How best to combine rewards points with point purchase for flights to Europe 2020?

Newbie here. Have read through a lot on this site and completed the email intro course.
Still finding a little hard to comprehend. But I think I am over analyzing and getting in my own way. Now I think I may have left my run too late for our trip to Europe Aug/Sept 2020.
My wife and i have 30,000 aeroplan miles each and 220000 Westpac Altitude points.
I was hoping to convert these and buy more points from one of the FF programs to go business class.
Is there a method/ way/ specific FF program that would let me convert what I already have and buy more? While still having a decent chance at getting a rewards flight to Europe? Am I expecting too much?

Also I note that each of the airlines has a specific number of days in advance that they release their rewards seats. In peoples experiences are these snapped up within hours/days? or can there still be availability weeks after release. I understand it will depend on the route, airline and day of week. However I would be happy to fly into any of the western European cities and either fly or train to out final destination of Italy

Hi grego99,

My initial response is that you’re asking a bit too much and that you should spend another year or so accumulating points and then try for 2021. This is my thinking…

Your Westpac Altitude points will convert to 73,333 FF points. With just about every FF programme you need well over 100,000 points for one one-way business-class redemption.

The one window of opportunity you may have is with Asia Miles, because you’ll need as little as 85,000 points for a one-way redemption in Business. Asia Miles also allows you to purchase points at a rate of USD60 per 2000 points. You’ll need to purchase 12,000 points, for USD360 (which comes to A$520). On top of that, you’ll need to pay something like $300 in taxes and charges for the redemption, so you’ll be paying well over $800 in extra points, taxes and charges for one one-way business class flight. And you’ll have to pay money for the other three flights.

So you’ll only have enough points for one flight. If you wait another year and put your newfound point hacking skills to good use, within 12 months you may well have enough points to fly the two of you return.

As for your second question about availability – yes, it really does depend on route, airline and day of week. The bad news is that of all the FF programmes you can transfer your Altitude points to, Cathay Pacific availability (via Asia Miles) is probably the worst. I booked an Asia Miles redemption in Business class to Europe for my wife and me a couple of months ago, and it literally involved waking up at 3am to grab the reward seats minutes after they were released! That’s the best way to go about things with Asia Miles; with other programmes such as KrisFlyer it’s easier and there’s more availability, but at the cost of requiring more points.

What you have going for you is flexibility. Again with Asia Miles/Cathay Pacific, look to flying into Milan – in my experience there’s more availability into Milan than just about any other city in Europe (there’s also great availability into Manchester if you get desperate).

I hope this helps but the bottom line is that you’ll either need to pay for most/all of your flights, or wait another year.

Hi Sixtyeight,
Thanks for your comprehensive reply. I appreciate I don’t have many points at the moment and would be prepared to buy extra miles, to complete return trips for my wife and myself. Correct me if I am wrong, but most FF programs seem to offer bonuses at different times of the year which is thankfully notified through the Points Hack emails I receive and buying with the bonuses would make the trips much cheaper than buying tickets outright on Business?
It does seem though that I have probably left my run too late to rely on bonuses that “may” appear from time to time.
I also have the 60000 aeroplan miles,
Do you know how/where to convert both the aeroplan and Altittude points?. I appreciate the two would have to be done seperately

Hi again,

I’m not sure what you mean by “bonuses”. If you mean credit card sign-up bonuses, then yes, that would be a very good way of accumulating the points you need relatively quickly. In particular there are pretty good American Express sign-up bonuses which come up regularly. Other “bonuses” include extra points if you purchase points, discounts on purchased points etc. But for you, credit card sign-up bonuses are probably the way to go – and they’re far more cost-effective than purchasing points.

On the other hand, programmes such as Alaska Mileage Plan do have pretty good deals on purchasing points every now and then, so that might possibly be something you could consider. I’ve never purchased points myself – I rely on credit card sign-up bonuses and other ways of accumulating points that cost a lot less.

I must admit that I’m not at all familiar with Aeroplan but a very quick look at their reward table reveals that you’ll need 95,000 Aeroplan points for a one-way redemption in Business from Australia to Europe. I’d suggest you look into whether you can pool/combine you and your wife’s points to make 60,000 points, because that would mean that you can at least redeem an economy flight, or keep accumulating Aeroplan points until you get more. Alternatively you could use them for internal flights within Europe once you’re there, if need be.

I might be wrong, but I would be surprised if you could convert Aeroplan points to any other FF programme; you’re probably stuck with them in Aeroplan (though you can use them on any Star Alliance airline). As for converting Altitude points, you do that via logging into the Altitude website and following the prompts; call the help number if you’re having any problems with this.

Hi Sixtyeight
Thanks for your follow up reply.
you have been very helpful. By bonuses I actually meant when purchasing miles the various programs offer them. ie buy 100000 miles/points and get a 30/50/25% bonus as an example. pay for 100000 and get 130000/150000/125000

Hi grego99,
I must admit that I have never bought miles or points. I’ve never had to – I work full-time, with only limited opportunities for holidays and travel, so I’m in the position of earning points faster than I can redeem them without having to resort to purchasing points.
I have looked into it a few times, though, with various plans (United MileagePlus, Asia Miles, Alaska etc) and, on the routes I’m interested in, I’ve concluded that it wasn’t worth it. That’s not always the case with every route and every situation, but it was for me. All I can suggest is that you look carefully at where you want to travel, how much the tickets cost, how much you’d need to pay to buy the points you need, and then come to your own conclusion about whether it’s worth it.
United MileagePlus has an up-to-85% bonus deal on at the moment (until August 27), so that might be a good place to start!