Use your Hong Kong Airlines Error Fare Miles to travel A330 Business Class in Europe.

Last week we had one a few good Error fares this year with Hong Kong Airlines releasing business class round trip fares from the west coast to Asia for approx $600. Lots of people jumped on these and the airline has committed to honoring them. This was great news and I look forward to a trip to Shanghai and beyond next spring.

An added bonus of these fares is that they have been ticketed in Fare class J, which means they will also accrue airmiles in their program Fortune Wings Club. These miles will be usable with their partners in this club which include Hainan Airlines amongst others along with international airlines such as TAP and Alaska.

One very interesting new redemption you could make with these miles could be on the new fifth Freedom route between Dublin and Edinburgh. This was launched earlier this year and is operated by a Airbus A330.

Based on the short distance would not require many miles to try out their business class once seats are available. The flight operates direct from Dublin to Beijing twice a week and via Edinburgh twice a week.

Many of the people who jumped on last weeks deal will be frequent travelers and looking for an interesting way to spend the attached mileage haul. So why not hop between Ireland and Scotland in style….

A Holiday Weekend with Southwest Airlines

I have always been interested in Southwest Airlines and how their vision created the low cost travel industry we are so used to today. But I have not travelled with them more than a couple of times up until this past Memorial Day.

Last year I signed up for the Chase Southwest Credit Card when it briefly offered 60,000 Miles for doing so. It was a good stash to have for a rainy day which inevitably come when you travel on a regular basis.

Currently based in Texas with work, I needed to travel to San Francisco for Memorial weekend and as with every Holiday in the US cash fares were very high if you wanted to maximize the weekend. It was time to dip into the stash and try out Southwest Airlines properly. My route was a little awkward but got me there Thursday night and back Monday night for for 23,000 Points. Not cheap but when cash fares were in the $800 range I felt it was a solid redemption. My route would take me from San Antonio – Dallas, Dallas – San Francisco and then San Jose – Denver, Denver – San Antonio.

Lesson One: San Antonio – Dallas

On arrival at the airport I already knew my second flight would be delayed getting me into SFO at 2am. Far from ideal. I went to the desk to see what they could do, as I could have routed via LAS and arrived much earlier. Unfortunately as my initial flight was on time there was nothing they could do other than charge a small fortune to re-route. Good to know.

I decided to get the early bird check in they offer for $15 and get into group A. Years spent travelling Europe on Ryanair justified that expense. Southwest open check-in 24 hours before your flight and it first come first served from that point. Group A will guarantee you either a window or aisle, what else do you want.

Boarding with Southwest is really slick as far as I’m concerned, they have trained their customers well… each group slid into their allocated numbers with minimum fuss. Very different to the mayhem that ensues in Europe and with the multiple boarding groups the legacy carriers have.

Once onboard what can I say? A 737 is a 737, the upper deck was not open that day. But the crew were particular jovial and light hearted which made a lovely change from most of the crews I’ve encountered this year. 45 minutes later touch down in Dallas Love Field. Herb Kellehers base!!!

Lesson Two: Dallas to San Francisco

Not really a lesson here, when your flight is delayed have patience. It happens! Enjoy a nice relaxing beverage and have a bite to eat. Dallas was a nice terminal to do this in too, it was nice and spacious and far from busy, but I guess it was around 9pm at this point.

We were delayed due to a crew issue so it was hard for the gate agents to put a time on it. We ended up departing about an hour behind schedule. Once again the crew onboard were particularly nice even after having their nights off cancelled and the flight was quiet, so after a couple of G+Ts i settled into my lie flat bed row 26 ABC.

Lesson Three: San Jose – Denver/Phoenix

The way home also had a bit of drama, I guess luckily this time my initial flight was delayed. Weather in Denver was causing issues and the next update would be in half an hour. My 45 minute connection didn’t sound too promising.

Back to the desk, where sadly I met my first unfriendly member of the Southwest staff. Either way she re-routed me via Phoenix instead of Denver. This cancelled my early bird check-in and left me in a not so nice boarding position of C59 aka the middle. She did try and sell me a position in A1-15 for $30 a leg which I declined. Which was a good move as group B was boarding when I got there. So my fate was 6E – beside a girl who had no interest in looking out the window and left the blind down until I asked to open for the approach into PHX.

Lesson Four: Phoenix to San Antonio

It was a quick connection in Phoenix, which is a surprisingly large airport. The lesson here is always double check the screens. I got into the wrong line and tried to head to Omaha only discovering the gate change at the last minute. Luckily the SAT gate was nearby so I wouldn’t miss the flight. The gate area was empty so I hoped the flight would be. No such luck, it was packed and the people in C and D seats were making themselves look as big and angry as possible…. deep breath 22E is home for the next two hours…… but I’m home earlier than planned. Well until my Lyft driver got lost but that’s another story.

There was a bit of drama along the way for sure but all in all there is a nice vibe on Southwest, it’s laid back and fun. People chat and that’s kind of what travelling is all about or was all about at least. Let’s see if there’s any drama next month when I head back to San Francisco via Phoenix maybe I’ll see Denver this time!!!!

Iberia Avios deal – Madness or calculated risk?

Is the Iberia deal madness or well calculated?

9,000 Miles in advance for a $19 (now $40) flight sounds like madness to me, time will tell.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, Iberia are offering 9,000 Avios in advance for every flight booked before June 24th aka Sunday. Miles will expire on December 1st so bookings must be made before then. I have mentioned in advance twice already because you don’t need to actually have to fly the flights to get the miles, in theory!!!

But maybe they aren’t mad? Competition in Europe is as high as ever. If you search the cheaper routes on google flights, Ryanair will pop up with the cheapest flight on most occasions. (Route dependent) So maybe they are having a dig and see profit in it.

Let’s face it award flights are offered on flights where there are empty seats, cheap seats are offered on flights where there are empty seats. As soon as some of the more established bloggers jumped on this today Iberia guaranteed that tens of thousands of seats on empty planes will have been sold well in advance, even if no-one actually ends up flying.

I have on good advice Iberia are not in trouble, but they are certainly making some sort of margin call. Redeeming the “free Avios” out of the US will no doubt be difficult and Iberia will make a lot of upfront cash out of this. On the flip side they allow you fly inter-europe for 4,000 miles. So loyal Iberia flyers will hopefully do well out of this.

I fear award seat availability will disappear on any popular routes ahead of the Avios posting. I also hope the Avios will post before the points guy posted!!

Either way I’ve bet $100 before and I’ll do it again. Let’s see how this plays out…

NYC – OAK from $69 in September and October with Alaska Airlines.

Great fares today between NYC and Oakland and vice versa with Alaska Airlines. Starting at $69 each way for many dates in September and October these are tough beat.

The flights do route via Seattle which isn’t ideal, but remember Alaska still credits airmiles based on distance flown rather than amount spent so you would accrue approx 3,000 miles each direction.

Of course if you only want to travel as far as Seattle you could always not take the connecting flight to Oakland and get a nice discount on that route too.

As you can see below the 4.15pm EWR-SEA is $198, but if you book the connection to OAK the price drops to $79. However you may forfeit your miles earnings doing that as the airlines frown upon that kind of thing.

These are super fares and you can still pick your seat and earn airmiles per mile flown. Compare that to the other airlines basic economy offerings and i would say it’s well worth a short or long stop in Seattle.

Who doesn’t like the Bay Area or NYC in September? Get involved!!!q

Collect IHG points with Grubhub

We’ve all been there stuck in a hotel with no interest in going out for the evening but still needing to eat. In recent times this has been made easier with the likes of Seamless, Yelp, Uber Eats and Grubhub delivery services. Most offer the same restaurants at the same prices, so who do you choose? as there is no real loyalty schemes that are of any worth.


If you happen to be staying at an IHG property they have come up with a new partnership to help you decide. Once at one of their properties an order with Grubhub through a link on the IHG site you will get 250 Points per order and a 500 hundred point bonus for your first.

Let’s face it you wouldn’t want to eat at the restaurants in many IHG hotels anyway so why not collect some bonus points for room service.

These points are not worth what they once were but are pretty easy to collect through various promotions such as Accelerate.While a Holiday Inn Express on the side of a motorway may not be all that luxurious, hotels like the Intercontinental Sydney certainly are and some Grubhub orders can help you get there.

Thai First Class Lounge – Bangkok

The best miles redemption I ever made was earlier in the year traveling from Hong Kong to Sydney via Bangkok in Thai First Class. I booked this last summer for just 40,000 United miles which was only part of the 70,000 I received for signing up to their credit card. While sitting in 1A and 1K in the nose of a jumbo jet was the absolute highlight. The for hour layover in Bangkok airport was almost as impressive.

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There were just three First Class passengers on the first leg between Hong Kong and Bangkok. On arrival at BKK we were first the leave plane and were met by Thai staff. One passenger headed to his connection immediately while myself and another gentleman were whisked via cart to a private security zone. Within five minutes we were through and in the First Class Lounge.

On arrival in the lounge we were both given our own individual lounges with personalized waitress service. From there the champagne continued to flow, it must have been almost half an hour since the ten minute to land announcement onboard…. Each room was equipped with a TV, Apple Mac for working and a selection of seating. A waste really as I was on my own but compared to some of the “lounges” I’ve been in recently, what a luxury.

Thai First and Business are famed for the massage service they offer to passengers passing through BKK. On this occasion I did not take advantage choosing instead to relax and work my way through a bottle of 2006 Krug. It was my birthday after all.

First class is really about gluttony and realizing it was a few hours since I ate, I made my way to the separate dining room where local Thai dishes could be ordered via iPad. The beef while looking a little plain was outstanding.

After dinner it was back to my room for a little while before being collected and escorted down to the gate for part two in the air. The Thai staff all along were some of the most polite and courteous people you would ever meet.

The cash price of this ticket was about $3,000 and at 40,000 Points was one of the best redemptions you could ever make. United have since upped the price to 65,000 which is still a bargain in my mind.

If you fancy a extended stay in the lounge and a shorter flight you can always just do the BKK-HKG leg for around 30,000 United miles. Keep this in mind the next time you consider paying that to travel between New York and Boston last minute. Get the bus…. and save those points for something special.

St. Patrick’s Day 2018 in NYC – earn Miles with every Guinness.

Love it or hate it, St. Patrick’s day is world famous and can be a lot of fun. The parade and parties in NYC are on a scale matched nowhere else. The parade runs along fifth avenue and there are literally hundreds of Irish bars in the city to enjoy before, during and after. Many of which allow you earn points through the Dining plans which many of the airlines are signed up to.

In Midtown, the heart of the action, you can find 12+ bars which will serve you cold Guinness and allow earn up to five miles a dollar. If you don’t already have a favorite hangout you may aswell try some of them and get your miles.

Follow the link below for the United scheme. But a quick google search will allow you collect Alaska, Delta, American and several more. Lots of which have decent sign on bonuses. Only one card can be used per scheme at a time. But on a day like St. Patrick’s you can pick up a few bonuses but attaching different cards to different airline accounts.

https://m.dining.mileageplus.com

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An added bonus this year is St. Patrick’s is on a Saturday and Ireland will be playing England for a rugby grand-slam in the morning. They have only ever won two before so this is a very big deal for a lot of rugby fans and celebrations are likely to get out of hand if the result goes the right way. The Pig n’ Whistle (#9) is a great spot to catch that action from 10.45 Est.

Below are the bars that will allow you earn those valuable miles. Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick’s day!!! Maybe use the miles to visit Dublin next year.

–          4.)  Long Room

–          5.) Foxy Johns

–          6.) Carraghers

–          7.) Stout grand Central

–          8.) Blaggards Pub

–          9.) Pig n Whistle

–          10.) John Sullivans

–          11.) jack Doyles

–          12.) Long Hall

– 13.) The Triple Crown

My 5 best deals of 2017 and not a single error fare.

2017 was a good year for me on the travel front racking up around 45,000 miles in the air. Nearly all of it paying cash and involving lots of deal hunting. I really enjoy researching fares and coming up with random routes to get the best value for money. I had quite a bit of success last year and wanted to share my top 5 deals of the year.

1.) SWF-EDI-FAO-LTN-DUB-SWF in July.

Every year I am lucky enough to go on a family holiday to the Algarve in Portugal, but since moving to the US the cost of flights has increased substantially. For the week in July I needed TAP via Lisbon was pricing at about $1,300 Return in economy. Other options included Aerlingus via Dublin but even it was coming in around $1,000.

Then along came Norwegian and their 737 MAX flights from Stewart Airport. I picked up SWF – EDI and DUB – SWF for $99 dollars each the day then went on sale and then used Ryanair flights for the flights in Europe which totaled about $150. All in all the flights came in at under $350 which for July was pretty awesome.

2.) BOS – EWR (LGA) in August

I guess this is more of a stroke of luck but I was booked on a 6am Monday morning United flight from Boston to Newark. This was a basic economy fare that cost just $59. I needed to get to work but when they ask for volunteers to change flights, you have to ask what’s on offer. In this case it was a $500 voucher and a seat with American twenty minutes later. I actually got to work earlier than I would have with United.

3.) EWR-SDQ-EWR-SFO in April

I needed to get to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for a wedding. Prices were steep at about $600 round trip which I felt was far too high. Playing around on the United website I discovered that by adding an extra leg to the reservation to price would come down.

Being close to Easter we decided to add a leg to San Francisco which in its own right was very high due to the holiday. When all was said and done the fare came to $480. In theory we could have not taken the SFO flight and still saved cash but went ahead and booked the return with American for 12.5K miles as $5.60. Job done.

4.) JFK-LAS-SFO-LAS-JFK in December

Christmas is far and away the most expensive time of the year to travel but this year wanted to be in San Francisco. I booked the return flight on Virgin America via Las Vegas for 12.5K Alaska and $5.60 on the 26th of December. I felt this was a great redemption, but still needed to get there.

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Direct flights a few days before Christmas we’re pricing at between $450 and $500 again expensive for a route that is usually half that.

Meanwhile very few people go to Vegas the week before Christmas preferring the week after. Delta had a flight leaving at 8pm on Wednesday to LAS for $200 and a connection to SFO the following lunchtime was $59 with United. Hotels were empty so a king room at the Mandalay Bay was $90. Between the two of us it was a nice saving and a fun one. Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional night in Vegas.

5.) LGA -YUL June

A bachelor party bought me to Montreal in June. I decided to travel first thing on Saturday morning with Air Canada from LGA for $66. As per usual Sunday flights were steep so I started getting creative and decided on the train. A one way ticket on Sunday morning was $70 and it is a beautiful journey, sure it took a day, but the days after bachelor parties don’t tend to be too productive anyway, so why not stare out the window at things like Lake Champlain.

We’re now a week into 2018 and it’s almost time to get going again. My first trip will take me the whole way around the world in about 12 days. That kicks off next week and I am starting to get very excited.

First Error Fare of the year Stockholm to NYC under €150 with Star Alliance Airlines

First great Error Fare of the year with full service Star Alliance Airlines Lufthansa, SAS and United. Lots of dates available Jan-Mar and while you have to start in Stockholm exits are available in several cities including Zurich and Brussels.

These are available via momondo.se and are well worth a positioning flight. Book quickly and wait until ticketed before booking hotels and other travel. Here’s to lots of great fares in 2018.

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