Tag Archives: sale

Garuda is offering 90% off redemptions. How do we make this work?

Garuda has announced a 90% off award redemptions sale for all routes, all cabin classes. This is real. This is happening. The interweb is going crazy.

The biggest upside of this promotion for us in Singapore is that it excludes the majority of US-based flyers because

(1) Garuda doesn’t fly to the USA

(2) You need to physically go down to a Garuda office to ticket an award booking, and there are only a few across the whole USA

(3) According to some comments on OMAAT, Gaurda’s US offices don’t take US issued credit card (I have no idea how that makes sense, but could not care less)

Take that, you MSing, card churning, better sign up offer having yanks!

I love you guys, really. 

But their misfortune is our gain. The clock is ticking, so let’s get down to brass tacks.

Step 1: Figure out if you can get Garuda Miles

This is a non-starter if you do not already have Garuda Miles, or Citibank Premiermiles/Thank You points. That is the only credit card I know of in Singapore that allows you to transfer to Garuda.

If you don’t have Citibank points, all is not lost. Garuda allows you to buy miles at US$30 per 1,000 miles. Is this a great rate? Not really. But given how few miles you need it can still work. The main issue here is it is unclear how long the miles will take to post. Garuda lets you book without any miles in your account but you must ticket within 1 week (see point 2). If the miles come in post 31 December then you just have a nice little stash of unusable currency.

Step 2: Plan your dates

You need to issue your tickets by 31 December 2016 for travel between 1 Feb 2017 and 31 May 2017.

You will need to physically go down to Garuda’s offices in United Square Mon-Fri 9am-6pm. Which means that you only have next week to get this done (and need to transfer your Citibank points today if possible)

Unless you already have leave blocked or can block leave on short(ish) notice, you might be looking at taking a long weekend and going somewhere nearer like Japan.

There are 3 potential long weekends for you to do this

  • CNY (28-30 Jan)
  • Good Friday (14-16 Jan)
  • Labor (29 Apr-1 May)

Do note that if your plans change post 31 December 2016 and you wish to change dates, you will need to pay the full award price. Therefore it’s wise to freeze those dates right now.

Step 3: Plan your route

Image result for garuda indonesia first class

Image result for garuda indonesia first class

Garuda’s new First Class is amazing and everyone wants to try it. Unfortunately it only appears to be available on 3 routes serviced by 77Ws

  • DPS-NRT
  • CGK-SIN-AMS
  • CGK-SIN-LHR

Moreover, I cannot find any availability for DPS-NRT in F during the promotion period.  DPS-NRT in F is available for revenue bookings but not for awards so they might be blocking it.

This means that unless you can free up the time (and flexibility of travel dates) to pay Amsterdam or London a visit, you’re going to be looking at business (which is still a great deal at 90% off).

When booking Garuda business you want to be careful about what aircraft you’re flying.  Garuda has full flat 1-2-1 business class on its 777Ws

Image result for garuda 777 business class

And some of its A333s. I cannot confirm which routes have them.

Image result for garuda a330 business class

However, the rest of its A333s and all of its A332s only have the old, angled flat product in a 2-2-2 configuration. This one is probably not worth trying.

Image result for garuda a330 business class

I’m sure if you do a dummy booking online and fiddle with seat selection in business class, you should be able to see what type of A330 is servicing your route. In the interest of getting this article out asap I’ve not done that.

My experience booking with this promotion

I’ve gone and locked in a trip to Japan for the long labor day weekend, more to review the business class product than anything else. As much as my heart was set on trying the First Class product (because it’s supposed to give even SQ a run for its money), I just couldn’t find the space or make the timings work. I do hope some lucky reader is able to do this (and writes a detailed guest post trip report!)

I called up the Singapore call centre and after waiting about 5 minutes got through to an agent. She was very patient and knowledgeable as we went through various permutations of routes to see what worked. In the end I booked DPS-NRT-DPS, which requires me to position to Bali. SIN-DPS-NRT-DPS-SIN was available but required an overnight stay in Bali on the way back, which really didn’t work for me. Plus, the SIN-DPS leg left at 1655 on a Friday and I probably wouldn’t be able to make that work either.

The final damage was 12,600 miles(!) plus $134.50 in taxes for the round trip. I didn’t have the miles in my account yet but she was able to hold the award for 7 days. So now all I need to do is transfer over some of my Citi TY points.

I cannot tell you what ridiculous value that is, even if I’ll need to position myself to Bali (or I could redeem miles and fly SQ to DPS with $160 of surcharges…).

Is it safe?

I know it’s inevitable that people are going to be asking this question. And although it’s somewhat understandable, it’s also annoying in the sense that we do so many things on a day to day basis that have a higher inherent risk than flying. We take car rides without thinking twice about it.

No other form of transportation is as scrutinized, investigated and monitored as commercial aviation. Here’s a good summary

DEATH BY: YOUR ODDS

  • Cardiovascular disease: 1 in 2
  • Smoking (by/before age 35): 1 in 600
  • Car trip, coast-to-coast: 1 in 14,000
  • Bicycle accident: 1 in 88,000
  • Tornado: 1 in 450,000
  • Train, coast-to-coast: 1 in 1,000,000
  • Lightning: 1 in 1.9 million
  • Bee sting: 1 in 5.5 million
  • U.S. commercial jet airline: 1 in 7 million (if you look at global airline travel the figure is something like 4-5 million. I still fancy those odds)

People generally have a very poor understanding of probability and how incredibly safe air travel is today. To hear people who have never flown the airline put it down based on absolutely no hard evidence is just upsetting.

Years ago, I would not have flown Garuda. They had a terrible safety record. They were banned from flying to the EU. But the airline has undergone one of the most amazing transformations ever. It’s started winning awards like “most improved airline” for service and safety. It is now a 5 Star airline on Skytrax (and yes we can all argue about how valid Skytrax rankings are but still) and has resumed flights to the EU. It has amazing looking cabin products on its brand new 77W and A330 aircraft.

Or as this article on Coconut’s Jarkarta site puts it

It’s hard to remember now, but the perception of Garuda used to be quite different. In the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, the company was hit by financial and operational difficulties that caused its service standards suffer severely. It was even banned (along with all other Indonesian airlines) from entering Europe due to the country’s poor safety ratings.

But after that low point, the company initiated a series of programs, dubbed the Quantum Leap expansion plan, to turn the struggling airline around. Since then, its performance has consistently improved by leaps and bounds each year, earning it the aforementioned praise and awards. Buoyed by Garuda’s performance, the whole Indonesian airline industry has also seen great increases in standards, leading to the United States upgrading the country’s safety rating this year, allowing Indonesian carriers to operate routes to US cities for the first time in over a decade.

So I have absolutely no qualms about flying with the new and improved Garuda.

Good hunting everyone. Update me with what you get.

Lifemiles 140% bonus is back plus a special offer on redemption

If you know travel hacking, you probably know Ben aka Lucky, the founder of One Mile at a Time (OMAAT).

Here’s an excellent Rolling Stone profile about him, if you have the time to read it. The man is an absolute legend in the community, and together with Gary Leff at View from the Wing is probably among the most influential bloggers in this space.

Why am I bringing him up? Because OMAAT is doing two special promotions with Lifemiles– one that lets you buy Lifemiles with an additional bonus, and one that lets you redeem Lifemiles at a discount.

Buying Lifemiles with a bonus

Lifemiles has done two sales in the past few weeks. The first was a no-holds-barred 140% deal they ran for Cyber Week, so long as you bought a minimum of 5,000 miles.

I said at the time that this was one of the best deals in recent memory because not only did it allow you to buy LM at 1.375 US cents each, it also didn’t require you to buy >101,000 LMs to enjoy that rate. This was great for topping up accounts that were just short of whatever amount you needed to cash out.

The second promotion (which is currently going on until 20 Dec) was a bit more meh-ish, so much so I didn’t even bother to write anything about it.

Don´t miss out on Cyber Week LifeMiles

This was a more traditional Lifemiles sale where the bonus you got depended on how many miles you bought. You’ll see that the maximum bonus is 130%, and requires you to buy at least 101,000 miles. Given the great Cyber Week sale, where you could get a 140% bonus for any purchase amount above 5,000, I felt this wasn’t anything to shout about.

Well, what’s happening now is that readers of OMAAT (i.e. everybody) can get an additional bonus on top of the published rates. If you register via this link (I imagine Ben gets some sort of referral bonus for this. I get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing someone else benefited) and wait 24 hours, you should be able to get an additional bonus on your miles, as illustrated below.

Is this the best sale ever? No- the Cyber Week sale was still better, given that under the current OMAAT promotion you need to buy a minimum of 101,000 miles to get the 140% bonus. But if you missed the boat last time, here’s a way you can get back on. And I’ll take 140% over 130% any day of the week.

Redeeming Lifemiles at a discount

ANA First Class, another one of my Lifemiles bounties

Now here’s the promotion that I’m really interested in. Ben has teased the following-

On top of the additional bonus on purchased miles, there’s also going to be a special promotion for OMAAT readers redeeming miles (including for travel in first & business class), which I’ll be sharing the details of shortly. So I’d recommend registering at this link even if you’re not 100% sure if you’ll want to buy miles yet, just so you have the option and your account is activated for the bonus.

Of course, this, like my love life, could turn out to be a damp squib. Given OMAAT’s US-centric focus, it is entirely possible that the routes on discount could be domestic US routes, or journeys that must start in the USA, or routes that otherwise have little relevance to SG-based flyers. I don’t know. But it costs nothing to register, so I’d watch this space very carefully. I just booked a LM business class redemption for 78,000 miles, so I’d be keen to see whether it makes sense to cancel and rebook given what the promotion turns out to be.

Ben has mentioned that more details will be available within 24 hours.

A spanner in the works?

I think it’s only fair to mention one other thing

Delta and United are sniffing around Avianca, and the word is that one of them will buy a controlling stake. Why am I mentioning this? Because it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that this will affect the Lifemiles program.

That said, (1) Lifemiles is a cash cow for Avianca. I can’t imagine why an acquirer would want to change that (2) the timeline on which this acquisition would take place is uncertain. If you’re buying Lifemiles anyway you should have an immediate/semi-immediate (3 months, tops) use for them. I certainly wouldn’t have them sit idle in my account for longer than that.

So have this at the back of your mind, but don’t let it stop you from jumping on what’s otherwise a good promotion.

Let’s see what discounted redemption rates are coming our way…

Lifemiles Cyber Week sale- 140% bonus now available!

Lifemiles are back on sale until November 28 with one of the better offers in recent memory.

With this promotion, you get a 140% bonus on miles purchased with a minimum purchase amount of 5,000 miles. What makes this promotion different from previous ones is the low threshold needed to enjoy the 140% bonus. 

In previous promotions, you would normally need to buy 100,000+ miles at one go to enjoy the maximum bonus. This meant splashing out thousands of dollars. With the current promotion, you can enjoy the maximum bonus so long as you buy at least 5,000 miles.

The regular purchase price of Lifemiles is 3.3 US cents each, so at a 140% bonus you’re paying 1.375 US cents per mile. That, to me, is a very good price to buy Lifemiles at.

In case you’re interested, previous promotions have sold miles at (albeit with much higher purchase requirements to enjoy the bonuses stated below)

  • Sept 2016- 130%  and 140% (2 sales in 1 month)
  • May 2016- 135%
  • Dec 2015- 150%
  • October 2015- 150%
  • September 2015- 145%
  • May 2015- 120%

Will I buy?

I love Lifemiles and some of my best trip experiences have been bought for cheap through the program.

ANA First Class
img_20160902_222721
Thai First Class

My usual policy is not to buy miles speculatively, but since I have an odd balance in my account now (59,200) I will take advantage of this promotion to top up my balance so the equivalent of one First Class award ticket to the US handy (99,000 miles).

As a reminder, here are some of the amounts you will need to redeem first/business class tickets from Singapore. See the full award chart here.

All prices one-way

  • Singapore to North America (78,000/99,000)
  • Singapore to Europe (78,000/102,000)
  • Singapore to Australia (40,000/60,000)

Remember that Lifemiles does not allow you to book SQ premium cabin space (except on routes with their regional business class product), you can cancel your tickets any time for a US$50 fee (but you need to call up the call centre) and you can only book your routes based on what you see on the online search engine.

On the plus side, there are no fuel surcharges. Also, mixed cabin bookings are now available which opens up the possibility of flying products like Thai’s First Class after connecting to BKK in business.

Lifemiles purchases will earn 4 miles per $1 when you buy with your

  • DBS Woman’s World Card
  • HSBC Advance Card

I do not have any info on whether Citibank Rewards or UOB PP Visa will get the 4 miles per $1. My suspicion is no, because the transaction will code as an airline transaction and the T&C of both cards explicitly exclude that from the bonus.

They will earn 3 miles per $1 when bought with

  • DBS Altitude (AMEX or Visa), for the first $5,000 a month

The sale ends 28 November so act fast. Have a read of the Lifemiles primer if you need a quick reminder of how it works.