I recently booked business class airfare for me and my father on a multi city route with the following itinerary: NYC to Tokyo, Tokyo to Shanghai, Shanghai to NYC.
The tricky part was that while we were initially planning to use AmEx Membership Rewards to book on All Nippon Airways, there was no availability on the dates we wanted, and we were determined to fly in business. ANA has amazing business class rewards from the continental US to Japan that start at 75,000 round trip.
I had recently convinced my father to sign up for the AmEx Business Gold Rewards card and with the 50,000-point spending bonus he had recently received, he was incredibly close to having enough Membership Rewards points to book on ANA.
After much searching, I eventually found our desired itinerary through Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. The only problem was that our desired itinerary would now cost us 150,000 each for the multi-city itinerary and neither of us had that many miles in our accounts. I was determined to find a solution.
Fortunately, American Express offers cardholders the opportunity purchase extra Membership Rewards points when they’re short a few, or a few thousand, miles. Even better, Gold and Platinum card holders can purchase up to 500,000 Membership Rewards points in each calendar year!
Here’s how it works.First, link the frequent flier account you plan to use to your AmEx Membership Rewards account. Second, call the AmEx Membership Rewards department to tell the representative how many miles you plan to purchase and which frequent flier program you plan to use for the transfer. Third, wait for the miles to clear and book your trip.
For this trip, I purchased 42,000 miles at a cost of $25 per 1,000 miles, so the total price came to $1,050. The miles showed up in my Aeroplan account immediately after the purchase. My father had purchased the miles he needed and had them transferred into his Aeroplan account as well. Of course, before we made the transfers, I double checked on the Aeroplan website for availability for two tickets for our desired itinerary.
For the next step, I logged into my Aeroplan account and my father’s at the same time in separate browser windows and proceeded to book the desired flights from each of our accounts simultaneously in order to ensure we could book on the same flights.
Ultimately, we wound up with a great itinerary flying business class in EVA Air from NYC to Tokyo with a connection in Taipei, business class from Tokyo to Shanghai on All Nippon Airways, and business class from Shanghai to NYC in EVA Air via Taipei. Total cost: 150,000 Aeroplan miles plus $1,050 for the additional miles I needed to purchase for my Membership Rewards account. Considering that the same itinerary would cost at least $1,600 in economy would and would be closer to $7,000 or more in business class, I’m very pleased with the booking.
Theoretically, you could purchase 75,000 Membership Rewards points from AmEx for a total of $1,875 and use these to book business class from NYC to Tokyo on ANA for roughly the same price as purchasing an economy class ticket! Of course you don’t get to earn frequent flier miles as it’s a reward ticket, but I consider that a small price for getting to fly up front.