I get questions almost every day asking what I consider to be the best value business class options for award tickets.
For the most part, I tend to think the best use of your miles is the one that gets you where you want to go in relative comfort, and ideally without exorbitant costs, so there are no “absolute” best redemptions.
But there are some really, really, good deals, and there are definitely ways to use your miles that will get you more “value” than others.
It’s also worth noting that in many cases the premium for first class over business class is quite low, and if you’re looking for straight “value” that’s nearly always going to be higher in first class. However, when it comes to capacity and availability there is always going to be more of both in business class, and I recognize many people are looking for awards for multiple people, in which case business class is often of greater interest.
That’s a long-winded way of saying that I’m sure I’m going to take a lot of flak for what is or isn’t included in this list 😉
With that out of the way, here are nine of the best business class awards for your miles, as I see it:
#1 | 60,000 American AAdvantage miles – Roundtrip between North America and Central/South America Zone 1
Why I Like This Award: Most programs charge around 100,000 miles for round-trip business class tickets to anywhere in South America. Because American includes “northern” South America along with their Central American region, you can visit Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, or Venezuela for just 30,000 miles one-way.
#2 | 90,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles – Roundtrip between North America and most of Europe
Why I Like This Award: Getting to Europe in business class for less than 50,000 miles each way is a bargain. Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance, which has over 100 flights per day between North America and Europe, so if you’re willing to be creative with your routing this is a great way to find award space to Europe. Aeroplan also allows two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw, which can be a great way to visit multiple destinations as well.
Tip: Aeroplan does not impose fuel surcharges for travel on Brussels, Scandinavian, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, or United, and the fuel surcharges on LOT are really low, so look for space on one of those carriers to reduce the cost of your award ticket.
Earn Miles With: American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest
#3 | 85,000 Japan Airlines MileageBank miles – Roundtrip between New York and Dubai (75,000 Starpoints)
Why I Like This Award: Japan Airlines is transfer partners with Starwood Preferred Guest, and has a distance based award chart for travel on Emirates. They charge just 85,000 miles for up to 14,000 miles of travel on Emirates in business class. As luck would have it, roundtrip travel between New York and Dubai is ~13,750 miles.
So for just 85,000 miles you could fly Emirates’ flat bed business class roundtrip between the US and Dubai.
Tip: Keep in mind that Starpoints transfer to Japan Airlines at a 1:1 ratio, and for every 20,000 points transferred you get a 5,000 point bonus. That means you really only need 70,000 Starpoints for this trip.
Earn Miles With: Starwood Preferred Guest
#4 | 60,000 American AAdvantage AAdvantage miles – Roundtrip between Europe and the Middle East
Why I Like This Award: There are some phenomenal business class products flying between Europe and the Middle East, and American partners with many of them. Being able to redeem miles on nearly a dozen partner airlines means availability is good as well.
#5 | 30,000 US Airways Dividend Miles – Roundtrip within South America
Why I Like This Award: Although the fine folk at US Airways may not be exceptionally good at geography, they do correctly identify Easter Island as part of Chile, unlike American which considers IPC to be in the South Pacific.
#6 | 97,750 Singapore KrisFlyer miles – Roundtrip between New York/Frankfurt or Houston/Moscow
Why I Like This Award: Singapore has a phenomenal business class product, and as they don’t open up most premium cabin space to their partner airlines, availability is generally fantastic. Singapore also offers a 15% discount on their own awards when booking online, so while you will pay ~$400 in fuel surcharges for the roundtrip, this is still a good overall value.
Tip: Don’t rely on the “waitlist” clearing – look for flights that show “available.”
Earn Miles With: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, Citi ThankYou
#7 | 125,000 Delta SkyMiles – Roundtrip between North America and Morocco or Tunisia
Why I Like This Award: It feels dirty including any SkyMiles award in a best value list, but this is truthfully a good value. Availability is generally good on partner airlines like Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia, and you can even find space on Air France and KLM if you’re planning 11 months out. SkyMiles allows both an open jaw and a stopover on award tickets, so you can add in a European city for no additional miles.
#8 | 110,000 US Airways Dividend Miles – Roundtrip between North America and Australia
Why I Like This Award: US Airways has generous routing rules, so you can generally route to Australia via Asia, or potentially even Europe or the Middle East if you can keep the number of segments down. This makes a tough destination like Australia more realistic when using miles, but plan on a more creative, rather than more direct, routing.
Tip: When it comes to US Airways, it’s especially important to be nice, and prepare to hang up and call again (repeatedly).
Earn Miles With: Starwood Preferred Guest, US Airways Mastercard, or purchase during promos
#9 | 125,000 Alaska Air Miles – Cathay Pacific Business Class from North America to Africa/India/Middle East
Why I Like This Award: Cathay Pacific has one of the best business class products in the sky, and redeeming through Alaska Mileage Plan is a simply phenomenal value. South Africa and India are incredibly popular destinations, and many programs insist on a transatlantic routing, so this is particularly convenient for West coast travelers.
Anyways, those are a few of what I think are the best business class award tickets out there right now.
What do you think? What are your favorite business class awards?