I have always loved collecting Miles & Points and try new mobile applications. I am always on the hunt to collect them or use them in whatever way I can. I have used miles for flight redemption for myself and family members in the past but mostly on domestic routes. Miles if used judiciously can really save your cash at that moment. In India it is mainly Jet Airways which has a fantastic frequent flyer program besides the old warhorse Air India and newly started Vistara. I have been a flyer with Jet Airways because of their service and flight timings plus their frequent flyer program. They have good tie ups with banks for credit and debit cards which carry additional benefits also.
I had collected few miles with Jet Airways and Etihad Airways so my first priority was to use these to make any bookings, more so because my 58000 Etihad Miles were expiring soon. I was aware of the fact that airline miles can be used for redemption on partner airlines too so I started exploring options where I could get the best deal out of the miles. I also took advice of Miles & Even More for correct valuations and line of action. I generally use Skyscanner for my flight options and comparison of fares. After a few researches and exchange of emails with Jet Privilege and telephone calls with Etihad Guest services I finalised with the following options –
- Mumbai – Hongkong : I used 57000 Etihad Miles to book 3 tickets (2 adults + 1 child) on its partner airline Jet Airways plus Rs.5,460/- in taxes. I checked for actual fares and they were in the range of Rs.84,000/- for 3 tickets approximately. The timings were perfect for us which also pushed us for this flight option.
- HongKong to Bali : I used 72000 Jet Airways Miles to Book 3 tickets on its partner airlines Cathay Pacific plus Rs. 6,204/- in taxes. We were keen on this flight again because of the great timings it had. You’ll be surprised to know the total fare for this flight was coming to Rs. 1,81,000/- for 3 tickets. This was actually the best redemption possible. I was waiting to book these kinds of redemptions always. The best fare of other airline with a direct connection was Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 1,25,000 for 3 tickets but the timings weren’t suiting us.
After these 2 redemptions my mile bank was over but I was really happy to get a good deal out of them. The other 2 segments I bought the revenue tickets which were quite decent in price and in my budget. I used correct credit card to boosts earning of miles on these spends.
Similarly for hotels I tried to look for options but couldn’t really find a great offer with limited points I had across 3-4 different hotel chains. During my search I found the IHG & their points break list where I saw Holiday Inn Kemayoran, Jakatrta in that. Generally 15000 points are needed to book 1 night with that hotel but because of points break I could book 1 night for 5000 points and for my full 3 nights stay in Jakarta I used 15000 points in total. It turned to be a decent deal out of the limited points bank as the retail value for this hotel was approx Rs.13000 – 15000 for 3 nights stay.
My cousin Gaurav (who is a master in finding deals, discounts & offers ) introduced me to The Entertainer App which gives Buy One Get One free offers to hotels, restaurants, activities, attractions and spas across 40 cities in Middle East, Europe & Asia. This is a fantastic paid app and is valid for 1 year (calendar year). There are different terms and conditions attached to different offers but still they give a fantastic value. I used this app to book Hotel Grand Hyatt in Bali for a amazing property to make it a fantastic package. Luckily I got room upgrade to a suite which was like icing on the cake.
My friend Stuti introduced me to a new app KLOOK which has activities to do at amazing prices and packages. This app helped us find some very cool offers and on top at special prices. For eg. for Ocean Park, Hong Kong they had a specially priced package of 1 child free with 2 adults. This app helped us save a lot of money and time in Hong Kong with offers on Ngong Ping 360, The Peak, Airport Express, 3d Museum, etc. They have attractions of other cities also like Singapore, Tokyo, Kyoto, Bali, Bangkok, Seoul, etc. You can sign up with my code S82LE and get some discount to start with.
I have been using UBER since quite some time now and have used it in India, USA, Gulf countries. I used it in Bali & Jakarta again and I must admit it was great and they are much cheaper than local cabs there. In Bali they are facing some ire of the local cabs so they try to keep a low profile. All the drivers told us to not talk openly about them because the local cabs create havoc for them. They were very friendly and helpful. I will suggest and recommend everyone to use Uber there. You can sign up with my code UBERPN or click this link.
One more super helpful tool in my trip was – HANDY. This is a fantastic initiative in lot of hotels in HongKong and Singapore. They are already expanding to cities like Istanbul, Milan,London etc. Handy is a personal local smartphone which is in the room once you check in. You can take it out wherever you want and make unlimited local calls, use unlimited 3g internet, sign in with your email or social media accounts and use it like a normal personal smartphone till you are in the city and staying at that hotel. It surely is a very good alternate to buying local sims or international roaming but again depends on personal needs and choice. Handy also gives offers and discounts on shopping, activities, etc. It gives free international calling to few countries as well. Overall it is a fabulous hotel amenity which adds real value to your stay with the hotel. Once you check out you can erase all the data on the phone.
I think there are lot of ways to enjoy and maximize your holidays or trips with miles, points and applications but it is just that we need to be aware of these things. Also I believe sharing about these things is very important. Sometimes 2-3 ideas or tricks from different people can make a huge difference in not only saving money but also time and energy. At the end it was a happy vacation and look forward to more of these kinds with better redemption of miles, use of points and applications. Please feel free to leave comments and share views on the same.