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For a while, Vietnam was in the number one spot on my travel bucket list — I’d always seen photos of the country’s amazing landscapes and heard about its friendly people and delicious food. I’m also a huge AvGeek and wanted to make sure I got there in the coolest way possible. My options were to fly from London on Vietnam Airlines’ 787 Dreamliner or to fly from Paris to Hanoi on the carrier’s new Airbus A350. For me, the decision was easy — I had to test out that A350.
But first I needed to get to Paris. I’d already flown from New York (JFK) to London (LHR), where I started my trip with an overnight layover, checking out some of the city’s best off-the-beaten-path sites and popular restaurants with my TV host friend, Fletcher Cowan. After that, I hopped on the Eurostar train from London to Paris — another bucket list item of mine — and boarded my A350 flight to Hanoi (HAN). Watch the latest episode of TPGtv, below, to see how it went!
I really enjoyed taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. Note that you can actually redeem British Airways Avios for train tickets, with base awards starting at 10,000 Avios round-trip — according to our latest valuations, Avios are worth 1.5 cents each, so be sure that you’re getting a good deal before you book.
For this trip I paid full price ($429) for my Eurostar Business Premier ticket and used my Chase Sapphire Preferred card so I’d earn 2x the points on travel, earning 858 Chase Ultimate Rewards points just for this one-way trip. Thanks to my ticket option, I also received extra perks like fast-track check-in, access to a business-class lounge with free Wi-Fi and a gourmet three-course meal on the train.
Booking my one-way flight from Paris to Hanoi was pretty easy, too. Since Vietnam Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, I had the option to redeem 80,000 Delta SkyMiles (+ $100 in taxes and fees) or 100,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles (+ $275 in taxes and fees). Additionally, Delta is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, while Flying Blue is a partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards, so you have even more options to play with.
Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t any award availability on the day I wanted to travel, so I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred card once again to pay the $1,756 for my business-class ticket, earning 2x the points for travel and a total of 3,512 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for my one-way flight. I credited the purchase to my Delta account, earning an additional 7,142 Delta SkyMiles, 5,713 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and $1,429 in Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs). I normally would have used my Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card to score 3x the points for airfare, however Vietnam Airlines doesn’t accept American Express.
I have to say the business-class section of Vietnam Airlines’ A350 was definitely middle of the road, sporting 29 staggered seats in a 1-2-1 layout that were fairly comfy but still a bit cramped, especially for anyone who’s tall or has broad shoulders. The food service really wasn’t anything to write home about but I did enjoy the 15″ high definition in-flight entertainment system as well as the Charriol amenity kits that were offered, so overall it was a pretty good flight. For more info about the Vietnam Airlines A350 flight experience, check out my flight review of the airline’s business-class product.
Can’t wait to see what I’m working on next? Follow along with all my travel adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s coming up on TPGtv, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Points Guy on YouTube — you’ll be notified as soon as each new episode appears.
The Points Guy Assessment: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.
The Points Guy Assessment:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees