The Business Class Award Flights to Asia You Can Always Get Because No One Is Competing With You For Them

I attended a talk by a legendary fundraiser, probably 15 years ago, where he told a story about not going to visit with the wealthiest donor in a state. When making a trip to Arkansas everyone assumed they knew he was going to see the Waltons of Wal-Mart but he explained, ‘the line’s too long.’

One of the reasons I’ve loved redeeming Chase points for Korean Air first class, American miles for Etihad first class, and Alaska miles for Emirates first class, is that in those cases there are relatively few programs able to redeem for the seats. Etihad and Emirates aren’t part of global alliances, and Korean’s Skyteam partner Delta doesn’t allow redemptions for first class.

In other words, the line is shorter.

One of the shortest lines in award redemption is for Philippine Airlines business class.

Philippine Airlines Is Growing Its North America Presence

Philippine Airlines flies:

  • Manila – Vancouver daily
  • Manila – San Francisco daily (plus a second flight once a week)
  • Manila – Los Angeles daily (plus a second flight four times a week)

Starting March 15 Philippine Airlines will be flying New York – Vancouver – Manila.

They’re Devaluing Their Own Miles Program, But are Still Reasonable

Philippine Airlines has devalued its Mabuhay Miles program without notice.

Despite changes, their award chart is actually surprisingly reasonable. Though upgrades are nearly as expensive as business class awards, the cost of Los Angeles and San Francisco – Manila in business is just 55,000 miles each way.

You Can Access These Flights With Points You Probably Have

Availability is amazing. And there are two basic ways for most US-based members to redeem for their flights: transfers of Citi ThankYou points to Etihad, or a much better value transfers of either American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to ANA.

Taking the Vancouver or San Francisco non-stops is less than 14,000 miles roundtrip so a business class award would cost just 90,000 miles. Taking the Los Angeles flight roundtrip would be 105,000 miles in business class. And you could tack additional flying beyond Manila on Philippine Airlines – as long as you stay under 18,000 total miles flown – for that same 105,000 miles.

Starting in mid-April ANA will be moving to a zone- or region-based award chart. Under this chart South Asia roundtrip in business class will cost 110,000 miles. ANA does add fuel surcharges to award tickets.

Finding Award Seats

Philippine Airlines awards can’t be searched for online that I’m aware of, so you have to call. Even the Philippine Airlines website does not have online award search for the carrier’s seats — their members actually have to issue tickets in person! Fortunately ANA and Etihad have no such constraint.

Conveniently, the Philippines has outlawed fuel surcharges for itineraries originating there.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Reaching Guam on award tickets from the US the primary options are Delta and United. Delta has typical gouge-pricing. United has better availability, mostly in economy, both with quick routes through Honolulu and Tokyo, and the longer Micronesia Island Hopper between Honolulu and Guam. Several South Korean budget carriers fly to Guam, as does Philippine Airlines, which can be booked using several point currencies. […]


  1. Hopefully this was suppose to say No such constraint 🙂

    Philippine Airlines awards can’t be searched for online that I’m aware of, so you have to call. Even the Philippine Airlines website does not have online award search for the carrier’s seats — their members actually have to issue tickets in person! Fortunately ANA and Etihad have so such constraint.

  2. Can you provide a ballpark figure of what you’d expect to pay on fuel surcharges on a typical round-trip to asia using ANA miles on Philippine airlines??

  3. ~ $440 for a roundtrip booked from the US. But if you hack a one-way originating in MNL there’s no fuel surcharges… (Book MNL-LAX/BKK-MNL for instance)

  4. Will they have rights to fly passengers btwn YVR and NYC like the 5th freedom route of CX? Or is it more like the QF flight btwn LAX and NYC that u would have to originate in MNL?

  5. @Soltatio I assume they’ll be able to fly passengers, since they can fly the route and it’s international, but i haven’t checked specifically

  6. Contradictions. Your chart shows 55,000 OW in business from YVR/LAX,SFO but the text says 90,000 RT YVR/SFO and 105,000 RT from LAX.
    You mention onward from MNL for same miles cost. Including SIN,HKG,PVG too?
    Please elaborate on partner-of partner. Etihad is code share with AA. So, could use AA miles through Etihad to fly on PAL?
    Does PAL forbidding YQ/YR fuel surcharges apply from US and onward and back via MNL on PAL?
    Does PAl allow stopovers in MNL before going onward?

  7. @Gary

    Do you have a primer/post on guide to redeem and search for Korean Air award? If you do please share the link, thank you!

  8. PAL is one of the worst airlines in the world. Even biz class is complete crap. Sadly I have fly it several times a year for work and it is usually a disaster. These service is ridiculously subpar and the flight crew lack any critical thinking ability. Not to mention the airport is always ranked as one of the worlds worst and should be burned to the ground! yes.. I hate it that much.. lol.. Nobody will miss this airline should it go under.

  9. Greg, you make it sound worse than it is… It’s not THAT BAD, especially with the $2000 USD R/T MNL-LHR 14 Hours. Angle flat Biz seats with nice food and service. Also look it up, PAL uses T2. T1 and T1 ONLY is the worst airport.

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