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Great Ways to Fly to Central Asia with Points & Miles [Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, & Tajikistan]
Central Asia is an uncommon region for travel, and there’s no direct way to fly there from anywhere in the US. There are few ways to fly there with points that require you to transfer from certain airport hubs. This guide will show you how to book flights with points to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, or Tajikistan.
Fly to Central Asia with Star Alliance
Turkish Miles & Smiles
Turkish Airlines is the airline to focus on when it comes to flying to Central Asia, and is a part of the Star Alliance. Turkish have good direct flight coverages from Istanbul Airport (IST) that the US can fly directly to from major US airports, to major Central Asian cities (bolded cities/airports have daily schedules with Turkish Airlines):
- Almaty, Kazakhstan (ALA)
- Astana/Nursultan, Kazakhstan (NQZ)
- Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (FRU)
- Tashkent, Uzbekistan (TAS)
- Samarkand, Uzbekistan (SKD)
- Dushanbe, Tajikistan (DYU)
It’s best to have your initial Central Asian destination in one of the bolded cities/airports to get better award availabilities and smoother schedules. Once you’ve landed in Central Asia, you can take cheap regional airlines (Air Astana/Uzbekistan Airways) or ground transport to move within a country or the entire region.
Searching availability for Star Alliance flights is done best through United’s website where it has a handy calendar tool so you can quickly scan when you can redeem an award ticket on.
Turkish Airlines usually have Promotional Awards where a Business Class flight would only cost 52,500 Turkish Miles for a one-way ticket! Beware that Turkish Airlines charge a modest fuel surcharge on award tickets, so expect to pay an extra ~$250-$300 for each way on top of the miles required flying from the US. It’s still a very great deal regardless for a Business Class ticket that can cost ~$4000-$5000 in straight cash!
How to Earn Turkish Miles & Smiles
Turkish Airlines is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou and Capital One Miles. Cards like the Citi Premier and Capital One Venture X are excellent ways to rack up Turkish Miles thanks to their big signup bonuses!
Turkish Miles expire 3 years after issuance. The only way to extend them for another 3 years is to pay the rate of $10 per 1000 miles! Make sure to use them before then!
Air Canada Aeroplan
Aeroplan is a great alternative for redeeming a Turkish flight to Central Asia thanks to its generous stopover policy. Although, the Aeroplan method will favor those originating from East Coast USA than West Coast USA because of its hybrid regional and distance award chart. Compared to booking with Turkish Miles, Aeroplan doesn’t add fuel surcharge, which is great!
Aeroplan allows you to book a one-way ticket with a stopover for only a 5,000 Aeroplan Miles increase! The stopover can be up to 45 days, which means you can have a lot of time sightseeing in Turkey before you go ahead to Central Asia! Here are some examples:
- Book one-way JFK-IST for 70,000 Miles, and then add a stopover for 5,000 more miles to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (FRU)
- Book one-way SFO-IST for 85,000 Miles, and then add a stopover for 5,000 more miles to Tashkent, Uzbekistan (TAS)
Itineraries with stopovers must be booked by phone, however. But, Aeroplan will implement online booking methods for these type of award tickets some time in 2022.
How to Earn Aeroplan Miles
Aeroplan is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One Miles. Chase also has a great co-branded with the Chase Aeroplan Card. Compared to Turkish Miles, there are more ways to earn Aeroplan Miles, so this can be your option if you only have Amex and/or Chase cards in your wallet.
Aeroplan Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. To reset the inactivity time, you must transfer some credit card points to Aeroplan Miles or spend with the co-branded Aeroplan Card from Chase.
Fly to Central Asia with Oneworld
American Airlines AAdvantage
American Airlines AAdvantage is a great program for flights operating under the Oneworld Alliance. The airline to go to for Central Asia is Qatar Airways.
Flying Qatar Airways from the US to Central Asia requires a transfer from Doha, Qatar (DOH). American AA allows connecting flights (not a stopover) just like Turkish Airlines. From the US to Central Asia with Qatar Airways, a one-way Business Class ticket costs 70,000 AAdvantage Miles. Depending on where you fly from, you may enjoy one of the best Business Class seats in the Qatar Airways QSuites on the flight to Doha! Be prepared for potential long layovers when committing towards this itinerary, however.
Award availabilities with Qatar Airways to Central Asia are limited compared to Turkish Airlines, so look for them as early as possible! Based from my findings, Almaty, Kazakhstan appears to be the only reliable destination in the region to go to if you decide to book connecting flights from Doha with Qatar Airways. If you’d like to go elsewhere other than Kazakhstan, then you’ll take regional flights or ground transports to visit other countries after you’ve arrived in Almaty.
How to Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
American Airlines AAdvantage Miles aren’t transferable from major credit card issuers. But, they do have plenty of co-branded credit card options from Citi and Barclays, including business cards to avoid the pesky Chase 5/24 rule. One of them have ridiculously easy signup bonus requirement to get 50,000 AAdvantage Miles by just completing a purchase of any amount and paying the first year’s annual fee (Aviator Red).
British Airways Executive Club/Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios
Qatar Airways has recently moved to Avios as their frequent flyer currency. With this move, you can now link your Qatar Airways Privilege Club account with your British Airways Executive Club and combine your Avios into one! Flying to Central Asia from the US would require you 84,000 Avios when booked through British Airways portal. They do charge a modest fuel surcharge, but the redemption still provides great value considering how easy it is to earn Avios.
How to Earn Avios
Qatar Airways’ move to Avios makes earning points for Qatar Airways award tickets ridiculously easy. British Airways is a transfer partner to American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One Miles. Qatar Airways Privilege Club is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou. Thanks to the fact that you can now link both your Qatar Airways Privilege Club with your British Airways Executive Club accounts, Avios is covered by all of the major credit card issuers’ points systems!
On top of that, Chase has a co-branded credit card called the British Airways Visa Signature Card to get you even more Avios!
Central Asia is a tricky region to book award flights to, but Turkish Airlines have great connections with both the US and Central Asia, making flying with Turkish Airlines the most feasible option. The best 2 programs for Turkish Airlines are Turkish Miles & Smiles themselves and Aeroplan for its stopover policy that lets you visit Turkey before making your way to Central Asia if your schedule is up for it. Both programs are transfer partners of multiple points programs, making it very easy to rack up points for either programs.
Oneworld is limited to only Qatar Airways, so the routing won’t be as flexible. If you can manage though, you could fly inside the Qatar Airways QSuites, which has been revered as one of the best Business Class seats in the airline industry!