Snowboarding in Whistler: Introduction

Cathay Pacific First Class New York – Vancouver
Whistler Blackcomb
Cathay Pacific First Class Vancouver – New York

This was a trip that was very familiar to us, but the first time we went predates this blog. In 2009, a group of 19 friends all hopped on a Cathay Pacific flight from NYC to Vancouver in search for some of the best snowboarding the West Coast (maybe the world?) had to offer. It was easily one of funnest trips that Joann and I have ever gone on.

On Top of the World - Whistler 2009

On Top of the World – Whistler 2009

Fast forward 4 years and we were out to do it again. Snowboarding in Whistler was the best snowboarding we’ve all ever done so we wanted a repeat performance. This time, only about 13 of us were able to make it to Whistler.

Even though it was a smaller group, we had just as many good times and it was a bit more special because Joann and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary there! Only a little different from where we got married…

Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii

Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii

Anyway, we end up renting the same beautiful slopeside house, originally discovered on VRBO (more on that in a later post).

Aside from the amazing time we had riding and hanging out in Whistler and Vancouver, there were also a few travel bits to mention.

  • Cathay Pacific First Class using British Airways Avios
  • Avis Whistler car rental
  • Finally redeeming Hertz points

It was a great week of (my kind of) relaxing and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Blackcomb Glacier 2013

Blackcomb Glacier 2013

RTW to Bali: Conclusion



This trip will be unforgettable for Joann and me. It was a bunch of firsts. First long-haul international First Class flights. First time to Asia together. First time circumnavigating the globe. Hopefully it’s the first of many!

Bali is an amazing destination and, if time permits, it’s somewhere where we would visit again without a doubt. We highly suggest you put it on your radar for your next destination.


You Can Do It, Too!

This kind of trip can be possible for anyone! It just took some organization, a few credit card signups, and a bit of planning.

I explained it in detail in the Let’s Plan post, but here are the major points to consider.

How we flew on Cathay Pacific First & Business Class to Bali

Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class

We used our British Airways Avios points for this, but before their current state. Nowadays, the best way to get on Cathay First or Business is with American Airlines miles.

A one-way First Class flight on Cathay Pacific from North America to what AA considers Asia 2* would be 67,500 miles 

*(Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)

Here is the AA award chart.

How we flew on multiple Star Alliance members’ First & Business Class from Bali

Swiss First Class

Swiss First Class

Thai Airways First Class

Thai Airways First Class


There are many ways to accumulate miles to redeem on Star Alliance partners. You just have to earn miles on any Star Alliance partner – United, US Airways, Air Canada, ANA, Singapore.

If you want to use United miles, the credit cards to work with should earn Chase Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus).

Using United miles, a one-way trip from Bali (South Asia region) to the US is 70,000 miles in First and 60,000 miles in Business.

Here is the United award chart.

If you want to use US Airways miles, use the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express because it effectively earns 1.25 airline miles per dollar.

US Airways does not do one-way award for half of a round trip so if you want to travel from the US to the South & Central Asia region round trip, it will cost you 160k miles in First and 120k miles in Business.

Here is the US Airways award chart.

With American Express Membership Rewards points, you can transfer to Air Canada, ANA, or Singapore in the Star Alliance. This is my least preferred method because all three airlines will levy a high amount of fuel surcharges on their award tickets.

How we stayed at the Bali Hyatt on points alone

Bali Hyatt

Bali Hyatt

For this stay, this is obviously doable with Hyatt Gold Passport points. The easiest way to accumulate these points is [again] Chase Ultimate Rewards!

Here is the Hyatt award chart.

Wrap Up

That’s about it! I really hope you enjoyed the trip report.

If there’s one thing I want everyone to take away from this, it’s that you can really do this too!

Remember… #hustle hard. Travel easy!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail/message/tweet me!

RTW to Bali: JFK-HKG Cathay Pacific First Class


Our first ever long-haul flight in an international premium cabin… Cathay Pacific First Class. Pure ecstasy in the air.

This is going to be a LONG post with LOTS of pictures… and it’s all worth it.

After walking through the throngs of people hovering around the gate, we were among the first to board. As I handed my 1A boarding pass to the flight attendant at the door to the aircraft, he directed me to the left and all the way up. We were finally here!

JFK (New York) – HKG (Hong Kong)
25 AUG 2012
Boeing 777-300ER
First Class

Seats 1A, 2A

The Suite

The first thing that went through my head as I walked to the very front of the plane was “WOW.” I’d seen plenty of pictures prior to this but being here in person was actually a surreal feeling. Right then, I knew all the planning, credit card churning, and overall points hustling had all been worth it.

Right away, we both got to exploring our own suites and taking pictures with every device imaginable – iPhone, Canon 300 HS (our point & shoot of choice), and my Canon 40D digital SLR.

Easily, the best parts about the suite are the privacy (only a step below completely enclosed suites) and the seat width. The seat is 3 feet wide; Joann and I even watched a movie together sharing it.

This command center of an airplane seat also had plenty of storage compartments for your small travel gear, a closet,  and a dual-purpose ottoman – 1) to extend the bed when fully flat and 2) to act as a seat for a visitor.

One thing to note if you have a chance to fly this plane (and you should try your hardest to) is that the left side of the cabin will be the most private.

Check out the seating chart. Each row has 3 seats, but both the D & K seats access the aisle on the right. Therefore, only 1A and 2A access the left aisle so it’ll feel a bit more private.

I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, but I assure you, they don’t do the suites any justice.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

First Class Suite… private!

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

From the reverse angle…

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

The behemoth of an airplane seat… 3 feet wide

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Ottoman that doubles as a visitor seat for couples dining

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Noise cancelling headphones

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Everyone else settling in; our side was most private b/c of this wall. And there’s Mama ‘Just Another Points Traveler‘ on the left!

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

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:

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“I want to travel like this always”

That’s part of the email I just got from my sister and bro-in-law who just landed in Hong Kong on their way to Manila on Cathay Pacific Business Class. I’m glad I convinced her that there are better things to use her American Express Membership Rewards points on! Cathay Pacific was mine and Joann’s first real international business class and I was genuinely heartbroken when we landed, wanting more of the great experience. We’ll be having a better taste of Cathay Pacific soon enough because we’re going to Bali in less than two months in First Class! Anyway, I’m hoping sure they are now spoiled for life and will keep earning miles and points for this kind of travel. It’s sure easy to get used to!

Complimentary noodles from the Noodle Bar at Cathay Pacific’s The Wing Lounge in Hong Kong

Have a great trip!