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

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


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.


Beef tongue





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 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.


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


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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