Showing posts with label Award Redemptions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Award Redemptions. Show all posts

April 23, 2017

A Week in Japan: Flight Milenomics

Last week, I published the Planning & Booking segment of the trip report for our upcoming trip to Japan and Hong Kong.  I included the mileage and cash cost of each flight segment and I've receive some questions around how to value the redemptions.  I figured I'd write a post around the flight valuations and can follow-up with hotels if interesting.

Valuing miles is definitely more art than science but I personally value the vast majority of airline miles between 1.5 and 2 cents a piece.  I wouldn't redeem unless I'm getting really close to 2 cents and one of the newest benchmarks is the ability to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points (with Amex Business Platinum) for 2 cents against airfare - which to me is essentially as good as cash.

Here's a recap on the miles redeemed (for 2) for our upcoming trip:
  • United Polaris Business Class DEN - KIX for 130,000 United MileagePlus miles
  • Cathay Pacific First Class HND - HKG for 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles
  • Singapore Airlines First Class HKG - SFO for 140,250 Singapore KrisFlyer miles
And the cash costs when I looked last week:
  • $9,276 for United to Osaka
  • $8,168 for Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong
  • $16,392 for Singapore Airlines to San Francisco
  • $212 for United home to Denver
  • $268 in taxes/fees

In total, that is 325,250 miles redeemed for $34,048 in flights.  Note that is the retail value and if you were going to purchase the flights, you could likely do somewhat better with discounts, credit card bonus categories, and mileage earning.  Let's assume that all in, that would amount to a 20% rebate (would vary wildly based on status and fare class but I think a fair assumption) valued as cash knocking the retail value down to $26,970 (including taxes/fees).

At that rate, the blended rate for each mile redeemed would be 8.3 cents.  Still amazing.  But how much would you actually pay for these flights?  That question is totally subjective but this is our fifth anniversary and I'd consider a splurge.  The best I could do to mimic the flights (combination of United and ANA) in economy priced out at $1,323 each.  No thanks.  

I think premium economy fares would be a fair comparison as I think a lot of you would be willing to pay a premium to be a bit more comfortable for a big trip like this for a special occasion.  How do those flights price out?  $3,238 each on Orbitz.  Since this is not a premium fare, booked from an OTA, and unlikely to earn as many miles, I'll discount the rebate to 15% which brings the fare to $5,505 for 2.  

See what I'm talking about in terms of the art?  That brings the redemption per mile to 1.7 cents - right in the middle of my valuations.  Another factor to consider is that I'm mileage rich and it's not that big of a deal to burn 325,250 miles on a balance of +1,000,000 miles.  It's a different story when considering paying $3,000 - $6,500 for two tickets.  I'd much prefer to spend the miles which require a bit of time and ingenuity to acquire and save the cash for other experiences.  In addition, there are both comfort and enjoyment factors that need to be considered.  We'll arrive rested (on both ends) and enjoy our vacation and make the transition back to work a lot easier.  We also love flying - especially on these carriers and wouldn't be able to do it without miles.

Overall, this is a great set of redemptions regardless of your valuation.  

April 16, 2017

Review: Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

Introduction
Planning & Booking
British Airways First Class 747-400 Denver to London
British Airways Concorde Room LHR
British Airways First Class 747-400 London to Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class 777-200LR Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

The ride from the Park Hyatt Dubai to the Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi took about 90 minutes.  We had expected to hit F1 traffic but never did.  The ride was somewhat boring (lots of desert) with one exception.  Our driver asked if he could stop at a gas station (we figured for gas) and of course we said yes.  Instead of pulling in to get gas, he pulled into a parking spot.  Maybe it was prayer time?  Nope.  Bathroom?  Not entirely convinced.  We never figured out what it was but 15 minutes later he returned to the car with a coffee for him and a couple of waters for us.

We chose the Hyatt Capital Gate because it was free and relatively close to the airport/F1 track.  There are lots of other great points options in Abu Dhabi but given the race, many of them were sold out.  We were lucky to find a free night available.

Check-in was relatively smooth and the front desk confirmed that they had our F1 tickets (Thanks Doug!) and would send them up in a few minutes.

March 26, 2017

Cathay Pacific First Class Space Opened Up!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an award ticket downgrade on Cathay Pacific booked with Alaska Mileage Plan miles.  We had been booked in first class from Tokyo's Narita airport to Hong Kong prior to Cathay Pacific downgrading the flight to an aircraft without a first class cabin.  I opted to cancel the ticket and refund the miles - I figured something better would open up later.

I have been checking award space (using BA's website) every few days and last week, two first class seats opened up between Haneda and Hong Kong!  Even better than trekking all the way out to Narita!


I quickly called Alaska, fed the flights to a great agent, and had the award secured in less than 5 minutes.  Taxes and fees came to about $100 but at 27,500 miles/person, this award is an absolutely steal.

The flight is blocked at over 4.5 hours and a similar flight distance (1,800 miles) between Denver and Boston.  Consider that United first class between those two cities would cost 25,000 United MileagePlus miles per person - and that's if you can find the seats (tough to do these days) at the saver level.

Patience definitely payed off here.  We both love flying Cathay first and while this won't be the "full experience" it should still be pretty fun.  Even better that we get to fly out of Haneda which will save us ~90 minutes of travel time.

Stay tuned for the introduction and planning & booking posts!

March 11, 2017

Review: Park Hyatt Dubai

Introduction
Planning & Booking
British Airways First Class 747-400 Denver to London
British Airways Concorde Room LHR
British Airways First Class 747-400 London to Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class 777-200LR Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

We had booked a car through Al Maha and while the driver arrived a few minutes late, everything else was smooth.  Our ride took around an hour given traffic in Dubai.  The Park Hyatt is located in a great location - only about 10 minutes form the airport and situated on Dubai Creek with great views of the small marina and of the Dubai skyline.  Getting into Dubai from the hotel is easy - we made a couple of trips and the longest ride was about 20 minutes.

I had booked a cash rate and used 6,000 HGP per night to upgrade to a suite.  I emailed the hotel prior to see if we could be placed in a terrace suite but didn't have any expectations that they would honor that request.  Upon check-in, we were informed that they'd upgraded us to the terrace suite included complimentary breakfast and minibar - score!  No idea why they upgraded us - surely not due to my lowly Hyatt Platinum (prior to program changes) status or my world renown blog.  I think we just got lucky.

Our room wasn't ready yet so we had a complimentary cappuccino and caught up on email for 30 minutes and checked out the views of the Dubai Creek and skyline.




Review: Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa

Introduction
Planning & Booking
British Airways First Class 747-400 Denver to London
British Airways Concorde Room LHR
British Airways First Class 747-400 London to Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class 777-200LR Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

We left the JW Marriott Dubai en route to Al Maha around 11AM.  Our driver was super friendly and explained a number of sites along the road as we exited the city and headed out into the desert.  30 minutes later we were pulling up to the first gate to enter the conservation reserve.

Welcome to DDCR
Al Maha!
Upon seeing the small footprint of Al Maha set against the desert, both of us were so excited to be back again.

Jump on the bed excited

March 4, 2017

Award Ticket Downgrade - What to Do?

Back in December, I was able to book both of us in Cathay Pacific first class from Tokyo (NRT) to Hong Kong.  I used Alaksa Mileage Plan miles to book each ticket for 27,500 miles.  A great deal considering this is a five hour flight on a premium route on one of my favorite first class products.


Unfortunately, Cathay Pacific isn't doing great financially and they've been cutting first class (frequencies and service on board).  I received an email from Alaska a couple weeks ago letting me know that my first class flight had been downgraded to business class in a regionally configured aircraft.  While that isn't the end of the world, the whole point of flying out of Narita (90 min bus ride) vs. Haneda (20-25 min taxi) was to fly Cathay in first.

I used the British Airways website to check Oneworld availability and on the day we're looking to fly, there really only are a few options.  I called Alaska to see what they could do for me and it was either keep the ticket or refund the miles and taxes and figure it out from there.


I opted for the latter option and am going to wait it out a bit to see if anything opens up.  At this point, my options are direct flights in business class on JAL or Cathay.  Or we could get exotic and book a paid flight on Hong Kong Airlines (haven't flown them but hear the business class product is decent) for around $650 each.  Or we could get really nuts and book Thai Airways first class all the way from Tokyo to Bangkok to Hong Kong with a stop at the first class spa for 60,000 United miles each.  That is a bit of a crazy routing (would take an extra 5-6 hours) but would be a lot of fun.  Emily still needs some convincing to pull the trigger on that one.

Will keep you all posted as we figure it out.

February 18, 2017

Review: JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

Introduction
Planning & Booking
British Airways First Class 747-400 Denver to London
British Airways Concorde Room LHR
British Airways First Class 747-400 London to Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class 777-200LR Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

After a great flight from London, we arrived around 11:30PM pretty tired and ready for a real bed.  We cleared immigration and headed out to grab a taxi.  While DXB is busy at this hour, there was no taxi queue and we were quickly on our way for the ~20 minute ride to the hotel.

The property is located in the "Business Bay" neighborhood of Dubai along the new Dubai Canal and across the canal from the brand new W, St. Regis, and Westin complex.  This is the tallest hotel and the world and while our stay would be short, we were both excited to check that one off our list.

Check-in formalities were processed and we were assigned a king room on a high floor (I think 57 but can't remember exactly).  The lobby was bananas at this hour.  In Dubai, hotels are hot spots given they have liquor licenses so locals and visitors alike head there to party.  We were both surprised at the dress code (really lack thereof) but were too tired to do anything other than head upstairs to sleep.

The room was actually really good size.  There was a king size bed, a couple of chairs, and a work desk.


January 15, 2017

I Booked My First Ever Delta Award Ticket

And I was impressed!  Everyone says Delta is so great operationally but many in the travel community affectionately refer to SkyMiles as SkyPesos.

I've been stocking up on Delta SkyMiles over the last year given increased sign-up bonuses from Delta American Express co-brand cards.  Between Emily and I, we were approved for 6 cards last year netting a total of 380,000 SkyMiles from sign-up bonuses alone.  Add in a bit of flying and minimum spend on the cards and we currently have 410,000 SkyMiles.

Delta doesn't publish an award chart which is super annoying.  But I found their online search engine to be quite intuitive and actually pretty easy to find the "cheapest" award ticket.

As I eluded to last week, I'm headed to Seoul later this year for a long weekend solo.  I wanted to use some of my Delta SkyMiles stash so begin looking for options.

Delta options to Seoul
While the cheapest ticket I could find was 185,000 SkyMiles for roundtrip business class, I did see some one-ways as low as 80,000 SkyMiles.  Now you can fly one-way to Seoul on United metal in business class for 65,000 MileagePlus miles and 80,000 on Star Alliance partners or 80,000 on United metal in first class.  You could probably rack up 410,000 United MileagePlus miles fairly easily but I'm out of Chase/United card options since I've had all of them recently.

I ended up spending 210,000 SkyMiles for a bit more comfort.  That's a ride on the upper deck of Delta's soon to be retired 747 to Seoul.  On the way back, Skyteam partner Korean Air's 777-300ER new business class prestige suites which even in a 2-2-2 layout offer everyone direct aisle access.

Korean Air new business class
I was quite pleased with the searching/booking experience and am happy to have a stash of Delta SkyMiles saved up for the next trip.  Stay tuned for all the details about this trip over the next few months.

January 8, 2017

Using Travel Codex Award Maximizer

Travel Codex (f.k.a. Hack My Trip) is one of my favorite (besides this one) blogs.  Scott and team do a great job of posting about a wide variety of topics and they've ramped up their content production recently with even more contributors.

I've used the Travel Codex Award Maximizer a few times when looking to easily compare award costs across several programs.  The tool will compare mileage costs for a specific route across programs which is incredibly helpful.  I've memorized most of the major award charts for routes taken often (i.e. Continental US to Europe in Business Class) but it's a challenge to to lookup each program's mileage redemption cost for a more specific routing.

A few weeks ago, I was looking to book a flight between Tokyo and Hong Kong.  Ideally, we wanted to fly Cathay Pacific First Class but I was short of British Airways and American Airlines miles.  I hadn't initially considered that I could use Alaska Mileage Plan miles for the sector.

I keyed in the routing.
And the tool showed results across 14 programs.

My options on Cathay were as follows:
  • 40,000 American AAdvantage miles (each)
  • 27,500 Alaska Mileage Plan miles
  • 40,000 British Airways Avios
  • 40,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Well that was a no brainer.  After finding Cathay space on the British Airways site, I was able to give Alaska a call and book the routing for 55,000 total Alaska Mileage Plan miles.  The tool links directly to helpful posts on how to book an award with many of the programs.

Kudos to Scott and team for putting together such an awesome resource!

December 11, 2016

Review: ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200ER Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

ANA All Nippon Airways NH 8
Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco (SFO)
August 27, 2016
Aircraft:  777-300ER
Seats:  2D/2G

We were among the first in line at gate 52 and bounded down the jetway for our first flight on ANA.  We were warmly welcomed aboard by the crew and shown to our seats (2D/2G).  There would be two flight attendants serving the cabin that went out with 4/8 seats occupied.  The other two occupants were business travelers and went to sleep after takeoff.  That left the two flight attendants to give us their full attention.

ANA First Class cabin

November 13, 2016

Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Part Two

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

This is the second part of my review of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  You can find the first post here.

We were excited for our Whale Shark excursion the morning of our third day at the resort but it was not to be due to wind and rain.  The resort/dive team were extremely apologetic and we understood.  The last thing we wanted to do was head out on a boat for hours in wind and rain and not be able to get in the water.  We decided to make the best of it and figured this was a great reason to return to the Maldives!

After a great morning snorkel we showered and changed for breakfast and morning cocktails at the property's "underwater restaurant" Ithaa.  At $60++ per person for a glass of Champagne (Ruinart) and some canap├ęs, this wasn't a cheap morning.  But we figured it was a once in a lifetime kind of thing so why not.

Conrad Maldives Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

November 6, 2016

Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

The Maldives are kind of a "once in a lifetime" destination.  Without miles and points, we'd probably have gone once and called it a day.  But after an amazing trip last year, we decided to go back.  It's essentially half way around the world from Denver so we also decided to fly around the world both trips which will never get old.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
I've had a couple of months to reflect (sorry for the long delay on getting this portion of the trip report published) on our stay at the Conrad.  Many of you have asked for a comparison of this property vs. the Park Hyatt.

Overall, it was great.  I plan on publishing a more complete comparison of the Park Hyatt vs. The Conrad but the main difference was size and weather.  We had perfect weather last year while we had 2+ days of rain this time around.  The Park Hyatt is much smaller both in terms of rooms, dining options, and overall space on the island.  While there was a ton to do at the Conrad, in some ways, there was too much to do.  There are over a half dozen dining options, multiple bars, beaches, etc...along with almost a dozen room types.  On the plus side, the size really means there is something for everyone and there was more diversity in the nationality and age of the guests at the Conrad vs. the Park Hyatt.

Now on to the review.  I'm going to break this review up into two parts given the amount there is to review.  I'll try to focus chronologically so you'll get dining and activities in both parts.

November 5, 2016

American Airlines Credit Card 10% Mileage Rebate

At the end of 2015, I picked up the Citi American Airlines AAdvantage card for Emily.  The targeted offer provided 60,000 AA miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.  The card also offers a 10% mileage rebate (up to 10,000 miles) on award tickets booked with American Airlines miles.

We were able to take advantage of this in late 2015 for our trip to London and Abu Dhabi in March of this year.

Citi AAdvantage Award Ticket Rebate
We were also able to take advantage of this benefit this year for our upcoming trip to Dubai.  While we booked separate tickets with miles from each of our accounts, Emily's 115,000 mile award redemption triggered the credit and the next day she had 10,000 miles back in her account.

This turned out to be a pretty amazing card offer.  We earned 60,000 miles from the signup bonus and 20,000 miles in the form of award ticket rebates.

Going forward, the 10,000 mile rebate more than offsets the $95 annual fee (waived for the first year).

October 23, 2016

Return to Al Maha: Introduction

Introduction
Planning & Booking
British Airways First Class 747-400 Denver to London
British Airways Concorde Room
British Airways First Class 747-400 London to Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class 777-200LR Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

I'm still in the middle of writing trip reports from our RTW adventure in August, I'm getting excited about our next trip and wanted to get the introductory post out.  We spent a couple of days at Al Maha  last year and vowed to return as soon as possible.  Of all the hotels we've been around the world, Al Maha is the most unique, special, and we've both lusted after returning for a year.

Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai

September 24, 2016

Using a British Airways Travel Together Ticket One-Way

The British Airways Chase Credit Card offers a 'Travel Together" ticket upon spending $30,000 in a calendar year.  This means you can book two people in any class of service for the price of one.  There are a couple of catches.  First, travel must originate in the US.  Second, the ticket is good for two years.  Third, the cardmember earning the ticket must be one of the passengers.  And the biggest catch is the you must pay the taxes/fuel surcharges on both tickets.

So you're essentially booking an award ticket for two for half the miles.  I earned a travel together ticket back in late 2014 which was slated to expire in early December.  If you do it right and book a first class ticket, the benefit is worth 200,000+ British Airways Avios.  Not a bad deal for putting $30K in spend on one card.


One of the biggest complaints about the ticket is finding roundtrip award availability.  I probably would have had no trouble had I booked further out but just started looking for a November trip a couple of weeks ago.  While I wasn't able to found roundtrip availability that matched dates we could travel, I was able to find a day that worked for us on the outbound.  

I actually had no idea that you could book the travel together ticket as a one-way!  I found availability on the direct BA flight from Denver to London (which is great so we don't have to position anywhere) and from London to Dubai.  I was able to search, book, and ticket everything online!  

The total price for both first class tickets was 153,000 Avios and ~$1,550 in taxes.  Even better, American Express is currently running a transfer bonus for Avios.  With the bonus, I transferred 90,000 Membership Rewards points which became 108,000 Avios.  Combined with my Avios balance, that was enough to book the ticket.  So the actual ticket cost 135,000 Avios/MR points - not a bad deal for 2 in the pointy end of a 747 all the way to Dubai.  


Especially considering the cash cost is running north of $12,000 per ticket!

Obviously we need to find a way home but with more options and less restrictions, that shouldn't be a problem.  Stay tuned as the trip comes together!

August 6, 2016

Planning & Booking: I'm Going Going, Back Back to Maldives, Maldives

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines A330-300 Business Class Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines 777-200 Business Class Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo (NRT) to Houston
American Express Centurion Lounge Houston (IAH)

We are just a few weeks away from our RTW adventure to Istanbul, Maldives, Singapore, and Tokyo.  This will be our second RTW trip in the last year and we're really excited about how this trip came together.  If you're interested in reading in previous updates, check out the latest introductory post.

Lots of flying but looks worth it
Hotels:

As it stands now, we have 9 hotel nights planned.  We needed a Newark overnight and I ended up booking the Marriott Renaissance Newark Airport for 25,000 Marriott Rewards points.  This ended up being a phenomenal use of points as the the hotel is selling for $249/night which comes to $288/night with taxes.  Getting more than 1 cent per Marriott point is amazing.

Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel Rates
In Istanbul, we ended up booking the St. Regis through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts since we really need the ability to check-in early and in theory, we should be able to get in the room at noon or earlier.  The rate came to $251 USD with taxes.  That includes the early check-in, likely room upgrade, and $100 food and beverage credit.  While we could have certainly saved money by staying at the Park Hyatt ($180 USD/night) or a few other options, we wanted to checkout a new property in Istanbul and figured the rooftop Spago would be a nice way to end the day and burn our $100 credit.

St. Regis Istanbul Rooftop Views

July 31, 2016

Introduction Part Two: I'm Going Going, Back Back to Maldives, Maldives

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines A330-300 Business Class Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines 777-200 Business Class Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo (NRT) to Houston
American Express Centurion Lounge Houston (IAH)

I've updated the post below based on changes made to our itinerary.  I'll post the Planning & Booking section in the next week or so.

I've eluded to our upcoming RTW adventures in posts about the brand new Houston Centurion lounge as well as getting the most out of Hyatt Gold Passport points.  We're leaving next month and the trip is almost complete so figured I'd provide a bit more of a teaser in the form of an introductory post.

We were in the Maldives last year and just loved it.  There is something completely magical about the remoteness of it all.  There's no denying the fact that it's an incredibly challenging to get there.  Especially from the US.  But once you are there, it's the most beautiful place on earth (at least that I've seen).  So we set out to return later this summer.  While we loved the Park Hyattgetting there is more of a challenge than other resorts.
Our 23,000+ mile RTW itinerary (courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper)

July 17, 2016

My First International First Class Experience

On July 7, 2012, Singapore Airlines made a mistake.  A big mistake.  While premium cabin awards on Singapore Airlines weren't typically made available to United's MileagePlus frequent flyer members, an IT upgrade opened the floodgates.  Essentially all Singapore Airlines premium cabin inventory was mistakenly made available.

First Singapore Airlines booking
I was in Boulder with Emily for the weekend preparing for our wedding.  While we were both distracted with other things, I ended up booking a roundtrip business (on Singapore's A380) and first class award to Singapore.  For 260,000 United miles and $138 in taxes and fees!  


July 3, 2016

Introduction: I'm Going Going, Back Back to Maldives, Maldives

Introduction
Planning & Booking
American Express Centurion Lounge Houston IAH
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Houston to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines A330-300 Business Class Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines 777-200 Business Class Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo (NRT) to Houston

I've eluded to our upcoming RTW adventures in posts about the brand new Houston Centurion lounge as well as getting the most out of Hyatt Gold Passport points.  We're leaving next month and the trip is almost complete so figured I'd provide a bit more of a teaser in the form of an introductory post.

We were in the Maldives last year and just loved it.  There is something completely magical about the remoteness of it all.  There's no denying the fact that it's an incredibly challenging to get there.  Especially from the US.  But once you are there, it's the most beautiful place on earth (at least that I've seen).  So we set out to return later this summer.  While we loved the Park Hyatt, getting there is more of a challenge than other resorts.

24,000 miles RTW - map courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper

June 26, 2016

Red-eye vs. Daytime Flight?

We are just a couple of months away from our latest adventure.  I'm working on finalizing details and will post an overview as soon as it comes together.  For now, we're headed back to the Maldives for four nights and have a couple of other cool stops as we circumnavigate the globe for the second time.

Going going back to back to...
 As of now, we're leaving Male for Tokyo with an overnight in Singapore.  This means a daytime flight from Male departing around 1PM and getting into Singapore around 8:40PM.  Followed by an early morning departure to Tokyo landing in the early afternoon.  The good news is that we'll be flying to Tokyo's Haneda airport which is far closer to the city.  But essentially we'll be spending two back to back days flying with a total of 12 hours in the air.

Current itinerary
Another option would be to take Singapore Airline's red-eye flight from Male to Singapore.  We took this flight last year and while it was fun, it wasn't that fun.  It's a late departure and an early arrival without proper time (<5 hour flight) to get a full night's sleep.  You have to balance that with an extra half day in the Maldives...which doesn't suck.  We could step right off that flight and onto our planned daytime flight to Haneda.  Or we could spend the day in Singapore and take another red-eye that evening to Narita.  But back to back red-eye's seems crazy.

So as of now, I'm leaning to keeping our itinerary as planned.  We will have a bit less time in the Maldives on our final day but we'll have a daytime seaplane ride to Male to look forward to.  We'll land in Singapore early enough that we can go into the city if we're feeling up to it.  Then we'll wake up rested the next morning for an 8AM flight to Haneda.


In certain cases, red-eye's are great.  They can save you the cost of a hotel room and enable you to enjoy a full day at your destination.  While I'd love more time in either the Maldives or Tokyo, I also want to feel relaxed and rested in both places.  Plus, I'm excited for back-to-back flights on one of my favorite airlines.

Would you choose a red-eye or a daytime flight?