Two FREE business class tickets to Taipei

Wait, you said you were going to Hong Kong?

It’s true. At first, I booked two free roundtrip tickets from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. A couple of months after booking the flight to Hong Kong, Nancy and I discussed the possibility of adding another destination to our little vacation. Hong Kong is perfectly situated as a jump off point to go to the Philippines, mainland China, or Taipei. We ruled out the Philippines since we knew we’d need more than just a few days of visiting friends and family in Manila. I’m hoping to make it to Manila soon, very soon. Mainland China will also have to wait. I think we’d like to bring the kids with us to China one day. I guess Taipei it is!

How we booked two business class tickets to Taipei

One thing for sure, no matter which destination we chose, if we could use our points to book the trip, as long as it made sense, then that’s the route we’d chose for our booking. I looked at the low-cost carriers around Asia, and compared it with booking using points, and for some reason, it was more expensive for us to fly by paying for it in cash outright (approx $230 per person roundtrip on economy, and between $500 to $1200 per person on Business).

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Business class flights from Hong Kong to Taipei (image courtesy of Google Flights)

I checked out British Airway Avios, and was able to find a flight from Hong Kong to Taipei. Why British Airways? I could transfer my points from Chase to British, and I paid $115 in fees for two of us to fly via business class. Which credit cards made this possible? Click here for a list of my favorite cards, or  if you’re just starting out, check out Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Two FREE business class tickets to Taipei
Image courtesy of British Airways

Our scheduled arrival time in Hong Kong was 7pm on Wednesday. There was a 10:55pm flight to Taiwan that same evening, but we just weren’t sure if we’d make that flight. Anything could happen with our flight  from LA to Hong Kong. We could be delayed. You just never know. So Nancy and I decided to book the early morning flight to Taipei at 8:30am (Thursday). This was our plan:

  • arrive in Hong Kong at 7pm 
  • leave the airport and explore Hong Kong for a bit (have dinner, etc)
  • return back to the airport in Hong Kong
  • use airport lounges and wait for our 8:30am flight the next day

It was designed to be a long evening. The downside to that plan? We’re not sure we’d be getting enough rest since there are no beds in the lounge. But we were determined to make it work.

The night before our trip

As always, we didn’t begin to pack until the night before our flight to Hong Kong. I was determined not to bring a lot of clothes. And I succeeded by packing my basic essentials:

  • jeans (1)
  • grey khaki pants (1)
  • T-shirts (3)
  • Buttoned shirts (2)
  • Shorts (3)
  • socks and unmentionables
  • Nike running shoes
  • Skechers GoWalk shoes
  • Rainbow Sandals

For my travel day wear itself, I like traveling in comfort. 

  • Nike running pants
  • Nike running shoes
  • Hurley long-sleeve tee
  • North Face jacket

I also bought a new Eddie Bauer 20L Stowaway Backpack (navy blue). I love it. In it I had my:

  • MacBook Air and power cord
  • Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphone
  • Sony Wireless Noise Cancelling (WH-CH700N)
  • Anker Powerbank
  • Meds
  • Extra Shirt/Shorts/Underwear
  • A bunch of charging cables for the iPhone, Fitbiit, and Powerbank
Two FREE business class tickets to Taipei
Our two carryon luggage, Nancy’s Tumi Backpack, and my Eddie Bauer 20L Stowaway pack

I honestly think that my backpack was heavier than my luggage. Go figure! We planned on leaving the house at 5am, and my goal was to go to bed by midnight. I succeeded and went to bed early enough to get some rest before our trip.

Travel Day

We got up at 4:15am, showered, moved our luggage to the Prius, and kissed the kids while they were still in bed. We left the house at 5:30am, much later than planned, but we still made it to LAX in very good time. The 101 freeway and 405 freeway were kind to us. We made it to airport in less than an hour with no major traffic. 

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Two FREE business class tickets to Taipei

Cathay Pacific Check-in Counter

Yes, we were at the airport quite early. We didn’t mind. I’d rather get there early, rather than leaving late and get stuck in traffic.

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We were second in line to check in. The Cathay Pacific agent, Yemi (pronounced Yay-Me), helped us during check in. While we had our carryon and backpacks with us, we decided to check the luggage in, and just get them in Taipei. Since our plan was to explore HK for a bit, we didn’t want to have to worry about finding a place to store our luggage during our nearly 12 hour layover. Yemi took care of that. 

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Cathay Pacific LAX Check In Counter

I also asked her if she can check our seats for our flight from Hong Kong to Taipei. We booked business class seats, but during our check-in online, I could not find seats for us to sit together. Yemi took care of that too.

Ask and you shall receive

And then I casually mentioned that we would really rather fly to Taipei on the same night that we arrive in Hong Kong instead of flying the next day. She listened to why I booked the morning flight, since I was uncertain of the arrival time and didn’t want to miss the flight to Taipei.

She went to the back, talked to her manager, and came back to tell me the good news that she was able to make the changes for me to fly that same night without extra charge. Yes, Yemi. So, Yay Me, indeed!

Think fast

So now, we are arriving in Taipei earlier than planned. I had to think fast to make sure we had a place to stay once we get to Taipei, and that we had transportation to the hotel since we were scheduled to arrive past 12 midnight, and honestly, the last thing I want to deal with in a country I’ve never visited is to find public transportation in the middle of the evening. So here goes, right before we passed security at LAX, here’s what I did:

  • Booked Hotel 73 via Chase Ultimate Portal, this is also the same hotel that I booked for the rest of our stay
  • The hotel also offers transportation arrangement for around $32 USD

I sent the hotel a quick email letting them know to expect us one day earlier than planned and to confirm my request for airport to hotel transportation. By the time Nancy and I got past airport security, Hotel 73 already came back to me with their confirmation. Crisis averted.

So there. Looks like we get to begin our adventures in Taipei sooner than expected. Our visit to Hong Kong will happen much later, and we just can’t wait. Thanks for following our journey.

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