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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.
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