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

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).

A Machu Picchu Anniversary: Palacio del Inka & Cusco

TRIP INDEX

The hotel was a short taxi ride away and we were surprised that we were already feeling the effects of the altitude. Cusco is over 11,000 feet above sea level (higher than Machu Picchu and surrounding villages) so it may hit you hard!

When we arrived to the Palacio del Inka, a bell hop immediately took our bags into a waiting area in the lobby and offered us some coca tea to help with the altitude sickness. The effects of this are unproven but, hey, when in Rome Peru…

Upon check-in, the front desk agent informed us that we had been upgraded to a “junior suite.” I am Starwood Gold (thanks to an American Express Platinum card I had up until a few months prior) so that would explain the upgrade. The agent also gave us the code to the complimentary wifi – one of the 3 Gold welcome benefits to choose from (bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access or a complimentary beverage).

The bell hop brought us to our room, which was definitely better, but it wasn’t a suite. There was no separate bedroom + living room area. It was a weird setup with a floating wall separating the entrance from the rest of the main area.

Entrance & mini bar

Entrance & mini bar

Continue reading

A Machu Picchu Anniversary: Avianca Business Class Lima – Cusco

TRIP INDEX

After the great breakfast in the Club Lounge, we checked out and had the front desk arrange a taxi to the airport for us. Shortly, we were back at LIM.

It’s so busy there that they have security at the doors and will only let passengers in. We had to dig out our passports to gain entry to the check-in area. The check-in was quick because no one was using the Ejecutiva (Business) Class queue.

We then went upstairs to where security is located. It is a mad house because everyone is basically saying their goodbyes right in front of the entrance to security. We had to dodge so many people. Security was quick and easy and, eventually, we were at our gate ready to board.

TACA 805
Lima (LIM) – Cusco (CUZ)
16 February 2014
Depart: 10:25 am
Arrive: 11:45 am
Duration: 1hr 20min
Aircraft: Embraer E-190
Seats: 1D, 1K (Business Class)

Joann and I were the very first passengers to board the regional jet that fit only 96 passengers. There were only 2 other people in Business and Economy wasn’t full either.

The seats were fine, just like most domestic First Class recliner seats. Business Class has a 1-2 layout. We sat on the right side so we could sit next to each other.

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco – Single Side

For an 80 minute flight, the food was great – simple and fresh. It was a cold plate featuring chicken and some type of salsa. It was better than some meals I’ve had in domestic First in the States.

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco

All throughout the flight, we were treated with breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains. Upon approach, there were amazing views of the city of Cusco.

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco

Avianca E-190 Business Class to Cusco
As soon as we landed and inhaled that thin air 11,000+ feet above sea level, the first thing on my mind was where to get coca tea or oxygen or anything that would prevent altitude sickness!

Once we collected our checked bag, we went outside to look for the driver that we had arranged with our hotel. There weren’t as many taxi drivers as Lima airport so he was easy to spot and we were on our short journey to Palacio del Inka.

Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport

Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport

A Machu Picchu Anniversary: Sheraton Lima Convention Center

TRIP INDEX

After landing at Jorge Chavez International (LIM) Airport, we got our passports stamped and collected our bags. First order of business was to get a taxi to the Sheraton Lima Convention Center.

Thanks to a great tip from fellow blogger Jamison, we went directly to the Taxi Green stand before even entering the actual Arrivals Hall. We paid the posted rate, received a receipt, and a driver started rolling our luggage through the throngs of people and taxi drivers.

Sheraton Lima Convention Center is in the Centro Historico (Historic Center) district of Lima. This is where you can find most of the history of the city, with several monuments and other Spanish-influenced architecture. As a semi-history buff, it was interesting to be within the city that Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded almost 500 years ago.

As for the hotel, it is conveniently located next to a shopping mall with food court in case you need to do any shopping or grab a quick bite.

Upon checking in, the front desk agent welcomed us and informed us that we had been upgraded to the Club Floor, which meant access to the Club Lounge. This was great because it meant we were all set for breakfast the next day, before leaving for Cusco.

We were shown to our room on the 17th floor and a welcome amenity of was awaiting us. Nice to have some fresh fruit after a day of travel.

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Club Lounge

The following morning, we woke up early to eat in the Club Lounge before heading back to the airport for our flight to Cusco. It was early enough that we were the only ones in the lounge. The lone waiter was very attentive and friendly, offering to refill our coffee and juices more than once.

The spread was pretty extensive. I am a fan of a hearty breakfast so I found the spread, especially the meat options, more than adequate for breakfast. I can see why these Starwood Platinums cherish their breakfast amenity!

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge – Lomo Saltado

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge