85,000-115,000

Interestingly, Flying Blue is one of the few programs that permits transatlantic routes to Vietnam without adding to the mileage price. We can exploit this to get 2 long-haul business class flights in many instances, though taking the long way is going to shorten your vacation a little bit.

Here are some great example transatlantic routes you can take:

  • New York City (JFK) – Paris (CDG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Air France business class and Vietnam Airlines business class for 85,000 Flying Blue Miles + ~$140 in taxes and fees.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Moscow (SVO) – Hanoi (HAN) one-way in Aeroflot business class and Vietnam Airlines business class for 85,000 Flying Blue Miles + ~$200 in taxes and fees.
  • Atlanta (ATL) – London-Heathrow (LHR) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Delta One and Vietnam Airlines business class for 85,000 Flying Blue Miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees.
  • Detroit (DTW) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) one-way in Delta One and Vietnam Airlines business class for 85,000 Flying Blue Miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees.

Keep in mind that flights that traverse the Pacific will likely be priced at 115,000 Flying Blue miles one-way, instead of 85,000 miles. So, it’s actually mostly more cost-effective to take the long way via Europe than the short way via Asia.

Earning Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles

Perhaps the most flexible rewards currency out there, Air France/KLM Flying Blue takes the cake in having the most ways to transfer from credit card points. Obviously, there are tons of ways to earn lots of Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles.

Even though Flying Blue has the most transfer partners of any currency out there, they’re still extremely valuable and can be redeemed for tons of value.

Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards all transfer at a 1:1 ratio almost instantaneously.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers in around 1 business day at a 3:1 ratio. You will receive a 5,000 Flying Blue miles bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points. You can transfer a maximum of 240,000 Marriott points daily, which would get you 100,000 Flying Blue miles.

Japan Airlines Mileage Plan

China Eastern 777 First Class
China Eastern’s 777 First Class offers fully lie-flat double beds along with doors! Image Credit: China Eastern

The last booking method we’ll talk about is Japan Airlines Mileage Plan. Although the quality of the loyalty program has been ravaged through devaluation after devaluation, it still remains one of the cheapest ways to book certain flights that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Japan Airlines miles are among the hardest mainstream airline miles to earn, which is why they tend to command lower costs for flights relative to partners like American Airlines. Nonetheless, they have 3 non-alliance partners that would be interesting on flights to Vietnam.

Specifically, these are:

  • Air France (based in Paris)
  • Korean Air (based in Seoul)
  • Emirates (based in Dubai)
  • China Eastern (based in Shanghai)

Japan Airlines Mileage Plan employs a distance-based award chart on partners as follows:

Total Trip Distance (miles)Economy Class Mileage CostPremium Economy Class Mileage CostBusiness Class Mileage CostFirst Class Mileage Cost
1-1,00012,00017,00024,00036,000
1,001-2,00015,00021,00030,00045,000
2,001-4,00023,00030,00042,00065,000
4,001-6,00037,00046,00060,00090,000
6,001-8,00045,00059,00080,000120,000
8,001-10,00047,00062,00085,000135,000
10,001-12,00050,00070,000100,000145,000
12,001-14,00055,00077,000110,000165,000
14,001-20,00070,00094,000130,000190,000
20,001-25,00090,000112,000145,000220,000
25,001-29,000110,000135,000160,000250,000
29,001-34,000130,000160,000190,000290,000
34,001-50,000150,000180,000210,000330,000

The distance computed by Japan Airlines is not always the same as calculated from Great Circle Mapper, so you’ll want to use the Japan Airlines distance calculator. Due to the distance-based pricing of award charts, longer flights will be more expensive, so flying across the Atlantic is not usually recommended.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is one of the last ways you can book China Eastern first class, which barely makes our best international first class airlines in the world. It is near the top of the list of best first class seats for couples due to the fact that it is the only airline besides Etihad and Singapore that has double beds.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to book them, but JAL Mileage Bank is an excellent way to do so. Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Shanghai (PVG) – Da Nang (DAD) one-way in China Eastern first class and business class for 120,000 Japan Airlines miles
  • New York City (JFK) – Shanghai (PVG) – Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) round-trip in China Eastern first class and business class for 190,000 Japan Airlines miles
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Shanghai (PVG) round-trip in China Eastern first class for 165,000 Japan Airlines miles

The last option is somewhat of a misnomer since it’s technically not a route to Vietnam. It’s actually a sweet spot if you book the round-trip ticket. The round-trip ticket falls into the 12,001-14,000 distance bracket, while the one-way distance bracket is 6,001-8,000 miles. You’ll notice that the one-way flight costs 120,000 miles, but round-trip is only slightly more expensive at 165,000 miles. It’s extremely easy to book a cheap ticket from Shanghai to Vietnam if it means saving loads of miles.

If you needed a cost-effective way to fly to Vietnam from Shanghai, you can often find round-trip economy tickets nonstop for ~$240. When you consider that one-way tickets typically cost around 10,000-20,000 miles one-way, you’ll definitely want to use cash when you can.

You can also fly on Emirates via Dubai (DXB) to both Hanoi (HAN) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). Unfortunately, neither of those routes currently have first class, and the business class is configured in a 2-3-2 layout, which is an inferior arrangement. You’ll also have to shell out significant amounts in fuel surcharges to book the ticket, but it’s still an option.

Earning Japan Airlines Miles

Unfortunately, while Japan Airlines has great redemption rates, particularly for round-trip award bookings, they only have 1 transfer partner, Marriott Bonvoy. With a 3:1 transfer ratio and transfer time of ~2 days, you’ll receive 20,000 Japan Airlines miles plus a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

Bottom Line: Japan Airlines is useful for niche redemptions, particularly for China Eastern First Class and Emirates. However, the difficulty in earning Japan Airlines miles nullifies some of the value, but it’s still a cost-effective option to fly to Vietnam once you’ve accrued enough miles. 

Final Thoughts

In all, there are tons of different ways to fly to Vietnam and even more ways to fly to using points and miles. Every major alliance and transferable currency has been covered in this piece, so it’s up to the traveler to pick the best frequent flyer program for their needs to get the best award redemptions to Vietnam.

Happy redeeming!


FAQ

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

Generally, all the airlines discussed will impose some form of fuel surcharges. The magnitude can range from $100-$300 one-way. Importantly, the fuel surcharges aren’t necessarily passed on by some frequent flyer programs.

Aeroflot, Air France, ANA, China Eastern, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines will have the highest surcharges, though they’re all relatively mild.

By using a frequent flyer program such as United or Aeroplan, you can minimize these surcharges.

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

The cheapest mileage prices are achieved by spending ANA miles on ANA flights during low season. For economy, you will pay 55,000 ANA miles. Regular season is 65,000 ANA miles, while high season is 70,000 miles.

Another option is to spend Alaska miles booking Cathay Pacific economy for 30,000 miles one-way or 60,000 miles round-trip.

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

Without a doubt, spending Alaska miles is best here. You can spend as little as 50,000 miles one-way in Cathay Pacific business class. With this, you will pay $39 in taxes and fees, and you’ll also get a free stopover.

ANA offers a price of 100,000 miles for ANA flights during low season, but the round-trip requirement and seasonality restriction can be unattractive for some travelers.

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

The 2 cheapest mileage prices to fly first class to Vietnam are flying on Cathay Pacific first class and Japan Airlines first class using Alaska miles. The prices are 70,000 miles one-way and 75,000 miles one-way, respectively.

Best of all, the taxes and fees will only run around $20-$40 each way, which is excellent.

You can also spend 195,000 ANA miles for round-trip first class on ANA during low and regular season.

What are the best business class airlines to fly to Vietnam?

The best business class airlines are generally accepted to be ANA, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Air, and Japan Airlines.

What are the best first class airlines to fly to Vietnam?

The best first class airlines are generally accepted to be ANA, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlines.

We didn’t discuss the redemption prices for Singapore Airlines in this guide due to the unattractive award costs.

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.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

2 comments

  1. Scoring a first class ticket on Cathay is not easy. As far as I know, only 2 seats per flight are available for miles redemption. So between Alaska, American Airlines, Cathay and the other partners, a lot of people are trying to grab these two seats. I was lucky last year because it wasn’t possible to book online using AA miles and I had to call their reservation center but now it is possible to book online.

    • Hi Toan,

      Yes, booking first class flights is challenging. It’s made intentionally so because these are essentially $15,000+ tickets that are pretty much free, so that’s the reward for people who try hard to find availability. Thanks for reading!

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