My 90,000 mile US Airways award to Asia via Europe is booked!

In late November of last year I asked you guys to decide where I should fly. At the time the option was between a Virgin Australia trip using Delta SkyMiles and a trip to Asia via Europe sampling several Star Alliance products using US Airways miles. The latter trip won by a landslide and I built an itinerary that would maximize the number of products I could try. I wanted to be sure to include Austrian’s new business class in the trip, since it’s one of the products I was most excited to try.

The problem is that there was a delay with Austrian’s new business class, so I kept pushing back my trip until Austrian actually had a reconfigured plane in service, ready to book on a moment’s notice. The problem is that they still don’t have a reconfigured plane flying, and I’ve decided that I’ve put this trip off for too long.


Austrian’s new business class

January will be a month of new airline products for me. Not only will I have an Airbus 380 extravaganza in a couple of weeks, but I also just ticketed a 90,000 mile US Airways business class award to Asia via Europe. Below is a small teaser of what you can expect (because after all the only way to route from Vienna to Istanbul is via Tokyo, right?).

In the end I decided to pull the trigger in part because I live in constant fear of US Airways devaluing their award chart. I was able to find a spiffy award which includes LOT’s new business class on their brand-spanking-new 787, Turkish’s new business class (I hear their lounge in Istanbul is one of the best business class lounges in the world — I’ve only visited their first class lounge back when they still had the product), Brussels’ new business class, and a flight that’s scheduled to be operated by Austrian’s reconfigured 777. Now, it’s anyone’s guess whether my flight will actually have Austrian’s new business class since the first reconfigured plane still isn’t flying, though I’ll continue to be hopelessly optimistic. Austrian is an airline I’ve always wanted to try even if it’s in their old business class, given that they have an onboard chef and iced coffee on the menu. What more could one possibly want?


LOT’s new business class

There’s no such thing as a perfect award and as much as I had hoped to squeeze in more airlines, I’ve realized that trying most Star Alliance business class products will require at least two awards.

As usual the booking process with US Airways was especially fun, given that the rates desk had to manually calculate the taxes. I have Gold status with US Airways, so when it came time to issue the ticket the agent tried to charge me the Dividend Miles processing fee, which is waived for Gold members and above. When I reminded her of this she confidently told me that wasn’t the case. I asked her to check with her support desk, at which point she came back and said “well I ain’t used to talking to our loyal Gold members such as yo’self, you should’ve called the Gold line. How was I supposed to know not to charge the fee?”

Right…

Anyway, January should be a fun month full of pajamas and jetlag, so stay tuned! And until further notice you’ve gotta love US Airways. They charge 100,000 miles to travel from the US to Europe in business class, and 90,000 miles to travel from the US to Asia via Europe (with a stopover) in business class. That’s my kind of airline.

Comments

  1. Wow this is incredible. Are you willing to publicly (or privately, directly to me) share how you did this? Basically, exactly the segments you’re flying, what airline, etc? I can’t seem to put all the pieces together.

  2. I would love to have that award too. I have 300,000 miles on US Airways and I’ve been looking for a crazy itinerary like this, trying different airlines as much as possible. Does anyone have suggestions?
    Routing Vienna to Istambul through Tokyo was a hit! Congrats!

  3. @ Jamison — Thanks!

    @ Phil — US Airways allows routings from the US to Asia via Europe, so it’s really nothing out of the ordinary. I have four longhaul segments on different airlines in the itinerary. Am happy to share the routing via email or will certainly post it with the trip report.

    @ John Doe — Roundtrip.

  4. US Airways doesn’t have one ways (well, they do, but they charge you the full round-trip price). šŸ˜‰

  5. @Lucky Does Istanbul classify as Asia in the US Airways system? I ask because I was charged 100,000 per passenger for a routing to Istanbul via FRA (stopover).

  6. nice! Do you fly back through Asia as well? And does it have to be the same city? If not, that’s even more amazing. Could do US->NRT->Europe->SIN or HKG->US. All for 90k in business class? That’s crazy.

  7. Very nice. I just booked a one way return from Europe via VIE on the 767. Supposed to be the new business class…1-2-1. By July hopefully everything will be up and running.

    Can’t you get US-Europe in business with US for 90K if you have their MasterCard? Or is it 95K? I think there’s a discount for cardholders.

  8. I used US miles for JFK-FRA-BKK-SGN and BKK-FRA-JFK on LH, TG, and TK in C. Great way to do things, try new services, etc.

    I’ve also done the LO C class 787, although short segment (WAW-MUC). Very nice!

  9. Now you would have really impressed me if you flew from Vienna to Istanbul via Tokyo on your way to Hong Kong! šŸ˜‰

    And with US, I can see that happening…

  10. Hope you can manage to slip the United 787 into your 787 extravaganza. I’ve been pondering it for a future trip

  11. I must say that while its great reading all the first class reports I am pleased that you booked a business class trip for something different and looking forward to reading it.

  12. I guess each to their own. Going via NRT seems like a nightmare to me due to the increase in flying time.

    But since this is your “job” (evaluating different airlines) I guess I can understand the appeal.

  13. I suggest you to book the Le Meridien Bristol in Warsaw. It’s in the middle of the Old Town, so if you are spending one night there it should be perfect for some litte sightseening and some fine dining. Sheraton is also a option but Bristol is so much nicer in terms of rooms desing and atmosphere.

    Chceck out Intercontinental as well, because their skyscreaper is impressive and is located close to Warsaw Main Station and buissnes district

  14. The IC is usually cheap and pretty nice. Good RA recognition with club or suite upgrade and great top floor gym/pool. Close enough for a walk from the airport train/bus and then a stroll to the old town. Check out it’s thread on FT with extensive reviews and comparison to other western chain offerings.

  15. I did the fll to tpe via bcn (stopover) in October for 90k miles in C using US airways partner redemption. This coming April, I also scored a 90k miles redemption for fll to kmg (Kunming China) via bkk (stopover). It’s supposed to be 110k miles since bkk is in south central Asia per US airways award chart… But I’m not complaining.

  16. I love TK Business Class. I thought their food was great – all the choices for the appetizers and sides. AND desserts. Liquor list is good too. FA’s are very solicitous. And the IST TK Business Lounge is without a doubt the best I have ever been in. I could live there! The thing is, that coming off one of their flights you are already stuffed so it is difficult to enjoy all the great food that is available in the lounge. I love that they have self-serve lockers for your carry-on so you don’t have to schlep it all over the lounge. The restrooms are fantastic.

  17. y’know, if you are having a real hard time getting rid of the miles, just book an extra ticket and give me a buzz……just sayin! šŸ˜‰

  18. @Lucky EU-NorthAsia is 80K in business. Any idea if EU-SEA-NA is allowed with a stopover in SEA? Thanks.

  19. I do love US Airways Awards.

    One of my favorites. “Gosh, I appreciate you giving me that airport code, there was no way i was going to pronounce that place in Thailand”

    With regards to geography, most of the agents, especially for the elite lines are former US Airways agents (east) in winsten salem. They’ve got a pretty good grasp of Europe (“well, you just connect in Philadelphia”). US Airways doesn’t fly to Asia (except for Israel), and only GRU/GIG in deep south america. So you can generally pull off more interesting routings involving Asian cities, but Frankfurt to London via HNL is not going to fly.

    Enjoy the TK lounge, one of my favorites. If they could add a TG spa to it, then it’ll be perfect.

  20. @ ikonos — I think you’d be hard pressed to find an agent willing to book Europe to Asia via the US.

  21. You are the best at it, Lucky, but I sure wish we didn’t have to wait for the trip report to find out how you do it (e.g. “I found SEA-NRT availability first using United.com and then I checked NRT availability with…”)

  22. @ Michael — So when I build these trips the general thought process is to decide which longhaul segments I most want to try. Once I’ve narrowed it down to a handful or so I realize that I have four longhaul segments to maximize, and then just need to fill in the missing pieces.

    The longhaul segments are the two between the US and Europe and the two between Europe and Asia.

    I really wanted to do Brussels and LOT, so realized I needed to do those for the transatlantic flights (since LOT and Brussels only fly their new products to North America as of now). Then I decided I wanted to do Turkish and Austrian for the longhaul segments between Europe and Asia.

    From there I searched availability on each of the longhaul routes over a couple of weeks and wrote down which dates had availability.

    Then like a puzzle I had to piece together the individual segments based on which day they were each available.

    From there I just called US Airways to book, and that’s the end of it. Make sense? šŸ™‚

  23. @Ben, I am anxious to hear your impressions of TK’s lounge in IST. We thought it was fabulous, but don’t have as much exposure to lounges as you do.

  24. Lucky
    I am afraid you are the only one I know who has pulled it off.
    I booked a reservation to NRT with stopover in LHR on the way back and they insisted on charging me the full 100k
    It is further complicated by the fact the LHR is not a hub; as an agent later told me it was an illegal routing!

  25. @ ffi — For what it’s worth I’ve booked dozens of 90K business class awards to Asia via Europe.

    @ Michael — I see some in January too, and also from Beijing to Vienna.

  26. @lucky jfk not until April and that’s all I care about šŸ™‚ after all one is home and the other home base. I always thought that OS ecomomy service in longhaul was very good with great food.

  27. @ffi-with the help of Lucky and his awesome advice, i have done 4 trips in the last year which range from LAX-FRA-BKK-Hkg-BKK-LHR-LAX to my current trip in March….LAX-IST-HKG-BKK-BLR-FRA-VIE-JFK-LAX…..90,000 MILES. I’ve taken Lucky’s advice and hang up until you get the agent that is willing to book your request

  28. @ ffi — Like Arthur said you just have to hang up and call again. By the way a London stopover shouldn’t be an issue, as you can stop at Star Alliance hubs OR US Airways gateway cities.

  29. I would have loved to do a full-on Asia via Europe trip using my purchased US miles too but had bought for my wife too during the 100% promo. She hates those long trips so we’re dropping them on Austrian’s new biz class in April(thanks to the points pros!). Can’t wait!

  30. @lucky – For Warsaw, I’ve stayed in Intercontinental, Westin, and Radisson Blu. They’re not as close to the Old Town as the Meridien, but still within walking distance. Given a choice, I’d go with IC especially if you can get high floor with good views. The hotel also has pool/fitness center on top floor. The breakfast buffet is amazing.

    As far as things to do, I’d recommend visiting the Old Town and just wandering around. For food try some good pierogi.

    Other places that I’d recommend is the Lazienki park and Willanow Pallace. And if you enjoy sweets/pastries then try visiting E. Wedel restaurant.

  31. I booked an SFO-SZG-ICN award in first and jokingly asked if I could route back to the US on the ICN-ORD flight in the new OZ suites. The agent said, ” Sure!”. So I did.

  32. I live in Vienna and have flown Austrian about a bjillion times. If you get the old business class 767, you’re gonna be cryin’. It’s awful. Cramped seats and a bad entertainment system. And while the onboard chef is a nice gimmick, the end result on the plate and in the glass is kind of ho-hum. Sorry to be such a downer, but it’s true.

  33. I made a US-Bangkok reservation with US Airways last week and got the old Bangkok would be in The China answer. The second was maybe it was Japan. Lovely agent but definitely not up with her geography.

  34. Your OS posts late last year prompted me to book a very similar trip over Independence Day. New OS J, some time in Germany as a stopover, then new CA J to Beijing for a tour of the Great Wall – and well, to finally mark China off the list. TK J and LH J on the return. Brilliant at 90K each… considering the miles all came from the 2011 Grand Slam.
    As always, thanks for the posts. You directly inspired yet another of my annual Trip-of-a-Lifetime.

  35. @Lucky, the TK IST C lounge is indeed all it’s cracked up to be — it’s HUGE, with an area that has views of the tarmac & aircraft, and really very very good food/coffee. I could easily spend 2-3 hrs there!

  36. @ Kim — Though none are flying yet, right? I know they were having some certification issues, so I don’t believe any are flying yet. The URL you cite does reflect whether it’s scheduled to have the new business class, though I’ve seen that change a dozen times now.

  37. Ben,

    I was so excited when you actually talked about using Skymiles creatively, and now we are back to being stuck reading another trip report not available to us Delta route captive. PLEASE do something with Delta.

  38. Dear lucky,

    I have a question about 90000 US airway miles booking. Do I need to go through Europe two ways? Like NYC-MUC-HKG,
    and HKG-London(stopover)-NYC. If I go through NYC-NRT-HKG for the first leg, and second leg remains HKG-London(stopover)-NYC. is it legal? Thanks!

    Have a nice day!

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