Singapore, Cathay, and Qantas First Class.. Some of the Best Meals of My Life, and a Tour of Hyatts in Bangkok, Singapore, and Sydney

I’m about to head off on another trip, which I’m somewhat ambivalent about because of how much I’ve been on the road lately.

But I’ve also done vacation and I’m much happier to share that trip with you in the coming days. It was a return to cities I’ve been to many times, it was visiting with family at the back end on the other side of the world, but it was also some top notch airline products including first class on two A380s (taking an A380 to visit family for the holidays really improves holiday travel). Some great hotels, and amazing meals.

Qantas, Singapore and Cathay First – Oh My!

Late last year I stumbled upon two Qantas A380 first class award seats, Sydney – Los Angeles for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. There’s a trick to booking Qantas first class awards that you should know.

I figured that if I could book these seats, I should, and it was a good reason to visit my family in the Sydney suburbs. I also decided to grab 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Sydney at the pre-devaluation price.

That meant I needed to get to Australia. There were Singapore A380 Suites class award seats that lined up perfectly, using Singapore Airlines’ own miles, which provides much better availability than trying to use miles from one of Singapore’s partners.

That meant I needed to get to Asia, so I grabbed a couple of Cathay Pacific first class award seats using American miles, Los Angeles – Hong Kong, on the night time flight. (The JFK flight was also available, but in the morning, and I didn’t know where I’d be coming from so I decided to start from Los Angeles.

Filling in the Gap With Avios

That’s where I left the award to sit for awhile, figuring I’d fill in the holes later. Eventually I added Bangkok – Singapore using British Airways Avios for Cathay Pacific business class. I was actually a bit torn on this. It’s 7500 points for coach, 15,000 for business class. Thai Airways sells business class one-way for less than $450. So it’s not like I was evening getting huge leverage for my miles. But I had no reason to buy the ticket, and I have more Avios than I’d like, so I booked the award.

Choosing Hotels, and Putting it All Together

I had an expiring confirmed suite upgrade with Hyatt, and Hyatt introduced cash and points awards, I wound up booking suites at the Grand Hyatt Bangkok and at the Grand Hyatt Singapore (where I’ve stayed twice before).

I was torn, I actually decided to spend 5 nights in Bangkok. I haven’t spent more than just a night or two there in years. It’s become a really fantastic, top notch dining city. I could use new suits. So I decided a long-ish stay there made sense.

Many people think of Singapore as just a stopover, but I really like spending time there, and will grab a few days in that city whenever I can. So three nights it was.

All told these were my flights, hotels, and airport lounge stops:

  • Oneworld business class lounge, Los Angeles
  • Cathay Pacific first class, Los Angeles – Hong Kong
  • Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge, Hong Kong
  • Cathay Pacific business class, Hong Kong – Bangkok
  • Grand Hyatt Bangkok, 5 nights
  • Louis Tavern CIP lounge, Bangkok
  • Cathay Pacific business class, Bangkok – Singapore
  • Grand Hyatt Singapore, 3 nights
  • Singapore Airlines The Private Room, Singapore
  • Singapore Airlines suites class, Singapore – Sydney
  • Park Hyatt Sydney, 5 nights
  • Qantas first class lounge, Sydney
  • Qantas first class, Sydney – Los Angeles
  • American Flagship lounge, Los Angeles

Along the way, in sharing the journey with you, I’ll have some award booking stories, tips for the best food in lounges, getting spa bookings, and secret premium wine options.

On the ground I had new suits made (I’ll share a tailor recommendation, along with what to expect having custom made suits done), and ate at some amazing restaurants. Nahm, Sra Bua by kiin kiin, and Siam Wisdom are outstanding fine dining choices in Bangkok (Nahm is probably the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten).

I’ll have some amazing ‘hole in the wall’ places in Bangkok to share, food stalls in Singapore, and also great recommendations for Sydney (I was disappointed in Quay, but fortunately have great and much less expensive suggestions to pass along).

All coming up…!

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Wow! This is great, look forward to reading all about it. May also push me towards thinking of planning an Asia trip.

  2. This looks like a great trip. I’m thinking about a variation on this (not quite a fancy) that would go: LAX-SYD/BNE on VA; SYD-BKK on TG F using UA miles (which is one of the few sweet spots left post-devaluation); BKK-HKG EK F (paid); HKG-home CX F. Hoping I can piece it together just right….

  3. Interested to hear your thoughts on Quay. We are headed to Southern Ocean Lodge in 3 weeks and will be finishing our journey at PH Sydney with dinner at Quay one night.

  4. Thanks Gary! Looking forward to it.

    I’m in the process of planning a similar trip for 2015, so I’m really excited to hear more.

    Did you use the BA trick to hold your Qantas tickets?

  5. @ Richard
    Will never forget a 7 layered Vanilla Cake at a pastry shop by Chef Adriano Zumbo in Sydney. my $0.02

  6. I love how the trip was precipitated by award availability. My wife is constantly reminding me that normal people don’t travel this way.

  7. This is the VFTW I love reading. No bias, no agenda, just good ol’ fashioned aspirational travel reports. Looking forward to future posts.

  8. I just got back, last week, from 5 nights at the BKK Grand Hyatt, if you need any info or tips, please let me know.

    I love the tips from your site and would love to repay the favor!

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