Airline Miles and Points: Going to Cooler Places for Less
You Can Go Far Using Airline Miles and Points, Just follow Johnny's Advice!
By Johnny Jet
Using points and miles to book free travel between L.A. and London or Ontario and Sydney is simple enough. Most major airports offer frequent flights to popular destinations such as these.
But what if you want to travel a bit further afield?
Let’s say you’d like to visit islands off the coast of Africa or mountainous regions far removed from major metropolitan areas? Fear not! With airline alliances and a pocket full of points and miles to transfer, it’s possible to reach those places, too.
Do keep in mind, however, that with some out-of-the-way destinations, you may have to call the airline’s customer service number to book. More obscure connections are not often available on airline websites. Use a search tool like Google Flights, Hipmunk, or Skyscanner to find the flight you want, then call to book it with points and miles.
So without further ado, here are 5 far-flung destinations to get to with airline miles and points!
For about 35,000 miles each way, plus $21.40 in taxes and fees, you can book an award flight from New York to Lhasa, China. From there you can explore and experience the Autonomous Region of Tibet.
Air China will probably be your go-to airline to get there, which means you can use United miles to book the flight since they are both in the Star Alliance network.
Want to take a trip to this tropical African island destination? You can. Plus, you can even pay for it with points and miles. United offers flights in conjunction with both Ethiopian and South African Airlines. The long journey will cost about 40,000 miles each way from the U.S. and about $160 in taxes and fees. That’s a great deal for the chance of a unique adventure.
This collection of islands off the coast of Portugal is enjoying a moment in the spotlight. The Azores offer an array of beautiful, uncrowded beaches and caldera, volcanic areas you can visit and it's all pretty cheap. Up until recently, you could only fly directly to these islands - specifically Ponta Delgada, via Azores Airlines. But not anymore.
Delta recently added direct flights several times a week to this top European destination. That means travelers who want to visit this newly promoted destination can even get there via points and miles. Flights aren’t going to come cheap, though. A round-trip flight from JFK during peak season will cost at least 112,000 miles plus $52 in taxes and fees.
Papua New Guinea
Between American Airlines and Qantas, you can travel to this remote Pacific island. You can even use your AAdvantage miles to book your travel. The flights aren’t short on connections and layovers. But from JFK to Port Moresby, you’re looking at a cost of 80,000 miles round-trip. The taxes and fees will come at a cost, though. Expect to shell out $228 for the journey.
Way off the coast of Chile is that mythical land of giant statues - Easter Island.
But as far off the beaten path as this destination might be, you can still get there with points and miles.
American Airlines and LATAM are the airlines you’ll likely end up using as they are both part of the Oneworld Alliance.
You will have to book this journey by phone, especially since LATAM doesn’t offer many award seats. You can use AAdvantage miles or Avios to book the flight. It will require around 75,000 miles round-trip to visit this South American destination.
Don’t forget about credit cards!
Paying for travel with frequent flyer miles is often the best way to get the most bang for your buck. However, if you have more credit card points than frequent flyer miles and can’t transfer them to your favorite program (like with the Capital One Venture card), you can also use credit card points to book your travel.
Many credit cards offer specialized booking portals, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards. Other cards, such as the Capital One Venture card, allow you to erase travel-related purchases made to your card. Consider adding one of the following best credit cards for travel rewards to your wallet. Even if it’s not an airline-affiliated card, you can sometimes transfer points to your favorite airline miles program.
As you can see, far-flung destinations are still within reach. By using a credit card to earn and spend points, you’re well on your way to taking the trip of your dreams.
Johnny Jet has been publishing his blog even longer than we have, and he's an old friend of GoNOMAD's. He travels very often, now with his young son Jack and his wife Natalie, and continues to share valuable secrets and tips for travelers of all ages. www. johnnyjet.com
Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.