As I mentioned earlier today, I just booked a round the world ticket. This was a total spur of the moment thing.
My brother is spending the summer in Germany, and I convinced him to make a quick trip to Seoul at the end of his stay. When he was planning his flight to Germany I was going to book him a first class award, which would cost 100,000 miles, while a trip to Asia via Europe is 120,000 miles. So for a premium of 20,000 miles he’ll be flying from Frankfurt to Seoul in Lufthansa first class and from Seoul to Frankfurt in Asiana first class. He can easily down 20,000 miles worth of booze, and he has wanted to visit the DMZ, which I visited a few years back (though not sure how great of a time it is right now).
I was looking into hotel options for him, and nothing struck me as being a particularly great bargain. But the Park Hyatt Seoul was available using “Big Welcome Back” nights from Hyatt’s very generous promotion, so I decided to pull the trigger and join him in Seoul. I wouldn’t have done it if the flights didn’t work out as beautifully.
When all was said and done, here’s my routing over the coming week:
Not bad, right? Best of all, it was a mere 120,000 Aeroplan miles. Pretty unbeatable, in my book.
I’ll be leaving on Tuesday, and I saw space on both Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles to Singapore (via Tokyo) in first class, as well as space from Washington Dulles to Tokyo in ANA first class. Singapore Airlines first class is impossible to beat, but I’ve done it before. I’ve never done ANA first class, so I decided to give them a shot. Best of all, when I get to Tokyo I’ll be able to pick up the continuation of the Singapore Airlines flight, so I’ll still get seven hours of Singapore Airlines service.
Then I’ll be spending a few nights in Singapore, first at the Crowne Plaza Changi due to the late arrival time, and then at the Grand Hyatt Singapore using free nights from Hyatt’s “Big Welcome Back” promotion. I like Singapore, though was only there for about two days during my last visit, so am looking forward to seeing a bit more.
The next portion of the trip is where I struggled with my options, since I needed to get to Seoul. I was initially set on flying from Singapore to Hong Kong to Seoul, with Singapore to Hong Kong being on United in first class and Hong Kong to Seoul being in Thai business class (on a two cabin plane), but that just didn’t sound very exciting. So I decided to push the maximum permitted mileage on this routing to the max. How?
I noticed that much like Turkish Airlines, which I flew last year, Thai is now wet leasing some 777s from Jet Airways. These planes have some of the nicest, most private suites, so I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity. The ground services in Bangkok are also among the best in the world. The first class lounge is great, and more importantly, they have a spa. As a first class passenger you get a (near) full body hour-long massage for free. Quite relaxing! So I’ll be flying from Singapore to Bangkok in Singapore Airlines business class, then from Bangkok to Tokyo in Thai Airways first class, and then from Narita to Seoul in United Airlines first class.
I get to Seoul the night before my brother arrives, and Incheon (where the airport is) is about 90 minutes from Seoul. Conveniently enough there’s a Hyatt Regency located at the airport, which is a mere 8,000 Hyatt points per night. So I booked that for the night as I wait for my brother, and then we’ll head into the city together and stay at the Park Hyatt Seoul.
Lastly I’ll be flying from Seoul to Frankfurt on Asiana in first class, which is another first for me. Then I’ll be overnighting in Frankfurt at the InterContinental using Priority Club points, before continuing to Seattle in Lufthansa first class the next day.
Overall I’m quite pleased given that the cost was a grand total of 120,000 miles and about $160 in taxes. 😉
And of course you can bet I’ll be tweeting and twitpicking every step of the way!
I should mention, though, that this award didn’t come without some struggles. When I called to book this award the agent was of course a bit reluctant given my routing. Eventually I showed her that the routing was within 37 miles of the maximum permitted mileage plus 5%, which is what Aeroplan goes by. 37 miles on a 15,000+ mile one-way journey is what I call precise planning. 😉
The next challenge was the connection in Washington Dulles on the way out. I had a 1hr18min connection, and they tried to tell me the minimum connection time was 1hr20min. That’s BS, as the domestic to international connection time is in fact 45 minutes, as confirmed by United. United schedules the flight from Tampa to Washington so that it connects to their flights to Tokyo and Beijing, so there was no way it wasn’t allowed. After over 45 minutes on hold a supervisor finally approved it.
Last, but not least, I called ANA to select a seat. They didn’t see my reservation and insisted they never confirmed the flight. I had to call back Aeroplan, and after an hour on hold we were once again good to go.
So it has been a busy day handling all this, but now that everything is taken care of, I’m quite looking forward to the journey!