One of the major advantages about the recent Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels is the ability to transfer points between the two rewards program instantly.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program is one of the most valuable hotel rewards program (in my opinion) out there because of its ability to convert points into over 30 airline partners with a 1:1 transfer ratio for most airlines, plus the 5,000 bonus points rewarded by SPG for every 20,000 points transferred to a participating airline.
I’ve covered a bit on How Valuable Starwood Preferred Guests Points in the past and some of the best ways to redeem SPG points.
In my scenario, I had to organize a flight from LAX to CGK at the last minute (one week prior) and there were tonnes of Marriott points sitting in my husband’s account that I knew could be a good use for my itinerary especially knowing how easy it is to convert into SPG points.
So first I had to search for availability on award flights from the following sites:
Singapore Airlines (to check availability on Singapore Airlines) – 88,000 Krisflyer miles for Business Class
United (to check availability on ANA, Eva Air, Air China, Thai Airways) – 80,000 miles for Business Class
Aeroplan (to check availability on ANA, Eva Air, Asiana, United) – 77,500 miles for Business Class
You will be able to check availability from any of the sites above as long as you have a membership number for each program (super easy and free to sign up), you don’t even need to have any points in the account.
I should have been able to also call American Airlines customer service to check on availability on One World partners but this time I wanted to try an airline outside of One World Alliance since I would be flying back with Japanese Airlines anyway.
As expected, SQ did not have any availability in any of the premium cabins on an award saver level, United had some availability but with inconvenient layover times, Aeroplan showed open availability with a few options of flying with either EVA Air, ANA and a multi-airline itinerary with Asiana and SQ.
Here’s the itinerary I decided to go with:
Knowing I needed 77,500 miles + $163.30 Canadian Dollars (CAD) to book this flight, here’s the process of my points transfer and how it required some legwork to convert points from various sources:
- 120,000 Marriott points – converted to – 40,000 SPG points
- 40,000 SPG points – converted to – 50,000 Aeroplan points (including 10,000 bonus points from SPG)
- 18,000 Amex Membership Rewards points – converted to – 18,000 Aeroplan points
In total I had 68,000 Aeroplan miles and was short of 9,500 miles which had cost me $285 CAD to top up, still a reasonable cash to pay so I ended up paying $448 CAD (USD 332) including the $163.30 CAD of taxes & surcharges.
If I was to purchase this one-way flight in cash it would have cost me almost USD 4,000, so paying only USD 332 does feel like a real bargain.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy was waiting for the transfer time from SPG to Aeroplan which took 5 days until the miles became available in the Aeroplan account (I transferred Friday afternoon and it became available on Wednesday afternoon). So if you have to do a last minute booking (less than 5 days) via Aeroplan, using SPG points is probably not recommended.
At the end, I was able to manage my booking of the entire itinerary on Singapore Airlines’ website after retrieving Asiana/SQ booking code by calling Aeroplan Customer Service.
FLYING ASIANA – Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon
Checking-in in LAX was a breeze as there was no line at all for Business/First Class passengers, I was issued 3 boarding passes for all 3 of my flights (via Seoul and Singapore) and checked-in baggage would go all the way through to CGK.
I visited the Star Alliance Business Class, the same one as my previous trip with Singapore Airlines but this time the lounge was quite packed since there were a number of flights departing around the same time.
Flight OZ 201 – Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon
Flight Time: 13 Hours 25 Minutes
All business class seats on Asiana A380 are located on the Upper Deck with a total of 66 Flat Bed Seats, I was glad to be sitting in a smaller front cabin as there were only 5 other passengers in this cabin, it felt exceptionally calm throughout the entire flight (even though there was a mother with an infant seating not far away from me).
The business class configuration on this Asiana flight is very similar to my last Etihad experience flying from Paris to Abu Dhabi with 1-2-1 configuration and alternate configuration seats on each row including several ‘love seat’ in the 2 middle seats.
There were only 2 options of in-flight meals from the menu, Western or Korean, of course I would choose the latter because I was curious to taste their home specialty menu.
I personally think the taste was good but nothing out of the ordinary, certainly met my expectation of what a Korean dish would taste like. I do love the fact they provide Shin Ramyun Instant Ramen Noodles that can be ordered anytime aside from sandwiches and seasonal fruits.
I was particularly happy with the size of the lavatory. It’s about twice the size of a normal lavatory you would find in an airplane so there was no feeling of claustrophobic whatsoever. This was also designed for parents with children who needs a table change.
The service on this flight was excellent. The lead flight attendant came and introduced herself to me before departure and asked whether I wanted to be woken up if it’s meal time and I said.. “No, you don’t have to wake me up” since sleep time for me is extremely precious these days. So I really appreciate the thought.
Seoul Incheon International Airport
My connecting flight to Singapore and Jakarta was with Singapore Airlines and I was glad to find out that there is a dedicated Krisflyer Lounge in Incheon Airport.
My layover was about 5 hours so I thought this was a good break to relax and catch up on some work.
To my surprise, the Krisflyer lounge was closed between 18:00-20:00, something I have never encountered from visiting an airport lounge especially operated by Singapore Airlines!
Luckily, right across from this lounge was a Sky Hub Lounge where Priority Pass Holders can get free access to. So I spent a good few hours here before making my way to the Krisflyer lounge after 8PM.
This lounge was nice, clean and modern. The Wi-Fi connection was fast and I always enjoy sitting in an airport lounge when it’s quiet and peaceful.
The Krisflyer lounge in Incheon was a bit outdated however the fact that there was numerous work stations could be quite helpful for business travelers. Food was ordinary and throughout my 2 hour stay here, there were only a handful of passengers coming in and out so it was enjoyable.
Singapore Airlines A330
SQ 603 – Seoul Incheon to Singapore Changi Airport
Flight Time: 6 Hours 20 Mins (23:20 – 04:40)
There are 30 business class with angle-flat seats in this aircraft. I found the seat to be more than an angle-flat but more a lie-flat position when fully reclined which was nice for an overnight flight across the region.
Most people would prefer to sit towards the front, but I always prefer towards the back row because I know there would be less people on the last two rows of business class and I was right. I had the last two rows to myself and there were only 4 other passengers in the entire cabin so it was nice and quiet with very little foot traffic going up and down the aisle.
Since this was an overnight flight I slept for over 4 hours and spent a few hours watching a movie. For a much shorter flight, Singapore Airlines has a much more comprehensive list of entertainment & movies compare to Asiana.
Singapore Airlines 777-300
SQ950 – Singapore to Jakarta
Flight Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes (06:20 – 07:05)
With a slightly different seating configuration, the 777-300 has a first class cabin whereas the A330 doesn’t.
This flight only had a handful of business class passengers so it was a pretty quiet flight throughout. As expected, the service from Singapore Airlines’ crew is always impeccable and extremely prompt.
I wasn’t feeling like eating a proper meal after flying for over 20 hours since I was well-fed at every flight and airport lounge, I had only asked for a fruit platter before landing in Jakarta.
Of course they gave me a tray with 3 different kinds of drinks when I only asked for tea.
Thank you Singapore Airlines! You are still my favorite airline.