There Are Soft Spots in the Smiles Award Charts, Here’s What to Book

I recently wrote about a promotion Smiles, the frequent flyer program of Gol, was offering on qualifying hotel stays.  The promotion allowed Smiles members to earn up to 3x the number of Smiles miles on a stay.  Multiple bloggers managed to find stays that yielded 100,000+ miles for a one night stay.  However earning 100,000 miles for a hotel stay didn’t come cheap.  Rates that yielded the most miles were routinely priced over $1,000 USD.  Still, at the time, the promotion seemed to be worth it even if you could only earn 50,000 miles for a stay.I ended up booking a two-night stay at the Le Meridien Dallas to earn 63,000 miles.  In hindsight, that might not have been such a good idea because Smiles miles are actually quite worthless and it appears that Smiles doesn’t plan to honor this promotion.  Rocketmiles’ management team was forced to call Smiles on behalf of members who booked this promotion.  Rocketmiles, the booking engine through which this promotion was offered has confirmed they plan to honor the promotion, however, there’s still a lot of doubt surrounding the triple miles promo.

I ended up booking a two-night stay at the Le Meridien Dallas to earn 63,000 miles.  In hindsight, that might not have been such a good idea because Smiles miles are actually quite worthless and it appears that Smiles doesn’t plan to honor this promotion.  Rocketmiles’ management team was forced to call Smiles on behalf of members who booked this promotion.  Rocketmiles, the booking engine through which this promotion was offered has confirmed they plan to honor the promotion, however, there’s still a lot of doubt surrounding the triple miles promo.

For the sake of this post, let’s say that Smiles does honor the promotion and you end up with a nice chunk of Smiles in your account.  It turns out that 80,000 Smiles miles don’t get you a seat in Emirates first class.  As a matter of fact, the only airline that allows you to book a seat in first class through Smiles is Etihad but that will set you back more than 100,000 Smiles miles one-way.  Still, as some readers mentioned in the comments, there are some soft spots when redeeming Smiles miles for a flight.  Here are some of the best deals I’ve come across.


London to the US in Business Class, Starting at 85k Miles on Delta

(Image: Delta Air Lines)

(Image: Delta Air Lines)

Delta ONE is by no means the Etihad First Class Apartments, still, it’s a fantastic business class product.  Delta has made a variety of upgrades to Delta ONE.  The onboard dining and hard product aren’t the only aspects of Delta ONE that are appealing.  When departing London Heathrow, Delta ONE passengers have access to the phenomenal Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.  I’d spend 85k miles just to visit the Clubhouse!  Additionally, Trans-Atlantic business class isn’t cheap with fares averaging $4,000 USD one-way.  That said, this is one of the more attractive trans-oceanic offers I’ve come across.

Delta ONE London to Miami for 85K Smiles Miles

Delta ONE London to Miami for 85K Smiles Miles

Dubai to India in First Class, Starting at 150k Miles on Etihad

This one’s the big ticket item.  Though Dubai to Mumbai via Abu Dhabi will only get you a few hours up front, you’ll still have access to Etihad’s dedicated first class check-in and lounges.  I’m sure there are better ways to get a seat in Etihad’s First Class Apartments, however, if you can’t find a use for your Smiles miles, this is a fantastic redemption.

Dubai to Mumbai in Eithad First Class for 150k Smiles Miles

Dubai to Mumbai in Etihad First Class for 150k Smiles Miles

Toronto to Vancouver in Business Class, Starting at 40k Miles on Air Canada

Air Canada's new Business Class for 40k miles from Toronto to Vancouver

Air Canada’s new Business Class (Image: Air Canada)

This redemption has the potential of being a fantastic use of miles, however, everything has to work in your favor.  The problem with a route like Toronto to Vancouver on Air Canada is that Air Canada operates multiple aircraft types on this route daily.  If you aren’t careful, you could land yourself on an Airbus a321 for 6 hours.  If you’re crafty and book the right flight, you might score a seat on one of Air Canada’s widebody aircraft with the airline’s new business class cabin.  At 40,000 miles, it’s not the best deal but it’s certainly not the worst deal.  I’d love to give Air Canada’s new and improved business class a try and Smiles might be the perfect way to book a seat.

Toronto to Vancouver in Air Canada Business Class for 40k Smiles miles

Toronto to Vancouver in Air Canada Business Class for 40k Smiles miles

Hong Kong to Sydney in Coach and Business Class, Starting at 70k Miles on Emirates

Emirates Business Class (Image: Emirates)

Emirates Business Class (Image: Emirates)

Mixed cabin award redemptions certainly aren’t the most enjoyable way to spend your miles.  To make matters worse, this isn’t one of those mixed cabin awards where the premium cabin leg is super long and the other coach leg is short.  Both of these flights are fairly long.  However, 70,000 Smiles miles is a great way to try out Emirates’ business class cabin.  Again, there are better ways to get a seat in Emirates’ business class but for travelers in Asia, there aren’t many great Smiles award redemptions making this redemption somewhat attractive.

Hong Kong to Sydney in Emirates Business Class for 70k Smiles miles

Hong Kong to Sydney in Emirates Business Class for 70k Smiles miles

New York to Mexico City in Business Class, Starting at 22.5k Miles on Aeromexico

Aeromexico's new Boeing 787-9 Business Class (Image: Aeromexico)

Aeromexico’s new Boeing 787-9 Business Class (Image: Aeromexico)

This is a fantastic way to use your Smiles miles regardless of what aircraft you end up on.  However, my advice to anyone considering this award redemption is to not book the first flight you see.  Aeromexico flys their Boeing 787-9 in and out of New York on this route at least once a day.  Aeromexico’s Boeing 787s feature brand new lie-flat business class seats with all-aisle access and a small walk-up bar.  If I actually end up with 63k Smiles miles, I plan on booking a roundtrip ticket to Mexico City to try out Aeromexico’s Boeing 787-9.  Finger crossed!

New York to Mexico City in Business Class on Aeromexico for 22.5k Smiles miles

New York to Mexico City in Business Class on Aeromexico for 22.5k Smiles miles


Overall

I’m sure there are people better versed in the world of Brazilian frequent flyer programs that could find some better soft spots in the Smiles award chart.  The reality is that Smiles aren’t that valuable, however, they’re great for short haul business class redemptions.  Delta’s entire domestic network is a great way to get a lot of value out of your Smiles miles.  Aside from Delta’s domestic network, flights throughout South America and Mexico also appears to be great ways to use Smiles miles.  Unfortunately, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East don’t appear to be ideal regions to use Smiles miles.

Have you found any attractive Smiles award redemptions?  Do you think Gol/Smiles will honor their triple miles promotion?

Another way to use your Smiles miles, Delta First Class

Another way to use your Smiles miles, Delta First Class