Planning our 2013 trip to South East Asia – Part 2

In July of last year, a much publicized phenomenon took hold for about 72 hours – in the midst of system upgrades, Singapore Airlines made First Class award inventory typically reserved only for members of its own KrisFlyer program available to all Star Alliance partner airlines.

While Suites Class, which is the top tier product on the Singapore Airlines A380s was not available as part of this availability wave, Singapore Airlines still has one of the most highly regarded First Class products on its long haul fleet of 777-300ERs and those seats were easily available during this window.

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Planning our 2013 trip to South East Asia using Delta SkyMiles

Having taken our earlier trips to Asia during spring and summer months, we realized we should plan our next annual South East Asia trip to happen in the Winter months to get away from the inevitably gray weather in the Pacific Northwest at that time of year. Once we were within the 330 day booking window of January 2013, it was time to start planning! We had already covered Bali and Maldives on previous trips and despite having enjoyed both, Mrs. Points Honeymooner was looking for a new beach destination. Phuket seemed like an obvious choice, and with enough Delta SkyMiles for two business class tickets, I got to work. At first, it looked like our itinerary would closely mirror our honeymoon to the Maldives on Malaysia Airlines, except for avoiding the transit in Beijing. My planned routing was SEA – LAX – (NRT) – KUL – HKT – KUL – (NRT) – LAX – SEA, about 20,398 miles with about 85% on a Malaysia 777, which we had enjoyed flying on our trip to the Maldives.

V1 of our 2013 South East Asia Trip

V1 Itinerary of our 2013 South East Asia Trip

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Hotel Review: Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru

We landed at the Male airport at night and had to spend one night in the city before we departed to our island, Vabbinfaru. At the airport, a Trader’s Hotel representative met us and ushered us to sit at an outdoors seating area while we waited for our boat that would take us to the hotel, where we spent our first night.

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To the Maldives!

When we were planning our wedding, I remember mentioning to my fiance that my dream destination for a honeymoon was the Maldives- and it had been for quite some time. As he is always eager to fulfill my dreams, it must’ve been difficult for him to initially give me the bad news – there was no way we could afford a trip to the Maldives at this time. The ticket in economy for each person was over $2000, and we had not even considered the cost of hotel and food! So for a while, we were looking at more affordable locations such as Mexico.

Then one day he was extremely happy and excited to tell me that we would be able to go to the Maldives after all! How? Something about redeeming points which I didn’t really understand. But not only were we able to afford a plane ticket, now we were going to be flying business class! Our experience of flying first class until now was confined to sometimes being upgraded during the NY to Seattle flights, depending on availability. So this idea of having a guaranteed business class seat on an international flight seemed far fetched, but I trusted my husband and started to eagerly await the trip!

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Planning Our First Honeymoon – Getting to the Maldives using Delta SkyMiles

The first thing that was decided when Mrs. Points Honeymooner and I started discussing our honeymoon was that we would be headed to a beach destination. Since I had yet to discover the full potential of miles, we initially restricted our list of candidates to nearby places that were not outrageously expensive such as Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. During the research, however, Mrs. Points Honeymooner mentioned to me that she would really like to go to the Maldives someday. That statement got me interested in understanding how I could use the Delta SkyMiles that we’d accumulated by applying for various American Express credit cards to get to the Maldives.

Thus began a secret investigation into planning a honeymoon to the Maldives – a project that I kept as a surprise for Mrs. Points Honeymooner until everything was in place to make the final bookings.

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Flying to Hawaii from the Pacific Northwest

It’s been almost a full year since Mrs. Points Honeymooner moved to Seattle and it’s become clear to me that to keep her as happy as possible, I have to whisk her away to a warmer, sunnier place at least a couple of times during the winter months.

One of the places we’ve been meaning to go ever since we first met has been Hawaii. Despite its relative proximity, its been a destination that’s been constantly put-off in favor of more distant locations like the Maldives and Bali, given the general paradigm that the best value of miles often comes from flying further.

The advent of Avios points by British Airways last November, however, turned that notion on its head. The new distance (rather than region) based mileage redemption chart meant that one could redeem a round trip from the West Coast to Hawaii for 25,000 Avios points + taxes and booking fees of under $50 per person. Compare that to most US based Airline loyalty programs which require around 40,000 miles for a round trip, regardless of whether you are flying from the East Coast or West Coast.

With the current 50% transfer bonus that American Express is running for Membership Rewards points to Avios transfers, a round trip from the West coast to Hawaii would cost only 17,000 Membership Rewards points per ticket – a phenomenal deal. That deal expires on May 31st, so if you are planning to take advantage of that, act quick.

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