Asia from the U.S.

Below are the points required to fly to Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore roundtrip. For simplicity, the points below are the lowest amount you can fly to those countries during an off-peak time (for ANA, we used "regular season" since low season has very limited dates). 

My favorite programs for flying to Asia are ANA and Alaska. ANA transfer partner of American Express and Marriott, and it is a great value if you are visiting Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, or the Philippines. Alaska Airlines has two great Asian airline partners in Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. Flying on Cathay Pacific using Alaska points is a great option if you want to visit Hong Kong plus another South Asian country such as Thailand, Singapore, Maldives, Vietnam, etc.

Japan

Points System Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class Airlines You Fly On Stopover Transfer Partners
ANA50,000N/A85,000150,000ANA. (Asiana, Singapore, or EVA Add 5,000)Yes (One)Marriott and American Express
Virgin Atlantic- West Coast 60,000N/A90,000110,000ANANoMarriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Virgin Atlantic- East Coast 65,000N/A95,000120,000ANANoMarriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Alaska 60,00070,000100,000140,000Cathay Pacific or Hanian (More for JAL)Yes (One)Marriott
Etihad50,000N/A100,000N/AAmericanNoMarriott and American Express
Japan Airlines 50,00065,000100,000140,000Japan AirlinesYes (One)Marriott
American70,000N/A120,000160,000American, JAL, or Cathay PacificNoMarriott
Cathay Pacific60,00072,000120,000180,000Cathay Pacific or Japan AirlinesYes (Two)Marriott, Amex, and Citi
Asiana75,000N/A120,000160,000Asiana (Partners Extra)Yes (Seoul)Marriott
Korean Airlines70,000N/A125,000160,000Korean Air. (Partners cost more)Yes (2 on Korean)Marriott
Emirates60,000N/A125,000185,000Japan AirlinesOneAmerican Express and Marriott
Lufthansa80,000N/A135,000210,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.Yes (Two)Marriott
United70,000N/A140,000180,000United (Partners more expensive)Yes (One)Marriott and Chase
British Airways (LAX)50,000100,000140,000200,000American or JALNoMarriott, Amex, Chase
LifeMiles/Avianca 70,000N/A150,000180,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.NoCiti and Marriott
Aeroplan/Air Canada75,000N/A150,000210,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.Yes (One)Amex and Marriott
Delta70,000N/A160,000N/AXiamen, China Southern, Korean, China Airlines, China Eastern, andDeltaNoAmex and Marriott
Singapore Airlines (LAX)70,000126,000170,000190,000SingaporeYes (One)Marriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Air France70,000136,000170,000640,000Xiamen, China Southern, Korean, China Airlines, Delta and China EasternNoMarriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
British Airways (NYC)70,000140,000210,000280,000American or JALNoMarriott, Amex, Chase
Singapore Airlines (NYC)116,000177,000230,000300,000SingaporeYes (One)Marriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi

 

Hong Kong

Points System Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class Airlines You Fly On Stopover Transfer Partners
ANA55,000N/A90,000165,000ANA. (Asiana, Singapore, or EVA Add 5,000)Yes (One)Marriott and American Express
Alaska 60,00070,000100,000140,000Cathay Pacific or Hanian (More for JAL)Yes (One)Marriott
Japan Airlines 55,00075,000110,000160,000Japan AirlinesYes (One)Marriott
Etihad70,000N/A110,000135,000American (ANA for more)NoMarriott and American Express
American70,000N/A120,000160,000American, JAL, or Cathay PacificNoMarriott
Cathay Pacific (LAX)60,00072,000120,000180,000Cathay Pacific or Japan AirlinesYes (Two)Marriott, Amex, and Citi
Korean Airlines70,000N/A125,000160,000Korean Air. (Partners cost more)Yes (2 on Korean)Marriott
Lufthansa80,000N/A135,000210,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.Yes (Two)Marriott
Asiana55,000N/A135,000180,000Asiana (Partners Extra)Yes (Seoul)Marriott
United80,000N/A140,000180,000United (Partners more expensive)Yes (One)Marriott and Chase
Cathay Pacific (NYC)90,000108,000145,000220,000Cathay Pacific or Japan AirlinesYes (Two)Marriott, Amex, and Citi
Aeroplan/Air Canada75,000N/A150,000210,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.Yes (One)Amex and Marriott
LifeMiles/Avianca 70,000N/A150,000180,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.NoCiti and Marriott
Singapore Airlines (LAX)66,000120,000164,000184,000SingaporeYes (One)Marriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Delta70,000N/A165,000N/ADeltaNoAmerican Express and Marriott
Singapore Airlines (NYC)98,000190,000200,000270,000SingaporeYes (One)Marriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
British Airways 100,000200,000300,000400,000American or JALNoMarriott, Amex, and Chase
Air France92,000136,000190,000640,000Xiamen, China Southern, Korean, China Airlines, Delta and China EasternNoMarriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Emirates60,000N/A125,000185,000Japan AirlinesOneMarriott and Amex

Singapore

Points System Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class Airlines You Fly On Stopover Transfer Partners
Alaska 60,00070,000100,000140,000Cathay Pacific or Hanian (More for JAL)Yes (One)Marriott
ANA65,000N/A110,000195,000ANA. (Asiana, Singapore, or EVA are more points)Yes (One)Marriott and American Express
Lufthansa80,000N/A135,000210,000Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.Yes (Two)Marriott
Asiana90,000N/A135,000180.000Air China, ANA, EVA, Singapore, and United. (Asiana is more)Yes (Seoul)Marriott
Japan Airlines 70,00090,000140,000170,00JALYes (One)Marriott
American75,000N/A140,000220,000American, JAL, or Cathay PacificNoMarriott
Emirates70,000N/A145,000215,000Japan AirlinesYesMarriott and Amex
United80,000N/A150,000190,000United (Partners more expensive)Yes (One)Marriott and Chase
Korean Airlines90.000N/A155,000200,000Korean Air. (Partners cost more)Yes (2 on Korean)Marriott
Aeroplan/Air Canada90,000N/A155,000215,000Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.Yes (One)Amex and Marriott
Cathay Pacific82,000108,000155,000250,000Cathay Pacific (for business, book on OneWorld airline)Yes (Two)Marriott, Amex, and Citi
LifeMiles/Avianca 78,000N/A156,000198,000Air China, ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore, and United.NoCiti and Marriott
Etihad90,000N/A164,000330,000ANANoMarriott and American Express
Air France70,000-90,000136,000165,000N/AXiamen, China Southern, Korean, China Airlines, China EasternNoMarriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Singapore Airlines (LAX)76,000130,000176,000236,000SingaporeYes (One)Marriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Singapore Airlines (NYC)80,000140,000184,000220,000SingaporeYes (One)Marriott, Amex, Chase, and Citi
Delta80,000N/A190,000 +N/AXiamen, China Southern, Korean, China Airlines, China EasternNoAmerican Express and Marriott

Airlines from North America to Asia- Business Class Advice

Air Canada- (Star Alliance)- Air Canada has a good business class product, but they do impose fuel surcharges, so using United points are a good way to avoid these fees. 

  • Routes: Vancouver to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Bejing, Seoul, Tapei, Shanghai, and Delhi. Toronto to Tokyo, Seoul, Bejing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Delhi, Mumbai. Montreal to Shanghai; Calgary to Tokyo.
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Decent award space

Air China- (Star Alliance)- I would prefer to fly one of the other Star Alliance airlines (ANA, Singapore, Asiana, or EVA) over Air China, unless you really want a direct flight to Bejing. 

  • Routes: Bejing to Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York (EWR/JFK), San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Vancouver. Shenzhen to Los Angeles; Shanghai to San Jose 
  • 6 Months Out Award SpaceGood
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: Delta

Air India- (Star Alliance)- Their business class is very outdated and more like premium economy on many airlines.

  • Routes: Delhi to Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and New York

American Airlines- (OneWorld)

  • Routes: Hong Kong to Los Angeles and Dallas; Shanghai to Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago; Seoul to Dallas; Bejing to Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago; Tokyo to Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Stingy. For example, I checked the Dallas to Bejing route and there were only 18 days out of 240 that had saver award space. Chicago to Tokyo was slightly better at 41 out of 240 days, but that is still way too little award space. 
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: Etihad (saves about 20k points than using AA points)

ANA- (Star Alliance)- ANA is one of my favorite airlines and points programs. 

  • Routes: Tokyo to Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Vancouver.
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Generally pretty good. 
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: ANA or Virgin Atlantic

Asiana- (Star Alliance)- I flew JFK- Seoul on their A380. The food and service were very good. However, the lie-flat seat was too short for someone above 6 feet tall and the plane was very hot. 

  • Routes: Seoul to Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. 
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Good. 
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: ANA (Asiana points are hard to earn)

Cathay Pacific- (OneWorld)- One of the best business and first classes. We will have a review of both the business and first class from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in late August. 

  • Routes: Hong Kong to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (EWR/JFK), San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. (Washington D.C. in September 2018)
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Cathay releases a good amount of award seats, but redeeming points for their flights is very popular for several reasons, which reduces the supply. First, it is very cheap to use Alaska points for business (50k) or first class (70k). Second, Hong Kong is a great place to stopover for two or three days. Third, Hong Kong is the gateway to Southeast Asia, since that is the furthest you can generally fly from a good amount of cities. (You can fly SFO to Singapore)
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: Alaska or Cathay Pacific

China Airlines- (SkyTeam)- A small step below EVA, which also flies to Taipei, but you will still find the flight very enjoyable. 

  • Routes: Taipei to Honolulu, Vancouver, Los Angeles (LAX/ONT), San Francisco, and New York.
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Good

China Eastern- (SkyTeam)- Midtier business class with great seats, but pretty lackluster food and cigarette smoke sometimes fill the cabin. 

  • Routes: Shanghai to Chicago, Honolulu, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and New York. Nanjing to Los Angeles and Vancouver. 

China Southern- (SkyTeam)- Midtier business class with pretty lackluster food.

  • Routes: Guangzhou to Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and New York.

Delta- (SkyTeam)- Delta started to roll out Delta One Suites on their A350 aircraft, which is a huge step up if you get to fly those routes. 

  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Delta is pretty stingy with their own award space for the saver level (e.g., the direct flight from Seattle to Hong Kong was only available 4 out of 31 days, six months prior to departure) and very stingy with the saver level award space for their Delta One Suites. 
  • Routes: Seattle to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Bejing, and Seoul. Detroit to Bejing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Nagoya. Los Angeles to Tokyo and Shanghai; Portland to Tokyo. Atlanta to Tokyo and Seoul. 

EVA- (Star Alliance)- I really like both EVA's long haul and short-haul business class. EVA has great food, wine, service, seats, and amenity kits (I still wear the pajamas from my trip). 

  • Routes: Tapei to Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver.
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: ANA

Hainan Airlines (No Alliance)- Only fly the 787-9, which has seats in a 1-2-1 configuration rather than 2-2-2 (check the seat map to double check). Great food and service. 

  • Routes: Bejing to Boston, San Jose, Las Vegas, Seattle, Calgary, Chicago, Toronto, and (Mexico City via Tijuana). Chengdu to Los Angeles and New York; Chongqing to Los Angeles and New York; Changsha to Los Angeles.
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: Alaska

Hong Kong Airlines- (No Alliance)- Not apart of any alliance since it is a fairly new airline. 

  • Routes: Hong Kong to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver. 

Korean Airlines- (SkyTeam)- The 747-8, 777, and 787 business class is far superior to the A380 business class. All are in a 2-2-2 configuration, but 747, 777, and 787 have direct aisle access for all seats. 

  • Routes: Seoul to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas. New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vancouver.
  • 6 Months Out Award Space- Very good. 
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: Korean

Japan Airlines (JAL)- (OneWorld)- One of the top business and first class products in the world. 

  • Routes: Tokyo to Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington D.C., and Vancouver. Osaka to Honolulu and Los Angeles. Nagoya to Honolulu.
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: JAL, Alaska, or American Airlines.

Phillippine Airlines- (No Alliance)- Decent option, but pretty outdated. 

  • Routes: Manila to Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Toronto. 

Singapore- (Star Alliance)- Great overall option. Their business class was top of the line a few years ago, but many airlines have caught up. Singapore is in the middle of revamping their business class to regain their crown as one of the top business class products in the world. 

  • Routes: San Francisco to Hong Kong and Singapore; Los Angeles to Tokyo and Seoul; New York to Frankfurt to Singapore; and New York to Singapore (late 2018)
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: Singapore since they release more award space for their own long-haul flights. Also, ANA and Aeroplan are a good option if you find award space, but that is usually rare.

United- (Star Alliance)- United is in the process of updating their planes to the new Polaris seats, which will be a big improvement. It's still a mid-tier option with Polaris product. 

  • Routes: San Francisco to Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bejing, Xi'an, Chengdu. Los Angeles to Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore; Chicago to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Bejing; Houston to Tokyo.
  • Recommended Points Program to Use: United

Xiamen- (SkyTeam)- Only fly the 787-9, which has seats in a 1-2-1 configuration rather than 2-2-2. Great food and service. 

  • Routes: Los Angeles to Qingdao and Xiamen; Seattle to Shenzhen; Vancouver to Xiamen; New York to Fuzhou.