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Whenever possible I like to write an introduction to the trips I take to give readers an idea of how much things cost, how I book and when I use points and when I choose to part with some cash. The point of this is to hopefully show just how doable these trips are and how, with a little bit of planning and a little bit of flexibility, these are trip that a lot of people can book.
For this trip I combined a good Qatar Airways Business Class fare between Europe and Bangkok, a certificate for a free night at a Marriott property from Chase and some cash to finally visit Thailand’s capital.
Booking My Flights
I frequently write about great Business Class fares that Qatar Airways offers between Europe and Asia (see the Airfare Deals page for current good fares) and, when I see a fare that appeals, I usually snap it up before it disappears.
This was one of those occasions.
Booking My Qatar Airways Business Class Flights
Over the past two years Qatar Airways has, from time to time, offered roundtrip Business Class fares between Europe and Bangkok at under $1,500 so that was my target price when I started searching last year.
Annoyingly, a few months (and a few Qatar Airways sales) passed by and fares to Bangkok never dropped below $1,650 so, as I’m reasonably patient when it comes to booking airfares, I held on.
Then, in September last year, Qatar Airways had yet another sale and a fare between Helsinki and Bangkok caught my eye.
At approximately €1,290 it was very close enough to my target price of $1,500…so I jumped on it:
I paid for the ticket using my Platinum Card from American Express so, once the booking had been converted into dollars, the flight ended up costing me $1,516.77:
That’s a pretty good price to pay for a Business Class fare between Europe and Asia and what made it better for me was that it was for travel on Qatar’s A330 and A380 aircraft – I hadn’t had a chance to review the Business Class cabin on either of those aircraft up until this trip (I reviewed the A380 First Class product last year).
Booking My Positioning Flights
Now that I had my Business Class fare booked it was time to figure out how to get to Helsinki in the most economical way (I knew I would be over in the UK ahead of this trip so I need to book roundtrip travel between London and Helsinki).
It’s not warm in Helsinki in January!
One of the big benefits of the Qatar Airways flights I chose is that the timings were great. With a late afternoon departure from Helsinki and a morning landing in Helsinki on the way back, I could fly to Helsinki on the day of my first Qatar Airways flight and fly back to London on the same day Qatar Airways got me back to Helsinki – that meant I didn’t need to splash out on a hotel at Helsinki Airport.
Normally I would simply book the cheapest fare I could find that didn’t leave me in a cramped seat with just 30″ of seat pitch – this usually means booking Economy Class with a oneworld airline where my status allows me to select an exit row seat at the time of booking – but that’s not what I did this time.
For reasons that I outlined in detail in an earlier blog post I ended up paying for Finnair Business Class to get me to/from Helsinki. It took me a while to persuade myself that this was a sensible thing to do (in hindsight I think it was) and, when I eventually pulled the trigger on the fare, it cost me £440.80…..
…which, when converted to dollars by Amex (I paid with my Platinum card once again) came to $595.83:
I really can’t stress enough how far out of my comfort zone I was when paying that amount for a short-haul fare but, as I said in the explanatory post at the time, the math made sense.
That was my air travel sorted out so now I turned to selecting my accommodation.
Booking My Hotel
I had never been to Bangkok before this trip and I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever gone back and forth over my hotel options as many times as I did for this trip…. I even wrote a bog post asking for advice!
Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit – Image courtesy of Marriott
I ended up booking the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit and there were a number of reasons why this was the hotel I decided to go with:
- The Conrad Bangkok was offering a cheaper nightly rate and was very tempting but, after I realised that the Bangkok Marriott was a Category 5 property and that I still had a certificate for a free night at a Marriott Category 1 – 5 property courtesy of my Chase Marriott credit card, the Marriott was easily the cheaper option.
- I’m making a concerted effort to hit the Marriott Lifetime Platinum status targets before Marriott Rewards and SPG are combined (expected at some point in 2019) and I need all the Marriott Rewards points I can get.
- My Marriott status would guarantee me a late check out (4pm) which, as my flight out of Bangkok wasn’t until 7:00pm, I knew I’d need.
- I really liked the look of the rooftop bar (image above).
- At least four readers asked me to review the property as they were considering it for themselves.
I wasn’t 100% convinced that the hotel’s location was going to be exactly what I wanted if I was to see as much of Bangkok as I could in the short time I was there, but all the other factors in the property’s favor outweighed that niggling doubt.
Two nights at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit cost me one Free Night Certificate & 5,088.17 Thai Baht….
….which, when converted to dollars by Chase (I paid using my Chase Marriott Visa) came to $160.39:
That may seem like a cheap rate for a 4 star property but Bangkok is a very cheap city so this wasn’t an especially great nightly rate (that’s why the certificate was do useful)….but it was a rate I was happy with.
Miles & Points Earned On This Trip
I’m stepping out into a brave new world (for me) this year and crediting most of my oneworld flights to the British Airways Executive Club (I’ve discussed why I’m trying to give American Airlines less of my cash and why it makes mathematical sense for me to abandon the AAdvantage program in favor of the BAEC in earlier posts)…so this is what I earned for my flights:
Qatar Airways Business Class flights:
- 560 Tier Points (140 per sector)
- 11,004 Avios
Finnair Business Class flights:
- 160 Tier Points (80 per sector)
- 2,268 Avios
This trip earned me 720 Tier points which is enough for British Airways Silver status (oneworld Sapphire) but, as I still haven’t flown the 4 British Airways segments required for Silver status, I’m still currently stuck on Bronze.
My stay at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit earned me:
- 2 nights towards Elite status (reward nights count)
- 3,029 Marriott Rewards Points:
- 1,686 Base Points (10 x the room rate as converted into USD by Marriott)
- 843 Elite Bonus Points (50% bonus based on Base Points)
- 500 Elite Gift (I chose this at check-in instead of an amenity)
This stay was also my first Marriott stay during the current MegaBonus promotion which means that all subsequent stays (through 15 April) will earn me a bonus of between 2,000 and 3,000 points.
Credit Card Earnings
All my flights were charged to my Amex Platinum Card which earns me 5 Membership Rewards points/dollar spent on airfare. This is what I earned:
That’s a total of 10,565 membership Rewards Points which I value, conservatively, at 1.5 cents each – that’s an effective rebate of $158.
I paid for my hotel stay using my Marriott Rewards credit card from Chase which earns me 5 points/dollar spent with Marriott.
I value Marriott Rewards points at around 0.7 cents each so the 802 Marriott Rewards Points I earned for this stay is an effective rebate of $5.61 (I don’t think I broke the bank with this one!).
- 720 British Airways Tier Points
- 13,272 Avios
- 3,831 Marriott Rewards Points
- 10,565 Membership Rewards Points
This is where the trade off between the British Airways Executive Club and American Airlines AAdvantage is plain to see:
- One trip earned me enough Tier Points to get 48% of the way to top-tier status (that’s a lot closer to top-tier status than I would be if I was crediting to AAdvantage) but…
- The number of Avios I earned pales into insignificance compared to the 32,110 Miles I would have earned had I credited my flights to the AAdvantage program.
At this point I’m happy to sacrifice redeemable miles in favor of Tier points…but it still hurts a little 🙂
I really enjoyed my trip to Bangkok and can’t wait to return for a longer trip when I get the chance. In the coming days and weeks I’ll post reviews of the lounges I used in London, Helsinki and Bangkok (I’ve reviewed the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha before), I’ll review the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit and I’ll post reviews of the Qatar Airways A330 and A380 Business Class experiences.
If anyone has any questions on why I booked what I booked (or why I paid what I paid) then feel free to ask in the comments section below and I’ll try to answer as bast as I can.