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.
Just a quick Public Service Announcement that as of Decemeber 15th, 2015 award prices for Aeroplan awards will be going up. This chart shows some of the more important increases for travel originating in the US (full chart Here).
In this chart a black dot represents an increase in the price of an award and an orange dot represents a decrease in price. As one might expect, there are more black dots than orange dots. It’s all black dots from North America and Canada, while if your are traveling from Africa to New Zealand, then good news, first class and coach tickets just got a little cheaper!
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!
Babies! First of all, let me congratulate all of you who were able to get the US Airways Mastercard while that sexy 50,000 mile bonus was still strutting around the internet. We can all congratulate each other once again when we are flying first class and drinking champagne with those sweet miles! But there is more to this card than just miles…
There is also the companion pass! Which is not as glamorous as your award redemptions will be, but is a useful little slip of paper. What the companion certificate does is allow you to book up to 2 additional passengers on a paid US Airways ticket for $99 per person.
So let’s say you are planning to go to Hawaii to investigate Donald Trump’s claim that he was born on planet Earth. Then you are out of luck, as the certificate is only good for travel to the 48 contiguous states and Canada (plus there’s no way he is from Earth). If, however, you wanted to go with your two bestest buddies to Los Angeles to eat some tacos and get a medical marijuana prescription, then this little certificate is great!