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The Milelion’s 2017 Year in Review cum Awards Ceremony

Revisiting the year that was in the world of miles and points.

As 2017 draws to a close, I thought it’d be fun to do a recap of the year (see 2016’s recap here) as it unfolded for miles and points enthusiasts, talk about some of my best (and worst) flights and stays and share some statistics about the site.

Here goes…

Remembering the Dearly Departed

Let us pause for a moment’s silence and remember the loss of two of the brightest stars in the miles game this year.

First, the FEVO card had a very bad affair with the DBS WWMC, and in April this year we saw the last tango in Paris as DBS killed off 10X points for FEVO top ups. There went an easy way of maxing out the 10X limit on the WWMC each month. Fortunately, there are still ways to convert your everyday spend into 10X opportunities, provided you’re willing to be a bit more selective about where you shop at…

Second, the HSBC Advance 10X program valiantly hung on for a long while, getting a new lease on life time and time again when expiry seemed all but certain. But finally on 31 May 2017 it succumbed to the darkness of cashback. Uncapped 10X on online spending and dining was a gift too good to last forever, and we should be grateful it lasted as long as it did. Goodnight, sweet prince.

Most confused product launch

There can only be one winner for this, and that’s hands down the UOB Krisflyer account, launched to much fanfare in April this year.

At the risk of flogging a dead horse, let’s talk about the product first. It offers “up to” 5.4 mpd, but requires you to park $350K in a 0 interest earning account and caps the bonus component of that (5 mpd) at 5% of your monthly account balance. Which means that if for whatever reason you were willing to park $350K without interest, you’d earn 5.4 mpd on the first $3,500 a month, and then 0.4 mpd on everything after that. Yup. The cap means that the more you spend, the lower your effective miles per dollar. Let that sink in.

And if I squint hard enough,  the product could have made sense for retirees (but you could get a secured version of many miles cards by putting a fixed deposit with the bank). or students (that’s still a stretch given the min $500 monthly spending requirement to earn any miles) who didn’t draw a regular income and therefore were cut off from traditional miles earning cards.

So why was it marketed to “millennials” (a horribly vague and overused term, which in this case I think was meant to be “young working professionals who have just joined the workforce”) then, who with a starting income of $30,000 could get access to the much superior DBS Altitude?

Then let’s talk about the way the product was marketed. It’s clearly not a lifestyle product, but rather one that needs a significant amount of thought and analysis. Why then ask these guys to promote it, when there is like an entire Batman rogues gallery of bloggers who could have written solid analysis on it (but maybe I just answered my own question)? And why pay a current affairs site to write about scenarios that make no sense at all, in some convoluted attempt to say “it could work for…”?

It’s like someone at a meeting stood up and said “millennials like to travel and use the instantgram so let’s get influencers lol!” and everyone else nodded and said “lol!”

Best flight of the year

I had many fantastic flights this year. From the irresistible kitsch of EVA Air’s Hello Kitty flight

Kitty galore on EVA Air

…to JAL’s excellent Skysuite seat and phenomenal catering ex-NRT.

If you really pushed me to pick a best flight, I’d lean towards my Qatar Airways A350 flight from Doha to Philadelphia, because of the fantastic crew and service.

I still think SQ’s long haul business class is the market leader from a hard product point of view, and I’m not the biggest fan of Qatar’s catering, but that just goes to show you how much a great set of crew can lead passengers to overlook.  

This year was a great one for new airline reviews, as we did a ton of them in the 2017 edition of the RTW trip. Have a poke around there if you’re looking for something new.

Worst flight of the year

Oman Air has to take the cake for the absolute worst airline experience I had to endure this year. Delays, lost luggage, non-existent customer service, incompetent CSOs who couldn’t even draft a letter properly and a company looking to avoid paying compensation at every turn. I mean, they’d easily give Air India a run for the money, and that’s saying something.

Best hotel stay of the year

This is a close one for me. In terms of pure service, it would be difficult to beat the experience I had at the Ritz Carlton Bangalore, where attention to detail was omnipresent and every small task handled with alacrity.

Ritz Carlton BangaloreIn terms of room upgrade jackpot, it’s got to be the St Regis Mumbai. I didn’t do a full post on this, but long story short I was upgraded from the basic room I booked to a Residential Suite. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, suffice to say this was one of the few times my jaw has dropped on entering my hotel room.


Living room of residence suite at St Regis Mumbai
Living room of residence suite at St Regis Mumbai
Bedroom of residence suite at St Regis Mumbai
Toilet of residence suite at St Regis Mumbai

In terms of all round awesomeness, however, the Grosvenor House Dubai is in a class of its own. Huge rooms, Bulgari toiletries, amazing facilities and an executive lounge spread that would put many restaurants to shame meant it wins the title of best stay for me.

Living room at Grosvenor House Dubai
Lounge Spread at Grosvenor House Dubai

Worst hotel stay of the year

who needs strong water pressure on the top floor (or a working showerhead for that matter), we’re French!

I didn’t have any out and out awful stays during the year, but for me the biggest letdown was the Westin Vendrome Paris. Although it’s supposed to be one of Starwood’s flagship properties in Paris, the place is dated, the upper floor plumbing didn’t work, the staff took forever to do simple requests and orange juice cost 9 euros. The location is amazing, but take that away and all you have is a run down Norma Desmond type property.

2017 Year in Review

What’s below isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of all the articles we wrote this year. In fact, there are many useful (I hope) articles that don’t feature below because they weren’t tied to a specific date. Some examples include our introductory guide to Asiamiles, examining whether the miles game affects your credit score and a guide to the SQ seats and fleet. Your best bet for finding these is in The Milelion Archives.

In January

In February

In March

In April

In May

In June

In July

In August

In September

In October

In November

In December

Overall Travel Stats

map

What’s interesting for me is that although I flew more in 2017, I had fewer hotel stays in total. I’m not going to requalify for Platinum 75 and it’s a shame to lose Your24 and 4 points per US$1, but ah well. I’m a bit sad I didn’t have the chance to visit Australia this year, but in March next year I’ll be taking a little flight to Sydney...

Total miles flown: 141,582 (2016: 128,675)
Total hotel nights: 75 (2016: 98)

Overall Webpage Stats

The Milelion had a major facelift in October this year, which also saw a back-end hardware upgrade that enables it to deliver you twice the nonsense, twice as fast. We’re continuing to build out new features for the site, and welcome any suggestions about things you’d like to see.

Stats as of 28 Dec: 

Visitors: 1,000,324 (2016: 303,711)
Unique Visitors: 407,450(2016: 115,865)
Articles Read: 1,993,657 (2016: 703,302)
Most interesting search terms:  “anyone still hungry after omakase tokyo” “instagram + “triple your money”” “how do you get 40 cents per mile when it cost $40 per 1000 miles” “milelion pasta” (that’s either me, or a man after my own heart) 
Gender mix: 72/28 M/F (2016: 54/46)

Top 3 most read posts:

Looking to 2018

What’s there to look forward to in 2018? Well, I am looking forward to seeing SQ’s new Suites and Business class products expanding throughout the fleet, even if I’m not completely won over by the Suites. I am looking forward to a stable, devaluation free year for Krisflyer as it seeks to properly implement its online booking of partner awards.

And I am looking forward to seeing the Milelion Community continue to grow, be it through our events, Telegram group or new guestwriter platform. 

God bless, everyone!
Aaron

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3 Comments on "The Milelion’s 2017 Year in Review cum Awards Ceremony"

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Thanks, Aaron! for myself, the most useful article is Citibank add Turkish miles transfer, which made me have 300K miles instead of only 120K miles, unbeatable deal ever!

The “Milelion pasta” search was probably, in all likelihood, me…. I remember reading somewhere in the comments section that you recommend / prefer a particular brand of store-bought pasta in Singapore but couldn’t remember which was the exact brand while I was grocery shopping. Hence the search. Cheers to 2018!