Category Archives: Award Trip

A number of firsts

So believe it or not (or maybe it couldn’t have come soon enough), I’m on my first big miles redemption trip. I’m currently in Sydney, Australia. The trip here involved a number of firsts, some more exciting than others. It was my first time:

  • taking the train in SoCal, from San Diego to LA (then the bus to LAX)
  • flying out of LAX, as opposed to connecting through it
  • flying an A380
  • flying in business class, believe it or not (in an A380 no less)
  • going to Australia
  • staying at a Park Hyatt (Sydney)

The first part of that list isn’t terribly exciting, but mostly observations that I noticed. I spent the previous weekend in San Diego, attending Comic-Con 2012, which is why I had to get up to LA for my flight.

Anyway, when I arrived in LA, I had to run back and forth between the International Terminal and Terminal 4 a couple of times. My originally booked flight was LAX-BNE-SYD on QF (Qantas).  I believe I originally did this because LAX-SYD award space is basically impossible to find, whereas alternate routings are readily available.  I also remember something about BA trying to tell me this routing was illegal and trying to find something else, before giving up and just letting me have it, but I digress.

Upon arriving at the airport, I went straight to the Tom Bradley International Terminal.  This seemed pretty reasonable, since I was flying internationally.  However, apparently Qantas’ Brisbane flights are operated out of Terminal 4.  So I walked out the terminal and the few hundred feet to terminal 4.  I started checking in there, getting my visa for Australia, etc.  Then all of a sudden, a different ticketing agent gets off the phone and says they want to move me to the direct to SYD, probably since I’m flying there anyway.  While checking in, I’d learned that the BNE flight I was on was very full, and business was oversold by 10 seats (out of 50 or so I’m guessing, which is a pretty big deal).  My first thought was actually that I would gladly volunteer my seat in return for compensation, that I could live with delaying my vacation a day.  But alas, it was not meant to be.  However, instead, I got to fly on the A380 on the direct to SYD, and on the top deck 🙂  Here’s some pictures of the seats:


That was actually my first experience in business class, and it was quite comfortable and pleasant.  The flight was about 14 hours, which was actually not as long as I expected it to be.  The flight was uneventful, besides a couple of meals (pictures below) and watching a few movies…and sleeping for 6 hours.

 

Supper service
Breakfast service

Anyway, I made it to Sydney, and to my hotel, the Park Hyatt Sydney.  I booked this for the first 3 nights here.  The hotel is normally a $700/night hotel, but I booked it on Hyatt points.  The rate that way is 22k Hyatt Gold Passport / UR points (can be transferred to Hyatt), which is a great value.  And I’ve found the hotel impressive too.  I can’t wait to try some others in the future, like the Park Hyatt Tokyo and the Park Hyatt Paris 🙂  Anyway, I’ll hopefully have another post with more details about the hotel, but the picture of the view below says a lot.  But so far, things are going well 🙂

Flying Singapore First in January :)

Thanks to Lucky of One Mile at a Time, I managed to get in on the Singapore Airlines first class bonanza going on right now.  Singapore Airlines is apparently upgrading their reservation system, and first class availability has been left wide open during this upgrade.  While there’s some speculation these tickets might get cancelled out, it’s worth a try (and might end up with compensation).

I ended up booking a trip to Singapore in January, coinciding with the FlyerTalk SingaporeDo in January 2013 🙂  Two of the flights on the trip will be in SQ first (with a leg in ANA business and two US Air firsts), if my current itinerary stands.  I ended up doing this for 160k US Airways Dividend miles + $120, to pare down my large stash of US Airways miles.

Now, fingers crossed that these reservations are honored!

Determining if an award is worth it

Frequent Miler made a couple of posts with a basic guide to determining whether a booking is worth it when you use your points.  His advice is pretty good, and presents good guidelines to figuring out if you should use points or not.  However, it is also important to keep your goals in mind.  If your goal is to minimize out of pocket expense of any kind, and you have earned your miles through signup bonuses (as opposed to regular credit card spending), then it’s perfectly acceptable to redeem awards that are “not worth it” by the guidelines presented.

Without further ado, here is Frequent Miler’s guide for determining if an airline award is worth it and for determining if a hotel award is worth it.

Instead of packing and sleeping for my trip tomorrow…

I decided to start reading blogs instead, and then I was inspired into posting some links for all to see.

Check out Mommy Points scoring $3000 worth of travel!  The article’s a bit long, but she’s planned next Christmas vacation on Hyatt points.  This article as well as View from the Wing’s post about Hyatt hotels in New York has inspired me to start working on my Hyatt account in the new year (although I indirectly have Hyatt points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program).  While the Hyatt chain has very few locations compared to say, Hilton or Starwood, they tend to be very nice hotels, and it’s always fun to get to stay in those.  Especially in a place like New York, where hotels tend to be quite pricy anyway!

Also, Lucky talks about his love for Apple products.   I fully endorse Apple products as well.  Additionally, I ran across this post saying the iPad 3 will be out next spring!  Looking forward to that one 🙂  All right everyone, enjoy the reading!

When things don’t go as planned.

Sometimes (or maybe most of the time), unexpected things happen with travel plans and travel award bookings.  Today I’m going to talk about the recent experience of my friend Caoibes.  I met her at the Flyertalk Chicago Seminars back in October.  She’s a Delta flyer, and has been doing the miles game about the same length of time as me.  One of the trips we had recently read about in one of the blogs was an award booking to the French Seychelles.   Caoibes was planning to spend her miles on a long trip to Asia…however, inspired by the seminars, she decided to look into a more exotic location.

Shortly after the seminars, she researched her options and booked a vacation to the Seychelles, complete with flights business class seats and resort hotel stays.  Unfortunately, Air France’s partner Air Seychelles has apparently discontinued service from CDG-SEZ (Charles De Gaulle Paris International – Seychelles International), and Delta had to cancel her flight (which sorta toasts the whole trip 🙁 ).  Now, at least she has the miles back, and should be able to get the hotel points back.  What is she going to next?  Where else in the world will she go?  Stay tuned for a future post to find out, and see some of the options you have with miles and points!

Miles can save you in a pinch!

Today, my family had to book a trip on short notice.  My parents’ airfare would’ve added up to $1200, and then a hotel was at least $100/night (which honestly, isn’t terribly unreasonable.  However, I was able to dig into my stash, and used 50,000 UA miles and 4,000 SPG points to cover all of that.  It’s a trip we wish we didn’t have to make, but at least we were able to alleviate one aspect of the trip.  Just another perspective on a reason to participate in all of this.

A Credit Card Churn by View From The Wing

Following up our recent post on credit card churning, View From The Wing is out with a post on a recent credit card churn that netted nearly 200,000 miles.  Combine that with his recent post on taking a dream vacation on credit card signup bonuses, and you can see how with a bit of attention, those bonus miles can really count!

Acknowledgements to Gary at View From The Wing for these two excellent articles.

An award trip booked with AA miles

Frugal Travel Guy’s, Sunday Success Stories series has an article today about a trip that someone was able to book with a relatively small amount of AAdvantage Miles.  Check out the story here!

Considering how easy it is to earn 150,000 AA miles with 3 credit card sign up bonuses (acknowledgment to Daraius at Million Mile Secrets for the post about signing up for AA cards), booking a trip like the one above is well within anyone’s reach!