Booked: The World’s Cheapest (and Most Obscure?) Business Class Redemption

We recently shared a post about how to get a credit card as an expat. It’s a pretty simple way to continue earning American Express Membership Rewards while abroad and something I’ve personally taken advantage of.

From that, we’ve earned over 50,000 points on our Gold Card in less than a calendar year. 20,000 of those points came from the sign-up bonus, while the rest has come from spend. I’m not cheap to feed. What can I say? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

A few weeks ago, we booked a return trip to Asia with flights in the Winter and Spring. We already filled in the Winter portion, but still needed a flight to get to East Asia in the Spring. This past weekend, we were finally able to make use of those Amex points and in a very exciting fashion at that.

Well hello there, Etihad Guest

Wait…this isn’t an Etihad plane. It’s a Czech Airlines A330. Huh? (Courtesy of Czech Airlines)

The header says Etihad Guest, but above you see a CSA Czech Airlines plane. Confused? Bear with me…

For a little background, CSA Czech Airlines is the Czech Republic’s flag carrier operating mostly intra-European flights out of Prague. However, the airline also operates one long-haul flight from Prague to Seoul because, well…why not? The flight is operated on a leased former Korean Airlines A330 and features lie-flat business class seats. So where am I going with this?

Here’s where things get fun. Etihad’s frequent flier program, Etihad Guest, partners with Czech Airlines. This means you’ll be able to redeem Etihad miles for bookings on Czech Airlines. For an 11-hour flight spanning over 5,000 miles, you’d expect this to cost at least 60,000 miles for a one-way business class award, right? Well let’s try something a little lower.

Ok, can you just tell me how much it is??

Korean Air Business Class Seats – the same as on Czech Airlines

How does 25,610 miles in business class sound? No, that’s not a typo. For just over 25,000 miles, you can enjoy 11 hours in a lie-flat business class seat. If you wanted to fly round trip, it would still cost you less than 52,000 miles! For comparison, American and United both charge 75,000 miles for one-way partner flights from Europe to Asia. To call this an incredible value is an understatement.

Making this even better, Etihad Guest is one of American Express‘ many transfer partners (they’re also an Amex’s UK transfer partner). Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Etihad at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that you’d need less than 52,000 Membership Rewards points for a round trip flight. You can easily get that with one card’s welcome bonus!

How to Check for Availability

There are two ways to check for availability on these flights. If you already have an ExpertFlyer premium account, that’s probably going to be the easiest way for you to search for availability. Just head on over to the site, type in the route (PRG-ICN), airline, and flight number (190/191) and search. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up for a free 5-day trial without having to enter any credit card info.

Alternatively, you can also search for availability through Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue’s program. It’s free to sign up for if you don’t already have an account.

It’s important to note that Czech Airlines typically only releases 2 business class seats and 3 coach seats at a time. Given the limited availability, it’s a good idea to  try booking these as far in advance as possible.

How to Book

Once you’ve found availability, you’ll want to transfer points to your Etihad Guest account. If you don’t already have one, make sure to create one first. If you’re transferring points from your US Membership Rewards account, the transfer should be instantaneous. From other countries, such as the UK, it may take up to five days. It only took one day for us though, so it seems like five days is the worst case scenario.

After the miles have transferred over to your account, call up Etihad Guest and they’ll help you book it. In addition to the points, the agent should quote you about $150-200 in taxes and fees each way. The phone agent I spoke with was incredibly helpful and had us booked in 10 minutes.

If all of this seems a little overwhelming but you still want to book, there’s always the (shameless plug *cough*) No Mas Coach Travel Booking Service.

Final Thoughts

From an avgeek perspective, I couldn’t be more excited to book this. I remembered reading about it in the past and thinking, “That’s so cool, but I’ll never have the chance to fly it.” Well, never say never. It still doesn’t feel real, but next Spring I’ll actually be flying it. I can’t wait to share the experience with you!

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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3 Comments

  1. It’s angled-flat not full-flat. Just don’t have high expectations and it’s an okay product, especially when you think about what you paid

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    • Certainly not expecting Qsuites, but even mediocre business class beats the heck out of coach 🙂

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  2. Prague to Seoul. Must do box office business on that route? 11hrs in an angle-flat. Oh Boy!

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