Redeem Miles For Star Alliance Business Class

In light of the massive impending United devaluation I wrote a post about the best ways to redeem United MileagePlus miles prior to the devaluation. With this devaluation it is premium cabins on partner airlines that are going up most in price, so those are probably the types of itineraries most are interested in booking prior to February 1, 2014.

In that post I shared some of the first class products most readily available on miles, and several of you asked for a follow up post about the most readily available Star Alliance business class products, so I figured I’d write a follow up posts with ideas on that.

So below I’ll share some of the most readily available Star Alliance business class products that are actually fairly aspirational and that you’d want to fly. Exact availability will of course vary depending on when you’re looking at traveling, but for those willing to plan in advance, here are some good options:

Air China Business Class Award Space

Air China’s new business class product is available on all their 777-300ER aircraft, and based on my recent flight from Paris to Beijing in it, is actually a really nice product.

Air_China_Business_Class_77705

In the US they fly the 777-300ER to Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, and award space is especially good out of Houston and Los Angeles. The Houston service isn’t daily, though has business class award space on virtually every flight, while the Los Angeles service is twice daily, and again there’s space on almost every flight.

AirChina-Business-Award-Space

AirChina-Business-Award-Space1

ANA Business Class Award Space

ANA business class award space is also readily available if planning in advance. ANA’s US 787 destinations include San Jose and Seattle, and both routes have spectacular business class award availability.

ANA-Business-Award-Space

ANA-Business-Award-Space1

ANA’s other US gateways include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington.

  • The Chicago service recently became twice daily, so award availability in business class is excellent on that route.
  • Meanwhile the New York service is twice daily as well, and award space is especially good on the later flight.
  • Just remember that the flights operated by the “77W” feature the new business class cabin, while flights operated by the “777” feature the old business class cabin. The later Chicago to Tokyo flight is operated by the “777,” so you’ll want to avoid that if possible.
  • The Washington to Tokyo flight is also often operated by the “777,” so you’ll want to avoid that as well.

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ANA-Business-Award-Space3

Asiana Business Class Award Space

Asiana’s new business class product (which deserves an award for the coolest name in the world — Quadra Smartium) is available on their aircraft designated as “77Ls” and “77Ws,” which fly from Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles and San Francisco. If booking in advance award space on these routes is phenomenal. Asiana has great service, a fantastic hard product, and excellent catering.

Asiana-Business-Award-Space1

Asiana-Business-Award-Space2

Asiana-Business-Award-Space3

Brussels Airlines Business Class Award Space

Brussels Airlines is a good option for transatlantic flights, and they offer a “staggered” business class configuration, whereby each row has a different configuration.

Brussels-Airlines-Business-Class

Brussels Airlines’ US destinations include New York and Washington. Award space isn’t especially good out of Washington, but is generally decent out of New York.

Brussels-Business-Award-Space

EVA Air Business Class Award Space

I’d say that the single Star Alliance airline with the most business class award space is EVA Air. They release an unreal amount of business class award space, and even have one of the best business class seats in the world, which is in a herringbone configuration. I’ve flown EVA Air longhaul to the US twice now, once from Taipei to San Francisco and another time from Taipei to Los Angeles, and enjoyed both flights immensely.

EVA_Air_Royal_Laurel_Class03

When booking EVA Air be sure to aim for a 777-300ER, as these planes feature their Royal Laurel Class, which is their reverse herringbone business class product. Their North American gateways on the 777-300ER include Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. You’ll generally want to avoid Seattle and Vancouver, as these routes are operated by 747s with their old business class product.

EVA-Business-Award-Space

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EVA-Business-Award-Space2

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LOT Business Class Award Space

Okay, full disclosure — my flight on LOT back in January left a LOT to be desired. But it was also operated by one of their ancient 767s. LOT now flies 787s with a new fully flat business class product on their North America bound flights to Chicago, New York, and Toronto.

LOT’s business class award space is fairly good out of all of their North America gateways, though the thing to keep in mind is that LOT award space doesn’t show up on united.com, so you’ll want to use the ANA tool to search for space on them. This is probably part of the reason award space on them is fairly good, since most people don’t know the space is there.

LOT-Business-Award-Space

LOT-Business-Award-Space1

Turkish Business Class Award Space

Turkish isn’t as great about releasing award space as they used to be, though with some effort it’s not too tough to snag space on them. They have many North America gateways, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Washington, and soon Boston and Montreal.

Turkish-Airlines-Business-Class

Generally business class award space is readily available on the Houston route, though a bit tougher to come by on the other flights. Most of their flights to the US are operated by aircraft with the new business class product.

Turkish-Business-Award-Space

Bottom line

If you’re looking to redeem United miles (or for that matter US Airways miles, especially for travel to North Asia) it’s not too late. While the premium for first class over business class is often only modest, the key advantage of booking business class is the sheer number of partner airlines with award space.

Comments

  1. IIRC OZ offers their new QS flatbed on both “77L” (777-200ER with no F) and “77W” (777-200ER with OZ F Suite)

  2. Have you ever seen the SAS (Scandanavian Airlines) Business Class? Is it a good product? I want to fly EWR to Stockholm next winter and was wondering what the business class is like. I see lots of availability.

  3. @ nathan — They’re pretty stingy with releasing space for most parts of the year, though not impossible to book space on them either. They have an angled business class product, so it’s not amazing.

  4. Seriously Ben. You are the man. Thanks for all the info. If it wasn’t for you, I’d just be sitting at home in my boxers, eating Cheerios and not flying.

  5. Thanks for the info on SAS. I’m trying to plan a trip to the laplands (Finland) to see the Northern Lights, and I’m wondering the best option for traveling to N. Europe. Maybe I should try Lufthansa to Frankfurt and transfer to Helsinki? Any information on Finnair’s product? (they have a direct flight from HEL to JFK. I know it’s OneWorld but I have those miles too.

  6. Lucky, Is the new chart for booking prior to Feb 1 or travel prior to Feb 1? When searching on United.com I see the new mileage requirements for travel after Feb 1, already.

  7. tried to find Brussels air flights on united site , showed none , called U A and they do have space — how do others search and find , I thought the U A site offered all star alliance partners —

  8. Wow. What a comprehensive post; one of your best IMO. My only objection to about 10% of the listed flights is the 0130 or similar departure times. I suppose someone has to use those slots and availability tends to be good, but crews, catering and even pax just don’t function a top level during those hours. On many essentially red-eye flights, the best of the catering, even in BC, is a cup of noodles and for price (points?) paid, that sucks. Otherwise, the seats are obviously out there and, given the pending devaluation(s), this is BURN time.

  9. Seems like space out of the west coast to Europe is generally harder to find. Any recommendations on better West Coast departure cities?

  10. Is it my imagination, or have you been producing a record number of posts the past couple weeks? Fantastic work. Thanks to you, I am a business class snob — wouldn’t think of booking something without a flat bed.

  11. @Lucky
    I am confused… you say you’d avoid ANA old biz… but when I asked specifically, you told me you would still want to fly ANA old F… is that correct? So the old F is acceptable but old J is not?
    Thank you.

  12. Lucky,

    How would you rate the Star Alliance business products? The SN and LX hard products appear really similar, and I can’t get a good read on the new LH product (upstairs on the 748). Your thoughts?

  13. @ Nathan — Finnair’s flight between New York and Helsinki alternates between their old business class and new business class, which is a staggered product. I’d generally avoid them if the flight is scheduled to be operated by the old product, which you can identify by the 2-2-2 configuration.

    If you can’t find space on SAS and want to do Star Alliance you can always route via other parts of Europe, like on LOT, Lufthansa, Brussels, etc.

  14. @ Stan — For what it’s worth both Brussels and LOT award space don’t typically show up on united.com, so you’ll want to use the ANA tool to search for space and then call United to book.

  15. @ Cook — Definitely a valid point. Maybe it’s just me, but I actually like flights that leave in the middle of the night. Allows me to spend the day on the ground and then just fall asleep on the plane when I’d otherwise go to bed, and that way I arrive relatively fresh.

  16. @ PL — Space from the west coast to Europe is indeed REALLY difficult. Best options are usually Lufthansa out of Seattle or Vancouver, but even on them space isn’t amazing.

  17. @ Antonio — Swiss is REALLY stingy with business class award space out of North America. It’s a bit better out of other regions, but still not good. I’d say of those airlines Turkish has the best catering and probably Swiss has the best seat.

  18. @ Dan — I’d probably say EVA is the best, followed by ANA and Asiana, followed by Air China, Turkish, Brussels, and LOT.

    Lufthansa’s business class on the 747-8 seems to be a fairly good hard product, though catering in Lufthansa business class is lacking somewhat.

  19. lucky,

    Have you looked at Turkish space on the new Boston-Istanbul route after it starts in May? Are award seats already loaded?

  20. Lucky since you know this stuff in your sleep, maybe you can save me a few hours. If I want to use one of these routes as a stop on the way to Bali, what is the most direct route out of LAX? Thanks

  21. Lucky,
    Could you assist me with your expert knowledge on what is the difference between a 74H and a 744 aircraft in regards to Business class seats and seating arrangement. Looking to fly LH next year ORD – FRA.
    THANKS a bunch

  22. Great post!!! What about South African airways and Ethiopian though? Are they fairly generous with their award space? From my own experience, it’s rare to see Ethiopian business class seats available on their 787.

  23. i could swear I’ve once seen LOT award inventory shown on United.com before. are you sure its not visited on United.com?

  24. Lucky, please remind me again regarding the Dividend Miles award to North Asia. Is it difficult to get them to route you via Europe and is it one stopover round trip or each way? And one can route via Europe but still return via the Pacific like an around the world journey, correct?

  25. Lucky,

    Just wondering if it was you, what airlines would you take from AKL-LHR, first class also included.

    Cheers

  26. I was hoping to find some options like you described in this post to get me from Asia one-way to the US in Mid Jan and I am not finding anything at all. I have even tried to isolate the Asia to US segment directly, like going ICN or TPE or NRT to SFO or ORD or LAX and it almost always puts me on United metal. The only times it doesn’t are on segments that are mixed class (paying business class rates to be on a 15 segment to London!) or occasionally the specific flights you mention to avoid, such as ANA’s 777, EVA to Seattle, or AirChina’s older models. Am I just too close in for this? Should I be using a different engine than United to search? Sorry for all the questions lately.

  27. I have what is probably a silly question….if I want to book ANA business with UA miles, I only occasionally see ANA flights pop up as options on the UA site-if I see availabily on the ANA site, would I just call UA? Thanks, Ben!

  28. @ Joey — South African is rather stingy generally, while Ethiopian does release a fair bit of award space, though since their product isn’t fully flat I left them out. But definitely some benefit in using them given the destinations they fly to.

  29. @ Carl — Nope, quite easy, and you can do a stopover in one direction in Europe. You can absolutely go via the Pacific in the other direction.

  30. @ George — It’s a tough city pair, but in first class maybe Thai Airways through Frankfurt on the A380, though the connection from Bangkok to Auckland would have to be in business class since the aircraft doesn’t have a first class cabin.

  31. @ TimmyD — You shouldn’t have that much trouble finding space for mid-January. I’d suggest using the ANA website and searching route by route. Take a look at space on EVA in particular.

  32. @ Ben, just to say thank you. My travel life has changed since I discovered your site 6 months ago. And you haven’t stopped releasing precious information since then. Live long and prosper, Lucky.

  33. Is doing open jaw at stopover allowed? I am trying to book Japan-North America RT with Europe stopover like this:
    NRT-TPE-CDG (stopover and open jaw)
    LHR-YYZ (destination)
    YYZ-ORD-NRT
    Thank you so much for the great post and answering the comments!

  34. @ Heta — In that example you’d have to make Asia your destination and Europe your stopover. You could have a stopover in Europe but not an open jaw, as the open jaw has to be at your turnaround point, which in this case is Asia (since it’s the furthest point in your journey).

    Hope that makes sense and let me know if you have any other questions!

  35. Thank you so much for the reply!
    I’m a bit confused as this trip is departing from NRT. I’m booking this for my parents.

    Would simply eliminating the open jaw make the routing valid?

    NRT-TPE-CDG (stopover)
    CDG-YYZ (destination)
    YYZ-ORD-NRT

  36. @ Heta — Sorry about that, slightly misspoke above. Yes, eliminating the open jaw in Paris would do the trick. That routing would be legal.

  37. my 2 cents on SAS in Business Class – NOT worth it – seats are uncomfortable, onboard service on longhaul (IME) was only so-so, and the lounge at CPH was dire – my only Finnair flights to date have been short intra-European ones, but I was impressed with their onboard service and with the lounge at HEL (and this was 2 years ago so I’ve heard it’s now even better)

  38. Lucky – in your experience, does US Airways allow standby on their award tickets? My gateway airport is IAD and on that day there are no award flights home. If I include a segment departing the following day within 24 hours, will they allow me to standby on an earlier flight from IAD/DCA?

    Also, does US open up award seats if there aren’t any left? (I’ve had this happen with an AA award ticket where i got a super nice agent who offered to check and got approval to do that.)

  39. Great Post!!!!

    I was wondering when do usually Turkish Airlines release award availability for instance the route between JFK-IST I am trying to book a ticket on March 2014 and there is not space yet.

    Another question, will this route be legal using US Dividend Miles?
    PTY-JFK CM
    JFK-IST TK
    IST-SIN SQ
    SIN-CAN SQ (Destination)

    BKK-MUC LH (Open-Jaw in Bangkok)
    MUC-JFK LH
    JFK-PTY CM

  40. @ LRH — Turkish is pretty stingy nowadays on JFK-IST and doesn’t seem to release space with any particular schedule. They do release space when the schedule opens sometimes, but after that it’s usually within a month or so of departure when they open up more space.

  41. hey lucky, who would you recommend using united miles in biz class for an evening flight from hong kong to new york, one way, on march 30th of this coming year? i keep looking and only see early morning flights without business class availability… thanks!

  42. @ Raymond G. — You might have to wait for award space to open up. As the departure date approaches more space opens up, so if there’s only something in the morning as of now, maybe closer to departure something will open up in the evening.

  43. when I try to book LHR-JFK on the A.A. sight no matter what the date is , I can not find a none stop –I get the feeling that I am on the BA site as you will find only BA FLIGHTS — unless you want to spend 100k for a biz one way on A.A.

    I have also found that A.A. even charges a higher YQ than BA for same flights

    a.a. almost makes Delta look good — in fact– they do!!

  44. Great post! What website are the screen captures that show availability taken from? Is there one website where one can check availability for all these different airlines?

    Thanks!

  45. Lucky you write some great post’s , I wonder if peopel have any idea how long it takes to a post like this

    Plus!! you reply ( 33 times )to every question and your not stingy with your reply
    THANK YOU

  46. Is this a legal routing on UA? Their fare rules say 1 stopover & 2 open jaws.

    CLT-BKK (s/o with open jaw)
    HKT-HKG (destination w/ open jaw)
    MFM-CLT

  47. @ Eric — The open jaw has to be at the turnaround point, meaning you could have one open jaw on the front end and one on the tail end. So you couldn’t do two open jaws in Asia unfortunately.

  48. Hi Lucky,

    Any preference between Brussels or Turkish biz class? I have IST-IAD and BRU-IAD reserved w/23 hrs in the city I choose, but don’t know what to do. I’m leaning towards IST so I can experience the TK lounge. Any things to consider to help make my decision?

    Thanks!

  49. @ amelie — That’s a toughie, they’re both solid. I’d probably give Turkish the slight edge due to the food and departure lounge in Istanbul, which is spectacular. But you really can’t go wrong either way.

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