Planning and Booking
Air Canada Premium Rouge Vancouver to Los Angeles
Los Angeles TBIT Star Alliance First Class Lounge
Singapore Suites Class Los Angeles to Tokyo
This is a continuation of my live trip report for my Asia/Pacific trip.
My plan with salvaging the trip was basically keeping the trans-pacific segments the same, since it’s incredibly difficult to find something adequate 2-4 weeks before departure. Of course, with certain carriers like OZ, CX, JL, NH, and BR, the closer you get to departure, the higher likelihood there will be award space if loads aren’t full. Since my trip was only around two weeks, I definitely preferred booking the outbound as soon as I could.
KrisFlyer has extremely reasonable change fees, being only 12 USD for a change of any nature on a Singapore Airlines only award, so that was easy. American has no change fee either as long as origin and destination stay the same, so that was easy as well. I decided on trying to go to Australia as I have friends there I wanted to visit, and I really loved Sydney last August when I visited.
First I looked at just Tokyo to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane options, but there wasn’t much that was a good value from North Asia, as CX didn’t have space, KE has a poor product to Oceania and high award chart prices, and United prices were fairly high as well.
Then I thought about modifying my Krisflyer award, and luckily there was award space to Melbourne via Singapore. Another plus was that SQ does have their new products on the 777-300ER (77WN) on the SQ637/638 Narita – Singapore route, so I was looking forward to trying the new First Class. Then Singapore to Melbourne was on their refitted 777-300 with the “regular” First Class. I’ve never flown Singapore First Class (although I’ve done Business multiple times), so this award would let me fly all three products in one go, which was pretty nifty.
While this routing wouldn’t be bookable online, there was a error with the online award booking tool which wouldn’t let me keep my Los Angeles to Narita seat while adding on Narita – Singapore – Melbourne. It’d try to search for another seat, where there was none since I already snagged the one award seat available quite a while ago. I ended up calling and received both the 15% online discount as well as the lower price for online award change fee, which was extremely reasonable at $12 USD.
The total price with a 15% discount was 119,000 miles. Given the devaluations of many programs, this was actually quite reasonable and comparable with United, Aeroplan, and American (which requires two awards when routing via Asia). The fuel surcharge was a bit high at $468, which brought a total of taxes to around 650 Singapore Dollars (~$520 USD), but for a last minute award where I was scrambling to find options, it wasn’t too bad.
I booked then a 9000 avios award in business class from Melbourne to Sydney, which is a great use of avios and only $13 in taxes. I paid for business class instead of economy because I don’t have elite status and the priority/lounge access would be very useful. To connect from Vancouver to Los Angeles, I spent 25,000 miles on Premium Rouge with Aeroplan. This was an incredibly hard redemption to make as I knew how many other good options Aeroplan had on long-haul redemptions, but to connect to three segments of Singapore First Class I just couldn’t resist.
Then, from Sydney I booked Thai First Class back to South Asia. This cost 40,000 miles and around $75 USD. It’s slightly higher than the 32,500 miles required prior to the devaluation if you flew Sydney-Bangkok-Tokyo-Guam, then threw away your segments, but still cheaper that the “normal” pre-devaluation price, which was either 55,000 or 60,000 miles. This then connected to my AA Award on Cathay Pacific First from Singapore, which was 67,500 miles and a nominal ~$100 dollars in taxes.
I’d like to think I’m a loyal Hyatt fan, so I booked the Grand Hyatt Singapore, Park Hyatt Melbourne, and Grand Hyatt Melbourne on cash and points, and spent 60,000 points for two nights at the Park Hyatt Sydney. I also booked the Mercure Narita at a discounted rate for $47. I had layovers in Bangkok, Osaka, and Los Angeles which didn’t need hotels, and for my stopover in Hong Kong I didn’t need a hotel.
Certainly this wasn’t a trip that didn’t cost very many miles as opposed to my trip last year which cost a TOTAL of 90,000 miles in business/first class, but I think this one is still worth every single penny (and mile). The total flight and hotel costs were around $1000 for Singapore, Thai, and Cathay International First Class as well as short-haul business class on Air Canada Rouge and Qantas, and Park/Grand Hyatts in Singapore, Melbourne, and Sydney. Overall, this definitely wasn’t a “free” trip by any measure, but certainly it was a lot cheaper than what normally people would pay, given flights to Melbourne in economy at this time of the year at least $1600, which is more than my whole trip would cost.
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