The first time I went around the world, I wasn’t nearly as “smart” on this miles and points stuff. I had low or mid-tier status with United, and had happened upon an incredible itinerary with an attractive cost for flights. In fact, it also leveraged Singapore Airlines’ San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) fifth freedom route. We traveled West the first time. Now we travel East.
This trip report will be longer than the one I shared to and from Seoul, South Korea earlier this summer. But I’ll spread the posts over a week or so, interspersed with other posts. The hotels will be spread out across the next few Saturdays, to keep true to Tagging Miles’ Saturday Special Hotel Review.
This trip took nearly a year to come together. The trip started originally when my wife gave in to flying back to back legs on the Emirates A380 in First Class. Our original routing was JFK-DXB-KUL, however more than 90 days out, we started receiving e-mails of aircraft changes. First the DXB-KUL leg was downgraded from an A380 to a 777-300ER, and later we were downgraded to business class on a 2 cabin aircraft. Knowing that wouldn’t stand, we called Alaska Air and changed our flight to go to Singapore instead. Since we were more than 90 days out, there were no fees, and it was really quite painless.
Having flights to Singapore, we picked up a less than ideal routing from Phuket home via HKG and LAX, on American Airlines miles. It included Cathay Pacific First class (which I still haven’t flown), but take an overnight in Hong Kong to truly make it work. Instead we were able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air, and book a flight from Singapore to Seoul, then Seoul to Atlanta, the latter being on the A380.
For the flights from Singapore, we decided to use KrisFlyer Miles because they had excellent availability, but the choices were seemingly endless for destinations as well as hotels. We opted for a relaxing return to Khao Lak, Thailand, about 90 minutes north of Phuket. We will go adventuring another time.
The last bit of the flights were simple domestic one ways, American from DCA-JFK, and Delta from ATL-DCA. These flights were chosen because of their price and schedule. We could’ve used the Southwest Companion Pass to fly up to LGA, or back from ATL, but the schedules didn’t make sense especially on the way back, after a long trip home.
The trip cost, in terms of miles, 100,000 Alaska Miles per person for the Emirates legs, and 95,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Korean Air per person for the Korean Air legs. Since I have talked about leveraging KrisFlyer miles out of Singapore before as well as a follow-up, I wanted to put the examples into action. We burned 10,625 KrisFlyer miles on the flight SIN-HKT in economy, and 17,000 KrisFlyer miles for HKT-SIN in business. We paid for the hotels with My Elite rates at the Hyatts, and the JW Marriott Khao Lak was ~$99 a night. More details to come!