Over 31 Hours Of First Class Experience And Was So Not Worth It

I recently had the privilege of flying first class whereby I had experienced over a 31 hours combined of first class experience. I booked these flights early in 2014 before United’s devaluation and was able to originally snag this route:

From Hong Kong to Bangkok to Frankfurt to Newark with the last leg as business class on a United flight. The flights were:

TG601 which was a Boeing 747-400 departing HKG at 12:45 PM arriving 2:25 PM in BKK

TG920 which was an Airbus A380-800 departing BKK at 11:40 PM arriving at 5:30 PM in FRA

UA51 which was a Boeing 767 departing 11:05 AM arriving at 2:20 PM in EWR.


About 2 weeks before leaving Hong Kong I checked for availability and saw that Lufthansa flight LH402 had business class available leaving at 1:30 PM and was the old business class seat. So I did not change my flight as the United would have been a fully lie flat business class which I would not have minded.

Two days before leaving Hong Kong I checked availability again and I saw there was now first class availability on the same flight. At that point, I immediately called United to change my ticket to have the final itinerary as:

TG601 which was a Boeing 747-400 departing HKG at 12:45 PM arriving 2:25 PM in BKK

TG920 which was an Airbus A380-800 departing BKK at 11:40 PM arriving at 5:30 PM in FRA

LH402 which was a Boeing 747-400 departing 1:30 PM arriving at 4:10 PM in EWR


It cost me an extra $100 because of the change fee and no additional taxes or extra miles were assessed.


The Experience:

I took a taxi from the Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui and arrived in HKG at around 9:20 AM. I can’t even begin on where to start with the conversation with the taxi driver. It was unique to say the least. When the fare total came up, it was HKD$250 and I only had a HKD$1000 bill. Apparently, there’s a LOT problems with the $1000 bill because of counterfeits and the driver would not accept it. I was traveling alone and the driver told me to go into the airport and get change as he held onto my luggage. I was incredibly worried that I was going to be scammed and he drives away with my luggage which was worth more than the fare. Fortunately for me, he was still there.

I checked in my luggage and get into the First Class lounge at 9:45 AM and that’s where I start the counter for first class experience.


The lounge was OK, quiet, decent amounts of food and drink to choose from. I did not take any pictures of the lounge. They did have 1 lazy boy type massaging chair that I did not use. Bathroom inside the lounge was small and had a shower.


To Bangkok:



The flight was nice and short, the flight attendant that was taking care of first class asked me what I was doing in Bangkok and I told her I was connecting to go to Frankfurt. She tried to convince me to leave the airport with her and hang out and switch my flight for the following day so we could be on the same flight again. I’m not sure if that was part of her bubbly personality or not, but it was definitely different from every one else.

Thai Airways First Class Lounge:



The food was delicious and the staff was incredibly nice and accommodating. There was one young lady that was just amazing, just a sweetheart. I was in the lounge for an insane amount of time that I requested the staff to watch my belongings so I could take a stroll around the airport where I found and picked up some multi flavored Kit Kats



I shared the Kit Kats with the staff in the lounge and they were even nicer afterwards.


To Frankfurt:

The flight to Frankfurt was uneventful. Service was very nice and the first class had 12 seats with 11 occupied. Many of the passengers appeared to be regulars on the flight with about 3 of them leaving their amenity kits behind on the plane.



Lufthansa First Class Terminal:

Upon reaching the terminal, I was escorted by a Lufthansa employee to the customs area where she directed me to the business class lounge in the Z section of Terminal 1. After walking in there, I inquired about the first class lounge. When I arrived at the first class lounge in the A section, I was advised for the full service car transfer I should go to the lounge in the B section.



The lounge had some great food and drinks available. Having access to the shower was great where they were able to provide a toothbrush and razor.

It was too early for me to drink, but the whiskey list was quite comprehensive.




They even had a cigar lounge!



To Newark:



I was whisked away in a Mercedes Benz S350 to an waiting Boeing 747.




The flight itself was very uneventful, the attendants on the flight were very nice. Not much else to report on, although I think the person who sat across from me was in the same situation as I was, excited to be in First Class on Lufthansa.


Final Thoughts:

While the amenities were very nice all around and the people extremely friendly and helpful, and maybe it is my humble beginnings, but I did not think it was worth it. Yes, I said it – First class is not worth it. Like Dia mentioned in her post about Vendoming and Joe about the Fear Of Missing Out you need to know what’s best for your needs and not worry about what other people are doing in the miles and points arena.

I’m not saying don’t experience First Class if you have the opportunity. As a leisure traveler who does not have too many vacation days, it wasn’t worth it for me. I can see the flip side of those that travel a large amount and need some of the amenities that come with it. Or the fact that you may have a lot of money (or miles) to burn and want the services provided. I would rather have spent another day in Hong Kong and eat at Tim Ho Wan


Location Specific: Nearly Limitless American Express Savings With This Sync Offer

There’s a really neat American Express Sync offer called Shop NYC and if you spend $50 you would receive $10 back and you can use it up to 3 times for a total of $30 back. It appears almost any American Express card would work, except for corporate cards and AMEX prepaid cards with the Serve prepaid being the exception. That being said, you could register all of your AMEX cards and go nuts buying gift cards to say B&H Photo Video, Sam Ash, or Tourneau and use all of the savings towards buying something to resell. Or you could buy yourself a nice shiny Apple product.


Offer valid only for in-store purchases. Not valid for online purchases or orders that are placed online through sales associates in stores. To redeem this offer, you must first register any eligible American Express Card in your name at amexnetwork.com/shopnyc between 12am ET on October 15, 2014, and 12am ET on November 15, 2014. Registration is limited. Then, each time you use the same registered Card to spend a total of $50 or more in a single in-store transaction at a store location participating in the Shop NYC campaign, between October 15, 2014, and November 15, 2014, you will receive a $10 statement credit. Limit up to 3 statement credits per registered Card across all American Express offer channels. If you order an item during the offer period but it is not provided to you until after November 15, 2014, it will not count toward determining whether your purchase qualifies for the offer. You may register more than one Card for this offer, but only those Cards you register individually will be eligible for the offer. For a list of participating stores, visit nycgo.com/shopnyc. An “eligible American Express Card” is a valid American Express Card issued in the U.S. by American Express, Department Stores National Bank, Bank of America, First National Bank of Omaha, Citibank, USAA Savings Bank, Barclays Bank Delaware, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and GE Capital Retail Finance; however, certain Cards are not deemed eligible, including corporate cards and all prepaid card products (other than American Express Serve®). If you have problems with your registration or your Card is replaced during the promotional period, call the customer service number on the back of your Card for assistance. Statement credit will appear on your billing statement within 90 days after the offer end date, provided that American Express receives information from the merchant about your qualifying purchase. Note that American Express may not receive information about your qualifying purchase from the merchant until all of the items from your qualifying purchase have been provided or shipped by merchant. Statement credit may be reversed if qualifying purchase is returned/canceled. If American Express does not receive information that identifies your transaction as qualifying for the offer, you will not receive the statement credit. For example, your transaction will not qualify if it is not made directly with the merchant. In addition, in most cases, you will not receive the statement credit if your transaction is made with an electronic wallet or through a third party or if the merchant uses a mobile or wireless card reader to process it. Additional terms apply; see Registration Terms and Conditions for details. POID: BIBV:0001


Here’s the list of stores and locations:

Name Address Phone Neighborhood
B&H Photo-Video Pro Audio 420 Ninth Ave. 212-444-6615 Midtown West
BARAMI 519 Eighth Ave. 212-967-2990 Midtown West
BARAMI 535 Fifth Ave. 212-949-1000 Midtown East
Brooklyn Industries 342 Fulton St. 718-797-2360 Boerum Hill
Brooklyn Industries 161 Eighth Ave. 212-206-0477 Chelsea
Brooklyn Industries 1420 Cortelyou Rd. 718-282-0697 Kensington
Brooklyn Industries 70 Front St. 718-797-4240 DUMBO
Brooklyn Industries 658 Manhattan Ave. 347-721-3922 Williamsburg
Brooklyn Industries 206 Fifth Ave. 718-789-2764 Park Slope
Brooklyn Industries 328 Seventh Ave. 718-788-5250 Park Slope
Brooklyn Industries 100 Smith St. 718-596-3986 Cobble Hill
Brooklyn Industries 184 Broadway 718-218-9166 Williamsburg
Brooklyn Industries 801 Broadway 646-478-8871 Union Square
Brooklyn Industries 230 W. 99th St. 212-222-3027 Upper West Side
Brooklyn Industries 500 Hudson St. 212-206-1488 West Village
Brooklyn Industries 162 Bedford Ave. 718-486-6464 Williamsburg
Brooklyn Industries 290 Lafayette St. 212-219-0862 SoHo
Century 21 Department Store 1972 Broadway 212-518-2121 Upper West Side
Century 21 Department Store 22 Cortlandt St. 212-227-9092 Financial District
Cole Haan 10 Columbus Circle, ste. 115 212-823-9420 Midtown West
Cole Haan 141 Fifth Ave. 212-677-4693 Flatiron District
Cole Haan 128 Prince St. 212-219-8240 SoHo
Cole Haan 620 Fifth Ave. 212-765-9747 Midtown East
C. Wonder 10 Columbus Circle #206B 212-956-9760 Midtown West
C. Wonder 155 Fifth Ave. 212-260-6130 Flatiron District
C. Wonder 72 Spring St. 212-219-3500 SoHo
Fishs Eddy 889 Broadway 212-420-9020 Flatiron District
H&M 10 Columbus Circle 855-466-7467 Midtown West
H&M 515 Broadway 855-466-7467 SoHo
H&M 1472 Broadway 855-466-7467 Times Square
H&M 558 Broadway 855-466-7467 SoHo
H&M 1328 Broadway 855-466-7467 Midtown West
H&M 505 Fifth Ave. 855-466-7467 Midtown East
H&M 640 Fifth Ave. 855-466-7467 Midtown West
H&M 111 Fifth Ave. 855-466-7467 Flatiron
H&M 150 E. 86th St. 855-466-7467 Upper East Side
H&M 435 Seventh Ave. 855-466-7467 Midtown West
H&M 125 W. 125th St. 855-466-7467 Harlem
H&M 731 Lexington Ave. 855-466-7467 Midtown East
H&M 589 Fifth Ave. 855-466-7467 Midtown East
J.McLaughlin 1004 Lexington Ave. 212-879-9565 Upper East Side
J.McLaughlin 1008 Lexington Ave. 212-879-2240 Upper East Side
J.McLaughlin 1311 Madison Ave. 212-369-4830 Upper East Side
Jennifer Miller Jewelry 972 Lexington Ave. 212-734-8199 Upper East Side
Jonathan Adler 1097 Madison Ave. 212-772-2410 Upper East Side
Jonathan Adler 304 Columbus Ave. 212-787-0017 Upper West Side
Jonathan Adler 37 Greenwich Ave. 212-488-2803 West Village
Jonathan Adler 53 Greene St. 212-941-8950 SoHo
Olive & Bette’s 252 Columbus Ave. 212-579-2178 Upper West Side
Olive & Bette’s 1070 Madison Ave. 212-717-9655 Upper East Side
Olive & Bette’s 158 Spring St. 646-613-8772 SoHo
Olive & Bette’s 1249 Third Ave. 212-206-0036 Upper East Side
Sam Ash Music 333 W. 34th St. 212-719-2299 Midtown West
Sony Store 550 Madison Ave. 212-833-8800 Midtown East
Tourneau Madison Ave 510 Madison Ave. 212-758-5830 Midtown East
Tourneau TimeMachine 12 E. 57 St. 212-758-7300 Midtown East
UNIQLO 31-37 W. 34th St. 877-486-4756 Midtown West
UNIQLO 666 Fifth Ave. 877-486-4756 Midtown West
UNIQLO 139 Flatbush Ave. 877-486-4756 Boerum Hill
UNIQLO 546 Broadway 877-486-4756 SoHo
UNIQLO 2656 Richmond Ave. 877-486-4756 New Springville



Chase Amazon Credit Card Devalues Again, This Time Minor Changes

I recently wrote that Chase devalued their Amazon credit card. It turns out the changes are not over, very minor this time around. I recently received this secured message:

Dear Valued Amazon.com Visa Rewards Cardmember,

We want to let you know about some upcoming changes to your rewards program.

Getting cash:

  • You can continue to redeem for cash through a statement credit or direct deposit into a Chase or eligible U.S. checking or savings account.
  • However, rewards check redemptions will no longer be available after November 15, 2014.

Round trip ticket redemption booked by phone:

  • You can continue to use your points for travel with no blackout dates.
  • After November 15, 2014, all travel redemptions will be based on the actual cost. For example, 25,000 points will be required for a $250 ticket. You will no longer be able to redeem points for airline tickets, based on a fixed amount of points.

Charity donations:

  • Points redemption for charitable donations will no longer be available after November 15, 2014.

Click here to see your latest Rewards Program Rules and Regulations.

As always, thanks for being our customer. We appreciate your business and your loyalty.


The latest change has Chase withdrawing from allowing you to receive cash back checks and donations straight to a charitable organization. They also wanted to remind you that you couldn’t redeem for fixed flight redemptions:

If you choose to book a ticket using the “fixed” ticket bonus option, and the actual ticket value is less, the number of points needed to redeem remains the same. For example, an offer to redeem 25,000 points for one roundtrip scheduled airline ticket valued at up to $335 will still require 25,000 points if the ticket you book is valued at $300


They’re Telling Us Manufactured Spenders To Go Kick Rocks

In the last several weeks, manufactured spending has become a little more difficult than it was in the past. We have either lost or will be losing:

  • Chase’s dividend for both the Sapphire Preferred and the Freedom
  • TD Bank Visa Buxx using non TD Bank issued cards
  • VCom ATM not allowing the use of OneVanilla cards
  • Evolve with 1 payment per month and more difficulty using prepaid cards
  • Amazon Payments
  • OneVanilla not working at Walmart

There are other areas I’m sure that I missed, but these are some of the highlights that have happened. Banks and retailers are basically telling us manufactured spenders to go kick rocks as they close out the loopholes. Am I disappointed? For sure! They were easy wins.

At the same time, I am excited to see the new opportunities that are coming up. The best part about the closed loopholes, it means that the low hanging fruits are going away and the people who want everything spilled out are being shut out of the game. Finally, the ones who want to work at manufactured spending are going to win.

I’m really disappointed that someone had leaked news from the Forum. It’s the trust that was broken that is disappointing. We, as the community, work hard on sharing the ideas and teaching others. When we have people who “think” they are doing a service and spreading ideas that are not their’s it breaks the trust further. I hope that it was a one time ordeal, but who’s to say it won’t happen again? I know that I will still share new ideas, thoughts, and any thing else on the Forum.