It’s been a long time coming… Asia Miles is one of my favourite frequent flyer programs simply because the value it offers is incredible. When it comes to frequent flyer points, good things don’t last so when a program announces “Better Experiences”, “Enhancements” and other marketing spiel, it’s generally trying to throw dust in your eyes.
Is it the end? Probably not, so let’s have a look at the upcoming changes!
We won’t be looking at the changes to points earned on flying revenue tickets; instead we will try get to what really matters, redemptions in business and first class.
What’s Changing To Award Redemption?
- First off, the new changes will be rolled out on June 22 which gives us just under 1 month to make any redemptions based on the old award charts.
- All award charts go to one-way pricing. This means that where there was a discount on return tickets previously, this will be scrapped. So a return ticket is simply 2x the cost of a one way.
- Some routes receive a small discount on their one-way pricing. For example, flying from Hong Kong to Paris return will increase from 120k Asia miles to 130k, but a one-way flight will reduce from 70k to 65k Asia Miles. Same goes for the first class flights on this route with an increase from 180k to 200k for a return journey but a decrease on the one-way ticket to 100k instead of 105k. The same seems to be the case with most other long-haul flights.
- Australia to Hong Kong receives a similar treatment, but there’s no discount for a one-way journey as this remains the same. Instead of 80k return, you will now be paying 90k for the same ticket.
- Ultra long-haul mixed cabins are well priced at 125k Asia Miles so you could fly Sydney to Hong Kong in business and then onto Europe or the U.S. in first class.
- Ultra long haul business becomes the new sweet spot at 85k (down from 110k) Asia Miles. A great example of such a route would be Sydney – Hong Kong – New York. Return fares also drop slightly to 170k instead of 175k.
- One World partner airlines are affected as well with a marginal increase for most but more extreme in some cases. For example, Hong Kong to London on British Airways in first class will cost 220k return instead of 180k which is an increase of more than 18%. The worst devaluation lies in the 10,001-14,000 distance bracket where we see an increase of more than 29% for first class redemptions from 155k to 220k, ouch!
- Introduction of “enhanced” award types. Standard awards (the cheapest) will now be released 353 days before departure down from 360.
- The more expensive “Priority Awards” have been rebranded to “Choice Award” which will release seats 360 days before departure for premium economy and above. Seat availability for these awards are supposed to be better, but of course, this comes at a higher cost.
- Choice Awards now come with a reduced pricing table, it’s not significant, but there’s a small saving compared to the old Priority Awards chart. For example, a one-way flight from Hong Kong to Paris will now cost 97,500 Asia Miles instead of 105,000 in business. In first class is down to 150k instead of 158k.
- There’s a new “Tailored Award” category which also releases seats 360 days out and has even better availability. However, there are no charts available yet for comparison. I suspect this will replace the Priority Tier 2 award chart.
- Better redemption experiences… mainly it looks like the user interface will be improved. Hopefully some improvements to the backend as well. Although I welcome these changes, it doesn’t really benefit me personally. The easier they make it to redeem miles, the fewer seats will be available as it opens up options for the “not so savvy” among us.
- Increased award availability. Asia Miles promises an increase of 20% in award availability. Even though this may sound like great news, they don’t actually tell us in which cabins this increase will take place. For all we know, premium cabins will be reduced, and Economy receives a 20% increase. It’s all marketing hype until there’s something factual to look at.
- Something odd I noticed was the “Long – Type 1” and “Long – Type 2″ distance zones on the Asia Miles Award chart. Both have the same distance but”Long – Type 2” is more costly. As it turns out “Long – Type 1” applies to flights when none of the origin destination or turnaround points include a city in the Americas. However you are still permitted to transfer through a city in the Americas. “Long – Type 2” applies to flights that have an origin/destination or turnaround point in the Americas.
Asia Miles Devaluation In Conclusion
Yes, it’s a devaluation, there aren’t that many positives if you’re always booking return journeys. For me personally, it’s not such a big deal since I like to mix it up and fly different airlines; so it works out slightly cheaper in most cases. A definite winner is the long haul first class, since Cathay First isn’t available from Australia, you can fly a mix of J+F down to 125k from 160k previously. Regarding award space; I’m sceptical of the 20% increase promise so we will have to wait and see what happens from June 22nd.
For all the details on earn rates on revenue fares + upgrade award charts: https://www.asiamiles.com/change/en/start-here.html