A few weeks ago there were unbelievable sub $600 one way first class fares from Asia back to North America. I spent most of the night up figuring out how Sara and I could leverage them to reach some destinations we’ve been wanting to go to and keep it semi-affordable.
As of now we have two trips planned. January to Thailand (Phuket and then Bangkok) and August to Bali. In addition to the destinations themselves we’ll have a day stopover in Tokyo, a day in Zurich, and hopefully enough time in London to head out to Leavesden to do the Harry Potter tour.
Getting home wasn’t the problem; got those booked … but we needed to get there!
For January we’re flying Cathay Pacific in Business Class from New York to Vancouver (with a 1 hour stop), continuing on to Hong Kong, ending up in Phuket 30 hours after our journey began.
I debated on using an award booking service for a hand here, but I figured I needed to give this a try myself and if I couldn’t find something that worked that I felt gave me what I wanted I’d get help. In the end we used 90k BA Avios a piece for the one-way plus just under $200 in taxes for the flights. I had just transferred a bunch of Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios and got a 40% bonus … so the net cost was just under 65k MR per person + taxes / fees. This’ll be our first premium cabin international flight together. We’ve had a few separate, but I guess Cathay business for our first isn’t too shabby. For those of you that know the redemption game much better than I, how’d I do? Should I have tried to transfer to Iberia and booked through them for less taxes? Kept the miles in Amex MR and transferred to AsiaMiles?
For our hotel it looks like we’ll spend 4 or 5 days relaxing near the beaches, and then we’ll head to Bangkok for 2-3 in the city. I’m trying to be smart with our SPG points … It looks like we’ll stay at the Royal Orchid Sheraton in Bangkok, but the Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa (which at under $150/night is tempting) seems to get less than favorable feedback for a couple traveling (no lounge / breakfast???). Sara is swooning over the Naka Island, but at $700+ a night or god knows how many points (I’m guessing 40k+) I simply can’t get past the cost. The St. Regis gets great reviews also … but even that is 25k points a night. As a Platinum / Ambassador I guess the treatment would be amazing … but its a far cry from my usual $100/night Sheraton stays! If I had 500k SPG points I probably wouldn’t think twice about it but at just over 100k I need to be smart about how I use these buggers.
I think I’d rather buy priority club points, find an Intercontinental to stay at, purchase Ambassador status and hope Ambassador + Priority Club Platinum gets me some freebies. Would love some advice from those that have been to Phuket. Really we’re just looking for some quiet beach, pool, and sand weather. Some bike riding and walking around isn’t bad either. No desire to go clubbing / nightlife. Just some “us” time. I’ve got some Priority Club and Wyndham points other than my SPG (along with a bunch of Amex MR and Chase UR)
We’ll need one additional night, the evening we’re spending in Zurich. We arrive late afternoon and leave the following day early afternoon. I’m thinking definitely something not near the airport so we can maximize the time in the city; but again am open to suggestions!
To and from New York, we’ll use 25k Delta miles for that non-stop daily SAV-LGA flight. Funny, but I still think of this as one of the best redemptions ever (for me at least) … Non-stop to my family in New York about 5 miles from where they live … and almost always low mileage availability with Delta.
Oh, and the reason I say hopefully is that there is always the possibility that the issuing airline could cancel our amazing tickets from Asia back to the US … so everything I’m booking is refundable. I wonder at what point I can feel safe enough to possibly change my bookings to be non-refundable; who knows.
Next week I’ll review what our plans are for our Summer trip to Bali, and we still have yet to do that batch of applications. Maybe I’ll save it for this weekend at the seminars???
P.S. Thanks for the comments last week about travel fears … We’re confirmed on a Thai A380 in First from Frankfurt to Bangkok … more on that one next week too.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day TopCashback is donating $50 cash (to be deposited to your TopCashback.com account) for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (along with your First Name, Last Initial, and Airport Code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post by TOMORROW at 11:59pm EDT to be eligible to win. That gives you two days to win!