How I booked six multi-city tickets to Asia using miles & points for $500

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If you’ve been following me on Daddy Travels on Facebook Group, you’d know that I’ve been struggling to plan our summer trip. Why? Well, folks. I have to plan for six members of my family. If you think booking for one or two passengers is challenging, try booking for six. Welcome to my world.

Kids, where do you want to go?

For many, many summers, we’ve always had Hawaii in our back pocket. But last summer, we booked six business class tickets from Los Angeles to Paris. After that trip, I asked the kids where they wanted to go in the summer of 2024. It was unanimous….not Europe. Asia, please!

Paris 2023

Hence, the challenge ensued. Why? Well, in 2022, we planned a trip to the Philippines over the holiday season. Using miles and points would’ve been too crazy for a trip from Los Angeles to Manila. We bit the bullet and skipped using miles. But we knew we wanted to go to the Philippines, so we purchased 7 tickets to Manila for roughly $1300 per person. It was a tough pill to swallow. But honestly, NO REGRETS. It was a trip that we were glad we took. My mom flew along with us, and we got to spend time with many members of our family.

I still had scars from the ticket cost of that trip to the Philippines. I made a vow that our next big family trip to Asia will all be covered using miles and points.

Search party

Many thanks to my buddies over on Daddy Travels on Facebook Group, they helped me with brainstorming for ideas how to make this trip work. You see. Finding a deal to Asia in the summer is also just as difficult, just like the holiday season. I had to work with these parameters:

  • Fly out of Los Angeles
  • # of travelers: 6
  • Wishlist – Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan
  • Cabin: Coach (yes, there are 6 of us traveling)
  • Travel as early as July 24, return as late as Aug 10
  • Kids start school Aug 14
  • These are the ONLY dates that would work for all

I have searched high and low. I used different airline websites:

  • Singapore Airlines
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Flying Blue
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines

Booking for six was no easy feat. My buddy, Elery, suggested splitting up the group. So I did a split booking….still no good favorable results. My buddy, Mike, helped me looking up flights with other award tool websites such as:

  • seats.aero
  • point.me

I was also open to positioning or repositioning myself to fly out of another country or another airport. I considered flying out Taiwan, Manila, Hong Kong. But nothing worked!

Super Bowl Booking Sunday morning

Ok how exactly did this all come together? Well, on Super Bowl Sunday, I woke up at 6am, rode my Peloton bike at 7am, cleaned up a little. I manifested it. This was the day to book.

I started to get my ducks in a row for our summer trip bookings. But my Super Bowl Party preparation had to continue. I remembered, CEVICHE. Yes, folks, I stopped. I made Tilapia Ceviche (one of the things I’m preparing for the Super Bowl party at home). I finished preparing the tilapia ceviche at 1pm. It was just then when I signed back in to Singapore Airlines to begin the booking process.

All eyes on Singapore Airlines

From Los Angeles to Asia

I remember Elery booked with Singapore Airlines from Manila back to Los Angeles for 42,000 pts per person. Luckily, those Saver Fares were available for our dates flying out of Los Angeles to Bangkok at 42,000 per person + $13.70. Therefore, for all six of us, that would cost us:
  • 42,000 x 6 = 252,000 miles
  • $13.70 x 6 = $82.20

If paid in cash + $5,034.60

I decided to choose FREE stopover in Singapore without being charged extra. I found a 24-hour layover in Singapore. We do have family members in Singapore and we could grab lunch and dinner with them before heading to Bangkok.

LAX Singapore Airlines – our trip back to Singapore and Malaysia in 2018

From Bangkok back to Los Angeles

This is where it got a bit tricky. So my option was to fly from Bangkok with a quick stop in Singapore, and then from Singapore, fly direct to Los Angeles.

But to fly back home to Los Angeles, I just couldn’t find a good Saver Award fare. All of the 42,000 Saver Award fares were gone. There was a waitlist option but I didn’t want to risk and be waitlisted. The best I could was for 70,000 miles per person. That was not a Saver Fare Award. It was an Advantage Fare.

Stretch those 70,000 points

I wanted to maximize the 70,000 points. Singapore Airlines has a FREE stopover option. I could add a FREE stopover since it was an Advantage Fare, and could add a stop in Tokyo for FREE for a few days and play around in Japan.. We love, love Japan. So I figured, might as well add a stop in Japan for the same amount of points:

  • 70,000 x 6 = 420,000 miles
  • $73.08 x 6 = $438.48 or Thai Baht 15,750

If paid in cash = $9553.36

All in all, to make this booking work, I would need:

  • 252,000 + 420,000 miles = 672,000 miles
  • $520.68 in fees
Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan 2019

Credit card programs that transfer to Singapore Airlines

To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve never booked directly with Singapore Airlines using miles and points. This was a new territory for me. First I needed to assess my points inventory and determine which of them transfer to Singapore Airlines. Fortunately, we have access to many of the credit card points programs:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • Capital One Miles
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Why I chose American Express Membership Rewards

Remember, I needed to transfer 672,000 to Singapore Airlines. While we have access to lots of points with Chase Ultimate Rewards, I learned that the transfer from Chase to Singapore Airlines was not instant. It could take a few days, and honestly I did not want to risk losing these available seats. American Express, on the other hand, the points transfers are known to be instant. It was a no-brainer. I planned on transferring American Express to Singapore Airlines.

Make sure to have a Singapore Krisflyer account

While I’ve had my Singapore Krisflyer account for years, it was Nancy’s Amex account that had more than enough points in her Membership Rewards balance that was enough to transfer to Singapore Airlines.

But, I had a bit of a concern. I only created a Krisflyer account for Nancy just a day before. I was concerned that it might cause an issue since her account was fairly new. But Joel B. from my group mentioned he also created a new Krisflyer account and was able to transfer immediately. Great!

12 of us flew for free to Japan using points

Before you book Singapore Airlines award flights for others

Ok, so I thought I was ready to transfer the points and book. But, thanks to my travel bud, Mike Z. He said that before I book for others, I would need to add companions to the Singapore Krisflyer account before booking for others. I had no idea. So I quickly looked up what that entailed. Well, it’s called Redemption Nominees:

Pick up to five people as your redemption nominees, and use your KrisFlyer miles so they can enjoy award tickets and flight upgrades too. Once you add someone, you can’t delete or replace them for six months. While adding a new nominee is free, you will need to pay a fee (in miles or cash) to delete or replace a nominee after six months. A flat fee is charged for each transaction whether you delete or replace one or more nominees.

And the nominees are

My plan was to transfer the 672,000 to Nancy’s Krisflyer account. And from her account, I had to go to the Redemption Nominees section, and added those of us traveling in her party. As luck would have it, the maximum number of nominees is 5, meaning including Nancy, she could book for 5 others, just perfect for our party of six.

To add the nominees, you’d need the basic information

  • Full name as shown in passport
  • Date of Birth
  • Krisflyer Account # (if any)
  • Passport information

So, yes. I added 5 nominees to Nancy’s Krisflyer account.

The Shrine tho at Nara, Japan

Transfer from American Express to Singapore Airlines

I signed in to Nancy’s American Express® Gold Card Membership Rewards account. When doing a points transfer, this is what you’re going to need:

  • the loyalty account number (in this case, Nancy’s Singapore Krisflyer account number)
  • full name (the name on your credit card account must match the loyalty account name, in this case first and last names must match)
  • the last 3 digits on the signature panel of the credit card (so you’re going to need to have the credit card handy)
  • and/or a text verification to get a one-time passcode

I got that all done….I transferred the 672,000 from her American Express® Gold Card Membership Rewards account to her Singapore Airlines Krisflyer account.

Instant transfer and I finally booked our trip to Asia

I immediately signed in to her Singapore Airlines account, and sure enough, within that same minute, all 672,000 points made it to her Krisflyer account. I pulled up the itinerary I wanted to book. I opted to book two one-way bookings vs. one round trip booking. It would be easier to make changes (if ever I had to) and not have to disrupt the entire booking.

To be honest, this was the easiest part of the process. I had my ducks in a row:

  • got the nominees added
  • transferred the points from American Express to Singapore Airlines
  • knew exactly which itinerary I wanted
  • knew exactly how many points were needed and the fees to be charged

Done!

Why I chose to book with Singapore Airlines

I had options to book via Avianca Life Miles for 40,000 + $23 one way from LAX to ICN. But I found myself struggling to find a return flight back from Seoul to Los Angeles. There were options for me to fly to other airports, we entertained flying from ICN to HNL, or ICN-MEX, or ICN-SFO, but doing so would also more time and added cost to fly us back home. I also entertained the idea of taking a positioning flight from ICN to Japan, or Taiwan, Manila, and so on, but that, too, would add more time and cost.

I figured to just keep the booking with Singapore Airlines and by doing so, all our flights to all these countries were all covered under one ticket:

  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Japan

Lessons-learned

Plan ahead – I really need to be better at planning ahead. Airline award tickets usually open up close to a year before the travel date. My goal is to plan better in the future.
Is this the really the best deal? The word BEST is subjective. For me, this is the BEST booking I could based on our needs. It’s the best booking that worked with our schedule. I’m sure others will easily argue that there are better ways to use 672,000 American Express Membership Rewards. I’m sure there are better ways, better premium booking options. But the way I see it, my 672,000 is for my family, my party of six. And looking back at our 2022 trip to the Philippines where we spend over $9,000 for our flights to Manila, I’m just glad that we were able to finally use our points and book 6 multi-city/country tickets for $500.

For more travel deals and tips, follow me on my travel page on Daddy Travels on Facebook Group or Instagram or YouTube

Editorial Disclosure – The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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