Flying With a Cartoon Penguin, on EVA Air’s Badtz-Maru Airbus A330
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To The Point
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.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
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