Part III – Getting To Asia Using TYPs

As I mentioned in the Introduction Post, Citi ThankYou Points (much like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points) are great points to stockpile because they are so versatile. Of the three, Citi ThankYou Points are probably the easiest to accrue, so they can be extremely useful for getting you to Asia!

Introduction – Getting To Asia Using Your MRs, URs or TYPs
Part I – Getting To Asia Using Your MRs
Part II – Getting To Asia Using Your URs
Part III – Getting To Asia Using Your TYPs

Citi offers a few cards that earn ThankYou Points, including their ThankYou Premier card (which gets a lot of my daily spend due to the great category bonuses for travel and gas). Citi offers a few other card options that earn TYPs, so I highly encourage you to head over to Citi’s website and check out the options.

Now that you know how to earn the TYPs, the more complicated process is how to use those hard earned TYPs to get you to Asia! Your TYPs will transfer to 12 different airlines across all 3 major airline alliances. Those airlines include:

AirlineAllianceTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Air France/KLMSkyTeam1:1Up to 2 days
Garuda IndonesiaSkyTeam1:1Up to 2 days
Cathay PacificOneWorld1:1Same day
Malaysia AirlinesOneWorld1:12-14 days+
QantasOneWorld1:1Up to 2 days
QatarOneWorld1:1Up to 2 days
Eva AirStar Alliance1:1Up to 2 days
Singapore AirlinesStar Alliance1:1Up to 2 days
Thai AirwaysStar Alliance1:1Up to 4 days
EtihadN/A1:1Up to 6 days
Virgin AtlanticN/A1:1Up to 2 days
Virgin AmericaN/A1:0.5Up to 2 days

As I said before, the transfer times are just an approximation based upon data points I could find (as well as personal experiences), but it is important to be cognizant of these transfer times when you are planning your award booking(s).

Also keep in mind that you should always be looking at the paid ticket prices for tickets through the Citi TYP portal – especially if you are looking to fly economy class – as your TYPs can be redeemed towards a paid ticket.

Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to Asia on your TYPs, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since Cathay Pacific operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the West Coast may be lower than the cost for someone traveling from the East Coast. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into Hong Kong (HKG).

Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)

Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program called FlyingBlue. Since FlyingBlue is a SkyTeam alliance member, you can redeem FlyingBlue miles for travel on Delta, Korean Air, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern and Vietnam Airlines flights. FlyingBlue can be finicky to work with, but they offer some very good value for flights to Asia since their network is so large and established in the region. Roundtrip award tickets in coach will cost you 80k miles; in premium economy will cost you 160k miles; and in business class will cost you 200k miles.

One-way award tickets are allowed at 40k in coach, 80k miles in premium economy and 100k miles in business, but no stopovers are allowed.

The FlyingBlue award ticket prices seem to be in line with the majority of the other TYP transfer partners, so this is a good option to expand possibilities, but you will not be getting “the best” deal.

Garuda Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia’s GarudaMiles program uses a distance based award chart, so your redemption cost will depend on your home airport. Garuda Indonesia is part of the SkyTeam alliance which means you can redeem your GarudaMiles for Delta, Korean Air, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Vietnam Airlines and Garuda Indonesia flights.

From the East Coast of the U.S. (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~115k miles for coach and ~200k miles for business class.

From the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~105k miles for coach and ~190k miles for business class.

Although the redemption rates may not be horrible, the process for obtaining your award ticket is probably the worst I have ever seen. First you need to call the Garuda Indonesia call center at 021.2351.9999 to place your award ticket on hold. Then you need to download and complete an award ticket application form which you must take to a Garuda Indonesia sales office, in person, and then go back to the ticket office, in person, to claim your award ticket. So how many sales offices does Garuda Indonesia have in the US? Four. Yes, you read that right. Four. Encino, California, Chicago, Houston and New York.

In short, avoid Garuda Indonesia like the plague for award tickets unless you happen to live in or very near Encino, Chicago, Houston or New York and do not mind doing a ton of legwork.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and American Airlines flights to Asia.

From the U.S., you can expect a cost of 90k miles roundtrip in coach, 108k miles roundtrip in premium economy, 145k miles roundtrip in business and 220k miles roundtrip in first.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the rates of: 55k miles in coach, 66k in premium economy, 85k miles in business and 130k in first.

What is wild though is the Asia Miles program allows you to make up to 5 stopovers, 2 transfers and 2 open-jaws at either the origin, en-route or at the turnaround point (destination)! That means you could put together an itinerary where you hop all over Asia, in business class, for only 145k miles total from the US! Depending on how you routed yourself, that could offer some truly exceptional value!

If you can get the stopovers and open-jaws to work for your itinerary, Asia Miles should be a top contender for you to transfer your TYPs to for your Asian vacation. If you will not be utilizing the stopovers, then I would say there are better options out there for your TYPs.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Malaysia Airlines is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Enrich miles to book Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and American Airlines flights to Asia.

Malaysia Airlines is another airline that uses a separate award chart for redemptions on their own flights and partner redemptions. As there are no Malaysian Airlines flights from the U.S., you will redeem according to the partner award chart.

From the East Coast of the U.S. (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~96k miles for coach, ~144k miles for business class and ~204k miles for first class.

From the West Coast of the U.S. (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~72k miles for coach, ~132k miles for business class and ~192k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates.

While the redemption rates are actually generally not horrible, there have been a lot of reports of people experiencing issues when transferring their TYPs to the Enrich program. I would generally steer clear of transferring your TYPs to the Enrich program until Malaysia Airlines gets their IT department up to speed and fixes these issues.

Qantas

Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qantas is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qmiles to book Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and American Airlines flights to Asia.

From the U.S. (JFK/ORD/DFW/LAX/SFO as they all fall into Zone 5) to Hong Kong (HKG), you can expect a roundtrip cost of ~85k miles for coach, 127.5k miles for premium economy, ~170k miles for business class and ~255k miles for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. Remember that you will be charged for carrier imposed surcharges, which should not be very much on Cathay Pacific/JAL/American flights.

Qantas’ redemption costs are fairly high (more so for premium cabins), so unless you have a glut of Qantas miles that you want to burn, you are better off transferring your TYPs elsewhere for a redemption to Asia as the Qantas redemptions rates are not very good.

Qatar

Qatar’s Qmiles program uses a distance based award chart, so this is another airline that will depend on your home airport for redemption costs. Qatar is a member of the OneWorld alliance, so you can use your Qmiles to book Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and American Airlines flights to Asia.

From the East Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~75k miles roundtrip for coach, ~112.5k miles roundtrip for premium economy, ~150k miles roundtrip for business class and ~225k miles roundtrip for first class.

From the West Coast of the US, you can expect a cost of ~85k miles roundtrip for coach, ~127.5k miles roundtrip for premium economy, ~170k miles roundtrip for business class and ~255k miles roundtrip for first class.

One-way award tickets are allowed at the half price of the above quoted rates. Again, and as with Qantas, unless you are based out of the East Coast, can get to the East Coast inexpensively, or have a glut of Qmiles you want to burn, you are better off transferring your TYPs elsewhere for a redemption to Asia.

EVA Air

EVA Air is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Infinity miles for Air Canada, United, Air China, ANA, Asiana, Eva Air, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways flights to Asia. In other words, you are going to have a ton of options!

EVA Air is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for EVA Air redemptions and for partner awards. The EVA Air specific award chart lists Asia in its entirety. A roundtrip redemption will cost you 110k miles for economy, 120k miles for premium economy and 160k miles for business class.

The partner specific award chart on the other hand breaks Asia into 6 regions. Those regions are comprised of the following countries/cities:

  • Taiwan – Taiwan (surprise!)
  • Hong Kong/Macau – Hong Kong & Macau (who would have thought!)
  • China – China (ok, we get it)
  • North Asia – Guam, Japan, Micronesia, Palau, Russian Far East, South Korea, Marshall Islands, Mongolia & Saipan
  • South East Asia – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand & Vietnam
  • Central, South Asia – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan

A roundtrip redemption between the U.S. and Taiwan, Hong Kong/Macau, China or North Asia will cost you 115k miles for coach, 175k miles for business class and 210k miles for first class.

A roundtrip redemption between the U.S. and South East Asia will cost you 120k miles for coach, 195k miles for business and 225k miles for first class.

A roundtrip redemption between the U.S. and Central, South Asia will cost you 120k miles for coach, 195k miles for business and 290k miles for first class.

EVA Air requires that you make your Star Alliance award ticket booking through their reservation office. With that said, considering that Singapore Airlines has access to most of the same Star Alliance award space that EVA Air has, you are better offer transferring your TYPs to Singapore Airlines for a coach or first class redemption. If you are looking for a business class award ticket, you are better off transferring your TYPs to EVA instead of Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Kris Flyer miles for Air Canada, United, Air China, ANA, Asiana, Eva Air, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways flights to Asia. Again, in other words, you are going to have a ton of options!

Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards. The Singapore Airlines specific chart breaks Asia into 7 zones which are comprised of the following countries:

  • Zone 1 – Singapore
  • Zone 2 – Malaysia, Indonesia & Brunei
  • Zone 3 – Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar & Cambodia
  • Zone 4 – South China, Hong Kong & Taiwan
  • Zone 5 – North China (Beijing & Shanghai)
  • Zone 6 – South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Maldives & Bangladesh)
  • Zone 7 – Japan & South Korea

There are simply too many combinations and options for me to address all of the rates here, however you can easily find your redemption cost using this chart provided by Singapore Airlines. You can expect roundtrip prices of around 70k miles for economy, 160k miles for business class and 220k miles for first class. Keep in mind those rates are for one-way tickets at the saver rate and do not factor in the 15% discount you would receive from booking your award ticket online.

The partner specific award chart on the other hand breaks Asia into 4 regions. Those regions are comprised of the following countries:

  • South East Asia 1 – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore
  • South East Asia 2 – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand & Vietnam
  • North Asia 1 – Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan
  • North Asia 2 – China, Guam, Japan, Micronesia, Palau, Russia Far East & South Korea

For roundtrip flights to/from the U.S. and South East Asia 1, it will cost you 110k miles for economy, 195k miles for business and 225k miles for first.

For roundtrip flights to/from the U.S. and South East Asia 2, it will cost you 110k miles for economy, 195k miles for business and 225k miles for first.

For roundtrip flights to/from the U.S. and North Asia 1, it will cost you 90k miles for economy, 175k miles for business and 200k miles for first.

For roundtrip flights to/from the U.S. and North Asia 2, it will cost you 90k miles for economy, 175k miles for business and 200k miles for first.

If you are looking to fly from one of Singapore’s few U.S. destinations, Singapore Airlines is a program worth looking into. However, if you are looking to fly on a Star Alliance partner or want a connecting flight from your home airport included in your award price, then there are much better redemptions to be had elsewhere.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your Royal Orchid Plus miles for Air Canada, United, Air China, ANA, Asiana, Eva Air, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways flights to Asia. In other words, you are going to have a ton of options!

Thai Airways is another airline that uses a separate award chart for redemptions on their own flights and partner redemptions. As there are no Thai Airways flights from the U.S., you will redeem according to the partner award chart.

A roundtrip redemption will cost you ~110k miles for coach, ~192k miles for business class and ~264k miles for first class.

Keep in mind that Thai Airways charges fuel surcharges as well on award tickets, and from all reports I have seen, they are exorbitant. Considering that Singapore Airlines and EVA should both have access to most of the same Star Alliance award space that Thai Airways has access to, you are better offer transferring your TYPs to Singapore Airlines or EVA (if you want a business class award ticket) for this redemption unless you have a huge stash of Royal Orchid Plus miles that you are looking to burn and you do not mind paying exorbitant surcharges.

Etihad

Although Etihad is not a part of any major airline alliance, they do have several strategic partnerships with airlines such as ANA, Asiana, Garuda Indonesia, Hainan, Korean Air and Philippine Airlines. The award charts for all of these airlines are distance based, so I would recommend that you go to Etihad’s respective partner pages and to determine your mileage redemption rates.

For reference though, most of your flights are going to run well over 50k miles for a coach award ticket, so I would strongly recommend you look elsewhere to transfer your TYPs for an Asia trip.

You can also book American Airlines saver level award flights with your Guest Miles. Like AA, Etihad uses a peak/off peak system for economy award tickets. Off-peak dates between the U.S. and Asia 1 are October 1 – April 30. Roundtrip economy redemptions will cost you 50k miles off-peak and 65k miles during peak times to Asia 1, while business class will cost 100k miles and first class will cost 125k miles. There are no off-peak dates for Asia 2, so roundtrip economy redemptions will cost you 70k miles, while business class will cost you 110k miles and first class will cost you 135k miles. These award rates mirror the pre-devaluation AA award chart, so this could present a nice and reasonably priced option if you do not mind flying on AA metal across the pond.

To redeem for any partner awards you have to contact the Etihad service center at 888-8ETIHAD at least 14 days prior to the intended date of travel.

Virgin America

Virgin America operates out of a very small market in the U.S., but they do partner with Singapore Airlines for award tickets to Asia. The downside is you will need to get to either Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) on your own and even when you get there, your destination options are limited to Hong Kong (HKG) and Tokyo Narita (NRT). That said, the taxes and carrier imposed fees are not very high like redemptions with Virgin America partners usually are.

From either Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) or Tokyo Narita (NRT) you are looking at 40k points for economy, 95k points for business and 130k points for first (all roundtrip). Your taxes and fees will be approximately $40 on a roundtrip, which is extremely reasonable!

Virgin America also allows for one-way award tickets, but the miles rates are slightly more than half of the roundtrip cost.

Although the mileage redemption rates are quite good, it is important to remember that your TYPs will transfer to Virgin America at a 1:0.5 ratio, so the redemption costs will actually cost you double the amount of TYPs. When you take this fact into account, this makes Virgin America one the worst TYP transfer partners for award tickets to Asia and I would highly recommend you avoid this option unless you are just looking to top off your Elevate account and are going to and from their only 2 origins/destinations.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic also operates out of a very small market in the U.S., but they do partner with Singapore Airlines, ANA and Delta for award tickets to Asia. The downsides to this program are numerous including: a) you cannot redeem for business or first class on Singapore Airlines flights; b) the destinations offered are limited to Hong Kong (HKG), Shanghai (PVG) and Tokyo (NRT); and c) and the taxes and carrier imposed fees are outrageously high.

For example, from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG), a roundtrip award ticket will cost you 92.5k miles + ~$1,200-1,450 in taxes and fess for coach, 150k miles + ~$1,500-1,800 in taxes and fees for premium economy and 220k miles + ~$1,900-2,500 (!!) in taxes and fees for upper class (business class).

Although the mileage redemption rates (ignoring the outrageous taxes and fees) are actually not horrible, the astronomical taxes and fees makes Virgin Atlantic the single worst TYP transfer partner for award tickets to Asia in my opinion. The taxes and fees on a coach ticket to Hong Kong are enough for 2-4 round trips given the fare sales that have been going on lately from the U.S. I would strongly recommend you avoid this option at all costs unless you literally have no other option.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the TYP transfer partners offer a lot of options for finding award availability to Asia. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your TYPs for a trip to Asia!

What is your favorite way to redeem TYPs to get to Asia?

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