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Shanghai: UA 747, Best MR partner, and Hyatt
Trying to finalize a trip from New York to Shanghai and Hong Kong this March. My current thoughts are
[*]I’d like to fly in F on UA’s 747s before they get retired. I have plenty of Mileage Plus points for this so basically I need to decide which direction I book this ticket. Are there strong feelings about which direction catering is better or anything like that?
[*]I have plenty of MR points and need to figure out what option would be the most fun to use to get home. SQ Suites (which I have flown before), ANA, and CX are the options that jump to mind; any advice here?
[*]I am a newly minted Hyatt Plat sitting on a ton of Hyatt points and want to figure out if its worth spending them on what seem to be pretty cheap paid rates for (e.g. the Park Hyatt has a paid rate of ~$275/night). FWIW, the Park Hyatt is Cat 5 so it would be 10,000 + $125 USD for Points + Cash which would put the Hyatt points at 1.5 cents which doesn’t seem like great value (but slightly better than the 1.3 cents I’d get with just points)
[*]I have never used a Suite Upgrade before and I guess I am a bit confused about when I could/should use that, especially with the World of Hyatt change over. I have 4 that expire at the end of February — would I be able to use them if I book the room now for after their expiration date?
This is my first post on OMAAT so please give me feedback if y’all need any further details!
1 – I dont think the direction matters all that much. I think you’ll find decent catering in either direction. All else remains the same. That being said, I recommend booking it flying from SFO because
2 – BA doesnt pass on any fuel charges for awards departing HKG. You can transfer your Amex MR points to BA and book CX F and get access to CX’s fantastic The Pier, First lounge in HK. You may have to call BA to issue the ticket as they seem to not display CX award space space at all within a few days of departure. However, If you do have plenty of UA points, you can try and book a return on ANA or try to route a return via Europe on Lufthansa or other Star Alliance partner.
3/4 – I believe the Hyatt upgrades have to be used on a stay by February. If you’re traveling soon, I’d call Hyatt and see if any upgrades are available before booking. If they are, I’d probably book the cash and points rate and apply the upgrade. In Hong Kong, the Grand Hyatt and the Hyatt Regency TST are pretty good properties to use points for, if paid rates are high.
David, thanks for the advice. I’ve heard great things about the ground experience in Singapore as well — not sure how to pick between the two.
How much award space does CX generally make available? I just took a peak at space at the end of March and don’t see anything in F and only one or two in J.
Generally CX F releases seats a few days before departure, usually one or two seats. Depends on the route and time of year though – I wouldnt expect much award space around Chinese New Year, for example.
Welcome [USER=2732]@kerpler[/USER] You MR points can used as follows:
BA for CX or JL as [USER=29]@David W[/USER] mentioned. However BA is expensive and the transfer rate is poor 1MR-.75Avios
AsiaMiles: For Oneworld with the best choices being CX and JL. Asia Miles charges a 15% premium for one way tickets however. Japan Airlines flies the 787 to New York and that is a great business class deal.
Aeroplan: Any Star Alliance carrier, EVA Air comes to mind. This is a great airline and while its only business class, in many respects its equal to first on other carriers. You can also do ANA in first or business. You would probably find Asiana A380 first class to JFK. You might even find Air China first class space.
Singapore Krisflyer: Again any Star Alliance carrier or fly the A350 from Singapore to San Fran. This matches up with the SFO departure for United’s 747, Then get a R/T from New York to SFO using any number of carriers.
You can also look to get Lufthansa first class from JFK-FRA-PVG using United miles or maybe Aeroplan points. The United points are 120K. You’d fly the 748i to FRA and the A380 to PVG. You might even get Hong Kong.
You have lots of options but little time. I wouldn’t count on last minute openings. If you find it now get it. My suggestion is to finalize what you want to do and then get some help ticketing everything.
David: Looking in late March/Early April.
Mark: Thanks for the warm welcome! Thanks for the recommendations but I think I’ll shoot for SQ, CX, or ANA F; these have been on the to-do list for a long time!
It seems like the next steps are:
[*]I need to finalize dates (currently looking March 16th – 18th outbound, heading home March 24th – 31th. )
[*]Look for availably in those dates
[*]Figure out what the best windows to try and book on my desired airlines
[*]Figure out if there are any large differences in costs that would impact what I would want to do
I think I’ll look and see what dates any are marked as available
One more wrinkle: It looks like there are a couple family members that want to fly out with me from the US to Shanghai. Right now all I’m seeing on UA (who we will have to fly with because thats where their miles are) is Air China which I’m not particularly thrilled by.
I highly doubt you’ll see any CX F space if you look for your dates now. It’s so rare to see CX to release F seats earlier than about 4-5 days before departure. ANA and SQ are a bit more sporadic than that. You have to be vigilant about checking for space, and also have a backup plan as well. I’m not sure there’s a “best window” anymore. I’ve basically told myself that if you see space and can make it work – grab it ASAP.
As for your family members – you may have to break up your party, depending on award availability and the number of travelers. Furthermore, with the new UA award search engine, I wouldnt just search JFK-PVG to look for awards. Try breaking it down segment by segment, as in maybe search JFK-TPE/NRT/ICN and then a separate connection to PVG. United also sometimes spits out a connection in Europe, which can be fun.
Also consider departing from another US city and booking a connection from NYC to that city. My sister went to Japan recently and when I was booking her trip, I couldnt find anything for JFK-TYO direct or at any connecting point in Asia. What was available though was LGA-ORD on United and then ORD-HND on ANA. There was also availability on ANA’s flights from IAH and IAD as well but ORD was the better option for her. I’m glad I booked her flights with the connection in Chicago because I checked for award space every so often and nothing came up for ANA F on their JFK-NRT/HND routes.