Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots

We’ve previously published guides to American Express Membership Rewards sweet spots, Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots, and Citi ThankYou points sweet spots to highlight the many great award options for travel between the US and various regions around the world. While transfers from hotel programs to airlines are usually a bad deal, Marriott Bonvoy is the exception. With a wide range of major airline partners, Marriott points can be very useful for transfers to airlines. If you’re earning most of your Marriott points at a rate of 2x on one of the various Bonvoy credit cards, a Marriott transfer would not be your best bet in most cases. On the other hand, if you’re traveling regularly for work and racking up Marriott Bonvoy points based on stays paid for by your employer, you might find some very interesting options indeed in the Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots. We will continue to add to our sweet spot guides with the latest values.

Transfer Ratio

Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to airline programs at a rate of 3 Marriott Bonvoy points to 1 airline mile. Additionally, Marriott adds a bonus for large transfers. If you transfer 60K Marriott points (which at 3:1 are worth 20K airline miles), Marriott adds 5K bonus miles. That means a transfer of 60K Marriott points will get you 25K airline miles (thus it makes the most sense to transfer in blocks of 60K).

Note that transfers to United Mileage Plus enjoy an additional 10% bonus.

Airlines sometimes run transfer bonuses that stack in addition to the above transfer ratio, which can make for an even better deal. For instance, if an airline offers a 35% transfer bonus on points transferred from hotel programs, 60K Marriott Bonvoy points could get you 33,750 airline miles (60K Marriott –> 25K airline + 35% bonus = 33,750 airline miles).

Transfer times are slow

One key thing to note: transfer times from Marriott to airline partners are generally much slower than those from traditional bank point programs. Typical transfer times are 1-2 weeks to most programs, which means that Marriott points are not ideal for booking routes with tight availability or any sort of last-minute booking close to departure. If you are able to put your desired award on hold before transferring, that would likely be the ideal scenario — though even then, not all award programs will hold seats as long as the transfer may take. It is therefore advisable to transfer to a program where you are confident you will be able to use the points for a future redemption even if your preferred redemption is gone by the time the points transfer.

Domestic US flights

Marriott has plenty of partners that can offer equal or better value as compared to most US-based Frequent Flyer programs. Whether you’re looking to fly American, Delta, United, or Southwest, Marriott has the partners to get you where you’re going. Note that Turkish Miles & Smiles is a particular value here.

Air France KLM Flying Blue
  • The short story: Flying Blue often offers Delta flights for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries.
  • Miles required: Varies, but as low as 12,500 miles each way plus $5.60 for direct domestic US flights on Delta (which can be an even better deal when there is a transfer bonus)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at airfrance.us.
  • How to book awards: Book online at airfrance.us.
  • Key warnings: Delta usually blocks award space from partners within 21 days of departure. If you see award space on the Air France site for close-in departures, it would be wise to call Flying Blue to verify that you can put the award on hold before transferring points.
Avianca LifeMiles
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers domestic one-ways on United (with connections) from 7500 miles each way. Mixed-cabin redemptions can also be a way to fly up front for less.
  • Miles required: From 7500 miles each way within one of the three US regions in economy class (See: My first LifeMiles redemption: Easy as . . .  and Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
British Airways Avios
  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart that can be useful for short direct flights on American Airlines with no close-in booking fee and great flexibility due to an easy cancellation policy.
  • Miles required: 7.5K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments covering up to 1,151 miles flown.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at britishaiways.com
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club.
Delta SkyMiles
  • The short story: Delta has weekly flash sales where it is sometimes possible to get excellent value. Awards to Canada can also present good value.
  • Miles required: Varies, but enter your starting airport at the Travel is Free Delta mileage calculator to find domestic destinations that may present a good deal.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Delta.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at Delta.com.
  • Key warnings: Delta pricing can be very unpredictable and vary wildly.
Iberia Avios
  • The short story: Iberia Plus offers a distance-based award chart that can be useful for short itineraries on American Airlines (even those with connections) with no close-in booking fee. See: From 11K RT on American: A sweet spot for North American flight redemptions.
  • Miles required: From 11K miles round trip plus $11.20 for economy-class itineraries. The best deals are itineraries of 2,000 miles flown or fewer since they cost 17,000 miles round trip at most when American has availability.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at iberia.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at iberia.com.
  • Key warnings: Most Iberia partner bookings, including those on American Airlines, are completely nonrefundable and can not be changed. Only book AA flights with Iberia if plans are certain.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • The short story: Qantas offers a distance-based award chart that can be useful for short itineraries on American Airlines (even those with connections) with no close-in booking fee. Qantas often shows many more available AA itinerary options than British Airways or Iberia. See: Strenghts of Qantas for AA redemptions.
  • Miles required: From 8K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class routes covering up to 600 miles flown or 12K miles for routes between 601-1200 miles flown. Qantas is a new Amex transfer partner in 2019, but they are already offering a transfer bonus and it may stack with Qantas’s own bonus.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at qantas.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: The change fee is 5K miles or cancellation fee is 6K miles, which means you’ll lose most of the miles used on these short flights if you need to change or cancel.
Southwest
  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth about 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but award bookings are totally flexible since they can be changed or canceled with no fee up until shortly before departure.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be as cheap as less than 2K miles each way.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Southwest.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Southwest.com
  • Key warnings: Keep in mind that if you pay for Early Bird Check In and then later cancel or change your flight, you will lose the benefit without a refund.
Turkish Miles & Smiles
  • The short story: Turkish offers domestic flights on Star Alliance partner United for 7.5K each way in economy class or 12.5K each way in business class (including itineraries with connections).
  • Miles required: 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class (can include connections for the same price)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Traditionally, you have needed to call Turkish Airlines to put the award on hold and then travel to a Turkish Airlines ticket office to ticket the award. However, bookings have been working via email. See: Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how.
  • Key warnings: Turkish appears to have a max connect time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary, so itineraries with a longer connection would require 2 awards. The process is a bit slow since you’re stuck waiting for an email response and space could disappear while you wait for the miles to transfer and/or an email response.
United
  • The short story: United offers domestic one-way awards for as few as 10K miles each way and offers expanded availability to credit card holders and elite members.
  • Miles required: 10K to 12.5K miles each way plus $5.60 for the cheapest saver-level domestic economy class awards.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so you may see many different prices for award tickets. The $75 close-in booking fee for flights departing within the next 21 days reduces the value of United miles for bookings near departure.
Virgin Atlantic
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries.
  • Miles required: 12,500 miles each way plus $5.60 for direct domestic US flights on Delta
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.  See: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately (i.e. an itinerary with a single connection will cost 25K miles), so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.

Hawaii

Turkish Miles & Smiles is far and away the best current value for flights to and from Hawaii, with economy class flights costing 7.5K each way and business class 12.5K each way. This means that a transfer of 60K Marriott points to Turkish Miles & Smiles is enough for a round trip business class flight from the continental US to Hawaii — if you can find the award space on United.

British Airways Avios
  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the West Coast of the USA on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines can be a great value with Avios.
  • Miles required: 13K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments between west coast cities and Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
Singapore KrisFlyer
  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer charges fewer miles for domestic flights to Hawaii than United does for the same flights
  • Miles required: 17,500 miles each way in economy or 34,500 in business (as compared to 22.5K / 40K through United)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles– but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written)
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way award. Be aware that United.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.
Southwest
  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth about 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but award bookings are totally flexible since they can be changed or canceled with no fee up until shortly before departure.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be less than other options when cash prices are low.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Southwest.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Southwest.com
  • Key warnings: Keep in mind that if you pay for Early Bird Check In and then later cancel or change your flight, you will lose the benefit without a refund.
Turkish Miles & Smiles
  • The short story: Turkish offers the same pricing on flights to Hawaii as for other domestic US awards, making them an unbelievable value for United Airlines flights to Hawaii. See: 7.5K each way to Hawaii. The sweetest spot we’ve been missing.
  • Miles required: 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class (can include connections for the same price)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Traditionally, you have needed to call Turkish Airlines to put the award on hold and then travel to a Turkish Airlines ticket office to ticket the award. However, bookings have been working via email. See: Book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via email. Here’s how.
  • Key warnings: Turkish appears to have a max connect time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary, so itineraries with a longer connection would require 2 awards. The process is a bit slow since you’re stuck waiting for an email response and space could disappear while you wait for the miles to transfer and/or an email response.
Virgin Atlantic
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights to Hawaii for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries..This can be a particularly good value for Delta’s life-flat routes to Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 20,000 miles each way in economy class or 37,500 miles each way in business class (for direct flights)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.

Europe

Beyond the partners of the major transferable currencies, you can snag a great deal with Aegean Miles & Bonus or business class flights to Europe, including without fuel surcharges on some partners. Those in SkyTeam hubs might consider Korean Skypass despite its high fuel surcharges for mileage savings. Marriott gives plenty of options to and from the Old Continent.

Aegean Miles & Bonus
  • The short story: Aegean offers business class for just 45K each way or first class for 60K each way from North America to Europe & North Africa, though watch out for fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: 45K each way in business class or 60K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for available Star Alliance space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aegean, but you must have the miles in your account to see availability / cost and if an award includes travel on Aegean / Olympic, you must call. See more detail here.
  • Key warnings: Aegean passes on fuel surcharges. Fly LOT Polish, SAS, Turkish, or United for low / no fuel surcharges.
Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but promo awards often offer good value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s and sometimes as low as the 20K’s depending on destination.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable (about $150-$250 in taxes and fees each way)
Air Canada Aeroplan
  • The short story: Aeroplan offers competitive pricing on Star Alliance business class awards and the best deal on first class awards to and from Europe at 70K each way. They also offer stopovers on round trip awards, which can present particular value. Lap infants are charged incredibly reasonable fees in either cash or miles and the price is the same whether booking one way or round trip.
  • Miles required: 55K each way in business class or 70K each way in first class. Fuel surcharges are passed on, so choose carriers with low / no fuel surcharges.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Key warnings: There are high fuel surcharges on Lufthansa, but the relative savings in terms of miles used for first class might mitigate the fees.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, COPA, Croatia Airlines, EVA Airlines, Egypt Air, Ethiopian, GOL, Juneao Airlines, SAS, SWISS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines
  • Low fuel surcharges on: Cathay Pacific / Cathay Dragon, LOT Polish, Thai Airways
ANA Mileage Club
  • The short story: ANA charges just 88K round trip for business class Star Alliance awards from the US to Europe.
  • Miles required: 88K round trip in business class. Fuel surcharges are passed on, but are avoidable with the right carriers. See: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or Points.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at ANA’s website. (you’ll need to create a free ANA Mileage Club account and log in to search for space)
  • How to book awards: Book online at ANA’s website.
  • Key warnings: You must book round trip. High fuel surcharges are assessed by some carriers, others have none or low fuel surcharges. The ANA website interface is not particularly user-friendly or modern-looking, so it may take some time to get used to the search features.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Etihad, United
  • Low fuel surcharges on: ANA, Asiana, LOT Polish, Turkish (higher than the others but low by comparison to some)
Avianca LifeMiles
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, especially in first class, with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: 63K each way in business or 87K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). In economy class, some routes price from 16.5K one-way and some mixed-cabin business class itineraries can price from as low as 49K. See: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
Etihad Guest
  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, or Royal Air Maroc between the US and Europe.
  • Miles required: 44K each way in business class on Brussels Airlines or Royal Air Maroc or 50K each way in business class on American Airlines
  • How to find awards: Search for Brussels award space on United.com or American award space on AA.com (you may want to double-check availability at Qantas.com)
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again).
Korean Skypass
  • The short story: Korean charges only 80K round trip for business class between the US and Europe on SkyTeam airlines, though fees ring in around $700..
  • Miles required: 80K round trip in business class on SkyTeam airlines
  • How to find awards: Search Delta.com to find SkyTeam availability or VirginAtlantic.com to find Delta availability.
  • How to book awards: Book online with Korean SkyPass.
  • Key warnings: Korean requires round trip travel and the website can be frustrating (hence the recommendation to search for space via other sites — then plug in dates that have the space you want at Korean’s site). Korean passes on fuel surcharges — expect a round trip award between the US and Europe to come with around $700 in fees.
Lufthansa Miles & More
  • The short story: Lufthansa charges 56K one-way in business class between the US and Europe, but they sometimes run Mileage Bargain sales where you might be able to fly round trip on Lufthansa for about the same price (with high fuel surcharges).
  • Miles required: 56K each way in business class on Star Alliance airlines with occasional short-term deals as much as 50% off on Lufthansa flights
  • How to find awards: Search United.com
  • How to book awards: Book some partners online with Lufthansa Miles & More, others require phone booking. See this post for more.
  • Key warnings: Lufthansa levies high fuel surcharges on its own flights (and passes on fuel surcharges with others), but when they run their special deals (similar to Flying Blue promo awards), it might be worth paying the surcharges if you can fly round trip in business class for less than 60K miles. Note: As of June 2019, transfers to Lufthansa are suspended. It is unclear if and when these transfers will return.
Virgin Atlantic
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries.This can be a particularly good value for Delta’s life-flat routes to Europe and availability is often surprisingly good.
  • Miles required: 50K miles each way in business class (for direct flights)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. See: Book Delta with Virgin Atlantic miles online! (again).
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries. Note that taxes on flights originating in Europe can be high, but are only $5.60 when originating in the US unless you are flying into the UK, in which case fees will be exorbitant (better to fly to another European city and buy a cheap ticket to London) . Some major European airports are not loaded into Virgin Atlantic’s website, so you may have to call to check availability / book.

Asia

ANA business class

While Virgin Atlantic stands out as the hands-down best value here for its amazing first class pricing on ANA, you can get even better value for ANA business class itineraries (and Star Alliance itineraries) by booking through ANA Mileage Club. Avianca LifeMiles may also be a good choice for routes to Asia, especially if you’re able to take advantage of mixed-cabin pricing referenced in the Avianca sections above.

Alaska Mileage Plan
  • The short story: Alaska has fantastic rates for premium cabin travel with partners Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific,Hainan Airlines and Korean.
  • Miles required: Varies by partner: 50K each way in business on Hainan or Cathay Pacific; 60K each way in Japan Airlines business class; 105K round trip in Korean business; 70K each way in Japan Airlines first class to Asia 1 or 75K to Southeast Asia; 70K each way Cathay Pacific First class to Asia (see this page for full details)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AlaskaAir.com for Japan Airlines, Hainan, and Korean. Check BritishAirways.com for Cathay Pacific (but note that Alaska generally has access to 1 fewer seat than British Airways)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AlaskaAir.com for those partners that show up online or call Alaska Mileage Plan to book other partners.
Qantas
  • The short story: Qantas offers good partner pricing for El Al flights to Israel.
  • Miles required: 78K points in business between Tel Aviv and Boston, Newark, and New York JFK. 92K points in business between Tel Aviv and Chicago, Miami. 104K points in business between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles or San Francisco. With a transfer bonus, these rates can get better.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
Aegean Miles & Bonus
  • The short story: While Aegean charges 75K each way in business class between North America and the Far East, a particularly sweet spot is the fact that they charge just 21K miles each way in business class within the Far East. That can represent an excellent value with some long business class flights available in the region.
  • Miles required: 75K each way in business class between North America and the Far East; just 21K each way for business class within the Far East region
  • How to find awards: Search for available Star Alliance space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aegean, but you must have the miles in your account to see availability / cost and if an award includes travel on Aegean / Olympic, you must call. See more detail here.
  • Key warnings: Aegean passes on fuel surcharges.
Avianca LifeMiles
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers decent pricing to Asia with no fuel surcharges. Business class awards may be semi-hackable by finding the right partners and/or adding a long economy class leg.
  • Miles required: From 62.5K each way in business or 75K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
ANA Mileage Club
  • The short story: ANA charges 75K round trip between North America and Japan for business class flights on ANA metal during low season, 85K RT during regular season, or 90K RT during high season. Star Alliance awards are charged at high season rates. A stopover is allowed.
  • Miles required: From 75K round trip in business class. Fuel surcharges are passed on, but can be quite reasonable to/from Japan and some other destinations.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at ANA’s website. (you’ll need to create a free ANA Mileage Club account and log in to search for space)
  • How to book awards: Book online at ANA’s website.
  • Key warnings: You must book round trip. High fuel surcharges are assessed by some carriers, others have none or low fuel surcharges. The ANA website interface is not particularly user-friendly or modern-looking, so it may take some time to get used to the search features. Low and regular season pricing only applies to itineraries entirely on ANA. Star Alliance awards or those mixing ANA and Star Alliance carriers price at high season rates.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Etihad, United
  • Low fuel surcharges on: ANA, Asiana, LOT Polish, Turkish (higher than the others but low by comparison to some)
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
  • The short story: If you can fly on off-peak days (departing the US Monday through Thursday and Japan Tuesday through Friday), you can snag a great deal. An open jaw is allowed on round trip tickets.
  • Miles required: 80K round trip in business class or 110K round trip in first class between the US and Japan on off-peak days of the week
  • How to find awards: Search at Japan Airlines
  • How to book awards: Book online at Japan Airlines
  • Key warnings: High fuel surcharges for travel on partner Emirates mean that JAL is no longer the deal it once was for travel in Emirates premium cabins.
Singapore KrisFlyer
  • The short story: While award prices are high, Singapore KrisFlyer has much better availability in premium cabins for their own members. They also offer a stopover on a one-way award.
  • Miles required: 95K / 99K from the West Coast / East Coast to Singapore in business class or 130K / 132K in first class (see the full award chart here).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer. Can waitlist as many options as you’d like as long as you have enough miles to book the award being waitlisted.
  • Key warnings: Note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets. Waitlisted itineraries that do not clear by 14 days prior to departure will get canceled.
United
  • The short story: United business class for 70K each way and allows the mixing of partners and cabins, which adds more possible awards given its number of partners in Asia.
  • Miles required: 70K miles each way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so we may eventually see many different prices for award tickets. The $75 close-in booking fee for flights departing within the next 21 days reduces the value of United miles for bookings near departure.
Virgin Atlantic
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers incredible value for ANA first class between the US and Japan (and decent value for business class)..
  • Miles required: 110K / 120K round trip for first class between the US West Coast / US East Coast and Japan or 90K / 95K miles in business class
  • How to find awards: Search United.com to find ANA partner award space.
  • How to book awards: Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1 800 365 9500.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so this award is best for direct flights. They also add fuel surcharges for ANA flights, though total taxes and fees are still quite reasonable (about $270 round trip at the time of writing).

Caribbean / Latin America

Similar to domestic US flights, Avianca LifeMiles and Qantas can offer better value than United and American for the same flights. Avios can also offer good value for American Airlines flights — British Airways is better for direct flights and when you need flexibility; Iberia is better for connecting itineraries and when plans are locked in (since you can not change or cancel).

Avianca LifeMiles
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United to the “rest of North America” (i.e. not the US) for 12,500 miles each way in economy class.
  • Miles required: 12,500 miles each way in economy class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
British Airways Avios
  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the southern part of the US to the Caribbean and Latin America can be a solid value.
  • Miles required: Varies based on distance. From 7.5K one-way in economy class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
Delta SkyMiles
  • The short story: Delta has weekly flash sales where it is sometimes possible to get solid value. Some itineraries to the Caribbean offer surprising value.
  • Miles required: Varies, but enter your starting airport at the Travel is Free Delta mileage calculator and just check the “international” box to find destinations that may present a good deal.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Delta.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at Delta.com.
  • Key warnings: Delta pricing can be very unpredictable and vary wildly.
Iberia Avios
  • The short story: Iberia Plus offers a distance-based award chart that can be useful for short itineraries on American Airlines (even those with connections) with no close-in booking fee. See: From 11K RT on American: A sweet spot for North American flight redemptions.
  • Miles required: From 11K miles round trip plus $11.20 for economy-class itineraries. The best deals are itineraries of 2,000 miles flown or fewer since they cost 17,000 miles round trip at most when American has availability.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at iberia.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at iberia.com.
  • Key warnings: Most Iberia partner bookings, including those on American Airlines, are completely nonrefundable and can not be changed. Only book AA flights with Iberia if plans are certain.
Qantas
  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than American Airlines on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for short international flights like Miami to Grand Cayman or other points in the Southern US to the Caribbean.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles or 12,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles. (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
Southwest
  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth about 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but certain taxes aren’t charged on award tickets which can make for a redemption value as high as 1.9 cents per point to some Latin American destinations.
  • Miles required: Varies by route.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Southwest.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Southwest.com
  • Key warnings: Keep in mind that if you pay for Early Bird Check In and then later cancel or change your flight, you will lose the benefit without a refund.

Africa

It’s hard to beat the value of using Etihad Guest for Royal Air Maroc to get to Africa, especially considering the fact that Royal Air Maroc serves many destinations that may be otherwise more difficult to reach on an award ticket. However, if you don’t live near an airport served by Royal Air Maroc, using ANA Mileage Club to book a Star Alliance award for 105K round trip in business class is also a fantastic deal that opens a lot more options.

Alaska Mileage Plan
  • The short story: Alaska offers an amazing value if you’re looking for a multi-stop trip since you can book Cathay Pacific business or first class very reasonably and include a free stopover in Hong Kong.
  • Miles required: 62.5K each way in business class. 70K each way in first class. Alaska allows a free stopover on a one-way award.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at BritishAirways.com for Cathay Pacific (but note that Alaska generally has access to 1 fewer seat than British Airways)
  • How to book awards: Call Alaska Mileage Plan to book other partners.
ANA Mileage Club
  • The short story: ANA charges 105K between North America and Africa for Star Alliance business class itineraries. No fuel surcharges with Etihad makes them a particularly good value for business class to Africa.
  • Miles required: 105K round trip in business class. Fuel surcharges are passed on, but can be avoided with the right partners. Find partners that do not add fuel surcharges in this post: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or Points.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at ANA’s website. (you’ll need to create a free ANA Mileage Club account and log in to search for space)
  • How to book awards: Book online at ANA’s website.
  • Key warnings: You must book round trip. High fuel surcharges are assessed by some carriers, others have none or low fuel surcharges. The ANA website interface is not particularly user-friendly or modern-looking, so it may take some time to get used to the search features.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Etihad, United
  • Low fuel surcharges on: ANA, Asiana, LOT Polish, Turkish (higher than the others but low by comparison to some)
Etihad Guest
  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on Royal Air Maroc between the US and any of Royal Air Maroc’s destinations.
  • Miles required: 44K each way in business class for itineraries of 2,001 miles or more
  • How to find awards: Search for award space at RoyalAirMaroc.com. You’ll need to create a free Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer account to search.
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again). A stopover in Casablanca be possible, but note that it will increase taxes. Note also that Etihad Guest does add fuel surcharges. The best way to find the total in taxes & fuel surcharges is to check ITA Matrix.
United
  • The short story: United offers something called the “Excurionist Perk”, which gives you a free one-way within a single region when your travel begins and ends in the same region. See: Leveraging the United Excursionist Perk to save miles and Fly around Japan for 5K each way, and add a free Excursion [Sweet-spot spotlight] for some ideas. United partners with Egypt Air, South African, and Ethiopian, which should give you ample opportunity to take advantage of th Excursonist perk.
  • Miles required: 70K miles each way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so we may eventually see many different prices for award tickets. The $75 close-in booking fee for flights departing within the next 21 days reduces the value of United miles for bookings near departure.

Bottom line

While Marriott Bonvoy may primarily be a hotel loyalty program, it offers tons of great airline partner options for booking flights. While the value proposition has certainly changed for those who were accustomed to racking up points based on credit card spend before the merger, there is still plenty of value for those who primarily earn Marriott points based on paid stays. While there are also opportunities to get good value with hotels, Marriott Bonvoy’s airline partners are certainly worth a look if you are flush with Bonvoy points.

For more information on Marriott Bonvoy, see our Marriott Bonvoy complete guide.

For sweet spots in other programs, see:

Amex Membership Rewards sweet spots

Citi ThankYou points sweet spots

Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

Last updated on July 12th, 2019

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

21
Leave a Reply

avatar
13 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
14 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
Paul DavismasseliteBenYoniPDXNick Reyes Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
trackback

[…] post Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots appeared first on Frequent […]

Bill
Guest
Bill

Nick, this is a great guide! I really appreciate all of these program guides that you all have put together. Your recent Turkish Airlines/Hawaii find really intrigued me, … and I’ve started doing some random searches from my home airport, ATL. One word of caution, … practically all of the X fare saver space I’m seeing at United.com has layovers greater than 4 hours (which sounds like that may disqualify the deal using Turkish miles). Of course, the deal is so good, … re-positioning is definitely worth looking into. Thanks again for all of the helpful information (this is by far my favorite points/miles blog).

RNP
Guest
RNP

Thanks, very good analysis. Like the key warnings

Pete
Guest
Pete

I don’t think Miles and More still allows Marriott point transfers at this time???

trackback

[…] Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots […]

Konstantinos
Guest
Konstantinos

Regarding Aegean Airlines Asia flights: “…the fact that they charge just 21K miles each way in business class within the Far East. That can represent an excellent value with some long business class flights available in the region.”
Can you point some of those “long” flights in that region? Because the longest I can think of is BEY to MCT

Eric
Guest
Eric

Fantastic article Nick! One thing I wanted to point out though: For using Virgin Atlantic Miles to fly on Delta metal, there are still massive surcharges from the USA if you are flying to LHR. E.g. DTW to CDG would be $5.60, but DTW to LHR shows as $624. I almost got burned by this and thought other people would find this to be useful information.

So under warnings perhaps you could specify that VX is a great way to book available Delta flights to anywhere but LHR (and maybe all of the UK, I’m not sure).

miafll
Guest
miafll

A very good summary. Very useful article that can also serve as sweet spots on airline programs for that matter.

Just a suggestion – It would be better to add a warning that the transfers are NOT instant. Can take 2 to 3 weeks in some partners such as AS and Aeroplan even before the merger.

During a period of earlier this year and late last year, there were problems causing many points “lost” in the transfer process and took the members a lot of time, not to mention frustrations to get things straightened out.

Strongly suggest people who are interested, follow the related thread in Marriott forum on FT.

Liam Ran
Guest
Liam Ran

Just one question – why isn’t Asiana Airlines on the list?

Grant
Guest
Grant

Hyatt also has several airline partners and you can usually get a transfer of 50K Hyatt = 30K airline miles. Would you be able to do a similar post for Hyatt airline transfer partners?

masselite
Guest
masselite

50K Hyatt points are so valuable to exchange for 30K miles of any airlines in my opinion… It can get 10 decent nights whereas 60K Bonvoy points can only get 5 decent nights.

trackback

[…] this morning’s Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots guide, we noted that your best option to search for Japan Airlines award space is to use […]

Ben
Guest
Ben

Nick, thank you for the resource and love the effort. It would be a LOT more useful to me if you would simply include economy prices on all the routes, too. Thank you!

Paul Davis
Guest
Paul Davis

I was disappointed. I thought you would be focusing on transfer options from Bonvoy that are sweet because there aren’t any other transfer options. Those airlines that aren’t part of Membership rewards, Ultimate rewards or citi thank you.
I know Alaska is one that I’ve had to resort to Bonvoy (Marriott) to top off miles. I’d find that a very useful summary. You put great info out all the time. thanks!