Last October I took my dad on an amazing trip to Japan, Macau and Hong Kong so he could revisit some of the places where he was stationed during his time in the Navy many moons ago. Did I mention he is old? 🙂 (BTW I need to get by behind in gear on writing those trip reports!)
The trip with my dad was supposed to start with a Cathay Pacific First Class flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and on to Manila (I tagged on Manila at the time to hold a first class award with no first class Transpacific space), but I ultimately changed our itinerary last minute and secured us on Singapore Suites from LAX-NRT and then eventually in First Class on the 2nd to last Cathay Pacific 747 passenger flight from HND-HKG! Those are now defunct products on both routes!
Cancel His, Keep Mine!
Anyway, as an Executive Platinum member at the time, I was able to cancel my dad’s original LAX-HKG-MNL ticket. Since this ticket was booked at pre-devaluAAtion prices, I ultimately decided to keep my ticket in tact and push it out until March of this year. (Now!) With only a ticket to Manila in hand I needed to decide what to do and where to go.
The first issue I ran into was the timing. I was scheduled with only a 80 minute connection in Hong Kong on my way to Manila. When I had moved the ticket to March I hadn’t thought much of timing and thus took this itinerary. Once I decided to go to Manila, I determined a longer layover was needed. I actually had no issue making an 80 minute connection in Hong Kong, but then I would have had no time to enjoy Cathay’s awesome first class lounges!
Thankfully American allows you to easily change award tickets if the origin and destination are the same, so I was able to fairly easily push back my HKG-MNL flight to give me a six hour layover. It was a bit longer than I would have liked (four hours is probably ideal), but it was my best option given the flight timing.
After settling my Hong Kong layover issue, I needed to decide what to do next. I had never been to Manila and wanted to spend a little time there, but ultimately wanted to go somewhere else too. After looking at available options I remembered how much I have wanted to go to Nepal. It took a little searching to find the best options for Kathmandu, but eventually I found Singapore Krisflyer only cost a bit less than 30,000 miles + $15 USD to Kathmandu in Business Class. The kicker was that I could stopover for 22 hours in Singapore. I transferred over Citi ThankYou points for the WIN!
While I won’t have time to go up into the mountains outside of Kathmandu, I can spend a couple of days in the city and take in some of the historic Buddhist and Hindu religious sites. There is also a very nice looking Hyatt in Kathmandu as well and at 5,000 points per night how could i pass that up?
Where to Go From Here?
One of the things I really love to do when traveling is leave my return options open. When I have a strict schedule like my son’s return from Spring Break for example, I make sure to have return flights booked, but if I can flex a day or two I love to leave things open. And that is exactly what I have done with this trip. As of now, I have no flights home from Kathmandu, but I do have to leave after a couple of days due to commitments at home.
I think leaving my return open sort of lets me relive my time living on the road where we were never more than a couple of days ahead of ourselves. I know this type of travel would drive some people insane, but it feels good to me. Now keep in mind I have done quite a lot of research as to possible ways home and have several options “lined up”, but I still need to pull the trigger.
The 150K Splurge?
One of my options for going home is to catch a cheap flight from Kathmandu to Dubai and then fly Emirates A380 First Class home for 150K Alaska miles. Before Alaska suddenly devalued last year I was saving their miles for such a flight, but of course it was about 1/3 cheaper back then. Still, I have the miles so perhaps I should just pull the trigger? My only hesitation is the timings of the flights with available First Class space. Decisions decisions.
Another interesting option is to try Hainan Airlines (another Alaska partner) in business class from China home. I would yet again need to catch a small positioning flight to China, but then I could experience what this “5 Star Skytrax” airline has to offer. The real tempting part of it is the cost. Hainan is only 50K one-way in Business Class plus about $200 in taxes/fees. Their hard product sort of sucks by the looks of it, but I have heard great things about their service.
There are of course other options as well. I could redeem 75K Aeroplan Miles for Star Alliance Business Class home or 107,500 for First Class. Those miles are easy enough to transfer from Amex Membership Rewards and there are no fuel surcharges if I pick my airlines right. Of course I would fly Cathay home in First Class again for 70K Alaska miles, but there isn’t any space open. 🙁
So far this has been a great trip and the type of solo adventure that I love to take every so often. I honestly don’t know how I will get home yet, but I need to decide soon. Emirates has the YOLO factor (is that word still even a thing?), but spending 1/3 with Hainan is also tempting and Aeroplan seems like the practical choice. No matter how I get home, I am blessed, this hobby is amazing and being able to travel like this makes me 🙂