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EVA Air’s cartoon-themed aircraft offers one of the world’s most unique passenger experiences. Pros: Outstanding service and an absolutely unique themed aircraft. Cons: No choice of food in Economy, sub-par lounge options in Fukuoka.
I had booked the flight from Los Angeles to Taipei in early December, but I hadn’t thought about trying the Badtz-Maru flight until a few days before I left. There’s a handy dedicated site telling you exactly where the Sanrio-themed planes are flying, so you can tailor your itinerary to catch them. Cash prices were relatively high, $431 in Economy and $590 in Business each way. Fortunately, miles once again came to the rescue.
My first check was the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, which showed the route in Economy only for a whopping 84,883 points. EVA Air is a Star Alliance carrier, and United, the alliance’s US member, allowed me to book one itinerary combining Economy and Business for 45,000 MileagePlus miles + $25.50.
The best deal though was booking with fellow Star Alliance partner Lufthansa. Its Miles & More program quoted me 15,000 miles for Economy, like United, but only 27,000 miles for Business, for a total of 42,000 miles plus similar taxes. The downside was that I had to book each way as a separate one-way ticket and the itineraries did not auto-format when I imported the data into TripIt.
But I was still very pleased that less than a week before travel, I had gotten myself a free ticket — totally free, really, since I put the taxes on my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which would reimburse me as part of my annual travel credit.
Check-In and Airport
Boarding and Seat
Food and Beverage
Premium Laurel Class
My return was in Business/Premium Laurel two days later. It wasn’t off to the best start when the “Lounge Fukuoka,” which I accessed thanks to both my Star Alliance Gold and Premium Laurel ticket, turned out to be rather lackluster — but hey, free sake is free sake.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards