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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 some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees