This is one of the most bang for the buck redemptions in terms of miles. You can cover a ton of ground for a mere 25k miles. Or 40k in Business Class. The idea is that a flight within the Oceania to Oceania region on the award chart is incredibly cheap despite how much ground needs to be covered.
Basically we flew from Guam to Rarotonga for 40,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class, however, there’s really nothing direct from Guam to Rarotonga, and in fact you can’t even really do it with 1 or even 2 connections. Thus we layed over in a bunch of places like a day in Singapore and Sydney. But we used our stopover in New Zealand. This is a pretty killer deal if you’re interested in Pacific Islands like Guam, Saipan, Fiji, the Cooke Islands, etc…
However there have been two problems.
1) I keep hearing that I need to choose a different example other than Guam.
and 2) People have been having issues with the stopovers changing the price now. And in my opinion this route is so great because of the stopovers, because you get to see a ton. I don’t just fly to sit in a tin can for days of my life.
So let me point out a few variations. (Prices are pre-devaluation, which hits Feb 1, unless otherwise noted).
1) Japan to Oceania
Prices: 12.5k/20k/35k each direction
Post devaluation: 12.5k/25k/35k each direction
This is extremely generous given that it’s the same price as Oceania to Oceania. So hop a flight from Japan to Fiji.
Although, there is one huge problem: the combo is easily trumped by the price of another zone you route through when you add a stopover. It’s the same concept as my most powerful zone post, except… it isn’t the most powerful zone.
A stopover in Australia/New Zealand makes the stopover the destination… so to speak. In other words, the route would be the same but the price would be 50,000 miles instead of 25,000 roundtrip.
While this is a bummer, the route is still possible with a stopover in SE Asia!
- Start in Tokyo.
- Stopover in Singapore
- Destination in Fiji
- Return to Tokyo
For only 25,000 miles (or 40,000 miles in Business Class) that’s a ton of flying and some awesome locations for super cheap. Maybe combine it with an off-peak AA ticket to Japan.
This is a seriously tempting route.
And think of all the beautiful places in Southeast Asia.
And this will blow your mind: this route is cheaper than just a roundtrip from Japan to SEAsia. A ticket from Tokyo to Singapore would be 30,000 miles in economy or 60,000 miles in Business. Yet, combine it with Oceania and bam, the price is lowered to 25k or 40k.
2) Southeast Asia to Oceania
Price: 15k/25k/45k each direction
Post-deval price: 22.5k/35k/55k each direction
It’s just slightly more expensive to start in SE Asia but a ton easier to get the routing down as Singapore and Bangkok are major Star Alliance hubs.
- Start in Phuket
- Stopover in Auckland, New Zealand
- Destination in Fiji
- Return to Bangkok
Doesn’t that sound… awesome? Already I can think of a ton of possibilities. Tons of places I would love to start in and return to in SE Asia. Do the same route except start in Bali and end in Kuala Lumpur. Options are nearly endless, but that’s the concept.
Start in SE Asia and end in SE Asia.
Stopover in Australia/New Zealand for as long as you want. And I would probably do Queenstown or Sydney or something. But then vacation in Fiji.
And by the way, I’ll use Fiji in a ton of examples because it’s awesome. Although, there are no real point options in the areas of Fiji that are actually incredible, it’s well worth it. Plus, Air New Zealand has decent availability booking ahead.
This will blow your mind again: a ticket from Bangkok to Auckland is otherwise 60,000 miles in economy! Yet, it’s only 30,000 miles on the route I showed you just now. Or 90,000 miles in business class instead of 50,000 when you just stopover on the way to Oceania.
Again, not only are you seeing more, a lot more, you’re doing it with nearly half the miles it would cost just to go to New Zealand. Awesome.
3) Oceania to Australia
Post-deval price: 22.5k/35k/55k
This (like the real Pacific Hopper) is based on starting from Micronesia and then heading to Australia/New Zealand stopping anywhere on the way. That pretty much includes anywhere else in Australia/New Zealand, Japan, North Asia and SE Asia.
- Start in Guam
- Stopover in Bangkok
- Destination in Australia
- Return to Guam
Maybe you’re tired of Guam examples, but it’s just the only hub in Micronesia, so it makes sense. But truly, there are other islands that are more unique. Yap and Palau are the two on my list. But either way, there are big flights to Guam and Saipan, so let’s stick to that for routing examples.
4) North Asia to Oceania Post-Devaluation
Post-deval price: 15k/25k/35k each direction
Current price: 20k/32.5k/65k each direction
It’s really the same routes as the others but it’s the one that has a better price booked after the Feb 1st devaluation.
- Start in Seoul
- Stopover in Auckland
- Destination in Fiji
- Return to Hong Kong
15K each way in economy vs. 20K each way just going from North Asia to Australia without any stopovers. Or 25K each way in business vs. 35K. If you can fork over the miles for Business Class, this could be a ton of flying. Like the Japan route, you’d be surprised just how long it takes to get from Tokyo, Seoul, or Beijing to Bangkok. In and of itself, it’s not terrible, but combined with the long hauls to/from Australia and then to whatever Pacific island… it’s a lot of flying.
Although, that’s true for most any of these routes.
This route has the same advantages as others. It has similar distance aspects as Japan but the price is better when you consider that once again, not only are you allowed to stopover in Australia/New Zealand, but it’s a better price. Thus, with this route, you can actually stopover in SE Asia or Australia/New Zealand.
Notes and Conclusions
US Airways can have the same routes but with different prices. However, the most powerful zone concept doesn’t really apply to US Airways. But you do get a stopover with similar restrictions. So the routes above should work, but for the prices you see on the US Air partner award chart.
As I said, it is a ton of flying. I was very grateful to have done the route all in Business Class (especially on Air New Zealand Business Class and Singapore Airlines Business Class). This isn’t the same as one long-haul, this is multiple long-hauls crammed together. I’m sure it would be worth it in economy (depending on the length of stays), but even I would be miserable. And imagine coming off of a 14 hour long-haul to Tokyo!
And yet, I’m tempted to do it in economy simply based on how much I could see spending a few months and 100,000 miles. Real temping in dreaming of island destinations and miserable thinking about my body after the first two days.
Still. Guam, Saipan, Singapore, Rarotonga, New Zealand, Sydney and Tokyo (we just got off the plane there). All that in one month for 40,000 miles (in biz) was amazing. Unforgettable.
And given the open-jaw opportunity to return to pretty much anywhere… I will for sure be doing some of these again.
Although, notice that Air New Zealand has a few other South Pacific routes. Any suggestions on something other than Fiji or Rarotonga? Obviously Tahiti, but the availability is unrealistic unless you’re booking as far out as next September or more. Even then it’s only economy and spotty.
My biggest fear is that this will be near impossible to book online without United showing Singapore Airlines anymore. Plus, I highly recommend flying Singapore business class. Luckily, I have booked this route over the phone. It took a while but totally doable. Thus, I really recommend calling – agents are just grunts (no offense) and this has been around forever, don’t worry about it.
You really have to know the rules and maybe have tested it online. Just know you basically get two stops on roundtrips. And it seems that open-jaws on stopovers aren’t allowed anymore. Then just spoon feed availability to the agent. If you get them to try it, then it’s fine. But if they try and the computer doesn’t let it… you did something wrong.
All of these are very tempting since I plan to be in the area in the spring again. Maybe we’ll do two. :-p