How to Book a Flight to Tahiti with American Miles

American AAdvantage miles are some of the easiest mileage currencies to accrue.  On the other hand, redeeming them can be challenging at times.  One of the places that may be pretty challenging to use AA miles for if you don’t know how is to get to one of the most beautiful places on Earth — the honeymoon and bucket list mecca of Bora Bora.

You’ve seen them.  The lavish resorts featuring elaborate overwater bungalows that are set on top of crystal clear water in a sheer tropical paradise.  Many of these properties are located in Bora Bora or Moorea — both Islands in the Society Islands of French Polynesia, along with Tahiti.  In order to get to these island paradises, one must first fly into Papeete (PPT) — the only international airport in Tahiti.

Getting to Papeete from North America is pretty straightforward when using American miles.  There are exactly two options:  Hawaiian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui — both partners with American, and both are great partners that allow you to fly to Tahiti with American miles. Continue Reading →

Review: American B777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Dallas / Ft Worth

We spent about an hour in Cathay Pacific’s “The Bridge” Lounge at Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok International Airport after arriving from Singapore earlier that morning.  After a few drinks and a quick bite, it was time to head to the gate to board our flight on American Airlines’ new B777-300ER in business class.

But let’s back up for a second.

Unlike my outbound trip from Dallas to Hong Kong, I did not clear the eVIP Systemwide upgrade for this flight several days ahead of time.  In fact, we did not actually clear this upgrade until 25 hours prior to the flight.  This flight was extremely elite heavy, so there were quite a few (dozens, actually) of Executive Platinum customers on this flight who didn’t clear the upgrade.  We had the advantage since we were on a connecting flight from Singapore (up until late April, connecting passengers had priority on the AA upgrade standby list — that is not longer the case).  Luckily, the three of us appeared to receive three of the last six seats in business class.

We arrived at the gate to see one of the longest lines for the Executive Platinum boarding group that I’ve ever seen.  That group was seriously rolling 75 people deep.  The boarding line was delayed even more by security checking everyone’s carry on bags before boarding.  All water bottles were taken away – that’s always an annoyance when flying back to the States from Hong Kong.

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Review: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Singapore to Hong Kong

After a fun and delicious two nights in Singapore, it was time to turn around and head back home to the States.   We took an early cab to Changi airport and arrived in plenty of time.  Check-in was a breeze and we since security isn’t until the gate, we had a little bit of time to kill.  So we headed to the Sky View Lounge in Terminal 1 since it was the only lounge accessible to oneworld Emerald members at that hour in the morning (the Qantas and British Airways don’t open until later in the afternoon).

The lounge was quite comfortable with some decent hot and cold breakfast options.  I grabbed some noodles to go along with a Diet Coke and took a seat with my friends by the floor-to-ceiling glass windows just as the sun was coming up.  We checked e-mail and  surfed the Internet for a bit before it was time to head to the gate.

There was a very long line for security and boarding, but we were able to board with business class passengers despite being ticketed for an economy seat (59A).  After security, I went to have my boarding pass scanned by the gate agent, and it beeped a few times.  The friendly gate agent informs me, “Mr. Ryan, thank you for being a valued oneworld Emerald customer.  We have upgraded you to Premium Economy Class for this morning’s flight.”

Score!

Now, I’d heard of oneworld Emeralds being upgraded before by Cathay and other airlines like LAN, but I’d never experienced it before, so this was quite unexpected.  Sometimes, unexpected upgrades like this one are some of the best and most satisfying upgrades that there are.

She re-printed my new boarding passes, and I was on my was to board this A340-300 for Hong Kong!

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#TBT: Review: Korean Air A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

Throwback Thursday Series!

This is the second in a series of “Throwback Thursday” #TBT posts that I will release.  These will feature flights and other elements of trip reports from the past.  For now, these will all be flights, hotels or cities that I’ve taken, stayed at, or been to over the last few years.   For all of these trips, I took notes and/or wrote a review, took pictures, but never published the entry on my blog… until now.


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Korean Air First Class Lounge – Seoul Incheon

I arrived with two friends at Seoul’s Incheon Airport on an Asiana flight from Bangkok.  We had previously planned on spending some time in the city during our layover in Seoul, but a five-hour delay on Asiana put a spike through the heart of those plans.  Instead of a nine-hour layover, we were left with about four hours until our flight to Los Angeles, so we headed to the Korean First Class Lounge.

But first, some background:

This flight was smack, dab in the middle of a five-day stretch during which I felt as sick as I have in my entire life.  I’d just finished up spending a week in Thailand, where I must have eaten something bad.  Because I was sick.  Let’s just leave it there — really, really sick.

The day prior to this, I was in Myanmar.

Now, of all countries in the world where you don’t want to be in the condition that I was, Myanmar has got to be near the top of the list.  I trudged through two flights from Yangon to Bangkok and then to Seoul – most of which time I spent in the lav (TMI, I know).

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Korean Air First Class Lounge at ICN

So as I arrived in Seoul, I was feeling absolutely awful.  My goal as I entered the Korean First Class Lounge was to shower and to just start feeling better.

Well, I accomplished the first goal with a nice shower.  Unfortunately, goal number two didn’t go as well. I rested a bit, and as a result really didn’t take too many notes on the lounge.  I do specifically remember it being quite unremarkable for a First Class Lounge.  I also remember the rows of blue Korean Air planes lined up in the driving snow.

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A snowy, December day in Seoul with two B777-200s, a B777-300ER and  B747-400

Continue Reading →

Two Nights in Singapore at the Grand Hyatt Singapore

We arrived in Singapore from Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific flight at around 8pm.  We easily made our way through immigration and Singapore’s beautiful Changi International Airport, out to the curb to hail a cab for our hotel.  We booked a room at the Grand Hyatt Singapore for this short stay.

The cab ride couldn’t have been any more than twenty minutes and I think it ran around 20 Singapore dollars.  When I booked the room a few months earlier, I used one of my last remaining  Hyatt Diamond Suite  upgrades for our two night stay, and we were upgraded to a Grand Duplex Suite.

And it sure was Grand…

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A Layover in Hong Kong and a Quick Flight to Singapore

After spending over 18 hours on American Airlines’ longest flight from Dallas / Ft. Worth to Hong Kong, I was quite ready to stretch my legs and move around.  We got to Hong Kong immigration after about five minutes and had about a ten minute wait to clear immigration.

Outside of immigration, we went by the Hong Kong Airport Express and MTR kiosk where I purchased a round trip transfer from Hong Kong Airport to Kowloon Station for HKD 160 (about USD $30).  The Airport Express is a direct rail link between the airport, Kowloon and Central Hong Kong that runs every ten minutes.  It is very quick and very efficient, as is much of the public transportation in Hong Kong.

We intentionally worked in a long, 22-hour layover in Hong Kong into our itinerary because, frankly, we all wanted to spend a night in Hong Kong!

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Review: American Business Class Dallas / Ft Worth to Hong Kong

I arrived in Los Angeles from my very nice trans-continental flight from New York on the new American A321T and hurried a few gates down where my flight to Dallas was already boarding.  I was the last first class passenger to board, so I took my seat and had a glass of water.  At that point, I was pretty exhausted, as it was about 1am Pacific time — early in the morning on my eastern time zone body clock.

I fell asleep before we even left LAX and didn’t wake up until we were landing in DFW — a short, sub-three hour redeye flight.  Pretty much the most miserable timing ever.  But I was okay with it.  I made my way to the D terminal at DFW and met a friend who had just come in from San Francisco at the American Express Centurion Lounge.  We had four hours to kill before we boarded our flight to Hong Kong.  I was able to access the lounge as his guest, as he has an AMEX Platinum card (I do not have one — shocking, I know).

For those who haven’t been, the AMEX Centurion Lounges are hands down the best domestic lounges in the country.  And DFW’s version is no exception.  I was dragging pretty significantly at this point, so I put my name on the list to take a shower and freshen up.  The shower was ready in no time, so I took a long shower and changed clothes.

Bam!  I was a new man.

Lunch selection at AMEX Centurion Lounge - DFW

Lunch selection at AMEX Centurion Lounge – DFW (from a previous visit)

Lunch selection at AMEX Centurion Lounge - DFW

Lunch selection at AMEX Centurion Lounge – DFW  (from a previous visit)

AMEX Centurion Lounge - DFW

AMEX Centurion Lounge – DFW

For the next few hours, we had some breakfast, a few drinks and I had a free massage in the while awaiting our flight.  My third friend joined us later that morning, so we naturally had some bon voyage drinks before making the short walk to our gate to board the longest flight that American Airlines flies:  Dallas to Hong Kong.

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How to Book a Flight on Ryanair and Avoid Hidden Fees

Flying on Ryanair is often one of the cheapest ways to fly point-to-point in Europe.  However, the major complaint people always have regarding Ryanair is their never-ending pursuit of ancillary revenue — they nickel and dime the passenger for seemingly everything.  After all, Ryanair is the airline that infamously once tried to charge for use of the toilet, and has floated the idea of standing room only seats on its aircraft, just to fit more passengers onboard.  Another major complaint about Ryanair is the somewhat predatory booking process on their website.    Though the website has a much friendlier user interface than it used to, the booking process can be downright cumbersome!

Ryanair B737-800 at Kerry, Ireland (KIR)

Ryanair B737-800 at Kerry, Ireland (KIR)

This post is meant to walk you through the booking procedure with Ryanair, so you can avoid accidentally paying for extra things that you don’t want!  Once you successfully do this, Ryanair can fly you for really, really cheap within Europe.  I had a decent flight with them last May from Venice-Treviso to Dublin, and again a few weeks ago from County Kerry, Ireland to London-Stansted.    Continue Reading →

Review: American Business Class New York-JFK to Los Angeles

After an easy flight up to Toronto and a short hop in first class on an American CRJ-700, I found myself at New York’s JFK airport with three and half hours to kill before my evening flight across the country to Los Angeles.

This flight to LA was, of course en-route to Singapore.  Via Hong Kong.  Via Dallas.

Yes, I was flying from New York – to Los Angeles – to Dallas – to Hong Kong – and finally — to Singapore.  Just to spend two nights there and head back home the same way.

Why?  Because I wanted to maximize the miles from my routing.

Mission accomplished.

Anyways, I found myself at JFK in the American FlAAgship First Class Lounge where I had a light dinner and quite a few single malt scotches.  Eventually it was time to head to my gate to board my brand new A321-T for Los Angeles. Continue Reading →

A Weekend in Southeast Asia: Introduction

Last December, there was an interesting airfare to Singapore from Toronto with American Airlines.  The base fare was low enough to grab my attention, as it included the newish, long segments from Dallas / Ft. Worth (DFW) to Hong Kong on the new B777-300ER.  I had several newly acquired American eVIP, system wide upgrades burning a hole in my pocket, so I decided to see what I could do.

With an open weekend, I decided to try to put together the most convoluted routing possible to get me to Singapore.  The impressive part was that I was able to convince a couple of my travel junkie friends that this was a good idea, and they decided that a night in Hong Kong and a couple of nights in Singapore were completely reasonable for a weekend trip. Continue Reading →