Late January 2015, British Airways announced a major increase in the number of Avios needed for reward flights. The most significant change was an introduction of an off-peak and peak time period which different number of Avios needed for free flights. Even worse, the flights on partner airlines were always priced according to the peak award travel chart. Another change was the increase of Avios needed for upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club World. British Airways made the announcement of the changes three months prior to the implementation, which gave enough time to plan accordingly.
I had two trips planed at this time, on to Asia in August and one to Florida in late October. The later was still not finalized and despite missing the chance to upgrade with the lower amount of miles from World Traveller Plus as BA calls its premium economy cabin to Club World on the trip to Florida, I decided in April to use my avios for a round trip ticket on Cathay Pacific to Taipei via Hong Kong. Part of this trip was also a visit in Surabaya / Indonesia, and this means I had to buy a return trip from Taipei to Surabaya, but this was such not a problem as there was one daily flight from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and the fares in Business Class were even not that expensive.
Summarized, I booked a round trip award from Frankfurt via Hong Kong to Taipei on Cathay Pacific in Business Class using British Airways Avios and bought a separate round trip from Taipei to Surabaya with an overnight transfer in Hong Kong on the outbound and inbound flight which gave me the possibility to catch up with friends in Hong Kong during the layover.
The long haul flights were in the new Business Class of Cathay Pacific, the flights from Hong Kong to Taipei were at the time of booking in the regional Business Class or the new international Business Class. But the flights between Hong Kong and Taipei are known for last minute equipment changes and so I hoped for the best but knew, that it might be another product. The flights from Hong Kong and then on to Surabaya were in the new regional Business Class.
A few weeks before my trip was about to start, volcano Mount Raunda on Java erupted and caused some problems to the air traffic into Denpasar and also to Surabaya. My flight was scheduled to arrive in the evening, but at this time of the day, the air space was closed and flights in and out of Surabaya towards Hong Kong were not possible. Instead the departure was re-scheduled from 15:35 to 03:45 the next morning on most of the days. On a few days, the flights were cancelled or the departure further delayed to around 08:00 the next morning. I monitored this closely and while cancellations happened during the early stage of the eruption, there were no further cancellations. In so far, I would most likely be delayed into Surabaya, but there was not much I could do before the trip.
I split my time in Taiwan between a day in Taipei after my arrival and before my departure to Surabaya and two days in Hsinchu and two days in Tainan. The reason was that I was going to Taiwan in typhoon season and there were quite often delays due to busy air traffic in mainland China, which also affected the flights to Taiwan. And of course I managed to experience another typhoon passing over Taiwan during my stay forcing me to stay one morning in the hotel in Hsinchu.
In regard to hotels, I stayed mostly at hotels belonging to the Starwood Hotels and Resorts chain with the exception of Tainan, were I tried the Shangri-La Hotel.