Mileage Debate: Bali vs. Japan

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Jul 4th, 2009, 06:50 PM
  #1
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Mileage Debate: Bali vs. Japan

Well I was hoping that booking our tickets this year would be a little less painful this year --but then again, we ARE dealing with airlines and miles so I probably should've known better.

As some of you know, we were planning on booking a mileage award to go to Bali and Java for 14 days in May. Well after spending hours upon hours on the phone with Continental, I'm about this close to giving up.

Without boring you with the minute details...in a nutshell, the past 48hrs have been a wealth of frustration and mixed messaging from the airline. Not to mention overlengthy explanations on the restrictions Continental has on award redemption for their various partner airlines--coupled with the few available flights that only had 1 business class seat (I doubt my better half will want to fly on a different flight than me)...I'll leave it at this: we're faced with two choices:

A) waiting and trying ad infinitum for a flight with 2 biz seats to open up to Bali

or

B) putting Bali on hold and booking a trip to Japan (which can be confirmed immediately) on Northwest

I'm somewhat torn myself...as I really had my heart set on Bali. But I also don't really want to deal with the headache of calling the airline every week for the next however many months in the hopes that something might open up. Not thrilled about the idea of Northwest, but that's not really the important part, I guess.

So I look to you guys, who have really helped us out so many years in a row in steering us in the right direction.

Japan IS tempting, as we've never been and I hear May (cherry blossoms and all) is a great time to go. But I honestly know NOTHING about planning a trip there, so I would really have to start from scratch. I'd hate to miss out on Indonesia, as I imagined it to be so magical and otherworldly, but my friends who have been to Japan tell me that I'd experience much of the same there.

Given the options, what would you do?
filmwill is offline  
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Jul 4th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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I don't know the ins and out of booking with Continental miles, but I had difficulties booking with my United miles this year. Unlike other years, they did not release seats for purchase and seats for upgrades at the same time. So I spent lots of time on the phone and on the web before I finally got our tickets. We had to shorten our trip by a few days to get it. I was surprised at how slowly they released their biz upgrades, given the state of the economy. But what the airlines do doesn't always (ever?) make sense.

You might post your question on the airlines board, as there will be many there who do know the ins and out of booking with C miles. They may be able to give you ideas or suggestions you haven't thought of.

Good luck!

Japan would be a wonderful - but very different trip. It's still on our list.
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Jul 4th, 2009, 07:45 PM
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why not just go in coach?? you've done it before....remember the days before certain people were "known" in hollywood and beyond...

or take the bkk and fly to bali or elsewhere on a continuing flight on air asia or thai air---remember them your great friends from last year..
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Jul 5th, 2009, 12:20 AM
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Just to make the decision even harder, Continental will switch from Skyteam to Star alliance in late October. They are waiting for gov't approval, but seem to think it will happen in October.

I think this is going to give them a lot better coverage in the pacific region.

I do love Japan though, and love it in April & May. Cherry blossoms are most normally in early April though, not May. You might be able to see some later if you head up north or if it's a really cold winter, but May is really pushing it.

Easy to travel there, easy to plan trips. Just copy one of Hawaiiantravelers itineraries!
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Jul 5th, 2009, 01:14 AM
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"but my friends who have been to Japan tell me that I'd experience much of the same there.'

Don't listen to those friends - its an apples and oranges situation. Sounds like you REALLY want to go to Indonesia.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 01:39 AM
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It really sounds like you want Bali and I know how long you've wanted to go there.
I say give yourself a month of frequent calling to see if Business class tickets open up. Then, if you can't get them, book them in coach as Bob suggests. Yes, travel will be painful, but the journey is worth the destination.

I wonder if you can book the tickets in coach, and then keep calling and if business class opens up, use the remaining miles to get those seats instead?
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Jul 5th, 2009, 02:26 AM
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Will, I assume you are trying to get tickets to Bali on Korean Airlines which has very good connections via Seoul from LAX. Compared to what we went through to get to Bali from the east coast, this is a cake walk. I was wondering if it would make sense and if you checked on flights to Jakarta? Those connections on Korean look good as well.

If the Star Alliance deal goes through, your choices will be Singapore or Thai to Bali but I don't think I'd wait til October to see if it happens...

Good luck what ever you end up doing.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 03:00 AM
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Will if you are going to Japan then stop by Kyoto and stay in one of the top ryokan(splurge for a night). Wonderful experience!
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Jul 5th, 2009, 04:48 AM
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I've been to both Bali (1 visit, Ubud area) and Japan (multiple visits), and they have 1 thing in common: they are islands. Everything else is diffenert, monumentally so.

Bali is a developing (and in some cases happy-to-not-be-developing) land, where the people are incredibly artistic and expressionistic. Art is an intrinsic element of Balinese culture, moreso than any culture I can think of, and it seems that everyone is an accomplished wood-carver or gamelan player or dancer or fabric maker. The infrastructure is rough, and the food is fiery. I suspect that much of this description does not apply to the most heavily tourist-centric beaches, about which I have no 1st-hand info.

Japan is very nearly a polar opposite. Its people do not generally betray their feelings in public, and art takes on a much subtler form: architecture that blends seamlessly into either nature or cityscape, food that is not only fresh and delicious, but whose presentation may be evocative of Nature. Japan is a marvel of harmonious contrasts, where cities are both madcap and perfectly functioning, and the country retreats offer an opportunity to get away not only from the city, but seemingly from the entire planet.

As for scoring FF tickets, aha, that is a lovely black art.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 07:15 AM
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>>> As for scoring FF tickets, aha, that is a lovely black art. ,,,,

Truer words were never written!

I'm guessing that the friends meant both destinations can provide magical and otherworldly experiences, and I completely agree.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 07:18 AM
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Are you limited to LAX? Korean flies from a number of US gateways. Find what airports Continental and SkyTeam serves in the greater Los Angeles area. One route could be Long Beach to any other Korean US gateways such as Dallas, Seattle and YVR.

Also, keep calling till you find the person on the other end that is willing to work with you. My experience has been off hours and weekends.

Good luck
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Jul 5th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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the issue isn't the korea to bali part--it's the lax to korea part. ...and yes, i've tried other options. it's the same issue with the jfk to korea part or the dc to korea part. they are just not opening up reward seats early like they used to. gotta love the airline industry. i think i'll be switching to a cash back card next year--i've finally accepted that mileage cards really are almost worthless (as are the miles you accrue.)

rizzuto, that was a helluva pitch for Japan, though, I gotta tell you

i think i'll try for a bit more and Japan is definitely the backup.

thanks, everyone, for your advice. i'll keep you posted on the unfolding saga.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 08:57 AM
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Hi Bill, I know how much you guys want Indonesia so I won't try to talk Japan into you.......yet

Don't give up hope! STAY THE COURSE.

In today's screwball ff awards tix game the airlines will withhold more of the premium seats in an attempt to get maximum money out of the seat vis a vis, the airlines have found out that they can sell premium seats at a discount for cash as a last minute paid upgrade, offer last minute discounted business tickets , etc. The airlines usually release the upgrade requests just days before your flight according to your status and your date of requests. So booking now and waiting for the upgrade on the LA to NRT part looks like your best bet for now if you want to get to Bali in award business class.

And if one day in the future you guys are ever interested in seeing Japan in May I think I may have an idea or two that will get you into some hot water.....

Aloha!
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Jul 5th, 2009, 09:01 AM
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should have read on the LAX to ICN part.....
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Jul 5th, 2009, 09:07 AM
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Can you book coach using FF miles and then rebook to business class when the seats open up? Similarly, is it possible to book business class one way and coach on the other or business class on most legs with a coach leg thrown in? Just some random thoughts.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 09:07 AM
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should clarify, HT. we're using miles outright for purchase in biz--no upgrades.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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Andy, thought of that one and, nope...not unless we want to pay a "redeposit" fee for miles to go back into our account and then rebook in business. Man, they really find any way they can to suck the lifeblood out of a dollar at the airlines now, don't they?

...and as far as the coach/biz combo, I can't book ANY biz legs--all of them (on all carrier partners) only have 1 biz seat. My DH may not speak to me if I book myself in biz and stick him in coach...although you might agree that is good penitence for liking North Carolina basketball.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 02:03 PM
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What I meant to say was to get the business award tickets for both ways now. I know there is only one ticket on the LAX/ICN-ICN/LAX routes so snag that one now, then work like hell to get the other one upgraded later. They will owe you one as you have a business fare and you will be in line for the business seats that they don't "sell". If all else fails you can get the miles back, no? Is there a penalty with Skymiles?

If you want Bali bad enough, a free International economy ticket on one leg is a small price to pay, just drink your way through it, always works for me

Aloha!
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Jul 5th, 2009, 02:04 PM
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Oooops, didn't see your answer to the Panda. Well, the drinking part always works,lol Good luck!
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Jul 5th, 2009, 02:42 PM
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FW-we're counting on getting together with you in Bali in May. Check on the rebooking idea. HT's idea to scoop up the one business class ticket now and await developments may make some sense if there's some flexibility.
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