Can we afford it? (International trip)

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letsgobobby
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:00 am

What does flyertalk say about KE biz class?

Outer Marker
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Outer Marker » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:09 am

Picking a few random dates in May, from the U.S. West Coast (LAX) you can fly nonstop to Guangzhou on China Southern on a new A380 in lie flat suite, then on to Kathmandu on a one stop basis. Their business fare is $4400. KAL might be a little nicer, but certainly not more than twice as nice. I've flown CZ a number of times, and never had any complaints -- I have not yet sampled their new A380 product.

Rodc
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Rodc » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:17 am

SurfCityBill wrote:I agree it's a huge cost differential and would make any sensible Boglehead think twice but I can tell you I've been to New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, and Tahiti.
All long flights. Business class left us refreshed and prepared to enjoy the vacation. The sleeper seats and small extras are great. Had we gone coach we would have needed 2 days just to feel good enough to enjoy the vacation part. Go for it.


Sounds like too late now for the OP, but another option is to take the $9,000 and make the trip a week longer, then you get an extra 5 good days rather than 2. :)
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sls239
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by sls239 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:28 am

My husband was already ill when we got on the plane; had been for several days. Had he been able to lay down, it would have been a lot better for him, but he had to sit for that 13 hours (there had also been an earlier 2 hr flight prior to boarding).
.

I think the mistake in this situation was that you didn't reschedule the flight entirely, not that you didn't buy business class seats ahead of time in anticipation of being ill. Why not make a pledge that neither of you will fly ill, and if necessary you will use that 9K to make that happen? Then if no one gets ill on this trip, you still have the 9K guarantee for the next trip too.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:34 am

Sounds like too late now for the OP, but another option is to take the $9,000 and make the trip a week longer, then you get an extra 5 good days rather than 2.


Not too late, but the trip is already 25 days (including the travel time). That's the limit of how long we want to be away.

Picking a few random dates in May, from the U.S. West Coast (LAX) you can fly nonstop to Guangzhou on China Southern on a new A380 in lie flat suite, then on to Kathmandu on a one stop basis. Their business fare is $4400. KAL


Is that for one or two?
I plugged in our dates (October) in Cheapoair and found the same flight for $562 less than KAL's price ($5380pp). I also looked at flying out of LAX. The cost on CZ was $4504pp. Then we'd have to add the cost (and time) of flying from SEA to LAX. about $204. So a total of $4704 to go SEA/LAX/KOW/KTM vs $5380 to fly SEA/ICN/KTM (returning BKK/ICN/SEA). The savings would be $676 pp.

I've looked at flights from both SFO and LAX, but we are in agreement that we want to make the big jump from SEA rather than spend 2 or 3 extra hours flying down the coast. Every stop added increases the odds of delays, missed connections and/or lost luggage.
Last edited by ddunca1944 on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

centrifuge41
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by centrifuge41 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:44 am

As you can see, when using cash, the business fare is close to 5x the economy fare.

When using miles, the fare would be more like 1.5x or 2x the number of miles. You can use Delta miles to buy flights on Korean air, and you can use United miles to buy flights on Asiana. You can use British and American miles to fly on JAL. If you want to acquire these miles using credit cards and such, you may want to start reading Flyertalk. If you don't, you may go through a mile broker to buy award business seats. I would not spend 4.7x cash to buy the business seats, but by using miles, the trip is totally doable!

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:56 am

centrifuge41 wrote:As you can see, when using cash, the business fare is close to 5x the economy fare.

When using miles, the fare would be more like 1.5x or 2x the number of miles. You can use Delta miles to buy flights on Korean air, and you can use United miles to buy flights on Asiana. You can use British and American miles to fly on JAL. If you want to acquire these miles using credit cards and such, you may want to start reading Flyertalk. If you don't, you may go through a mile broker to buy award business seats. I would not spend 4.7x cash to buy the business seats, but by using miles, the trip is totally doable!


I already have the Delta Gold AmEx (and have used the bonus miles that came with the card). The max number of miles I can buy from Delta is 60K. I doubt there is enough time between now and then to acquire 280K miles (for two people) miles by spending. Then there is the issue of being able to book mileage seats when we want them.

We have about 200K miles on AA, but have never been able to use them. The last time I looked at using them to fly to Hawaii, they routed us from Seattle, to Houston, LAX then Honolulu. No thanks. I'd rather pay for a 6 hr direct flight.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:57 am

sls239 wrote:
My husband was already ill when we got on the plane; had been for several days. Had he been able to lay down, it would have been a lot better for him, but he had to sit for that 13 hours (there had also been an earlier 2 hr flight prior to boarding).
.

I think the mistake in this situation was that you didn't reschedule the flight entirely, not that you didn't buy business class seats ahead of time in anticipation of being ill. Why not make a pledge that neither of you will fly ill, and if necessary you will use that 9K to make that happen? Then if no one gets ill on this trip, you still have the 9K guarantee for the next trip too.


Rescheduling the flight would have delayed the medical attention he needed. We just wanted to get home asap.

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fizxman
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by fizxman » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:08 am

Two things to try:

1. Depending on how long it is until you leave, get the airlines credit card and put as many expenses on it as possible then use the miles to upgrade. Maybe you'll only be able to upgrade one ticket and have to pay for the other but it would still cut the costs in half. I'm doing this because I may have to travel to you Europe in the summer and/or fall for work and my girlfriend wants to come with me. So we got United credit cards and plan to put all of our expenses on it, accumulate as many miles as possible in order to get her ticket either discounted or for free or buy coach tickets and use miles to upgrade.

2. Only upgrade on the longer of the two flights and fly coach on the shorter flight. I imagine you can set this up.

Bonus: Try both.

Edit: I see you already have the airlines credit card and that you need a boatload of miles to be able to upgrade.

Rodc
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Rodc » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:24 am

Not too late, but the trip is already 25 days (including the travel time). That's the limit of how long we want to be away.


Yeah, that is a good long trip.

I hope it is a blast.
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German Expat
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by German Expat » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:30 am

Let us know how you liked it after you finished going there. I still have Tibet on our list of things to do but just couldn't make it the last 2 years. We are also waiting for our son to be a little older. At least we have a small advantage with altitude adjustment being in Colorado compared to Seattle.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:37 am

German Expat wrote:Let us know how you liked it after you finished going there. I still have Tibet on our list of things to do but just couldn't make it the last 2 years. We are also waiting for our son to be a little older. At least we have a small advantage with altitude adjustment being in Colorado compared to Seattle.



Will do. We visited Tibet in 2010 and it was the best part of our whole trip. Clean air, wonderfully friendly people and a photographer's paradise. Currently Tibet is closed to visitors, but who knows how long that will be the case. We did visit a travel nurse prior to going and got a prescription for something (I forget the name) that helped with the altitude. Lhasa was 12000 ft. Quite an adjustment when you live at sea level.....

2stepsbehind
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:14 pm

Can you afford it? sure, but you'd be like the person who ignored an easily accessible coupon and insisted on paying full price. Others have mentioned that getting familiar with frequent flier miles could save you a ton. With 200k and a little creativity you could be well poised to get to your destination in style. If you post your desired itinerary on flyertalk and your miles balances people can help you figure out a way to get you there.

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Peter Foley
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Peter Foley » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:41 pm

I did the coach flight to Singapore once - and refused to go a second time. The way over was awful. Minneapolis to Japan and Japan to Singapore. Similar hours to yours. The way back was fine as we routed ourselves through Hawaii and spent a week there. It made a big difference and didn't cost close to $9,000. I would suggest you see what sort of deal you could get with Hawaii as a starting point. Add a couple days in Hawaii on both ends of the trip. :happy

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:20 pm

2stepsbehind wrote:Can you afford it? sure, but you'd be like the person who ignored an easily accessible coupon and insisted on paying full price. Others have mentioned that getting familiar with frequent flier miles could save you a ton. With 200k and a little creativity you could be well poised to get to your destination in style. If you post your desired itinerary on flyertalk and your miles balances people can help you figure out a way to get you there.


I AM familiar with frequent flier miles. I've used them in the past. I also looked into the possibility of upgrades - the requirement is to buy an "upgradeable" ticket that costs more than the price of a discounted business class ticket. That seems to be penny wise and pound foolish.

While 200K miles is required for a round trip business class seat to Asia, it would take 400K miles for two. I doubt we could spend enough in a few months to earn 400K miles. Then there is the availability issue. Airlines severely limit the number of seats that can be obtained with miles.

In recent years it's become easier to earn miles than to actually use them. I tried using our 200K AA miles last year for a trip to Europe. Could do it, just not both of us on the same flight and with too many legs. I also tried to use them for a flight to Hawaii. The only way was to fly from Seattle, to Houston, then to LAX then to Hawaii. With layovers it would have taken about 18 hours when it is a 6 hour direct flight.

2stepsbehind
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:37 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:
2stepsbehind wrote:Can you afford it? sure, but you'd be like the person who ignored an easily accessible coupon and insisted on paying full price. Others have mentioned that getting familiar with frequent flier miles could save you a ton. With 200k and a little creativity you could be well poised to get to your destination in style. If you post your desired itinerary on flyertalk and your miles balances people can help you figure out a way to get you there.


I AM familiar with frequent flier miles. I've used them in the past. I also looked into the possibility of upgrades - the requirement is to buy an "upgradeable" ticket that costs more than the price of a discounted business class ticket. That seems to be penny wise and pound foolish.

While 200K miles is required for a round trip business class seat to Asia, it would take 400K miles for two. I doubt we could spend enough in a few months to earn 400K miles. Then there is the availability issue. Airlines severely limit the number of seats that can be obtained with miles.

In recent years it's become easier to earn miles than to actually use them. I tried using our 200K AA miles last year for a trip to Europe. Could do it, just not both of us on the same flight and with too many legs. I also tried to use them for a flight to Hawaii. The only way was to fly from Seattle, to Houston, then to LAX then to Hawaii. With layovers it would have taken about 18 hours when it is a 6 hour direct flight.


who told you that?
http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/free ... -chart.jsp
http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/aadv ... rChart.jsp

When did you try to go to Europe and how much time did you give yourself to book? Ditto Hawaii. It is extremely easy to use miles if you know the patterns/rules. You can't try to book within a couple of weeks of the desired travel dates in peak season and expect a lot of options. Frequent flier miles require flexibility, but they are worth it.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:16 pm

When did you try to go to Europe and how much time did you give yourself to book?

We went to Italy last May, returned in June. Began planning the trip the prior August (8 months). Could not book the two of us on the same flight in business class. Tried online and called them.

Ditto Hawaii. It is extremely easy to use miles if you know the patterns/rules. You can't try to book within a couple of weeks of the desired travel dates in peak season and expect a lot of options. Frequent flier miles require flexibility, but they are worth it.

Hawaii tried last summer for a week this month or next. Very flexible, but AA has no direct flights from Sea. They route through LAX or SFO. Trying to use miles,

I know what the charts say. I know the rules. It's pretty easy to use miles if I want to go to Europe in February, but I don't.

As far as this trip, I plugged in the details into AA's website (SEA/KTM departing 10/9, returning BKK/SEA 11/1) The paid route outgoing involved 4 legs and 3 returning. The business class fare was $8000 each. When I put the same details into the "Use Advantage Miles" tab, I got this message:
There are currently no awards available on AA.com for your requested Origin and Destination. Please modify your request or contact AAdvantage Reservations for award opportunities on all AAdvantage participating airlines.

Playing around with different cities on the west coast and also in Asia resulted in the same message - as long as I wanted to use miles.

2stepsbehind
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:31 pm

May-August is peak season for Europe. And yeah if AA doesn't fly directly there and you can't find space on Alaska you have to connect. None of these remotely explain why you think you need 200k miles per person to fly to Asia. A fall trip to Asia probably isn't going to fall in peak season/there is likely to be availability etc. I personally wouldn't shell out 9k because I had to connect through SFO/LAX but YMMV.

Look if you want to pay 9,000 no one is stopping you. Just realize on your flight a good chunk of your cabinmates paid a fraction of what you did.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:47 pm

None of these remotely explain why you think you need 200k miles per person to fly to Asia.


Well, according to this chart which you gave earlier
http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/aadv ... hart.jsp#1

it requires 55 K miles pp for each way (business class). Our destination is Asia 2. So 110K pp RT, or 220K for two round trip. And that's assuming AA or a partner gets to where I want to go. Which, in this case, they don't anyway.
May-August is peak season for Europe.

Exactly. Which is why it is so hard to use miles then. It's easy to use miles if you want to go in the winter. We don't.

2stepsbehind
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:41 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:
None of these remotely explain why you think you need 200k miles per person to fly to Asia.


Well, according to this chart which you gave earlier
http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/aadv ... hart.jsp#1

it requires 55 K miles pp for each way (business class). Our destination is Asia 2. So 110K pp RT, or 220K for two round trip. And that's assuming AA or a partner gets to where I want to go. Which, in this case, they don't anyway.


May-August is peak season for Europe.

Exactly. Which is why it is so hard to use miles then. It's easy to use miles if you want to go in the winter. We don't.

Exactly, you said 200k per person, whereas it is 220k for TWO people. As I said, for frequent flier miles you have to be flexible. That may mean using miles to get across the ocean and buying a cheap one way to your desired destination.

It isn't usually impossible to get to Europe even in peak season, however, if you place a lot of restrictions on the number of connections, the final destination etc then inventory shrinks dramatically. If you have rigid criteria then you really need to book your travel when seat availability first opens up. Anyway, enjoy your trip.

Bfwolf
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:15 pm

Most of the advice here is saying that you can afford it, but do you really want to. I think that's probably true, but I think it's at least worth revisiting the can you afford it thing for a minute.

You're showing your income exceeding your expenses. But I just wanted to check on whether that income is after taxes or the expenses include taxes. Because that would obviously change things a bit.

The other thought I had is what if one of you passed away suddenly. If the one who died is the only one with a pension, wouldn't that leave dramatically less income for the survivor? Let's say, for instance, that you each have $25K/year in Social Security and your husband has a $33k/year pension. If he passes away, you're suddenly down to $25K/year, no?

Not trying to be morbid, just thinking through the possibilities.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:23 pm

Bfwolf wrote:Most of the advice here is saying that you can afford it, but do you really want to. I think that's probably true, but I think it's at least worth revisiting the can you afford it thing for a minute.

You're showing your income exceeding your expenses. But I just wanted to check on whether that income is after taxes or the expenses include taxes. Because that would obviously change things a bit.

The other thought I had is what if one of you passed away suddenly. If the one who died is the only one with a pension, wouldn't that leave dramatically less income for the survivor? Let's say, for instance, that you each have $25K/year in Social Security and your husband has a $33k/year pension. If he passes away, you're suddenly down to $25K/year, no?

Not trying to be morbid, just thinking through the possibilities.


Good, valid questions... Income is before taxes, expenses include taxes.
If I die first, my pension goes away. So his income would decrease by $17000/yr (my annual pension). My SS would also go away, but I think his would increase (I'm not 100% sure about that). Of course, expenses would also decrease, but who knows by how much?
If he died first, his pension would continue in full (100% survivor). Not sure about the SS. Certainly at least I'd continue to receive my own benefit. And, again, expenses would decrease, but not sure by what amount. Since we already live on less than our combined pensions and SS, I would think the survivor would be OK. There are the IRA accounts that could be drawn upon.
I would also guess that the survivor would downsize; sell the house and move into an apartment or condo. Housing costs could be expected to decrease, wouldn't you think?

And trips would be done. I would not want to travel without him and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. We are both accutely aware that when one one of us loses their health, the days of trips are over... :(

epilnk
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by epilnk » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:01 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:And trips would be done. I would not want to travel without him and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. We are both accutely aware that when one one of us loses their health, the days of trips are over... :(

Which pushes me in the direction of saying spend the money and enjoy your trip. However I like to do mental equivalency exercises when deciding to overspend on something. If you set yourself a budget of up to $9000, is there any quantity of stuff you could spend money on that would compensate for the rough flight over? An indulgent airport hotel for your 14 hr layover, high end noise reduction headphones, a massage after each leg of the flight, two ipad minis filled with games and movies and soothing music, a silk travel blanket and fuzzy slippers, this thing: http://www.magellans.com/1st-class-sleeper-27884? If you can't come up with a list that's even remotely tempting, no matter how far you push it, pay for the upgrade. You can play the same game upgrading just the longer leg of the flight, which may be more sensible if you don't expect to sleep on both legs of the flight anyway.

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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:05 pm

eplink,
That is a most interesting way to look at it. I will have to give it some thought....

rjbraun
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by rjbraun » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:39 am

ddunca1944 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:Most of the advice here is saying that you can afford it, but do you really want to. I think that's probably true, but I think it's at least worth revisiting the can you afford it thing for a minute.

You're showing your income exceeding your expenses. But I just wanted to check on whether that income is after taxes or the expenses include taxes. Because that would obviously change things a bit.

The other thought I had is what if one of you passed away suddenly. If the one who died is the only one with a pension, wouldn't that leave dramatically less income for the survivor? Let's say, for instance, that you each have $25K/year in Social Security and your husband has a $33k/year pension. If he passes away, you're suddenly down to $25K/year, no?

Not trying to be morbid, just thinking through the possibilities.


Good, valid questions... Income is before taxes, expenses include taxes.
If I die first, my pension goes away. So his income would decrease by $17000/yr (my annual pension). My SS would also go away, but I think his would increase (I'm not 100% sure about that). Of course, expenses would also decrease, but who knows by how much?
If he died first, his pension would continue in full (100% survivor). Not sure about the SS. Certainly at least I'd continue to receive my own benefit. And, again, expenses would decrease, but not sure by what amount. Since we already live on less than our combined pensions and SS, I would think the survivor would be OK. There are the IRA accounts that could be drawn upon.
I would also guess that the survivor would downsize; sell the house and move into an apartment or condo. Housing costs could be expected to decrease, wouldn't you think?

And trips would be done. I would not want to travel without him and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. We are both accutely aware that when one one of us loses their health, the days of trips are over... :(

Sticking with this "morbid" perspective, do you feel adequately covered in the event one of you required long-term care and / or incurred significant medical costs not covered by your medical insurance? In that case I would think it's conceivable that your current expenses (less travel) might remain unchanged, at least near-term, and so any long-term care costs could cut into your savings. Admittedly, $9000 is unlikely to make or break the situation, but food for thought.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:53 am

Sticking with this "morbid" perspective, do you feel adequately covered in the event one of you required long-term care and / or incurred significant medical costs not covered by your medical insurance? In that case I would think it's conceivable that your current expenses (less travel) might remain unchanged, at least near-term, and so any long-term care costs could cut into your savings. Admittedly, $9000 is unlikely to make or break the situation, but food for thought.


It's hard to know what t would constitute "adequately covered". We do have LTCi; I am on Medicare with a supplemental policy that has very reasonable premiums (due to subsidization by my former employer). DH's current policy is also through the same former employer and he will be Medicare eligible.

Thinking about the "morbid" side of the issue reinforces the reality that right now really is all we have. We both worked and saved for over 30 years. Even now we live comfortably, but not lavishly. I track our spending and we stay within agreed amounts for discretionary spending. We both are money concious and will cut back in areas that are not important to us so we can spend on the things that do matter.

Dandy
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Dandy » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:36 am

I would say go for it. You seem to be in excellent financial shape with income exceeding current expenses. Being retired I have a feel for enjoying life while you still have good health and vigor. And you will need vigor for those long flights!! Now I find it easier to give this advice that to take it. I need to ramp up my allocation to enjoying rather than preserving.

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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:58 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:
It's hard to know what t would constitute "adequately covered". We do have LTCi; I am on Medicare with a supplemental policy that has very reasonable premiums (due to subsidization by my former employer). DH's current policy is also through the same former employer and he will be Medicare eligible.

Thinking about the "morbid" side of the issue reinforces the reality that right now really is all we have. We both worked and saved for over 30 years. Even now we live comfortably, but not lavishly. I track our spending and we stay within agreed amounts for discretionary spending. We both are money concious and will cut back in areas that are not important to us so we can spend on the things that do matter.


It sounds like you guys have done everything right. You're right--this is what you saved all those years for. I say either go for it or spend the $9K on something else you'd enjoy more like someone else suggested. I don't like the idea of not spending it at all because then you'll just be kicking yourself on the flight about why you didn't upgrade. But at least if you spent it on something else, you'd say "Yeah we didn't upgrade, but think about the [insert sweet purchase] we're gonna have!"

rjbraun
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by rjbraun » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:47 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:Most of the advice here is saying that you can afford it, but do you really want to. I think that's probably true, but I think it's at least worth revisiting the can you afford it thing for a minute.

You're showing your income exceeding your expenses. But I just wanted to check on whether that income is after taxes or the expenses include taxes. Because that would obviously change things a bit.

The other thought I had is what if one of you passed away suddenly. If the one who died is the only one with a pension, wouldn't that leave dramatically less income for the survivor? Let's say, for instance, that you each have $25K/year in Social Security and your husband has a $33k/year pension. If he passes away, you're suddenly down to $25K/year, no?

Not trying to be morbid, just thinking through the possibilities.


Good, valid questions... Income is before taxes, expenses include taxes.

I'm having some trouble getting my head around this. Since we're talking about income before taxes, isn't it possible that after-tax income could be less than expenses including taxes, i.e., incurring an annual shortfall that requires tapping into savings? Not suggesting that this is a deal-breaker, just wondering about the relationship between pre-tax income and post-tax expenses.

rjbraun
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by rjbraun » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:50 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:
Sticking with this "morbid" perspective, do you feel adequately covered in the event one of you required long-term care and / or incurred significant medical costs not covered by your medical insurance? In that case I would think it's conceivable that your current expenses (less travel) might remain unchanged, at least near-term, and so any long-term care costs could cut into your savings. Admittedly, $9000 is unlikely to make or break the situation, but food for thought.


It's hard to know what t would constitute "adequately covered". We do have LTCi; I am on Medicare with a supplemental policy that has very reasonable premiums (due to subsidization by my former employer). DH's current policy is also through the same former employer and he will be Medicare eligible.

Thinking about the "morbid" side of the issue reinforces the reality that right now really is all we have. We both worked and saved for over 30 years. Even now we live comfortably, but not lavishly. I track our spending and we stay within agreed amounts for discretionary spending. We both are money concious and will cut back in areas that are not important to us so we can spend on the things that do matter.

Can't argue with making the most of one's time and enjoying life while you're healthy. I too struggle with the LTC issue and what constitutes adequate coverage, fwiw.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:15 pm

I'm having some trouble getting my head around this. Since we're talking about income before taxes, isn't it possible that after-tax income could be less than expenses including taxes, i.e., incurring an annual shortfall that requires tapping into savings? Not suggesting that this is a deal-breaker, just wondering about the relationship between pre-tax income and post-tax expenses.


Gross annual income 82,680
Income taxes (est for 2013) 9983
Net income after taxes 72697

Expenses 73000 but since that includes the taxes listed above, Net expenses = 63107

(Note: income taxes would be less, but I am planning to convert some from T-IRA to a Roth IRA during the year)

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DiscoBunny1979
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:29 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:

Travel is our passion.



-------------

I have flown overseas First Class and think that the price for First Class can be well worth it considering the upgrade in meals, service and the comfort of seats that can recline to almost a sleeping position. I would not buy expensive seating for Business Class or one step up Coach because historically the seats were not better, except for a few inches here and there. You'd have to know the plane you would be flying on and whether the upgrade is really worth it. But in my opinion, because planes can be substituted, you don't know what you'll be flying until the day of the flight. That means to me I would be buying the lowest priced ticket and asking for an upgrade when I arrive, checking in super early. In addition, the $9K I would put not only for a good massage (great idea) after arriving or nice sauna experience, but also buy some expensive item that might very well appreciate in value over time - like if going to Australia, would buy something like an expensive Opal (not jewelry, just the gem) to remember the trip.

centrifuge41
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by centrifuge41 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:44 pm

DiscoBunny1979 wrote:I have flown overseas First Class and think that the price for First Class can be well worth it considering the upgrade in meals, service and the comfort of seats that can recline to almost a sleeping position. I would not buy expensive seating for Business Class or one step up Coach because historically the seats were not better, except for a few inches here and there.

Korean has lie-flat business class seats. More long haul wide-body planes have lie-flat business seats now. If they don't customers will be less likely to buy.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:08 pm

Korean has lie-flat business class seats. More long haul wide-body planes have lie-flat business seats now. If they don't customers will be less likely to buy.


+1
The main reason I'm considering spending the money.

Happydayz
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by Happydayz » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:07 am

Wait!

Have you considered getting an American Express Platinum for this trip?
https://www304.americanexpress.com/credit-card/platinum

They have an International Companion Ticket Offer. Buy one business or first class ticket through them, and you get a free companion business/first class ticket. There are obviously some restrictions, however this would pay for the $450 annual fee right off the bat. Plus, you get a $100 credit if you sign up for Global Entry (expedited TSA entry line in the US), $200 airline credit to use on the flight, plus access to a airport lounges.

Definitely check this out - it might save you a bunch of money.

ddunca1944
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by ddunca1944 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:58 am

Happydayz wrote:Wait!

Have you considered getting an American Express Platinum for this trip?
https://www304.americanexpress.com/credit-card/platinum

They have an International Companion Ticket Offer. Buy one business or first class ticket through them, and you get a free companion business/first class ticket. There are obviously some restrictions, however this would pay for the $450 annual fee right off the bat. Plus, you get a $100 credit if you sign up for Global Entry (expedited TSA entry line in the US), $200 airline credit to use on the flight, plus access to a airport lounges.

Definitely check this out - it might save you a bunch of money.



I actually did look into this a few weeks back. I read the fine print. You have to buy a non discounted ticket ($9900 each) from AmEx. Then add gov't fees of $250, fuel surcharge of $1334, AmEx fee $39 plus the $450 card fee. In total $11,973. Vs $10,740 for 2 discountd bus tickets....
But thank you for the suggestion.

mmmarlowe
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by mmmarlowe » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:01 pm

Good luck on your trip. I don't know if it will be of any value to you but are you familiar with the website Flyertalk. The members are usually serious travelers and list all sort of travel advice. My wife and I are going to Europe next year for our anniversary and used the award booking services of one of the businesses that offers to book flights for you. The company was able to find business class seats from Calif to Paris in business class for 200k points total. We paid about $150-$200 for the company's services. Now some members of Flyertalk scorn award booking services because they believe that members can do the footwork themselves and save the costs. But since I am ignorant about bonus points or workarounds, I went with it. Here is a link to the specific page http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-t ... -list.html . I don't know if this link will post but it is under forums, then travel tools, then award booking services. Wish you the best. M

64415
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by 64415 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:26 am

mmmarlowe wrote:Good luck on your trip. I don't know if it will be of any value to you but are you familiar with the website Flyertalk. The members are usually serious travelers and list all sort of travel advice. My wife and I are going to Europe next year for our anniversary and used the award booking services of one of the businesses that offers to book flights for you. The company was able to find business class seats from Calif to Paris in business class for 200k points total. We paid about $150-$200 for the company's services. Now some members of Flyertalk scorn award booking services because they believe that members can do the footwork themselves and save the costs. But since I am ignorant about bonus points or workarounds, I went with it. Here is a link to the specific page http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-t ... -list.html . I don't know if this link will post but it is under forums, then travel tools, then award booking services. Wish you the best. M


I think this is great advice.You can afford business/first class tickets, but you dread the buyers remorse that will come from knowing many of the other passengers in business/first class paid 50% less than you did for the tickets. I am in a similar situation as you and am elated to have found the above link.

letsgobobby
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by letsgobobby » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:34 am

How about miles for one ticket and paying cash for the second?

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linuxuser
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by linuxuser » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:39 am

mmmarlowe wrote:Good luck on your trip. I don't know if it will be of any value to you but are you familiar with the website Flyertalk. The members are usually serious travelers and list all sort of travel advice. My wife and I are going to Europe next year for our anniversary and used the award booking services of one of the businesses that offers to book flights for you. The company was able to find business class seats from Calif to Paris in business class for 200k points total. We paid about $150-$200 for the company's services. Now some members of Flyertalk scorn award booking services because they believe that members can do the footwork themselves and save the costs. But since I am ignorant about bonus points or workarounds, I went with it. Here is a link to the specific page http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-t ... -list.html . I don't know if this link will post but it is under forums, then travel tools, then award booking services. Wish you the best. M


I am still confused by how this service works. Can you explain?
Are you paying for the points?

centrifuge41
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by centrifuge41 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:47 am

Award booking services help you use the points you already have. They help you find routings, available seats, desired layover places and times, open jaw requests, etc requests for multiple tickets at once, etc.

Whereas a point broker is who you go to in order to leverage someone else's points for your seat. This is not condoned by the rules of most airline points & miles programs though, so you expose yourself to risk.

mmmarlowe
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Re: Can we afford it?

Post by mmmarlowe » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:47 am

linuxuser wrote:
mmmarlowe wrote:Good luck on your trip. I don't know if it will be of any value to you but are you familiar with the website Flyertalk. The members are usually serious travelers and list all sort of travel advice. My wife and I are going to Europe next year for our anniversary and used the award booking services of one of the businesses that offers to book flights for you. The company was able to find business class seats from Calif to Paris in business class for 200k points total. We paid about $150-$200 for the company's services. Now some members of Flyertalk scorn award booking services because they believe that members can do the footwork themselves and save the costs. But since I am ignorant about bonus points or workarounds, I went with it. Here is a link to the specific page http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-t ... -list.html . I don't know if this link will post but it is under forums, then travel tools, then award booking services. Wish you the best. M


I am still confused by how this service works. Can you explain?
Are you paying for the points?


As explained in a post by another member, an award booking service will look for ways to use your already existing bonus points. My wife and I had points from opening Amex Platinum and Gold Cards. We kept these points with Amex. Then we called an award booking service [sounds more formal than it was, just a guy who lives somewhere who had software to perform searches). Many of them charge only if they can first find an itinerary that is acceptable to you...so in a way, they are going on trust that you will pay their services. For us, they put a hold on seats from SFO to LAX to Rome to Paris. On the way back, they found a flight direct from Paris to SFO. The trip from SFO to Rome and Paris to SFO will be on business class with fully reclinable seats. He reserved the booking in our name and then instructed us how to open Delta accounts. We opened the Delta accounts, transferred our Amex points into them (we had about 400,000 from opening Amex cards but just needed to use 200,000 for this trip), and then we actually booked the trip with Delta ourselves. After it was all over and everything was set, we then paid him using paypal ( I think we paid a total of $150-$200). We did in all within 1 day's time. You might want to read the Flyertalk forum, it could be of use to you. M

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linuxuser
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Re: Can we afford it? (International trip)

Post by linuxuser » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:59 am

Thank you for the explanation.
Unfortunately, I don't have much frequent flyer miles to speak of.
I was hoping to find away to pay for unused points to upgrade from economy to business or economy+.

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