There are a few award redemptions that are just too lucrative not to take advantage of, and for me one of those has been the Aeroplan first class award from North America to Asia for 120,000 miles roundtrip in first class, allowing one to route via Europe. Just a couple of examples of the awards I’ve booked through Aeroplan include Tampa to Chicago to Zurich to London to Istanbul to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Munich to Zurich to New York (trip report here), and Tampa to Washington to Tokyo to Singapore to Bangkok to Tokyo to Seoul to Frankfurt to Seattle (trip report here).
Understandably these types of awards weren’t especially profitable for Aeroplan, so they recently announced that they would be modifying their award chart as of July 15. Kudos to them for giving some advance notice, and I certainly can’t blame them, since the region pairs that saw the greatest mileage increases were those that were previously most taken advantage of.
Anyway, I’ve had a bad habit of booking award travel fairly close to departure lately, and I tend to think that one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel is the anticipation. So this time around I booked my award 10 months in advance. I’ll be doing this one with a friend, since premium cabin travel can only be so much fun alone, in my opinion. Actually, I kind of take that back, since I had a pretty damn good time in the Qantas A380 first class suite for over 30 hours last week, but still.
For once, however, the trip isn’t just about maximizing the amount of time in the air, but more about maximizing the time on the ground and also getting a good mix of airlines in (since my friend hasn’t flown first internationally quite as much as I have).
Anyway, we’ll be flying from San Francisco to Munich in Lufthansa first class and spending about 22 hours in Munich (which technically isn’t considered a stopover). Then we’ll fly from Munich to Zurich to Bangkok in Swiss first class, allowing us to experience both the Lufthansa first class lounge in Munich and the Swiss first class lounge in Zurich.
Then a couple of days later we’ll fly from Bangkok to Hong Kong in Thai first class. Thai’s in-flight service is quite good, though the real show stopper is the ground experience — despite Bangkok to Hong Kong being only a two or so hour flight, you get all the first class ground services, including an hour-long full body massage in the first class spa.
Then after a couple of days we’ll fly from Hong Kong to Seoul in Asiana business class, and after a quick overnight fly from Seoul to Frankfurt in Asiana first class. After yet another overnight we’ll fly from Frankfurt to Seattle in Lufthansa first class.
Anyway, while I’ve just about tried all the products before, I’m nonetheless excited about it, because first class cabins are constantly harder to get into due to many airlines eliminating first class and also more competition for the same seats, given that consumers are getting smarter not only in terms of using their miles, but also in terms of earning more miles through means other than flying.
Now I should probably go ahead and get started on the report from the four continent trip I returned from yesterday. It would be a lot easier if I weren’t headed to Paris this weekend!