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Getting to Florida From Hong Kong

The Sunshine State of Florida sits at a whopping 14,000+ km from Hong Kong.  Not your natural choice for a two-week break from the Far East due to the crazy distance but we were determined to embark on the Disneyworld pilgrimage.  Unsurprisingly there’s no direct Hong Kong to Orlando flight.  We had a few options depending on the airline and where possible try to pick the Asian carriers over those delightful US airlines.  As we had done in previous years, we chose to fly the 12.5 hrs from Hong Kong to Los Angeles and connect from there.

Luckily we had banked up a fair few Asia Miles (thanks to a Cathay Amex and business travel) and I paid for 4 upgradable roundtrip Premium Economy tickets. Then I spent the miles to upgrade all of them to Business.  Upgrading with miles is not always an easy process.  I advise you to book as far in advance as you can (I booked these tickets at least 10 months in advance).  For Cathay Pacific, go onto their website and check which flights you want.  Then phone the Marco Polo Club (Cathay’s loyalty programme) and enquire as to whether your flight has upgrade seats available. You will then need to immediately go back to the website and book the tickets (double-check that the tickets you are booking are upgradeable.  Be warned this will mean you can’t book the cheapest ticket, you usually have to book a flexible one to allow you the upgrade).  Once you have your tickets booked, you need to phone the Marco Polo Club again to have them upgrade the seats for you. Convoluted but hey, when you are getting 4 business seats for the price of 4 premium and a few miles, you’re winning.  

That said, we ended up extended our road trip by 2 weeks and had to forfeit the business upgrade on the outgoing flight. However we all thought Cathay’s Premium Economy was excellent, stay tuned for a review!

For our domestic flight I made an error.  I should have booked directly with one of airlines. However I booked with Expedia as it seemed easy and they gave me a variety of options. Yet when it came to changing this flight about 8 months later, it was a nightmare.  We must have spent about 4 hours on the phone with them over several days while they flip-flopped between allowing us to change or cancel the ticket.  Eventually we ended up paying a premium to change one leg of the flights.  I can’t even be bothered to go into how frustrating they were to deal with but needless to say, I will only booked direct with an airline from now on.

We flew with United from Los Angeles to Orlando.  Overall our experience was good and I would fly with them again, despite the bad press they have received of late!

We also ended up at two airport hotels for the first two nights and last night of our trip.  At LAX we always stay at the Courtyard Marriot LAX. I have always been a huge fan of this hotel but on our last night we ended up with a musty smelling room.  Maybe it was just bad luck but it was late and we couldn’t be bothered to complain.  At Orlando we stayed at the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport which was excellent. Spacious and only a 5 minute drive from the terminal.

Speaking of driving.. we booked our car through Avis. On the surface car hire looks reasonable but after you factor in all the add-ons from insurance to digital radio, it really hikes the price up. We bring our own car seats (a Trunki boostapak which my 8yo carried and a cheap kids booster packed in the suitcase) to save money.  Unfortunately there was a massive queue at Orlando Airport Avis car rental. Thankfully there was a small cafe opposite where I waited with the kids / watched as they cartwheeled around then fell asleep on the floor. Family travel at its best.

My sister told me that you should sign up to Avis Preferred, which will allow you to skip the lines and go straight to your car. I have no idea why we have never done this before but I’m blaming Mr Jetlag. He’s in charge of one thing and that’s car hire! We have had a relatively good experience with Avis although they did try to fob us off with a worse car.  I could witter on about tips for car hire but there are far better blogs out there that do so. Check out this one from Smarter Travel and The Telegraph.

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