Playing arbitrage with points

Would you be willing to pay about $1000 for a restricted inventory seat in business class between North America and wither Europe or Asia (Japan, China, Korea)?  Many folks would leap at that opportunity – the price is phenomenal.  Heck, it isn’t always even possible to find coach tickets that that price point.  Well, if you’re willing to take a bit of a risk with US Airways right now, such a ticket could be yours.

When the airlines start offering great deals to buy miles outright it always raises a red flag.  They are desperate for cash and aren’t particularly afraid to show it.  So US Air’s current 2 for 1 promo on buying miles is certainly both tempting and a bit scary.  Scary because there is always the risk that you won’t be able to redeem the miles and they go bankrupt and the tickets aren’t honored (a small risk, but a risk nonetheless).  And ridiculously tempting because the redemption rates they offer with their partners in Star Alliance are really quite reasonable. 

For 80-90,000 miles it is possible to issue a reward for business class between North America and either Asia or Europe.  And you can fly on their partners.  The likes of Swiss or Austrian to Europe or ANA to Asia come into play in a hurry.  Lufthansa or United are options, too.  Lots of fun to be had, and all for the low, low price of about $1,000.  Oh, and you have to find available seats on those flights.  The promo is limited to the first 50,000 miles you buy so don’t plan too many trips, but getting one for that price is really not a bad deal at all.

Sometimes the points game isn’t all that much fun.  But right now it has a lot of potential if you’re willing to make a bit of an investment.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. The good news is that US hasn't shown any indications that they are going to go the StarNet blocking route. Still, I would be hesitatn to invest too heavily unless there is a specific, known reward available and it is not too far out into the future.

  2. Seth –

    I actually have enough pts for 2 business class seats with USAir. I know, I know 🙂 . I am planning an anniversary trip with the missus and going to Europe. Off topic, but what airline would you try to get C class on ? Probably going to Italy with a planned stopver somewhere. I was thinking Lufthansa on the way over, and then Austrian on way back back to go through Vienna. Or Swiss and Zurich or SAS and say Copenhagen ? The US rules are fairly liberal, but it needs to be a partner hub….Any recommendations – airport would be BOS so SAS seems to far out of way. Maybe AC on way over ?


  3. The US rules are slightly restrictive on the routings for stopovers – hubs only – but that shouldn't prevent you from having a great trip.

    I'd try for Swiss, assuming you can get one of their newly configured A330s. It is among the top 2-3 business class cabins crossing the Atlantic these days. And if you can get Austrian you'll be on one of the other top products. I'd take those ahead of Lufthansa or United (even the new UA seats) any day.

    Air Canada has some planes with a nice product but the need to clear immigration in Canada just to transit is rather annoying and I'd skip it unless that's the only option with availability.

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