Saving Miles with Asiana Award Bookings

Saving Miles with Asiana Award Bookings

Asiana Airlines, a Korean carrier, is a diamond in the rough in the points and miles game. It’s a lesser known program that is not often discussed in the travel blogosphere. However, Asiana has an excellent award chart that offers significantly lower award prices for Star Alliance partner flights than most airlines in this alliance. This is especially true relative to United Airlines, the Star Alliance member with whom US travelers have the most familiarity, in large part due to the transferability of Chase Ultimate Rewards to United. In this post, we will discuss how to earn Asiana miles, sweet spots in the award charts, and some tips for booking award tickets.

Earning Asiana Miles

There are two credit card options available for earning Asiana miles:

First, you could apply for the Asiana Visa Signature Credit Card from Bank of America. This card has a 30K miles sign up bonus. It also has excellent potential for ongoing mileage earning with unlimited two miles per dollar on gas and groceries.

Second, Asiana Airlines is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest. You can transfer SPG points to Asiana at a 1 to 1 ratio, plus get a 5k bonus for every increment of 20k points transferred.

Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card
Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card
LEARN MORE
Get 30,000 Bonus Miles after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
3 miles for every dollar you spend on Asiana Airlines purchases.
2 miles for every dollar you spend on gas and at grocery stores.

Award Chart Sweet Spots

Asiana has a region based award chart that offers some excellent values for long haul international travel. First we will focus on the chart for flying on Asiana metal, and then take a look at their partner award chart. One thing to keep in mind is that like many foreign carriers, Asiana has low season and high season prices. For flights departing from the Americas, the high season for 2017 is May 13 through July 2, and December 5 through 23. These time periods are best avoided as they carry a 50% higher price than the low season.

Awards When Flying on Carriers’ Own Planes

The following table is an excerpt from Asiana’s award chart for flights to/from the US on Asiana metal. The price in miles is for a round-trip award, one way tickets cost half price.

CategoryRegionsEconomyBusinessBusiness SmartiumFirstFirst Suite
Flights to/from KoreaKorea-US, Oceania, Europe70,000105,000125,000140,000160,000
Routes with Transfers in KoreaJapan, Northeast Asia-US, Oceania75,000110,000135,000150,000175,000
Southeast Asia-US, Oceania85,000125,000155,000170,000200,000
Southwest Asia-US,Oceania95,000140,000175,000190,000225,000
Oceania-US105,000160,000200,000210,000250,000

Asiana has an unusual way of classifying award regions by making a distinction between flights that end in Korea versus those that continue on, instead of just making Korea one of their regions. However, we can still make comparisons to other award charts. Below is United’s award chart for flights on United metal. United does not have the same region definitions, so we have edited the award chart to pull out selected regions.

CategoryRegionsEconomyBusinessBusiness SmartiumFirstFirst Suite
Flights to/from KoreaUS - Korea70,000140,000N/A160,000N/A
Routes with Transfers in KoreaUS - Japan70,000130,000N/A160,000N/A
US - South Asia80,000140,000N/A160,000N/A
US - Oceania70,000130,000N/A160,000N/A

For flights to Korea, Asiana does not offer any savings in economy, but relatively cheap awards are available in both business and first class. A round trip on Asiana’s Smartium business class would cost 15K less miles than one on United, and on a much nicer product, especially as we wait for United to acquire planes with the new Polaris business class seats installed. The savings increase to 20K miles in first class. Asiana only operate first class to the US via LAX and JFK on their A380s but if you have a chance to fly this product you are in for a treat. Asiana offers fully enclosed private suites with huge IFE screens. To be able to fly this product for the same price as United business class is a steal. Unfortunately, the other regions are actually typically cheaper or equally priced on United.

Cheap awards are available for flight to Korea
Relatively cheap awards to Korea are available in both business and first class

Star Alliance Partner Awards

Partner awards are where Asiana really shines. United had a huge devaluation in this area a few years ago, making long-haul premium cabin awards much more expensive. First class partner awards via United are astronomically priced. Thankfully, Asiana follows a more standard region-based award chart for partner awards, making direct comparisons much easier.

Below is Asiana’s partner award chart for flights originating in the US or Canada.

DestinationEconomyBusinessFirst
Northeast Asia80,000120,000160,000
Southeast Asia90,000135,000180,000
Southwest Asia100,000150,000210,000
South Pacific110,000165,000240,000
USA (US. Excluding Hawaii), Canada25,00045,00065,000
Mexico, Hawaii, Central America35,00055,00075,000
Latin America 135,00055,00075,000
Latin America 250,00070,00090,000
Europe50,00080,000100,000
Middle East80,000120,000160,000
Africa80,000120,000160,000

Next we have United’s partner award chart for flights originating in the US or Canada.

DestinationEconomyBusinessFirst
Mainland U.S., Alaska & Canada25,00050,00070,000
Hawaii^^45,00080,000100,000
Mexico35,00060,00080,000
Central America35,00060,00080,000
Caribbean35,00060,00080,000
Northern South America40,00070,00090,000
Southern South America60,000110,000140,000
Europe60,000140,000220,000
Northern Africa80,000160,000260,000
Central / Southern Africa80,000160,000260,000
Middle East85,000160,000280,000
Central Asia85,000160,000280,000
South Asia80,000160,000260,000
North Asia70,000160,000240,000
Japan70,000150,000220,000
Oceania70,000150,000220,000
Australia /New Zealand80,000160,000260,000

The savings available when booking premium cabin partner awards via Asiana are incredible. Round trip business and first class awards offer savings of 25K to 120K miles. We have selected a few regions with particularly big differences and summarized them in the table below:
Cost Difference (Asiana minus United)

RegionEconomyBusinessFirst
Northeast Asia10,000 (40,000)(80,000)
Southeast Asia10,000 (25,000)(80,000)
Europe(10,000)(60,000)(120,000)
Middle East(5,000)(40,000)(120,000)
Africa0(40,000)(100,000)

Award Booking Tips

The best process for booking award tickets via Asiana depends on if you want to fly on Asiana metal or if you want to book a partner award. Asiana’s website has decent functionality for Asiana operated flights, but is very bad at pulling up partner space and therefore you will want to search elsewhere. If you want to book a partner award search on either United or ANA’s website, then call in to complete the booking.