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

Newark Airport Family Day 2014

Finally, I can tell my nephew, who has been asking me about this since the beginning of summer, the great news.

Newark Airport Family Day is back for 2014!

We took my nephew the past 2 years and he absolutely loved it.

Here are the details:

October 4, 2014
8:00AM
Parking Area P4

Other than a date, time, and place, there isn’t usually much info posted about the event. I wish United and EWR would publicize this a little more but the crowds are bearable so I won’t complain much.

There are signs directing you to P4 Parking once you get into EWR and after you park, there are shuttles that will bring you to the cargo area where everything is staged.

As far as activities, there is plenty to do for both kids and adult aviation geeks. You are able to walk through United planes and FedEx cargo planes. Port Authority of NJ & NY have their maintenance vehicles on display to check out, as well as the fire department & ambulance corps.

There is also a petting zoo, face painting, free food all day (popcorn, soft pretzels, hot dogs, chips, etc.).

In 2012, United had a BusinessFirst configured 767 on display. Last year, they had a 777. Can’t wait to see what they have for us this year.

For more information on the Plane Pull for charity, please visit www.njplanepull.org.

JetBlue Family Pooling Program

JetBlue has just announced Family Pooling, which allows up to 2 adults and 5 children to share a single “family” account. This makes them the first loyalty program in the US to allow consolidating of points between members. This is a huge development because most loyalty program charge fees to transfer miles or points from one member to another.

jetblue family pooling

With Family Pooling, any member of the family that earns points can contribute up to 100% of those points to the family pool. Note: Once you set a contribution percentage, you cannot change that for 1 year so choose wisely! Also, any points that are contributed to the family pool are effectively “lost” from your individual account. They now belong to the family pool.

This program is similar to the British Airways Household Account where the household can share the Avios points of every member. The difference between JetBlue’s program and British Airways’ is that you have a choice of how much to contribute with JetBlue. With British Airways, redeeming an award meant taking a proportionate amount of points from each member so household members with larger balances would contribute more.

Also, JetBlue has a looser definition of family (stating so in their video on the Family Pooling page). Friends can sign up to be part of your family and pool points, but note that only the Head of Household will manage the points of the family pool.

Getting Started

Getting started is easy. You must first create your family with a family name and designate yourself as the Head of Household. Then you can invite others. I invited Joann and completed her signup to the family very quickly.

jetblue family

Not many points but hoping that will change quicker now!

What else do I need to know?

  • Families can consist of up to 2 adults and 5 children. At a minimum, there must be 2 individuals in a Family Pooling account.
  • The Head of Household will manage all of the points in their Family Pooling account.
  • Any adult can start a Family Pooling account and be the Head of Household. You just have to be a TrueBlue member to get started.
  • An adult is anyone over the age of 21. A child is anyone under 21.
  • Upon accepting an invitation to begin pooling, each family member will select how many points to contribute upfront (with zero transfer fees) and the percentage of points they want to contribute on an ongoing basis per transaction.
  • Changes in contributions can be made once a year starting on the date the family account was formed.
  • Members are not permitted to join multiple different Family Pooling accounts.
  • Here are the rest of the Terms & Conditions

Overall, this is a positive change and JetBlue is really doing great things this year when it comes to loyalty. This Family Pooling feature is actually making me reconsider our flying strategy and we might even look into the JetBlue American Express card for our next churn as well.

Tons of Fun at Newark Airport Family Day 2013

Last week, I posted about how excited I was for Newark Airport Family Day.

Joann and I once again attended this year, bringing our nephew, Ben. It was a fun filled day of aviation-based activities!

It was a very similar setup to last year – free parking, shuttle buses to the Continental United Cargo area, light security screening, and free entry.

Upon entry, Ben was going crazy pointing out all the cool stuff he saw – 2 planes (FedEx 767, United Airlines 777), various Port Authority rescue/maintenance vehicles, a petting zoo, music, etc.

Admittedly, I was pretty stoked as well. Seeing the beautiful wingspan of United’s Boeing 777-200, my eyes lit up. It was definitely a major step up from the 767 they had on display last year.

United 777-200 Newark Airport family day

United 777-200

Similar to last year, there was free food throughout the area – hot dogs, soft pretzels (eat your heart out, Lufthansa First Class Terminal!), chips, popcorn, and lots of other snacks.

Getting there early was a great idea because the lines were shorter and the planes less crowded. It was my first time inside a United 777 so I got a few nice shots of the empty cabins.

United 777-200 Economy Class

United 777-200 Economy Class

United 777-200 Economy Class

United 777-200 Economy Class

united 777 businessfirst newark airport family day

Ben & Joann getting comfy in United’s BusinessFirst seats

One minor downer was that the smaller private/custom planes weren’t on display this time. Those were definitely cool to see last year.

The other main event that happens during Family Day is the Plane Pull that raises money for Special Olympics New Jersey. There is always a huge turnout for it and it’s a great event.

There were a good amount of plane spotters as well. We had some great views of the closer 11/29 runway being used for smaller jets’ arrivals and departures; they were using it all day. Weather started off a little cloudy but the skies opened up to a sunny, albeit humid, day around noon.

newark airport family day

Overall, Newark Airport Family Day is a great event for families and aviation geeks alike. I know Ben had plenty of fun; I surely had lots of fun today. Definitely a well-run event that should get more coverage than it does. Can’t wait for next year!

Newark Airport Family Day 2013

One of our favorite days of the year is almost here. Newark Airport’s Family Day is back again this year!

This year’s Family Day will be on Saturday October 5, 2013. 

It’s really a great day for kids and aviation geeks alike. Last year, Joann and I brought our nephew, Ben, since he adores planes, trains, and autos… and well, it’s an excuse for me to indulge my big kid-ness as well!

I wasn’t there for myself; I was there for Ben! 😉

Being at EWR, United is very present. We toured their 767 in Star Alliance livery and it was a beauty.

United 767-400 Star Alliance Livery

United 767-400 Star Alliance Livery

Ben really seemed at home in those BusinessFirst seats. Good thing he’s racked up a good amount of miles in his 5 years!

Ben Getting Comfortable in BusinessFirst!

Ben Getting Comfortable in BusinessFirst!

The Port Authority also had their airport vehicles on display so I Ben was able to sit inside all of them.

There were rides in the de-icer, small aircrafts on display, and even music and a petting zoo! Definitely a lot of activities to entertain your kid(s) for a few hours. Also important for entertaining kids were the free snacks like chips, cookies, popcorn, and even hot dogs.

I chatted with Seth from The Wandering Aramean for a bit as he was taking the opportunity to get some great planes potting shots from the bleachers. He also wrote a nice post recapping the day also.

Overall, it’s a great day for kids who are even remotely interested in airplanes… and great for adults who are obsessed with them!

seth mike

Seth & I Plane Spotting