My first big trip of 2013 is booked — Airbus 380 extravaganza coming right up!

2013 is right around the corner, and I’m getting a bit impatient on the travel front. There are a bunch of airline products I’d like to review in the new year, and some cool cities I’d like to visit along the way.

However, since my flight from London to Dubai on Emirates a couple of weeks ago there’s just one thing I can’t get off my mind — showers. Showers in the sky.

This is coming in the form of a discounted one-way first class ticket departing Colombo, Sri Lanka, which will get me two segments in Cathay Pacific business class, three segments in Emirates A380 first class, and a segment in British Airways first class. It’ll be a nice way to get a head start on elite status requalification with American (where I’ll be crediting the Cathay Pacific and British Airways segments) and Alaska (where I’ll be crediting the Emirates segments). I’ll also get a ~23 hour layover in Dubai, where Emirates offers transit passengers a free hotel/transportation.

Let me simply say that paid first class fares departing Colombo are very reasonable, though I won’t get into more details on that on the blog out of fear of being crucified by a very vocal minority.


Emirates first class


British Airways first class

Now, I know some of you will say that I just reviewed British Airways and Emirates first class, though I completely missed both airlines’ ground services due to the direction I was flying in (I was arriving, and not departing, at each airline’s hub). This will allow me to experience British Airways’ ground services in London (Concorde Room, Cabanas, etc.), and Emirates’ ground services in Dubai.

Besides, I’m just a bit too excited at the prospect of once again Tweeting/Instagramming from a shower… in an airplane.

To get to Asia I’ll be flying Singapore Suites on SQ11 from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore. Singapore started allowing saver award redemptions using KrisFlyer miles just a few weeks ago, so for ~90,000 KrisFlyer miles and ~$300 in taxes/fees/fuel surcharges I’ll be doing 22 hours in Singapore Suites. I far prefer SQ11 (Los Angeles to Singapore via Tokyo) to SQ1 (San Francisco to Singapore via Hong Kong) due to the service. SQ1 has the watered down “supper” service, while SQ11 has a “real” dinner service on both flights.

Then I redeemed 20,000 Avios for Cathay Pacific’s regional business class between Singapore and Colombo. Not a bad use of Avios, just wish Cathay Pacific didn’t fly their regional business class to Colombo (then again, I can’t blame them given that Colombo isn’t exactly a premium market).

Later in January I hope to have a mini-787 extravaganza, as I’d like to try LOT’s new business class on the 787, and finally fly ANA’s 787 service to Seattle. I also hope to squeeze in Austrian’s new business class, though they seem to have substantial delays on their new product.

More details on both of these trips soon!

Anyone else have any fun award tickets planned for 2013 yet?

Comments

  1. says

    I would not feel bad about posting details of the ex-CMB fares which have been detailed extensively elsewhere in the past. Enjoy the flight! Trying to put together our Spring Break Maldives trip myself, sadly the days of O9 availability on Etihad seem to be gone :(

  2. Michael says

    I booked CX in F JFK-HKG in January. Now looking for a return ex singapore via tokyo either ANA or LH A380 F or J, but LH 380 would be a last minute kinda thing, sigh…

  3. RkToledo says

    I found CX’s regional business class totally acceptable for the short trip to Colombo. You can’t beat the price of 20,000 Avios considering the usual high retail price on this fifth freedom route. I still haven’t received my Alaskan miles from my ex-Colombo 1st class EK & BA flights in October. Hopefully you’ll have better success with a quick posting.

  4. omp says

    ill be flying thai’s new a380 from FRA to BKK.can’t wait…and later in the year nrt-sin on JAL 787 and possibly AA 777-300er from jfk-lhr around september:)

  5. lucky says

    @ RkToledo — Definitely decent for regional business class, though when you’re doing a SIN-CMB-SIN-HKG direct turn, possibly less comfortable. :D

    As far as Emirates miles go, mine posted within a week or so for my last trip…

  6. Thom says

    Sounds like nice times coming up! As a Belgian, I am awaiting your review of the Brussels Airlines flight BRU-JFK… I thougt you planned the trip before but had to cancel it? Any chance this will happen in 2013?

  7. lucky says

    @ William — I believe dinner gets you caviar and satay, while supper gets you neither. Love Singapore’s Satay. Though maybe they don’t offer it anymore or on this rotation.

  8. says

    Looking forward to BOS-ORD-IAH-DME-SIN-BKK-HKG-NRT-FRA-ORD-BOS in May Stopping long enough to do a day of sightseeing in all cities but DME and ORD. Primarily in F except 3 short segments. Too bad its all award and no miles earned

  9. EagerTraveler says

    Was hoping there would be an Aeroplan sale to book…but the Aeroplan sale is just for N/A. Looking for something still.

  10. Jim A says

    Sounds like an awesome trip. I’m psyched for a March kinda around the world on Star Alliance. ATL-ORD then UA global first to NRT, and Thai First on their new 380 NRT-BKK. A few days in BKK. Cathay Business BKK-SIN. 11 day cruise SIN-HKG. TK Business HKG-IST-FRA, LH Business FRA-ATL. Except for the CX (paid cash) it was all for 130,000 UA miles total! Long trip 3 weeks total. Love flying west bound the whole way round the world. Maybe not the shortest routes but don’t care. Excited to try the Thai first and the TK biz products. And curious if LH will have their new biz product by then?

  11. Karim says

    What price range are the first class fares out of CMB? Where do you like to stay in Columbo? I stayed at the Grand Cinamon and linek it.

  12. lucky says

    @ Karim — $2,300-2,500 or so. Haven’t been to CMB yet, though plan on staying at Hilton, I think.

  13. lucky says

    @ CDKing — That’s a toughie. It’s part of a larger award so there’s no cost difference. If there were a cost difference I’d say LOT is a no brainer. And if it were me I’d probably still go for it for the novelty of a new product and the 787.

  14. Charlie says

    Lucky, when are you leavin CMB? I am doing jfk-hkg-sin-CMB in late January. I am then going CMB-dubai, spending 23 1/2 hours in dubai to run the dubai marathon, then dubai-cdg-Lhr-jfk. The next month I will be doing first on the sq a380! Looking forward to all of it. Maybe we will be on dubai same time!

  15. lucky says

    @ Charloe — I’m going closer to mid-January. Safe and enjoyable travels!

    @ Carl — Nope, Cathay Pacific out of Colombo.

  16. willie says

    I’m waiting for a AA systemwide DEQM Promotion in 2013,then i’ll knock out two (2) quick trips.

    Then i be more than halfway “home” to EXP renewal!

    Did you hear anything?

  17. says

    I’m guessing you’ll earn about 7300EQM/10950EQP with AA for this fare, and 10650 EQM on Alaska. Do you qualify for EXP on miles or points?

    I’m not so sure why you chose to take the HKG-DXB flight that breaks up in BKK (unless for connection reasons). It lands BKK around midnight and it’s annoying to have to put everything away in preparation for landing. It’s great if you just want to fly the 5th freedom route, but the nonstop is more convenient. Two showers is enough, man! :p

  18. lucky says

    @ AK — Hmmm, I think you’re right. Might just do the HKG to DXB nonstop now that it’s an A380 (wasn’t last year when I planned one).

    This year I qualified for EXP on miles and points, though usually just miles.

  19. says

    Hmm, seems like EK 381 (the midnight departure) alternates between A380s and 77Ws. EK 385, you get a “light meal” between HKG and BKK, then breakfast on the BKK-DXB section.

    I figured you qualified for EXP on miles, but with all the premium fares to Asia, points would be a possible way. I’m always intrigued by the cheap premium Asia fares to go for a run for EXP, but then I realize that I’d fill in the rest with discount 0.5EQP domestic fares and would still need close to 100K actual miles.

  20. lucky says

    @ AK — Does BKK-DXB really only serve breakfast? Figured they had an “a la carte” menu. Ouch, that would kinda change my approach a bit…

  21. John says

    I thought you also had a few trips booked via the ex-RGN first class mistake fare? Those are in addition to this trip?

    Looking forward to the SQ suites class review!!!

  22. lucky says

    @ John — Unfortunately all of them have either been canceled or I had scheduling conflicts on the two that weren’t. Getting refunds has been a real PITA!

  23. ShaneinTulsa says

    Another alternative to the EK CMB fares are EK SYD-AKL flights. I know several Aussies who took that flight to experience their “shower” in the sky.

    As for myself, I’m trying to plan a One World based RTW. At this point, I’m looking at destinations. Other than a 7 hour flight to LHR or OGG or ANC, I haven’t taken a long flight before esp in a premium cabin so it would be a lot of firsts for me.

  24. says

    ATL-FRA-ZRH-MAN-SIN-ICN-ORD-ATL in March. All in First and Business.

    LH:ATL-FRA-ZRH
    LX:ZRH-MAN
    SQ:MAN-SIN-ICN
    OZ:ICN-ORD
    UA:ORD-ATL

  25. Lark says

    Lucky –

    Kind of OT, but how do you credit some segments to one airline, and the other segments to a different airline? (AS and AA)

    Thanks,

    Lark

  26. lucky says

    @ Lark — I just change the FFP number prior to each segment, and make sure the boarding pass reflects it in case the miles don’t automatically post.

  27. Mitch says

    My big 2013 trip that’s booked so far is 135K SkyMiles to fly OMA-MSP-LAX in DL F, LAX-BNE-WLG in VA/DJ J, HKG-NRT(stop)-ATL in DL J, and ATL-OMA in DL F. The open jaw is closed by using 45K AA miles for AKL-SYD in QF J and SYD-HKG in QF F on the A380.

    Thinking I’ll do UR->KE and MR/SPG->SQ for a trip to somewhere in Asia in KE F and SQ F/Suites for a long weekend, but I need to sort out where I’ll be living after August before ticketing anything.

  28. says

    @lucky – I don’t how often the menu changes but I found a photo I took of EK 385’s BKK-DXB menu from April. Although it says “A la Carte dining” up top, all the menu choices are clearly breakfast options. Also that the last hot breakfast order are within 90 minutes of landing, so that leaves only 5.5 hours beforehand to sleep/shower/etc.

    Here’s the photo ( https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3641103/IMG_0201.jpg ) terrible quality, but you can zoom in to read it.

    The HKG-BKK flight is just a “light meal” … another terrible photo ( https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3641103/IMG_0199.jpg ) but I also typed it up on my TR ( http://pointstopointb.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/asia-2012-trip-report-emirates-a380-first-class-suites-hong-kong-to-bangkok/ ).

  29. Jef7 says

    I don’t know how long you’ll be in Colombo but I would definitely recommend Casa Colombo, easily the highlight of my recent trip over there. I know you have Hilton status but this hotel has a great crew, ( well Sri Lankans are just friendly in general), that I look forward going back. Emirates lounge is definitely quite good and you’ll enjoy it. Have fun!

  30. Apurva says

    HKG-CMB in J should cost 25K, how did you get it for 20K? I am looking at it on BA Avios Calculator site…

  31. nyc22 says

    Lucky,
    Is it still possible to book those ~$2k+ fares
    on EK CMB-DXB-LHR-JFK? I remember back in November it was pricing out on EK website no problem for travel in DEC. But when I went to book it a week ago for travel in March, they were back to $10-12k per ticket… Do you know if its still possible to book for March?
    Thanks

  32. Robert Hanson says

    @ Willaim “Only”…what do you mean “only”? My God, man, it’s free caviar ! What is FC w/o free caviar ? What’s next, replace the Krug with “sparkling wine” ? :D

    @Lucky “SQ1 has the watered down “supper” service, while SQ11 has a “real” dinner service on both flights”.

    I feel like such a low life know nothing noby. Apparently, it’s not enough to know how SQ compares to CX, or how the 777 hard product compares to the A380. Now I also need to know how the dinner service on the SQ1 compares to the SQ11. I am so going to be up late studying. Because, yes I AM serious, on a 22 hour trip, I DO want that caviar !

    Now for the dilemma you haven’t solved yet. Emirates allows two people in the shower at once on the A380, which is fine with my significant other, “as long as the FAs don’t look at us funny when we go in”. But only only one FC suite award booking per flight.

    No, I’m not about to look to “hook up” with others on the plane. How do I get us both on the same flight? :D

  33. says

    The CMB fare has been around for a long time but only gives 2 segments on EK and BA usually. How did you work on getting the CX segment and add. A380 segment in? DO you have a good CMB-based travel agent?

  34. Shimon says

    Doing a MEL-SIN-BKK-VIE-BCN-VIE-WAW-JFK-NRT-ICN-SIN-MEL trip in C. New OS (hope the delays are sorted by June), LO 787 and NH 777. Should be a fun trip :)

  35. lucky says

    @ nyc22 — Yes, they are still available. I don’t believe they price well on Emirates’ website, though should be bookable via an OTA or a travel agent.

  36. lucky says

    @ AK — Okay, I’m sold on the nonstop HKG-DXB. Assuming/hoping that serves a “real” meal, then!

    @ Kai — Sounds like fun to me!

    @ Jef7 — Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll look into it.

  37. Josh G says

    Lucky what happened to your SQ Suites SFO-HKG you booked in July immediately after they announced A380 to SFO for the season?

  38. Dan says

    Hi Ben

    Looks like that will be a fun trip!

    We are based in LA and I want to plan a trip to australia/new zealand in first or business. We have 400k points in MR, UR, Starwood and AA.

    Do you have any recommendations on which airline to try? thanks!

  39. lucky says

    @ Dan — When do you want to go? If you’re planning far in advance and extremely flexible, you can’t beat Qantas Airbus 380 first class via Australia using American miles.

  40. Rick says

    Hi lucky, I wanted to know how do you credit different segments of a flight to different airlines. Its an amateur question I know and I haven’t been able to get a grip of that.
    Your help will be really appreciated.
    Thanks

  41. lucky says

    @ Rick — You just change the FFP number prior to each segment, and make sure the boarding pass reflects it in case the miles don’t automatically post.

  42. Peter Y says

    So you are doing CMB-SGN-HKG-BKK-DXB-LHR-SEA? Nice! For me these fares are not worth it, I would rather burn 100K miles than spend $2K+.

  43. lucky says

    @ Peter Y — Yes, generally agree, though with BA you have to pay the fuel surcharges either way, and the only way to efficiently redeem for Emirates is with Starpoints, which I value highly.

  44. Jon says

    Hey Lucky,

    Just a heads up for you – I just did an ex-CMB itinerary in September with a DXB-LHR EK F segment (so awesome!) and when I tried to book the Emirates F limo service at LHR (had an overnight layover), I was told by multiple phone agents that I could only utilize the service if my ticket was EK stock. The Emirates limo service is available at a bunch of their airport destinations worldwide.

    My ex-CMB fare was AA stock, so they told me I couldn’t take advantage of that service, which was a bummer.

    I’m not sure if the same strictness will apply if you’re planning on using the limo service at their hub in DXB, but wanted to give you the heads up anyway.

    Cheers!
    Jon

  45. Dan says

    Ben

    1) was wondering what is the best tool that you used to find the dates with the low fare? Right now I am using ita and travelocity

    2) Did you find that the fare was more available the closer you are to the departure date or more far out?

    thank you!

  46. jim says

    hi Lucky

    Suppose I book a ticket starting from Colombo through Dubai. Can I skip the first part (Colombo to Dubai)and just get on board from Dubai even though my one way ticket starts from Colombo?

  47. wwk5d says

    “being crucified by a very vocal minority.”

    Screw the vocal minority, give the masses what they need to know…

  48. Karl says

    Lucky,

    I have about 150K Miles&More miles. I would like to get the most out of an F trip. What do you suggest? Routing? Airlines?
    thx

  49. TPEMan says

    “Besides, I’m just a bit too excited at the prospect of once again Tweeting/Instagramming from a shower… in an airplane.” This is the funniest quote I have ever seen on your site.
    I am not sure if should be excited as well. Keep up the good job. lol

  50. Arthur N. says

    Ben,

    You have some awesome trips planned. Way to go. I am still pumped about my 2X 2013 award tickets strung together in C (and 2 segments in F) for 300k total points:

    CLT – MIA – LIM – CUZ
    CUZ – LIM
    LIM – IPC
    IPC – SCL
    SCL – MDZ
    MDZ – AEP
    AEP – IGR
    IGU – GRU
    GRU – IST
    IST – ATH – JTR
    JTR – ATH
    ATH – VIE
    VIE – LED
    LED – IST – BKK – SGN
    SGN – NRT
    KIX – HKG
    HKG – BKK – SYD – AKL
    AKL – NOU
    NOU – SYD – MEL
    MEL – CNS
    CNS – SYD
    SYD – DFW – CLT

  51. Rick says

    Hi Lucky, this is re crediting different segment to different FF programs. So to change the FFP number prior to each segment, I should just get it done with the gate agent right ? Since online, I can only put in one number for the entire trip.
    Thanks

  52. anonymous says

    will you make a stopover in LHR or HKG? cause otherwise you arent really sampling EK GROUND services

  53. lucky says

    @ Lantean — Sorry, meant OTA, which is online travel agent.

    @ Dan — The fare is available every day. ITA is the best place to find it.

    @ jim — You can’t, if you skip a segment the rest of your ticket is canceled.

  54. lucky says

    @ Karl — I’d decide more based on where you’d want to go, and then pick the best product that will get you there. Also, where are you originating?

    @ Alex — Sure is. Go to ITA and enter “CMB:: CX HKG EK DXB EK LHR AA” in the origin field.

    @ Rick — I wouldn’t do it with the gate agent, I’d probably do it in the lounge or at the transit desk.

    @ Rick — Almost 24 hours in Dubai. My actual destinations are Singapore and Colombo, which I haven’t yet visited.

  55. Karl says

    Thailand would be my number one. Origin: Brussels. Tg935 operates first class, but since it is a ex jet airways plane (old interior) i would prefer something else.

  56. says

    @Lucky – could you give a loyal reader a little more instructions than “Go to ITA and enter “CMB:: CX HKG EK DXB EK LHR AA” in the origin field.”? I am at http://matrix.itasoftware.com/search.htm and input that in the “departing from” field, but it still asks for a destination and I don’t get any results when putting LHR.
    TIA!

  57. MarkJ says

    Taking CX to Asia at the end of January in First using AA miles. I will be in CMB in mid-February for the CMB-DXB-LHR paid ticket in First on EK including the A380 to London. A three day layover in London and then LHR-MIA in BA FIrst.

    I think these CMB fares are a tremendous value.

  58. lucky says

    @ Bryan — Sorry, you can enter just about any destination in the US (LAX, JFK, SEA, etc.) and it should work. Do a flexible date search for first class, select USD as the currency, and it should come up.

  59. says

    @Bryan
    I didn’t even have to define airlines, just did CMB to DEN, advanced options as “+ LHR +” got EK F DXB-LHR and BA F LHR-LAX (didn’t actually buy it, but it is appealing).

  60. Simon says

    @Kris Ziel, re: comment # 86 – what date(s)? (just asking to I can replicate to make sure I’m searching correctly). Thanks.

  61. TomTTravel aka ThunderStorm says

    Thank you SO MUCH LUCKY!!! Not gonna buy but so appealing. Have friends in Dubai and would be a cool jaunt for me too!

    @Simon Just check See “Calendar of Lowest Fares”: Enter Date in field to show fares upto a month — and it should show you all the lowest fares available for the next month.

  62. TomTTravel aka ThunderStorm says

    How did you learn that ITA Syntax Code… When I was trying to find fuel dumps last summer I learned a lot of ITA Code syntax but most of it gives me error messages when I put it in play.

    Found it only through your example..was scratching head.

    How on earth did you stumble upon this in the first place??

  63. lucky says

    @ ThunderStorm — The fare has been around forever.

    As far as the syntax goes, if you go to ITA and then click on the question mark by the second line under “Departing From,” it will explain it all to you. :)

  64. TomTTravel aka ThunderStorm says

    I know but I always get errors messing around with those Syntaxes :)

    Did CX only recently do away on flights from CMB to HKG thru SIN and BKK? I ask because when I Uncheck the “Only show flights and prices with available seats”, I see F availability through BKK.

  65. TomTTravel aka ThunderStorm says

    I know but I always get errors messing around with those Syntaxes :)

    Did CX only recently do away with F (First Class) on flights from CMB to HKG thru SIN and BKK? I ask because when I Uncheck the “Only show flights and prices with available seats”, I see F availability flying through BKK.

  66. lucky says

    @ ThunderStorm — Don’t think they’ve ever had first class on that flight, or at least not in recent times.

  67. Ken says

    Hi Lucky – how did you find Avios availability from SIN-CMB? A search on BA turns up no availability on partner airlines (CX). Thanks!

  68. TomTTravel aka ThunderStorm says

    Too bad Sri Lanka ended the 30-Day Free Visa on Arrival granted to U.S. nationals in December 2011.

    Bad tourist/MR attraction move in my opinion since now there’s that extra tiny hassle of getting an Electronic Travel Authorization.

  69. lucky says

    @ Diana — Wish I had some brilliant organization system, though in reality I just load them all into my iCalendar and print out the confirmations, which is my only system for keeping track of travels.

  70. Wpj says

    How did u manage to get 3 segments the example provided for ita is 2 segments and if u force cx sin cx hkg ek bkk ek dxb ek lhr is notna valid aowisc fare….

  71. lucky says

    @ Wpj — Because the BKK-HKG-DXB flight is a “direct” flight, so only counts as one segment.

  72. Scotslad says

    Hi Lucky,

    Great blog as usual :-)

    I’m booking that CMB trip, but as a return to maximise the airline experience and miles!. I can get the full 16 sector max for an ETX if I wanted to go all out.

    However, my TA is unable to include a stopover in SIN, BKK or HKG. All the other segments will permit stopover (LHR, any in the US etc). Out of interest, are you stopping over at any of these destinations or just transferring? Just want to check if I need to switch TA!

    Thanks in advance!

  73. Joey says

    When are you flying the EK flights? My skywards miles were expiring last May so I booked a JFK-DXB-SIN roundtrip flight in late Feb and early March in emirates. Perhaps I’ll see you in one of the four segments.

  74. lucky says

    @ Joey — Going in a couple of weeks.

    @ Ace — I haven’t. I keep a calendar and also have pretty good memory of flights in my head, so don’t see all that much use for it.

  75. Dave says

    @Lucky – can you recommend a TA who can help book an ex-CMB ticket? I’ve tried the OTA sites but they’re all coming up over $12k per ticket. Trying to do CMB-DXB-LHR-SFO with stop of ~20 hours in DXB and 4 days in LHR. Is this possible?

  76. lucky says

    @ Dave — Feel free to email me and I can recommend one, though he does charge a booking fee.

  77. Sid says

    Ben – can you confirm that this itinerary allows stopovers in London? My TA says that adding a stopover in London makes the fare invalid.

    I’ve booked the ticket – should I just call AA directly to make the change?

    Thanks
    Sid

  78. lucky says

    @ Sid — If you’ve booked with a TA you’d also need to make the change through them. While some say a stopover is allowed, I haven’t been able to price it with one.

  79. Forest says

    Hi Ben,
    Could you suggest a good TA that would be able to ticket some fairly complicated ITA itineraries?

  80. DL says

    Hey Lucky,

    I have a routing priced that though long will have me on two EK A380 flights in F (10 minutes of shower, hurrah!). The only problem is though I can get a price via ITA, I am struggling to find an OTA that can price it out online. Any suggestions on how to proceed?

  81. lucky says

    @ DL — You may end up having to book it through a travel agent, as a lot of OTAs aren’t able to price those types of tickets.

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