You may not be familiar with it, but Malaysia Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world. It’s a member of the oneworld alliance, and flies to 60 destinations in 28 countries. Unfortunately, its four U.S. routes were recently eliminated because of financial issues and restructuring.
Enrich, the airlines’ loyalty program, went through a devaluation in February 2015. Thankfully, the changes didn’t spread to the oneworld alliance award charts. One bright spot in the program update is the reduced mileage required for short flights.
Enrich has a few interesting features. It offers a 15 percent discount for booking Malaysia Airlines flights online. It also has a miles-plus-cash option that only requires you to use 1,000 miles. Best of all, you get 1,000 miles simply by signing up.
The program has a useful companion awards feature, too. If you fly in first or business class on a Malaysia Airlines flight, you can get a companion ticket for a reduced amount of miles.
The airline does add fuel surcharges to some award flights, but they’re reasonable. Change fees aren’t too bad either, ranging from $20 to $60.
POINTS TRANSFER PARTNERS
- Air France
- Jet Airways
- Royal Dutch Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Enrich is a distance-based program. For example, Malaysia Airlines flights that are 500 miles or less are considered to be one zone for award pricing. Itineraries that are 501 to 1,200 miles long are two zones. These ranges continue through seven zones or redemption levels. There are different award charts for oneworld members; for flights that involve two or more oneworld airlines; and for other airline partners.
One unusual perk is that award pricing is based on the distance between the point of departure and the final destination, no matter what the route is. So if the best option is to catch a connecting flight that technically takes you hundreds of miles out of the way, you won’t be charged extra for those miles. This is different from other distance-based programs, such as British Airways, that charge for the total distance flown.
Another trick to understanding Enrich’s awards is knowing that it has several fare levels for award flights on Malaysia Airlines. They are coded like cash fares.
For economy class:
- L,V and S are saver awards and the best value
- K and M are standard awards
- Y, B and H are peak awards
For business class:
- D is saver and the best value
- C is standard
- J is peak
First class only has two codes. Saver fares are A, and F is peak.
- One-way redemptions available in most instances
- Free stopovers
- Miles redeemable for lounge access and extra luggage
- Excellent redemption rates for short flights
- Good value for multicarrier itineraries on oneworld airlines in premium classes
- Low change fees and fuel surcharges
- Reduced cost companion awards for business and first class
- 1,000 miles for joining Enrich
- Malaysia Airlines does not fly to the U.S.
- Long-haul redemptions on Malaysia Airlines are expensive
- Only round-trip awards available on multicarrier itineraries
- Miles expire after two years of inactivity
- Partner airlines are only bookable by phone
There are some excellent deals in the Enrich award charts, but the best ones have nothing to do with Malaysia Airlines. The multicarrier award chart for flights that involve two or more oneworld airlines has particularly good redemptions.
A round-trip flight between New York and Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, or between Miami and anywhere in South America, costs 40,000 miles in economy. The premium class redemptions are particularly good at 70,000 miles for business and 90,000 miles for first.
Basically, every flight shorter than 4,800 miles on a oneworld partner will land you the same fantastic rates, including flights between JFK and most of Europe. At 70,000 miles, a round-trip business class ticket to Europe is an amazing deal.
Flying on Malaysia Airlines also offers some good redemption opportunities. You can fly between two cities in one zone for only 6,000 miles one-way. Flying between two zones only costs 10,000 miles. These rates rival those of British Airways, which also has excellent short-haul, zone-based award pricing.
As is the case with other distance-based frequent flyer programs, you’ll get less value for your miles with longer Malaysia Airlines flights. Now that it has dumped its routes to North America, Malaysia Airlines’ longest flights are to London and Amsterdam, or six zones. While the award redemption levels on these routes are not outrageous, they aren’t good either. Round-trip business class tickets run 150,000 miles, and first is 260,000 miles.
You can upgrade cash tickets on Malaysia Airlines one class with miles. A business class upgrade begins at 10,000 miles for one-way short-haul flights, and reaches 40,000 miles for flights between Kuala Lumpur and London. Not all fares qualify for upgrades, and award tickets can’t be upgraded.
Enrich has a base member level, Blue, and three elite levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum. They correspond to oneworld’s tiers Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.
Each level includes the perks of the previous level:
- Silver: Priority reservation waitlist, boarding, check-in and airport standby; telephone check-in; extra baggage weight allowance; 25 percent bonus miles on flights
- Gold: Priority baggage handling; 50 percent extra baggage allowance; free lounge access for member and one guest; access to dedicated Gold level service agents
- Platinum: Platinum membership for your spouse; Meet & Greet service at Kuala Lumpur Airport; free access to Platinum lounges; access to dedicated Platinum level service agents; no expiration date on miles; guaranteed seat; 100 percent extra baggage allowance; 30 percent bonus miles
There are no U.S.-based Malaysia Airlines credit cards.