The Best Business-Class Seats to Book Using Amex Membership Rewards Points

Apr 25, 2018

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Between lucrative welcome bonuses and generous earning rates like 5x points on airfare with The Platinum Card® from American Express and 3x points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year) with the Amex EveryDay® Preferred from American Express, it’s fairly easy to rack up American Express Membership Rewards points. However, earning points is just one thing — redeeming them for maximum value (and comfort) is an entirely different story.

Getting the most value out of your Membership Rewards points usually involves transferring them to an airline partner and then redeeming the miles through that program. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite business-class products you can book by leveraging these partners — ranked according to which we like the best.

1. Qatar Airways

If you’ve been following TPG closely, you’ll know that we’re convinced Qatar Airways’ Qsuite is the world’s best business class. The seats suites are spacious and offer a ton of privacy thanks to sliding doors. Plus, if you’re flying with a companion and assign yourself to the two center seats positioned closest together, you can set up a side-by-side double bed — a rarity in business class.

The Qsuite product is currently offered on three US routes — New York (JFK), Washington, DC (IAD) and Chicago (ORD) — as well as others around the world. However, there’s no need to fret if you don’t land yourself a Qsuite-equipped aircraft since you’ll still get to enjoy top-notch amenities on board and restaurant-quality food.

Cost With Membership Rewards Points: You can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program and book a business-class award from the East Coast to Doha for 70,000 miles one-way or 120,000 miles round-trip. Taxes and fees run about $408 each way. As long as all of your flights are on Qatar Airways, you can search and book the award online.

Another option would be to book your award with British Airways Avios (BA is another 1:1 Amex transfer partner), but unless you already have a stash of Avios in your account, you wouldn’t want to do that since that would require 105,000 miles each way, plus taxes and fees.

2. Delta

While the Delta One Suite is only available on a handful of routes right now, it’s among the best business-class seats you can book. Much like the Qsuites, these suites offer great privacy since each one features a sliding door. The seats themselves are very comfortable when in bed mode, and the Westin Heavenly bedding is phenomenal. As a Delta One passenger, you’ll also get a personalizable Tumi amenity kit.

You can find the suites on flights between the following cities:

  • Detroit (DTW) — Tokyo (NRT)
  • Detroit (DTW) — Seoul (ICN)
  • Detroit (DTW) —  Beijing (PEK)
  • Detroit (DTW) — Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Atlanta (ATL) — Seoul (ICN)
  • Detroit (DTW) — Shanghai (PVG)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Shanghai (PVG); beginning on July 2, 2018

We can also expect to begin seeing the product offered on more routes to Europe soon, making this the best way to get across the Atlantic.

Cost With Membership Rewards Points: Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles instantly at a 1:1 ratio — sounds great, right? Unfortunately though, booking awards with Delta SkyMiles can be extremely frustrating. Because the airline doesn’t publish an award chart, award pricing can vary greatly — we’ve seen Delta One Suite awards to Asia for as low as 80,000 miles one-way, but also as high as 375,000.

Your best bet would be transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club and book your award through that program. Although there isn’t a full award chart published on Virgin Atlantic’s website for Delta awards anymore, as long as there is saver award availability (typically whenever Delta charges under 100,000 miles one-way), you’re able to book Delta One awards to Europe for 50,000 Flying Club miles each way and 60,000 for flights to Asia. Plus, you’ll pay the same taxes and fees when redeeming Flying Club miles for Delta flights as you would when booking directly through Delta.

3. Singapore Airlines

Whether or not you’re flying on the A380 that features the airline’s latest and greatest seats, flying business class on Singapore Airlines is always a real treat. All of Singapore Airlines’ long-haul aircraft feature stylish business-class cabins in a 1-2-1 configuration with fully lie-flat beds.

Business-class passengers can take advantage of the famous “Book the Cook” service and pre-order meals — like the Seafood Thermidor TPG editor-at-large Zach Honig recently raved about — from extensive menus of over 60 dishes.

And if you’re lucky enough to be flying on the A380 with the airline’s amazing new business-class product, as with Qatar Airways’ Qsuite, you can enjoy a double bed with your travel companion by selecting two seats in the middle section of the cabin.

Cost With Membership Rewards Points: Booking Singapore Airlines business-class award tickets on long-haul routes is a bit challenging since you can only do so through its own KrisFlyer program. Fortunately, that’s not a problem for Amex Membership Rewards-earning cardholders — or cardholders of any of the three other major transferable points programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest — since points can be transferred to KrisFlyer at a 1:1 ratio.

Singapore Airlines operates several flights between the US and Asia, as well as several fifth-freedom ones between the US and Europe. Award pricing varies based on zones and whether you need to add a connection on a Star Alliance partner, but here are some of your booking options:

Route Miles Required Taxes and Fees
New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA) 65,000 KrisFlyer miles $23.90
New York (JFK) – Singapore (SIN) 92,000 KrisFlyer miles $50.01
Houston (IAH) – Manchester (MAN) 65,000 KrisFlyer miles $23.90
San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) 82,000 KrisFlyer miles $23.90
Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo (NRT) 85,000 KrisFlyer miles $23.90

4. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Unlike the airlines mentioned previously, ANA doesn’t offer a new business-class product, but it still enjoys a great reputation largely in part to its consistency. Business-class passengers can expect forward-facing lie-flat seats with direct aisle access on all long-haul flights.

What makes ANA stand out though is its impeccable service and amazing cuisine. ANA consults with “Connoisseur” chefs like Masayoshi Nishikawa from Gion Nishikawa in Osaka and Masayasu Yonemura of Restaurant Yonemura for its seasonal menus and renown sommeliers for its wine and sake offerings.

Besides the usual bedding which typically consist of just a pillow and comforter, business-class passengers flying ANA can also expect a mattress pad and slippers on all long-haul flights. The amenity kits include products by London-based Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Cost With Membership Rewards Points: ANA’s Mileage Club program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex and offers fantastic award availability on many of its US routes. Round-trip business-class awards between the US and Japan range between just 75,000 and 90,000 miles (depending on the season), plus about $256 in taxes and fees.

If you only need a one-way ticket on ANA, you would need to book your award through Aeroplan. However, you’ll want to avoid doing that since the program charges 75,000 miles each way in business class between the US and Japan and tends to levy high surcharges on ANA awards.

5. Air France

If you aren’t able to get to Europe with Singapore Airlines or a Delta One suite, your next best bet would be with Air France. The business-class cabins aboard its Boeing 777-300 and 787-9s utilize a 1-2-1 reverse-herringbone configuration which provides each passenger a lie-flat seat, direct aisle access and plenty of privacy.

France is known for its fine cuisine, and the food onboard the country’s flag carrier is no exception. The airline has partnered with Michelin-starred chefs like Régis Marcon, Michel Roth and Guy Martin to prepare multi-course meals that include an amuse bouche, salad, main course, cheese course and dessert complete with fine wines and champagnes selected by sommelier Paolo Basso and wine-guide authors Thierry Desseauve and Michel Bettane.

Cost With Membership Rewards Points: Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex and offers one-way business-class awards to Europe starting at just 57,500 miles plus about $247 in taxes and fees each way. However, with the program following Delta’s lead and nixing award charts in June 2018, the costs of awards could increase without any notice.

Bottom Line

American Express Membership Rewards points offer a ton of flexibility and allow you to experience some of the world’s best business-class products for very little out of pocket. The ones covered in this post are just some of our favorites, but there are plenty more fantastic options that will put your points to good use, including Cathay Pacific and Emirates’ new business class.

While points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all of the partners mentioned, that is not the case for all of Amex’s other partners. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see transfer bonuses that give you an additional 30% or sometimes more, so you may end up getting even greater value from your points.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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