A Surprising New Way To Use Your Credit Card Points for Business Class Awards to Asia With Great Availability

Philippine Airlines flies non-stop from North America to Southeast Asia. You don’t hear about them often because they do not have any US frequent flyer partners, and no bank program transfers points to the Mabuhay Miles program.

And yet therein lies an opportunity.

  • Just like Chase transfers to Korean Air open up a world of availability to Asia because there’s very little competition for first class awards on Korean from US members, if you can get access to miles that can be redeemed on Philippine Airlines you’ve got a whole world of availability at your fingertips.
  • Citibank points transfer to Etihad Guest and Eithad’s miles can be used on Philippine Airlines.
  • ANA Mileage Club has a new partnership with Philippine Airlines. American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints transfer to ANA.

Here are the routes that Philippine Airlines flies daily:

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

Sure, you can try to redeem for United, Asiana, or ANA. But with Philippine Airlines the line is shorter.

Philippine Airlines awards can’t be searched for online that I’m aware of, so you have to call presently (in this case Etihad) to find the space as well as book.

With the ANA partnership I wouldn’t be surprised if Philippine Airlines space becomes bookable (and therefore seaerchable) on their website on or about November 26 when the new relationship takes flight.

    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!.

The Etihad Option…

The Etihad Guest program prices awards based on distance. For Philippine Airlines awards these flights fall within the 6001 – 8000 mileage band.

That means the price each way is:

  • 70,000 points for economy
  • 124,444 points for business class

Taxes and fees run a little over $250 each way. Awards must be booked at least 14 days prior to travel.

That’s a lot of points. And Philippine Airlines isn’t known for having the single best inflight product. But it’s a way to use Citibank Thank You Points for long haul business class, with very little competition (remember, until recently you could only use the points at a little over a penny apiece towards paid airfare so a business class roundtrip could cost 300,000 – 800,000 points — comparatively speaking this is a bargain!).

And unlike American Express or Chase points, Thank You Points may be transferred t anyone you wish

ANA Mileage Club Saves You Tons of Points

ANA current has a distance-based award chart which will last through mid-April.

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.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. “With the ANA partnership I wouldn’t be surprised if Philippine Airlines space becomes bookable (and therefore seaerchable) on their website on or about November 26 when the new relationship takes flight.”

    I would be surprised. AFAIK, all ANA non alliance partners (Virgin, Etihad, Qatar, etc) need to be booked over the phone…

  2. It’s great availability because it’s stilll mostly (if not all) slanted business seats … who wants that ? Not my spinal chord

  3. 120k points for a ONE-WAY business class? That is a LOT of points especially when I can use 120,000 US Airways miles for a roundtrip business class flight from North America to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific!

  4. There’s only one problem with PA, it’s got to be the worst international airline in the world, coupled with the worst airport in existence – Manila. Add to that the very high likely surprise that your connection will be cancelled to Bangkok, Hong Kong or where ever due to technical difficulties (not enough passangers) and you’re almost guaranteed to arrive a day later then expected. Good luck, you’ll need it.

  5. PAL is actually not that bad. It’s flying new 777 to the US. The business class seats are flat, at a very slight angle, much better than for example LH old business class. I slept perfectly fine, no sliding down on this seat. The services is super friendly and puts any US airline to shame! Food and drinks are good, wine selection is so-so.
    PAL has it’s own terminal 2 in Manila, which is in pretty good shape and has a nice lounge (again better than any US lounge).
    You have connections to plenty of destinations in the Philippines and all-over Asia. They are launching flights to NYC via Vancouver in March, so you can add that to your map.
    Still, I would not recommend using any distance-based award for it – because Business Class is usually less than $3000RT and they have frequent sales, so until the region-based ANA chart is here, I’d rather pay cash!

  6. I agree with RK. I feel that I’ve seen PAL selling discounted business class fares on FT Premium Fare sale thread.
    Whenever I travel to Manila, I unfortunately almost always arrive/depart in Terminal 1, which is just plain old-school (think of 1970s). From time to time I do grow nostalgic but PAL’s terminal 2 is a lot better than Terminal 1!
    I do hope to fly PAL business class someday but I have feeling I’d pay for it and credit the miles to either ANA or Etihad.

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