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How To: Make the Most of Your Air Miles

Whether you’re a seasoned local or a fresh transplant, if you’re based in Hong Kong, you’re likely to be doing your fair share of travelling. From short-haul trips to trans-Atlantic flights, those frequent flyer miles will be racking up. Flight redemptions might sound like the stuff of urban legend, but if you play your points right, you could transform your tier points into a trip on the house …


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Choose Your Allegiance

If you’re going to make the most of your miles, picking a programme and sticking with it is your best bet. Points are great for redeeming flights, but the real perks are when you rise up the ranks and become a card-carrying member of the tier programmes – think lounge passes, priority boarding, and improved chances of the all-important upgrade! Not sure where to begin? These are some of the most popular frequent flyer programmes.

Star Alliance

Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and Thai Airways

One World

British Airways, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Malaysia Airlines, and Finnair

Sky Team

Air France, Delta, KLM, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, China Southern

Independents

Emirates and Etihad have standalone frequent flyer programmes. Virgin Atlantic also partners with Delta, Singapore Airlines, and Air New Zealand (among other airlines) for earning miles.


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How To Reap Your Rewards

Each airline has its own mileage ‘currency’, though they can be spent on partner airlines through the loyalty programmes above.

Asia Miles

Asia Miles are the Cathay Pacific mileage currency, though they can be collected and spent by travelling with any of the airline’s One World partners. They can also be earned and used to redeem services through spending on American Express and certain credit cards, as well as loyalty programmes with hotel chains, car rental services, and a select number of restaurants. You can even earn them by travelling on the Airport Express!
$2 = 1 Asia Mile on food and drink
$1 HSBC Rewards Cash = 10 Asia Miles
Flight redemption cost from Hong Kong to London Heathrow = 60,000 Asia Miles in Economy or 120,000 Asia Miles in Business

Avios

Avios is Asia Miles’ largest competitor in Hong Kong. A global currency, Avios is affiliated with British Airways (and its One World partner airlines) as well as Avis car rentals and the Marriott hotel group, among others. Certain premier Hong Kong credit cards allow you to convert your spending rewards into Avios, while Dah Sing Bank offers a dedicated British Airways Platinum card.
Flight redemption cost from Hong Kong to London Heathrow = 19,500 – 30,000 Avios in Economy or 75,000 – 90,000 Avios in Business

KrisFlyer Miles

As a member of the Star Alliance group, Singapore Airlines’ currency, KrisFlyer Miles, can be earned and spent on any number of Star Alliance carriers, as well as a number of hotels and car rental companies. Those holding credit cards with Singaporean, Malaysian, or Indonesian banks may also be entitled to additional miles.
Flight redemption cost from Hong Kong to Singapore = 15,000 KrisFlyer Miles in Economy or 27,500 KrisFlyer Miles in Business

Delta SkyMiles

If you fly to America frequently, you’re best booking flights with the airline that covers your home turf. Delta SkyMiles can be earned and spent on Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Air France, and Vietnam Airlines, among others. They can also be earned through hotel bookings and car leases, as well as in retail stores across America. There is currently no Hong Kong-based credit card linked to SkyMiles.
Flight redemption cost from Hong Kong to Seattle = 115,000 SkyMiles in Economy or 280,000 SkyMiles in Business

Emirates Skywards

If you’re not against a connecting flight, Emirates European routes are a great alternative, offering comparatively cheaper airfares and convenient flight times. While Skywards miles can’t be used on other airlines, the programme is linked to several hotels, car rental firms, and American Express credit cards.
Flight redemption cost from Hong Kong to London Heathrow = 75,000 to 130,000 in Economy or 150,000 – 207,500 in Business


Read more! Check out our Jetlag 101 Survival Guide, and find out more in our Travel section.

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