Every once in a while we like to redeem miles and take trips ourselves!
This year we want to go to Thailand for a vacation over the US Thanksgiving holiday. We redeemed miles for these tickets well in advance to be sure we got more ideal flights. It paid off!
For outbound we booked an one way award on Korean Air. We got our Korean Air miles from transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to our Korean Air accounts after verifying the flights were available and placed them on hold over the phone. The next day we were ticketed and paid 80,000 miles plus taxes and fees of around $200 per passenger. Not bad for First Class from New York/JFK to Hong Kong, all on the A380 with 3 hours in Seoul.
For the return we booked Thai Airways First Class (on the A380) connecting to United Global First (on a 777) in Europe. We again used Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer to United. Once we found the flights we wanted we transferred them over and booked the award via phone with United and got them to waive the phone fee since their website is very broken for actually booking award tickets. We ended up with 6 hours in Paris which we plan to use to have breakfast at a cafe near the Eiffel Tower on our way home. This award cost 70,000 United miles plus about $70 in taxes and fees.
We needed an intra-Asia flight to get between Hong Kong (after a 3 day stopover) to Bangkok. We used BA Avios points to book Cathay Pacific Business Class on a direct flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok on a 777. It is their regional business class but much roomier than economy. It cost 15,000 Avios plus around $45 in taxes and fees. Economy would have been only 7,500! It is a 3.5 hour flight at night so we opted for a better meal, lounge access, a better seat, and deplaning sooner to have a shorter line at immigration. Well worth it considering Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest all transfer to BA making them one of the easiest types of points to obtain.
We will spend 3 days in Hong Kong and the remainder of our 2 week trip in Thailand. We chose Hong Kong to save some miles on the Korean Air side as well as wanting to visit the city. We have plenty of Avios so it made the most sense for us to make the stopover.