Starting From Scratch - Going to Asia in Style

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by misterbwong, Sep 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

    Messages:
    325
    Likes Received:
    478
    Status Points:
    520
    Hey Everyone, long time lurker and first post. Since I'm new to this whole FF game, I wanted the opinion from the experts while I get started! Sorry for the long post!

    Background: In the coming years I will be going to Asia (LAX->TPE, mostly) once or twice a year because of family. I don't have too many miles on ANY FF account to care about ditching it. I currently have some cash back CC's + an AMEX SPG but that's about it.

    If you were starting from scratch, how would you maximize mileage and upgrades on this route? I'm mainly looking for the best way to get biz/first upgrades since flying, for me, is usually the worst part of the trip. I'm open to opening a couple CC's, a little extra cash, etc but nothing too crazy (e.g. mileage/mattress runs) since I'm married and the wife probably wouldn't be too happy about it.

    So far from my research I'm seeing these as possible ways to maximize mileage.

    1. Stick to flying with one alliance and airlines that I can book partner awards with (e.g. BA/Cathay, Delta/CI).
    • Which program I should bank miles with?
    2. Open up a mileage CC for the sign up bonus + use it as my main card. These are the ones I'm considering:
    • AMEX Plat - Sign up with the 50k bonus and use as main card. I like this one b/c of the perks but the annual fee = ouch. How are the transfers from the MR program to airlines that fly LAX->TPE/Asia?
    • AMEX Gold - Sign up with 75k bonus and use as main card.
    • BA card - Wait for a good (100k?) sign up bonus again and then sign up. Use another card (possible an AMEX MR?) as my main card. This one's iffy b/c of all the bad change rumors that have been circulating
    • Chase Sapphire - Sounds like if I get a chase checking acct and chase freedom card, this might be an option. No foreign transaction fees is a plus.
    • Delta Platinum - 40k + 15k MQM sign up bonus is nice if I can get it. Other perks don't seem as good vs AMEX Plat and everyone says delta is SUPER HARD to book (low) awards with.
    3. ??????????

    Also wanted to say that this forum is awesome! It's one of my daily FF/Mileage/Travel reads along with TPG and FTG.

    Thanks for your help!!! :D:D
     
    uggboy, JohnDeere19 and Jett Rink like this.
  2. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6,892
    Status Points:
    4,625
    First off, welcome to MP! You're going to love this community! Second, I'd recommend staying away from Delta! Their redemptions aren't great...there's a reason they're nicknamed skypesos.

    I'd recommend signing up for the Citi AA Amex and Visa personal cards which will net you 150k bonus miles (plus whatever you spend). That'll earn you about 1.5 business class one ways on CX connecting through HKG.
    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/14386923-post2.html

    Next, I'd recommend you start looking at the US Airways buy miles promotions. There's one currently running and you can buy 100k miles for ~$1500 (Taiwan is 90k in J). Add to that the upcoming Grand Slam promotion and you should be looking at at least a roundtrip in F.

    I'd stay away from BA until we get a better idea of what changes are coming to their award charts.

    You said you have an AMEX SPG...do you have personal or business?

    AMEX MR's are always a solid option (although with the transfer to CO disappearing, that's a huge loss), so I'd definitely consider those. Also note that bump the bonus deals are all essentially gone, so make sure you're targeted. Here are their transfer partners.
    (HT to TPG)
    Star Alliance: Air Canada Aeroplan, Continental (Until September 30, 2011), Singapore, ANA
    Oneworld: British Airways, Iberia
    Skyteam: Delta, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Alitalia, Aeromexico
    Other: Airtran, Virgin Atlantic, El Al, Frontier, JetBlue, Hawaiian
     
    misterbwong, uggboy and Jimgotkp like this.
  3. taiwaned
    Original Member

    taiwaned Silver Member

    Messages:
    730
    Likes Received:
    1,678
    Status Points:
    995
    If business class is what you are looking for, have you looked at EVA Air? They do price very aggressively and their product is pretty decent. Their FF plan is pretty useless and they are not part of any alliance yet however they are pretty cheap and planes are pretty new. Their upgrade policy is pretty generous. (They have also applied to be a part of Star Alliance in the future)

    You can look at China Air too but I personally refuse to fly with them.

    Since you mention that you will be flying back and forth fairly regularly - building a relationship with a Taiwanese carrier may not be a bad plan for your particular situation.
     
    misterbwong, uggboy and JohnDeere19 like this.
  4. kyunbit
    Original Member

    kyunbit Silver Member

    Messages:
    893
    Likes Received:
    1,154
    Status Points:
    825
    I think Eva Air would be the best bet if you want non-stops. You can buy their business class tix pretty cheap. And you earn 130% miles on CO.
     
  5. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    If you're based near LAX, the EVA air nonstops at reasonable business class prices would be hard to beat, with new planes although it might not be the best TPAC business class. The downside of course it that you lose the opportunity to gain status miles on a USA carrier that might give you some upgrades on domestic flights.
     
  6. travelinmike33
    Original Member

    travelinmike33 Silver Member

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    172
    Status Points:
    395
    misterbwong, uggboy and JohnDeere19 like this.
  7. JohnDeere19
    Original Member

    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6,892
    Status Points:
    4,625
    Thanks, fixed.
     
    misterbwong and uggboy like this.
  8. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

    Messages:
    325
    Likes Received:
    478
    Status Points:
    520
    Thanks for all the info everyone! Looks like there are a few more strategies to consider.

    1. Bank CO miles hoping for EVA to join *A soon - Since EVA is coming to *A, would it be reasonable to bank to CO and book award travel through them when EVA comes into the alliance? I've read that CO is one of the easiest airlines to book partner awards with. If so, that makes the Sapphire Preferred card look like a good choice for an everyday spend card.

    2. Buying those US Airways miles for $1500 might also be worth it since they are *A as well. Are USAirways alliance reward tickets easily booked or are they difficult like DL?

    3. Getting A3 Miles & Bonus for *A Gold - If I go with flying on EVA/CO, it would make sense to sign up for this and hit the 20k miles to get *A Gold. Hopefully they'll give >100% accrual rate for business because a single trip from LAX->TPE would qualify!

    Too bad AMEX Platinum is losing CO or else I'd be all over that card for its benefits.

    My head is spinning with all the new info. Thanks for helping me make sense of it! :D
     
  9. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I'm not sure how much you should count on EVA joining *A in the near future. AFAIK it's just speculation/rumor with no clear time frame.
     

Share This Page