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The 6 Best Flights I’ve Booked With Points and Miles So Far in 2024

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Ehsan Haque
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Ehsan Haque

Content Contributor

72 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 100U.S. States Visited: 24

Ehsan is an avid traveler who has traveled to 100 countries, diligently using points and miles to fund his journeys. Currently, he holds 32 active credit cards and earns over a million points and mile...
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Michael Y. Park

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Michael Y. Park is a journalist living in New York City. He’s traveled through Afghanistan disguised as a Hazara Shi’ite, slept with polar bears on the Canadian tundra, picnicked with the king and que...
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Jestan Mendame

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Since 2016, he has embraced the life of a digital nomad, making the world his office. He has built a career in social media marketing and blogging for various travel brands, which is also his bread an...

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Here at Upgraded Points, we love showing our readers what’s possible when working toward maximizing our redemptions. That typically comes when you redeem your points and miles for once-in-a-lifetime business and first class flights.

However, the best part about points and miles is that you can redeem them any way you want. For some, traveling more instead of more comfortably is the most important thing. For others, being able to fly in incredibly expensive and luxurious cabins is the priority. I fall in the latter group of travelers.

The year 2024 has been busy for me. In the first half of the year, I visited 3 new countries and took over 30 flights. Although I didn’t book all of them using points and miles, most of the premium cabins I booked were award redemptions.

Of course, some redemptions are better than others. Here is a look at the 6 best premium cabin flights I booked with points and miles in the first half of 2024.

Best Redemptions

Regarding award redemptions, it’s extremely important to consider 3 factors: transferable rewards currencies (like Amex Membership RewardsCapital One Miles, and Chase Ultimate Rewards), transfer partners of points programs, and airline partnerships and alliances.

Leveraging the best travel partners within each program is the key to effectively redeeming points and miles for award travel.

Quite often, the best way to redeem points and miles is with a partner airline loyalty program. So it’s important to know what airlines partner with each other and which transferable rewards programs transfer to specific loyalty programs.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the best redemptions of the year so far. For each award redemption, I will highlight the program I used, the cost of each award redemption, and which points transfer to that specific program.

1. Lufthansa First Class

LH F A346
Lufthansa first class on the Airbus A340-600. Image Credit: Ehsan Haque

Route: Barcelona (BCN) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Chicago (ORD)

Cost: 79,300 Avianca LifeMiles (mixed-cabin pricing)

My best redemption of the year so far was the one I had been waiting for the longest for: Lufthansa first class.

Lufthansa is one of the world’s biggest airlines and is known for providing an excellent overall first class experience. In addition to the solid flight experience itself, Lufthansa also offers a premium ground experience for first class passengers in Frankfurt and Munich (MUC).

Since Lufthansa is part of Star Alliance, I had several booking options. Ultimately, I redeemed Avianca LifeMiles, as the program has some of the best rates for partner award redemptions across Star Alliance.

The program has a convoluted award chart but also has many sweet spots. One of those sweet spots is for premium cabin awards between the U.S. and Europe. According to the award chart, a one-way first-class award between the continental U.S. and Europe can be booked for just 87,000 LifeMiles plus taxes and fees. That is an incredible value, considering many programs charge more in business class.

On top of the fantastic mileage requirement, Avianca does not pass on fuel surcharges on award tickets.

However, the best part of the entire program may be its pricing quirk on mixed-cabin awards. Most programs price mixed-cabin awards based on the highest class of service you’re flying. However, Avianca instead prices each leg of a journey separately based on the class of service booked.

Instead of flying directly from Frankfurt to Chicago (which would have priced at 87,000 LifeMiles), I added a connection (in economy) from Barcelona to Frankfurt. This, in turn, saved me 7,700 LifeMiles.

Avianca LifeMiles mixed cabin pricing for LH F
Booking a mixed-cabin itinerary with Avianca LifeMiles can save you miles on a premium cabin redemption. Image Credit: LifeMiles

The Avianca LifeMiles loyalty program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. All of the programs, except Marriott Bonvoy, transfer to LifeMiles at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to LifeMiles at a 3:1 ratio.

Hot Tip:

Avianca LifeMiles are incredibly valuable, particularly on Star Alliance partner airlines. Check out our guide on the best ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles for maximum value.

2. Singapore Airlines Business Class

Singapore BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 777 300er
Singapore Airlines business class on the Boeing 777-300ER. Image Credit: Ehsan Haque

Route: New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA)

Cost: 60,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points

The next best redemption was on an airline I had never flown (and is now my new favorite airline): Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines is world-renowned for its incredible onboard cuisine and stellar in-flight service and is widely considered to be one of the best airlines in commercial aviation.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to fly to Europe on a Singapore Airlines business class, fifth freedom flight between New York and Frankfurt.

Like Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines is a member of Star Alliance. Although in the past you could only book long-haul premium cabins through its own loyalty program, Singapore KrisFlyer, you can now book business class awards with partner programs. One of these programs is Air Canada Aeroplan.

For its Air Canada-operated flights, Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing, which is almost never a good thing in the points and miles world. However, Aeroplan has a separate distance-based award chart for partner awards, which is where you can get the most value out of Aeroplan points.

Aeroplan divides the world into 4 distinct zones on its award chart: North America, South America, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Award pricing depends on the the zones you fly between and the overall distance flown.

Aeroplan region map for awards
Aeroplan divides the world into 4 travel zones. Image Credit: Aeroplan

For my flight between New York and Frankfurt, I looked at the award chart for flights between the North America and Atlantic zones. I calculated the distance between the 2 airports (3,856 miles) using Great Circle Mapper.

That distance fell in the 0 to 4,000-mile distance band, meaning that I could book it for just 60,000 Aeroplan points plus taxes and fees.

Aeroplan search JFK FRA 60K SQ
Partner flights for zero to 4,000 miles can be booked for 60,000 Aeroplan points. Image Credit: Aeroplan

Air Canada Aeroplan is a transfer partner of most of the major transferable points programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.

All the programs above transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 rate, except Marriott Bonvoy, which transfers at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, you get a 5,000-point bonus.

3. Turkish Airlines Business Class

Turkish J A350 2024 SEAT 07
The newer business class seats on the Turkish Airlines A350-900. Image Credit: Ehsan Haque

Route: Chicago (ORD) – Istanbul (IST) – Madrid (MAD)

Cost: 31,500 Turkish Miles&Smiles miles (before devaluation and with promotion)

Although I had flown Turkish Airlines several times in the past, I was excited to try their long-haul international business class between Chicago and Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines is another airline that is considered one of the best in the world. The airline has a reputation for top-notch inflight catering and fantastic service.

As with Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines is another Star Alliance airline. This means you can utilize numerous award programs for Turkish Airlines award redemptions. However, unlike the previous 2 award bookings, I used the airline’s own loyalty program. In this case, I redeemed Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles.

Although the Turkish Airlines award program recently underwent a major devaluation, I booked this award before the new award charts went live. On top of this, I booked this award during a Turkish Airlines promo for Miles&Smiles members, where award tickets could be booked for 30% fewer miles than normal.

On the predevaluation Turkish Airlines’ zone-based award chart, one-way awards between North America and Europe could be booked for 45,000 miles (an incredible sweet spot, looking back). With the promo, I could book this award for just 31,500 miles one-way. An already incredible deal was even sweeter, thanks to this promo.

Since Turkish Airlines uses a zone-based award chart, it was the same price whether I wanted to fly to Istanbul or elsewhere in Europe. I decided to head to Madrid for a week.

Turkish J award ORD IST 31500 miles redemption
I booked my Turkish Airlines business class award ticket for just 31,500 miles. Image Credit: Miles&Smiles

The Turkish Miles&Smiles loyalty program is a transfer partner of Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. All of the programs transfer to Miles&Smiles at a 1:1 ratio except Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a rate of 3:1, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred.

4. Japan Airlines Business Class

Japan Airlines 777 300er business class 2 seats together
Japan Airlines Sky Suites business class seats on the Boeing 777-300ER. Image Credit: Ehsan Haque

Route: San Francisco (SFO) – Tokyo (HND) – Seoul (GMP)

Cost: 60,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles (pre-devaluation)

Although I have traveled to more than 100 countries, nothing comes close to Japan for me. Simply put, Japan is my favorite country in the world.

Whenever I have a chance to go, I am incredibly happy and excited. However, even better than just going to Japan is flying there in a premium cabin on one of the best airlines in the world, Japan Airlines.

Japan Airlines is a member of Oneworld, another alliance with several other airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, and Qantas.

Although there were several programs I could book a Japan Airlines business class ticket with, I went with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan loyalty program. Since the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan loyalty program was due for an overhaul, I thought redeeming my remaining Alaska Airlines miles would be a good idea.

The Mileage Plan program was considered among the best for its fantastic award charts with numerous sweet spots, easy-to-use search engine, long list of alliance (and nonalliance) airline partners, and arguably the best stopover policy of any loyalty program.

However, in March 2024, Alaska Airlines changed to a distance-based redemption system, meaning that award pricing is now determined by the distance flown. This severely affects longer-distance flights, as they require more miles. And of course, this affects award pricing for flights between the U.S. and Japan, as the countries are quite far away from each other.

After a quick award search, I was able to find award space from San Francisco to Tokyo Haneda. The one-way business class award could be booked for 60,000 Alaska miles plus taxes and fees. After the devaluation, this same route now prices at 75,000 miles, representing a 25% increase.

JAL booking Alaska miles
Predevaluation award pricing for San Francisco to Tokyo. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

However, as I mentioned, Alaska Airlines has a fantastic stopover policy, including on one-way award tickets. So instead of just stopping in Tokyo, I took advantage of the stopover policy and added an additional flight to Seoul for the same price!

Japan Airlines alaska miles redemption pre devaluation
JAL booking Alaska miles


I added a stopover in Tokyo for the same price. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines miles are relatively difficult to earn, as the Mileage Plan program lacks major transfer partners. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a transfer partner of of Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Bilt Rewards is a 1:1 transfer partner, however, Marriott Bonvoy is a 3:1 transfer partner. For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred, you get a 5,000-mile bonus.

5. Air Canada Signature Class

air canada 787 9 business class seat 8k 2
Air Canada Signature Class on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image Credit: Ehsan Haque

Route: Frankfurt (FRA) – Montreal (YUL) – Chicago (ORD)

Cost: 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles

I also got an opportunity to fly Air Canada’s long-haul business class, Signature Class, which is considered by many to be North America’s best business class cabin. Although I have flown Air Canada several times over the years, I had never done so in business class.

As mentioned above, Aeroplan uses dynamic pricing for its own flights, making it difficult to know how many points you need for an award redemption. Thus, using Aeroplan points for partner airline redemptions (which follow a zone-based award chart) is almost always recommended.

Instead of using Aeroplan points, I used Avianca LifeMiles for this redemption. According to the award chart, a one-way partner airline redemption would cost 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles, which is the exact rate I booked this award at.

On top of the sweet spot award pricing, Avianca does not pass fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Lifemiles award booking cost Air Canada
Business class awards between the U.S. and Europe can be booked for 63,000 Avianca LifeMImage Credit: LifeMiles

I even booked a connecting flight from Montreal to Chicago. I was hoping to book that flight in economy to take advantage of Avianca’s mixed-cabin pricing (and lower the total miles needed), but there were no economy seats available for that specific redemption.

6. Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class

Thai Airways Royal Silk business class 777 300er business class seat
Thai Airways Royal Silk business class seat. Image Credit: Ehsan Haque

Route: Bangkok (BKK) – Frankfurt (FRA) – New York (JFK) – Toronto (YYZ)

Cost: 87,500 Aeroplan points

Lastly, after 2 wonderful months in Asia, I had the chance to try another new product. This time, I tried out Thai Airways’ long-haul, international Royal Silk business class. Since Thai Airways doesn’t fly to the U.S., I had to be creative about returning to North America.

Thai Airways is also a member of Star Alliance (a common theme). Although it is not as well-regarded as other Asian airlines such as Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, or EVA Air, Thai Airways is known for having an above-average overall experience in business class, with stellar onboard cuisine and service

As with the other Star Alliance redemptions, there were several ways to book this specific award. I booked this itinerary using Aeroplan points, thanks to its distance-based award chart for partner awards, which has some incredible rates.

Since I was in Bangkok and set on flying Thai Airways, I began looking at different routes using Aeroplan’s intuitive search engine. Ultimately, I found the perfect itinerary for my situation: Thai Airways Royal Silk business class to Frankfurt and then Singapore Airlines business class on the fifth-freedom flight to New York.

Aeroplan redemption flights BKK FRA JFK YYZ
With this routing, I could fly both Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines in business class. Image Credit: Aeroplan

The entire itinerary was priced at 87,500 Aeroplan points, a fantastic redemption.

Hot Tip:

It’s important to consider Aeroplan’s travel zones when it comes to award redemptions. Bangkok to Frankfurt costs 80,000 points, while Bangkok to Frankfurt to New York costs just 87,500 points. I added an 8-hour business class flight on Singapore Airlines for 7,500 more Aeroplan points. This is a great way to take full advantage of Aeroplan’s award chart.

Final Thoughts

Points and miles have completely changed the way I travel. As much as I enjoy traveling to new destinations, I enjoy flying there in a premium cabin just as much.

The first half of 2024 featured plenty of travel. I was able to try out a handful of new premium cabins and a few new airlines (one of which is my new favorite). I am looking forward to the rest of 2024, as I have incredible travel plans in the works.

Ehsan Haque's image

About Ehsan Haque

Ehsan is an avid traveler who has traveled to 100 countries, diligently using points and miles to fund his journeys. Currently, he holds 32 active credit cards and earns over a million points and miles annually, primarily using them for luxury hotels and long-haul premium cabins.

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