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Konnichiwa Japan – Final Thoughts

In this Final Thoughts post I’d like to recap five simple awards tactics used to make this trip special.

Trip Report

  1. Introduction and Trip Planning
  2. Japan Airlines Economy From ORD to NRT
  3. Westin Miyako Kyoto
  4. Exploring Kyoto
  5. Day trips from Kyoto
  6. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Part I
  7. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Part II
  8. Exploring Tokyo
  9. Final Thoughts

Here are a few simple award tactics at the core of planning this awards trip.

1. Off-peak awards to Japan on American Airlines are a fantastic value at 50k miles.

This award price tag is a 30% discount from United and a 40% discount from Delta (If you could ever find a ‘Low’) .   I used 100k American Airlines for two round trip economy tickets from ORD-NRT on Japan Airlines.

2. BA.com is a good tool to find availability of Oneworld carriers.

BA.com is buggy. It takes some getting used to but is ultimately a great tool for findings OW alliance carriers.  I used this tool to identify the Japan Airlines award availability as the AA.com website does not show JL’s award availability.  BA.com is also my top tool when looking for award availability on LAN and Cathay Pacific.

3. Pay the extra phone booking to use a partner award over AA metal.

American Airlines flies the same daily ORD-NRT route at nearly the same time.  The easy way out is booking the AA flight on AA.com and avoiding the forced AA phone booking fee (even though you can’t book online).  Though it’s a little more effort, make the call and pay the fee!  In almost every case a long-haul Asian carrier will offer a superior flight experience.

4. Hyatt Category 6 hotels offer significant value at 22k Hyatt Points.

A great selling point for the Hyatt Gold Passport program is that they have one of the lowest award costs for their top tier hotel redemptions at 22000 Points per night (Compare that to Starwood’s  60000-140000 points for one night redemption at certain properties!).  There are several aspirational properties in Hyatt’s international portfolio with enormous per night price tags where you can achieve some pretty impressive cents per point value. The Park Hyatt Tokyo was a phenomenal value at 22k Hyatt points.  In truth, I would be willing to spend far more than 22k points to stay here again.

5. SPG’s 5th night free is a great value for 5 day stays

If your trip schedule allows for 5 nights at the same hotel, SPG’s fifth night free is a quick and easy way to save 20% on your SPG award redemption. This discount was an influence planning our trip and deciding to stay at the Westin Kyoto for 5 consecutive nights.

Final Thoughts

There is no silver bullet for creating an amazing award trip.  It generally takes a combination of several simple award tactics across different aspects of the trip .  While none of these tactics by themselves are anything earth shattering, it was the combination that kept the award costs down and the travel experience memorable.

Japan is an amazing place.  Simply put, I can’t wait to return.  In the meantime, you will find me recommending a visit to everyone and their brother.

About the Author

About the author: Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • christo June 4, 2012, 8:58 am

    I totally agree with you.
    “Japan is an amazing place. Simply put, I can’t wait to return.”

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