Wednesday, 8 March 2017

My £10,315 First Class Cathay Pacific Flight (that cost me £30).

Four years ago I got into the hobby of collecting airline miles. I previously hadn't even bothered to sign up for any airline's frequent flyer clubs, in the mistaken belief that I would need to do a crazy amount of travel to get anything worthwhile out of them.

Since I started reading blogs such as Head For Points and the Flyer Talk forums I've since collected hundreds of thousands of miles, but very few of them came from actually flying. Most were from churning credit card signup bonuses (what would be called "bonus whoring" in the online poker world) and various other offers that have come up from time to time.

I've previously written about some of the excellent miles redemptions that I've made for Business Class flights in the last couple of years:

Bangkok to Istanbul with Malaysia Airlines @ 65,000 Avios + £14.10 GBP
Istanbul to Bangkok with Royal Jordanian @ 65,000 Avios + £101 GBP
Bangkok to Hanoi with Qatar Airways @ 18,000 Avios + £98 GBP
Bangkok to Osaka with Japan Airlines @ 20,000 Avios + £26.90
Osaka to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific @ 20,000 Avios points + £26.90 GBP

This was my first time making a redemption in First Class, travelling from Hong Kong to Milan with Cathay Pacific for the bargain price of 120,000 Avios + £30 GBP.

Flight to Milan, man. #HongKong #CathayPacific

A post shared by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on


Sure, 120,000 is a lot of miles to use up on one flight. I could certainly have used them more frugally, but the opportunity to fly First Class for the first time in my life, to do it with a top airline like Cathay and pay only 30 quid in taxes, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hong Kong - Trip Report

After a week of eating everything in Osaka, I travelled to Hong Kong with the intention of doing plenty of hiking to burn off those excess calories.

I'd visited Hong Kong several times before but was unable to take advantage of its excellent hiking trails as it was always raining. I hoped for better luck with the weather on this visit.

Just as I did between Bangkok and Osaka, I was able to book an excellent value miles redemption ticket between Osaka and Hong Kong. I travelled business class with Cathay Pacific, KIX-HKG direct, for just 20,000 Avios points + £26.90 GBP ($33.79 USD). The cash price of the same ticket was a ludicrous £1877 GBP ($2357 USD).

It was only a 4 hour and 25 minute flight but, just like my flight from Bangkok to Osaka, the airline uses a long haul aircraft for the route. This makes a big difference in terms of comfort as you get a fully flat bed in business class rather than just a wider seat.

This was a 10am flight so certainly no need for a sleep. I just lay back and watched The Secret Life of Pets.


The Secret Life of Pets

A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on

Monday, 19 December 2016

Osaka - Trip Report

The wonderful thing about travel is the experience of something different than what you're used to. And for a European it doesn't get any more different than Japan. When you're in Japan, you know that you're 5,000 miles away from home.

However, one thing that’s Japanese that I am used to is their food. I seek out Japanese restaurants no matter where I am in the world. It was four years since my last trip to Japan so another visit was well overdue. I’d been hearing that the food capital of Japan was Osaka, so, of course, I booked a flight there.

I used some of my Avios (British Airways) miles to book a business class flight with Japan Airlines direct from Bangkok to Osaka for 20,000 Avios + £26.90 ($34.10 USD / €32.08 EUR) in cash. An excellent value redemption considering the cash price of the same ticket was £963 ($1221 USD / €1148 EUR).

It was a 5 hour flight but fortunately Japan Airlines use a long haul aircraft for the route. Long haul is usually defined by most airlines to be over 7 hours. The benefit of flying in a long haul aircraft is that you get a flat bed in business class rather than just a big seat. And with a 23:25 takeoff I needed it.

I got a solid 3 and a half hours sleep in. The cabin crew asked me before lights out if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast or left to sleep. Of course I value food higher than sleep so I wasn’t going to miss my first Japanese breakfast of the trip.



With the 2 hour time difference the flight landed at 6:25. Early morning arrivals are good in that you get a whole day at your destination. In fact, more than a full day for me because I generally don’t get out of bed before midday. But they are bad in that it’s usually way too early to check into a hotel.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Living in Thailand - 2016 Update

Two years ago I published a blog about living in Thailand. Since then I’ve written lots about my travels overseas to other countries, however an update on the place that I spend most of my time is well overdue.


The weather, the food and the girls are still hot. The only thing that’s changed recently is the cost of living, for me as a Brit at least. Our currency, Pounds Sterling, is now worth about 25% less against the Thai Baht than it was earlier in the year before the damn Brexit vote.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Yangon, Myanmar - Trip Report.


Since I don’t want to get a job, go to school or marry a Thai girl, I’m still living in Thailand by means of back-to-back tourist visas. This requires me to briefly leave the country every 3 months. I usually try to make the most of these visa-runs by visiting other parts of Asia that I haven’t been to yet and which interest me.

The only nearby country I hadn’t visited yet was Myanmar (formerly Burma). It was at the very bottom of my list but after more than 5 years of visiting other neighbouring countries multiple times, it was about time that I checked it out.

Flight

I chose to visit Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the largest city in Myanmar, because there is a Thai embassy there and it’s just a 1 hour, 1300 Baht (28 GBP / 37.50 USD) flight from Bangkok.

That’s the price flying with the Thai budget airline Nok Air.

Like the budget airlines in the UK, you have to go to some spartan departure gate that’s all the way at the ass-end of the airport and then spend 15 minutes being transported like cattle to the plane in an overcrowded bus.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Manila - Trip Report

After another three months in Thailand my visa expired, meaning it was travel time. After living in Thailand for the best part of five years I'd already visited just about every country in Asia when it came time to do a visa run. Not the Philippines though.

The most obvious choice for a trip to Philippines would have been Cebu. It's very touristy with lots of nice beaches. I'm not that big on beaches, or tourists for that matter, so I chose to go to the big dirty city of Manila - just a 3 hour direct flight from Bangkok.


The start to my trip wasn't great. I was in Manila for less than a minute before getting scammed by a policeman for 200 Pesos. (100 Pesos = $2.15 USD = £1.52 GBP)

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Vietnam - Trip Report

I had previously visited Vietnam in 2011 but missed out on a lot as I'd only spent time in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Needing to leave Thailand again for a visa run and having a friend who lives in Hanoi, I decided to return to Vietnam to check out more of the country.

I flew to Hanoi direct from Bangkok, in business class, with Qatar Airways on a short 90 minute flight. The return ticket cost me 18,000 Avios (British Airways miles) + £98 GBP in fees. Sure, for the same as I paid in fees I could have bought a cash ticket on a budget airline like Air Asia, but for much better take-off times and the opportunity to fly business class with one of the best airlines in the world I was happy to flick in the extra 18K Avios.

The first thing I did when I arrived there was to buy cheap local SIM card with data from a kiosk at the airport and then book a ride to the city with the Uber app. I chose to use Uber Black and was driven to the city in a nice new SUV for 25% less than the flat fare of a standard Vietnamese taxi and also got a further large discount for using a first ride promotion code. Isn't technology brilliant?

I stayed in a nice hotel in the old quarter. Just as well that the hotel was quiet, clean and nice because it was in contrast to the noise, dirt and chaos on the streets outside - the like of which you could only find in a busy city in a developing country. It was brilliant.

Hanoi traffic. Good luck crossing the road. #Hanoi #Vietnam

A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on



Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Taiwan - Trip Report

Taiwan was one of the few countries in Asia that I hadn't yet visited.

Needing to leave Thailand briefly for visa reasons, I saw some good value direct flights from Bangkok to Taipei with Tiger Airways and decided to fly there for a 6 day stay.

From Thailand to Taiwan on a tiger.

A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on



Hotels are quite expensive in Taipei when compared to some other Asian cities. A room is around 3x the price that it is in Bangkok for the same standard and in the equivalent location.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Istanbul Food Tour

When I flew from Thailand to Ireland this Easter to play in the Irish Open I broke up the journey with a stopover in Istanbul, Turkey. One night on the way there and another two on the way home.

At the time I booked the trip I didn't know much about Istanbul or even what I actually wanted to do there, other than eating my weight in Turkish Delight. My main motivation for this itinerary was to save myself a lot of money. However I'm always glad for the opportunity to visit somewhere I've never been before.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Irish Open (Dublin) - Trip Report

From Bangkok, Thailand to Dublin, Ireland. I made that long journey to play in this year's Paddy Power Irish Open and end my 10 month hiatus from live poker tournaments.

The venue for the Irish Open was the Hilton Doubletree hotel, who got my stay off to a sweet start. When I was checking in I was handed a large, fresh, warm and extremely delicious chocolate-chip cookie along with my room key.

I think more hotels should do this kind of thing. The financial cost is small compared to the resulting customer satisfaction level. Maybe I love cookies too much, but if I'm a customer of yours and you unexpectedly hand me a delicious freshly baked cookie, chances are I'll write good things about your business on the internet. (Contact me for postal address to send all cookie bribes.)