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.
Have you ever gotten to fly “upstairs” on an airplane before?
Does “reverse coffin” sound like something you’d be into?
I have always wanted to ascend those magical stairs to the fancier cabin perched atop the squalor that is coach, but up until now I had never gotten the chance to do so. Thanks to some US Airways Dividend Miles that I had scored from the US Airways credit card signup bonus, plus a few more miles transferred over from my Starwood Preferred Guest account, I was making it a reality.
To me this next little experience sums up how things are in this world. When leaving the plane in Hong Kong, the 6 first class passengers exit through their own separate boarding door. The entire rest of the plane exits out the other door.
So we exited out our special first class boarding door and headed straight for The Wing, Cathay Pacific’s first class lounge. I know when I hear the words “airport lounge” the image that pops into my head does not prepare me for the experience that is The Wing. First of all, most lounges are somewhat industrial seeming. Sitting at an AA lounge in Chicago or the US Airways lounge in New York you get the feeling that style is always balanced against pragmatic considerations, like how long the carpet needs to last, or how resistant the seat fabric is to having orange juice spilled on it.
Reserving the best seats in Cathay Pacific first class.
By now many of you are probably stacking up fat ‘staches of miles and getting ready to book some exciting trips to far flung destinations.
One of my favorite uses of Aadvantage miles (and also Alaska miles) is for flying first class on Cathay Pacific. I typically book awards for Emily and I from New York City to Bangkok and the 16.5 hour flight from New York to Hong Kong is definitely one that you want to be able to sleep on. There is nothing that promotes a good night’s rest quite like Cathay’s spacious First class lie flat beds (and some Ambien).
The only point of consternation (besides the taxi ride to JFK) is that, even though American Airlines has award access to 1/3 of all the seats in the 1st class cabin, the agents at AA can only book the middle seats, 1D and 2D. While the middle seats are still quite comfortable, I strongly prefer a window seat from which to watch the world zip by.
Do you have few miles or points but would still like to fly business class?
Do you have some money to spend on upcoming travel but not enough to buy those hilariously priced business class tickets?
I feel your pain! Flying coach on long-haul trips sucks and I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that I avoid ever having to do it again. Mostly, my strategies revolve around using credit card sign up bonuses to build up large balances of frequent flyer miles that I can redeem for business and first class travel. But it takes time to build up these balances.
For those with travel plans that are happening in the very near future they might benefit from another way to avoid coach that doesn’t involve taking out a second mortgage on their cat.
When Buying Miles Makes Sense
It makes sense to buy miles when A) you might otherwise have paid for the business class ticket or B) you really don’t want to fly coach and are willing to pay a little extra to avoid it.
This is the second part in a three part series that begins here:
And now onto the flight!
Initial impressions of the seat and the cabin:
The cabin is lovely and spacious. There are no overhead bins, as each passenger gets their own little closet, and that makes it feel like you have tons of vertical space. The seats are huge, comfortable and have a full range of adjustments, including lumbar support. The decor is tasteful for an airplane. There are little vases built into the cabin where they put a live orchid, which is a very nice touch.
As of today the US Airways Dividend Miles card with a 50,000 mile bonus offer has been removed from the Barclays site. Thankfully, I still have a working link for you, though this final opportunity to get the card will likely be short lived.
The time had come for our next adventure and it was starting, as all good adventures do, with a flight in Cathay Pacific first class, booked with my AAdvantage miles. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that flying Cathay First is an experience that will change everything you thought you knew about flying. It is so unlike everything that I have previously associated with the trans-Pacific flight experience, and in all the most delightful ways. Some people like flying, some people don’t mind it, but I have generally hated it for most of my life. This has not stopped me from flying a great deal, but all I had known of flying before my foray into travel hacking was suffering. And Cathay first removes the suffering and replaces it with caviar.
30 days left to get 50,000 miles for $89 dollars.
It’s not that often that credit card companies are willing to shower you with miles for next to nothing, but that is exactly what is currently happening with the Barclays US Airways credit card. The sign up bonus is 50,000 US Airways Dividend miles after first purchase and paying the annual fee of $89. So for $89 and a $0.50 Amazon gift certificate to yourself, you can top up your Dividend miles balance by a cool 50,000 miles.
I got an email just the other day from a friend inquiring as to how to best approach getting from the US to SE Asia without being stuck in coach. Considering that this particular friend is 6’6″, avoiding coach seems like the smart thing to do.
He had been thinking about buying coach tickets for him and his squeeze on American for $1100 and then using miles to upgrade the ticket to business class. He didn’t have the miles in his account already, so he was inquiring as to if this approach seemed reasonable and what cards he should be thinking about to make this a reality.
I am all for travel hacking your way into the premium cabin but am generally against buying a coach ticket and using the miles to upgrade. Here’s why: