A while back I wrote about some of the most remote places on Earth that I would love to visit. I tend to get a little overzealous at the thought of doing things that few people have done before, so it’s no surprise that getting to these impossible-to-reach places are on my bucket list.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on where to go beyond the usual suspects, I highly recommend you check out my thoughts on 7 Remote Places I’d Love to Visit.
Well, a little while after I published that article I received the following tweet:
Please, oh please show us how we can get to all those places on #MilesAndPoints! You’ve already got us started off with Nunavut.
— Canadian Traveller (@TravelCanadian) July 5, 2017
@TravelCanadian said please, so how could I not oblige? I thought it’d be fun to see how many of these places can be reached via the magic of Miles & Points. And as a fun sidebar, what are the most remote places one could conceivably reach by redeeming points? Let’s find out…
1. Canadian North
For a vast, remote, and sparsely populated icescape, Nunavut is surprisingly easy to reach on points. That’s because First Air and Canadian North, two airlines that serve Canada’s northern territories, are both partners with Aeroplan, and you can redeem for a round-trip for as little as 15,000 Aeroplan miles.
The route connecting Ottawa with Iqaluit, Nunavut’s provincial capital, is considered “short-haul” and is therefore available for 15,000 miles. If you want to leverage the route networks of either First Air or Canadian North and explore other parts of Nunavut, or if you need to connect to Ottawa on Air Canada, you’ll be charged the standard 25,000 miles for a North America round-trip.
You can’t combine First Air and Canadian North segments with each other on the same itinerary, but either can be combined with Air Canada segments. Due to the exorbitant price of regular cash fares, the hardest part about booking these awards is finding availability – you often have to plan many months out to be able to find an open award seat on the Ottawa–Iqaluit flights.
By all accounts, getting to Argentina’s southern tip will likely involve passing through Buenos Aires on your itinerary. Aerolineas Argentinas is the dominant domestic carrier, and redeeming Delta SkyMiles for travel might be a viable option (remember, American Express MR points transfer to SkyMiles at a 1:0.75 ratio).
Another option is to redeem Avios on LATAM flights, which is a useful option for hopping around South America in general. LATAM Argentina operates a few frequencies a week between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Ushuaia, which costs only 10,000 Avios one-way.
3. Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
Ashgabat (ASB), Turkmenistan’s capital, will likely be your jumping-off point for a trip out to the Door to Hell. To get there, my preferred routing would be to fly on Turkish Airlines from Istanbul. Keep in mind that Turkish doesn’t levy any fuel surcharges when booking with Aeroplan.
Another interesting option that I hadn’t considered before is to redeem Avios on S7 Airlines’ four-times-weekly flight from Moscow Domodedovo. The flight clocks in at 1,535 miles in distance, which means that a one-way redemption in economy costs 10,000 Avios. It’d be a cool way to do a tour of Turkey, Central Asia, and Russia all in one go.
4. Russian Far East
The Russian Far East is so vast that it’s kind of hard to meaningfully talk about it as one single region. The dominant carrier in this region is S7 Airlines, a Oneworld member based in Siberia. This means that Avios redemptions are well on the table for travel around this region – in fact S7 will likely be your only viable points option if you’re headed to some of the farther-out reaches of Russia.
Meanwhile, major cities in the southern, more temperate part of Siberia are generally better connected to the rest of civilization. Hainan Airlines serves Irkutsk (IKT) from Beijing, making a redemption with Alaska Airlines a potentially interesting option.
Chita (HTA) can be reached from Beijing on a twice-weekly Air China service, and both Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (UUS) and Khabarovsk (KHV) are served by Asiana Airlines, meaning you can easily reach these cities on an Aeroplan redemption and continue your journey north from there.
This relatively underdeveloped archipelago in the middle of Micronesia is only served by a handful of airlines – and they’re mostly ones that probably have higher priorities than launching a loyalty program, like having a website with a functional booking engine.
So unless you’re willing to jump through hoops to book tickets on Nauru Airlines or Air Marshall Islands, the only way to redeem miles to Kiribati would be to redeem Alaska miles on Fiji Airways, who operate a twice-weekly hopper flight from Nadi (NAN) to South Tarawa (TRW), Kiribati’s capital.
A one-way from North America costs 40,000 miles in economy and 55,000 miles in business, with a free stopover allowed in Fiji – this can be a great way to explore the South Pacific. Unfortunately, Caroline Island, the island that sees the first sunrise on Earth of every calendar day, sits 2,600 miles away from South Tarawa with no scheduled flights or boat services. Time to put that yacht to good use…
6. Easter Island
Now this is where things get interesting. Not only is it quite possible to redeem miles for your trip to Easter Island, there are also several cool ways to do it. That’s because LATAM operates flights from the Chilean territory’s Mataveri International Airport (IPC) to two destinations: Santiago, Chile (SCL), and – this is a bit of “random” one – Papeete (PPT) on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia.
In fact, the Tahiti flight is actually part of one long flight from Santiago to Tahiti, with an intermediate stop in Easter Island. This opens some intriguing travel possibilities. Both the SCL–IPC and IPC–PPT flights fall into Zone 4 of the Avios Reward Chart, meaning that you’ll pay 12,500 Avios for a one-way journey. Now I find that economy class availability on these flights can be quite sparse unless you book early, so just keep that in mind.
I wish you could book a trip to Easter Island using Alaska Mileage Plan’s generous LATAM award chart, but unfortunately they consider Easter Island a separate redemption from the rest of South America so you’d need to book two awards to make that happen. It’s better to use Avios.
Since Mataveri is widely considered the world’s most remote airport – with Totegegie Airport (GMR), serving another French Polynesian island of Mangareva the closest airport from it 1,617 miles away – I think we can safely say that Easter Island is the most remote place on Earth that you can reach on points.
7. Tristan da Cunha
There’s no way you’re getting to Tristan da Cunha on points, or even anywhere remotely close to it. There’s just no way.
As I mentioned in the previous post, there’s about nine scheduled ship departures per year heading for Tristan out of Cape Town, South Africa, in addition to any research or fishing vessels you might find a way to finagle a spare bunk on. So the best advice I can give you is to redeem points to South Africa (perhaps by leveraging one of the best award chart sweet spots around – 70,000 Alaska miles from North America to Johannesburg in Cathay Pacific first and business class) and make the week-long journey across the South Atlantic from there.
Even that isn’t as easy as it sounds, since your spot as a tourist on the scheduled ship services can easily be bumped if there happens to be more important personnel on their way to the island. And once you’re on Tristan, it can be several weeks before the next ship arrives to bring you back!
I don’t know if I’m an outlier for feeling this way, but there’s something about extremely remote places on Earth that just feels magical to me. It’s that explorer’s spirit, I suppose – the one that brought Magellan, da Gama, Marco Polo, etc. on their great adventures. We’re fortunate to have the magic of rewards points at our fingertips, and I hope this article has shown you some ways you can put that power to use and go places where few travellers have ever set foot.