As we enter the final week to redeem bmi Diamond Club miles for Star Alliance Awards, I want to review how you can effectively use your miles and share some of my recent redemption success stories.
First off, you should redeem in the next few days. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE MONTH! When bmi announced a 17 April deadline on Lufthansa Group redemptions, many waited too long, then were unable to reach the overburdened call center at the last minute. Hold times were over an hour but circuits were so full many simply could not get through. This will happen again next week, so do yourself a favor and burn those miles now.
Second, remember that bmi has a 20% bonus promotion going on now. In case you are a few thousand miles short of an attractive reward, it makes sense to buy the additional miles now and redeem them before the deadline. Last week, I shared about taking advantage of the promotion myself and the nifty (and inexpensive) itinerary I constructed for 18,750 miles and about £200. The miles posted within hours of purchasing them.
Here’s a couple recent redemptions I have booked, also for 18,750 miles and about £200 in taxes/fees:
- Los Angeles to Chicago in United Airlines Business Class [757-200]
- Chicago to Philadelphia in United Airlines Business Class [A319]
- Philadelphia to Munich in US Airways Business Class [A330-300]
- Munich to Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business Class [A321]*
- Frankfurt to Belgrade in Lufthansa Business Class [737-400]*
- Thessaloniki to Frankfurt in Aegean Business Class [A320]
- Frankfurt to Philadelphia in US Airways Business Class [A330-200]
- Philadelphia to Houston in United Airlines Business Class [737-800]
- Houston to Los Angeles in United Airlines Business Class [757-300]
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Clearly, you can see that I love the cash + points one-way business class trips from North/South America to Europe. But there are other deals as well, that I shared about earlier this year:
1. 37,500 miles for r/t Cash + Points Business Class from North America to Europe
Although bmi does levy fuel surcharges, prices to Europe Zone 1 are very good–especially when starting from the west coast. Choose cash + points and you are only looking at 37,500 miles + £210 per ticket to Zone 1 or 37,500 miles + £255 to the rest of Europe. Even first class is not a bad deal, though by no means as competitive as business class at 112,500 miles per r/t ticket or 75K miles + £350 to Europe Zone 1. Keep in mind that a 10,000 mile/sector levy is charged for Lufthansa first class flights (not that they are ever available anymore).
2. Intra-Europe non-stop awards
Having lived in Germany last year, this was my favorite redemption. For as little as 4,500 miles + £40 r/t (or just 9,000 miles r/t) you can fly on two direct flights between or within the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, or Switzerland. Business class is only 1.5x the price, so a r/t intra-Europe trip in business class is only 13,500 miles or 6,750 miles + £60. A connecting flight in economy class, however, adds an extra 7,500 miles to the price–so fly direct when possible. Flights to the rest of Europe, from Iceland to Georgia are 12,000 miles in economy class r/t or 6,000 miles and £70.
3. Puerto Rico to Africa or South America – 80K miles r/t in Business Class
Puerto Rico is placed in the Caribbean/South America zone, meaning an economy class round-trip from San Juan to anywhere in southern Africa is 80K miles rather than 100K from the mainland, even if you connect via the mainland. You can also route through cities like Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo and have a stopover there. Even better, going from San Juan to anywhere in South America via the USA is only 30K miles r/t in economy class or 45K in business class. Even less if you choose cash + points.
4. Enhanced Singapore Airlines Award Availability
For whatever reason, bmi seems to have more access to Singapore Airlines flights than other Star Alliance carriers. Singapore had pledged to open up more award space to Star Alliance partners, but I have not seen it yet, even on the New York-Frankfurt route.
5. North/Central American Business Class Awards for 45K miles or 22.5K miles + £150
With Air Canada and now United coding “domestic first class” into “I” class (business class), you can enjoy fuel-surcharge-free travel through much of North and Central America (even as far as Greenland and Panama) for a reasonable price. Adventurers can even book travel to Cuba (on Air Canada from Toronto) using bmi miles.
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Have fun burning those miles and don’t forget our award consulting service if you need some help with your redemptions or do not have the time to deal with them. Also remember that starting in July, you can transfer points between British Airways Executive Club and bmi Diamond Club at a 1:1 ratio. You can also burn bmi miles now for British Airways awards and vice-versa using Avios.
I guess intra european direct awards are very difficult with Lufthansa group out..
@Aramic: No Lufthansa group is a big hole, though you still have TP, SK, BD, OU, KF, JP, and TK.
A few more qns. Is BMI very strict about MPM? Or more like USAir where you can get away with anything > 50% of the time… I would like to do SIN-ICN-BKK-FRA or BKK-ICN-SIN-FRA.
Are USAir and TAM the only ones that do not charge a fuel surcharge for bmi award flights? My searches on the web seem to point there. But you never know 🙂
Also let me know what to think of this strategy. I need to do some summer travel within Europe.. more like MUC-TXL-AMS-CDG-VIE… Since LH group is out, all doors are effectively closed for direct flights… Can I wait until Jul and use my bmi miles to book Air Berlin tickets?
@Aramic: BMI is very strict about MPM–while UA allows you to go over by 15% and AC 5%, BD will not allow you to go over by even one mile and they do check–every ticket I have booked they check.
Yes, US Air and TAM are the only carriers without fuel surcharges.
You will be able to use book on Air Berlin flights in July.