Snowboarding in Whistler: Cathay Pacific First Class – Vancouver – New York

TRIP INDEX

After taking a private shuttle back to YVR from Whistler, we paid to leave our luggage with a baggage storage service in the airport so we could head to downtown Vancouver. There was plenty of time to kill before our late evening departure.

We celebrated a friend’s birthday with some great Japanese food for lunch.

IMG_1535

Beef tongue

Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu

Sushi

Sushi

Then, later in the afternoon, we went to Richmond Centre Mall to meet up with Joann’s cousins who live in Vancouver. If you want some amazing, authentic Chinese food, head to Richmond!

Finally, we were dropped off at YVR for our flight. We picked up our luggage and headed over to security. As it was Saturday evening, security was a breeze and we were into the First Class Lounge in no time.

The lounge is OK. There is a separation between First & Business Class, but no policing so teens were walking over from the Business Class section as they pleased.

The food & refreshments were basic, as far as Cathay goes, with food offerings of siumai and Veuve Clicquot as the champagne. After winding down a bit from our day in town and charging up devices, it was time to board.

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Reminders Before the End of 2013

As we come to the end of the year/quarter, there are several bonuses and promotions wrapping up. Tuesday, December 31st will be the drop dead date.

Chase Freedom 4th Quarter Bonus

5x Ultimate Rewards points on Amazon.com and select department stores. This was an easy set of categories to rack up $1,500 worth of spend. If you haven’t, buy some Amazon e-gift cards for yourself for future use!

Discover IT 4th Quarter Bonus

The Discover IT card is basically their answer to the Chase Freedom, with rotating category bonuses every quarter. This quarter’s was “online purchases” which made it really easy with all the online shopping for the holidays + the points-manufacturing schemes like Amazon Payments.

American Express Membership Rewards British Airways Transfer Bonus

Get 20% more Avios bonus will end on Tuesday as well. Obviously, don’t transfer points without an award in your sights. The only exception to that rule is when you plan on cancelling a card. We’ll be cancelling Joann’s Platinum card so instead of downgrading or straight up losing the points, we’d rather get a transfer bonus on points we’ll be sure to use.

Cathay Pacific’s Last London 747 Flight

Gary writes about Cathay’s last London Boeing 747 flight, as these Queens of the Sky are being retired from service. As of now, there are 6 First Class award seats available! That’s the kind of New Year’s Party I could get into. You can use the aforementioned Amex-Avios transfer bonus to redeem for this momentous occasion. It will cost you 90K Avios + $456.

American Express Platinum $200 Airline Credit

Don’t forget that one major perk of being an Amex Platinum cardholder is a $200 airline credit every calendar year. It’s meant for incidentals like baggage fees or buy-on-board food, but it absolutely works when buying gift cards to your designated airline. I recently purchased a $200 American Airlines gift card and was reimbursed in 2 days.

American Express Sync Promotions

Amex has had some great promotions going throughout the year that are scheduled to end on the 31st. My favorite was the Amazon one, just in time for the holidays. Deals We Like has compiled a comprehensive list of the promotions along with their expiration dates. Be sure to take advantage of them if they fit your needs!

Although most of the Sync promotions are due to end on the 31st, my guess is that they’ll be re-upped for 2014.

Other Things To Remember

In 2013, the year of the devaluation, be cognizant of the upcoming changes. Hyatt is the first to change in the new year, making several changes to their award chart that go into effect on January 7, 2014.  United’s new, more expensive award charts will go into effect February 1, 2014.

Cathay Pacific’s Newest Route EWR-HKG

As announced this week, Cathay Pacific has their newest U.S. gateway city – Newark, NJ (EWR)! While not the most glamorous of U.S. destinations, this one hits close to home because it’s my home airport.

Cathay already has a great presence in NYC with 4 daily flights to Hong Kong, but I guess they wanted to increase frequency with this new route. Whatever the reason, I’m not complaining!

Here are the flight schedules:

CX New Route 1

CX899 EWR-HKG departing 1:50 AM arriving 5:40AM (+1 day)
CX890 HKG-EWR departing 6:20PM arriving 10:00PM

They will be flying a 3-cabin Boeing 777-300ER – no First Class! Sad, but CX Business Class is one of the best seats in the industry so no worries there.

Joann and I have flown it before and loved it. My dad, sister, and brother-in-law have also taken it before (all between MNL & JFK) and loved the experience.

CX_service12_3000w

Best Ways to Redeem Awards on Cathay Pacific

As of right now, there is PLENTY of Business & Economy availability through the end of schedule. I’m seeing 5 seats available for a bunch of flights.

Here are the 2 best ways to redeem an award on Cathay Pacific:

American Airlines AAdvantage miles

Easily one of the 2 best frequent flyer programs in existence. AA & CX are both in the oneworld alliance.

Between EWR & HKG, it will cost you 55k miles each way in Business Class and 35k miles each way in Economy.

A huge bonus to the AAdvantage program is that you can have a free stopover at your North American gateway city (in this case EWR). Essentially, you are getting a one-way domestic flight for no extra miles.

British Airways Avios

Avios are generally regarded as only useful for shorter flights since it is a distance-based program, but they are still an option for CX. BA is also part of the oneworld alliance.

Between EWR & HKG, it will cost you 70k Avios each way in Business Class and 35k Avios each way in Economy. Taxes & fees would range from $134 – 160.

CX New Route 2 EWR HKG

That would be a Happy Birthday to Me!

Don’t forget that both American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to British Airways!

In fact, Amex usually has transfer bonuses to BA so keep on the lookout and you could save some points.

Snowboarding in Whistler: Cathay Pacific First Class New York – Vancouver

TRIP INDEX

As is always the beginning with us and Cathay Pacific, the story starts out with us getting dropped off at Terminal 7 at JFK. Right away we went to the First & Business Class check-in desks around the corner from the Economy ones.

When the gate agent saw all our snowboard gear, she immediately asked if we were heading to Whistler. Why, of course!

After checking our 50+ pound bags (70 pound allowance for First Class), we walked toward the separate security checkpoint. Unlike last time we were at T7, it was open! I was relieved because I knew this meant passing through in about 5 minutes time and then more lounge time.

British Airways First Class Lounge

We actually didn’t take any photos this time because nothing much had changed. If you’d like to see pictures of the British Airways First Class Lounge, check out my RTW post.

The lounge was pretty packed. There were no empty lounger seats available so Joann and I grabbed a table by the bar and helped ourselves to some Veuve Clicquot champagne. A few glasses of that made up for the less than desirable seating.

Gate & Boarding

Soon enough, it was time to start heading to our gate for our 10:00 pm departure. Since we were only flying to Vancouver, I wanted to make sure we got on ASAP and maximized every minute possible in First Class. Hell, I’d take a ground delay as long as I could wait it out in the suite!

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RTW to Bali: Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong – Denpasar, Bali

TRIP INDEX

Joann and I made our way through Hong Kong International, taking in the sights, people watching, and admiring the clean, bright conditions that HKG seemed to be in. It was a far cry from our home airport, EWR, that’s for sure.

HKG (Hong Kong) – DPS (Denpasar)
CX785
26 AUG 2012
Boeing 747-400
Business Class, Upper Deck

Seats 81A, 81K

Boarding & Settling In

When we got to the gate, Business Class was invited to board and we were the first ones on the this 747, the Queen of the Skies. I definitely wanted to make sure we got a shot of the stairs going up to the upper deck!

cathay pacific hong kong denpasar business class bali  hkg dps 747

Stairway to heaven?

The stairs lead to the aft of the upper deck cabin. A very friendly flight attendant greeted us and showed us to our seats at the very front, right behind the flight deck. It was really cool to be right behind the pilots on the upper deck.

We were offered pre-departure drinks and started back up on the champagne. I could get used to starting a flight with some bubbly!

Upper Deck Business Class

Upper Deck Business Class

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