The 12 Best Ways To Fly Business Class to Asia on Points

North Americans are spoiled with choice when it comes to flying across the Pacific Ocean. Some of the world’s best airlines are based in Asia, and fortunately, many offer direct flights to destinations across Canada and the United States.

What are the best airlines to get you across the Pacific? Which points currencies should you be focusing on? What are the availability patterns like, and how far in advance should you book?

In alphabetical order, let’s look at the 12 top-choice airlines for booking transpacific flights in a lie-flat seat with a reasonable number of points and minimal out-of-pocket expenses.

1. Air Canada

Air Canada serves many Asian hub cities, and it continues to add new routes and restore previously suspended ones. There are direct flights to Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Mumbai, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo (Haneda and Narita) from Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver.

With Aeroplan, pricing for these flights is subject to the distance-based tiers on the “Between North AmericaPacific Zones” section of the Flight Reward Chart.

With a distance-based chart, there are some excellent opportunities to reduce the cost in points depending on your origins and destinations.

For Vancouver-based travellers, a direct flight to Tokyo or Osaka squeezes in at 4,701 miles and 4,942 miles, respectively, which is satisfyingly placed in the first distance band. This means that a direct flight in business class with Air Canada should cost as few as 55,000 points.

Fly Air Canada Signature Class to Asia

With the exception of the Toronto—Mumbai and the Toronto—Hong Kong routes, most others fall in the second distance band. In theory, this means that a seat in business class could cost as few as 75,000 points, while the others in the third distance band could cost 87,500 points.

The reality, however, is that you’ll be hard-pressed to find many seats available with these prices. In many cases, booking directly into business class will skew the price threefold or fourfold.

If you have status with Air Canada, one method to combat dynamic pricing is by employing the “Latitude Attitude” and using your Aeroplan Elite Status to your advantage.

By booking in a cheaper economy fare and using eUpgrades to upgrade to business class, it’s sometimes possible to bring the redemption cost back to reality when dynamic pricing is skewed the wrong way.

Another alternative is to fly with a Star Alliance partner airline, with which you’ll enjoy fixed-value pricing on flights. We’ll cover the best airlines later on in this guide.

If you’re able to score business class seats with Air Canada at a reasonable price, you’ll benefit from direct flights to Asia, a consistent hard product, and a familiar soft product.

For some, direct flights take precedence over anything else, and since every single seat on Air Canada flights can be booked with points, you’ll always have options available.

2. ANA

ANA has one of the best business class products that you can book with Aeroplan points, and the Japanese carrier should be one of the first places to look if you’d like to treat yourself to a world-class flight experience on your way to Asia.

ANA’s sole Canadian destination is Vancouver, while it also serves Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New York JFK, Chicago, and Washington DC in the US.

In addition, a “wildcard” routing for residents of eastern Canadian cities could be to fly down to Mexico City first, and then hop onboard ANA’s Mexico City–Tokyo Narita daily service. Chilaquiles and chirashizushi in one trip – what’s not to love?

Fly ANA business class from North America to Tokyo for as few as 55,000 Aeroplan points

If booking with Aeroplan, both Seattle and Vancouver fall within the first distance band of the North America–Pacific chart.

A seat in business class on either of these routes would cost only 55,000 points, plus a modest amount of around $100 in taxes and fees.

From all other destinations, you can expect to pay 75,000 points for a direct flight in business class. If you’re connecting from other North American cities, be mindful of the distance flown, as it may bump you up to the third tier at 87,500 points.

Another great way to book ANA business class, and First Class for that matter, is with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Coming across Flying Club miles is a bit more involved than, say, Aeroplan, but the reward is well worth the effort.

In the US, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a 1:1 transfer partner with Amex US MR, with the occasional transfer bonus, as well as Citi ThankYou and Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at the optimal ratio of 60,000 points = 25,000 miles.

A one-way flight between Western North America and Japan prices out at 45,000 miles, and from Eastern North America, 47,500 miles. (Note that the below values are for round-trip flights).

Indeed, it doesn’t get much better than this for an excellent product, as long as you can find award space.

In terms of availability, ANA can be somewhat unpredictable. Generally speaking, they release award seats quite reliably at around 355 days prior to departure, but sometimes they’ll also release surprise batches of last-minute availability across all their North American destinations.

If you want to book ANA business class, be sure to search far in advance, consider taking a positioning flight to different airports if need be, and be open to booking something else and then potentially changing to ANA later on.

Alternatively, you can set up an alert on ExpertFlyer and then book it as soon as it becomes available.

ANA operates Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 777 aircraft on these routes. For the 777, keep an eye out for the newly renovated planes that offer an outstanding business class product, known as “The Room,” which is currently operated on the New York JFK and Chicago routes, as well as to London and Frankfurt.

ANA 777 new business class – Seat 15K
Keep an eye out for ANA’s “The Room” business class on select routes

ANA’s other business class seat designs are cozy and private, while the top-notch Japanese food and highly attentive service will no doubt be the highlights.

3. Asiana Airlines

If you’re looking to fly to Korea in comfort and style, you’ll definitely count Asiana Airlines business class among your options for crossing the Pacific.

The Incheon-based airline doesn’t fly to Canada, but serves a good handful of US destinations, such as Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York JFK.

Excluding Honolulu, all US destinations fall within the second distance band of Aeroplan’s North America–Pacific chart. This means that a direct flight will cost 75,000 points in business class, plus a reasonable $74 in taxes and fees.

While it doesn’t leave much wiggle room, you can squeeze in a connection to other Asian hub cities and still remain under the second distance band. For example, flying from Seattle to Bangkok via Seoul will cost only 75,000 points. 

Award availability on Asiana tends to be quite favourable, and there are often two or even more seats available on the Seattle and Los Angeles routes at the beginning of the schedule. The New York route is certainly more popular among East Coast travellers, and therefore a little tougher to find space on.

By most accounts, the products onboard both the Airbus A380 and Airbus A350 aircraft seem perfectly serviceable, but not necessarily outstanding in any way.

While it may be wise to pick ANA, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, and JAL over Asiana, if those options aren’t available, then the bibimbap dinner course onboard Asiana Airlines should be something of a treat as well.

It’s worth noting that Asiana and Korean Air are set to merge into a single entity in 2023. When this happens, Asiana will become a SkyTeam-member airline, and the availability with Star Alliance loyalty programs may change.

4. Cathay Pacific

Moving away from Aeroplan for a moment and into the domain of Alaska Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Avios, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Cathay Pacific business class can be a very comfortable way to fly to Asia. This is especially so if you’re looking to travel onwards to further points in South East Asia or beyond.

The most favourable points redemption method would be to spend 50,000 Alaska miles for a one-way trip in business class with minimal fuel surcharges, and you can have a free stopover in Hong Kong as well.

Alaska Airlines recently revamped its award charts, when it amalgamated the separate partner-specific charts for a single, unified chart. While there haven’t been any substantial changes to the prices of awards, with language such as “Starting from” on the chart, the door is open for this to happen in the future.

As it stands, a one-way business class flight from North America to Hong Kong costs 50,000 Alaska miles.

This is an excellent redemption, with the only possible drawback being that it’s “only” an additional 20,000 miles to fly Cathay Pacific First Class… and therefore many travellers are tempted to book that instead.

Redeeming Avios can also make sense in some scenarios, particularly if you’re travelling from the West Coast.

For example, Vancouver–Hong Kong in business class costs 92,750 Avios one-way, which is only 71,350 Amex MR points or RBC Avion points if you were to take advantage of one of the regular 30% conversion bonuses from either program. You can also transfer HSBC Rewards to Avios at a 25:10 ratio, with the occasional transfer bonus.

Considering that Alaska miles are relatively tougher to earn, using Avios instead can definitely make sense in the right circumstances.

There’s also Cathay Pacific’s own Asia Miles program as an option to book with.

For Canadians, earning Asia Miles is relatively easy, as it’s a transfer partner of Amex Memberships Rewards at a transfer ratio of 1:0.75, RBC Avion points at a 1:1 ratio, and HSBC Rewards at a ratio of 25:8. RBC also offers the co-branded RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum Card.

South of the border, Asia Miles is a transfer partner of Amex US MR, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One at a 1:1 ratio.

Redeeming Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific flights is subject to a distance-based award chart. 

At 6,392 miles, a one-way flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong in business class would cost 70,000 miles, which is quite an attractive price indeed. 

Note that the “Ultra-Long” category is a great way to leverage your Asia Miles points, too, as you can continue on to many other points within Cathay Pacific’s extensive network (including taking the long way to Europe or South Africa) for only 85,000 miles. 

Fly Cathay Pacific business class from North America to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific serves two points in Canada – Vancouver and Toronto – as well as five in the US: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York (JFK), and Boston, using a mixture of Boeing 777s and Airbus A350s.

As of the time of writing, Cathay Pacific business class availability appears to still be heavily restricted compared to before, likely due to Hong Kong only recently cracking open its borders

Even in the past, though, Cathay hasn’t been the most generous airline in terms of releasing business class space. If space is limited on the Toronto or Vancouver routes, then flying via the US East or West Coast may be a necessary backup option.

Some reviewers have pointed out that Cathay Pacific business class is slightly overhyped by the airline’s glowing reputation, but overall, the reverse herringbone seating and professional onboard service should make it one of the more enjoyable ways to fly to Asia.

Book Cathay Pacific business class with a variety of loyalty programs

Cathay Pacific Flight Reviews

5. China Airlines

As the sole SkyTeam-member airline on this list, China Airlines may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning out a trip to Asia. However, you may want to consider routing through Taipei for your next trip.

In North America, China Airlines flies to Honolulu, New York JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver. From its hub in Taipei, the airline also flies to a number of destinations across Asia.

The most accessible loyalty program for booking China Airlines is Air France/KLM Flying Blue

In Canada, you can transfer Amex MR to Flying Blue at a 1:0.75 ratio, and in the US, you can transfer from Amex US MR, Citi ThankYou, Capital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.

On both sides of the border, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at the ideal ratio of 60,000 points = 25,000 miles.

A one-way flight between Vancouver and Taipei comes in at 84,000 Flying Blue miles, plus a very modest $110.50 taxes and fees

From Los Angeles, with an option to depart from LAX or ONT, you can fly to Taipei for 96,000 or 96,500 Flying Blue miles, respectively.

Award space tends to be consistent, and you can often find three or four seats available, especially on the West Coast routes.

In terms of an onboard experience, China Airlines operates the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 777-300ER on these long-haul routes. In most cases, you should be able to find its flagship business class product with a 1-2-1 configuration.

All indications point to the airline’s hard product being quite competitive, and other reviews of the product suggest that the food and service onboard are worthy of your consideration.

China Airlines A350 business class

If you’re planning a trip out to Asia and are running into some roadblocks with other programs, be sure to consider China Airlines as an alternative to the usual suspects.

6. Etihad Airways

Since becoming an Aeroplan partner airline, Etihad Airways’s extensive route network has been available to Aeroplan members. Instead of flying across the Pacific Ocean, why not fly with Etihad to Asia via the Middle East?

Etihad operates direct flights to Toronto, as well as Chicago, New York JFK, and Washington Dulles. While these options are most convenient for those living in the eastern half of Canada, it’s possible to catch a connecting flight from elsewhere in Canada to access its network.

Catching a flight from Toronto to some Asian destinations via Abu Dhabi can fall within the third distance band on Aeroplan’s North America–Pacific chart. 

Keeping your distance within this threshold of 11,000 miles flown ensures that you will pay 87,500 points for a one-way business class flight, but going over would bump up the cost to 115,000 points.

For example, from any of the North American destinations, you can get to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Bangkok via Abu Dhabi while remaining under 11,000 miles flown. 

Etihad’s award availability tends to be consistently good, especially if you’re open to catching a connecting flight to one of the US hubs. 

Currently, Etihad is operating its Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft on most of its long-haul routes. Of these, the best product is available on the Airbus A350, which you can find consistently from Chicago, and sometimes to other destinations. 

Etihad Airways is a solid choice for both hard and soft product offerings. There’s also the option to consider Etihad’s First Class product on specific routes, such as to Washington DC, so keep an eye out for those if you’re so inclined.

Etihad Airways A350 business class

Etihad Airways Flight Reviews

7. EVA Air

In its North American marketing campaigns, EVA Air’s tagline gets straight to the point: “The Best Link to Cross the Pacific”. Indeed, anyone who has had the pleasure of flying with the Taipei-based airline might be inclined to say that they’re absolutely right.

And even better, you won’t have to work very hard at all to get yourself on EVA Air’s “Royal Laurel Class”, which is one of the best business class products within all of Star Alliance.

EVA operates flights to Vancouver and Toronto in Canada, as well as many US hubs: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and New York (JFK). With many options, it should be possible to find flights to Taipei. 

All four West Coast cities, as well as Chicago, fall under the second distance band on Aeroplan’s North America–Pacific chart, meaning that a one-way flight in business class would cost 75,000 points. Flights from all other cities fall just over 7,500 miles, which increases the cost to 87,500 points. 

There’s plenty of room to add a connecting flight to one of EVA Air’s many Asian destinations while still remaining in the third distance band. You could also add a stopover in Taipei for an additional 5,000 Aeroplan points.

EVA Air operates the Boeing 777 with reverse herringbone seats to most of these destinations, as well as their gorgeous new Boeing 787 to others.

EVA Air 787 business class

Historically, EVA Air has reliably opened up award seats at the beginning of the schedule, but these can be snapped up rather quickly given how popular these seats are among points-savvy travellers.

However, EVA has also historically maintained a good habit of opening up a few unsold seats into the award inventory at around T-5 days before departure. This means you could secure a last-minute seat onboard EVA Air business class even if you didn’t manage to snag one from the outset.

With a gourmet pre-selectable dining menu, Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits, and a wide-ranging beverage selection, EVA Air business class is the real winner among this list. Matcha milk tea, anyone?

EVA Air 777 business class

8. Japan Airlines

If EVA Air were the “Best Link to Cross the Pacific”, then Japan Airlines comes in as a very close second in business class.

Like Cathay Pacific, JAL is an airline where it might make sense to use either Alaska Mileage Plan or British Airways Avios to book, with the needle likely moving in the former’s favour in most situations.

You’ll pay 60,000–65,000 Alaska miles for a one-way business class flight on JAL business class, depending on whether your destination is classified as “Asia” (Japan or South Korea) or “Southeast Asia” (everywhere else).

With Alaska, you can also build in a free stopover in Tokyo on your way to any other destination; alternatively, you even could position an open-jaw between Tokyo and Osaka and then continue your journey from there.

On the Avios side, the more economical journeys will be from the West Coast to Japan, such as paying 77,250 Avios one-way for business class between Vancouver and Tokyo.

In addition to Vancouver as their sole Canadian destination, JAL also serves eight cities in the US out of their twin Tokyo hubs: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Chicago, New York JFK, and Boston. On top of that, they operate a route between Los Angeles and Osaka as well. 

Therefore, you have no shortage of backup options if the most convenient choice isn’t available, and JAL tends to be relatively generous with business class space.

As long as you have a small degree of flexibility in terms of dates and gateway airports, award seats should be readily available no matter how far out you’re looking.

Japan Airlines 787 business class

On North American flights, you’re most likely to encounter JAL’s flagship business class product: the Apex Suite, which JAL has branded as the “Sky Suite”.

The window seats on these Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft are some of the most private business class seats in the sky, although as a byproduct they can also feel a little cramped as well. 

With the industry-leading Sky Suite hard product, a delectable Japanese onboard meal, and an overwhelming snack menu to boot, the Japan Airlines business class experience is one you’ll likely never forget.

Japan Airlines 787 business class

Japan Airlines Flight Reviews

9. Qatar Airways

Doha-based Qatar Airways offers arguably the best business class product in the world with its Qsuites product. If you choose to fly to Asia via Doha, you’ll be sure to arrive feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to conquer your destination.

Book Qatar Airways Qsuites using Avios

As a Oneworld airline, you can book Qatar Airways Qsuites with a number of loyalty programs, including Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Avios, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

Of these options, arguably the most compelling way to book is with Qatar Airways Avios, which can be thought of as another “flavour” of British Airways Avios. For example, while you can’t transfer American Express Membership Rewards, RBC Avion, or HSBC Rewards directly to Qatar Airways Avios, you can transfer all of these currencies to British Airways Avios.

One the points are in British Airways Avios, you can move them to Qatar Airways Avios from within the program, which happens instantly.

One reason why this is such a compelling way to fly to Asia is that you can fly from any of Qatar Airways’s many North American destinations to Doha in Qsuites, and the onward to Bangkok in First Class for just 95,000 Avios and around $300 (CAD) in taxes and fees.

During your layover in Doha, you’ll also have access to the exquisite Al Safwa First Class Lounge, complete with a jacuzzi and fine dining. 

In terms of availability, you’ll definitely want to look for flights well in advance of your intended departure date. As one of the world’s best products, award seats tend to get snapped up quickly.

If you don’t manage to get your flight booked well in advance, be sure to keep an eye out for last-minute availability. 

Qatar Airways Flight Reviews

10. Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines needs no introduction – even people who don’t concern themselves with airlines and travel every waking moment are likely to know that it’s one of the best airlines of the world.

Historically, snagging a seat on a long-haul Singapore Airlines flight in business class was limited to its own KrisFlyer program, with some pockets of availability with Alaska Mileage Plan. However, that all changed when long-haul flights became available using Aeroplan.

Singapore Airlines operates flights to many US hubs, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark, and New York JFK. Until October 2023, it will also operate a flight to Vancouver on the Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

Luckily, Singapore Airlines releases up to four seats on the North American routes around a year in advance. This includes the world’s longest commercial flight between Singapore and New York JFK, which clocks in at over 18 hours.

Flights from North America to Singapore cost 87,500 Aeroplan points, with the option to continue onward to another destination in South East Asia without crossing into the next distance band.

If you’d prefer to book with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, you can look into HSBC Rewards or dabbling with US credit cards for transfer partners. Keep in mind that you’ll have to shell out between 107,000–111,000 miles for the same flights (at the very least), so you may want to consider booking with Aeroplan instead.

Singapore Airlines 787 business class

Singapore Airlines Flight Reviews

11. Turkish Airlines

Next on this list is Turkish Airlines. With an ever-expanding network and excellent offerings with both its hard and soft products, flying the long way to Asia via Istanbul is a very attractive possibility.

Turkish Airlines offers direct flights to Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, as well as to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York JFK, Newark, Washington, Atlanta, and Miami. With so many options to choose from, finding award space to Istanbul shouldn’t be difficult at all, as long as you’re flexible with your departure airport and book in advance.

There are a host of destinations in Asia to which Turkish Airlines flies, adding strength to an already strong proposition. 

Flying from hubs in Eastern North America via Istanbul to many destinations in Asia fall within the third distance band on Aeroplan’s North America–Pacific chart. Sticking with Turkish Airlines will cost 87,500 points in business class, with the possibility of adding a stopover in wonderful Istanbul for another 5,000 points.

On most of its routes, Turkish Airlines reliably releases up to four award seats in business class. For routes that are particularly desirable, such as Vancouver–Istanbul, be sure to book as far in advance as possible. 

Otherwise, you should be able to find availability from one of its many hubs in North America. 

Turkish Airlines is known for its strong soft product onboard its flights. It also boasts one of the world’s finest business class lounges at its hub in Istanbul, so you can be sure that your connection will be very comfortable.

With the introduction of its revamped cabin on the Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A350s, Turkish Airlines offers an excellent hard product as well. 

Be sure to pay attention to the aircraft type when planning your trip, as it’s very possible to book back-to-back flights with a Dreamliner or Airbus A350, which are vastly superior to the relatively dated 777 and A330 products.

Turkish Airlines 787 business class – Seat 2K
Turkish Airlines 787 business class

Turkish Airlines Flight Reviews

12. United

To cap off this list, we look to United, which operates its flagship Polaris business class product on many routes to Asia. 

From its hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles, there are direct flights to a number of destinations across Asia.

United flights can be booked with many Star Alliance-member airlines’ loyalty programs. Of these, the most accessible options are with Aeroplan and United MileagePlus.

Fly United Polaris business class to Asia using points

In Canada and the United States, Aeroplan points are quite easy to come by. Points can be earned through co-branded credit cards and transferrable points programs, such as Amex Canada MR, Amex US MR, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One.

On the other hand, United’s own loyalty program is less accessible, as you can either earn points directly with a co-branded Chase credit card, or by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio.

Another option is to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to airline miles at the optimal ratio of 60,000 points = 27,000 miles, factoring in the 10% bonus with United.

In Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Chicago, as well as in Houston and Washington Dulles, you’ll enjoy an excellent ground experience in the airline’s flagship United Polaris lounges. Prior to your flight, you can sip on delicious cocktails, dine from an à la carte menu or at a buffet, and freshen up with a shower before heading to board your flight.

United Polaris lounges offer an excellent ground experience

Flights to destinations in Asia fall in the second and third distance bands on the “Between North America and Pacific Zones” chart. Depending on your origin and destination, it’ll cost 75,000 or 87,500 points in business class.

If you’re booking with United MileagePlus, expect to pay at least 80,000 MileagePlus miles on routes to Asia, which can skew much higher with variable pricing.

Generally speaking, award availability for United flights to Asia from its major hubs, including San Francisco, Chicago, and Newark, is quite sparse, at least with Aeroplan points.

United might not offer the most competitive hard or soft products, but it’s still better than what other airlines offer. As long as you fly in its flagship Polaris product, you’ll enjoy a lie-flat seat, decent catering (including ice cream), and a set of pajamas to add to your collection.

United Polaris 767 business class – Bed

When you’re planning a trip to Asia, be sure to look at United for a combination of an excellent ground experience and another way to get across the Pacific in a horizontal position.


For many Asia-bound travellers, a comfortable seat and a good night’s rest are of paramount importance on a 12- to 15-hour flight across the Pacific.

Between the eleven airlines outlined here and each of their numerous North American gateways, you’re almost certain to find a way to redeem your miles for a stylish lie-flat seat on your next trip to Asia.

And if, somehow, you fail to find suitable award space on all eleven options, remember that there are yet more options for flying “the long way around” to Asia via Europe as well!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button