Miles and Más for $350 BusinessFirst/Executive First Class

Update: As the sale for buying Melia Miles is now over, you can expect the price of the ticket to be around $450-500, which is still a great deal if revenue ticket prices are through the roof.

How to get a United BusinessFirst Lie-Flat seat for $325:

Nearly everything is about evaluating the value of miles. This an instance of where it is really important to look for the best redemption. Remember, you can only get the best value from your points only if you know how to use them. I haven’t been around as long as other bloggers, but things I (think) I am good is experimenting with redemptions, maximizing awards, and staying up to date on all information from forums and blogs (*hem* mistake fare :)).

This is one of the “scenarios” that I have been playing with for a few weeks, and since it looks like the window for purchase is closing fast, I thought I might as well post it. This is how you can get a lie-flat bed on a domestic flight for a steal of a deal. Note that I have not yet tried this personally but this might be very lucrative for those who want to do it. Now back to the topic…

I think that domestic first isn’t that worth that much. Frequent Miler presents several options to maximize your miles while flying first class. But I disagree, and I think this might revolutionize “purchasing” domestic first with miles. In my opinion, this is the best and most cost-effective way to fly domestic first class. So either you can spend 34,000 Aeroplan miles, 25,000 United miles, or ~$350. What would you choose?

MeliáRewards, a hotel chain with many hotels in Spain and in the Caribbean is selling points with 25% bonus. You can sign up here (I get 250 points per signup to a maximum of a few thousand points – thanks for your support!).

Buy Points

Buy Points

This makes every block of 10,000 miles only 64 Euros, or ~$88 Canadian, with each mile only costing 0.88 cents. You can buy miles here.

Buying Points

Buying Points

Why is this important? This is because Melia is a 2:1 transfer partner to Miles & More, which allows you to book tickets on Star Alliance Airlines. This means you can essentially buy Miles & More for 1.76 cents each.

6.22ME

Convert Melia to Miles & More

The cost of each award then, by directly buying miles, is the 1.76 cents per mile multiplied by the award amount. For example, that means a roundtrip award to Europe is just under $2000 if you directly buy the miles, excluding fuel surcharge.

But what Miles and More is a great redemption for is using their miles for domestic flights within a single country. Since Canada and US are big countries, this is a HUGE sweet spot (no pun intended). The award price for a one-way is just 17,000 miles. You can annually buy a maximum of 100,000 miles, which transfers to 50,000 Miles & More. his means you can at least get three one-way domestic/transcon business class awards pre year through this method.

6.24MM

This means you can fly United Domestic First and Air Canada Executive Class for just $320 plus a maximum of around $50 in airport taxes. This is an AMAZING VALUE. Sure, domestic first class might not be worth paying the premium for. But being able to get the LAX-JFK p.s service with flat beds with connecting flights given that there is space for $320 by purchasing miles and $2.50 in airport taxes is an amazing deal.

United p.s BusinessFirst

This is when the flight normally goes for at least $2,000 when buying a revenue ticket. I’m not saying that I would be paying $2000, but at least it means you’re better off using your United miles for transatlantic and transpacific tickets in premium classes.

Sample revenue flight

Sample revenue flight

This is nearly exactly the same case in Canada. For example, look at this itinerary which is a one-way flight in Executive Class (Air Canada Domestic Premium Class) which is pricing at just over $2000.

6.22AC

Revenue Ticket

This includes the YYZ-YVR in a lie-flat pod (Executive First).

Air Canada Executive First

The taxes and fees are just $32.60 in addition to purchasing the miles.

6.22ACA

Award Results

This isn’t just for the “flagship routes” with a lie-flat bed. This is any route within one country that has exorbitantly high fare prices yet award availability. For example YYC-YEG-YUL which is pricing at over $300 one-way in economy class. Or even an expensive transcon such as SEA-DEN-MIA which is pricing at over $270 one way in economy class. If there is award space, why not outright buy the miles and get an “upgrade” for under a hundred dollars?

Of course the value proposition is slightly different if you have elite status, but it is a fantastic deal to lock in a confirmed domestic first flight months in advance with an award from purchased miles given that the price is this sweet.

See what I’m doing here? I’m leveraging three different promotions to achieve the cheapest redemption possible for a flight. When the promotion ends, that means each Mile & More mile will be 2.2 cents, with a 17,000 business one-way domestic ticket pricing at ~$374. Is that a great deal? Still acceptable although not a lot better. But right I think lie-flat seats across the country for under $400 is a definitely a decent if not good deal.

Summary:

I am buying miles at a discount, transferring to a good airline partner, and then redeeming for a sweet spot on the chart to pull out this deal. By tackling the sweet spots of three promotions this is why this kind of deal can appear. Here is the process if you are numbers person:

224 Euro = 308 Cad$ = 35,000 Melia Points = 17,000 Miles & More = 1 domestic business redemption = lie-flat bed/pod = deal

Does this make your miles useless?
No. In nearly all other cases, miles are the best way for international business and first class. But domestic first class is something that I don’t find it is worth spending the money on. So for those who don’t have elite status, this might be a good alternative.

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Comments

  1. Why you say its 17000 points ? Round trip is 35000 based on the info on this page. It should be 17500 each way ? Economy is half of this ?

  2. Great work Jeff and thank you for sharing! An important note for Canadians is that points.com will charge GST/HST. Make sure you consider the extra cost before jumping into this deal.

  3. I don’t understand. On the award chart, I see North America to North America cost is 30K/55K/75K. I guess Domestic table on their chart concerns domestic flights in Germany. What do you think ?

  4. I am not sure if you get this if you sign up with referral, but if you go to their website separately, you get a 2000 point signup bonus.

    And doesn’t the Domestic table refer to German domestic flights? Have you actually bought via this method?

  5. This is very interesting. Of all the bloggers out there you have had some of the best posts lately. Well done!

    Anyhow, when I checked for availability on say SFO-JFK (to get the best seats) on Air Canada, it lists the product as business – Is this the business section of the PS aircraft? When I went to united and checked SFO-JFK it says first/business 25,000 Again is this first or is this business?

  6. 70k (56k + 14k) points come out to $448 euro or $582 USD. 2 business class tickets in lie flat seats for less than $600 sounds awesome.

    Did I miscalculate?

    Great post.

      • My guess is he is looking at the option of a return flight, rather than 2 one-ways – if the Melia transfer is 2:1 then you’d have to get 70k to get the return … what he’s missing (and I did too!) is that two one-ways comes out better at 34k (17K x 2), needing only 68k in Melia points.

  7. I recently traded Melia earned miles to Delta at a 3 Melia to 1 Delta ratio. Would have traded to Lufthansa at 2:1 were it not for living in Cincinnati. Even United is not a prize for me in this Delta hub. I still really appreciate your analysis. Another option for us groundlings! It gives us something to think about.

    Melia point exchanges are good and I love their hotels. Some thoughts at http://notmyvacationpictures.com/2012/11/16/melia-hotels-mas-rewards-points-why-i-exchanged-mine-for-skymiles/

  8. I used your link to sign up but not sure I’ll pull the trigger on buying the points for miles. Good deal though.

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