Trip Report: A weekend in Shanghai and Hong Kong from the USA

a stuffed animal on a stone ledge by water with a city in the background

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Lie Flat seats. High Speed Trains. 5 star hotels. We did it for a few hundred bucks.

When you can use points to fly in comfort…the world suddenly becomes within reach. Even for a weekend. This is the main reason I started the #weekendwarrior series:  To illustrate what is possible, within reach, and inspire YOU to Go and See. The. World.

Stop making excuses of too little time, money, and the like.  You don’t need weeks of vacation to see a wonder of the world, 1000s of dollars to spend, you just need to be smart. Use my site, or (cough, cough) others, and expand your experience. If I can do it, so can you. I got an amazing amount of positive feedback after my weekend to Tokyo trip, and so…I did it again. This time my best friend and I jetted off to Shanghai for a few nights, and then routed back via Hong Kong.

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The Planning

I wrote an longer post geared entirely towards the planning, but a quick overview goes like this. AA was offering cheap flights to Shanghai, roughly $330 a piece. At the time I was Executive Platinum and applied 2 System Wide Upgrades to our tickets which cleared a couple days in advance of flying. We knew we’d use points to stay the majority of the nights. Ultimately, we ended up paying for just one night at the Intercontinental Shanghai. All of the others were paid with points or free night certificates we had from holding credit cards.

In order to get back from Shanghai, I really wanted to be able to fly in first with Dave. We’d done it before from Tokyo on Japan First, and had an absolute blast. I had a bevy of Alaska miles and Dave was sitting pretty with Amex points – this brought Cathay to mind. As luck would have it, I searched via BA and found 1 seat in First back from Hong Kong, and also found a connecting flight from Shanghai. Since Alaska is the most restrictive, I used my points to lock it up. We were fortunate that another seat released and Dave transferred points from Amex to Asia miles to lock his seat down.

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The Flights:

Chicago to Shanghai

We flew AA Business Class on the 787-8 from Chicago to Shanghai in the mini cabin after my SWUs cleared. This set us back $330 ( I used Amex Points to book mine, roughly 20k). The reason I opted for this approach was how Amex flight ultimately code when credited to Alaska: I earned a mile for every mile flown.

a stuffed animal on a window sill

We flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong on Cathay Dragon First

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Hong Kong to Chicago in Cathay First

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Points used:

  • Chicago to Shanghai = $330
  • Shanghai to Hong Kong to Chicago
    • 70k Alaska + $86
    • 130k Asia miles transferred from American Express

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The Hotels:


Originally we had planned to stay at the Intercontinental for 2 nights, and the Andaz for 1. I had a BOGO from Ambassador status, but it failed to arrive prior to departure. We flipped the nights around and stayed the first two at the Andaz, and the final night at the Intercontinental.

Hong Kong

The Intercontinental Hong Kong is unbelievably well located and perfect for a one night stay especially when your credit card gives you a free night anywhere in the world. We used one. It was glorious

a large glass building with tables and trees


  • Andaz
    • night one = Hyatt Credit Card Award Night
    • night two = 15k points
  • Intercontinental Ruijin
    • Paid rate of roughly $200
  • Intercontinental Hong Kong
    • Annual Night

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The Sites:

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The Result

We left Friday, came back on Wednesday, and had an unbelievable weekend.  You’re gone for such a short amount of time that you never adjust to the new time zone. In fact, because it’s so exciting, our adrenaline just pushed us through.  And who wouldn’t be absolutely stoked to grab a drink on top of the world at Ozone in the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong. B to the YAH!

two men taking a selfie

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Wanna read more: Here’s all the reviews

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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Affiliate LInk

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  • […] with my buddy, Dave. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you the two of us like to take crazy weekend trips ( Shanghai ), but this time we’re going to go for a bit longer. We’ve been circling a few different […]

  • […] Wanna read more? Check out our Weekend Trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong from the USA […]

  • HLC May 22, 2018

    If you left Friday (arriving in Shanghai Saturday) and returned on Tuesday that’s only 3 nights…

    • Miles May 22, 2018

      Thanks for the catch – I updated!

  • Terence May 22, 2018

    Did you get distance-based earning booking AA flights via Amex Travel rather than fare-based? I often see AA reservations via Amex Travel coded into ‘Method: Fare’ as direct bookings.

    • Miles May 22, 2018

      Terence – it’s a little glitchy and this was back in November. If you’re crediting to AA they earn off the special fare chart – but a couple of my flights on aa that i credited to as earned full mile per mile when i booked via Amex travel. i haven’t done any this year so i can’t speak to how it’s still going, and as has devalued their partnership, so it may not still work. but worth a shot if you’d otherwise book a low fare bucket

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