The Aegean Airlines Miles & Bonus program probably has more US-based members than any other foreign airline elite program. This is due to their very low requirements to achieve their Gold status (their highest tier), and by it, Star Alliance Gold status. This gives flyers access to greater baggage allowances, priority lines, and, best of all, lounge access to Star Alliance lounges around the world.
To earn Aegean Gold status, you must credit 19,000 (because you earn 1,000 miles just for joining) miles of flying to Aegean’s Miles & Bonus program. Aegean has a somewhat generous value at what amount premium tickets from partners are credited, so your flying may actually be quite a bit less than the 20,000 miles. On the other hand, most cheap tickets with United will only earn 50% and some will earn nothing at all. So, make sure you check the earnings table (here) for the fare class of your flight to determine if crediting to Aegean will make sense.
7 Great Uses For Aegean Miles
If you have been crediting to Aegean and have earned Aegean Gold with the bare minimum, you have 20,000 miles in your Miles & Bonus account. There are many people that have been crediting to them even past the gold level so I know some people who have almost 100,000 miles in the Miles & Bonus program. Since you have those miles, what should you do with them? Here are some of the great uses within the program so you can spend those miles.
Note: All mileage amounts are round-trip. One-ways available at half the amount.
1) Within North America
Mileage Requirement: 25,000 miles (coach) / 42,000 miles (business)
Some of the beauty of the redemption values with Aegean Airlines is the way they assign geographical locations. Aegean classifies North America as the United States (except Hawaii), Canada, Alaska, and all the islands in the Caribbean! That means that you can fly from anywhere in North America to islands in the Caribbean for only 25,000 miles in coach and 42,000 miles for in business class (first class is 80,000 miles, not worth it). That is less than United charges by 10,000 and 18,000 miles, respectively.
It is also possible to fly anywhere in the US that United flies for the same amount that United charges (except 8,000 miles less on Aegean in business). If you, like me, value your United miles for international tickets, this could be a perfect way to use your Aegean miles for a convenience ticket that you would rather not spend your United miles on.
2) Within Europe and North Africa
Mileage Requirement: 25,000 miles (coach) / 42,000 miles (business/first)
Here again is a wonderful example of Aegean’s regional classifications. They place North Africa in the same category as Europe and it includes a very interesting location – it assigns Israel to North Africa! Here are the countries that they have put in the North Africa region: Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Egypt, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and Israel. Granted, many of those nations are probably not at the top of your must-visit list, but the inclusion of Morocco, Egypt, and Israel with inter-European pricing can be very helpful!
Using the miles for solely inter-Europe would most likely not be the best choice for most flyers given the amount of taxes and fees you will need to pay (refer to the Booking section at the end of this post), but using the miles to go to Israel can be a huge break.
3) North America to Europe/North Africa
Mileage Requirement: 60,000 miles (coach) / 90,000 miles (business) / 120,000 miles (first)
With the taxes and fees (including the fuel surcharges), choosing to use Aegean miles to fly to Europe from North America in coach might not make a lot of sense (it could be up to half of what an actual ticket would cost if purchased outright). But the sweet spots on this redemption are the 90,000 miles in business and the 120,000 miles in first class. That is an incredible deal! To put it in perspective, United will charge you 115,000 miles for business from the US to Europe and 160,000 miles for first class. It is even more of a difference if you were to book on a different Star Alliance partner (like Lufthansa) – United would charge you 140,000 miles for business and 220,000 miles for first class! That is a difference of 100,000 miles between what United would charge for first class on Lufthansa and what Aegean charges.
The difference becomes even greater when you consider Israel in the mix (remember, North Africa). United will charge 140,000 for business and 180,000 first class, while upping it significantly on partner airlines to 160,000 for business and 280,000 for first! Again, Aegean charges 90,000 for business and 120,000 for first! That is a savings of 160,000 miles if booking a Star partner to Israel in first class! Now, I fully realize that not many people will have the 120,000 Aegean miles necessary, but it certainly shows the possibility!
Now, let’s take the redemption value to the max. Let’s say you want to fly from an island in the Caribbean to Israel in business class. That is just two zones for Aegean but four zones for United (that would be passed through). What is the difference here? United will charge you 150,000 for business class on their own airline and 170,000 on partners. Aegean only charges 90,000 miles for that.
4) North America to South Africa
Mileage Requirement: 80,000 miles (coach) / 110,000 miles (business) / 150,000 miles (first)
The sweet spot on this redemption is the 110,000 miles in business. That is exactly what US Airways use to charge for that route for Star Alliance redemptions. United used to charge 120,000 but now charges 160,000 miles. It can be a great way to take South African Airways to Johannesburg at a lower cost for business.
5) Within the Far East
Mileage Requirement: 25,000 miles (coach) / 42,000 miles (business) / 80,000 miles (first)
According to Aegean, the Far East is quite 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). Of course, there are many other cities, but these present the major cities with their airlines. They give you many options and they are all available at very low redemption prices.
This region might actually present some of the best options for using your miles as taxes and fees with these airlines are much lower than their European counterparts. This would allow you to save a lot of money out of pocket and still get some amazing travel value.
While there are many low cost Asian carriers that could get you around Asia for a little bit of money, the ease of being able to fly a major carrier non-stop across Asia can be a huge asset. Couple that with the fact that you have Star Alliance status and that makes the decision easier.
Plus, this gives you an excellent opportunity to fly in some of the best business class cabins in the world for only 21,000 miles (one-way). That is a huge deal!
6) Within Oceania
Mileage Requirement: 25,000 miles (coach) / 42,000 miles (business) / 80,000 miles (first)
Aegean lists the following countries as being part of their Oceania classification: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Wake Island, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna.
Yes, that is a lot of countries! Obviously, many of them are very small and may not be on your list to go to, but there are some interesting places on the list, if you can make them work. It could be hard to work some of this given Aegean’s award restriction with regards to connections (see Booking below for more info), but there are certainly places of value.
This is the same amount of miles in coach that United charges, but, again, it gives you a different set of miles to use for something like this so that you can hold the United miles for some of the more valuable/easier redemptions.
7) With Aegean Airlines
Mileage Requirement for Greek Domestic: 12,500 miles (coach) / 18,000 miles (business)
Mileage Requirement for International: 22,000 miles (coach) / 40,000 miles (business)
And last but not least, of course a great use for Aegean miles is on Aegean Airlines! I have flown with them countless times now and have always enjoyed the experience. I find them to be a first rate inter-European carrier and they have fantastic service.
As for the redemptions, things can be a little difficult depending on where you want to go. That is because Aegean uses a sector-based redemption scale for their own awards. That means that if you have to transit through a larger airport (like Athens) to another city (like London), you will be paying the miles for the first leg and the longer leg. With that said, some of the best redemption values for most people will be for those wanting to fly to/from Athens or Thessaloniki. If you are visiting Greece in the summer months, using Athens as your base can be helpful to fly to some of the Greek islands using points (only 12,500 miles round-trip).
Two of the best redemption methods with Aegean miles would be the flights from either Athens to Abu Dhabi or Athens/Thessaloniki (seasonal only) to Tel Aviv. Either of those flights (non-stop) only cost 22,000 miles round-trip in coach. With United’s devaluation, it hiked up the requirement for a trip like to 50,000 miles (coach) and 90,000 miles (business). Aegean began service to Abu Dhabi in March as a code-share with Etihad so this could give you a way to hop over there to use Etihad as an airline back to the US (if you were in Europe on vacation and wanted to try the famous Etihad Diamond class back to the US).
Booking Aegean Awards
There are a few things to know about booking Aegean award tickets. These things should definitely be noted as it might help you make the decision on which of the above bookings to make.
- Only Aegean Airline flights can be booked using their engine
- To book a partner flight, you must fill out a form online or call their call center +30 210 6261000
- There is a 20 Euro fee for making an award reservation
- There is a 20 Euro cancelation fee (for cancellations made up to 30 minutes before departure)
- You are only allowed one connection (Aegean calls it a stopover) and it can be up to 24 hours long – this makes some of the bookings difficult because a two connection itinerary would not be allowed. You may need to transit a major airport on your own if your preferred itinerary would require two or more stops
- Aegean charges fuel surcharges, taxes, and fees on all partner flights. This means that award reservations involving Europe could require fees that are several hundred dollars. To get an idea of what you will be charged, you can go to the ITA Matrix and search for your flight to see what the taxes and fees would be. The best options to minimize the fees would be flights inside the North American sector and the Far East sector. Within the Far East, your taxes and fees would only amount to about $100 or a little more.
- People’s experiences with the call center can vary – if you are unable to get what you need or feel that there is an understanding problem, just try calling back another time. I have had more good calls than bad for sure.
Hopefully, this will help you with the some ideas of how and where to spend your Aegean miles. I realize the booking section was somewhat short and abbreviated but this was already a long post that would have been much longer! I will be doing another post in the near future on how to book Aegean awards and how to find what flights are available and what to expect from surcharges. For now, I just wanted to give you the bullet points so that you could get started with your planning of those miles!
Have you booked award travel with your Aegean miles yet? If so, what did you book and how was the experience?