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Manila with miles – Scoring award seats on Philippine Airlines nonstop flights

by on Thu August 21, 2014 • 18 Comments

Manila in the Philippines is a destination that typically bats above its weight in award redemptions for the big airline programs like United and Delta.

That’s because the West Coast has a big population of residents with family in the Philippines, and getting home often is a big priority.

But none of the big U.S. airlines serves Manila nonstop from the U.S., leaving mile useres to endure awkward connections.

Philippine Airlines does fly nonstop, but it’s not part of any global alliance, and only recently partnered with Etihad Airways. So there hasn’t been an easy way to earn miles that can be used on Philippine Airlines flights.

That is until this year, thanks to Citi, a advertiser which has made Etihad a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou points.

So as a U.S. resident you can now rack up points that can be redeemed for Philippine Airlines flights via your card spending using a Citi ThankYou card that carries an annual fee like the ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige cards.

Unfortunately it is prohibitively expensive.

How much does it cost?

Philippine flights using Etihad miles are distance based.

Manila to the West Coast is falls in the 6001 – 8000 mile range and you’ll pay 70,000 points ONE WAY for Economy Class, plus about $210 in taxes and fees, or 140,000 points roundtrip plus $419 in fees. Business class will run 248,888 miles roundtrip plus the same fees.

You can fly from San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Vancouver to Manila nonstop. But you’re paying a big premium for that nonstop option since Delta and United get you there for 80,000 miles roundtrip without hundreds of dollars in fees.

In Business Class Delta and United which charge 140,000 – 160,000 miles roundtrip.

What flights can I take?

Award seats are plentiful on Philippine Airlines flights to and from the U.S., even in Business Class. We had luck finding seats to Manila just ahead of Christmas, and many dates in 2015 were wide open with several seats per flight.

That’s helped in part by the fact that you aren’t competing with frequent flier members of partner airlines for the seats, and that earning miles on the ground has been difficult until now. So there are fewer miles chasing seats on Philippine Airlines flights.

Here are their flights to Manila from North America:

San Francisco: 1-2 flights daily

Los Angeles: 1-2 flights daily

Vancouver: 1-2 flights daily

Toronto: 1 flight daily (via Vancouver)

How can I book awards?

Philippine Airlines books Business Class awards in ‘A’ class, while Economy ‘Standard’ awards are booked into ‘G’ class. Neither of these classes is visible online, so you’ll have to call Etihad directly to check availability. They require 14 days advance notice for booking awards.


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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

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$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

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Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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18 thoughts on Manila with miles – Scoring award seats on Philippine Airlines nonstop flights

  1. Kevin

    How many Mabuhay Miles are required for a round trip flight from Los Angeles, CA to Manila? The Philippine Airlines website is confusing. They have 3 different “Flexifly” levels, with no explanation of what “Flexifly” is all about. Thanks!


      @Kevin – It starts at 64,000 miles roundtrip (32,000 miles one way). The ‘Flexifly’ levels are for flights that they consider to be in high demand, with a higher price the higher the demand. You’ll need to be flexible if you want that 64,000 mile price.

  2. Channy

    How do I book a flight to Philippine using Chase UR? I’m in MN so does that mean I have to book a flight to San Francisco or Los Angeles (from MN) and then to the Philippine?


  3. Bobby D.

    I have about 430,000 Premier Miles Points in my Citibank Visa Credit Card. How many round trip tickets I can “buy” from Manila to Orlando via Delta Air or Philippine Airlines? Thank you.

  4. Lyn

    Hi I have 44000 points miles in my delta American card, do I can used them from USA to Philippines ?thanks


      @Lyn – You have almost enough for a one way ticket which costs 45,000 miles on some days if you’re flexible. You’d need to buy a one way ticket for the other direction.

  5. Kathleen

    What are the Airline flight partners for the phillipine airlines
    Thank you
    I am an American Airlines member could I use that card with the Phillipine Airlines flight?


      @Kathleen – Philippine Airlines only partners with Etihad Airways and All Nippon Airways. So you won’t be able to use your American Airlines account to earn miles on a Philippine Airlines flight.

      We’d suggest crediting your flight to Etihad Airways. Etihad is a partner with American, so while you can’t mix Etihad miles with your American miles, you can use Etihad miles to book American flights once you earn enough.

  6. Rosemarie Abogado

    I had been traveling from Toronto to Manila return two times, and I do not know how many miles I have. I do not have a Mabuhay airmiles card. How would I be able to apply these miles that I had been earning and how much airmiles do I need to make a free flight to the Philippines from Toronto


      @Rosemarie – Unfortunately they don’t let you earn the miles until you have a Mabuhay airmiles card. It is free, so make sure you get one before your next flight.


      @Camille – For the Philippine Airlines flight it is 20,000 miles roundtrip if using Philippine Mabuhay miles. If using Etihad miles it is approximately 31,000 miles.

  7. Lisa

    So how can I get a free flight from USA to Manila using the bonus miles? How much bonus miles do I need to get a free flight to Manila? Can you show me the step by step process?

    I look forward to your reply.

    Thank you.


      @Lisa – With American you need 70,000 miles roundtrip (35,000 each way) and can fly on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. With United you will need 80,000 miles (40,000 each way).

      So your fastest bet is to get an American Airlines credit card with a 50,000 mile sign up bonus, which gets you one direction taken care of at 35,000 miles. Then get a Chase Sapphire Preferred for 40,000 points which you can transfer to United miles. That can get the other direction taken care of.

      Do you have any miles / points already?

        1. Lisa

          I’m a little confused about you saying with American… I’m travelling from Chicago to Manila. What is the connection between American and Cathay? Can you please elaborate?


            @Lisa – American miles let you book Cathay flights.

            As for the Southwest points, they are worth about $1,000 toward a flight on Cathay or United if you have a Southwest credit card. Though it’s not the most valuable use of your Southwest points. You can check prices here:


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