With all the US airlines having raised their premium award prices while their credit card partners limiting the bonuses you can receive, it makes more sense than ever to look beyond the US programs for your premium award travel needs. Having been an Aegean Gold member for several years now (grabbed it in one trip under the old qualification rules), I fly them many, many times in a year and redeem my miles from them for (mostly) business class. Here is why Aegean deserves your attention if you like booking premium awards.
4 Reasons Aegean Deserves Your Attention For Premium Awards
Note: Aegean Airlines is in the Star Alliance so this applies to awards booked among those carriers. Award miles do not expire.
Great Award Chart
Link: Aegean Award Chart
Aegean has a really great award chart when it comes to some award sweet spots. My number 1 use of my Aegean miles is for business class travel between the US and Europe. Here is how it breaks down with comparing it to US programs:
There are some restrictions to booking with Aegean – things like only one connection (so more difficult to originate from your own regional airport) and bookings for partners must be made on the phone. But, I actually look at those restrictions as two of the things that keeps the Aegean award chart as good as it is, especially the part about having to call in. As long as you search ahead of time, using something like United’s award calendar, you know what is available and the phone call is short and sweet.
There are also some sweet spots in the Far East region as well (see the next section for Aegean’s description of the region) with one-way business class going for only 21,000 miles. So, you could enjoy over 7 hours of business class comfort for just 21,000 miles!
Great Region Designations
Each award program splits up the world into various regions. This can be incredibly helpful (or very painful) for your award needs. In the case of Aegean, they are very generous with how they designate certain regions. For example, Aegean actually places Europe and North Africa in the same region – and dumps Israel into that region as well! That means you are able to fly business class from the US to Israel for the same 45,000 miles as above!
For North America, Aegean shoves the entire Caribbean into that classification! That means (if you could ever find award availability) you could fly from Port of Spain, Trinidad (off the coast of Venezuela) to Tel Aviv, Israel on United via Newark in business for only 45,000 miles! Not bad at all! Of course, I don’t know how many people would want that route but it does show you what is doable!
When we swing around to the Far East, Aegean has made it to be fairly large! It includes countries as far north as Mongolia, as far west as China, as far east as Japan, and as far south as Singapore. Some of the sweet spot cities that this opens up are Seoul (Asiana Airlines), Bangkok (Thai Airways), Tokyo (ANA), Beijing (Air China), Singapore (Singapore Airlines), and Taipei (EVA).
Great Award Fees
Yes, you will need to pay fuel surcharges on some carriers but there are other options for you to fly (like LOT, SAS, South African, and United – Turkish is relatively low as well) that would not pass along those higher costs. Even with the fuel surcharges, however, it still may not add up to that much when you compare it to the miles saved from something like United. For example, a recent booking on Lufthansa was $188 in fuel surcharges. The miles required were 45,000 – in comparison to United’s $0 in fuel surcharges but 70,000 miles for the same flight!
But, when it comes to actual award fees, Aegean is great! They charge 20€ for the booking made over the phone (which you have to do for partner bookings). They will give you up to 2 hours before departure to cancel the award which will cost another 20€ (you do not get the booking fee back but you will get the taxes and other fees back, as well as the miles). If you want to make changes at any time, it will cost 20€.
So, to sum up:
- 20€ for the booking
- 20€ for the cancellation (and no refund on the booking fee)
- 20€ for chances (and you do not have to pay the booking fee again)
Not bad at all! Especially when you compare it to the high $150 prices for redepositing the miles on a carrier like Delta.
Great Transfer Partner – SPG
Not too long ago, SPG became a transfer partner of Aegean. That was the first time it was made easy to get the miles without having to fly and bank them. Like most other transfer partners, SPG points transfer to Aegean at a 1:1 with a 5,000 mile bonus on each block of 20,000 Starpoints transferred. So, that means it only would take 40,000 SPG points to get a business class ticket on Aegean – and have 5,000 miles left over!
Also, the earning rates on flights credited to Aegean is not that bad. It is certainly better than crediting to United on some of the cheaper fares! Plus, with the large number of cheaper business class fares lately, you could easily rack up miles with Aegean.
Bonus – Pooling Miles
Finally, if you have Aegean Silver or Gold status, you can actually pool miles in a Together Account. With the ability to earn 1,000 miles for every new member and being able to combine 5 members in an account , you could even build up a fair amount of miles from your friends and family – without anyone ever flying!
Have you ever booked with Aegean for Star Alliance awards? How was your experience?