JFK & British Airways First Class Lounge
JFK-HKG Cathay Pacific First Class
Cathay Pacific Lounges in Hong Kong – The Wing & The Pier
Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong – Denpasar, Bali
Arrival at DPS & Transfer to Bali Hyatt
Bali Hyatt, Sanur
So Long Hyatt, Hello Komaneka at Tanggayuda!
Things To Do in Bali
Selamat Tinggal, Komankea!
DPS Premier Lounge
Thai Airways Business Class DPS-BKK
Thai Airways Royal First Lounge in Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok – Zurich
Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich
Swiss First Class Zurich – Montreal
United Airlines First Class Montreal – Newark
Late last year, British Airways hit the frequent flyer community with some pretty devastating news. They would be changing their award chart. Previously, they had a pretty generous award chart with highlights like Business class redemptions cheaper than other airlines and unlimited stopovers. They would now be changing to a distance based award chart that did not favor those of us who liked to fly far and connect often. Most long-haul awards would be increasing mileage requirements by 40%.
It was an inevitable move seeing as they had just minted millions of miles by promoting a 100,000 Chase credit card offer that both Joann and I took advantage of. With news in hand, we decided to take our BA miles and dump them all on a First Class trip to Bali, Indonesia. Here’s how I built the itinerary:
Since we used some of our BA miles to go to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific Business Class, we had just enough for a one-way First Class redemption to South Asia. It would cost 75,000 miles each. I signed into my BA Executive Club account and proceeded to punch in JFK-DPS on our desired dates. The BA site was cooperative enough to piece together the one-stop routing of JFK-HKG (Hong Kong) and HKG-DPS (Denpasar, Bali) on Cathay Pacific First and Business class. Easy as that. It’s great when an airline’s booking tool works well. We have a ~5 hour layover at Hong Kong International Airport that will give us enough time to shower and sample the First Class Lounges. As a teaser, here is what Cathay’s First class seat/suite looks like:
For the inbound, I decided to use our next biggest stockpile of miles – United Airlines. United is part of Star Alliance, the largest collection of airlines in the world. They’re so easy to use thanks to United’s great website, which is the best in the industry, in my opinion. At first, I just entered the origin and destination of this one-way journey and hoped for the best. You never know; sometimes that could work. DPS-NYC didn’t yield anything good. Lots of mixed cabins and only a handful of routes. I know that there are dozens of routes to fly between Asia and North America; you can cross either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.
What the website won’t do for you is take you through EVERY gateway city belonging to their partners. You’ll have to search segment by segment and piece together routes through cities like Doha (DOH) for Qatar Airways, Seoul (ICN) for Asiana Airlines, FRA/MUC/DUS for Lufthansa, etc. If I want an award bad enough, I will literally search every one of the gateway cities for every member airline in Star Alliance. Tedious but that’s my passion!
As of today, our routing is this:
- DPS-BKK: Thai Airways Business
- BKK-ZRH: Thai Airways First
- ZRH-YUL: Swiss Air First
- YUL-EWR: United (domestic) First
This has changed more times than United agents can keep up with over the past 9 months, but that’s how it stands and it should remain that way. With this itinerary, we’ll try a myriad of travel-related experiences.
In Bangkok, Thailand (BKK), we’ll be pampered at the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Spa where, as First Class passengers, we can have a complimentary 60 minute massage and then be driven to our gate in a golf cart of sorts.
In Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH), we’ll have enough time to take a train into the city and explore for a bit. The only thing I really want for that short jaunt is some Swiss street food. We’ll then return to the airport to shower and have a pre-flight meal at the First Class Lounge. Sure we’ll be served a multi-course meal on board but hey, I’m a glutton.
And that’s just on the ground! The most exciting part of this routing is definitely experiencing both Thai Airways’ and Swiss’ First Class products in the air. Here’s a sneak peak at what both products look like:
So after all that research, planning, and plugging in airport codes and dates, you get a routing that looks like this, over 21,000 butt-in-seat miles crossing both major oceans in one trip. 80% of the trip will be in international First Class, with the rest being in Business. And all it cost is was 290,000 miles and about $700 in taxes and fees! This will be our first journey in long-haul First Class so you can be sure there will be lots of photos of everything, courtesy of Joann of course. Can’t wait!