How I Got a $385 Flight to Bali & Shanghai

Background

If there is anything you should be doing online besides watching make up tutorials and submitting your research paper on BlackBoard at 11:59:59PM that you clearly did not proofread, it should be following The Points GuyWhat used to be just one man obsessed with traveling around the world and racking up frequent flyer points has now become a full team of savvy travelers and bloggers sharing their tips and expertise in the very confusing world of air travel. Along with One Mile at a Time, a similar online blog, I visit TPG several times a day because of its regular posts about insane travel deals that often sell out within a few hours. I saw roundtrip flights to Europe for less than $350, or a flight from New York to Los Angeles for $89, deals that are usually more than half the price off a regular ticket.

The Panic of August 2017

Picture this: it was one calm and quiet afternoon at my summer internship and I was sitting at my desk preparing for my team’s daily afternoon huddle and digesting the three pieces of tuna tacos I swallowed earlier. Per my hourly ritual, I went online to check the latest post from The Points Guy. Well fed and hydrated, I sat there amazed and shook after reading the top headline: “Deal Alert: NYC and Chicago to Asia from $374 Round-Trip!” I panicked and rapidly read through the article and learned that this deal was valid from New York City to pretty much every major tourist destination in Asia including Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, and Taipei, all taxes and fees included. What even made things better, which prevented me from booking any sort of similar deals before, was the fact that the dates worked for me. I get a week off in November for Thanksgiving Break and those were one of the very few times that had available seats for this insane deal. I was beyond ecstatic. My internship was also paid right above the minimum wage, so I had a steady income that allowed me to not only splurge on tuna tacos but also have the ability to spend a week in the fine sandy beaches of Bali, Indonesia for less than $380.

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The Conflict of August 2017

After calming myself down for just a little bit, I was faced with the frantic decision of whether to book it or not. I figured, if I could just go with someone this would be an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will without a doubt remember for the rest of my life. But a small part of me was hesitant because trips like these usually take people months to plan and it is also almost $400, which is about the same cost as 40 straight days of eating tuna tacos for lunch. I narrowed my choice of destination down to Bali, because it seems like a very bougie place to say that you spent your one week break away from college and I pretty much didn’t have the time to elaborately weigh my options, so why the heck not? Of course, with such a crazy and spontaenous idea, I had my doubts whether anyone was insane enough to randomly go with me half-way across the world without any other plans whatsoever. Still, I called several of my friends asking them if they were down to go. Like most sane people, most of them said no. I resorted to posting on my Snapchat story and Facebook about the deal and within ten minutes, an old friend of mine who I went to the same high school with but probably never had a conversation longer than just a few words replied and said, “I’d be down. Message me the details.” I sent him the message, pulled out my debit card, stood up and went around the office in circles telling myself “Should I do it? Should I do it? Should I do it?” And then as my internal sense of logic and restraint subsided, my heart took over and gently whispered to me, “You’re an idiot. Buy it.” And the rest, as they say it, is history.

Bali with a Bonus!

We ended up paying $384.66 for the entire ticket per person via Expedia, which even includes a very generous one dollar discount. The actual airfare is only $115 but with over $200 worth of taxes and fees. Still, this was a phenomenal deal. Upon searching flights on the same dates, the next best deal was priced at $754, still a good deal for a 20,000-mile roundtrip journey, but about twice as much as what we paid for. The itinerary also calls for a 12-hour layover in Shanghai, China. While most people would probably cringe about the thought of any layover longer than two hours, our flight from New York is scheduled to arrive at 5AM and our connecting flight to Bali is scheduled to depart at 5PM and thanks to China’s visa-free transit rule for anyone staying less than 72 hours, we would get the full day to explore a new city and a new country without any further hassle or any extra fees. Perhaps the only caveat is that China Eastern Airlines has extremely mixed reviews from passengers. But hey, for this price, I don’t care if they force me to sit on the toilet, only feed me cold bread for 15 hours, and drag me out United Airlines-style upon landing in Shanghai.

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What My Parents Thought

Asian parents are known to be strict. But if there is anything that my parents encourage me to do is to travel as much as I can before it’s too late and I’m old, sick, and unable to physically walk. My parents and I were able to go home and explore the Philippines a couple of times and visited its wonderful beaches, mountains, and different cities with my grandparents, back when I was younger and had no summer obligations and before my grandmother’s mild stroke which now limits her ability to travel and even do daily tasks. When I came home and told my mom and dad about the trip, all they said was “Do you have enough money?” and “who are you going with?” And end of conversation. Like most texts and calls I receive from them while I’m away in college, their main concern is always making sure I eat and brush my teeth.

Major Takeaway

This is probably the trip that I’ve been looking forward to the most, especially currently going through a tedious and difficult semester in college. I’m excited to explore Shanghai for even just a short layover and then see the sights, eat the local food, and relax on the beach 10,000 miles away in Bali. I’m also looking forward to spending time with an old friend, whom I’ve actually gotten to know more in the past few weeks after spontaneously deciding to travel together to the other side of the globe. But what has been the most impactful thing that I’ve learned so far, despite this trip being still a few weeks away is the fact that you’re in fact only young once. I feel like I will never have the same opportunity when I’m older when I’m inevitably chained to bigger responsibilities. So for now, as a college junior whose biggest worries are frantically avoiding my ex to avoid mentally breaking down and crying again, making sure I don’t set the fire alarm off when I’m microwaving my leftovers, and applying to internships that will most likely define the next few years of my life after college, I’m jetting off to Bali, Indonesia for $385 and I could not be more excited.

Stay tuned for more and can’t wait for all of you to meet Chris.

See you later,

Jez

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