EVA Air award redemptions are quirky. I recently made my first award redemption using their frequent flyer program, and the process was not easy, especially since I was booking a flight for two people, myself and a travel companion.
1. Searching redemptions on EVA Air
AwardFares is the easiest and fastest way to search award seat availability. Even though AwardFares doesn’t have direct support for EVA Air’s frequent flyer program, it still provides a good way to estimate availability. In my case, I was able to find two Business seats on the EVA Air flight between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Taipei (TPE), which I could confirm were also available in EVA Air’s system.
You can check EVA Air’s award availability on their website. One thing to note though, on their website there are two search systems, one for EVA/UNI and one for Star Alliance.
Even though I was trying to book an EVA Air flight, I was not able to find the seats when I searched using EVA/UNI. I did however find the tickets when I searched using Star Alliance. Note: to start a search you have to use the Select Itinerary function.
Another interesting note, while several frequent flyer programs, like United MileagePlus and SAS EuroBonus, are currently not offering redemptions with Singapore Airlines, EVA Air does.
2. Mileage cost
As with most airlines, award redemptions with a partner airline (Star Alliance) are normally more expensive. In this case, a Star Alliance redemption between Taiwan-South East Asia would cost 70,000 miles (round-trip).
Whereas a redemption with EVA Air only costs 50,000 miles. A one-way ticket is half of that (25,000 miles). Note that even if you use the Star Alliance search function, as long as you only book an EVA Air flight you will only have to pay the cheaper redemption price.
3. Booking with a travel companion
EVA Air is weird in that you can’t just book an award redemption for someone else. The first thing you will notice is that there is no option to select the number of passengers you want to book for. Instead, you can enter the membership number and password(!) of up to 3 travel companions. Yes, you will need the login credentials for your travel companion (or ask them to type it in for you), which just isn’t great.
Luckily both me and my travel companion have EVA Air accounts (although only one of us has miles). I entered our details and found the flight. However, when I tried to proceed I just received a cryptic error message saying “Your mileage is not eligible”. Weird, since I definitely had more than enough miles to cover the cost for 2 passengers.
At this point I decided to give EVA Air a call to ask what was going on. First I tried the Taiwan office, however they were closed due to it being a national holiday. Then I tried the US office, again closed since it was a Sunday. Finally I tried the Australia number and to my delight instantly got connected with a very friendly service agent.
She informed me that in order to book a ticket for 2 passengers I first had to transfer miles to my travel companion’s account. Essentially you can’t use your own miles to book a ticket for someone else. Every traveler needs to have the correct amount of miles.
She then informed me that in order to do this, I first had to assign my travel companion as a “nominee”. Furthermore, in order to do that I had to apply for something called “ON-LINE SERVICES” on my account.
For this, I had to fill out a PDF form, sign it, and return to them. The agent asked if I preferred to scan and send back by email, or alternatively fax it to them (hah, only an Asian company…).
I proceeded to fill out the form and emailed it back to EVA. Luckily after about an hour, I received an email saying that “ON-LINE SERVICE” was now active.
Next, I had to register my travel companion as a nominee. Unfortunately this process can take up to 24 hours, which is quite annoying since you never know if someone else will grab your seats in the mean time.
Essentially the nominee registration becomes effective the following day (Taiwan time). Since I applied for it on April 4th, I had to wait until it was April 5th in Taiwan. The next morning I waited for Taiwan to pass midnight, and now finally my travel companion registration was active!
Now, time to transfer the miles! First I confirmed that the award seats were still available, then I proceeded to transfer the redemption cost to my travel companion. I was a little worried that this would also take time, but luckily it was instant (and didn’t cost anything).
So to summarize:
- Your travel companion needs to have an EVA Air membership account (free to create).
- You need to apply for “ON-LINE SERVICES” using the PDF form available through your online membership account. Optionally do this for your travel companion as well at the same time so you can transfer miles back if you need to.
- Add your travel companion as a “nominee registration”.
- Wait until the next day (Taiwan time) up to 24 hours for the nominee registration to become effective.
- Transfer the correct amount of miles to your travel companion.
4. Booking the tickets
Now that the mileage situation was sorted out, the actual process for booking the tickets was quite simple and fast. I started the search process again, entered our membership numbers, found the flight, and now finally I could proceed to the payment screen. I was able to verify that we both have the correct amount of miles to proceed.
Next I was able to fill out our passenger information details, review the flight details, and pay the taxes, which were very reasonable, roughly $140 USD for 2 people in Business for a 5 hour flight. Not bad.
The final screen is a little confusing. You have two choices: Online ticketing or Reservation? I’m not quite sure what the difference is…
In any case, I proceeded with Online ticketing and that seemed to do the trick. I received my e-tickets via email and my booking number.
I guess the moral of the story is, if you are collecting EVA Air miles and potentially plan to book a redemption with travel companions in the future, make sure you prepare in advance!