An Asian Holiday: Part 1 – Using Miles and Points to Get to India And Hong Kong

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An Asian Holiday: Part 1 – Using Miles and Points to Get to India And Hong Kong

Million Mile SecretsAn Asian Holiday: Part 1 – Using Miles and Points to Get to India And Hong KongMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I celebrated Christmas with his family in Macau and Hong Kong for ~8 days.  It was our 1st time to Macau and Hong Kong and we were very excited to visit!

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Emily and Daraius Looking Forward to Celebrating Christmas in India & Hong Kong

An Asian Holiday – Trip Report Index:

Planning

We get a lot of wonderful tips from Frommer’s, but I could not find the newest version of Frommer’s Hong Kong.  Maybe they are in between versions?

Here are some other guidebooks (our Amazon links):

Keep in mind that the chart below covers only the cost for ferries, hotels, and airfare, and not for dining, activities, and other travel expenses.

We got great upgrades at the Grand Hyatt Macau.  Although I’m sure that our top-tier Hyatt Diamond status helped.

At the Hilton Conrad in Hong Kong, we also got upgraded, but just to a room on the executive floor.  Again, having top-tier Hilton Diamond status helped!

 Retail CostOur Cash CostMiles and Points UsedSources of Miles & Points
Two 1-way tickets from Austin to Washington, DC~$185 a person ($370 total)$5 per person ($10 total)21,000 Southwest Points (21,000 Southwest Points Total)Southwest Companion Pass earned from 2 Southwest credit card applications + 10,000 points
Two 1-way tickets from Washington, DC to Bombay~$8,000 a person ($16,000 total)$5 taxes and fees per person + $25 telephone booking fee per person ($60 total)90,000 American Airlines Miles (180,000 American Airlines Miles Total)- American Airlines Credit Cards
- BankDirect
- Transferring Starwood hotel points
Two 1-way tickets from Bombay to Hong Kong~$1,676 a person ($3,352 total)$26 taxes and fees per person + $25 telephone booking fee per person ($102 total)45,000 American Airlines Miles (90,000 American Airlines Miles Total)- American Airlines Credit Cards
- BankDirect
- Transferring Starwood hotel points
Two TurboJet Ferry tickets from Hong Kong to Macau~$32 a person (~$64 total)~$21 a person ($42 total)NoneNone
3 nights at the Grand Hyatt Macau (Grand Executive Suite)~$360 (~$1,080 total)None15,000 Hyatt Points (45,000 Hyatt Points Total)- Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards
Two TurboJet Ferry tickets from Macau to Hong Kong~$19 a person (~$38 total)~$19 a person (~$38) totalNoneNone
4 nights at the Conrad Hong Kong (Executive Lounge Room)~$644 ($2,120 total)None170,000 Hilton Points Total (old Hilton AXON rate)- Transfers from Hawaiian Airlines & Virgin Atlantic
Two 1-way tickets from Hong Kong to Chicago~$16,173 a person ($32,346 Total)$36 taxes and fees per person + $25 telephone booking fee per person ($122 total)67,500 American Airlines Miles (135,000 American Airlines Miles Total)- American Airlines Credit Cards
- BankDirect
- Transferring Starwood hotel points
Total $55,395$37421,000 Southwest Points, 405,000 American Airlines Miles, 45,000 Hyatt Points, 170,000 Hilton Points

Southwest – Austin to Washington, DC

We spent ~21,000 Southwest points to fly from Austin to Washington, DC.  Because Emily and I have the Southwest Companion pass, Emily flew for free.  This was a contingency booking because Dallas, our original connection point with American Airlines, was experiencing a winter storm which cancelled flights for ~5 days.

We had originally booked 2 First Class tickets using American Airlines miles from Austin to Washington, DC.  We were supposed to fly from Austin to Dallas to Washington, DC on American Airlines.  And on Etihad from Washington, DC to Mumbai, India.

But there were weather issues in Dallas, so Daraius cancelled the Austin to Dallas & Dallas to Washington, DC flights and we flew to Washington, DC on Southwest with our Companion Pass.

This was good because our flights were eventually cancelled from Austin to Dallas and Dallas to Washington, DC!

Etihad – Washington, DC to Bombay, India

We took an Etihad flight from Washington, DC, to Abu Dhabi where we had a ~5 hour layover.  We then flew to Bombay, India which was a short ~5 hour flight.

We redeemed 180,000 American Airlines miles for 2 one-way tickets in First Class, and $60 in fees.  This is a much cheaper way to redeem American Airlines miles for flights to India.  That’s because you don’t pay high fuel surcharges (~$400 per segment) like you do when you redeem American Airlines miles for British Airway flights to India.

Each 1-way First Class ticket costs ~$8,000!

Business Class costs 67,500 American Airlines miles for each ticket and coach costs 45,000 American Airlines miles each.

Etihad First Class
Emily & Daraius Right Before Closing Off Their Suite for Privacy

We loved the Etihad flight!  The service and cabins were fantastic & the flight attendants were friendly and attentive.

Cathay Flight – India to Hong Kong

To get from India to Hong Kong, we redeemed 90,000 American Airlines miles and $102 in fees for 2 one-way flights in First Class on Cathay Pacific.  See this post on how to find Cathay Pacific award flights with your American Airlines miles.

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
It Was Almost Like We Had the Cabin to Ourselves

Business Class costs 30,000 American Airlines miles each and Coach costs 22,500 American Airlines miles each.

We could have used 75,000 British Airways Avios points instead of 90,000 American Airlines miles.  But we would have paid over $300 in fees.  I preferred saving cash, but it was a close call.

The Cathay Pacific flight rivaled Etihad in terms of service and experience.  It would be hard choosing which airline I liked better.

TurboJet Ferry from Hong Kong to Macau

From Hong Kong airport, we took a ferry to Macau.

The TurboJet ferry costs 246 Hong Kong dollars (~$32) per person.  It costs slightly more on weekends.  The ferry took 1 hour to reach Macau.

Riding the ferry to Macau was very easy because the port is located in the airport.  All you have to do is take a few escalators and an internal train and you’re at the ferry terminal!

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Emily Happy that She Remembered to Use a Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees to Buy Our Ferry Tickets

As a big added bonus, TurboJet transfers the luggage.  So you don’t have to worry about lugging heavy bags on and off the ferry.  That alone is worth the price of the ferry ticket!

Grand Hyatt Macau

We spent 3 nights in Macau.  Macau is often referred to as the Las Vegas of the East.  But we wanted to visit Macau because of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

We redeemed 15,000 Hyatt points a night for 1 room in the Grand Hyatt, Macau.  The Grand Hyatt, Macau is a category 4 hotel and still costs 15,000 Hyatt points after the recent devaluation. The Grand Hyatt is located within the City of Dreams complex.  This was a great hotel with impeccable service.

The regular rooms are Grand Suite King rooms which cost ~1,988+ Hong Kong dollars or ~$256+ a night

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Emily & Daraius in the Enormous Grand Hyatt Lobby Lounge

We were upgraded to Executive Suites because of Daraius’ Hyatt Diamond status .  These sell for 2,788+ Hong Kong dollars or ~$360+ a night.

TurboJet Ferry from Macau to Hong Kong

We took the free shuttle bus from the Grand Hyatt, Macau to the ferry terminal.  The shuttle to TurboJet ride was ~15 minutes so we arrived at 11:45 am for our 12:15 pm ferry.

We took the elevators upstairs and checked-in our bags.  The ferry terminal is a lot like an airport and I appreciated how smoothly everything went!

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Unlike Any Ferry Terminal I’ve Been In

The TurboJet ferry costs 148 Hong Kong dollars (~$19) per person.  On weekends the price is a little higher.  It took 1 hour to reach Hong Kong.  

Conrad Hong Kong

Hong Kong is known for its rich mix of Chinese heritage.  It was ruled by the British.  Today it calls itself “Asia’s world city.”  Daraius and I loved the mix of the urban and natural landscapes as well as the vibrancy of life there.  The efficient subway, bus and ferry system made getting around very easy.

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Emily at the Victoria Peak Sky Terrace

We spent 4 nights at the Conrad Hong Kong.  And booked the entry level King Bed Superior Rooms which cost ~80,000 Hilton points per night.  The rooms regularly cost ~$400 to ~$600 per night.  So our points saved us a lot of money!

But we used 170,000 Hilton points before the big Hilton devaluation for 4 nights (old Hilton AXON award level).  You could also use your 2 free weekend nights from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.  But we had already used our free weekend stay for our 2nd anniversary trip to Italy.

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Emily Eager to Check-in at the Conrad Hong Kong Before Exploring the City

You also get free Hilton Gold status with the Citi Hilton Reserve card which means free breakfast and internet!

We were upgraded from our basic room to a King Executive Peak View Room which sells for about ~5,000 Hong Kong Dollars or ~$644 per night on the Executive Lounge floor.  But it was still a small room!

Cathay Pacific Flight from Hong Kong to Chicago

Daraius and I took a Cathay Pacific flight back to the US.  We used 135,000 American Airlines miles and paid $122 in fees for 2 one-way First Class tickets.  

These tickets sell for ~$16,173 EACH or $32,346 for TWO tickets.  We were happy with the price we paid!

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
I Wonder If Daraius Knows How Handsome He’s Going to Look in His Cathay Pacific Pajamas?

Business Class is 55,000 American Airlines miles each and coach is 35,000 American Airlines miles a ticket.

The flight was excellent.  I loved the food and being the only 2 people in First Class!  The purser joked that we had our own living room, dinging room, and bedrooms!

The cabins and service rivaled Etihad.

Miles And Points To India And Hong Kong
Emily Getting Cozy for Her ~15 Hour Flight

American Airlines Flight Home – Chicago to Austin

Our connecting flight home was on American Airlines.  This was included in our Hong Kong to Chicago flight so we didn’t have to book a separate flight.  

Daraius says when searching for award flights, be sure to search each flight individually to get the best results.  Then put in your flights 1 by 1 online or to the agent who can book them for you.  

Bottom Line

Miles and points have helped bring our family together.  We visited India with my mom, San Francisco with my dad, and I went to spend time with my grandma in Tampa who passed away last year.  And now we’ve gone to Macau and Hong Kong for Christmas with Daraius’ family.

Whether you take domestic or international trips, fly in First Class or coach, is up to you.  The important thing is to make memories with friends, family, and loved ones.  We are not promised tomorrow, so we try to make the best of today.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Macau is often referred to as the Las Vegas of the East. But we wanted to visit Macau because of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Hi Daruis,

Very nice blog, can you show me how to book the AA for CX flight from US to HKG?

Book it over the phone? Or via website?

I have burnt all the UA points for this year. I am planning for 2015 trip to HKG.

What’s your suggestions to travel from SFO-HKG in CX biz for 3 adults? I am okay to sign up new credit cards. Currently, I just have CSP, freedom and Chase United (canceling it). My wife just have CSP. thanks in advance!

-Flyer

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Flyer – See this post on booking

I follow your blog a lot and I live in Austin! It would be great to meet you!

I know you love to travel in first class but using points traveling in Asia where there are a lot of budget carriers is a waste of your miles. You can for example travel from Singapore or Kuala LUmpur to any part of India for less than $300.or from the same place to Hong Kong for even less than $200.I don’t think its wise using points for travel of less than 6 hrs flying time not unless u want to travel in luxury .You could have saved your points for long haul flights e.g. 8 hr flights from SIngapore to Auckland only requires 35K pts in economy using Star Alliance.

i am new (< 2 yrs) to this circle & i've got 1 mil+ AA miles posted to my acct during that span. I am sure that's not uncommon, & did nothing different than the 3 things he outlined in his blog above.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Marilyn B – I edited the comment to be clearer. Most of the miles were from sign-up bonuses. I also have business trips and book hotel rooms for friends/family from my account, but don’t review them on the blog.

@ Lynn – I have no problem flying economy as long as it gets me where I want!

@DJ – Glad you are enjoying it!

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