Beaches and Mountains: Introduction

Introduction
Tampa to Charlotte to New York in US Airways First Class, US Airways Club Charlotte
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse New York, Swiss Business Lounge New York
Singapore Airlines First Class New York to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Frankfurt, Hotel Kempinski Gravenbruch
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Bangkok
Le Meridien Bangkok
Thai Airways Business Class Lounge Bangkok, Thai Airways Business Class Bangkok to Phuket
Westin Siray Bay Phuket
Le Meridien Khao Lak
Thai Airways Business Class Lounge Phuket, Thai Airways Business Class Phuket to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge Bangkok, Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Paris
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Paris, Star Alliance Lounge Paris, Lufthansa Business Class Paris to Munich
InterContinental Berchtesgaden
Exploring Berchtesgaden and surroundings
Schloss Fuschl Hotel Salzburg
Sheraton Arabellapark Munich
Exploring Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich, Lufthansa Business Class Munich to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Chicago
Conclusion


My whole family is from Germany, and as a result I got to explore Europe extensively when I was younger. My mom and I would spend about six weeks in Germany every summer. We’d spend half of that time with family, and the other half of the time exploring Europe, typically a different country each year.

That was back in the days when the dollar was still worth something. As I got into mileage running I focused most of my mileage redemptions on Asia for a variety of reasons. For one, it was an entirely new world to me, so I realized there was so much I hadn’t yet seen. Beyond that, it seemed like the better “bang for the buck” for my miles, not only because I got more hours of flying for the same cost as traveling to Europe, but also because the dollar goes so much further in most of Asia than in Europe.

But after this most recent trip I’m dying to explore Europe once again. I think I found my new favorite place in the world, which would be Bavaria generally, or more specifically Berchtesgaden.

Anyway, let’s step back a bit. I think we all have those times where we’re dying to go on a trip. One of the benefits of being self-employed is that I can really work from anywhere. In mid-July a friend (also a points junkie) called me up and said “hey, want to go to Asia?” Without missing a beat I said “of course, what did you have in mind?” We spent a few days finalizing our trip, and in the end ticketed it only three days before departure.

When it comes to booking awards you’ll typically find first class award availability to be best right before departure, as unsold seats are released into award inventory. That’s why we were able to lock in Singapore, Lufthansa, and Thai first class all on the same itinerary.

In terms of destinations we were originally going to do a big city in Asia, but instead decided on Phuket. I had never visited Phuket before, so that worked for me.

My only “request” on the trip was that we stop in Munich on the way back. I’ve been wanting to visit the InterContinental Berchtesgaden for years, and now that I’m finally old enough to rent a car I figured it would be the perfect time. We planned a stopover of about a week in Europe on the way home to visit Munich, Salzburg, and Berchtesgaden. Little did I know it would quickly become one of my favorite spots.

In the end the ticket cost us 160,000 US Airways Dividend Miles per person, plus a little over $250 per person in taxes and fees (due to the close-in ticketing and processing fees). Our routing would be as follows:

07/26 US1822, Tampa to Charlotte, 8:30AM-10:11AM, A321
07/26 US0374, Charlotte to New York, 1:05PM-3:02PM, A320
07/26 SQ0025, New York to Frankfurt, 9:25PM-11:15AM (+1 day), 747
07/27 LH0782, Frankfurt to Bangkok, 10:45PM-2:10PM, 747
07/29 TG0211, Bangkok to Phuket, 12:25PM-1:45PM, A330
08/04 TG218, Phuket to Bangkok, 6:25PM-7:50PM, 747
08/05 TG0930, Bangkok to Paris, 12:05AM-7:05AM, 777-300
08/05 LH2231, Paris to Munich, 1:05PM-2:35PM, A320
08/11 LH0111, Munich to Frankfurt, 11:40AM-12:45PM, A320
08/11 LH0432, Frankfurt to Chicago, 5:35PM-7:30PM, 747

While I’m always excited to share the details of my travels, I’m especially excited to share the details of this trip because almost every aspect of the experience was perfect.

I’m traveling nonstop over the coming weeks so I’ll try to roll the report out over a reasonable time period, though your patience is appreciated in advance! There’s no way I can push the report back any further since I have at least one major international trip planned every month for the foreseeable future.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

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Comments

  1. Awesome itinerary! Once again, Luck, I get to live vicariously through your travels. You’d better say yes to all the food coming to you! 😉

  2. Looking forward to it! Have a similar itinerary from BKK-CDG on TG F then CDG-FRA on LH F then FRA-EWR LH F in March.

  3. One detail I would love to see you add to your list of flights is block time. Granted, if I knew the time differences off the top of my head (and the follow up math), I’d have it. But I’m always interested in how long flights are.

  4. Did you mean Frankfurt to Chicago on the segment below? 🙂

    08/11 LH0432, Chicago to Frankfurt, 5:35PM-7:30PM, 747

  5. “07/27 LH0782, Frankfurt to Bangkok, 10:45PM-2:10PM, 320”

    Blimey, those A320 aircraft can fly a long way these days ;-).

    (Just to prove we do actually read the posts…!)

  6. Ben, how did you convince the U.S. Air rep to book this? I thought they are Starnet blocking Lufthansa F bookings?

  7. Just curious, but how did you gain access to the Virgin Atlantic lounge in NY? Are they a member of any alliance?

  8. @Andy Bluebear

    The VS Clubhouse is SQ’s partner lounge at JFK. Makes sense considering SQ owns 49% of VS.

  9. That looks great. My wife and I are doing a trip next may to Seoul with an all day layover in fra on the way out, with a stop on the way back in Munich for a day, all in Luft F. I’m excited to see what you liked since this trip lines up pretty well with our plan in some regards (long fra layover and Luft F flights to asia through europe)

  10. @ david — Fixed, thanks!

    @ Eric — Worry not, when I post the individual installments I always post the flight duration.

    @ Lewis — Nice catch, hah.

    @ John — They weren’t doing all that much blocking for a while, but even when they are, it’s not impossible to get around it.

    @ Andy — @ BrewerSEA is correct. Singapore first and business class passengers have access to the Virgin Clubhouse.

    @ ArizonaGuy — It’s US Airways, c’mon now. Tampa and Chicago are basically co-terminal.

  11. This proposed trip pales in comparison to my WN BWI-CLE-BWI jaunt that I’ve got coming up in a few weeks!

  12. Hey, did you know that if you type just

    One Mile

    into the Google search bar, your blog comes up #1 out of 32,000,000 links. At least for me.

  13. I find it remarkable there were 2 F seats on those all intl flights. And you had 3-4 stopovers > 24hrs? And you backtracked to Europe – I thought you could only do US-EU via Asia, not US-EU-Asia-EU-US.

    I’m not very familiar with the routing rules, but I am not following how you were able to construct this route within the guidelines, nor how on earth US Air ticketed this routing?

    You certainly have their program figured out (sincere compliment).

  14. Lucky – only SQ F pax get into the Clubhouse at JFK. C has to slum it in either the mediocre Oasis or LX lounges.

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