Date: November 7 – November 12, 2019
Route: YYZ – NYC – YVR – YYZ
Booking Class: First, Business, Economy
Total Cost: $179.86 + 50,000 BA Avios + 25,000 Aeroplan
So work has definitely been a bit of a drag recently with me putting in tons of involuntary overtime and I’ve been itching to get in a premium cabin on a plane for a while. I decided to take a couple days off and leverage the Remembrance day long weekend (which is a bank & government holiday) and turn it into a little trip.
I decided to go to the big apple for the following reasons:
- It’s been forever since I’ve last been there
- I’ve been watching Strictly Dumpling food videos on YouTube and I really wanted to try some of the NY restaurants he promoted.
- I have been talking about visiting my close high school friend there for ages but never acted on it. He also agreed I can also crash at his place
- Most importantly, I recently got my ITIN and am getting into the US market of credit cards. I can leverage this trip to set up my HSBC bank account and pick up some cards.
While I’m in New York, I can try Cathay Pacific first class as they operate a fifth freedom flight between JFK and YVR. I will then spend a few days in Vancouver with family and binge eat Asian cuisine and seafood.
With the route planned I set out to book my flights.
Toronto to New York
For short hauls, there’s really 2 choices. Redeem an Aeroplan short haul award (applies to adjacent states or provinces) for 15k Aeroplan miles or alternatively book with cash. Since Toronto – New York is a super competitive route (served by not one or two, but FIVE different airlines), costs are very low on most dates.
For my outbound date, google flights gave me a cost of $141.
At these prices it makes no sense to use points(giving me less than 1 cent CPM). In addition, I just applied for the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite, which gave me a $100 travel credit in addition to a Nexus rebate. I applied the credit on this ticket, giving me a final out of pocket expense of $45.46 for this flight.
New York to Vancouver
This is the flight I am most excited for – Cathay Pacific first class on a long haul aircraft. However, it wasn’t as simple as logging on to British airways and booking, as Cathay does not release most of its first class seats until very near departure.
I began searching seriously at T-14 days before departure, checking multiple times a day.
I saw this screen A LOT.
There’s also another issue here – I noticed that on dates very near departure (T-6 and before), the site showed no availability at all, not even economy seats. A little research showed bloggers saying that British Airways (and Alaska air for that matter) blocks close in awards. So I knew I was on a timer to lock in my seats or I would be stranded.
8 days before departure, I was getting slightly worried and was toying with just booking business class to secure a seat. However, I read multiple reports that Cathay consistently releases any unsold seats as award redemption without fail.
I searched on Seat alerts and noticed there was 2 empty seats, so I held on (note this isn’t always conclusive as ticketed passengers may not have chosen their seats, but I am too cheap to pay for a expert flyer subscription to confirm).
7 days before departure – after checking at 10pm and getting no results back, I got in bed around midnight and did one last search; and the words 1 seat Available miraculously showed up. I made the booking in bed using my phone and was so excited I couldn’t sleep for an hour!
BA Avios always charges very fair surcharges and taxes (unless you are booking British Airways flights) and this was no exception. $61.82 CAD for a first class flight!
Revenue cost for this flight would cost $5,382 – giving a CPM of 10.6 cents!
Now that is impressive for a BA Avios booking.
Vancouver to Toronto
For my preferred date to fly back, the cash cost for Vancouver -> Toronto was about $300. I decided to use Aeroplan and book business class as I read that Air Canada introduced “Signature class” seats on certain transcontinental flights earlier this year. These designated premium routes supposedly serves better food and drinks.
I booked AC126 for this experience, which is a red eye flight that gets me back to Toronto at 6am, allowing me to get back into the office in the morning.
The total cost came to $72.58 – we all know Air Canada charges a pretty hefty fuel surcharge, but for this domestic route it wasn’t too bad.
The cash cost for this flight came to $1,614 – after deducting my cost, the CPM for this redemption came to 6.2 cents – which is about average for a business class redemption.
What a way to spend a long weekend. 2 Days in NYC, 3 days in Vancouver connecting with Cathay first class and Air Canada business class!
All this would be unthinkable before I got into the hobby. It’s redemptions like this that really makes me reflect on how far I have come since discovering the magic of points and miles.
Toronto – New York [AC] | Economy | A320 |2 day stopover
New York– Vancouver [CX] | First | 777-300 |3 day stopover
Vancouver– Toronto [AC] | Business | 777-300 |Back in the office 😦
The total cost of this trip was $45.46 (YYZ-LGA) + $61.81 (JFK-YVR) + $72.58 (YVR-YYZ), giving a grand total expense of $179.86.
On the points front, the trip cost 50,000 Avios, which was free and transferred from the RBC Avion cards. It also cost me 25,000 Aeroplan miles, which was mainly transferred over from Amex membership rewards.