There have been lots of exciting updates to foreign carrier routes the last few days, which have resulted in some great additional mileage redemption opportunities. A few more to highlight today:
QATAR Airways starting 10APR13 is launching Doha – Chicago nonstop service, on board Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Schedule:
QR991 DOH0915 – 1550ORD 77W D
QR992 ORD2130 – 1900+1DOH 77W D
Aerolineas Argentinas has opened reservation for the 4th weekly Buenos Aires – Sydney service, due to start from 02DEC12. The new flight operates on Sundays from EZE, Mondays from SYD. Schedule:
AR1180 EZE0830 – 1420+1SYD 340 x246
AR1181 SYD1930 – 1955EZE 340 x357
United’s partnership with Qatar is scheduled to end on September 14, 2012, however you can still redeem mileage for award tickets on Qatar until that time. Flights are valid for up to one year from the date of issue, meaning you can book flights with travel through September 2013. Note that the Chicago – Doha flight is not yet appearing in UA’s online award search results. Also, if calling in, note that some UA agents are confused by the rules and some insist that awards must be used by September of this year. I find that it’s easiest to hang up and get another agent who is more familiar with the partnership. UA requires 40k each way in economy and 60k each way in business. Qatar has won several awards over the last three years, including best business class. It is also know for having one of the largest economy seats. Full details at Qatar’s on-board experience website. Of course, if you are in need of United miles, a quick transfer from a qualified Chase Ultimate Rewards card is possible in addition to the Chase United cards.
The Good – Aerolineas Argentinas is a Delta partner and a soon to be SkyTeam member, allowing for low level award redemptions to Sydney for 75k each way (with a stopover in EZE).The flight used to operate Buenos Aires to Sydney with a stopover in Auckland but now is direct. They fly from Miami to Buenos Aires allowing for a connection onwards to Sydney. I just spoke to Delta and award availability was decent for next winter.
The Bad – Google Aerolineas Argentinas and trip reports. You’ll find some of the worst trip reports you’ve ever read, especially for such a long flight. It seems that the product and service in both economy and business are horrible. Here’s one of several I found “Do NOT fly Aerolineas! I’ve flown with them twice and Qantas once to Buenos Aires from Sydney…..The service with Qantas wasn’t that great but it was much better than Aerolineas. I simply can’t express how horrible the flight with Aerolineas was. Food was crap, flight attendants weren’t very friendly, absolutely no room with economy and their business class wasn’t much better…and the plane itself just felt outdated ( though mind you it was a 14 year old plane, previously owned by Cathay Pacific). ” Attached are a few pictures from another review. So it seems that this is an option if you’re in a bind, but otherwise it’s probably worth paying the fuel surcharges and using your SkyMiles for a Virgin Australia redemption instead.