Back in September my dad had amassed about 300,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles through credit card spend (and churning), so planning ahead as usual, my dad and I decided to make some travel plans for my Spring Break. We hadn’t traveled together in about two years, so it seemed like a good opportunity to use miles and spend some time together. I poked around looking for different possibilities for using miles, and while we originally wanted to go to South America, the prospect of flying both Cathay Pacific and JAL in first class on a single trip was too much to give up. After hours of work on the British Airways and Qantas availability tools, we came up with the following itinerary:
March 7 / AA1401 / TPA-DFW / 07:15AM-09:05AM / MD-80 / First
March 7 / AA1252 / DFW-YYZ / 10:50AM-02:45PM / 737-800 / Business
March 8 / CX0827 / YYZ-HKG / 12:15AM-04:55AM +1 / 777-300ER / First
March 10 / CX0919 / HKG-MNL / 04:40PM-06:45PM / 777-300ER / First
March 15 / CX0902 / MNL-HKG / 11:10AM-01:10PM / 777-300 / First
March 16 / CX0504 / HKG-NRT/ 09:05AM-02:00PM / 747-400 / First
March 16 / JL0008 / NRT-JFK / 06:40PM-06:25PM / 747-400 / First
March 17 / AA1165 / JFK-MIA / 07:45AM-11:00AM / 767-200 / First
March 17 / AA1960 / MIA-TPA / 03:00PM-04:00PM / 737-800 / First
We decided on Manila because we hadn’t been there before (and wanted to visit), along with the fact that there was first class award availability. It was also nice to have a short stopover in Hong Kong, my favorite city in the world, in each direction. For those wondering why we booked JFK-MIA-TPA instead of JFK-TPA, it’s because JFK-MIA is operated by a three cabin 767-200, which means we could try out yet another new product (although it’s operated as a two cabin flight, with elites being able to reserve seats in business class). Furthermore, the earliest JFK-TPA flight is in the late afteroon.
We managed to book this award for 135,000 miles and $100 in taxes per person, a steal in my opinion. While the Star Alliance has a much more extensive route network in Asia, OneWorld wins on first class availability for two passengers, which is *extremely* difficult on ANA and Singapore, for example.
I made at least a dozen adjustments to our hotel plans, but ended up sticking with the chains where we’d get the most benefits thanks to elite status to help and keep the cost of the trip down. That meant the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong on the way out, the Crowne Plaza Manila and InterContinental Manila, and then the new Marriott SkyCity Hong Kong on the way back. We also have a one night layover at JFK, where we were originally going to stay at the Holiday Inn Long Island City thanks to the Manhattan View Suite they were offering for a mere 15,000 points per night, but since the suite wasn’t ready yet (due to “maintenance”) we decided on the Holiday Inn Express JFK, a convenient and cheap option that gets good reviews.
I’ll be posting one or two parts of my trip report each day. Feel free to post any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!