Showing posts from 2016

Hawaii planning

When I first started nerding out on points years ago, I noticed that forums were full of posts from novices pleading for advice for getting to Hawaii. The subject line was always, "HELP!!!!" and then continued with:
"It's my honeymoon so you HAVE to help me!  …And the honeymoon is in 10 days!  …And I want to fly direct to Maui from Omaha!  …And I want to be in First Class! …And I have 8,000 points total spread across six frequent flier accounts!" Needless to say there weren't many happy endings on those posts 😜

Well, now it's my turn to start sifting through all of that advice I skipped over all those years – I'm taking my first trip to Hawaii. My in-laws are there on a work assignment outside of Hilo, so we're going to try to get out to see them at the tail end of New York winter, when you're 110% sick of the snow and slush.

UPDATE: Trip report!
Here's a few things I learned:Flights to Hawaii are all during the dayFlights 

2016 Points roundup

Looking back on 2016, the travels we got to take were truly the bright spots in an otherwise dismal year. But it also makes me grateful for the health and prosperity that allows us to travel. I started this blog in 2013 largely because I wanted to share the knowledge I'd gained about traveling for less. Travel opens your eyes to the world and ergo to yourself, and I think it generally makes the world a better place when we see how others live. 
That said, the most common question I've gotten in 2016 is "love the blog, but how are you making all of those miles?" And to that question, I decided to compile a list of 2016's point earnings and churnings.
Earnings: ≈ 550,000 points across six programs

Korean Airlines Credit Card targeted signup bonus – 40,000. This came in super handy paying for our flights to and from Japan...

Chase Sapphire Reserve signup bonus – 100,000. I think half of the United States got this card this year! I recently read that Chase is spending

Korean Airlines canceling flights due to pilots' strike

I just got an alert from Korean Airlines that a pilots' strike is going to cause a bunch of flight cancelations the 22nd through the 26th of December. Details here, but so far it looks like no North American flights are going to be impacted.

Each Virgin America point becomes 1.3 Alaska Airlines points

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have been slowly merging. Since I moved away from the west coast I've not had much opportunity to fly either airline, but I have 20,000-ish miles with both carriers that I'll probably put to use at some point. I've used both Virgin and Alaska's shopping portals to earn a few miles here and there and keep my points from expiring.

Now that the merger is nearing completion they've announced that each Virgin point will become 1.3 Alaska points. Details about the transfer process are still TBD.

(Let's not forget the other awesome use of Virgin points – getting a 30,000-point match from JetBlue earlier this year!)

At this point the most exciting thing about Alaska miles is all of the great partner redemptions you can do with them (like Japan Airlines or Iceland Air). Since they're spending a lot of money on this merger in hopes of becoming a national rather than regional airline, I hope they put some thought into their transcon s…

planning mexico

We've been going to Puerto Vallarta for our anniversary since 2007. We nearly skipped going last year due to work stress and a massive winter storm, but we managed to keep up our streak with a minor re-routing through LAX. This year is our 20th anniversary (!!) and we're having a party in Vallarta with friends and doing a quick stopover in Oaxaca on our way there.

summaryJFK – MEXon an Aeromexico 787 in Business Class
MEX – OAXon Aeromexico E170 regional jet in Business Class
  = 30,000 Delta miles + US$45 for these two flights, per personOAX – MEX – PVRon Aeromexico regional jets in Business Class
  = US$250 per personPVR – EWRon a United 737 in Business Class
  = US$662 per person My updated guide to booking a flight to Vallarta is here.

detailsWe love the 787, and Aeromexico flies an internationally-configured 787 with lie-flat seats between JFK and Mexico City. Since there's no direct service to Oaxaca from New York, connecting with this 787 flight was a no-brainer. It was…

What we did in Taipei

(updated June 2019)

We had a long layover in Taipei on our first trip and we got to try a whirlwind 72 hours of recommendations from friends who'd been before. We loved that visit so much we actually went back again in 2017 and 2019! Here's a few of our Taipei tips:

First off, the airport is quite far from the city and traffic can be horrendous. The subway to the airport opened in Spring 2017 and you can get a deal online for airport rail fare + 48 or 72 hour Taipei Metro pass. We've also taken the bullet train into the city just for fun.

Download and watch Anthony Bourdain's video about Taipei on the flight there. He's always good for a laugh and a tip or two. 

Subways and bullet trains are cheap. If you're going to be there for more than a couple days, get an Easy Card from the staffed window at the subway station. You can also use it to pay at most convenience stores. If you're not, single-ride subway tickets are actually plastic RFID "coins" …

Trip Report: Korean airlines Seoul to JFK in Business Class 747-8 KE 85

pros 747 upstairs Business Class cabin is my favorite place to flynewest (and likely last-ever version) of the 747 has updated interior similar to JAL's fantastic Business Class suiteexterior cameras feed into a pilots-eye view channel on the in-flight entertainmentthe coolest in-flight map ever good food and liquor 
cons no wi-fi no pajamasthe blue interior plus white LED lighting makes the inside feel like a hospitalvery warm cabin no mattress pad
how i did it This trip is the second leg in this this booking75,000 Korean Air points for Manila – Seoul – JFK (For comparison, JFK – Seoul is 62,500). 40k points came from a sign-up bonus for a Korean Air credit card. The rest came from Chase Ulitmate Rewards, most of which we acquired from a 60k point bonus for a Chase Ink Business card. (Both cards we've since canceled). Planning is here. conclusionsKorean Air has great award availability and accepts instant point transfers from Chase, so this will stay a go-to option to check wh…