August 23, 2015

Brothers in Asia: Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong

Introduction
Planning & Booking
Qantas First Class Lounge LAX
Cathay Pacific 777-300 ER First Class Los Angeles to Hong Kong
The Pier Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Le Meridien Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge Hong Kong
Air India 787-8 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

The premium options between Bangkok and Hong Kong are pretty outstanding for a 2.5 hour flight.  You can fly Emirates' A380 service (with shower suite) for a cash rate of around $700 USD.  Cathay Pacific offers a first class cabin on their 777 service and Thai offers their 747 first class.  I debated between the Emirates and Thai offering but ultimately opted to save the cash and burn 70,000 United miles for the Thai flight and the spa experience.


Thai Airways 747-400

Up the stairs and into the nose

After a great massage, we were soon climbing the stairs to the nose of the 747-400 that would be taking us to Hong Kong.  Thai Airways actually has two different first class seats.  These aging shell seats and "suites" on their newer 747s and their A380.  For this short hop, Thai flies the older planes.  These 747's are a total throwback but still in decent shape.  The seats are old and not very private but very comfortable for a short flight.  

August 18, 2015

SPG Amex Bonus Match - 5,000 SPG Points!

I recently applied for the business version of the Starwood American Express card.  The offer I received was for 25,000 total SPG points after $5,000 in spend in 6 months.

Starwood and Amex recently increased (they did this the last couple of years as well) the bonus offer to 30,000 total SPG points after $5,000 in spend in 3 months.  I'm nearly at the $5,000 spend threshold so called Amex to see what they could do for me.  I've read reports online that they've been very liberal in matching the old bonus offer to the new one.

The hold time for Amex was unbelievably long - almost 8 minutes.  But once I connected with an agent, the process of getting the bonus matched took <3 minutes.  The agent promised that 5,000 SPG points would be credited to my account within a couple of days.  So it was less of a "offer match" and more of a courtesy.

Seems like the right thing for them to do and totally worth 10 minutes of my time. 

August 16, 2015

Brothers in Asia: Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa

Introduction
Planning & Booking
Qantas First Class Lounge LAX
Cathay Pacific 777-300 ER First Class Los Angeles to Hong Kong
The Pier Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Le Meridien Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge Hong Kong
Air India 787-8 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

We arrived at BKK three hours prior to our scheduled departure to Hong Kong after a quick and inexpensive ($12 USD) cab ride .  It was a weekday afternoon and the airport was relatively quiet.  We made our way into the terminal and turned left - all the way to the end of the main hall where Thai Airways First Class check in is located.  There was no one in line and we were very politely asked to have a seat and presented with cold towels and iced tea while check-in formalities were processed.  

Thai Airways First Class Check-In

A few minutes later, boarding passes and lounge invitations were handed over and the agents were kind enough to snap a few pictures of us before escorting us through immigration.  

Brothers in Asia - the agents moved the umbrellas for the pic

The Newest ATRP Family Member

We expanded the All the Right Points family yesterday with the addition of our brand new Coton de Tulear puppy, Perry (named after one of our favorite cities).  In true ATRP fashion, Emily flew to Chicago Friday after work (earning points on a paid stay at the ORD Hilton) to pick her up Saturday morning.  After some quick bonding at the airport, they boarded a United flight back home.

Perry scowling at all the United gate lice at ORD

She's only 10 weeks old but already has her first 888 United miles (do we multiple that by 7 like her age?) under her belt.  She did great on the plane and seems to be loving her new home here in Denver.

Licking my lips at the opportunity to fly United

Our traveling life will certainly look a bit different going forward but we're both thrilled to have a new member of our family.

August 15, 2015

What's in My Wallet? August 2015 Edition

It's been a couple of months since I've posted about the credit cards currently in my wallet.  You can check out other posts here:

What's in My Wallet?  June 2015

What's in My Wallet?  March 2015

What's in My Wallet?  October 2014

What's in My Wallet?  April 2014


1)  Alaska Airlines Visa Signature

Emily and I are working on racking up enough Alaska miles (360,000 - 400,000) for a roundtrip first class itinerary on Emirates...So I recently picked up this card to pad my my balance.  If you make a phantom booking on Alaska's website (book a flight and select the CC offer on the last page before purchase) you'll receive 25,000 miles after first purchase and a $100 statement credit after $1,000 in spend.  A great deal that offsets the $75 annual fee.  I've had this card before - BofA is generous in terms of giving out the sign-up bonus multiple times.  We're roughly half way to our goal of 400K Alaska miles so may have to pick up a few more of these cards to ensure we get there.

2)  Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom card offers "rotating" 5x spend categories by quarter.  For this quarter (ending 9.30/15) Freedom is offering 5x at gas stations and Kohl's.  I likely won't spend a dime at Kohl's but the 5x on gas is pretty great.  Fortunately (unfortunately for more points) we only have one car, both walk to work, and don't drive all that much.  But for the $50 - $100 a month we do spend on gas, it's worth keeping the card in my wallet.  No other spend this quarter though.

3)  Chase Sapphire Preferred

All of my extra (not contributing to sign-up bonuses) travel and dining spend goes on the CSP.  I've had the card for over 3 years and gladly pay the $95 annual fee given my credit history, limit, and the earning power of the card.  Don't forget to leverage the CSP for 3x points on dining on the first Friday of each month.

4)  Amex Starwood Preferred Guest (Business Version)

I recently picked up this card for ATRP.  Actually the second time I've had the card and earned the signup bonus.  I'm working on earning the signup bonus ($5K in 180 days) although the signup bonus actually just increased to 30,000 bonus points after $3K in spend - an amazing deal!  

How to Deal With a Flight Schedule Change

Emily and I had planned to go to Hawaii in late October for a few days at The Andaz Maui.  We booked flights in early January and our upgrades (using United miles) on the outbound leg cleared at the time of booking.  While we were excited about the trip, we were actually looking to "get out of it" at couple of points across the past few months.  We could cancel the trip straight away and receive credit on United minus a $400 penalty - pretty step.

As luck would have it, a United schedule change moved our outbound aircraft from a wide body to a narrow body 737 (slower and domestic first class) and our inbound (direct from OGG to DEN) flight up a little over an hour.  Typically United won't notify you of these changes - you have to be diligent about gardening your reservations.

Our hotel reservations (booked with Hyatt points) were refundable so I figured this was our opportunity.  I called United and spoke with a great agent and explained that the changes were somewhat annoying (okay maybe a stretch) and she put my on hold to see what she could do.  She offered to waive the change fee penalty making the cancellation essentially fee free.  We now have roughly $1800 in credit on United - something we'll definitely use over the next year - so no big deal.

The best part is that flight costs have actually come down - so we could rebook similar flights to Maui for a few hundred dollars less.  So we may end up taking the trip after all.

August 9, 2015

Update on Amex Offers

American Express offers "Amex Offers" to their cardmembers as a perk and a is a marketers dream.  I'm not sure who funds the offers (probably a combination of the retailer and Amex) but I've done a nice job taking advantage of them over the years - thanks Amex!

If you haven't heard of the program and have an Amex card in your wallet, sign in to your account online and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the "Amex Offers and Benefits" section.  Click on "Available" and you can scroll through the offers.  If you see something you like, you can click "Add to Card" to load the offer onto you card.  Go meet the minimum spend requirements and you'll have a statement credit within a handful of days.


As you can see, I've saved nearly $600 on this card alone over the past couple of years.


You can also add Amex Offers via Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare although I've found it easy enough to add them online/via the mobile app when I'm logged in checking transactions.

Amex has really been stepping things up lately.  In the last 30 days, I've taken advantage of offers from Wal-Mart, Office Depot, Petco, Jonathan Adler, West Elm, and Home Depot to buy things I was going to anyway.  You can even double dip on these offers by going through an online shopping portal.  Next time you're online or checking on your card via the mobile app, check out Amex's Offers!