The Best Laid Plans, An Important Lesson & How Miles/Points Saved the Day!

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His 1st First Class experience. Singapore Suites LAX-NRT.
His 1st First Class experience. Singapore Suites LAX-NRT.

Sometimes the best planned events simply don’t turn out quite the way we expect. Thankfully in those cases, when travel is involved, we can use elite status along with miles/points to help makes things a bit easier. I just recently ran into such a situation.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the once in a lifetime trip I am taking with my dad. We spent about 10 days on the road and visited Tokyo, Macau and Hong Kong. Everything was going fine, with exception that the travel itself had been a bit harder on him than either of us anticipated and his foot began bothering him. His fatigue was noticeable as well.

The purpose of this trip was to revisit some of the places he used to go while serving in the military and we definitely accomplished that. Seeing him stare out the window at Victoria Harbour from our rooms at both the Intercontinental Hong Kong and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong was inspiring. While we were supposed to also go on to Shanghai, he has never been there and it was more “icing on the cake” than anything else.

Just days later his second First Class experience. Cathay first on the 2nd to last 747 flight.
Just days later his second First Class experience. Cathay first on the 2nd to last 747 flight.

During our time in Hong Kong he was amazed at the many changes that have taken place in the past forty years, but his pain and fatigue became noticeable. After awhile I began thinking and ultimately I decided to give him the option, the out if you will, of going home after our time in Hong Kong. Without explaining the logisitics of rebooking or the effort involved, I simply told him it was ok if he felt he needed to go home early.

After sleeping on it he decided to take me up on the offer. Thankfully it wasn’t as costly as most people would imagine thanks to “this hobby”. For his ticket home from Shanghai I used American AAdvantage miles which meant I could redeposit the award as an Executive Platinum member. After redepositing, I booked him a ticket home in Business Class on Cathay Pacific. Not bad.

It did cost me some more miles and a few extra dollars to change the departure city, but my dad was also updated from an old American 772 with angled lie flat business to a beautiful Cathay 777 with lie flat business so there was definitely some value. He is home now and raved about the flight home. He said it was almost as good as First Class.

Getting to celebrate his birthday while on the trip was special. Every hotel along the way helped to contribute.
Getting to celebrate his birthday while on the trip was special. Every hotel along the way helped to contribute.

I’m not going to lie, it was bittersweet to go onto Shanghai without him. I am eventually meeting friends in a couple of days, but traveling alone once again felt lonely. We did have a great trip though. We flew Singapore Suites to Tokyo, Cathay First to Hong Kong and he received happy birthday wihes from each of the five 5 star hotels we stayed at along the way. Miles/points helped me pull this off and more importantly it helped me share this world with him. I’m grateful for that even if it all didn’t end exactly as planned.

Situations like these are a great reminder that we can plan all we want but we have to be willing to let go of our rigid ideas of what will happen. In this case my willingness to let my dad go a bit early along with the flexibility created through the use of miles made the end of the trip a bit better and gave my dad some extra energy for our last couple of days in Hong Kong!

It ended as it should have, just not as I had planned it to and that’s ok.


  1. Shawn, could you write a post detailing your flight booking? Searching the award, transferring points, and booking. How far in advance did you have to book those flights? Or did it only open up with last minute availability?

    • Interesting. I could write something about that. Didn’t take that many photos of the various properties as a comparison, but I’m sure I could find some around.

  2. Happy birthday to your dad, Shawn. I’m glad he got to revisit places that held so many memories for him… and that you got to experience that with him.

    Now you both have a better idea of his energy limitations when you plan future travel.

  3. Leaving soon to meet my 85 year old Dad and fly with him to Europe for his Last big trip. (Split, Dubrovnik, Krakow and Vienna are what we planned). Am hoping he can make it through these (staying 2-4 nights in each city) and we end up flying back to the states on BA in first (another first and last for him as well).

  4. What’s important is your father’s happiness and his well being. I’m certain Shanghai didn’t hold the cachet as Hong Kong did and traveling via SQ Suites and CX First was probably more than he could ask for. You’re a good son Shawn. Looking forward to your trip report (we’re doing SIN, HKG, TPE and PVG over Christmas and New Years).

  5. I think that’s a very cool story. You are both fortunate to have each other, and you will always have those memories. Cheers.


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