Category Archives: TRIP PLANNER

Round the world first class: Singapore first, Thai a380 first private flight, Philippine palawan el nido diving, bangkok, australian open tennis, melbourne, sydney TRIP PLANNER

we booked and already went on another RTW first class trip:

booked with USairways miles in 2014 when they were still with star alliance, for 140000 points per person (equivalent to $2380 usd per person to go to australia in first class, at 0.017$ per miles bought, Economy class fares are normally $2200 pp that time of the year)

trip planner with links, pictures, videos, and post later:

NA- cdg flight with AC dream liner lie flat business class

CDG-BKK flight thai tg a380 first, (private flight, the whole section of airbus a380 first was only for us, no one else was booked on that flight. 12 first class seats to play with, 2 private bathroom, 1 private lounge, 5 private FAs)

BKK fist lounge with free 1hour massage for first class passengers

BKK-SIN flight SQ business recliner non lie flat, bought with miles for 25000 points, at 0.015$ per points

stay at fairmont singapore, free stay and free plaza suite upgrades

singapore : eat at jumbo, food court

flight SIN- MNL SQ first 77w, for 37000 points, at 0.015$ per points

Stay at raffles makati manila (1 bedroom executive suite upgrades)

flight MNL to ENI (el nido palawan) $500 pp

stay el nido palawan Pangulasian resort

Private palawan diving ( no one else was diving there, we dived when we want, where we want, how much we want)

4k video diving palawan

3d photo underwater palawan

night diving fluo diving palawan

flight MNL-BKK tg business recliner, 25000 points

stay W bnagkok, 1 bedroom wow suite upgrades, 4 hand massages

flight BKK-SYD that tg 747 first class

flight SYD-MEL quantas business, avios points

stay westin melbourne, free on spg points, (10k per night instead of paying $700 usd per night)

australian open tennis in 3d photos ! (novak, rafa, berdych, wawrinka, serena, shaparova, murray etc in glorious 3d action photos)

stay park hyatt melbourne  suite upgrades with amex FHR resorts program

flight MEL-SYD quantas business, avios points booking

stay westin sydney, 1 bedroom executive suite upgrades, cash and points

stay sheraton syd, one bedroom suite upgrades

EAT at tetsuya sydney

flight SYD-BKK TG first, syd SQ singapore first class hidden lounge, australia tourist tax refund

flight BKK-CDG tg a380 first class

flight CDG- NA AC dreamliner 787 business class

 

 

 

 

Round the world in first class, diving maldives, bangkok, singapore, paris trip planner

We booked another (!) rtw trip in f class with aeroplan for 175k, before the devaluation increased to 225k per person. It is so tempting to go around the world in first class for same price as an economy cash ticket… Hence we fly around 200k-300k miles per year in first and biz class.

Trip planner with links, pictures, and post later:

Na- cdg with air canada lie flat b767
Cdg-bkk thai tg a380 first
Stay st regis bangkok, 2 bedroom suites upgrades
Eat at nara bangkok
Fly bkk-sin- mle sq biz
Male maldive traders hotel transit one night
Conrad maldives on hhonors points
Diving conrad maldives : underwater pictures and videos: from super wide angle panoramic, to 3d pictures, to fluo night dive pictures,  to 4k video, to super macro !!

Fly mle-sin sq biz
Sin fairmont plaza suite upgrades.
Eat Singapore restaurants : nara, paradise dynasty, jumbo, waku ghin, food court desserts

Fly sin-bkk-cdg thai a380 first
Stay westin paris
Stay park hyatt paris
Eat: le hide, pur park hyatt paris, bistro volnay
Fly cdg-muc-yul lufthansa first

Cost of flight pp: 175k aeroplan, + 30k usairways (sin-mle sq biz return)
Compared to cash cost : $15k-20k, + $1500 sin-mle flight

Advantage of flying first class: you can bring per person: 3 luggage each weight 70lbs each, great for divers and underwater photographers. (Camera brought: nikon 1, 3 d camera, 3 d camcorder, go pro 4k)

To avoid paying fees for sin-mle luggage (inside asia, sq weight is very limited, even in biz class), we had star alliance gold from tk air, obtained with status match last year, ( and maintained valid for 3 year until 2016, with only 25000 miles flown, instead of the usual 50000 miles flown requirement per year). It is hard for us to get 25000 miles flown, paid, as we usually travel in first class with points.

To avoid paying luggage fees for the seaplane, i negociated a package with the conrad resort before arrival (past frequent customer), so i avoided paying $1000 in luggage fees. (It is a little embarassing to see our 6 luggage taking half of the cargo space of the seaplane)

Why all this info? Like the movie cartoon ratatouille, where the chef said: anyone can cook? Well luxemiles say: anyone can fly first class.

maui hawaii dive trip planner, aerial view of westin and fairmont maui

HOTEL: earlier this year we received a letter from starwood vacations, selling a time share view of westin ocean villas resort at mauii:

  • 5 nights for $750 usd
  • get $180usd off for avis car rental (free car)
  • get 5000 spg points

typically that hotel is all mini suites or villas, costing minimum $500 usd per night. So for five night stay ,free car, and points worth min $180 usd, while paying only $750 ? well they got me.

the best part is that you are not obligated to be at the time share presentation. they encouraged, but it is not forced, at no time you feel they are selling you anything. we did not even show up at this one or the last palm springs presentation.

so i got 5 nights booked. But 5 nights is too short for a proper dive trip. So i booked fairmont mauii kea lani (all suite hotels),  using my platinum fpc free night certificate and applying a suite upgrades to ocean view suite. cost for 2 night = $600 (one night free).

total 7 nights in mauii at top hotels, all suites for $1300

WESTIN OCEAN RESORT MAUI VIEW FROM AIR:

click to see full resolution aerial pictures

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FAIRMONT KEA LANI VIEW FROM THE AIR ABOVE:

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FLIGHTS:since hawaii is one of the hardest award redemptions, no seat was available in biz to hawaii ( award in economy is not worth it, the cost of miles is more than the cost of paying tickets)

i was going to book economy flights from NA canada to mauii, knowing the business seats are not worth the price (not lie flat). At last minute, before payment, i saw united want to charge almost $200- $400 each way just for luggage, and maybe even more if overweight (more than 50 lbs).

when travelling with golf clubs, drone, complete dive gear, the weight limits of 50 lbs per bag is not much. we expect to pay min $300- $400 each way just for luggage (even if we are star gold)

then i saw the difference of price of first class united to mauii, returning from honolulu on B767 lie flat is marginally more than economy tickets. essentially it cost $150 more per person  to fly first class, (since first class have 2 free check bag per person up to 70 lbs per bag) compared to economy and paying luggage fees!

worth it? yeah! especially first class have double the status miles (more points for flying), so the actual costs is maybe $75 per way per person for flying first class.

DIVING: since our condo is located at kaanapali, lahaina divers at lahaina is the closest. They leave at 7:15am ! each morning. Their boat is one of the best one i have seen for diving, equipped with emergency beacon, lifevests, life raft. Their rental equipments are mostly aqualung.

remember to bring soft drinks or bottle water, as they only provide water in a cooler. Bring towel.

CAR RENTAL: even if the condo resort package have a credit of $180 for car at avis, i still found it was cheaper to book rental car with costcotravel.com, as avis rates is bundled with so many taxes and fees.

LUNCH: we kept eating at lahaina STAR NOODLE all the time after diving, cheap, fast, good comfort food

 

 

Diving new caledonia trip planner

We planned to go to papua new guinea for diving in february right after the australian open. But since the weather at that time is usually bad for papua new guinea, we decided at last minute to go to new caledonia.

new caledonia is about 2-3 hours flight away from sydney. So we had to fly from MEL to SYD fisrt, then spent a night at Syd because the flight does not connect until 11 am next day.

flight SYD-MEL : as we flew a few times already before with virgin in the past in Y, we had enough virgin points to book a one way business class for 27600 points, taxes included in the points reward.

New caledonia, or nouvelle caledonie , speaks french, follow french customs, and have the largest unesco world heritage protected lagoon in the world! south pacific lagoon + less tourism  = good diving expected

http://en.visitnewcaledonia.com/

you have to fly SYD to NOU airport first. NOU airport is located about 70 kms away from the main city, noumea. Once landed, transportation to city is either by bus or taxi. Taxi cost around 90 usd.

quantas and their partner, air calin does accept reward points booking with AVIOS. and since the distance is short, avios rewards is worth it. It cost 20000 avios plus $235 tax and fees for business class ticket one way per person. Compared to min $1000 usd pp one way.

The route is mostly leisure travelers, so it is super easy to book, lots of availability.  If you book through BRitish airways avios website, enter nou as destination, and even if the avios website does not show you the name of the airport, ignore it and click search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

trip planner: raja ampat diving, tokyo

last year we heard about diving in raja ampat  misool eco resort . we wanted to see it for ourselves

trip planner: as with wakatobi resort, you cannot arrive and depart any day, you have to arrive and depart at specific dates. raja ampat is at the west side of the island of papua new guinea, 4 hours flying direct from Jakarta with express air: raja ampat airport is SORONG (SOQ)

all express air (code: XN) from Jakarta airport (CGK) to Sorong (SOQ) depart at domestic terminal in Jakarta early in the night (1am).

The boat from sorong – misool is 4-5 hours. (so you usually need to stay 1 night in sorong before flying home)

CASH LOGISTICS:

  • extra luggage fees for domestic flights: as we are divers with a lot of luggage, bring lots of Indonesian cash, as the luggage limits are strictly enforced. excess luggage is at 40000 idr per kg (about 4usd). ONE WAY.The extra luggage fees can be reduced if you do not ask for official receipt.
  • domestic airport taxes: remember to keep around 40000 IDR per person for airport taxes at CGK domestic. Airport taxes in ALL of Indonesia are cash payment only.
  • foreign currency exchanges are a lot cheaper than paying with credit cards or atms, as long as you exchange it in crisp USD in Jakarta downtown. (inside keraton plaza shopping complex). do not exchange in hotels, airports.
  • international VOA visa on arrival at CGK aiport: 25usd per person. cash only. you line up to pay and get the visa first, at the FIRST line: payment, even if other lines says VOA (it is actually border control for voa)
  • taxi in CGK: when we landed in CGK international airport, we previously asked the Keraton plaza hotel to pick us with their BMW limousine service. cost 60 usd.
  • is the hotel pick up service worth it? yes. a long ride in comfort, especially considering Jakarta famous traffic, heat, and with pick up meet and greet service, and the fact you can charge it to your room without spending cash (get some spg points) or having to get foreign exchanges at airport is effortless.

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS LOGISTICS:

our flight was all business class: canada-SFO-TPE-CGK with review eva air (BR)  business class

return:  CGK-HND / (stop) NRT-SEA-canada with review of ANA 787 Dreamliner business class

cost: 120 000 us airways miles per person, or around $ 1200 (+5%gst) usd pp (with their bi annual transfer miles bonus promos)

HOTELS logistics:

Jakarta: review of KERATON plaza hotel, a luxury collection starwood

Sorong: JE meridian hotel (not THE meridien hotel, not part of starwood). normally required stay in sorong  one night before flying home, as the boat from misool resort takes 4-5 hours.

raja ampat: misool eco resort

Tokyo: Westin tokyo