2018 has been and gone and was for me the busiest year I’ve had from a travel perspective. Between business and personal travel I ended up taking 61 flights on 17 airlines, traveling 96,000 miles through 33 different airports. I ended up the year with Delta Gold status and IHG Spire from flights and hotels which I’m looking forward to taking advantage of this year.
Most of the flights were in economy but I strategically used miles to travel in Thai First, Virgin Upper, Qantas and Cathay Business and thanks to Iberia’s promotion travelled up the front with them and BA. It was also interesting to try out Virgin’s and BA’s premium economy offerings across the Atlantic. As soon that will be the new business and business the new first for many business travelers.
While my intention was to travel less in 2019 the next six weeks show no sign of slowing down. A business trip to Tennessee will be followed by a long weekend in Europe spending a night Berlin and a couple in Dublin. I’ve been dying to fly on the Singapore A380 so used 30k United miles for JFK-FRA-TXL with the connection on Lufthansa and 13k Avios back from DUB – JFK with minimal charges.
Then February brings the years first “big trip” finally using the Hong Kong Airlines Error fare between LAX and PVG. I’ll be heading out to LA on the new United Dreamliner in Polaris on the way out and their new premium economy on the way back. The HKA legs will hopefully be on their newest A350s and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sit in the queens nose once again, if only for an hour between BKK and HKT. The other flights will mainly be on 330s, which are still a nice change from the majority of my 2018 aircraft.
So by the end of February 35k miles and 17 flights will be flown. Further out, a weekend to visit to Boneyard in Tucson is planned and a week in Portugal booked for a very nice 44k SkyMiles in the height of summer.
I always find it nice to have a couple of trips booked in Jan/Feb to start the year off right and have something to look forward to in the New Year. That along with the fact that fares are cheaper and destinations less crowded make it the perfect time to travel. Wherever 2019 takes you enjoy it!!!
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.
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.
The Stockholm Error Fare also works to San Francisco for €160 a real bargain. Jump on this quick.
Potentially more cities are available too. Play around with momondo.se and see what you can find.
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.
Last week we had Cork and Shannon and as expected today there are great fares from Dublin to NYC in November, December and early January with United Airlines. These start at €276 and are full service return fares with food, drinks, entertainment and will earn miles on any Star Alliance partner.
Available on Skyscanner and Momondo this won’t be available for too long and is a much better option for crossing the Atlantic than some of the newer low cost options.
Great value in November with United Airlines between Shannon and Newark. Flights are starting at just €279 return. United operate 757s on this route which are full service with food, drinks and entertainment. They will also earn MileagePlus miles or can be credited to anyone in the Star Alliance. The flight times are also great for maximizing your time in New York.
It is very rare to see this route so cheap as it’s usually about €600 return. The impact of Norwegian is starting to show. These fares probably won’t last too long so get on them quick and visit NYC for some Christmas shopping. Booking is done via momondo.ie and eflights.
Third error fare of the day again with lots of availability in December and early next year in business class with Star Alliance airlines from both Nice and Munich to San Francisco.
This is excellent value bearing in mind the length of the flight and the amount of airmiles you can earn. Momondo again have the cheapest options. Go quickly as these will not last.
As always don’t book hotels etc. until the flights are ticketed.
Central America is fast becoming a more popular part of the world to explore. There is an error Fare this morning originating in Amsterdam to several cities in the region starting at $220 with a variety of dates available from September into next year. This really is an excellent deal using full service Star Alliance airlines.
Below is an example to Guatamala City bookable via momondo.nl but other destinations including Belize are available too. Fares from Europe to Central America tend to be closer to €1,000. Move quickly and book your next adventure.
As this is an Error Fare hold off booking accommodation etc until the tickets are confirmed by the airline as they may cancel.
Yesterday in response to the cheap Norwegian fares there were very low prices from Dublin to New York. Today in addition to Dublin you can also fly from Shannon with United in November for a great deal of €340 round trip vs the usual price of around €600. This is slightly more than the price to Newburgh but well worth it for convenience and extra service on United’s 757 fleet. Check it out and do some Christmas shopping State side.
Last month I wrote about my $200 round trip from Stewart airport to Edinburgh and back from Dublin with the new Norwegian Airlines service. While there are no fares that low in the coming months they have kept them pretty reasonable in the $300 – $400 range. I have been waiting for a reaction to these from the majors and it looks like today is the day.
United have just published fares for €337 ex. Dublin with Delta just a little bit more through the rest of the year and into 2018. When you take the time and cost of getting to Stewart into account these are great value as traditionally you were looking at €500+ who knows low long these will last but I wouldn’t be surprised to see AerLingus get involved and then we will have a nice little fare war on out hands.