End of year travel points planning

A little like taxes and paperwork, december is busy and is the perfect time for end of year points planning.

Hotels points: usually there is maximum points you can buy per calendar year. Hhonors is 40000, spg is 25000. And usually it does not make sense to buy hotels points with cash. But planned accordingly, you can top up accounts to reach a sweet spot redemption easier if you just buy the missing points.

Example, with hilton, the best value are for 5 nights redemptions, it is cheaper. So if you are short on hhonors points to make that 5 night swet spot, then just buy it, as long as you can minimum redeemed for more than on cent per point.

Spg: sometimes it make sense to buy spg points, if you plan a biz class or first class redemption very soon and are short on points.

Usairways: with their flexible routings rules, but incompetent and inflexible agent, with a lot of patience, you can just buy the points and go to australia in first class for same price as economy.

Credit card or other bonus end of year: similarily, amex offer each calendar year $200 travel credit. Remember to book through amex for anything travel related, for example, a hotel worth more than $200, to get $200 credit. It has to be done before calendar year end.

Hotels status stays: december bring evaluation and last minute hotel stay rush to get or keep top hotel status. Some people , cough cough, have even booked, checked in and stayed for 15 minutes then check out, just to keep or maintain status. Why? The marginal hotel one night cost is a lot less than the value of the benefits of certain hotel status (free suites, free internet, late check out, more point etc..) stay in hotels just for status, that is what we call : “mattress run”

“Mileage run”: december also bring last minute flight booking, to anywhere cheap and far, to rack up status miles for air status. Why? Same as mattress run, the marginal cost of the flight is considered against the benefits of air status ( priority lines, saving time, upgrades !)

Example, before, we flew to singapore in for a few days just for fun, just to get status miles to be air canada 35k elite. Back then, it was worth it: for one or two flight to singapore : we got star alliance gold, lounges access, free luggage allowance, extra luggage allowance, lie flat business seat upgrades twice a year.. Good times… Years Later Air canada realize that it was too good, so they devalue the requirements and benefits, and change it completely.

As usual, you have to keep in mind redemptions sweet spot, the missing points requirements, and calculate if it is worth the extra money, effort and time to reach or maintain status. You have to keep in mind the difference between the IN and the OUT.

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.

Airplane etiquettes

You would normally think that problems with airplane “etiquette” occur mostly in the cramped secrion of economy… Wrong. It happens everywhere.

Sometimes, business class are the worst offender: they either get too stressed out from work, too drunk, to dykwim too important… They think that because they have more space, paid more, they deserve more attention and better treatment from eveybody, including fellow passengers.

There are many differents ways to view etiquettes on a small space like inside an airplane: like not to kick the seat, share the arm rests for the middle seats, put up the seat at meal services, no perfumes, share space on overhead bins etc…

Simplest way is just ask yourself if the same irritating situation happens to you, would you like it? In a small space, Even normally considerate persons can forget the simplest etiquette: think about other people’s feelings first.

Seat kickers: we have seen lots of parents that do not care if their kids kick other people seats. But one time, a mom simply ask his son if they kick his seat, would he like it? He replied No. Then they ask him why he do it to others?

Seat recliners: even in biz class, non lie flat, please do not recline at meals times, and recline very slowly and even ask if it is ok if you see the other passenger have their laptop out. When getting up, do not lean or touch on their chair.

Overhead bins: if the flight attendant announce the plane is full and ask for consideration, some people still stuff their winter jackets in the bins, instead of putting them on the seats or on top of the luggage.

Even in international business class lie flats, Some people still think that the overhead bins right above them is theirs, and no one else can leave anything in that space! If they want private bins, then Fly private then! Even in first class, on some planes, you still need to share bins!

Be considerate, put your carry on in a way that take the least space as possible. It is not because you are in biz class that you can spread your whole wardrobe and belongings in the bins, taking all the space.

I have seen some great flight attendants going around telling people how to put the luggage to make space for everybody else. If they know how to stack it, then suddenly there is a lot more space for eveybody.

Even in international first class, in suites class, there are passengers that treat the common bathroom as if they are at home, even worse: they leave toothbrush, towels etc on the counter, instead of simply putting them in the garbage. if you want FA staff to clean after you after each passenger, then fly first class asiana ana then (no matter how busy they are, asiana first FAs always clean the toilet after each passenger).

What’s up with walking around the plane barefoot? I have seen first class passengers, well dressed businessman walking around barefoot, no socks, even in the toilets. They must be very immune to germs, and immune to other’s people glances.