It was a cold winter in Seoul, Korea this year and I had a little bit of time on my hand during the month of February 2015. I was really itching to travel somewhere, somewhere warmer than here. I also had some Aeroplan miles sitting around just waiting to be redeemed by me. I was at first planning to use them to redeem a one way flight to or from Seoul back to Canada. However, the difference between a round-trip reward flight within Aeroplan’s Asia 1 zone: (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.) in Business and Economy class is only 10,000 miles- a 50% surcharge compared to the 200% increase for other routes. So it was a very good value for my miles. All this planning and booking process was done 48hrs before (like looking for accommodations and flight options), with the flight booked 36hrs in advance.
My Flights: Being based in Seoul, I had the option between two airports. Seoul Gimpo International Airport (GMP) and Incheon International Airport (ICN). Figuring my destination with the award booking was simple for Asia 1- Singapore!! Why Singapore? Well it’s the farthest destination and the opportunity to fly one of the world’s best airlines Singapore Airlines in business class was unbeatable. It’s strange, the flight award chart for Aeroplan, with Malaysia being Asia 2 and Singapore being Asia 1 despite Malaysia being closer to the rest and only a 45 minute flight separating the two. Maybe it is because SQ is part of the Star Alliance, what a bonus!
The Incheon departures only had direct flights on either Asiana or Singapore Airlines and some connections in either Hong Kong or Bangkok or Beijing with other Star Alliance airlines. But when I searched up departures from Gimpo, I was given some very interesting routes, all 1 or 2 stops, mainly because Gimpo is used primarily for domestic with some international flights to nearby Asia cities in (China and Japan). Also, with Gimpo being closer to my home, the choice was simple to make in the end.
My final reward booking included stopovers in both Tokyo, Japan and Beijing China and is as followed:
Depart: Wed Feb 11- GMP to HND to SIN [08:40-10:45] on OZ and [22:55-05:20+1] on SQ = 12 hour layover in Tokyo 🙂
Return: Tues Feb 17- SIN to PEK to GMP [16:55-23:00] on SQ and [18:50+1-21:45+1] on CA = 20 hour layover in Beijing too!
Total cost: 30,000 Aeroplan miles and $99.20 CAD
At this point, it was one day in Tokyo, one day in Beijing, and six days in Singapore. Six days in Singapore seems too long for such a small city, and me wanting to visit another country I have yet to visit, it was either Indonesia or Malaysia or both. To minimize my costs, I used Air Asia- one of Asia’s low cost budget Air Carriers. Turns out, Malaysia was the cheapest since Kuala Lumpur is one of the hubs for Air Asia, so KL check, but still, there isn’t enough to see or do for that many days. My next decision was to decide another destination in Malaysia, narrowing it down to Penang and Langkawi. After researching for accommodations in both of those cities, I decided on Penang as it had the UNESCO Heritage site of the ancient city of Georgetown; whereas Langkawi is more of a natural beach resort.
My final Air Asia booking that included Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia is as followed:
First Flight: Thurs Feb 12- SIN to KUL [08:45-10:00] on AK
Second Flight: Fri Feb 13- KUL to PEN [14:55-15:50] on AK
Third Flight: Sun Feb 15- PEN to SIN [11:55-13:20] on AK
Total cost: $117.98 CAD
To be continued…