Points Panda has partnered with a variety of financial companies including CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points Panda and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. For more information please read our full Advertiser Disclosure.
And our next vacation with credit card points is to Bali!
This year we’ve put years of credit card points to use with an around-the-world trip, a long-weekend trip to Chile, over a dozen trips with the Southwest Companion Pass, and now Bali. It’s amazing what travel credit cards can do if you know how to redeem award flights the right way!
Korean Air Business Class
On the way to Bali, we are flying business class with Korean Air from JFK airport in New York to Bali (via Seoul). Korean Air is a Skytrax four-star airline and known for its numerous U.S. destinations. In fact, we could have flown from DC, but I really wanted to fly on Korean Air’s Airbus A380, which is the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The plane is so big that it even offers an onboard bar.
The bar on board the Emirates A380 was the highlight of our business class flight to Dubai, so we can’t wait to compare the two experiences. Only a handful of airlines offer an onboard lounge/bar for business class passengers and aircraft with those bars are only on specific routes, so we’re lucky to be able to fly on two of them.
Besides the bar, Korean Air is known to provide an excellent business class experience. We’ll have lie-flat seats for the long journey to Seoul as well as the shorter seven-hour flight from Seoul to Bali. I’m really looking forward to the food, especially the mix-your-own bibimbap offered to business class passengers. It’s not steak and lobster, but will definitely be unique.
Conrad Hilton Bali Resort
Since we had a stash of Hilton Honors points, we are also redeeming points for a six-night stay at the Conrad Hilton Bali. When redeeming points for four award nights at a Hilton hotel, Hilton gives you a FREE fifth night. So in the end, we only needed to have enough points for five nights even though we are staying for a total of six nights.
Conrad hotels are Hilton’s top-tier luxury hotel brand; it’s the equivalent of JW Marriott or Park Hyatt hotels. The Conrad Hilton Bali is located right on Nusa Dua beach and is billed as a luxury beach resort.
My complaint about staying at fancy hotels is that everything is always SUPER expensive when you stay there, and I despise paying for an $11 bottle of Sam Adams at the hotel bar. However, we have the Amex Hilton Ascend credit card, which gives us free Hilton gold status. Hilton Gold guests receive a complimentary room upgrade and free breakfast for the duration of their stay. So not only are we not paying for our hotel, but we’ll also be eating breakfast for free and (hopefully) staying in a nicer hotel room than we actually purchased with points. Twist my arm.
Singapore Airlines Business & First Class
On the way back, we managed to combine a variety of different credit card points into my Singapore Airlines frequent flyer account. Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner with the four major credit card currencies, so it was fairly easy to compile a sizable number of their frequent flyer miles. Singapore Airlines is often heralded as the best airline in the world, and while we flew with them before, we’re excited to experience one of their long-haul flights.
What’s even better is that we were lucky to score first-class tickets for our long flight across the Pacific on Singapore Airlines. We’ve redeemed points for business class travel, but we’ve never flown in international first class, so we’re even more excited for the Singapore Airlines first-class experience!
There are only eight seats in our Singapore Airlines first-class cabin, which means lots of individual attention. There is also the “Book the Cook” feature, which allows us to pick our meals in advance to make sure they have them on board for our flight. I joked that we don’t NEED steak and lobster… but that’s exactly what we preordered. Everyone raves about Singapore Airlines’ Boston lobster thermidor, so I pre-booked the lobster with “Book the Cook,” and Taryn pre-booked the steak. Singapore First Class also offers your choice of Dom Perignon and/or Krug champagne. I usually buy $5 Andre champagne for homemade mimosas, so I’d say that’s a step up. It’s safe to say it’ll be my first glass of Dom.
While the aircraft doesn’t have an onboard bar or lounge, first-class passengers are given complimentary pajamas to wear on the flight and keep afterward. Is it sad that I may be most excited about the PJs?
Besides the first-class experience in the air, I’m also looking forward to “The Private Room” lounge at the Singapore airport. Singapore Airlines offers a business class lounge for business class passengers and a first-class lounge for partner airlines’ first-class passengers… then offers a separate “private room” inside the first-class lounge specifically for Singapore Airlines’ own first-class passengers. Naturally, more Dom & Krug, and rather than a buffet, you order off an a la carte menu and are served your meal on white linen. I usually don’t like spending too much time in airport lounges, but this sounds completely over the top and a very comfortable way to spend our four-hour layover.
Southwest Airlines 😢
If we start feeling really bougie flying Singapore Airlines first class, we’ll, unfortunately, be brought back to reality very quickly. Because we could only find award space to Los Angeles on the way back from Bali, we had to purchase Southwest Airlines flights from Los Angeles back to Washington, DC. We’ll go from first class on one of the world’s best airlines to lining up by our boarding group and position. 🙄 Flying the last 5-6 hours in economy class is less than ideal, but if that’s the only sacrifice we need to make for an epic Bali trip, it’s totally worth it.
Since we have the Companion Pass, the Southwest airfare was essentially buy-one-get-one-free, which makes the long economy flight a little bit easier. Because of our schedules, we had to fly back the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so finding award space during one of the busiest travel days in the United States is a tough ask.
The fact that we used credit card points to book our flights and hotel is crazy. Stay tuned for our next post, where I’ll break down how exactly we earned the points needed to book our trip.
And seriously, anybody can do this. The credit card points game is complicated, but not difficult. However, if you just want to skip the complicated stuff and enjoy a first-class flight to any destination you want, you can sign up for our travel hacking concierge. We offer a full year of unlimited credit card assistance and award booking requests!
PointsPanda Deal of the Week!
Looking for the best flight deals? Each week we'll send you updates with the best deals on flights and hotels both using points and cash.