Asia Sampler 2014: Part 1
Planning: It started when I heard that United miles would be devaluing in February 2014 and we didn’t get tickets to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. My brother already booked the week off from work so we had to come up with Plan B. We both had plenty of Chase Ultimate Reward points so we could transfer them to United and fly Business or First Class. He had never been to Asia so I started crafting the trip around 2 cities that interested him. Those 2 cities were Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. The hardest part of booking a US-Asia trip is finding the transpacific flight. After many hours, I was able to find a flight from LAX to TPE (Taipei) on EVA Air and a return flight from ICN (Seoul) to LAX on Asiana. Both flights would be in Business Class as we couldn’t justify the additional points for First Class and the airlines that had availability weren’t top notch. You have to piece meal your itinerary together by finding each segment separately. Understanding the rules of the United award tickets is essential as well. I knew we could have up to 5 segments each way when booking a roundtrip ticket, 1 stopover and unlimited layovers (up to 24 hours). We ended up with 8 segments, 1 stopover and 3 layovers (enough time to visit the cities). The final booking included 3 Star Alliance airlines (EVA, Thai & Asiana) with a routing of LAX-TPE-KUL-BKK-HND-NRT-BKK-HKG-ICN-LAX. The total cost was 120,000 United miles and $90.30 in taxes per person all in Business Class.
LAX-TPE EVA Air BR11 Royal Laurel Class: To start the adventure I flew down to LAX from SFO. I met up with my brother at the international terminal to check into our flight. We were able to check our bags all the way to Kuala Lumpur. After passing through security we were able to access the brand new Star Alliance Business Class Lounge. It was amazing! Great food and drinks. Plenty of areas to sit depending on your mood (outdoors, home theater, balcony, bar, etc.). Upon boarding our evening flight we were greeted by our flight attendants and shown our seats individually. The plane (777-300ER) was only 2 weeks old so everything was brand new. The amenities included: Satellite WiFi ($21.95 for unlimited use), Fiji water, Rimowa amenity kits, Lobster Thermidor for dinner (pre-order only), Dom Perignon, PJ’s and even fresh cut flowers in the bathrooms. The seats were lie-flat and in the reverse herringbone layout which maximizes space. I was amazed by the quality of service and they couldn’t do enough for you. I would highly recommend flying EVA Air when taking the transpacific flight if you’re on one of their new planes.
Stay tuned… Part 2 will feature our intra-Asia flights and Part 3 will feature our adventure home from BKK-LAX with stops in Hong Kong and Seoul.