I just booked a pair of Cathay Pacific first class tickets to Bali for next year using American miles. Okay, what’s wrong with me that I’m calling Cathay Pacific first class to Bali an “anti-aspirational aspirational award?” Let me ‘splain.
I’m all about the aspirational award. And in theory Cathay Pacific first class to Bali is about as aspirational as awards get. Bali is my favorite relaxation destination on earth, and Cathay Pacific has one of the best first class products, in my opinion. But at the same time there’s no satisfaction for me in booking a Cathay Pacific first class award 11 months out. Why? Because it’s easier than taking candy from a baby. Cathay Pacific consistently releases two first class seats on every San Francisco to Hong Kong flight 11 months out, so there’s no challenge in booking. There’s just more satisfaction in doing something aspirational if it’s a challenge to accomplish, in my opinion. Last night I decided I wanted to go to Bali, and 15 minutes later my ticket was booked. Let me take this a step further. I didn’t even look at availability online, but I just immediately called up American since I knew how great award availability is and knew Cathay Pacific’s flight schedules.
And the Cathay Pacific schedule to Bali out of San Francisco works out beautifully, since the redeye flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong both leave a layover of just a few hours in Hong Kong, so they’re perfect.
So while I love Cathay Pacific and Bali, I just didn’t get the same rush out of the actual booking process as I do from other aspirational awards.
Lufthansa first class? Now there’s an award that gives me a rush, since it can only be booked within a week or so of departure, and it’s a real challenge. Or my favorite aspirational award in terms of the actual booking process is booking Qantas Airbus 380 first class between Los Angeles and Sydney or Melbourne. They by no means consistently release first class award space on every flight, though they do release two first class award seats on at least a few flights a month. It’s the only award where 11 months out I’ll actually stay up overnight until the schedule opens, because I don’t think there’s another award where space actually disappears as quickly.
Last week I even stayed up throughout the night for a client to snag Qantas Airbus 380 first class award space. Was it worth it for my fee? No, but I got a rush out of it. I called every hour starting at midnight since I saw the award availability was there but American just didn’t have access to it yet. I called shortly after 3AM and they still hadn’t opened up the calendar, but then when I called at 4AM the space was already gone, so obviously I wasn’t the only one doing that. Fortunately there was space on the Melbourne to Los Angeles flight in first class on the Airbus 380 which worked equally well, but it just goes to show you how quickly the space disappears. But I really did get a rush out of the booking process.
I’m also happy to report that I’m actively taking a new approach to destinations. Some of you may remember my last Aeroplan first class award that I flew in March, where I had day-long stops in a handful of cities. While it was a fun trip, it’s far too exhausting. For the trip I booked I’ll be spending a week in Bali without any other stops, enjoy the culture, people, and of course the pools/beaches. I can’t wait, and for once it’s something to look forward to for 11 months (all my other bookings lately seem to be last minute).
Now I just have to figure out where to stay (though there’s no rush for that)…
Does anyone else enjoy the challenge of booking an award that doesn’t “put out” on the first