Why You Should Use Award Tickets To Travel In Japan
The first time I visited Japan back in 2012 (which was also the first time I used miles to fly first class) common wisdom held that the JR pass was by far the best and most cost effective way to travel within Japan and so I shelled out the $600 or so dollars to Shinkansen my posterior all over the country. I went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Miyazaki, Arita and Nagano and while I definitely got my money’s worth out of the pass, I have since found a faster and cheaper way to get my Japan fix without spending all my cat cafe money on a JR pass.
I have since learned that award tickets present a much better value than the JR pass.
The time had come for another adventure and this one was off to a good start with our Etihad Chaffeur picking us up in an black Mercedes Benz and whisking us off to the airport (Etihad discontinued their Chaffeur service for partner award tickets on August 10th, 2016). We booked the tickets pre-devaluation using 30,000 American Airlines Aadvantage miles each way (the new award price between Asia 2 and the Middle East is 40,000 AA miles) and $91.40 in taxes and fees total for the outbound and return segments.
My first thought upon entering the cabin was that it looked like someone had stolen the upholstery from my parents couch and sold it to Etihad. Airlines tend to put a lot of thought into their premium cabins but the striped seats looked like everything about the 1980’s that we don’t want to remember. Maybe they were trying to replicate the fake wood grain on the adjacent side tables, or maybe stripes were super hot when they put in the order for these seats, but whatever the case may have been they weren’t looking so hot now.
I first came across a post about a JAL 5,000 mile discount on Angelina Travels back in April of 2015 and made a mental note that the next time I wanted to fly Bangkok Airways this was a pretty solid option. The fact that many of these awards were discounted by 50 – 66% caught my attention and while I had intended to do a post about it then, it got lost in my drafts pile.
There are still plenty of bargains to be had out there in the miles and points game, but India ain’t one of them. Coughing up your hard earned miles and cash to be crammed into coach for such a long flight seems like a terrible idea. Thankfully, a man with a handsome mustache has some tricks on how you can get there in style for fewer miles than you might normally pay.
The AAdvantage award chart has the Indian subcontinent at 67,500 miles for business class and 90,000 for first class each way. That is the second most expensive U.S. based award on their entire award chart!
Do you have few miles or points but would still like to fly business class?
Do you have some money to spend on upcoming travel but not enough to buy those hilariously priced business class tickets?
I feel your pain! Flying coach on long-haul trips sucks and I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that I avoid ever having to do it again. Mostly, my strategies revolve around using credit card sign up bonuses to build up large balances of frequent flyer miles that I can redeem for business and first class travel. But it takes time to build up these balances.
For those with travel plans that are happening in the very near future they might benefit from another way to avoid coach that doesn’t involve taking out a second mortgage on their cat.
When Buying Miles Makes Sense
It makes sense to buy miles when A) you might otherwise have paid for the business class ticket or B) you really don’t want to fly coach and are willing to pay a little extra to avoid it.
It’s not that often that credit card companies are willing to shower you with miles for next to nothing, but that is exactly what is currently happening with the Barclays US Airways credit card. The sign up bonus is 50,000 US Airways Dividend miles after first purchase and paying the annual fee of $89. So for $89 and a $0.50 Amazon gift certificate to yourself, you can top up your Dividend miles balance by a cool 50,000 miles.