Tag Archives: air miles

A first award redemption on Star Alliance Partner Airline – ANA

It was in June when the award flights for the preferred travelling dates for Singapore to Tokyo & Osaka were fully redeemed. While all the accommodation had been booked and some had been pre-paid, I was unable to purchase air tickets for the domestic leg of Osaka-Sapporo & Sapporo-Tokyo. I wrote to Peach, Vanilla & ANA to enquire when they would open the flight bookings for domestic. However, all replied that I should check for announcements on their websites.

Meanwhile, I could see Skyscanner selling ANA & JAL flights for these sectors. It was about S$1,500 for 2 adults and 2 children to travel one way from Osaka to Sapporo and another $$1,500 to return. I was not impressed with Expedia’s untruthful search results of offering $500 per way for 2 adults and 2 children. When you clicked to Expedia’s site, it actually showed $1,500 as the final payable amount. I gave feedback to the Expedia but little could be done by the

Faced with fast-selling situation for Sapporo hotels and Rusutsu Resort, I was concerned if the tickets would be as hot selling. I was pretty firm on my schedule and had zero room to bend. That was when I wondered if I could redeem my KF miles for these 2 one-way domestic flights.

The award chart was listed on Singapore Airlines’ website. It cost 25,000 miles to redeem a return flight for domestic sector. Given that it was a 2 hours’ flight from Osaka to Sapporo and a 1hr 40min’s flight from Sapporo to Haneda, it seemed like a fair deal.

However, I could only do the redemption via form or telephone. Given how anxious I was, I called the Krisflyer hotline for assistance. I was delighted that the customer service operator had all the flight schedules. While I was mentally mapping out my itinerary, she informed me that I could not make an award redemption till 2 months prior to departure date. I was too stunned to quiz her further.

Mr H made the call the next day and the operator helped him to process the redemption booking. It was seamless and fast. However, any further changes to date would cost $20 per ticket. I was not sure of the cancellation policy. We would also need to call ANA ourselves for selection of seats.

After redeeming 25,000 miles per 2-way ticket per person, we only had to pay $3.20 per adult and $1.60 per child for taxes.

Planning a F&E Ski Holiday

The actual date stamp of this post, as opposed to the scheduled date stamp, was 6th Jun 2015.

That was how far back I had concluded & finalised the planning of this holiday.

How it all began – with the commitment to Z’s school that he would be in school for the entire period leading up to his graduation concert on 27 Nov, we were left with December to plan for a holiday.

It was either a wintry holiday in Europe or a sunny holiday in Australia, or so I thought. I contemplated Barcelona & Turkey but the sheer thought of only sightseeing might not be suitable for Toddler X. It would be a pity to have his terrible twos/threes to mar the beauty of the scenery too.

We had just returned from Tateyama-Tokyo trip when the thought of returning to Japan, especially Hokkaido (after Mr H verified with AVA that food imported from Hokkaido was definitely safe from radiation). We had only been to Hokkaido in 2007. After seeking Mr. Google’s help, I found a particularly useful blog which helped us to decide on going to Hokkaido.

While I had been very familiar with Honshu, planning a F&E trip for Hokkaido had been a different ball game, which led to unbelievable stress at one point. I actually thought that it was 10X more stressful than Primary school registration. I chose the period of 18 Dec – 2 Jan.

First, I had to deal with the lack of award flights for redemption on SQ, so I bought the sweet deals tickets at $3,715 for open jaw Sin-Osaka-Tokyo-Sin flight. It was in June but the sales of domestic tickets were not available till Jul/Aug. I was fine with that till I realised my Tokyo accommodation options were disappearing. Metropolitan Ikebukuro was fully sold out, as per some other favorites which were more affordable, limousine bus stops at lobby or near the train stations.

Next, once I decided on what to do in Hokkaido because the options were plenty but the snow and the lack of flexibility in transportation (long hours, cold & costly) forced me to have a crash course on this island. At one point, Mr H was so frustrated that he decided driving was the best idea. That left my heart pumping overdrive in anxiety after googling for videos on people driving in snowy Hokkaido. We prioritised what we really wanted to do, what we could do with 2 kids with us and the pricing of the options. I was truly grateful to the above mentioned blogger, Bumblebee Mum, who took the trouble to explain and help me with my planning.

Thirdly, even the chosen (costly) ski resorts were getting SOLD OUT. At one point, I was left ‘resort-less’ on Z’s birthday which was on Christmas Day. I was so upset that I could not sleep, all because I mulled over the selections and was a tad too slow by a couple of minutes.

Fourth, even the preferred Sapporo city hotels were getting sold out. Travelling with 2 kids meant we needed a triple room or a room big enough to add an extra bed. That was challenging, and I wanted hotels with metro access so that we did not have to walk in the cold. I ended up overbooking so many hotels, thanks to free cancellations, to review my options without the fear of them getting sold out.

Lastly, I decided to redeem award flights for the domestic leg. While processing half way, the operator told me that I could not redeem till 2 months before departure date and subjected to the quota that their star alliance partner eventually decided upon. Mr H called in, supposedly to appeal, but the new operator actually processed the redemption. Hence, we were 100,000 miles poorer but we only had to pay $9.60 for taxes.

That made my day.

Then I managed to get the resort on Z’s birthday.

That made my day further, and before I knew it, the entire plan was flushed out.

I should be gushing about Z’s going to school but really, at this point, I thought I would like to share the stress of planning this trip. As much as I would like to deny, there was a tiny perfectionist streak in me.

Booked the next trip

With Z going to primary school in the coming year, our traveling periods were synchronized with the MOE calendar. 

In late October, I redeemed the air miles for a June holiday. The beauty of using air miles was the fully flexible tickets which came with it.

Z was so excited that he was a very good boy till the next morning. We were waiting for X to finish up his milk in the morning and I realized my boy had made very good use of the free time.

It was only a pocket of 5-10 minutes but he picked up his Chinese book to read. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

My studious boy  
Meanwhile, I had a good 10 months to plan.

At the back of my mind, I was also making plans for the 2016 Dec holiday. 😱

Holiday planning

We have a rather odd problem on hand.

We are not sure where to go for the next holiday. This is entirely a first world issue.

The truth is we do spend a long time debating where is good to go with the kids. We think about the weather, the journey, the logistics, the fun and even the potential shopping I can do.

I am a hardcore planner at heart.

Right down to the very detail of train timings, and sometimes even toilet breaks.

That means I have many concerns to address.

I have thought of doing 2 mid-length trips but one of the destinations is not so feasible.

Then there is the question of buying promotional airfare tickets or redeeming for flights. That borders upon thinking for the next or next next trip.

We are back at the drawing board and asking our inner muse on our real preference. I suspect my orange addiction might emerge and that will render Z’s 3rd trip in Paris.

Paywave rewards

My incessant need for orderliness and recording had been helpful in many ways. As a mega fan of collecting air miles, I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the use of UOB Visa Platinum for paywave and online transactions had expedited the rate that I was earning air miles.

Now I wished I had known of the card earlier.

Considering the amount of grocery bills we chalked up from buying diapers and milk powder in a month, it could earn us a one-way ticket to Bali!

Had I been a further fanatic, I might even plot a graph on the miles earning trends based on our expenditure.  Well, I was not.  I was happy to track the incremental earn rates.

From Jan till March, I received about 3000, 5000 and 7000 miles respectively.  The spike in March was due to stocking up 10 months’ worth of milk powder due to a price hike.

When I was using KF Gold, such numbers were nearly unseen of.  Granted, the switch to UOB meant a lot of hassle and there were many fine prints to study.  However, the rewards really outweighed the hassle.

Before they tuned down the reward system, I would be happily supporting the card despite the less than fantastic service from the call centre initially.  Thankfully, they seemed to have pulled their socks up.  Unlike a certain foreign bank (which offered a travel credit card) which had definitely earned its place as the WORST call centre at the moment.

In order to earn so many air miles, I literally converted all my existing spending to paying via miles earning credit cards.  That would be nearly as high as 90%.

However, like what Mr H said, I did not use credit cards like normal people.  I used credit cards heavily for their rewards system but I had the habit of paying off every single transaction on the day itself.  Put it in simpler terms, I treated my credit cards like debit cards.  There was no automatic deduction but I would facilitate on my own, simply because of the madness of the number of transactions I had in a month.

What could I say… I did not believe in spending future money and that would be one thing that both Z & X must learn too.