Goodbye 2018 !!! Guest Writers onboard

Dear readers,

I would like to engage you as much as possible. However, due to the rapid expansion of my core business across different countries, my time to commit as a regular blogger has become a thing of a past.

During my course of travelling, I have gained many meaningful insights of the world and many friends alike who enjoy maximizing their travel dollar. I would like to hence introduce a few guest writers who have volunteered to share their time and experience travelling around the world.

First up, I would like to introduce a new travel geek on the block. His name is Joel, his relatively new being a geek but has done a few trips this year. He is learning the ropes of creating meaningful and insightful travel content and travel tips so that people can have more options available to them. He’s eagerly pushing for his small island nation to adopt a more miles friendly environment. His current motto is “ don’t spend a dime unless I get some miles in return” from the famous loyalty and advertorial movie, up in the air.

With these guest writers maintaining and updating latest information, I hope that my loyal readers would be engaged. I would try to join in and give the perspective. The guest writers would be coming in with their reviews and takeaways. So do welcome them with a round of applause !!! Goodbye 2018.

Troy Liu

 

亲爱的读者,

天下无不散筵席,虽然有着千万的不舍,我还是要告别 boarding area 的舞台。本人因为忙于发展业务, 会和广大的读者少了时间交流。

在那么多年的旅行经验,我结交到来之各地的小伙伴。我很享受与他们分享我旅行的心得。我与几位小伙伴特别投机,于是邀请他们来做来宾作家。

俊荣来自新加坡,他会尽力的用双语与大家交流。若有表达不好的地方,请大家多多包涵。他旅行的意义是由电影” Up in the air” 启发的,这使他迷上了追求旅程的道路。他会与大家分享旅行经历和一些小秘决。

我希望在接下来新的一年里,借着这些来宾作家的文章,能继续与读者交流。告别了2018年。我们有缘再见

刘总

 

Redeeming awards out of Hong Kong? Here’s some sweet spots to consider

If you’re based in Hong Kong, you may be wondering which frequent flyer programs offer the best value for your miles. The truth is, there is no the”best” program, only the best program for you

In this post I want to lay out some of the best value options for Hong Kong based travelers (and how to earn them)

British Airways Avios for flights within 1,151 miles

Avios is well-known for offering great value on short haul awards. In particular, it is possible to redeem an economy flight for destinations 650 miles and below for 4,500 miles one-way, and 1,151 miles and below for 7,500 miles one-way.

Here is a sample of destinations that are close to Hong Kong- you could easily hop to Taipei or Hanoi for only 4,500 miles, with Manila, Shanghai and Changsha just 7,500 miles away.

From To Initial
Heading
Magnetic
Heading
Distance
Total: 2,924 mi
Average: 585 mi
HKG TPE 066° (NE) 069° (E) 501 mi
HKG PVG 037° (NE) 040° (NE) 779 mi
HKG HAN 263° (W) 266° (W) 526 mi
HKG MNL 138° (SE) 141° (SE) 711 mi
HKG CSX 354° (N) 357° (N) 407 mi

 

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to Micronesia and Guam

KrisFlyer classifies Hong Kong under the North Asia 1 zone, whereas Guam and Micronesia are part of North Asia 2. One-way tickets are 12,500 and 22,500 miles respectively for Economy and Business, which can be very good value considering the flight can be upwards of 5 hours.

If you’re looking to get to Micronesia from Hong Kong, United Airlines operates a flight from Guam that stops in TKK and PNI, however you’ll have a long connection in Guam which you can spend exploring the island.

As for PNI, well, I would say, enjoy your silence time there. On the than hand, TKK is a great place for wreck diving

United MileagePlus to Australia/New Zealand

Although the United program underwent a change late last year, there is still good value to be had flying from Hong Kong to Australia/New Zealand.

That’s because United classifies Hong Kong as part of “South Asia”, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

As the example below shows, a flight from Hong Kong to Auckland via Thai Airways would only cost 25K miles in economy and 50K miles in business. Considering the flight time is close to 14 hours, this is a very good deal. As a business class passenger, you will also be able to enjoy a 30-minute spa treatment in the Thai Airways spa in Bangkok.

Make sure to include your excursionist award for a free segment

Lufthansa Miles & More to Hawaii

One-way awards between Hong Kong and Hawaii cost 20k/35k miles for economy/business class. This flight is about 11.5 hours of flying with a transit in Japan or South Korea, so it represents very good value once again. If you go with the Japan option, you will be able to fly on ANA’s 767-300 and 787-9 aircraft. The 787-9 will have full flat seats.

Emirates Skywards to Bangkok

Emirates operates a fifth freedom route between Hong Kong and Bangkok that uses their A380 aircraft. If you’ve always wanted to experience the over-the-top bling of Emirates cabins, here is one of the cheapest ways of doing so.

You can get a full flat seat with an inflight bar- not bad for a 3 hour flight!

Emirates Skywards charges 40,000 miles for a round trip business class flight between these two cities.

ANA Mileage Club to Europe and USA and Canada

ANA Mileage Club offers very good value redemptions out of Hong Kong to Europe and North America at just 93,000 and 95,000 miles for round trip business class (58,000 and 60,000 miles for round trip economy).

Remember that ANA Mileage Club does not allow one-way redemptions for partner flights.

How to earn these miles?

You can earn some of these miles through your bank credit cards, but for the widest selection of frequent flyer programs, you should use Mileslife. Mileslife has 16 different frequent flyer partners, all of which have direct credit agreements. You can use Mileslife and earn miles at over 20,000 selections around the world, from high end dining and retail, to luxury hotels and spas, to activities and attraction tickets, even from your daily walking and health activities.

Download Mileslife here and start earning miles for your next vacation!

Mileslife launches in Hong Kong! Earn up to 0.25HK$= 1 mile(1USD-8miles) and win 1 million Avios

After several months of hard work by the Mileslife team, I’m very excited announce that Mileslife has officially launched in Hong Kong!

Mileslife has more than 100 dining merchants already in Hong Kong, including popular restaurants and cafes like The Coffee Academics, Modern China, Xia Mian Guan, Craft Brew & Co and BRICK LANE. You can even buy tickets to attractions like Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, or purchase essential items like HK Airport Express tickets and HK SIM cards.

In addition to dining and activities, Mileslife can also be used to pay for hotel and spa packages. Luxury brands like Aman Resorts and Belmond are also available on Mileslife (this is probably the only place to earn miles at Aman properties and Belmond Trains).

 

How many miles can you earn with Mileslife in HK?

Mileslife users earn miles at HKD1= 1 mile in addition to your usual credit card earning, although there’s a special launch promotion from now till 5 September that gives up to HKD0.25=1 mile.

Mileslife users in Hong Kong will be able to earn miles directly in 16 different frequent flyer programs. This includes

  • ANA Mileage Club
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • China Eastern Miles
  • China Southern Sky Pearl Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • EVA Infinity MileageLands
  • Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club
  • Iberia Plus
  • LifeMiles
  • Miles & More
  • PhoenixMiles
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Sichuan Airlines Golden Panda
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • United MileagePlus
  • Xiamen Airlines Egret Club.

During this special launch period, the top 10 customers who make the most transactions on Mileslife (min HKD 59 per transaction) will also have chance to win 1,000,000 Avios in total.

Hong Kong Launch Event

The Hong Kong launch event was held at Eaton Club and attended by our merchant partners and representatives from British Airways, Singapore Airlines, ANA, Hong Kong Airlines, and United Airlines, as well as various media outlets and bloggers.

These lucky audience members had a chance to win a luxurious two night stay at the Amanyangyun Shanghai as well as HKD 2,000 of Mileslife credits to spend!

There was also plenty of great food, all provided by Mileslife partner restaurants including Michelin Starred Snow Garden, Le Reve, NINETYs, 3 ITALIANI, Harbour Plaza 8 Degree, Tulsi Indian Restaurant, Good BBQ and Dodam Chicken.

Mileslife keeps growing every day. Watch out for Mileslife in a city near you soon!

A new city on Mileslife: Hong Kong-500 bonus miles for try out

Mileslife has now officially soft launched in a new city – Hong Kong, Mileslife users can enjoy earning miles from everyday spending such as dining, hotels and activities booking in 10 cities now.

Mileslife brings more earning options to Hong Kong users  other than Asiamiles such as British Airways, Emirates Skywards and United Airlines. I think most people would know that 4500 BA miles can get you to many places from Hong Kong already.

Users can earn 1 mile for every 2 HKD or 1 mile for every 4 HKD through Mileslife and we currently have several restaurants, hotels and activities such as Fang Fang, Fofo, and La Paloma.

The “Sin-Tok-Ho” Set Lunch Menu at Fang Fang (4 HKD = 1 Mile)

 

La Paloma (4 HKD = 1 Mile)

As part of the soft launch, users can earn 500 bonus miles whenever they dine at a Hong Kong restaurant. Simply the the promo code “MLHK” to enjoy this promotion. Users can also expect more merchants, restaurants and retails, to be added into Hong Kong city on Mileslife in the near future.

Thanks for the support of Mileslife and we hope to bring more earning options to more places.

World’s largest loyalty program is here-China Railway

China Railway will release their loyalty program on Dec 20th. Not only will it soon become the world’s largest loyalty program, it will also be a potential game changer for the loyalty program environment in China. It would also help airlines’ loyalty programs worldwide.

China is so fragmented that no one is a dominant player of anything. Air travel is not the primary means of travel and credit card is not the primary method of payment. This is the opposite of mature loyalty market like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Canada, in both air travel and credit card payment.

In addition, most other programs in China have no idea what they are doing anyway, just because others have done it so the loyalty programs are in place. Together with the “discount” trend in China for 20 years, no one is really loyal to anything except to train which is run by the government – no discount, no barging, nothing

Why I think the railway program is a game changer?

Whenever a new concept is being introduced, you will need a dominant player with mass user base and most importantly, enough money to be spent on educating the concept.

1. It is an absolute dominant player: Yes, you still face the same price sensitive type of consumers, but China railway has no discount anywhere, and consumers have no alternatives.

2. Much higher frequency and engagement than flights: There are many reasons why airline programs cannot take off. Engagement and frequency is one, but the average frequency of taking a train is much higher than taking a flight. There are 3000+ passenger train stations, but only 244 commercial airports.

3. They have a late-comer advantage: They can build it directly to fit the need of a modern traveler.

How will that benefit the airlines programs worldwide?

Most of the miles’ revenue are generated from banks and there are not many big banks left. Even if there are, banks run a budget to fund miles. We don’t expect any bank to be able to run another billion dollar budget in the next few years to compete with Amex, Citi or Chase, so the market needs new players. Players not competing with existing one, but to bring extra. Mileslife was designed for this purpose, but it will take longer to show the bigger effect as you need merchants, airlines and users from all sides.

Then train comes into play where there is a huge fresh member base. Other than basic redemption for train tickets, it will be soon be able to offer something air and lifestyle related and to connect ground and air.  They are not competing with airlines as longer trips is still preferred by flight, and short trips cannot be reached by flight in China, it will mutually benefit each other.

Obviously, there are many things to be done before the results come into effect. However, loyalty industry is for long term anyway so let us just patiently prepare for another 5-10 years.

Last day for Uber and SPG partnership

After two years of Uber’s partnership with SPG , the relationship is finally over. I had this feeling long ago when SPG stopped posting about Uber rides. That was a sign that they were undergoing contract renegotiation and now we all know the result.

Uber is facing many competitors nowadays from didi in China, Grab in SEA, to Lyft in US. As a mass market product, they have to face a “war” everywhere. At the same time, in order to do “localization”, they have to fund different incentives at different locations in addition to SPG points which is very expensive. It is good for consumers to enjoy multiple dips, but how long can that last? In the end, it is a very good example that a single platform cannot run discount and attractive loyalty program at the same time because those are two types of consumers and it costs too much. I am happy with what is left for Uber Singapore where I get $10 off every 10th ride which is a simple and straight forward saver program. However, if they discontinue that, I will need to find someone else who can solve my basic need of “getting a car“.

Earn free 200 Emirates Skywards miles+3X on all spending with Mileslife

Mileslife have just released another new partnership with Emirates Skywards. From now onwards, Emirates Skywards members can earn miles directly on the Mileslife App via their daily spending and travel. Users can earn up to 7 miles for every 1 USD on top of their credit card miles/points, 3X means up to 21 miles.

What’s even more interesting is that Elite members of Emirates can earn extra bonus miles whenever they use Mileslife, all miles will be credited into your EK account the following day automatically.

25% for Silver

50% for Gold

75% for Platinum

Yeah! For all those years, I always feel disconnected between flying and earning miles on the ground. Whatever we enjoy in the sky will come to an end but with Mileslife, we are able to extend the enjoyment to the ground.

During the launch, anyone who links their EK card to Mileslife will earn 200 bonus miles+3X miles on all purchases from Oct 17 through Nov 30.

Emirates Skywards is one of the hardest program to accumulate miles but that will no longer be the case for people residing in China and Singapore at least.

I want to say thank you for all the effort involved on both Emirates Skywards and Mileslife team to make the partnership live on time!

Please note: English version and Chinese version have different merchants and payment methods. To switch versions, click “Account”->”Setting”.

Swim with whales in Tonga and tour Oceania in business class for 60000 United Miles, book before Nov 1st

Once in a while, airlines change their redemption chart. Some hidden gems are gone but some new ones are being added. On Nov 1st, United Airlines will use a new chart. The best part of the new chart is that it includes a short haul redemption for 8000 miles but the best hidden gem for people living in Asia is gone.

From North Asia/South Asia-Oceania/South Pacific, it is only 30,000 one way via business class and 60,000 with one stopover if routed correctly. There are free stopovers and I always wanted to take advantage of it. I tried to book a flight to Tonga to swim with whales last year but swim slot was fully booked, this year, I am able to secure one, and at the same time,  the last chance to enjoy this redemption.

The interesting part here is, if booked on united.com to TBU, free exclusionist award will not apply and it is extra 10K to add the TBU segment in there (I have no time to book through the phone). Thus, I decided to break it into two bookings to tour the remaining part of NZ again.

1. United Miles – 60,000

SIN-SYD(stopover)-IVC//KKE-AKL-BKK-SIN

By the way, you can redeem SQ flight with United.com again!

2. Singapore KrisFlyer Miles – 25000 in Economy

IVC-AKL-TBU-AKL-KKE

For many years, United Miles always come up with some interesting redemption here and there, particularly in Asia, from 30K business within Asia to 11 segments on one way redemption to South Pacific from Asia. Even if it is gone this time, I won’t call it devaluation anymore because there is always a better way to use them.

Airline Programs in China, it pays me to fly

We rarely talk about programs in China, primarily due to their English sites not working well and there is not much channels outside of China to earn miles from. Furthermore, redemption of miles is almost as troublesome as redeeming Korean Airline miles in the beginning.

We all have different reasons to earn miles but eventually, it all comes down to one goal—redeeming for something. Most people want free flights, some want free hotel stays amongst other things. We all like EK, EY and SQ first class to travel, but to most people, free flights and non-stop flights are more important than other factors, .so hub airlines make big difference

For example, Air China dominates the non-stop route from Beijing to many places and we can use ANA, SQ, UA and all other *A program to redeem CA flights but CA has low season redemption chart for many places. That will put only 12500 to Japan, and even 9000 from China-India in business class round trip! Yes, you read that right. It is only 9000!!! I always ignore the difference between KM and MILE, it is just a unit. Whose miles is of a higher value in this case now? (That is also one reason why Mileslife was built without unit difference)

Next, we have China eastern and I have to say, if you are a frequent flyer based in Shanghai, this is the program that pays you to fly!

  1.  They have packages for international tickets. 5 pairs of China-Singapore business class tickets only cost 7000 RMB each, taxes included! It is booked in C class, allows for free change of flight schedule and you can earn 200% miles.
  2. You earn SPG points based on the flying distance and not by the amount of money paid. I am not sure how much longer this can sustain, but as of now, it is 4:1 ratio plus double dip based on flying distance. (A RT PVG-SIN earn nearly 20000 km+4500 SPG points)
  3. Running discounts on redemption everywhere, all year round! Yes, again it is priced in KM, but does it really matter since business class to US is only 50,000km OW non-stop after discount?
  4. Platinum gets free unlimited domestic upgrades and 4 international upgrades worldwide with no fare restriction. It is not like US where everyone is 1K, EP or Diamond. Upgrading your membership tier is getting harder and there are only a handful of Platinum in China so the clearance is almost 100%. As for international, there is no such thing as a waitlist. As long as there are seats for sale, we will be able to get it.
  5. 100% awarded with seat without a premium as platinum member and free cancellation. Again, it goes back to getting a seat and yes, you can pick up your phone and redeem at any MU operated flight.
  6. They all give you 3 free hotel nights as platinum member too.

It really pays me to fly, at least for now. Anyone else wants to give it a try?

I am bringing my blog back

Writing a miles and points blog has played an important role in my life for the past 16 years, I started writing here and there in 2004 and decided to start my own blog in 2007. After moving back to China in 2009, I realized that no one was writing about miles and points in Chinese. I was the sole Chinese writer in this field for 6 years until “the great firewall” became stronger and made BoardingArea harder to access. Well, it actually made everything harder to access. Then, I had to move my writing to Chinese social media platforms like Weibo and Wechat instead until I stopped all communication channels including telecommunication for six months before Mileslife was started. Ever since then, I barely had the time to write again until now.

For all those years, I thoroughly enjoyed traveling the world and staying in hotels with miles and points. I loved imparting my knowledge and educating people about miles whether is it entry or advanced level, beating the system within the fare rules and writing redemption manuals of almost every frequent flyer programme out there. Collecting miles and points is the only hobby I had since college and changed the way I viewed the world.

I really missed writing so I finally decided to write again. This time, in world-famous Chinglish, on the same blog with a fresh perspective and a miles related product — Mileslife. I am sure that it will be interesting to see a weave of three different angles — consumer, industrial and running a consumer based industrial product.

I did 10 years of “importing content to China”, now it is time for me to do another 10 years of “exporting product to the world”. Of course, I will also continue to share interesting stories on the road if I ever have the time to travel like I once did.

Peak of Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano.