All posts by aaronwong

Does buying a walk-up upgrade with Thai Airways make sense?

I read on Loyalty Lobby that TG had recently devalued their standby/walk-up upgrade pricing chart. This was news to me because I had never even knew it existed. Apparently, Thai has an official policy that customers can buy same day cash upgrades at the counter, space permitting.

Image result for thai airways business class

What was so awesome about the old system is that it did not discriminate among fare classes. That is, someone who bought a deep discount economy ticket would pay the same upgrade fee to business as someone with a full fare economy  ticket. So this would have been the perfect arrangement for someone trying to game the system.

That’s since changed, unfortunately. You can view the revised chart here, but I’ve copied it below for convenient reference.

Note that Business to First Class upgrades still don’t discriminate among fare classes, so if your company lets you fly Business (are you hiring?) you should give the Business to First chart a look over). I’ll just be talking about the Economy to Business Class options

That’s a lot of information to take in at one go, so let’s look at a Singapore-relevant example.

Singapore to Bangkok is a short flight and totally doesn’t need business class. That said, if you’re eager to try a very new airline product (or just want to booze up in the lounge prior to departure), Thai is still operating its A350s on the SIN-BKK route while it trains up crews. I believe I even spotted a Dreamliner operating certain days. I mean, look, I’m never going to be able to justify paying more for business class on such a short flight, but if you’re feeling indulgent you can get upgraded for as little as S$85 one-way.

That’s in theory, at least. Economy ticket classes Y and B on the SIN-BKK route can be upgraded for S$85.

But when I went to search for revenue tickets, I only found the following fare buckets available.

  • Super Save (V/W)
  • Saver (V/W)
  • Flexi Saver (K)
  • Full Flex (Q)

It’s a bit interesting that Super Save and Saver fares book into the same ticket class, because they have different rules regarding refunds- Super Save tickets are strictly not refundable but Saver fares can be refunded with a penalty. That said, I’m not exactly an expert on airfare ticket classes.

If you booked into a Super Save fare, you’d pay $213.60 for your ticket, plus $265 to upgrade for a grand total of $478.60. Note that this just gets you one leg in business class. If you want to do it both ways you’re looking at $743.60.

Or you could buy a more expensive fare bucket and pay less to upgrade. Paying $361.50 for your base ticket means you can upgrade for $185 each way, or $731 total.

How does that compare to retail prices? If you look for the same routing on the same day on the same flight, you can buy business class for S$761.

That’s not much of a difference between buying economy plus upgrading, plus you get the certainty. Of course part of the reason is that Y/B fares don’t seem to be offered ex-SIN (or at least not on the website). If they were, an S$85 upgrade sounds almost too good to be true and I’d definitely jump on it.

So my conclusion is that buying an upgrade would only make sense if

  1. Your company was paying full fare Y/B for you, and you wanted to top up a small amount to fly business
  2. You were flying to selected destinations in South East Asia or North Asia. Europe and Australia upgrades are prohibitively expensive, but upgrades to places like Shanghai and Beijing can be as low as S$150 potentially

In any case, I think it would make a lot more sense for Thai to adopt a system like Plusgrade where they’d be able to collect data on how much people are willing to pay a lot more scientifically, rather than relying on someone at the check in desk to process it properly.

Earn 10X on all your payments with Citi Pay

If you’re looking for a way to max out your Citibank Rewards 10X cap in 2017 in the wake of the sad demise of AXS payments, you might be interested in getting Citi Pay.

Citi Pay is an Android app that lets you use your Citibank cards and NFC enabled phone to pay at merchants. It’s conceptually similar to Android Pay (and indeed one of the big complaints about is why Citibank doesn’t just go with Android and save everyone the need for another app).

The great news is that you earn 10X rewards points  (4 mpd) when you use your Citibank Rewards card (Visa or Mastercard) with Citi Pay.

Citi Pay can be used at any merchant with a tap and pay/contactless/ NFC terminal. It can be used overseas as well, so long as you have mobile data.

Surprisingly, the app has rather crappy reviews on the Google Play store.

It seems that most of the criticisms are that the app doesn’t work on a lot of people’s devices.

It worked absolutely fine on my Blackberry Priv running Android 6.0.1 though.

This promotion is available until 6 April 2017 and the T&C can be found here.  It’s a great opportunity to earn 10X at merchants that normally would not qualify for it.

Remember that your Citibank Rewards card allows you to earn 10X points on a maximum of $12,000 spending per year, after which you earn 1X (0.4 mpd).

Act quickly: Hilton status matches available

Hilton has previously offered status matches, where they were giving away status in their program to similar tiered members from competing programs. These matches had no strings attached- once you were matched you had the status until the next requalification period.

Status matching is back, but this time it’s got a few strings attached.  How it works this time round is that once you submit proof of membership and stay activity with one chain, Hilton approves it and instantly upgrades your status. The upgraded status lasts for 90 days, and to retain it beyond the 90 days period you nee

  • 4 stays (not nights) for Gold
  • 8 stays (not nights) for Diamond

The following programs can be matched to Hilton. Presumably you’d see tier for tier matching, in that Starwood Gold members would be offered Hilton Gold, Starwood Platinum would be offered Hiton Diamond etc.

Our die hard Hilton loyalist Louis has written previously about the perks of Hilton Gold membership, and I’m inclined to agree with him. I’m a Hilton Diamond but given that Hilton does not have a suite upgrade policy, I haven’t found any real incremental benefit to holding Diamond (and probably will not requalify this year)

Remember that if you can get Starwood Gold with one stay at an Asia Pacific property and a World Mastercard. You can then match this to Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold, giving you status with 3 different programs.