Why You Should Use Award Tickets To Travel In Japan
The first time I visited Japan back in 2012 (which was also the first time I used miles to fly first class) common wisdom held that the JR pass was by far the best and most cost effective way to travel within Japan and so I shelled out the $600 or so dollars to Shinkansen my posterior all over the country. I went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Miyazaki, Arita and Nagano and while I definitely got my money’s worth out of the pass, I have since found a faster and cheaper way to get my Japan fix without spending all my cat cafe money on a JR pass.
I have since learned that award tickets present a much better value than the JR pass.
The time had come for another adventure and this one was off to a good start with our Etihad Chaffeur picking us up in an black Mercedes Benz and whisking us off to the airport (Etihad discontinued their Chaffeur service for partner award tickets on August 10th, 2016). We booked the tickets pre-devaluation using 30,000 American Airlines Aadvantage miles each way (the new award price between Asia 2 and the Middle East is 40,000 AA miles) and $91.40 in taxes and fees total for the outbound and return segments.
My first thought upon entering the cabin was that it looked like someone had stolen the upholstery from my parents couch and sold it to Etihad. Airlines tend to put a lot of thought into their premium cabins but the striped seats looked like everything about the 1980’s that we don’t want to remember. Maybe they were trying to replicate the fake wood grain on the adjacent side tables, or maybe stripes were super hot when they put in the order for these seats, but whatever the case may have been they weren’t looking so hot now.
I first came across a post about a JAL 5,000 mile discount on Angelina Travels back in April of 2015 and made a mental note that the next time I wanted to fly Bangkok Airways this was a pretty solid option. The fact that many of these awards were discounted by 50 – 66% caught my attention and while I had intended to do a post about it then, it got lost in my drafts pile.
Here’s an interesting development from my favorite airline awards program based in “America’s top hat.” Air Canada has recently expanded their little-known codeshare partnership with Cathay Pacific and their subsidiary Cathay Dragon and has hinted that soon they will begin allowing redemptions of Aeroplan miles for these flights as well.
I love JAL first class. After the mediocrity that is domestic first class on American Airlines, what a lovely feeling it is to get settled into my JAL first class suite.
When boarding it is common for first class passengers to board through one door while the rest of the plane boards through the other. This time everyone boarded through the same door and first class passengers broke left, everyone else broke right. We were lucky enough to get the window seats on the right hand side of the plane; seats 1K and 2K, and were escorted there by one of the very friendly flight attendants who would be making the next 13+ hours a really wonderful experience.
Hate is a strong word and so I reserve it for use only on truly egregious programs. Despite being granted Hilton Diamond status this week via the widely reported status match opportunity, I find myself with nothing but hard feelings about the hotel chain.
Them giving me status is not what’s rubbing me the wrong way, or the fact that Paris never returns my calls (just kidding!), it’s their loyalty program. Like many of you, I save points up with the hope of redeeming them for out-sized value. I get excited about aspirational products and experiences and if an airline/hotel/program can’t offer that then I simply put my spending on a 2% cash back card.
Traveling the world is awesome. It’s so awesome that it’s worth a little suffering for and that suffering usually comes in the form of jetlag (unless you are flying coach, in which case it comes in the form of a tiny, upright seat, followed by jetlag).
I tend to travel back and forth between the U.S. and Asia at least a few times a year and I find that the full 12-hour timezone flip is the worst for jet lag. I’ve been doing this long enough to have picked up a few tricks that will help you karate-chop jet lag in the throat so you can get out and enjoy your destination!
There are still plenty of bargains to be had out there in the miles and points game, but India ain’t one of them. Coughing up your hard earned miles and cash to be crammed into coach for such a long flight seems like a terrible idea. Thankfully, a man with a handsome mustache has some tricks on how you can get there in style for fewer miles than you might normally pay.
The AAdvantage award chart has the Indian subcontinent at 67,500 miles for business class and 90,000 for first class each way. That is the second most expensive U.S. based award on their entire award chart!
Showering at 35,000 feet is a sort of “holy grail” for many of us in the travel hacking game. First class travel is often incredibly luxurious to begin with, but being able to take a hot shower on a plane is equal parts awesome and absurd.
Where things get really crazy is that not only can you take a shower on a plane, but you can book that experience using your award miles! Only a couple of airlines, both based out of the middle east, have been thoughtful enough to offer their first class passengers showers on board. Thankfully, each of these airlines has one US based partner with which you can book awards.
The two airlines that currently offer you the opportunity to join the “7-mile high shower club” are Emirates and Etihad. Both airlines offer a hot shower to their first class passengers aboard their A380 aircraft.