...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Major British Airways Devaluation coming in April

And it's not good for redemptions.  From the Points Guy:

For Business class award redemptions -

Zone 4: Old 50,000, Now 75,000
Zone 5: Old 80,000, Now 120,000
Zone 6: Old 100,000, Now 150,000
Zone 7: Old 120,000, Now 180,000
Zone 8: Old 140,000, Now 210,000
Zone 9: Old 200,000, Now 300,000

It doesn't look like Economy Awards are being affected that much, but I'm also disappointed in the mileage accrual rates changing...some will be as low at 25% for flying British Airways' own flights!

I had the opportunity to fly British Airways Business Class on my first trip to Qatar, and I must say it was an excellent experience overall (other than the fact my luggage was lost for 2 days).  I don't think I ever would have had that opportunity had it not been for the option to redeem Avios at the level they were at.  We have until April 28th if you're looking to make any reservations at the old rate.  Book now!

Also looks like I'll be shelving my BA Visa for accrual...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What to do with an Open Jaw?

The majority of my March Excursion is booked and ready to go, but I had one final piece to figure out - what to do about that Open Jaw between Bangkok and Jakarta?  You'll notice that I'm arriving pretty late to Bangkok (11:30pm) and my departure is on the 30th just after midnight - in total time, it means I've got about a day-ish to get from BKK-CGK.  Not bad, right?

My first stop was Kayak - and I found interesting options there, such as this Tigerair flight:

I must admit that I don't know much about Tigerair and had to do some research.  Turns out it's Singapore's top-ranked budget airline and would have connected me through Singapore on my way to Jakarta.  Not a bad option, but I was a bit apprehensive about adding another connection onto this trip.

What about using Avios through British Airways?

I have a bunch of Avios and thought this might be a good option (maybe Cathay flies the route) - unfortunately, the only availability showing is on Malaysia Airlines:


The prospect of adding Kuala Lumpur onto the trip was very enticing, but again...another connection to have to deal with.  And given the recent issues with Malaysia in general, I'd rather not tempt things unless I absolutely have to.

What are my other options?  Do I have any?

It occurred to me the one thing I hadn't done yet was check Star Alliance flights - usually United.com is a good place to start, so after a quick search two options popped up - both on Thai Airways and both direct.  Score!  I chose the later option (2pm departure to give myself time to sleep) and 17,500 miles later, I have my Open Jaw set. 

Update: Thai Airways just had a schedule change that abruptly cancelled the 2pm flight option for the 29th.  I've been subsequently scheduled on the 8am flight - guess I'll be napping in Jakarta during the afternoon...hope they have free Internet.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Double Miles on Flights to Asia on American Airlines

American Airlines is running another fare sale with double mileage earning potential!

You can view the entire offer/promotion here.

The highlights are as follows:

Earn double AAdvantage miles for eligible First Class, Business Class and select Economy Class fares purchased between Tokyo, South Korea or Hong Kong and the U.S and Canada.
Offer Dates:
January 21, 2015, to March 20, 2015
Promotion Code:
Register prior to travel with promotion code ASIA3
To/From To/From
Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
Los Angeles (LAX)
San Diego (SAN)
New York (JFK)
Boston (BOS)
Vancouver (YVR)
Tokyo, Narita (NRT)
San Francisco (SFO) Tokyo, Haneda (HND)
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Seoul, South Korea (ICN)
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Hong Kong (HKG)

I'm disappointed that my trip at the end of March won't qualify for this, but anyone else with planned travel should take advantage of this offer!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reminder: Hyatt Changes

Just a quick reminder that some Hyatt properties are increasing their redemption levels this month.

You can find the full list here.

Some notable changes for me include the following:

Park Hyatt Seoul from Category 4 to 5
Park Hyatt Maldives from Category 6 to 7

Important thing to note: 
Between now and January 22, 2015, all award bookings can be made using the current award chart. Existing reservations for stays subsequent to January 21, 2015, will receive a refund for the point difference if the hotel moved to a lower category.   
(In other words, get your reservations in for the old point levels before January 21st) 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hyatt Spring Promotion is now active!

I always look forward to seeing what new promo Hyatt has planned for each quarter, and they've done up another good one that matches past promos in length and points accrual.  There are several different options out there, but I think this is the best if you have shorter stays planned.

That's a lot of points possible if you manage to max out stays!  I'm not sure yet what my stay pattern will be for this year, but I'm always hopeful I can cash in as well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

March excursion booked! Anyone want to join me?

I'm happy to report that my March flight excursion is confirmed!  I'm excited to be visiting many different airports/countries/airlines for an amazing price.  Here are the details (if you're interested in joining me, flights were still available as of last night):

Los Angeles (LAX) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) — Fri, Mar 27
2406 Dep: 1:14 am Arr: 6:05 am 2h 51m Boeing 737 Economy (Q)

Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Tokyo (NRT) — Fri, Mar 27
175 Dep: 10:40 am Arr: 2:20 pm 13h 40m Boeing 777 Economy (Q)

Tokyo (NRT) to Bangkok (BKK) — Sat, Mar 28
8411 Dep: 6:05 pm Arr: 11:15 pm 7h 10m Boeing 787 Economy (S)

(open jaw - Bangkok to Jakarta flight upcoming)

Jakarta (CGK) to Hong Kong (HKG) — Mon, Mar 30
8918 Dep: 12:10 am Arr: 5:50 am 4h 40m Airbus A330 Economy (Q)

Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) — Mon, Mar 30
138 Dep: 1:30 pm Arr: 4:15 pm 15h 45m Boeing 777 Economy (Q)

Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Los Angeles (LAX) — Mon, Mar 30
2477 Dep: 5:50 pm Arr: 7:14 pm 3h 24m Boeing 757 Economy (Q)

If you're wondering how many miles this will bank, it's showing as 21,891 for a reasonable $691.  Excellent - thank you American Airlines. I'll have more specifics about what my plans are to blog and do trip reports as I firm up other details.

I'm still hoping to locate a friend who has Executive Platinum status and an extra SWU to help with the long flights - if you're willing to help, please leave a comment!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Club Carlson Spring Promotion is now active!

For those of you who prefer Club Carlson (and Radisson) properties, the Spring Promo is now active!

You can earn 30,000 points for each 3+ night stay, or 15,000 points for each 2 night stay through March 29th.

I will most likely focus again on Hyatt for the coming spring, but I like having another option.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Looking for an SWU on AA

I've decided to take advantage of the amazing flight deal I posted about previously!  Very exciting all around, but I found out this morning that one of my upgrade options may no longer be workable/available.

As a result, I'm searching out for friends who might be AA Exec Plat's and might have an extra Systemwide upgrade to spare. 

If you have one and would be willing to share, please send me an email at Rbakken@yahoo.com - I'd be very grateful!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Mileage Run Alert: LAX-BKK-CGK-LAX for $637 on American!

There's an OJ inbetween and its via Dallas/Tokyo/San Diego, but it's not out of the question - 19,807 miles, 0.03 cpm.  Via San Diego instead of LA pushes it up to around $730.

Not bad!

Airline seat switching: a passenger's right?

I go back and forth whenever I fly about what to do when someone asks me to switch seats.  I used to think that it wasn't such a big deal until more premium seats got scarce and airlines started to charge a lot of money and upgrades for them.  So as a matter of practice I don't switch seats.  I value my legroom and ability to easily access the restroom and galley. 

Am I heartless? Hardly. I sympathize with those who want to sit together, especially in economy.  In most cases though I've taken great care to choose a seat that fits my situation (i.e. on the aisle, in first so I get a certain meal, etc).  Does the same apply to First Class seats?  I'd argue yes. Limited food and aisle options can be tough. It's amazing to me that in my experience most feel it is a right to have someone move their chosen seat.  And you're vilified if you don't.

Take the case of my most recent flight home from O'hare on American.  I had secured a First Class seat for the journey, and picked out 4E (aisle and best food choice in my opinion).  I knew that there were at least 4 other open seats so it was a given that others were going to be upgraded. When I got seated, an elderly couple (just upgraded) boarded and realized then that they were not sitting together.  The lady asks if I'd switch since she had the window next to me.  I politely declined, and she sat down next to me, her husband one row back. Then it got interesting.

The business exec across the aisle from me all of a sudden says "excuse me, would you be willing to switch seats with me so that I can switch with the guy so that he can switch and move up one row to that seat". Are you kidding me?  I politely decline and get a stare and evil look. "It's an aisle, are you sure you won't switch?" No thank you. Then the adjacent passenger next to the elderly guy one row back offers to switch with the lady, and so I get up so they both can move two chairs. Finally the game of duck-duck-goose is over.

My first question: why didn't they notice they weren't sitting together? Oversight? They could have asked the gate attendant to try and fix it. I'd wager they just thought someone would switch with them.  Bad assumption.

Second: it's first class on a full flight. Just take the seat!  You're all of three feet away for 3.5 hours. If it were a 14 hour flight and 20 rows apart that would be different.  I'm sure you're wondering by now what if the shoe were on the other foot, and those were my grandparents trying to sit together. Would I feel the same way? I'd have to say yes - I know for a fact my grandparents would be tickled just to be in first class in the first place.

I think I was most perturbed about the other people who moved and gave me the evil eye.  As if I'm some sort of monster that I wouldn't move my seat. I don't feel bad politely declining if I've specifically chosen the seat I'm in. No guilt on my part.  And there really isn't a right or wrong answer here, it's more of a general discussion point. 

What is your feeling about seat switching? Do you expect others to move?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Portfolio addition

I tend to watch what is currently being offered in terms of new credit cards and promotions in the hopes of taking advantage if the situation is right for me.  In most cases, I don't find myself jumping in since the annual fees are typically out of my range/style and the benefits don't do a whole lot for my spending pattern.

But...every once in a while a card offer comes around that makes sense.  And the most recent offer on the Chase Freedom card I couldn't pass up - no annual fee, Chase card, category bonuses, and a cashback/points bonus on sign up.  My card recently came so I'm happy to report that I've added the Freedom option to my portfolio!

The offer was pretty good (12/31):

I'm not a "cashback" guy by any stretch.  Don't have any other cards like this.  But I'll be using the points accrual method and transferring them to Ultimate Rewards to get the most flexibility in points redemption.  Not a bad way to start the new year!