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Rewards we love: Around the world for 65,000 miles (120k miles in Business Class)

by on Mon November 21, 2011 • 2 Comments

The great value of mile credit cards is being able to enjoy outstanding travel experiences you wouldn’t otherwise afford for a reasonable amount of miles.

United Airlines’ Mileage Plus program is our favorite in the United States. It has a great set of partners from around the world, and some of the more generous rules with regard to redemption policies.

Case in point: the back end way to enjoy a 120,000 mile pseudo-around the world trip in Business Class (65,000 if you want to endure economy class).

Mileage Plus charges just 65,000 miles for a U.S. –> Japan roundtrip reward in coach (120,000 miles in business). The secret to making it around the world is 1) the ability to go via either or both the Atlantic or Pacific to get there, and 2) a generous stopover allowance so you can experience for example both Europe and Asia in the same trip:

  • The stopover doesn’t have to be in the usual direction of travel; you can go to Asia via Europe if you’d like
  • You can cross both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in the same trip
  • You just have to have the stopover generally along your route to Japan. For example, Istanbul Turkey is a fair stopover. Some people have had luck with more out of the way stopovers (Middle East, even New Zealand), but your mileage may vary.
  • The stopover can be of any reasonable duration you’d like. Your stay in Japan (the ‘destination’) doesn’t have to be any longer than the time you spend at a stopover. For example, you could stay a week in Paris and just 3 days in Japan if you’d like.
  • If you want to overnight in a hub connection city you can, to add another destination to your list

Examples of valid trips include…

New York–> Rome (stopover 5 days)–>Bangkok (overnight)–>Tokyo (stay 4 days)–>New York (via either Pacific or Atlantic oceans)

Chicago –> Istanbul (stay 4 days)–>Tokyo (stay 3 days) || Take train to Osaka || Osaka (stay 4 days) –> Chicago (via either ocean)

You can use any combination of Star Alliance airline to do this. They include…

Aegean (Greek)
Air Canada
Air ChinaAir New Zealand
ANA – All Nippon (Japan)
Asiana (Korean)
Blue1 (Finnish)
bmi (British)
Brussels (Belgian)
Croatia Airlines
Egypt Air
LOT (Polish)
Lufthansa (German)
SAS (Scandanavian)
South African
Spanair (Spanish)
TAM (Brazilian)
TAP (Portugese)

US Airways

You’re probably not going to be able to book this online — you’ll need a phone agent’s help. But can help you look for availability — just look for each individual flight segment as a one way trip to piece it together. Write it down, then call the agent with your flights.

This is the best value around if you want to experience both Asia and Europe on the same trip. And you can brag to your friends that you actually flew around the world.

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2 thoughts on Rewards we love: Around the world for 65,000 miles (120k miles in Business Class)

  1. Chris

    Thanks, but looking at the mileage plus rules, wouldn’t this apply as a star alliance award since it will involve alliance carriers? If so, the rules state that only one stopover is permitted when traveling between regions. Is there something I’m missing?

    1. MileCards

      @Chris – Yes, this idea involves only 1 stopover. For example…..let’s say you want to hit Istanbul and Osaka on one trip.

      You can route US-Istanbul (stay over X days) then Istanbul – Osaka (okay if there’s a connection. then stay in Osaka however many days).

      Then fly Osaka back to the US via either the Pacific or Atlantic.

      Osaka is your “destination” and Istanbul is your one “stopover.” It’s okay to have connections at different airports in between to reach each.


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