Using Miles to Get Myles Home: Tips on Lap Infant Award Tickets

I haven’t written a post in FOREVER here, but I think this last trip calls for it. Long story short, some medical issues during our Philippines trip forced us to cancel and rebook our flight home within a day’s notice and I’m glad that my stockpile of miles could alleviate some of the stress of the whole situation.

I know that Cathay Pacific is great about releasing premium cabin award space in the last 2 weeks leading up to a flight so that was my primary target in my search. I’ve booked these awards several times in the past and this time was no different.

Using the British Airways website, I found 2 first class seats available for Joann, Myles (as a lap infant) and me. Next step was to call AA and hope that the reservation agent could actually see and book these seats for us.

The agent I got was very good and confirmed that the first class award seats were available at 110,000 miles + very minimal taxes per adult. I asked him to get me a quote on the lap infant fare for Myles. It’s a different policy for every airline but AA charges 10% of the adult fare. Do some googling to find out which airlines charge more or less than others. To me, 10% is reasonable on a coach fare but when you’re talking about a first class tickets upwards of $18,000 one-way, it can be pricey. Sadly, he came back with the fares and they were as expected – $1,800 for Myles, about 10% of the first class ticket I just mentioned.

Price for 1 First Class ticket from HKG to JFK

Price for 1 First Class ticket from HKG to JFK

However, since I read on FlyerTalk that not all agents know how to request lap infant fees correctly, I decided to just have the agent book the tickets for Joann and me and then HUCA (Hang Up Call Again). The following morning, I called back AA to request a quote for adding Myles as a lap infant. After a long hold, the agent came back with an all-in fee of $283! I don’t know how she got that number but I really didn’t care! Trying to contain my excitement, I told her I was ready to book his ticket, credit card in hand.

Pro Tip: If you have time before your flight, practice the HUCA method to try and get a more favorable quote for lap infant taxes & fees. You never know; you might hit the jackpot like we did!

After finalizing everything with the agent, I took to Twitter to direct message Cathay Pacific. I gave them my confirmation number, asking them to ensure that everything was ticketed properly, specifically Myles’ ticket. They said everything was good to go and I was ecstatic to have saved so much on his lap infant fees.

Pro Tip: Most hotels & airlines nowadays have great social media support. There’s no waiting on hold or emailing and waiting days for a response. They often get back to you within hours so give it a try.

Needless to say, we were happy to make it home (very very comfortably might I add) and Myles enjoyed his first international First Class flight. Can you tell from the pics?

Myles enjoying his seat

Myles enjoying his seat

He was really into that orchid

The only way to fly

The only way to fly

Enough room for 2!

Enough room for 2!

 Breakfast for 2

Breakfast for 2

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee Worth Paying Over the Preferred?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve – Can’t ignore the talk of the town. Like I tell all my friends & coworkers, if any major bank is offering a signup bonus of 100,000 points, I’m 99% getting it. It’s a no brainer. Even at a high $450 annual fee (which is really just $150 after a $300 travel credit), the bonus is still worth it. I’ve paid more for points.

The next question you should ask is if the Reserve is worth keeping over the Preferred (which you should be a mainstay in your wallet). That’s why I quickly created a Google Doc that answers that for you.

Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Preferred Calculator

Instructions are simple:

  • Download as Excel or make a copy to your own Google Drive
  • Enter how much you spend per month for each of the cards’ bonus categories – travel & dining
  • Results update on lines 10 & 11 and are based on an entire year of spending

Obviously, this is based on points earning alone. There are other benefits associated with the card that may be of value to you that you should also consider.

Hopefully, this is a quick and dirty way to determine if you’re going to downgrade your Preferred to a regular Sapphire (or perhaps a Freedom Unlimited) or keep it and cancel the Reserve next year.

Trip Report: Korean Air 747-8i First Class ICN-JFK

ICN (Seoul Incheon) – JFK (New York)
KE 85
06/05/2016
Boeing 747-8i
First Class

Seats 1A, 1J

Well this flight was a full-on treat. We haven’t been in long haul First Class in a few years so it was great to be able to experience 2 of them during this trip. This Korean Air flight easily out shined the Japan Airlines flight we took to Japan. I can easily say that this was one of the best flights we’ve ever taken.

Boarding

We arrived a few minutes after scheduled boarding time of 7:00p. They were only pre-boarding those who needed assistance, but the queue in every line was already extensive. We showed our First boarding passes to the attendant and he escorted us to the front of the premium line.

After a few minutes, an announcement was made & all the gate attendants bowed in unison. Our boarding passes were scanned and we were off to the First & Business Class jet bridge. The chief purser (who would introduce himself later) had us escorted to our suites – 1A & 1J, right in the nose of this still-fresh 747.

Cabin

The First Class cabin was beautiful. Clean whites, mellow creams, and then of course the signature Korean Air Celadon Green seats. The overhead lighting was set to bright white & blue for boarding, something that would change during the stages of the flight.

The cabin was very spacious with only 6 First Class suites. Like other 747 First Class cabins, the rear of the cabin was used for staging drinks & snacks for passengers, of which there were only 3 on this flight. Up front where we were, the cabin narrowed to the contours of the nose of the plane; so much so that the space between 1A & 1J, only one person could fit.

Korean Air First Class

Settling In

As we got to our seats, the flight attendant was quick to offer to stow our bags in a closet at the very front of the cabin. She then asked if we’d like anything to drink which was quickly answered with “Champagne!”

She came back shortly with Bose noise cancelling headphones, an amenity kit (advertising the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang), and facial mist. After that, she offered Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2004 & macadamia nuts.
2016-06-05 19.14.13

2016-06-05 19.17.37

Korean Air First Class

Korean Air First Class

She came back again and asked what size “comfortable clothes” (pajamas) I’d like. I don’t wear them on planes because I get way too hot but I’ll certainly take them home as a souvenir. Slippers & menus were already at the seat so I put my shoes away & perused the menu for the flight while she returned with the Gianfranco Ferre pajamas.

Korean Air First Class

The Seat/Suite

First impression of the suite was that it was great. Reminiscent of Cathay Pacific First Class with 4 windows-worth of space and a wide seating area, it is designed slightly better with a wider footwell and a bigger screen above that. There’s even a little lamp about head-level behind you, which reminded me of Swiss First Class.

Korean Air First Class

Korean Air First Class

There’s plenty of small storage to your side; max capacity is probably the size of my Tom Bihn medium cafe bag.

The seat itself was very comfortable; maybe it’s because the plane is fairly new & the cushions aren’t worn in yet.

Because this is technically a suite, there were, of course, doors that made you feel quite secluded. Since I was traveling with my wife, we only used them when sleeping. They’re easily deployed via a release button on the top of the door.

Korean Air First Class

Speaking of sleeping, the completely flat bed is quite comfortable. The flight attendant only added a thin foam mattress pad, but that seemed to be enough because it felt more pleasant than the last Airbnb we stayed at in Tokyo. It was definitely more comfortable than Japan Airlines’ air weave foam mattress pad. The duvet is substantial yet soft, but it was too hot for me (any duvet on a plane will be).

Korean Air First Class

The best thing about the suite, BY FAR, was air vent on the side of the suite. I hate that premium cabins don’t have dedicated air vents because I get hot VERY easily. It might be stupid to some but the existence of this vent ensured I had a pleasant flight and, most importantly, an agreeable sleep.

Korean Air First Class

Overall

Korean Air must have one of best First Class offerings on the market right now with this new Kosmos Suite 2.0. The cabin is well designed and the suite is private enough if you want it to be. The seat is comfortable & the service was amazing, both personable & attentive. The only shortcoming was probably the food, which I’ll get to in another post. I really just wanted to write about the rest of the flight which we loved. It was certainly worth the 80,000 miles per person we redeemed (more on that in another post, too).

Last Few Days to Earn 10x Points at Amazon & More via Chase Freedom

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Chase Freedom 10% Amazon

Just a reminder that if you’ve activated this offer from Chase, there are only a few more days to spend up to $1,500 at Amazon, Zappos, Audible & Diapers.com and get 10 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent.

Since I do too much shopping at Amazon and I still have some room until I get to $1,500 spent, I’m going to end up buying some Amazon gift cards for myself to use at a later time. This way I’ll earn the 10x UR points on the shopping I’m eventually going to do on Amazon in the future.

Also, as a note, Amazon Home Services will count as spend towards that bonus since the charge appears just like any other Amazon purchase on your credit card. I’ve tested this a few months ago and the charge did, in fact, receive the quarterly bonus points. Great way to hire a contractor and pay via Amazon.com. A bonus is that you get the customer service/protection of Amazon so if anything goes wrong, Amazon will go the extra mile to make sure you are happy.

Q1 2016 Bonus

As a reminder, next quarter’s bonuses are as follows:

  • Gas stations
  • Local commuter transportation
    • Excludes tolls, parking, and more

If you have access to gas stations where you can buy gift cards, you should be in the clear to spend up to the $1,500 fairly easily. If not, time to get creative!

Citi ThankYou Premier – 60,000 ThankYou Points

UPDATE 1:50 PM EST: Another link is still up!

UPDATE 1:25 PM EST: Original link DEAD!

Thank to US Credit Card Guide, the best offer we’ve ever seen for the Citi ThankYou Premier credit card has been discovered! Using this link, you can earn the following bonus:

Earn 60,000 bonusThankYou® Points after you spend $3,500 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.

I just applied both Joann & myself for this card because you can easily transfer points from one account to any other one (with some caveats that I’ll go over in another post). Joann got instantly approved, but my decision went pending.

PRO TIP: If your decision goes pending, don’t close out that browser window. Wait a few seconds & a live chat popup window should appear on screen. Start the live chat & an agent can help you right then & there. No need to have the hassle of calling the reconsideration line! The agent was able to shift some credit from an existing Citi credit card in order to open this one. Approved!

  • Annual fee: $0 first year, $95 thereafter
    • Citi is notoriously generous with retention offers when calling to “cancel” after the annual fee is posted
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • EMV Chip Technology

Citi ThankYou Premier Bonus Categories

3 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on Travel. Travel includes:
  • Gas Stations
  • Public Transportation
  • Taxis and Tolls
  • Parking Garages
  • Airfare and Hotels
  • Cruises
  • Car Rental Agencies
  • And much more!

2 ThankYou Points per $1 spent on Dining Out and Entertainment

ThankYou Transfer Partners

ThankYou Points transfer to 11 different airline partners and Hilton HHonors (at 1:1.5).

  • Asia Miles
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hilton HHonors (1:1.5)

Wrap Up

I haven’t written about City TY points much because I haven’t earned them before, but it’s always good to diversify the portfolio. Stay tuned for a lot more info regarding this program making a splash in the flexible points game.

Citi ThankYou Premier