First Class (HK to Rome) – Cheaper with AAdvantage miles

While trawling through the web for online deals for flights, I came across American Airline’s Buy Miles deal where for purchase of 100k miles, you get a 35k miles bonus and also a 10% discount on the cost, so is it worth buying for people who are based in Hong Kong?

AA Miles Deal

As a OneWorld partner, AAdvantage program allows for flight redemption on OneWorld airlines, given that I make at least 2 personal long haul holidays a year  (one back home to Sydney and one to UK/Europe for a much needed holiday) and given that this year will be UK, I was exploring for tickets to Rome for 2016.

I’ve already spoken about how I prefer to use my AsiaMiles for Companion Tickets. But turns out that buying AAdvantage miles could also be quite a good deal, especially for British Airways First Class from HK to Rome. Lets do the maths:

To start off with, First Class redemption from HK to Rome will set you back 140k Miles return. So under the Bonus 35,000 miles + 10% deal, 140k miles will cost you 2,787.75USD (which is about 21.6k HKD – good thing HKD is pegged to USD):

140k miles for 21.6k HKD
140k miles for 21.6k HKD

This equates to about a cost of 0.155 HKD per miles, which isn’t super cheap, but definitely not regarded as expensive!

In terms of searching for whether there are available flights, I actually quite like the AAdvantage search site because it lets you look for availability on the calendar, I was checking out flights in June 2016, so you can select by Economy/Business/First:

AAdvantage's Calendar search tool - note that miles quote is for 1 leg
AAdvantage’s Calendar search tool – note that miles quote is for 1 leg

As always, finding award flights is easier when you’ve got some flexibility in the dates you can travel – so once you’ve selected the dates that work, you are taken to the flight selection screen – with multiple selections for BA:

Can select the flights that suits - BA only operates business between LON and Rome
Can select the flights that suits – BA only operates business between LON and Rome

Don’t forget, as with most award flights, you are also required to pay the taxes, which will be shown at the end:

681USD extra for taxes
681USD extra for taxes

All up, it’ll mean that First Class return tickets from Hong Kong to Rome via BA will cost you 3,469 USD (2,788USD for the miles and 681USD of Taxes or 26.9k HKD all up).

How does this compared to just buying the ticket via BA?

Return BA for the same flight would be 68k HKD
Return First Class BA for the same flight would be 68k HKD

Whilst Return Business Class on BA:

Return Business on BA is just under 38k HKD
Return Business on BA is just under 38k HKD

So with a bit of effort, you can be in pointy end at a price lower than business class. I checked and HK to LON is also 140k miles (you’re effectively getting the LON to Rome leg for free when you redeem miles) – this definitely makes it a lot cheaper than using companion tickets for First on Cathay (which was about 80k HKD).

What’s the catch? Well there are a few that I can see:

  • Obviously, if you HAVE to travel on certain days, then sometimes buying a ticket is always the only thing you can do.
  • AAdvantage miles purchase deals varies, at one stage this year you can buy miles at up to 60% bonus (note that you can only buy up to 125k miles every calendar year – bonuses aren’t counted)
  • To be eligible to buy miles, you need to be an AAdvantage member for over 30 days – so get prepared and just register first (it’s free), you can do it here: Join AAdvantage
  • Despite potentially getting the tickets for cheaper – unless you actually have a plan to go somewhere, I wouldn’t just buy miles for fun, because AA can always just change the redemption schemes and costs

So whilst there are some “Conditions”, they are by no means difficult to work around – obviously, it’s not one size fits all, and you can always use the bought miles as an alternative to cheaper business tickets.

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