Let’s Plan: Round The World to Bali in First Class

TRIP INDEX
Introduction
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
Conclusion

INTRODUCTION

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:

Continue reading

Let’s Plan: Another Birthday Back in South Beach

TRIP INDEX

Introduction
American Airlines New York (LGA) – Miami (MIA)
King & Grove Tides and Z Ocean Hotel
South Beach Diet
Delta Airlines Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – New York (LGA)

——————————————————————————–

Around this time last year, this whole frequent travel hustle really started to ramp up for me. One of the first real trips utilizing some of the tips and tricks that I’d been learning (and points that I’d been earning) was a trip to South Beach for Joann’s birthday. It was just a simple redemption on Delta (if there is such a thing), but it was really the start of many great things to come. So why not go back to Miami for the weekend of Joann’s birthday? She does love her South Beach.

Since all my vacation days are either gone or booked (wedding/honeymoon + Bali), I could only be in Miami for two nights. The plan for this trip was, as usual, budget travel and budget lodging. We wanted to spend as little cash out of pocket as possible.

Continue reading

Hawaii 219: Intro

TRIP INDEX
Introduction
EWR-HNL BusinessFirst
Oahu
St. Regis Princeville Resort, Kaua’i
St. Regis Princeville Dining
Kaua’i – The Garden Island
Off to Maui
Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
The Food at the Four Seasons
The Rest of the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
3 Things To Do on Maui
Aloha, Hawaii

————————————————————

“Let’s get married in Hawaii!!” I think that’s what Joann and I said to each other when we first started planning the wedding. That’s how this all started. While I was obviously happy to help plan a wedding, I was even happier when I was trusted with relegated to planning the entire travel portion of this production. This was in early 2011 and I would have just over a year to figure out our main flight to Hawaii and 100% of the honeymoon.

At that point in time, we didn’t have as many miles as we do today which is over 1.6 million miles/points. Basically, our only options were Economy awards on Continental or wait for a decent fare and buy tickets. Ideally, it would be smart to have miles spread out across other airlines like American or Delta just to have more options, but that was not the case. This was before I really started going hard in the points game. We decided to redeem the modest amount of miles we had for 2 round trip award tickets in Economy Class (40k each). Fares from the East Coast to Hawaii usually range from $650-850 so we felt we were getting a pretty good value.

Fast forward to May 2010 when Flyer Talk had just broken news about a fare sale to Hawaii. Fares from the East Coast were $500 and I was finding all sorts of availability. This was definitely a “Buy now, figure it out later” kind of situation – thanks for the 24 hour grace period, CO! I alerted all of our friends and family that were going to attend our wedding about this. As for Joann and me, we already had tickets. I debated for a bit and ultimately decided to cancel our award and buy the $500 tickets. I always like to earn miles and, as a CO Gold Elite, this fare would be earning me 20k redeemable miles. We can save all these miles for some aspirational trip in a First Class cabin one day!

A few months later, after a nice haul of credit card bonuses, we were looking at over 200k new CO miles. Since we’ve never flown in First Class together before, I decided that we had enough miles to blow on an upgrade. For 17.5k miles per person each way (70k total) and a copay, we could be riding in CO’s BusinessFirst cabin. Not a bad way to spend 11 hours in the air.

I’ll save the hotel details and other things I planned as I get to them because there was no real hustle involved like paying for all the hotels in points from credit card bonuses. All those points are still in our accounts just waiting to be used. There is a lot more to this Trip Report like Oahu hotels/resorts, inter-island flights, Kauai & Maui accommodations and activities, and finally our flight home. It was an amazing and exciting two and a half weeks so stay tuned for the next installment which will be our EWR-HNL Continental BusinessFirst flight

British Airways Miles Dump

Earlier this month, British Airways sent out an email to announce that they would be making major changes to their frequent flyer program. My heart sunk because I feared this day would come sooner than later. Starting November 16, 2011, the miles you accrue will now be called Avios points. Some awards will require less miles, some more. I’m going to focus on what I am most concerned about and the reason I even got into the British Airways Executive Club program – Single Partner Awards.

It’s no secret that one of the best redemption methods of BA miles was a single partner award in a premium cabin. BA is part of the oneworld alliance and they have some very good partners like American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and LAN. Redeeming an award on these partners was often better than redeeming on BA themselves because everyone knows that BA charges a boatload of fuel surcharges on their redemptions.

British Airways Single Partner Awards Chart

Continue reading

Trip Planning: Vancouver, British Columbia

TRIP INDEX
Intro – Planning
Cathay Pacific Business Class New York – Vancouver
Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre
Shangri-La Vancouver
MARKET by Jean-Georges

—————————————————————————–

BACKGROUND

Ever since our visit to Vancouver en route to a Whistler snowboarding trip, Joann and I have wanted to go back to enjoy the city for a few more days. Things fell into place when she scheduled a long weekend off – she’s a nurse and works odd schedules. Along with her free weekend, the other driving factors were visiting family, fulfilling the Hotels.com promotion, and completing our NEXUS interviews.

NEXUS approval comes with Global Entry which is a great perk to have while traveling. See The Points Guy’s review on Global Entry. The TSA is also piloting a new Trusted Traveler program to Global Entry and NEXUS users that will allow these users to use expedited security lines. Expedited security lines??? Sign me up! Anyway, let’s plan this trip…

DEPARTING FLIGHT

There aren’t many nonstop options to Vancouver. My first thought is always Continental or Star Alliance because I have the most miles with them and they are Newark-based. Air Canada, a Star Alliance member, is 1 of only 2 nonstop flights from the NYC area to Vancouver (YVR). Unfortunately, that flight had no availability for our strict dates.

Plan B was Cathay Pacific. We have flown their nonstop JFK-YVR service and enjoy the airline very much, at least in Economy class. Also, Joann and I have hoarded a lot of British Airways miles (over 300k) so we might as well use them! Remember, there’s no prize for who has the largest mileage account! BA miles are best used, in my opinion, for their oneworld partners. BA’s most luxurious partner is probably Cathay and any time you can fly in their premium cabin, I’d call that a great day. Take a look at this series of screenshots for a quick and dirty way to book a partner award flight on BA’s site.

Continue reading