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I’m about to burn 540,000 miles for my 40th Birthday Bash trip to Southeast Asia next summer – what would you do differently?



From – WAS (I live within 1 hour from BWI, IAD, & DCA) – willing to do positioning flight to gateway city

To – BKK (or nearby like SGN)

When – travel between late June to end of August 2018 due to kids school for ~2.5 weeks

Needing – four business class seats at a minimum (kids are coming on this trip) – can’t do economy

Miles Available

  • American Airlines – 520,000
  • Alaska Airlines – 350,000
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards – 867,000
  • American Express Membership Rewards – 342,000
  • Citi Thank You Points – 240,000


Getting There – Currently Booked:

Late June – Cathay Pacific (JFK-HKG-BKK) – 4 Business Class tickets at 50,000 Alaska Airline miles & $77 per ticket


  • only 50,000 Alaska Miles for one-way trip and ~$77/ticket taxes & fees
  • stopover allowed – we get to stop in Hong Kong for a couple nights – will get to visit Disneyland and/or Macau


  • Cathay doesn’t fly into Washington DC – will need positioning flight to JFK/ORD/etc – in addition to cost of positioning flights, the current Cathay Pacific flight I have booked leaves at 10:00am, the very first DC-JFK flight isn’t until 7:00am which gets to JFK at 8:30 – not cutting it that close so will have to fly in the night before and stay in hotel
  • Alaska Airlines agent only had access to a very small amount of Cathay Pacific Awards that was shown as available on British Airways site (see below screenshot from app) – nothing from Chicago, but he found me 4 seats on a JFK flight.  I found this article about the award space being blocked from Alaska.  The Hong Kong – Bangkok flights were the same – BA showed 4 seats on almost each of the 7 flights per day from HKG-BKK but Alaska seemed to only have access to one flight per day.
  • Can’t use Cathay Pacific’s sister airline Cathay Dragon


Getting Home – Currently On Hold:

Mid July – Korean Air (BKK-ICN-IAD) – 2 First Class & 2 Business Class tickets on hold at 95,000 & 75,000 miles + $223/ticket


  • four seats available on most flights each day
  • transfer partner of Chase which is where we have the most miles
  • free stopover in South Korea – why not check it out?
  • not terrible mileage redemptions
  • generous hold period – I have one month to decide to transfer miles and book trip
  • returns to my home airport


  • have to start return trip by July 12th since Peak season begin July 13th (75,000 miles one way business class jumps to 112,500 miles and first class goes from 95,000 miles to 142,500 miles)
  • would have to wait until July 1st to fly from North America to Asia since Peak Season ends June 30th
  • $223.50/ticket taxes & fees

Grand Totals

So in total I’m about to spend:

  • 50,000 x 4 = 200,000 Alaska Airline Miles (Business Class – JFK-HKG-BKK) + $308 ($77×4)
  • 95,000 x 2 = 190,000 Korean Air Miles (First Class – BKK-ICN-IAD) + $446 ($223×2)
  • 75,000 x 2 = 150,000 Korean Air Miles (Business Class – BKK-ICN-IAD) + $446 ($223×2)
  • TOTAL = 540,000 Miles + $1200

Can you help me find better flights for less miles?  And please don’t just suggest routes that are found on or – the most difficult part of my booking is actually finding FOUR business class or higher seats.

Ideally, we would be leaving WAS 6/21/2018 +/- 1 day with a return on 7/7/2018 +/- 1 day  or 6/28/2018 +/- 1 day with a return 7/14/2018 +/- 1 day, or a similar timeframe.

And bonus points to whoever can get us on EVA Hello Kitty flights – my kids would go NUTS!

Thanks for your help!



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