Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you remember the flutter among travel bloggers on New Year’s Eve. Hours before the ball dropped in Times Square, Cathay Pacific accidentally posted fantastic fares in business and first class between Vietnam and North America—all for less than $1,000 per round-trip ticket. Those who was still sober took advantage of the sale in hopes of flying in style in 2019.
Now that the stress is gone and the airline said it would honor these incredibly-discounted premium-cabin tickets, let’s talk about what you need to know before stretching out in your lie-flat seat in the sky and drinking Cathay Pacific dry of champagne on your way from Southeast Asia.
You Must Obtain A Visa to Travel to Vietnam
Because the fare originates from a Vietnamese airport, you already know that you have to take two trips to Southeast Asia: one to position yourself for the outbound leg and one to return. If you hold a U.S. passport or a European passport, you will need a visa to enter Vietnam. And because you will be entering the country twice, you will need either two single-entry visas or one multi-entry visa, depending on the length of time between the two trips. (Citizens of many ASEAN countries don’t need a visa to enter Vietnam.)
You can obtain a visa on arrival ($25 for one-time entry or $50 for multiple entries) or apply for an eVisa online. Of course, you also can apply for a visa at a consulate, but the fees are much higher:
- $135 for one-month multi-entry visa
- $160 for three-month multi-entry visa
- $180 for a six-month multi-entry visa
- $220 for one-year multi-entry visa
Your best bet is to apply for an eVisa or get a visa sticker on arrival each time you enter the country. Make sure to have enough cash on you to pay the fee at the border and obtain a visa approval letter before landing in Vietnam.
Direct Turns Aren’t Permitted
A direct turn is landing at an airport and flying out on another plane without going through immigration first. Such practice is illegal in Vietnam. You must go through immigration before being able to get on another plane, which is why obtaining a visa is so important. For this reason, do not book your positioning flights on the same day as your Cathay Pacific flight. Vietnam is a beautiful destination, so why not stay a bit and smell the roses?
Book Positioning Flights with Miles or Cash
Depending on how soon you’re traveling, you might be able to take advantage of another fare sale to book your flights to Southeast Asia. Such deals pop up all the time, albeit in economy class, but you might be able to align those with your Cathay Pacific flights.
The second option is to use frequent-flyer miles to book your flights to and from Southeast Asia. However, keep in mind that because many travelers jumped on this deal, you might not find any award space on Cathay Pacific itself. Luckily, plenty of airlines operate to the region and you can even combine your trip with another destination, such as Cambodia, Thailand or Singapore.
Credit Your Flight to Program of Your Choice
Since you paid cash for your Cathay Pacific first- or business-class flight, you will earn tons of airline miles for this trip. But which program should you credit the flight to? Where to Credit is a nifty tool that helps you decide which airline’s frequent-flyer number to add to your trip. Simply choose the airline of choice—in this case Cathay Pacific—and class of service, click “Show me!” and you’ll see a list of potential mileage earnings.
Personally, I would credit this flight to Alaska Mileage Plan as it earns 350% redeemable miles on first-class flights, but the final decision is yours, of course. Keep in mind that Cathay Dragon flights don’t credit to Alaska Mileage Plan, which is most of the short-haul flights between Da Nang and Hong Kong, and only the long-haul leg (Hong Kong to U.S.) will earn the full credit.
Did you book this New Year’s Eve sale by Cathay Pacific? When and where else in Southeast Asia are you going?
[Image: Cathay Pacific]