Upgrading Using Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles – The Best Value?

As a result of the changes to Enrich in February I’m going through and updating all of the guides on the value of Enrich Miles.  This one looks at using your Enrich Miles for upgrades, and what the value is.

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How Many Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles Will You Need for Upgrades?

The first thing that you need to understand is how Upgrades Awards are priced. Malaysia Airlines uses a zoned based system from zones 1 (0-500 Miles) to zone 7 (10,000 Miles +) for pricing its awards – based on distance. As these zones are based on distance some countries appear in different zones for example in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City is in zone 2 (501-2001 Miles) whilst Hanoi is in zone 3 (1201-2400 Miles).

This is formed in a list of destinations versus the zone and the class of travel. The cost in Enrich for upgrades is shown in two number Economy to Business, and Business to First – it is one of the simpler charts to understand.

For example a flight from Peninsular Malaysia to London is Zones 1 to 5 and costs a minimum of 40,000 Economy to Business or 55,000 Business to First Class.

You can find the full award chart here: Malaysia Airlines and Upgrade Awards Chart

What’s the Value of An Upgrade Award on Malaysia Airlines?

In order to understand this we need to take value of the flight if you paid in cash and take off the cost of the lower class that you have upgraded from. You can then use this to divide by the number of Enrich Miles giving you the value of your Enrich Miles. So I’ve taken the examples of a flight from Kuala Lumpur to London and Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok.

Example Kuala Lumpur to London Upgrade from Economy to Business Class (Long Haul)

Value if paid in cash: RM13,000 for Business Class – Economy Class Ticket Cost RM4,000 so the upgrade value is RM9,000. If you were able to Upgrade Award this would value the Enrich Miles at 22.5 Sen per Mile

Example Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok Upgrade from Economy to Business Class (Short Haul)

Value if paid in cash: RM1,800 for Business Class  – Economy Class Ticket Cost RM800 so the upgrade value is RM1,000. If you were able to Upgrade Award this would value the Enrich Miles at 7.7 Sen per Mile

Are Enrich Award Upgrades to First better Value?

You can of course use your Enrich Miles for upgrades to get into First class depending on the route and aircraft. For the same dates and flights to London from Kuala Lumpur this is the value:

Value if paid in cash: RM32,000 First Class – Business Class Ticket Cost RM13,000 so the upgrade value is RM19,000. If you were able to Upgrade Award this would value the Enrich Miles at 34.5 Sen per Mile

Additional Bonus for Upgrade Awards – Earn Enrich Miles

The other additional bonus for using your Enrich Miles for Upgrade Awards is that you’ll earn the miles based on the original ticket purchase.  You can upgrade from Economy Class to Business on the following fares classes:

N,Q,L,V,S,K,M,Y,B,H

If you need to find you fare class then check out our guide here and for more details check out the Malaysia Airlines site:

How to Find Your Fare Class on Malaysia Airlines Flights

Upgradeable Fares on Malaysia Airlines

For upgradeable fares the minimum earning rate is 25% of the miles flown in Economy (in N and Q fares) and for Business 125% (Z fares).  This would equate to 1,637 Enrich Miles for Economy and 8,187 for Business.

This would reduce the effective cost to 38,363 and 46,813 for upgrades to Business and First respectively for flights to London from Kuala Lumpur. Therefore the value could be 23.4 and 40.5 sen per mile.

Remember that the earned miles will only be credited after the flight so you’ll pay the full amount upfront.

Important Points to Consider for Upgrading Using Enrich Miles

There are a few things to consider before you read through the analysis on the valuation of Enrich Miles for Upgrade Awards.

(1) Availability

Malaysia Airlines along with every frequent flyer program will only release a certain number of award seats available to book, so even if you have the Enrich Miles you may not be able to use them. Luckily though Malaysia Airlines usually has good availability compared to others.

(2) Devaluations

Whatever you value an Enrich Mile at always remember that this is a frequent flyer scheme and so is subject to change at any time. We obviously saw a devaluation in February 2015.

(3) Only Flexible Tickets are Eligible for Upgrades

If you are intending to purchase a cheap discounted economy ticket and then upgrade it you may be in for a surprise, as most of these are not eligible for upgrade. Only Economy Class tickets purchased on flights operated by Malaysia Airlines in N,Q,L,V,S,K,M,Y,B,H booking classes are eligible for redemption of upgrades from Economy to Business.

(4) Finding Upgrade Availability Prior to Booking

There is no sure-fire way of finding whether there will be award availability prior to booking the ticket paid for by cash. You can of course do a full award redemption and this may give you an idea of whether there are spaces available.  Calling does work on some occassions depending on the agent.

(5) Codeshares

Only flights operated and marketed by Malaysia Airlines are eligible for redemption of upgrades. This excludes codeshare flights marketed by Malaysia Airlines and operated by codeshare partners.

(6) Taxes and Fees for Upgrades on Malaysia Airlines

Don’t forget that you’ll be paying a small increase in cost for the upgrade due to the various and duties that are imposed for the higher class, but compared to the overall cost these are usually minimal.

Conclusions

As you can see with the examples here generally upgrades are better value than you would normally get for outright redemptions (when compared to the examples here). Getting anything over the 10 Sen value is going to be a good value redemption.

However you are limited by quite a few restrictions, and you should be careful when booking the revenue part of your ticket if you are aiming to upgrade it at a later date