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Help Us Get to Asia (Tokyo/maybe Seoul)!

Help Us Get to Asia (Tokyo/maybe Seoul)!

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Old Oct 13, 18, 10:22 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2018
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Help Us Get to Asia (Tokyo/maybe Seoul)!

Hello All,

I originally posted a question on the SQ forum, but upon reflection, I think I might be able to get some more information here and open it up to other reward possibilities.

The quick summary is that we are traveling from the Washington DC area (although we can also fly out from the New York or even Boston area if that works out better) and want to go to Asia next October for ~2 weeks, specifically Tokyo and Seoul, although honestly we're willing to sacrifice Seoul for something else if there are better reward opportunities (hence my original question on SQ, where we were going to replace Seoul with Singapore). Anyway, here are the details:

ASSETS:

Him:
317k MR points
5k UR points

Her:
26k MR points
134k UR points

GOAL:
Try to get to and from Asia on the same flights, ideally first class one way and business class the other way (I don't think we can afford round-trip first class seats) and book an airline with a suite for one leg.

For the purposes of this post, I won't worry about getting from Tokyo to Seoul (or vice versa), as I think that's a relatively short flight and relatively cheap, so we can pay that in cash.

RESEARCH SO FAR:
From what I can gather so far, the cheapest/easiest way to do this is by booking each leg separately.

As a sample itinerary we were looking at something like the following:

DCA/IAD/BWI --> ICN on business class on Korean Airlines. That's 62.5k per person and partners with UR points. That means she can use pay 125 UR points to book this. We just have to make sure we're booking off-peak.

Then, on the way back, we'd book NRT/HND --> DCA/IAD/BWI on first class on Cathay Pacific. Looks like the standard award per person for this would be 125k. He can pay 250k from his MR points.

Alternatively, on the way back we could try to book NRT/HND --> DCA/IAD/BWI on first class on ANA. Looking at their calendar, it looks like October is "regular" season and it would cost 150k points per person. He can pay 300k from his MR account.

QUESTIONS:
1) For those of you with experience for such an itinerary, is the Cathay Pacific and Korean Airlines combination a good idea? Are we likely to get availability for Korean Air business class and Cathay Pacific first class (standard award)? I have the vague impression that Korean Airlines has pretty decent award availability, but I'm not sure about Cathay Pacific. Does ANA have a better availability generally?
2) I'm not sure that Cathay Pacific's first class offerings are for this type of flight. We'd like to experience a suite once in our lifetimes, but I don't think Cathay Pacific offers that on any of its flights, is that true?
3) I understand that Emirates and Etihad offer suites for its long-haul flights, but doing a rough check for points looks like we'd need ~500k points for two of us just to go one way from the US to Asia. Should I assume that such offerings are out of our range?
4) Are there any other airlines I should be considering who have great first class offerings for such a journey? We're pretty open schedule-wise and are looking for the bes bang for our points. I'm pretty new at this so I'm all ears.
5) I have some decision paralysis about pulling the trigger on point transfers because I'd hate a scenario where we transferred a bunch of points into one airline program only to see later that it has no availability for the dates we wanted. We understand that for Korean Air we can "reserve" a seat and then wait until the points get deposited into the account and pay later. I don't think that Cathay or ANA does this, but is there any other way to hedge against having a bunch of orphaned points I can't use in an airline program?
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Old Oct 13, 18, 11:43 pm
  #2  
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Then, on the way back, we'd book NRT/HND --> DCA/IAD/BWI on first class on Cathay Pacific. Looks like the standard award per person for this would be 125k. He can pay 250k from his MR points.

Alternatively, on the way back we could try to book NRT/HND --> DCA/IAD/BWI on first class on ANA. Looking at their calendar, it looks like October is "regular" season and it would cost 150k points per person. He can pay 300k from his MR account.
Y'all need to be a bit more research. CX flies their A350 (used to be the -1000, changed to the -900) to IAD. There's no first class. On routes that do have F, CX has a habit of only releasing one F seat on a given flight at the moment.

ANA awards are round trip. You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan for ANA F at 105k per person one way.

If it were me, I'd call Virgin Atlantic and hold two roundtrip F awards on NH1 and NH2. You can transfer Membership Rewards to VS, it'll be about 220k with no transfer bonuses. Use the UR or cash for your intra-asia flights.
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Old Oct 14, 18, 1:20 am
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Korean Air no longer partners with UR points so that is no longer an option.
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Old Oct 14, 18, 12:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Beltway2A View Post
Y'all need to be a bit more research. CX flies their A350 (used to be the -1000, changed to the -900) to IAD. There's no first class. On routes that do have F, CX has a habit of only releasing one F seat on a given flight at the moment.

ANA awards are round trip. You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan for ANA F at 105k per person one way.

If it were me, I'd call Virgin Atlantic and hold two roundtrip F awards on NH1 and NH2. You can transfer Membership Rewards to VS, it'll be about 220k with no transfer bonuses. Use the UR or cash for your intra-asia flights.
Thanks, that's good to know about CX not having first class anyway to IAD and about only having one F seat on any given flight. I guess they're out for a first class leg.

How does Virgin Atlantic work? I don't even have an account with them yet, but their website doesn't seem to even give me the option to see an itinerary from the US to Asia (the only options I see when departing from the DC or NYC area are flights to the UK are Australia). Is that 220K per person? I can just call them to hold two first class award tickets on ANA without having the points there yet?

Also, thanks Productivity for the heads up on Korea Air. We'll have to find another option. Any ideas?

As an alternative, we were debating Singapore Airlines with Krisflyer points since MR and UR both transfer to Krisflyer. The problem is that His and Her points can't be combined. There's also the issue of availability for two first class award seats together. Anyone have any experience/insight into that possibility?
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Old Oct 14, 18, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by chapman888 View Post
Thanks, that's good to know about CX not having first class anyway to IAD and about only having one F seat on any given flight. I guess they're out for a first class leg.

How does Virgin Atlantic work? I don't even have an account with them yet, but their website doesn't seem to even give me the option to see an itinerary from the US to Asia (the only options I see when departing from the DC or NYC area are flights to the UK are Australia). Is that 220K per person? I can just call them to hold two first class award tickets on ANA without having the points there yet?
No worries. In terms of a gateway for F, unfortunately we don't have many non-stop options from the DC area.

You won't be able to search ANA space through Virgin Atlantic online. Find it through United or Aeroplan, call to put it on hold, and then transfer points for the purchase. It's 220k total for two people roundtrip in First class. The flights you're looking for are NH1 to Narita, and NH2 back to IAD on the return.

I haven't used Krisflyer recently enough to comment on the program.
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Old Oct 14, 18, 1:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Beltway2A View Post
No worries. In terms of a gateway for F, unfortunately we don't have many non-stop options from the DC area.

You won't be able to search ANA space through Virgin Atlantic online. Find it through United or Aeroplan, call to put it on hold, and then transfer points for the purchase. It's 220k total for two people roundtrip in First class. The flights you're looking for are NH1 to Narita, and NH2 back to IAD on the return.

I haven't used Krisflyer recently enough to comment on the program.
Thanks for the info! I'll search through United, but it doesn't seem to have anything for October 2019 yet (not unexpected considering how far out we are). And 220k for two people roundtrip seems like a steal!
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