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It’s no secret that I love points and miles. With a remote job that allows me a flexible travel schedule, I also love taking advantage of some lesser-known sweet spots that don’t necessarily start or end in the U.S. — but offer incredibly cheap ways to travel between different places. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. The Caribbean to Northern South America with United miles
United charges as few as 12,500 miles to fly from the Caribbean to Northern South America with their partner airlines Copa and Avianca. I was recently able to redeem this award to fly from Curacao to Cusco, Peru, on flights that otherwise would have cost around $750, netting a pretty good redemption value of about 6 cents per mile.
2. Japan to Australia in business class with ANA miles
If you’re planning a trip to Asia but also want to visit Australia, consider combining them on the same itinerary. You can fly one-way from Japan to Australia for as few as 32,500 All Nippon Airways miles during low season. During high season, flights are a bit more (40,000 miles). The rest of the year, flights cost 37,500 ANA miles.
3. Fly anywhere in Asia in Cathay Pacific first class with Alaska Airlines miles
With Alaska Airlines, most of their own award tickets must start or end in the U.S. But you can fly between Asian destinations using Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific, Hainan, Japan Airlines or Korean Air.
Of these four options, flights in Cathay Pacific first class are an absolute steal at only 27,500 Alaska miles. You can fly from Bangkok to Japan with a connection (or even a stopover) in Hong Kong. That’s over seven hours of flying time that would normally cost well over $3,000, for a redemption rate upwards of 10 cents per mile.
» Flight review: Cathay Pacific first class, L.A. to Hong Kong
4. Hawaii to South Korea in business class with Avianca LifeMiles
Avianca LifeMiles has a pretty good award chart, but their miles aren’t the easiest to use. Some awards make the struggle worth it, though, like flying nine hours from Hawaii to South Korea in business class for only 48,000 LifeMiles on Asiana.
5. Europe to South Africa in business class with Turkish miles
Turkish Airlines’ program is one of the most complicated on this list to use — but just as with LifeMiles, sometimes the extra hassle is worth it. We recently listed eight Turkish Airlines sweet spots originating in the U.S, though this is one of my favorite international options. You can fly from Europe to South Africa in business class for only 45,000 Turkish Airlines miles.
6. Within the South Pacific with American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios
Flights within the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand, are not known for being cheap. But two programs offer good prices for award flights within this region: American Airlines and British Airways. Which airline you book with will depend on how long your flight is and whether you need a connection.
If you need to connect somewhere, American Airlines will be your best bet at only 15,000 miles. This is because British Airways award prices are distance-based, and your total award price will be based on the sum of miles for each leg.
If you don’t need to connect, British Airways may have a better price, depending on how long your flight is. A single flight shorter than 3,000 miles will cost fewer British Airways Avios than American Airlines miles. For example, a nonstop flight from Sydney to Auckland (1,345 miles long) would cost only 11,000 Avios.
» Learn more: 5 reasons to love the British Airways loyalty program
The bottom line
If you have flexibility with your travel dates and destinations, you can take advantage of some insanely good deals. You can mix multiple award tickets or mix award tickets and cash tickets on your next trip to visit additional places without paying much more — and sometimes even paying quite a bit less.
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies