Tag Archives: deals

About THAT Qatar Airways fare sale today…

So. We had quite an adventure this morning.

It all started when FlyTheTail on Flyertalk posted a deal on the Mileage Run subforum at 7.13am Singapore time.

Just found amazing Business Promo fares from Ho Chi Minh City on Qatar to many (but not all) US destinations. Flight ticketed and confirmed, books into R class. Available on QR site as well as others. Long layovers in DOH on several routes, don’t have time for many details, perhaps others can post. Off to look into booking more flights…

Qatar Airways was offering phenomenal business class tickets out of Vietnam to many destinations in the US, Europe, South America and Africa. Round trip fares were at the ~US$700 mark. Qatar is known for frequent business class fare sales, but this was unlike anything we’d seen before

I came to be aware of the deal when at about 8.30am when OMAAT picked it up, but because of a morning meeting was only able to start searching in earnest at around 10am (by 11.30am it seems all the seats disappeared). I was trying to look for MXP and FCO availability, failing which I was happy to settle for BCN or FRA and take a connecting flight, but although I could find the cheap fares I just couldn’t make the dates work.

I was all ready to give up until I remembered that Vietnam was more than just SGN. I plugged in HAN to give things one more try and came up with this

Round trip business class from HAN to PHL, via DOH (with a technical stop in BKK). US$683. Yes, I’ll need to position to HAN but it’s a cheap flight. Moreover, it’s refreshing to finally see a premium fare deal that those of us in Asia can take advantage of (well, apart from this).

HAN-DOH is on Qatar’s A330 aircraft. These planes have a 2-2-2 configuration in business. I’m guessing I should be getting one of the refurbished aircraft with these seats

Image result for qatar airways a330 business class
photo credit: with husband in tow

As opposed to these

Image result for qatar airways a330 business class

DOH-PHL, however, is on Qatar’s A350. These planes are 1-2-1 in business class and are what Lucky at OMAAT calls “the best business class in the world”. I strongly refute that claim, but I’ll let you know again after I’ve actually tried it

Image result for qatar airways a350 business class
photo credit: business traveller

I do note on the return there is an ungodly layover in Qatar of about 20 hours, but this should make me eligible for Qatar’s STPC program, which means a free hotel (5 Star, for business class travelers), meals, visa fee (Singaporeans need a visa on arrival for Qatar) and transport covered.

I wasn’t originally thinking about going to the States during my leave stint in November, but man, $683 round trip business is too good to turn down.

Will it be honored?

With fares this low it does venture into “too good to be true” territory. But I don’t think this was a mistake fare and here’s why-

First, the seats were labelled as “Golden Tickets”. This implies they created a special bucket of fares just for this sale and special text highlighting them. This is unlike a fat finger deal where it appears someone left out a zero here and there.

Second, Qatar’s Twitter team sent out this tease yesterday-

On the flip side however, I am a bit concerned that the base fare shows as 0. There’s a healthy discussion over on FT about this and apparently Qatar has done “Golden Tickets” with 0 base fare before. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. And hey, easy come easy go.

The deal is dead for now, but I have a hunch we may be seeing more deals soon based on what QR’s Twitter account is saying (follow it and you’ll get first news of new deals). I hope as many of you as possible were able to get in on this deal, and let’s hope QR has more surprises in store for us.

PS. I have upcoming QR business class reviews for the lounge and in-flight product. I was pretty impressed. Stay tuned!

Third night free with the Visa Signature Hotel Collection

Remember that awesome (short-lived) one-for-one deal that was running last year? If you’d missed it, here’s your chance to get acquainted with its lesser cousin, which offers a potential 33% discount in place of last year’s 50%.

In this new promotion, you’ll get the third night free at Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Curio hotels if you book by 30 Sep 2017 and stay before 31 Oct 2017. However, this promotion targets weekends and is valid only for stays beginning on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

If you’re staying for longer, there’s nothing stopping you from booking three nights on the Visa Signature platform and adding separate consecutive bookings elsewhere (e.g. if you can find a cheaper rate, or with a points redemption). It’s also possible to chain this promo if you have multiple guests in the room, e.g. booking a total of 6n under two different guests’ accounts/cards/names – Hilton points earned will be deposited into separate accounts if so, though it’s now possible to transfer Hilton points for free between accounts anyway. Hotels are usually able to combine the bookings and make it a seamless experience for you; you can also email the property ahead to request for this, though in my experience it’s not been necessary to do so.

Booking process

To make use of this deal, you’ll need to make use of the Visa Signature Luxury Hotels booking platform that Aaron’s previously written about.  You get extra benefits such as…

  • Automatic room upgrade when available
  • Complimentary in-room wifi
  • Complimentary continental breakfast daily
  • USD$25 F&B credit
  • 3PM check-out when available
  • “VIP” guest status

Most of these are stuff you’ll already enjoy if you are a Hilton Gold/Diamond member, though the extra US$25 credit is still an added bonus.

I wasn’t able to make use my Visa Infinite card on the system last year for some reason, but local Visa Signature cards seem to work (I used a DBS Altitude Visa).

The reservation email lists the total price of the booking, but upon check out they will discount the third night from your final bill. Based on what I experienced with the previous promo, that discounted sum is charged to Visa and you still get points accrued from the complimentary night, which is especially great if you’re staying at an expensive property like Conrad Koh Samui.

Silkair promo synergy

The current 50% redemption promo for Silkair flights is valid for travel between 1 July and 31 October 2017 (book by 11 July), so there’s a nice possible overlap if you’re able to align reservations for:

  • Bali
  • Koh Samui
  • Xiamen
  • Maldives

Conrad property reviews

There are many eligible properties on the list, but for your reference here’re some that we’ve visited:

Low risk – book first?

The bookings are generally cancellable until the day before the stay , and charges are only made upon check out, so if you’re worried that they might pull the promotion early again this year, there’s nothing stopping you from making multiple reservations first and cancelling those you won’t be utilising. Do read specific terms for your targeted specific before pulling the trigger, though.

Check out the full details of the promotion here!

Should you jump on any of these daily getaway deals?

The US Travel Association runs an annual promotion called Daily Getaways that is meant to encourage US tourism. This year, they need it more than ever.

Despite who the organizer is, not all deals have to be used in the US. In the past they’ve had sales on US-based hotels, theme parks and car rentals. But they’ve also sold things like loyalty program points and gift cards, which can be redeemed at any property worldwide.

I was looking at this year’s offerings and saw a few items that I’m really tempted to pull the trigger on. You can see the full calendar of deals here, but here are some that caught my eye.

May 2nd- 250,000 Hilton points for $1,200 (236 available)

This is an opportunity to pay 0.48 cents per Hilton point. I know it is possible to buy Hilton points at 0.5 cents each when they run a 100% bonus sale, but the problem is you’re limited to buying a maximum of 80,000 points (pre-bonus) per account per calendar year. So you’d max out at 160,000 points, bought at 0.5 cents each.

This lets you get 250,000 points into your account at 0.48 cents each. To put things in perspective, you need 80,000/95,000 points per night at dream destinations like the Conrad Koh Samui or the Conrad Maldives (although recently I’ve only ever seen 95K point availability). I haven’t fully understood the ins and outs of the new Hilton redemption scheme, but my understanding is when you use the pay with points and cash option you can really maximise your value.

So if you’ve got an upcoming luxury vacation planned, you might want to consider crunching the numbers and seeing if buying points lets you enjoy a nice hotel for much less than what you’d be paying.

Image result for conrad maldives
Conrad Maldives

There is a maximum purchase of 1 set of 250,000 points per customer. You can buy a total of 5 sets of points in this promotion- the other sets come in different denominations as seen below. I find these less attractive though, given that you could get this amount or more during one of the 100% points sales, but it might be a way of circumventing the annual points purchase limit.

  • $144 for 30,000 points (450 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 3 per customer
  • $480 for 100,000 points (275 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 1 per customer

There is a line in the fine print that says “Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia and must be a Hilton Honors member to participate.” , but I’m pretty sure that’s just in there for legal reasons. After all, this is a site meant to promote US tourism. What sense would it make if they didn’t let a non-resident claim a purchase?

Furthermore, other points buying offers (eg IHG, Hyatt) don’t have any such restriction. So I’m guessing this is a Hilton-side additional line of text, and I have doubts as to whether it really matters or not.

May 4th- $500 Marriott gift card for $400 (200 available)

Locking in a 20% discount on a future Marriott stay might also be an interesting idea. Marriott gift cards do not expire and can be used at any Marriott brand including the Ritz Carlton.

Ritz Carlton Tokyo

Marriott gift cards are not yet accepted at any of the Starwood brands, but it remains to be seen if that changes when the two companies are merged into one sometime around 2018.

It’s very hard to see how you can lose by buying some of these, if you’d be staying at a Marriott property sometime down the road anyway and seeing how the value doesn’t expire.

You can buy a maximum of 1 such gift card. Other denominations available include

  • $80 for a $100 Marriott gift card (1,070 available)- max purchase 3 per customer
  • $200 for a $250 Marriott gift card (252 available)- max purchase 2 per customer

May 5th- $1,000 Orbitz promo code for $650 (55 available)

This code is for use on hotels only, and can be used for stays any time before 31 Dec 2018.

I’m tempted to see this as a sort of omni discount code for any hotel you might fancy. It could be one of the better ways of getting a good deal at a place like the Conrad Koh Samui, or perhaps a Maldives overwater villa. Or it could help to offset hotel costs in expensive cities like London and Tokyo.

I think the concern is that if you buy this you’ll end up having to pay inflated OTA prices. But that doesn’t have to be the case- take the Conrad Koh Samui, where Orbitz is throwing up rates that are more or less similar to Hilton’s official site (US$663 vs US$647, the best rate I could find on Orbitz vs Hilton.com)

Orbitz site
Hilton site

There is a maximum purchase limit of 1 per customer.

May 10th- 72,000 Hyatt Points for $775 (25 available)

Buying 72,000 Hyatt points at $775 means paying 1.08 cents per point. Lucky over at OMAAT believes that Hyatt points are worth 1.5 cents each, so you’re actually getting a very good deal. It’s no wonder the Hyatt packages always sell out the first every time they appear on the Daily Getaways site.

Image result for park hyatt milan
Park Hyatt Milan

You could get a top tier property like the Park Hyatt Milan that costs 30,000 points a night, or US$324. Considering paid rates here start at US$650, you’d be getting substantial savings. Provided you’re the type of person who would have stayed at such a property in the first place, of course.

There are 3 other packages you can choose from

  • 24,000 Hyatt points for $260 (54 available, 1.10 cpp)
  • 30,000 Hyatt points for $330 (120 available, 1.08 cpp)
  • 40,000 Hyatt points for $415 (30 available, 1.04 cpp)

Conclusion

I think it’s well worth taking a look at the other deals on offer and deciding whether you can fit them into your travel plans.

I’m currently leaning towards the Orbitz travel voucher simply for its flexibility, but I’m guessing it will get snapped up rather quickly. I’ve set a calendar alert for when the deal goes on sale, and if you’re thinking of getting anything on offer I recommend you do the same.

PS- I know they’re selling IHG rewards points as well, but don’t take that deal. You can buy IHG rewards points cheaper when they go on sale.