Mother-Daughter Trip to Vietnam series:
How Much Did This Cost?
- ORD → HKG (Hong Kong) via Cathay First Class
- 70,000 Alaska miles
- Annual Fees for 3 Alaska Cards: $75 x 3 (but I had $100 credit statement per card so I actually made $75)
- Taxes and fees: $33
- One night at Intercontinental Hong Kong
- 60,000 IHG points
Total Cost: I actually pocketed $42 flying First Class.
How Much Would It Have Cost Had I Paid Cash?
Cathay First Class Flight: $11,298 + One Night at the Intercontinental Hong Kong: $329 = $11,627
How Did I Do It?
- Bank of America’s Alaska cards: Each card gave me 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in three months. Last year, I was able to apply for 3 cards simultaneously. Unfortunately, Bank of America recently tightened its rule and allows you to only have one card at a time. Now I apply for one, cancel after 5-6 months, and then re-apply a few weeks later. Please ensure to create an Alaska account prior to applying. That way, you can input the number on the credit card application or else you would be assigned a new number for each card you get.
Update (10/11/17) As of now, BofA has a new 2/3/4 rule. The bank will not approve new cards if you have 2 cards within 2 months, 3 card within 12 months, and 4 cards within 24 months. This only apply to personal BofA cards. This is a huge hit for us churners. RIP, Alaska card.
If you’re interested then please let me know by leaving a comment or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you a referral link.
Another way to accumulate Alaska miles is through SPG, which you can get with this SPG card*. You get 5,000 extra Alaska miles for every 20,000 SPG miles when you transfer from your SPG account.
- Chase IHG card: Receive 60,000 points after $1k spend in 3 months with the first annual fee waived. With each subsequent year, you’ll get a free night at any IHG property in the world for $49. This is the best hotel card out there, better than the Hyatt card that I like due to no restriction on the hotel category with less annual fee.
Wow! What a phenomenal experience!
As soon as I walked up to the counter to check my bags, a gentleman helped lift them so I wouldn’t have to do anything. Once my bags were checked, I was given instructions to go to Air France lounge instead of British Airways as listed in my welcome email.
Entrance to the Air France loungeThe lounge was rather plain and crowded so I didn’t bother taking photos. In terms of design and space, it is inferior to AA’s Admirals Club that I frequently used domestically. However, it did offer sandwiches in addition to snacks and an open bar. Since I knew there would be plenty of food and drinks waiting for me on board, I just drank water.
The flight was delayed for an hour due to mechanical issues but the staff made sure to keep us updated. When it was time to board, a gentleman from the lounge escorted me to the gate then to the front of the line where the ticket agent that checked me in earlier welcomed me on board. She also remembered my name. I felt so important. =)
Once on board, the flight attendant informed that I was the only passenger in the First Class cabin and could sit anywhere my heart desired. Due to good reviews, I chose to keep my original seat at 1A with a window view.
Its first class cabin consists of just six seats, spread across two rows in a 1-1-1 configuration.
While waiting for other passengers to board, two flight attendants came by to introduce themselves and thanked me for giving them purpose on this flight. Wow, that was the closest that I ever felt like royalty. I thought it was awesome that they tried to ask how to pronounce my name correctly. After introductions were over, I requested some Krug champagne even though I don’t really drink.
I was then presented with the amenities for the flight, which included super comfortable pajamas, soft slippers, eye shades, amazing Bose headphones, and an Aesop amenity kit.
The pajamas were a tad too big for me. Regardless, I immediately went to the bathroom to change.
As boarding wrapped up, the inflight manager stopped by to present the menu as well as wished me a pleasant flight.
Fresh orchids were brought to my seat.
Since I didn’t eat in the lounge, I was excited for lunch. The flight attendants took turn setting up my table and presented me with a “welcome aboard” card.
I chose to go with Chinese favorites.
The appetizers were nothing to rave about. For the main course, I ordered the sea bass from the dinner menu since am not a fan of non-Vietnamese curry. The sea bass was incredibly tasty and perfectly seasoned. It was one of the best fish dishes I had ever eaten.
After the main course, I had a cappuccino, which obviously made me go to the bathroom quite often. Fortunately, the crew kept the bathroom cleaned, something that American airlines could learn from.
To finish this decadent meal, I had the delicious orange sweet curd souffle with dulce de leche ice cream.
Once the incredible and attentive lunch service concluded, I started watching several movies. After a few hours of entertainment, the flight attendant said that he made my bed in another seat. He told me my current seat could be used for watching TV/eating and then use the other one to sleep. What?!? United didn’t even offer turn down service when I requested for it on one of the flights.
The bed was spacious and comfortable. I was able to sleep for 6 hours.
When I woke up, there was still 6 hours to go. I got hungry so moved to my original seat to request for snacks and dinner.
The noodle was bland. I wish there were chili garlic oil available in order to spice it up a bit.
The crew came by and gave me a basket of snacks.
Several hours prior to landing, I opened the window shade to watch the sunset.
Now it was time for dinner service to begin.
For the main course, I had the sea bass once again. Yum, just thinking about it is making my mouth all watery.
The black bean soup was disappointing. I was expecting the actual black beans but it was literally soup.
Since I don’t drink alcohol, I made up for it by eating… a lot. I literally gained a pound after a 16hr flight! I weighed myself before and after the flight. It was such an awesome experience receiving all the attention. I only lifted my fingers to feed myself, otherwise, the two flight attendants took turn taking great care of me, such as hanging up my clothes, setting up my table, adjusting the TV, setting up the bed, covering blanket over me, etc. I’ll prob never experience this favorable 1:2 ratio again. I thought I had a great experience flying in AA’s business class from Paris to Philly but this blew it out of the water. Asians know how to take care of (elite) customers. Cathay Pacific’s first class definitely lives up to the hype, much better than United First Class .
I wanted to “freshen up” at Cathay’s arrival lounge but with the heavy bags and delayed arrival time, I decided to head to the hotel instead. For convenience sake, I took a cab to the Intercontinental hotel for $250 HKD (~$32 USD). I was told that HK taxis do not take credit cards. Luckily, Tran left me his debit card before he flew South America. Ka-ching! I withdrew a few hundred HKD prior to exiting the terminal.
The cab ride was about 40 minutes.
Personally, I find Intercontinental Hong Kong’s exterior to be dull and boring but its interior is utterly gorgeous.
The check in process was pleasant and smooth, especially when I got upgraded to a nicer and more spacious room. The receptionist escorted me to my room to show me around. There was a pleasant aroma (mixture of jasmine and orchid) that permeated the property.
Once I freshened up, I headed downstairs to enjoy my complimentary drink (courtesy of holding the Chase IHG credit card) by the lounge that offered splendid view of Victoria Harbour. Prior to heading up to my room, I stopped by the concierge desk to reserve my complimentary tai chi session for 6am but I couldn’t wake up on time.
I couldn’t sleep well because of the hives. This is why I don’t drink alcohol. Oh, the things I do for a photo.
Tran and I have been accumulating Alaska miles the past few months in order to book Cathay Pacific First Class for our next Vietnam trip. Stay tuned for that!
*If you use our referral link then we would get points too if you’re approved. Here is our other post on different credit cards that could be helpful to plan your special trip.