The best use of my points and $$$ to get to Shanghai.

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smit0847

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My partner and I want to go to PVG from MEL at the end of May. We're pretty flexible with dates. Between us we have about 550,000 VFF points and 180,000 QFF points.

There are lots of different options, I'd like your opinion about what is the best value:
(amounts are pp return)

Option 1:

Convert VFF points to KF points and redeem on SQ J. This would require 140,000 VFF points and a whopping $914 in surcharges, fees and taxes.

Option 2:
Redeem VFF points direct through VA for SQ J. This would cost 220,000 VFF points + $190 in surcharges, fees and taxes.

Option 3:
Book upgradeable Y tickets through SQ and then use points to upgrade to J. This would have the added benefit of earning lots of VA SCs that would easily retain VA SG (I'm unlikely to retain unless I do a trip like this or a status run). This would require $1,400 for the Flexible economy fares plus 115,000 VFF points to upgrade.

Option 4:
We buy Lifemiles and fly Thai J (we *might* even get Air China J) for about $1,500. I've flowjn TG J probably 15 times in the past 18 months so pretty sick of them TBH.

Option 5:
We use QF points to go CX J one-way (78,000 one way) and another option to get home.

Option 6:
We suck it up and just buy economy tickets. We could get a direct flight both ways (10.5 hours each way) on China Eastern *shudder* for about $800 return or Cathay via HKG for $820 return or pay a bit more and go SQ for $1100 return and get the SC and points and enjoy the status benefits. It’s 2 x 7:25 flights and 2 x 5:20 flights (so 25 ish hours of flying all up).

I recognise we have a lot of VFF points so it would make sense to use them but blowing 440,000 on a trip to Asia seems like an awful lot. We are somewhat points rich but cash poor. We have no real preference between SQ and CX J - flown and loved both. The SCs thing is waying on my mind - they would be really useful.

What would you do? I'm leaning towards option 2, 3, 5 or a combination of these three.
 

yohy?!

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I like option 3 - minimise points burn plus requal = win, win
 

locopano

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Hey,

slightly different option - you could both apply for the $279 StGeorge Visa Select and get a total of 120k QFF points

you would need to get yourself another 12,000 points though for two return J's

applied last night approved this morning
 
Credit cards which earn frequent flyer points is a popular way to earn frequent flyer points. You can receive thousands of points on everyday spend. And, many of these cards offer generous signup bonuses! Compare to find the credit card that best suits your needs.

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Buzzard

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If you are cash poor and points rich then Option 2 seems like the go.
Option 3 - What are the chances of an upgrade? This is certainly a good option if you are prepared not to get the upgrade.
I like Option 5 but what is the $$ component?
locopano has a good suggestion too.

Keep us posted.
 

MEL_Traveller

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If using Lifemiles, Air China is the way to go. Their product is excellent, on par if not better than CX*. They often have 2 seats available but if you have specific dates, finding availability for a week away can be hard. Perhaps you could fly CX one way on QF points and CA the other?

*why on par?

  • CX pros: better IFE, better lounges, better range of arrival times into PVG... but there are often lengthy delays into and out of HKG to PVG.
  • CA pros: better beds, non-stop flight, early evening arrival (which if you sleep on the plane is perfect to get to your hotel and then hit the town)
  • equal between CX and CA: on board service, quality of food (except for the desserts, which CX will offer ice-cream and CA has some sponge-cake thingy)

I too would avoid TG. None of the benefits offered by CX or CA.

With availability issues, my friends recently booked Air China one way to PVG, and are returning on Vietnam Airlines. They paid USD880 (all in) for the return in business class out of PVG (two hour stop in SGN). (Doesn't work the other way, with prices ex MEL very expensive.)
 

wannabeinvestmentbanker

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Whist you may be used to J and F travel, as per your TRs, I would actually recommend option 6 especially if you require the SCs. I'm not sure if the same can be done from Melbourne, but, last year I did Brisbane to Shanghai via Singapore on SQ all in one day (9.10am ex Brisbane and 5.25pm ex Singapore). Day and evening flights mean SQ Y is tolerable as you can rest when you arrive. This nets 200SCs return if you purchase a flexi saver with 400SCs potentially with family pooling.

Upgrading to J as per option 3 is not a very cost-effective use of points as business savers are only a few thousand more outright and whilst your points balance is certainly healthy, I believe you could use your points much better on another trip.
Surcharges are too high on option 1 and the points required is too high on option 2.
Buying Lifemiles and making successful bookings with any form of connections seems to be quite troublesome at the moment with LM, as I'm sure you are aware, so I'd probably avoid the stress of that.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Buying Lifemiles and making successful bookings with any form of connections seems to be quite troublesome at the moment with LM, as I'm sure you are aware, so I'd probably avoid the stress of that.

the one thing about Air China availability with LM is that it seems to stick around. CA releases their award seats and they don't seem to get snapped up that quickly... seats are there for weeks at a time. So I'd feel confident if you can find something, that you could buy the miles and get the seats.

(I agree with connections however... not worth the trouble to try and get LM to ticket TG, OZ or if you were lucky, SQ)
 

smit0847

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts - its certainly better to have lots of options than no options at all!

If you are cash poor and points rich then Option 2 seems like the go.
Option 3 - What are the chances of an upgrade? This is certainly a good option if you are prepared not to get the upgrade.
I like Option 5 but what is the $$ component?
locopano has a good suggestion too.

Keep us posted.
There are KF award seats on every flight so I *assume* (please correct me if I am wrong) that if there are KF award seats available then there are KF upgrades with points available too? Do they come from the same pool?
I'm not sure what the cash component of a QF MEL-HKG-PVG award is as I dont have enough points in one account to search - could someone please check this for me? I'm guessing its about $300 pp each way? Is it 78k points required or 72k?

If using Lifemiles, Air China is the way to go. Their product is excellent, on par if not better than CX*. They often have 2 seats available but if you have specific dates, finding availability for a week away can be hard. Perhaps you could fly CX one way on QF points and CA the other?

*why on par?

  • CX pros: better IFE, better lounges, better range of arrival times into PVG... but there are often lengthy delays into and out of HKG to PVG.
  • CA pros: better beds, non-stop flight, early evening arrival (which if you sleep on the plane is perfect to get to your hotel and then hit the town)
  • equal between CX and CA: on board service, quality of food (except for the desserts, which CX will offer ice-cream and CA has some sponge-cake thingy)

I too would avoid TG. None of the benefits offered by CX or CA.

With availability issues, my friends recently booked Air China one way to PVG, and are returning on Vietnam Airlines. They paid USD880 (all in) for the return in business class out of PVG (two hour stop in SGN). (Doesn't work the other way, with prices ex MEL very expensive.)
I disagree with several things you say here! (Note I flew CX J a few days ago but havent flown CA J but read many many TRs on it). CA run a A332 to MEL which I believe has the forward facing 2-2-2 J seats (not angled slightly sideways 2-2-2 J seats the 77W has). I disagree the seat is as good as the worlds best J seat CX have. Yes the direct flight is a big plus but for everything else CX trumps CA. CA is attractive for the return overnight flight as its almost 12 hours and the bed would be good enough to sleep properly on but I would not look forward to a long daytime flight with CA. I dont think the food or service would be on par.

Whist you may be used to J and F travel, as per your TRs, I would actually recommend option 6 especially if you require the SCs. I'm not sure if the same can be done from Melbourne, but, last year I did Brisbane to Shanghai via Singapore on SQ all in one day (9.10am ex Brisbane and 5.25pm ex Singapore). Day and evening flights mean SQ Y is tolerable as you can rest when you arrive. This nets 200SCs return if you purchase a flexi saver with 400SCs potentially with family pooling.

Upgrading to J as per option 3 is not a very cost-effective use of points as business savers are only a few thousand more outright and whilst your points balance is certainly healthy, I believe you could use your points much better on another trip.
Surcharges are too high on option 1 and the points required is too high on option 2.
Buying Lifemiles and making successful bookings with any form of connections seems to be quite troublesome at the moment with LM, as I'm sure you are aware, so I'd probably avoid the stress of that.

It cant be done same day from MEL - the earliest day flight leaves at 11am. I wouldnt be looking forward to the prospect of 2 fairly long Y flight - I just did a PR 3 hours Y flight and it was pretty horrid - I cant sleep sitting up for longer than about 10 minutes! We have no other long-haul trips planned this year.

the one thing about Air China availability with LM is that it seems to stick around. CA releases their award seats and they don't seem to get snapped up that quickly... seats are there for weeks at a time. So I'd feel confident if you can find something, that you could buy the miles and get the seats.

(I agree with connections however... not worth the trouble to try and get LM to ticket TG, OZ or if you were lucky, SQ)

Just checked LMs - the CA availability is actually quite good. I forgot they flew direct to PVG - I thought it was direct to PEK. The overnight return PVG-MEL is looking quite attractive now -its a 12 hour flight so long enough for a proper sleep and fully flat beds.
 

MEL_Traveller

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I disagree with several things you say here! (Note I flew CX J a few days ago but havent flown CA J but read many many TRs on it). CA run a A332 to MEL which I believe has the forward facing 2-2-2 J seats (not angled slightly sideways 2-2-2 J seats the 77W has). I disagree the seat is as good as the worlds best J seat CX have. Yes the direct flight is a big plus but for everything else CX trumps CA. CA is attractive for the return overnight flight as its almost 12 hours and the bed would be good enough to sleep properly on but I would not look forward to a long daytime flight with CA. I dont think the food or service would be on par.


Just checked LMs - the CA availability is actually quite good. I forgot they flew direct to PVG - I thought it was direct to PEK. The overnight return PVG-MEL is looking quite attractive now -its a 12 hour flight so long enough for a proper sleep and fully flat beds.

The non-stop is about 10.5 hours - (as little as 10hrs 15mins on a couple days in the last couple weeks)

But unless you have flown Air China it's hard to comment.

I have flown Air China and CX many times, and the CX seat is not 'the world's best' seat by any stretch of the imagination.

It is very good, but it has its pros and cons like any other seat. The CX seat is private, but it's hard. CA a332 wins for overall comfort (softer seat, better duvet, 80' full forward seat pitch with no little boxes to have to shunt your legs in), but not on privacy.

Service and food on CX is not better than CA. They each have their pros and cons. But overall one doesn't outshine the other. CX isn't necessarily good at mixing drinks. CA does a pretty good job. CA's menu is more extensive, and the chinese dishes looked better on my last flight than CX.

IFE is the biggie where CX wins hands-down. But when I fly to Shanghai I'm lucky to even have time to watch a movie. I sleep pretty much the whole way so I can hit the ground running for the night.

The above is true for the a332 aircraft. I'd have a different opinion of CX vs CA is you were comparing the 777 or 77W. CA's business class seating arrangement are not so good on those.

(edited to add: Lucky actually has a pretty good review of Air China on his blog: http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2013/11/05/review-air-china-business-class-paris-to-beijing/ The food has improved slightly, but there aren't PJs anymore. And I'm not sure I agree with his assessment of the IFE. But the AU routes seem to have ok english speakers.)
 
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yohy?!

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CX service on the ground and in the air is far superior to CA in all aspects from proper handling of checkin/priority boarding, lounges, onboard J service and handling of irrops.

They might have been able to catch up on seat or F&B (which is highly debatable) but they are very rough around the edges in service handling and recovery, never more obvious than ground handling in their home ports in China.

I would take CX with a transit over any Chinese carrier at present from Oz, they are simply too new to the game to deliver a competitive product to other global carriers.
 

MEL_Traveller

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CX service on the ground and in the air is far superior to CA in all aspects from proper handling of checkin/priority boarding, lounges, onboard J service and handling of irrops.

They might have been able to catch up on seat or F&B (which is highly debatable) but they are very rough around the edges in service handling and recovery, never more obvious than ground handling in their home ports in China.

I would take CX with a transit over any Chinese carrier at present from Oz, they are simply too new to the game to deliver a competitive product to other global carriers.

My take is slightly different.

HKG/PVG/MEL are all identical for priority check-in and boarding. Hong Kong doesn't offer priority security like both PVG and MEL. The new Air China/Star lounge at PVG is pretty good. With the absence of champagne it sits comfortably with CX J lounges in HKG.

I agree CZ doesn't have a good reputation for IRROPS at CAN (or anything else much at CAN unfortunately).
 

smit0847

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Thanks all. A quick question:

If I book a Flexi fare through VA operated by SQ (either with a VA or an SQ flight number) can I then use KF points to upgrade to J or is it only possible if I booked that Flex Y fare direct through SQ?
 

wannabeinvestmentbanker

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I don't believe VA codeshares are upgradable using KF points but I am not 100% sure. Supporting this would be the two different types of flexis SQ sell with only the most expensive Flexi being upgradable with KF points. I believe VA codeshare bookings are akin to the Flexi savers on SQ.
 

amaroo

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Option 5 ... however, I'm QFFP exclusive.
 
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