Dubai & Mauritius 2014: DXB to MRU Emirates A380 First Class

If I’m honest, a real factor that influenced our decision as to destination was the ability to fly in first (as opposed to business) class all the way there.  It’s actually not doable that often when you’re talking about leisure destinations–and it makes sense that airlines do that.  Premium aircraft should be used on routes that command premium fares.  But for whatever reason (probably mostly because they can), Emirates runs a double daily A380 service to Mauritius.  Considering they only fly to DC once/day–and with a 777–that’s remarkable.

I was really excited for another segment in Emirates A380 first class–particularly on a completely day time flight where I didn’t plan to spend much time sleeping (Dubai and Mauritius are on the same time zone, so I wanted to stay up and not confuse my body any more).  And just as much I was looking forward to checking out the full A380 terminal that Dubai airport built for Emirates (though codeshare parter Qantas also uses it).

Emirates Chauffeur

Emirates Chauffeur

Our Emirates provided chauffeur picked us up right on time, and brought us right to the premium check in area of Dubai airport. [Read more…]

Dubai & Mauritius 2014: JFK to Dubai Emirates First Class Suites

We boarded from the lounge and the entire time down the jet way to describe me as a kid in a candy store would be a vast understatement.  I’ve flown some amazing products in the past few years, but I’ve never been more excited for a single flight than this one. It’s basically the definition of an aspirational redemption–completely unnecessary in every way but just awesome.  That said I’ve read some reviews that paint a picture of Emirates as being style over substance, so I was anxious to see if I find that to be true.

Spoiler: We completely didn’t think so at the end of the flight.

The Emirates first class cabin consists of a 14 suites in a 1-2-1 configuration on the upper deck.  The center suites form a nice pair with a retractable wall between the seats which we found great for traveling in pairs.  We were easily close enough to speak to each other with just a slight head turn.

Emirates Suites

Emirates Suites

[Read more…]

Dubai & Mauritius 2014: Emirates Lounge JFK

Our chauffeur was a nice lifetime New Yorker (when he heard I was from Virginia, he recounted a tale from decades ago of going into a grocery store in Richmond and only finding a single brand of marinara sauce that was in the “ethnic food” section … whereas in New York of course there’s almost a whole aisle of marinara sauce) and very funny guy. Based on the Flyertalk thread which reports lots of SUVs, I was expecting a Suburban/Escalade, but we were picked up in a late model Cadillac sedan which was just fine.

He dropped us off in front of the terminal, and we made our own way to the single first class check in desk.  According to our driver, there was supposed to be “bell staff” to help us with our luggage, but we couldn’t find anyone, and our suitcases had wheels anyway.  We checked in, got boarding passes, and were given directions to the lounge located on the second floor above the terminal.

Emirates Lounge JFK

Emirates Lounge JFK

[Read more…]

Dubai and Mauritius 2014: Preview

We just got back from our last (I think?) intercontinental trip of 2014 where we visited the UAE and Mauritius.

Mauritius

Mauritius

I’ll have a full report coming in the next few days (week, max!), but I wanted to briefly preview what’s upcoming as well as their associated costs. [Read more…]

BOOK NOW!! Amazing Emirates economy fares via Expedia!

Update: It looks like some city pairs like are pricing out as low as $179!!!

HOLY CRAP!

HOLY CRAP!

Update: Sometimes it looks like Vayama is doing it now too?  I’d search Kayak.com and just pick the cheapest purveyor of Emirates tickets for your chosen itinerary.

It looks like Expedia is forgetting to add fuel surcharge on Emirates flights.  I started to write this about a Washington, DC to Mauritius flight, but it looks like tons of other destinations are also in play… everything from Seychelles to Hong Kong, to everywhere!!!!

BOOK NOW!

BOOK NOW!

———————————————————————————————————

Right now, you can book Washington, DC to Mauritius for $627 round trip via Expedia (sample dates that work for me are Nov 13 to 21).

via Kayak.com

via Kayak.com

Interestingly, it looks like it’s only available via Expedia, as the price on Emirates.com is higher.

via Emirates.com

via Emirates.com

It’s pretty clear when you look at the Expedia breakdown:

via Expedia ... final step before booking

via Expedia … final step before booking

…and the breakdown of what the fare is supposed to look like, that Expedia is dumping the fuel surcharge by mistake (the “YQ” line item).

Notice the YQ amount

Notice the YQ amount

This flight would be mileage-run worthy if you could find a program to credit your miles that earns 100% mileage on a “L” class economy fare with Emirates.  Alaska earns only 50% which would make this more than 8 cents per mile.

If you want to book this, I’d get on it ASAP!  These types of fares don’t last long!

My experience booking an Emirates flight with Virgin America Elevate points

Emirates is an extremely aspirational airline for mileage redemption because A) they have very “glamorous” premium cabin offerings, and B) because it’s generally not the easiest thing to do–they only have a few partners, and none of them are the “traditional big 4” programs in the United States with big bank tie-ups and easy mileage accrual.

Emirates Business Class Bar

Emirates Business Class Bar

You can redeem for Emirates flights with:

  • JAL Miles
  • Korean Air Miles
  • Alaska Airlines Miles
  • Virgin Elevate Points
  • Qantas Miles [Read more…]

United Devaluation… Thoughts a few days later

If you live under a rock, or don’t follow the points world at all: United massively devalued their award chart overnight on Thursday/Friday.  It was written about extensively in the blogosphere and on the message boards, but I wanted to add a few thoughts after I’ve had time to digest this a bit… [Read more…]

Book in Advance or Wait? Aspirational Products…

Sometimes it’s best to book an award very far in advance and sometimes it’s best to wait until very close to departure.  This depends on a lot of things–really a topic for another day–but here are a few generally true rules about some of the more aspirational products out there… the ones my clients tend to ask about the most.

As always, if you’re looking for a professional touch and a more expeditious booking process, consider hiring a pro.

Etihad "Diamond" First Class

Etihad “Diamond” First Class

Etihad First Class – Book as soon as possible, but don’t stress out about booking 330+ days in advance.  They seem to release 2 seats per flight, so if you’re looking for more than that, the less important members of your party will likely need to fly business class (life could be worse).  The longer you wait, the more flexible you may have to be, but with a very limited number of partners, Etihad space isn’t too hard to come by.  The best way to find availability is at Etihad’s website and to search for “Guest Seat” availability–that’s the space that partners have access to.
[Read more…]

Alaska Air One Ways on Cathay!

A few weeks (maybe months?) ago, I wrote about (here and here) how much I was looking forward to being able to book one way tickets on partner airlines with Alaska Airlines miles. Alaska miles are not terribly difficult to earn because:

  • The Bank of America card is “churnable,” so you can get the bonus multiple times.
  • Bank of America offers a debit card that earns 0.5 miles per dollar.  I’m not going to elaborate, but obviously the possibilities here include buying lottery tickets… and other debit or cash only purchases.
  • You can credit [most of] your Delta or American flights to Alaska.  Obviously loyal flyers will prefer not to do that as they’ll fly enough to get status on Delta or American, but those of us disloyal flyers…
  • You can transfer SPG points 1:1 to Alaska Airlines with the standard offer of 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 transferred.

So I was thrilled to find out that Alaska is offering one way awards.  That’s really great because you can combine a one way booked with Alaska miles with AA, United, BA, Lufthansa, or any other airline that offers one way awards at half price and get yourself a nice round trip without having to have all the miles in one account.
[Read more…]

Primer: Korean Air Award Charts, Partners and Sweet Spots

This is a long post that does require some background knowledge.  While I certainly encourage you to read the entire beginner’s guide, the most relevant portions for this post are here, here and here.

While the most popular transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards points is United, there are other airline options including Southwest, British Airways and Korean Air.  I’m going to focus on Korean Air for this post.  Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Korean Air SkyPass.
[Read more…]