Thinking Of Canceling My Best Award Ticket Ever

This will probably be a pretty lengthy reflection on the hobby, so either close the window now or bare with me…

The best use of miles gets you where you want to go in comfort

When people ask me what the best use of miles is, my answer is usually “whatever gets you somewhere you want to go in relative comfort.” For most, flying is a means to an end, a way to get to somewhere you really want to go.

For example, for the past several days US Airways has been offering virtually unlimited business class award availability between the US and Europe. A lot of people said “well I don’t want to redeem my miles for US Airways business class, that’s not aspirational.”

That’s sort of true, except if it enables your family of six to get to Europe in flat beds at the saver award level without paying fuel surcharges, does it really matter whether the product itself is “aspirational?” That’s a fantastic redemption, as far as I’m concerned. And really, what are your other options for getting a family to Europe in business class this summer?

US-Airways-Business-Class-A330-01
US Airways A330 business class

And then there are masterpieces

All of the above being said, there are some awards that are works of art. If you’ve been in this hobby for a while, you’ve no doubt crafted an award ticket that you’re especially proud of.

I’ve had more than a few of these over the past decade, though I have one coming up soon that I’m especially proud of.

Last May I redeemed 140,000 US Airways Dividend Miles for travel in first class to Australia… via Europe and the Middle East.

I have the same routing in both directions, flying New York to London in British Airways first class, and London to Melbourne via Dubai in Qantas A380 first class.

JFK-DXB-MEL

What made this award especially was that it was booked shortly after US Airways joined oneworld. This meant that:

In other words, this isn’t a route I could duplicate again, and even if I could, it would cost me a lot more.

Qantas-A380-First-Class-04
Qantas A380 first class

But I don’t know if I feel like taking the trip…

So here’s what makes this odd. In the past I would have felt like I needed to take the trip just because it’s a great “value.”

But I’ve flown British Airways first class. Many times.

British-Airways-747-First-Class
British Airways 747 first class

I’ve flown Qantas first class. And it’s nice. But I’m not sure that it’s so nice that I’d get much marginal value out of spending literally 50 hours in it.

Qantas-A380-First-Class-70
Qantas A380 first class bed

So is it a great use of miles on paper? Yes. But I also almost feel like I’d rather just take a “decent” business class product straight to Australia, since I don’t know what marginal return I’m getting out of the extra time I spend in the air.

Even having that thought process is almost like an out of body experience for me.

Say it costs me the same number of miles to fly business class direct vs. all these extra hours in first class. In the past I would have unequivocally said “wow, I get all this extra first class flying for FREE!” Now my thought process is more along the lines of “meh, do I really want to be on a plane without wifi more than twice as long as I have to?”

Don’t get me wrong, none of these are actually complaints. I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me at the prospect of having to spend days in international first class. I’m just noticing a fundamental shift in how I think about flights and figured I’d share that. And I’m not sure whether that’s temporary or permanent.

I don’t actually feel like going anywhere right now…

Flying/traveling/loyalty programs are 110% of my life. But I think I may have overdone it lately.

In the past 10 weeks, I’ve flown over 100,000 miles. And that’s not necessarily that much more than I’d usually fly, though it has involved a lot more timezones and 3AM flights than even I’m used to.

Two-Months

I’ve spent the past five days at home with my parents (not living in hotels, for once), and it has actually been kind of relaxing. I’ve been getting sleep. I’ve been going to the gym. My mom has cooked. I’ve had access to all the things I’m deprived of at hotels, like fresh fruit, yogurt, and drinkable coffee whenever my heart desires. Oh, and I’ve been spending time with my parents, which has been nice as well.

So, am I crazy?

My trip is supposed to start a bit over a week from now. On one hand I’m tempted to cancel it. Maybe I’d spend more time here with my parents, and then maybe I’d take my mom to India, which she has always wanted to visit. It’s a good time of year, after all.

Or I could go to Australia. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to explore Australia more intensively, it’s just that I’m kind of enjoying relaxing. And as nice and enriching as travel is, it’s most definitely not “relaxing,” as anyone that has to work while traveling can relate to.

But can I really turn down the opportunity to return to Queenstown, New Zealand, for example, which is one of my favorite places in the world?

Crowne-Plaza-Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand

What should I do… and/or what would you do?

Comments

  1. I don’t travel a fraction of what you do, but I hit the “I don’t want to go anywhere else” wall a few months ago, so I stopped booking new trips, and canceled some existing trips. AND IT FELT GREAT! When we did travel again last week, it was so nice to actually look forward to packing and traveling again since I had narrowed it only to what I really wanted to do.

    I know you live in hotels and your situation is vastly different, but if you don’t want to go, you shouldn’t. Even you can get burned out, tired, sick, etc. so recharge until you are ready then go off exploring again. Maybe that will be next week. Maybe it will be two weeks. You’ll know.

  2. Don’t go. Stay home with your family and take a break! Get back on the road if and when you are ready 🙂

  3. Taking a break isn’t unreasonable and while the price you paid for the trip is phenomenal I think it is reasonable to say that points should never overshadow the way you feel and how you want to live your life.

  4. Maybe give it a couple more days, after a week you’ll have been in the same place for a loooong time for you. Ultimately if you can have another similar break on the other end at your parents or similar what’s the harm in going and doing it. Treat it as a holiday not as travelling, see if you get something different out of it from a different perspective.

  5. Here’s the deal: I’ll take the trip to Australia for you. 😉 Stay at home with your parents, enjoy your free time. Just change the name of the ticket and I’ll do the rest for you *lol*

  6. cancel it ,and stay more days home ..the more you stay on the ground , the more you’ll appreciate it the next time you take off 🙂
    sorry, somehow i managed to send the comment unfinished ..

  7. I would go ahead and do it since the award can’t be replicated again. Relax a bit more. Australia and New Zealand weather should be good this time of year. Sometime, Ben, try and take the direct flt from DFW to SYD. I believe it is the longest nonstop flt in the world in terms of miles and is approx. 17 hrs. I would love to read your trip report on that.

    Also, go ahead and take your mom to India sometime. Generally Nov. and Dec. are the best months weather wise.

  8. Take you mom on a magnificent trip that includes India. You have fun, she has fun!
    Try small French cities (Emirates 777 DXB-LYS?)

    Remember, your mom probably wants to try out EK F since your father told her “If you haven’t flown Emirates First Class, then you haven’t flown first class” (Yes, I realise I’m crazy, and perhaps that’s creepy, about you and your family)

    Try maybe South Africa or Morocco.

  9. Not many would be terribly excited at the prospect of flying F on BA (though I can’t speak for Qantas F). Would you consider canceling if the trip was via Emirates, Etihad, Cathay, or Singapore F/Suites?

    Seriously, though, it sounds like classic burnout. I’m a creature of habit and even I get sick of my favorite foods, restaurants, and repeat vacation spots, as nice as they may be. Take a time out or do something totally different before you completely burn out and more of these trips are no longer fun or exciting.

  10. or you could finally uphold your promise and buy that ticket to Kuwait airlines and review the damn product. Dude you have promised all of your readers and it has been a year.

  11. Post on reddit that you’re looking for someone named “Ben Schlappig” to take a premium cabin flight to Australia via LHR and DXB?

  12. As someone who’s flown for work quite a bit in my younger years. Having coughed up blood in CX’s washroom up front to find out about an ulcer. I can tell you that all those hours in the air in a not fully pressurized commercial airplane will harm your health. You may not feel it now, but wait till you are a little older. I truly believe the airlines are not disclosing all the info. So, yeah, cancel that reward. Don’t fly for the sake of flying. F or not. You should only be flying x number of hours a year, exposed to that radiation and pressure change. Make good use of those hours.

  13. @MommyPoints

    So instead of 30 FREE trips you are going to take only 25 FREE (paid by affiliate $$$) trips this year?

  14. If you cancel, how much time would you spend figuring out alternative routes? I’m sure it’s hours of research, careful pondering and admittedly also heaps of excitement. But – in your current state of mind, why not stick with the plans you made without thinking about it for the next days, then board the plane and see if your avgeek enthusiasm has recovered by then. If not, certainly you need a longer break.

  15. you are not crazy. everything gets old if you give it enough time. i would echo some of the previous comments on this blog that perhaps this year would be a good time to take your content into new directions: focus on some airlines, routes and products that are off the beaten path. you’ve certainly reported on BA, EK, CX, QF and LH premium cabins more than anyone else in your field. now it’s time to see how you can take your passion to the next level while still helping inform readers.

  16. I agree with Mrs. O Around the World. Stay at home for a bit, it’ll probably be better for your health. It sounds like you’re getting burned out and you need a break.

  17. Ben, as someone who travels about 200 full days a year living in the same hotel 3-4 weeks at a time, my best advice is: If you have the feeling you need to stay “home” for a bit, and you can, DO IT. For someone who travels frequently and suddenly getting the feeling you don’t want to go anywhere,it is a signal that you need to slow down! It does not mean you have to stop, just slow down until you re-charge. And you know what? I’m sure life will offer you another great chance another time you least expect it.
    just me 2c

  18. Stay home with your parents and relax!

    OR, take the trip, but don’t take your notepad with you and don’t document and photograph every step of the trip. You say that you enjoy when you go out visiting a city because you don’t have to document everything? Well, this time, don’t document the flights either!

  19. @ Alex — Sorry to hear that. Guess they haven’t done much to update it since I stayed there eons ago.

  20. Man, for any city besides Queenstown I’d say cancel it. Go to Queenstown to recharge your batteries. Or, send me and I’ll take pictures of everything so you can write an existential trip report.

  21. Ben, you have already made up your mind. You just don`t feel fine thinking about it. Cancel the trip, there will be always somewhere to go and I`m sure you will find great usage for this miles you are getting back. You job may sound like a dream job, but in the end of the day is still a job.

    Allow yourself some vacation from it. Enjoy your parents.

  22. if you’re not feeling it, just cancel. $150 is a small price to pay… plus as it is with Qantas, the award seats will go back to the inventory so maybe someone else who is looking for an award will get lucky and snatch the seats you canceled.

    You just reviewed Qantas… it’s OK not to go.

  23. I. AM. SO. JEALOUS. I’m trying to just get one way of that routing with a return via asia and USAIR is being a ______ about it… multiple agents aren’t letting me.. so far i just have the one way and a single trans us leg booked.. its not looking pretty for me 🙁

  24. @ LindaK — It’s not about the airlines in this case. Perhaps if I were flying all new airlines I’d be most interested, but if it were a repeat of products I’ve flown before (even if it were my favorites) I probably wouldn’t.

    And frankly I also don’t like being without wifi for almost 24 hours straight. That’s the other big downside. I might be less hesitant if it were an airline with wifi capabilities.

  25. BA F and QF F are not great at all, more like a good business class. I don’t see how it could be enjoyable for the journey alone. If you are more interested in destination, though, I would still go. Make your trip more about destination than about journey this time. Don’t take any photos, don’t write trip reports. Just travel for yourself, not for blog readers, at least this one time.

  26. Cancel. Not just the past few weeks, but more the past 6 months you have been almost binge traveling. Get some good rest and some relaxation in. And I am sure your parents would love to hang out with you. Plus, some of us are still waiting to hear about Iceland. 😉

  27. If you feel that way, I don’t think you’ll be able to enjoy the trip as much as you should, so cancel or change it. Going J cross-pacific instead sounds like a reasonable alternative, because I’d hate missing out on a report from NZ. So maybe spend more time on the ground rather than on the plane. Q’town is nice but not the best. Go north from Q’town, via Wanaka to the West Coast to Greymouth, and then all the way up to Nelson (best place in NZ).

  28. I don’t think you’re crazy for wanting to cancel this trip. BA F is a huge meh at best. Who cares that you didn’t have to pay the fuel surcharge on it? And flying from London to Australia, there’s only one way to do that now and it’s with the First Apartments. They completely changed the game of how one can travel. So yeah, cancel this trip, spend time w/ the fam, and plan your next even better trip.

  29. I don’t think you’d even be having this conversation if ur last flight on Qantas wasnt so blah and u werent so exhausted from the round the world trip by the time you took it. Might be clouding your judgement a bit?

  30. Queenstown is wonderful. Get yourself a room at the Hilton (some of them have outdoor hot tubs right by the lakefront) – then take the water taxi into town for dinner. Being out on the lake under the stars is wonderful. And if you get as far as Queenstown, make sure you also go over to Wanaka for a day, it’s just stunning. Can you find an excuse or way to fly Air NZ instead?

  31. What is the advice of your parents? Are you attending to your spiritual life and needs? Do you take time each day to listen to other person’s life struggles and offer support? Are you building walls to avoid dealing with pain and suffering? What do other people that devote their life to writing shared keep their motivation and perspective?

  32. @ Mike — Air New Zealand doesn’t really release any premium cabin award space from the US, but I can fly them between Australia and New Zealand.

  33. I can relate – though I definitely didn’t travel as much as you last year (a mere 120k miles), too much of the same thing can get monotonous. I’ve been chasing the best deal the past few years, and have gotten some amazing trips out of it! But now, I’ve become so nonchalant about it that I do no planning in advance and miss the whole anticipation aspect of the trip. There have been studies that show that people are actually happier anticipating a trip rather than actually in the process of experiencing the trip!

    After going so many places, you start to realize how similar they all are, too. For me, it’s the whole exploration part or travel that keeps me going, and most of that requires going far beyond the airport. So now, I’m not taking any more trips just to travel. I’m waiting until there’s somewhere I *really* want to go, and I have an idea of all the things I want to do there, and ask myself *why* I want to go there.

    Though solo travel is great, it can also be very isolating, and I can imagine living in hotels with no permanent address kind of exacerbates that. Maybe canceling this trip won’t be some bad if the next trip is somewhere you really want to go, and maybe taking someone along for the ride would help too.

  34. Really? Your going to cancel something you truly like for yogurt and fresh fruit? Look, enjoy the time at home and all that means. But don’t you think you will become bored at home eating fresh fruit and yogurt?

    Having said that..taking your mom to India would be amazing. Its a trip that is WORLDS apart from Europe and Galaxies apart from Asia.

  35. @ Lucky – Agreed on the wifi point, that much time offline would decide it for me, sad as it may sound to others. Inconsistent (and sometimes total lack of) wifi on planes in 2015 is a mystery. Of course it’s about cost and retro-fitting, etc, but seriously, if they can renovate the cabin….

  36. My next trip to Australia is in Virgin Australia business because… I want to get there and back. And I’m going to Australia because of a family event.

    If you don’t need to be in these places, don’t go. If you wanted to go you wouldn’t have written this post. Something cool and interesting will serendipitously emerge and it’ll be better for you.

  37. I’ve flown a ton in past lives and totally get where you’re at Ben. Maybe you make visiting Queenstown the focus and don’t do a review on some of the flying? Take a few “segments off” if you will? Just get there on your own, sleep a bit on the way, don’t review some (or all) of it. Just travel. And recharge in NZ. That’s what I’d do – and I used to commute trans-con weekly and once a month to Europe on top of that.

  38. You should go and dont cancel. You can only live once. When you have a family, it might be a lot harder to travel. Besides, airlines rules keep changing, you might not get the same reward ticket(s) with the same number of miles later on.

    Take opportunity and enjoy.

  39. Cancel the flight. Let your mom fix you breakfast. Turn off your computer. Then go down to the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen and volunteer for whatever needs to be done. There’s a whole world to discover right in your own hometown.

  40. Stay at home or travel with your mom, but please, don’t cancel your masterpiece. If the Canadian guy found an Elizabeth Gallagher, maybe there is a chance that another Benjamin Schlappig will take the trip in your place. Is that a common surname in Germany? 🙂
    Seriously, I can understand what you are talking, but it’s your fault that you usually fly with the same companies to the same destinations. Go to Africa or South America, fly Copa, Avianca or South African, or at least business on Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Thai, Ana…

  41. Ben, it seems that you are a bit burned down by lots of travel lately. You probably just need a to take a little breather and relax. Enjoy the time at home with your parents, your mom’s home cooked meals and just do whatever feels right to you. Your health and state of mind is way more important than few more trip reports. Do not be afraid to do what ever makes YOU happy. Take care of yourself.

  42. GO!!!! I bet the Qantas service on SYD-LHR will be MUCH better. They have high competition on this route with the likes of EK EY CX SQ TG…. where as to North America, they are basically running unopposed. Can’t wait to read about how the experiences differ!

  43. It’s burn-out/trip jitters, and everybody gets it. Don’t cancel your trip. Once you force yourself to get on that plane and get back to your adventure, I believe you will be glad you did it. Plus I think you will always regret it if you do cancel…a lost trip or lost opportunity never comes around again in quite the same way.

  44. @ Lucky — I remember when you booked the trip and think we were all pretty jealous, so it’s a bummer you may not be able to take advantage of this awesome deal. However, your sanity and well-being are more important so you should do what’s best for you. Perhaps there’s still time for a reader to change his name to yours and fly instead of you 😛

    ~ The Original Ivan Y.

  45. Hey Lucky!

    My first thought on reading this post was that this is an awesome trip, especially one that you can’t replicate anymore for the same cost in miles and taxes, so why in the world would you even think of cancelling it.

    However, I dare say 95% of your readers (including me) don’t fly nearly as much as you do nor have the miles to do so. We (readers) are in a different situation as you. You have some really good advice from all the prior comments and I have to agree with the majority, don’t go on this trip. In your situation, I’d enjoy home with the parents for however long you feel like, then plan for future trips, including taking your mom to India.

  46. Wow – I have nearly the same itinerary the week after next, except returning from Sydney… Because of Qantas’ schedule changes, it resulted in having one fewer day in Australia (down to only 4 nights), I’ve pretty much resolved to cancel it, but want to wait until the last possible minute, in case of either (1) more schedule changes that either make it work or avail us a waived cancellation fee, or (2) I decide I want to go anyway, even for such short a time.

    But my greatest restriction is vacation time, that’s the rarest resource nowadays!

  47. I was in the ‘cancel’ group until you mentioned Queenstown – one of our favorite places in the world. Waking off the plane and on to the tarmc surrounded by those fantastic mountains is worth the trip in itself. Go dude, go 🙂

  48. do this one, you’ll kick yourself for missing out on it later. But yeah, no need to write a trip report for this unless it’s really special. just fly and enjoy the ride and see how it goes. and take a rest after that at your folk’s place for a while.

  49. I agree with @JA. I’d be really interested to see how (if at all) your experience differs flying Qantas First from the UK to Australia V your recent trip from Australia to the US.

    Ultimately the decision to go on this trip is yours and yours alone, however from a purely selfish point of view, I can’t say I won’t be disappointed if you don’t.

  50. Cancel it. Chill out in FL and take your mom on a short-ish trip to India. India’s hard so keep it short. I LOVED the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai (using FHR) as it’s regal and a walkable area.

  51. I was feeling exactly the way you are jut before a Christmas trip to Austria and London. I was exhausted from what was a lot of traveling for me. In my case, there wasn’t really an option to cancel without disappointing a lot of people and losing a lot of money. So… We went. And I had an absolutely wonderful time. I was with family and great friends. not sure whether you are making the trip alone. But I’d say give yourself permission to cancel the trip, but consider whether it may turn out to be worth it once you get there.

  52. Though the majority of your commenters are telling you not to go, I say go and do that trip! You can always take your mom to India later this year or next year.
    However — when you do take this trip, do NOT review any of the hard/soft products and lounges. Simply enjoy the trip, sleep on the flatbed, and take a vacation. Yes, you will be out of touch with the world with no wifi but that in itself can be reinvigorating and re-energizing (similar to taking a short vacation from a 9-5 job.)
    You see, even though you are enjoying your days with your parents at home not living in hotels, you’re still thinking miles/points/blog posts every single minute. By flying up in the air in Qantas a380 with no wifi, it’ll enable you to actually enjoy first class without worrying whether you took enough photos or tested the IFE, etc. Enjoy this award redemption!

  53. I deliberately booked IND to Mumbai flight on Dallas to AUH to BOM so I can get 2-3 more hours of First Class on Etihad than I would have if I would have taken a much shorter and more convenient IND-JFK-AUH-BOM routing. But I did want to experience the Ultra long haul First Class and earn back each and every AAdvantage miles I’ve spent!

  54. I’d say stay home and rest for a while. A lot of peeps saying don’t be a wimp and go have no idea how tiring continual travel is. We moved into our apt 2 weeks ago after 30 months of travel and it’s the happiest I have been for years. I can not stop smiling at having my own bed, my own coffee mug. I think people glamourise something that really does become mundane after a while. I had a 10 week trip at the end of 2014 and came home and made the statement I really would be happy to go nowhere for the next 12 months and after 3 weeks in one place I still feel that way. Personally I think you should have a year of quality not quantity. You are so behind on your TRs it’s a sign that you are just travelling too much. Slow down before your health suffers.

  55. I can relate. I recently cancelled CX F ORD-HKG-ORD because I felt my time was better spent at home. I searched long, hard, and persistent to find those seats but I still don’t regret it. I’ll just go in J when I re-book and that’ll be just fine 🙂 Would’ve been my first INTL F redemption. I must say however that it sucked making that cancellation call though, lol. Oh well, I’m better for it and hopefully another reader was able to capitalize 🙂

  56. After flying 75,740 miles in 6 weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years, we couldn’t stand the thought of another international trip, so we cancelled two great trips. Now, we are looking forward to our very similar trip SEA-LHR-DXB-MEL-SYD-MEL-DXB-LHR-SEA in BA F and QF A380 F. 33,000 miles in 10 days will be tiring, but it should be awesome. What are your planned dates of travel (email me!)?

  57. $150 in cancellation fees isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things if you’re currently relaxed and your body is saying “I want to stay put.” While the itinerary might be a great utilization of miles, it’s still a debit against the value of your time (and mental state of mind) and perhaps right now you value your time more. So stay put and go on some dates!

  58. This may be the first time I chastise a blogger over a post. First, getting feedback on your life choices and travel plans with blog strangers seems very odd.

    Second, you framed your post first by indicating that award flights are mostly about getting to where you want to go as comfortably as possible for as little as possible. It therefore would seem that the question is not about whether the flights are good enough, luxe enough, or appropriate enough, but about whether or not you would like to visit New Zealand and Australia–supposedly among your favorite destinations in the world.

    I suffered 4 flights to go to my favorite place in the world–South Africa–on our second visit. That was in NZ J LAX-LHR (angle flat), LH J LHR-FRA-JNB-CPT (angle flat). I suffered 3 economy flights to return for our wedding on our third visit on UA (LAX-IAD) and SA (IAD-JNB-CPT) after the Iceland volcano eliminated our LH F LAX-FRA-JNB-CPT flights in 2010. I managed to get UA pre-devaluation awards for UA F LAX-LHR and SA J LHR-JNB to South Africa for our fourth visit this past Dec 2014. I love South Africa, so I get there any way I possibly can–preferably in J or F.

    You supposedly love Australia and New Zealand, have F and J flights on good carriers on award tickets that cost you much less than normally would be required, and you’re whining now on a blog? If you don’t want to go, then don’t go. But don’t whine about the choice. That’s not good blogging in my estimation.

    I love your blog, so I apologize in advance for the forthright but constructive criticism.

  59. Lucky, you’re getting older and have just been traveling too much recently! You’ve traveled way more than me and I’m already where you’re at.

    Just in December I was traveling to Australia and I had the option to do 1) Singapore First Class/Suites SFO-HKG-SIN-SYD or 2) Virgin Business Class LAX-SYD (and Southwest OAK-LAX). Shockingly I just decided “F!@# it, I don’t want to spend another 12 hours in the air each way (so in total another full day roundtrip) so I could fly first class when I could spend an extra day in Sydney by flying in business class. And I was much happier. If this were a few years ago, I would’ve definitely taken the Singapore First/Suites ticket but now I care less about only having the best flight experience versus a combination of the flight experience and how quickly I get to my final destination. Granted I had already flown Singapore Suites last year so it wasn’t quite a novelty for me anymore.

    Similarly last year I decided to fly Virgin Economy (yes Economy!!) SFO-LHR rather than doing United/ Austrian Business Class SFO-JFK-VIE-LHR because I just wanted to get London ASAP and didn’t care how I got there. Also, that 60,000 point savings paid for 2 nights hotel.

    Although I think if you started doing just Economy trip reports, you’re readership would decrease very quickly 🙂

  60. If you go can with someone and have time to drive around the South Island in addition to Queenstown, then go. If not, wait until next time!

  61. I think the consensus is to cancel and rest. You have plenty of time to travel. You already have bragging rights for figuring out the route. It’s not necessary to go.

    It’s the special people in your life that you will remember first, then the travel moments second. Studies have revealed that if you experience special moments alone then they have less meaning. So taking your Mom to India will be what you remember at the end of your life.

  62. Do whatever will give you the greatest joy and create the best memories for you at this time in your life. As you ponder your decision, keep in mind that there’s always another “great” award ticket deal right around the corner!

  63. Lucky I can understand your feelings. I’m surprised you didn’t get sick of travelling a long time ago. No matter how many free glasses of champagne or priority tags or flat beds I have sometimes I just want to go home and stay in the same place for a while. Simple things like washing your own clothes in a washing machine you know how to use suddenly become important and enjoyable.
    I would question if this is your best value redemption ever – BA is hardly the worlds best F and taking the long way to get somewhere just because you can, while impressive to some people, may end up just being a pain. Is 50 hours on a plane going to actually be more enjoyable than 30 or 40? You must get pretty bored and lonely constantly travelling alone – the crew will be nice to you but its because they are paid to be.
    Priorities change as you grow up. Im guessing you’re about my age (30) or a little older? A few years ago I’d race to the airport early purely to sit in a lounge and toast my own fabulousness at being a travel hacker. Now I would much rather play with my 2 year old neice and arrive at the airport as late as possible – my priorities have changed.
    Why not have a holiday from travelling? You sound pretty burnt out.
    I would much rather see the occasional really unusual TR like some obscure eastern european airline than yet another LH or SQ F report showing the same things we’ve seen 100 times before.

  64. Cancel it. Travel should be for enjoyment or unavoidable necessity. Having a short break may bring back some sparkle and sense of joy to your flights.

    I say this having hit the wall myself on 7 Feb after a year of excessive flying just for pleasure. 11 flights in December finally drained the joy – including an LHR/LAS daytrip in BA F.

    Watching the excitement on the faces of other less jaded travellers made me realise that something had been lost and may be recovered by being grounded a few weeks.

  65. I have been wondering if you ever take a vacation since to many you’re always on vacation but I know you’re really working. It must be hard to get away completely and just relax. Even with the best of plans and comfort, air travel is chaotic and unpredictable and many times out of your control. I don’t know how you do it all.

  66. Enjoy the beautiful Tampa weather we’ve been having lately! I traveled 100,000miles in 3 months and had a bunch more scheduled…I got so tired and missed my bed sorely, ended up canceling a bunch of planned trips and rescheduling; I didn’t fly for a whole 2 months and didn’t want to see a single plane for those months..kinda difficult since I live near the airport :p Take some time to rest.

  67. On one hand, I’d say that when I fly business class (not even first!), the journey is half the fun. Instead of sitting on my couch on the internet, I’m being served champagne and reading a good book (which I should do more of) or watching a movie I’ve been meaning to watch. So there’s that.

    On the other hand, I’ve also learned that great deals will come around again. There’s always another trip. Always another wow routing you’ve discovered.

    Cancel. Relax. Stay home. Then take your mom to India. That’ll be more fun.

  68. I canceled a Biz Australia award after 11 months of planning. Too exhausted at the time to face those flights. It happens…

  69. Well – I am going to say the opposite. Go for it – do the trip. If you don’t you likely will be sorry. You are only young once. If you stay home – you might be bored after a week and probably wish you took the trip. At this point in time – this is your life and blog. My take – go for it.

    Love Queenstown – been there a couple of times. But stay close in near the town – walking distance to center of town.

  70. Take a break. Spend time with your family. They won’t always be around – but there will always be a first class product later.

  71. Tricky one. I myself was pondering a F trip to ZQN via TYO, SIN, BKK and SYD, just for the heck of it but have decided to make more of a couples trip at some point. In your case, while this is a bargin, it is only of real value if you want to go. My sense is you should recharge batteries and perhaps put those miles to a trip with your mum. you will have far better memories of that in the future, more so than a bargin that just was for the sake of it.

  72. BEN, CANCEL AND REDEPOSIT. ENJOY TIME WITH MOM AND DAD, PLAN THE TRIP TO INDIA WITH YOUR MOM. YOU DESERVE THE REST AND YOU HAVE GIVEN YOUR READERS A TON OF GREAT INFO AND STORIES OVER THE PAST 6 MONTHS FOR SURE.

  73. The weather is beautiful in Victoria right now, why not come down and spend some time in Lorne, Lakes Entrance or one of our other great costal spots. Make a Holiday of it.

    Not sure if you’re into meeting your public, but if you are there’s an umbrella drink in a rooftop bar in Melbourne with your name on it.

    I’d post a photo of the view from my office but, although the weather is marvellous, I’m not sure a shot of the Westgate bridge and container port will really sell it to you.

  74. I’ve learned to stop worrying and questioning WHY I feel a certain way and just accept the fact that those are legitimate feelings and do what I need to do to mitigate it. So if you don’t feel like taking the trip, don’t take it. Change happens and just because you may feel different about travel in the future doesn’t mean you aren’t being the “real” you. Life is too short to not do the stuff that will make you happy, so when in doubt, do what makes you happy.

  75. Ben,

    An executive summary wouldn’t go amiss. I was curious to hear your logic/reason for cancelling but you did ramble on a fair bit and I’m still unsure what your point was exactly!

  76. I’ll be out in Melbourne by then, hope you decide not to cancel, come for some relaxation in Oz and NZ instead! I’ll buy you a beer (make a change from all that champagne you’ll have had!) and you can relax for a bit!

  77. If you adopted my metric, thie best product for shortest distance for lowest points, this might be your worst Reward ever. Cancel.

  78. The great thing about “though decisions” is that right inside, we know what to do, but of course, because is “though” we are afraid to do what we really want.

  79. Hi Ben. Cancel if you aren’t feeling it. I’ve got a similar us airways itinerary in the reverse direction (Melbourne to NY via Dubai and stopover in Berlin on the return) with QF F, BA F and AB J in March. Happy to write you a review on it if it means you can take a bit of a break 🙂

  80. As much as I love traveling there comes a time there is no place like home and family. Listen to your heart, stay home, enjoy and appreciate your family and plan that dream trip with your mother. You never know what life brings. Love your blog!

  81. Well done Beachfan. Pretty simple business decision I think, the reviews won’t add much to your blog so no value add means it just come downs to personal choice.

  82. For some of us for whom “flying is a means to an end, a way to get to somewhere [we] really want to go” this is a completely artificial or manufactured conundrum. Furthermore, I find highly dubious
    the notion that an award ticket that would require one to spend 50 hours to get to destination, even in the world’s best premium cabins, is the “Best Award Ticket Ever.”

    The real conundrum for me would arise only if I had gotten a ticket that once seemed lucrative, only to wonder months later if it would not be much better to take a more direct, shorter flight to get to destination. Consistent with my worldview, my solution would s be to swiftly cancel the “Best Award Ticket Ever” and to rebook a shorter, more direct award ticket because getting to the destination would remain my objective…

    It is only for those for whom flying is an end in itself that the presented situation would be a real conundrum. For me, it is a manufactured conundrum because there is a “solution” and it is a no-brainer 😉

  83. I say give it a week and you will be more than ready to go! For me, I get the travel bug and end up booking 5 trips in a row and by the time those are finished I swear I’m never going to travel again ever! But then I get over it after a week and I’m on another plane! So just give it time.

  84. Like others have said, this post sounds like it is someone who has already made up their mind but is not trusting their instinct. You’ve already said that nothing about the flights are new. The only thing keeping you from not canceling is that you couldn’t re-book this again. But wasn’t booking it part of the fun? Having all the pieces fall into place. That’s part of the fun for us. If the trip part of the trip is no longer fun, then why do it (unless it’s your job and you have to but you’ve taken that out of the equation).

    So stay with you parents for a while. If you need to travel, hop over to MCO and take Silver Airways down to the Keys. $89 one way and you can credit to United 🙂 They even have a Hyatt there.

  85. Haha I understand, I understand.

    Do I fly from Sydney to Sinapore, Thai business class (via BKK) or do I just buy an economy ticket for arguably the same cost and fly direct and spend more of my weekend down at Bondi Beach instead? Beach it is.

    Me and my partner are heading to Goa, India to sit on the beach (yet again) and do nothing (except watch the cows and the sunset) until March 7. If you make it there with your mum let me know. You’ve got my email 🙂

  86. Ben, there is such a thing as having a life that isn’t constant travel. Remember, it’s just a hobby. ” ‘What’s In Your Backpack?’, Ryan Bingham.”

  87. Life is way too short. Go to India with your mom. Gotta prioritize whats really important and whats not. Glad you were able to realize you might not want to do your masterpiece. Think it through and you will figure out the answer (go to India with your mom).

    Cheers…………

  88. @ Ed,

    Weather is beautiful here today. But you’d have to agree, you wouldn’t invite someone to melbourne based on current weather ! I wouldn’t get someone down from Geelong on the promise of good weather staying this way, let alone someone from the other side of the world –
    Long weekend and it’s going to be 22 on Sunday 🙁
    Lucky – take the trip – would be awesome on QF first to oz

  89. You answer your question in your first paragraph:

    “When people ask me what the best use of miles is, my answer is usually ‘whatever gets you somewhere you want to go in relative comfort.'”

    I’m hearing you don’t want to go to Australia.

    Stay home. Relax.

  90. Cancel the trip and surprise your mom with a trip to India. You may regret it those long 50 hours if you don’t especially since you are having doubts now.
    First class flying is so much better with another person. I just flew Singapore Suites last week with my wife and sharing the whole first class experience is just more fun. Flying first class alone is still good, but it is not the same. You may as well fly business when you are by yourself. First class traveling together is just better.

  91. If you (of all people) are thinking about canceling, let alone thinking about it enough to write a blog post about it, you’re probably already in the initial stages of (travel) burnout. I’d cancel the trip (which contains nothing novel for you), and relax with your family. A year from now, you wouldn’t remember this trip if you take it. You probably would remember that extra week or two you spent relaxing at your parents’ home.

  92. @Luck:
    I know this is out of topic, but I have the opinion that you didn’t “truly” enjoy your latest experience with Qantas First Class (and knowing it’s your passion/hobby), why bother then trying the experience again with QF first class??

    I know this is an irrelevant suggestion but I really wish you could try Garuda Indonesia First Class offering. I once saw a trip report from @fly_roni – he said that you did not only “book the cook” – you can book literally anything you want to be prepared on board (Roni opted to have Indonesian salad and personalized assistant during transit). I personally think GA First Class is a dying breed and I hope you could try once and make a report here….. Imagine also the novelty factor instead of sitting on that same BA or QF First Class seat all over again

  93. @Edwin – Why are you suggesting things like “Garuda Indonesia First Class offering” when @Lucky has already stated that what he is considering canceling is his ” Best Award Ticket Ever”?

  94. You have been there, done that. How fun is it to travel alone? Imagine the joy in your moms eyes when you take her on a trip of a lifetime. Wouldn’t that be worth it hundred times over?

  95. Great post. I’m facing similar choices right now.

    I cannot advise what you should do. But if you go, it’s a terrible waste to limit yourself to Queenstown. NZ is awesome, but you need multi week road trip to truly enjoy it.

  96. @ Edwin — I’d love to fly Garuda first class, except there’s no good way to book it on points. So while it would be interesting, it’s not something readers could easily replicate. If you know of a good fare I’d certainly consider it, but I can’t justify spending $10K+ on a first class ticket.

  97. @Lucky — Oh oh, I think you’re screwed!!! You’re starting to think like a normal person, not someone who does this for a living! 😉

  98. Personally, around 35 hours without internet access sounds like bliss to me. I think sometimes we get addicted to the notion of checking to see if we’ve missed something on good the internet.

    I’m of the opinion that maybe you should wait and see how you feel after a week of being at your parent’s place, and if you do decide to go on the trip then don’t bother about trip reports. As you said, you’ve already examined BA and QF in the past, so unless something drastic has happened to change BA’s hard or soft products in that time, I wouldn’t bother. Take the time to just sit down somewhere and appreciate the view and, of course, marvel at how you got there.

    Maybe this fatigue is also partly because while you do love flying and blogging about it, it really has become a job. One that also doesn’t have set hours. Might be time to just fly for the pure love and enjoyment of it, speaking as someone who comes from a ‘long’ line of pilots. But ultimately the only person who can make this decision is you Lucky; no stranger on the internet knows what’s best for you.

  99. @ TheRealBabushka — Perhaps if you read rather than commenting you would’ve figured out what my point was. 😉

    Or you could have just ignored the post altogether, per the warning at the top of the page…

  100. You booked the awesome award already, so you can already take pride in that, even if you don’t fly it. Just cancel it and relax. Also, this post needs a poll. You have many silent readers who might vote.

  101. It sounds like there’s been a paradigm shift in your life, and you’re reassessing what’s important, and what isn’t.

    I travelled like you for years, but it gets old. A first class airline seat is cold comfort after awhile, especially if it comes at the expense of close personal relationships.

    Just my 2 cents. 🙂

  102. Thanks for your very timely post. I’ve been wrestling with this same issue. I felt guilty for wanting to cancel my very first (and maybe only) US Airways round-the-world award trip in business class, but 7 months later the timing isn’t good. I had just made the decision to cancel, and then I read your post, which reinforced my decision. I checked the details of my reservation and noticed that one of the flights had changed by about 12 hours. I canceled the entire reservation, and I feel relieved. I wasn’t charged anything, my miles are already back in my account, and I’ll be refunded the earlier booking fee and taxes. Yay!
    May you also make the right decision for you.

  103. Ben

    You would be the last person to avoid flying as in so many of your posts you have stressed on the fact of how much you love flying and this is your passion etc. I feel the Middle East/Asian airlines have spoilt you with their first apartments on board showers lounges wifi and almost flawless service both in the air and on the ground that now you feel almost reluctant to fly long haul when these facilities are not offered. Also this travel of yours I presume is non essential as in you are not flying to Oz/Nz for some inaugural or to attend an event hence the non reluctance to take a “no frills” first class long haul.

    Ask someone who does not fly premium cabin that often he would fly these first class cabins on a heartbeat. This post of yours is a perfect example of what are “first world” problems

  104. Sounds like you want to stay “home”.

    Last December, I had a free hotel night that needed used by the end of the year and went somewhere just ’cause I didn’t want to waste it. It was fun, but I didn’t get too much out of it ’cause I really wanted to be at home.

  105. Since you wouldn’t be reviewing any new products, I see no business reason to do the trip. So take some time to renew your love of travel by staying “home” for a bit. Cabin fever will strike soon enough.

  106. OMG I can’t believe there are so many people tell Ben to cancel!

    Are these ones of those American who only travel internationally 1-2 times a year and just love to be home?? I mean we are in this for hobby! Of course there are times when you are tired of being on the plane… but… that should last for only 3-4 days! at least for me… after flying First class around the world with 5 continents twice in a row … on various carriers… by myself, I was done for like… 5 days, then ready to fly again. Isn’t airplane your #1 true love Ben?

    The only valid reason to cancel a First Class trip is for work-related constraints…

    Yes, this may not be a new product for you… but I have got to say. In order to conclude which First Class product is better than the other, it takes data point… not just a few. From what I remember, you flew QF F on A380 4 flights (SIN-SYD, MEL-SIN-LHR, SYD-LAX)…. it would be totally OK to do another 4…. so you get more data point!… Come on, let’s get the spirit for this hobby up!

  107. I’m sure he will come to the right decision soon. At times like this, I’m reminded of a speech where Barbara Bush once said – “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.”

  108. Hey Ben – If you ever do visit India with your mum, try and include Kashmir in your itinerary. You’ll love Ladakh – gorgeous place, somewhat like Tibet.

  109. @John, what Barbara Bush said was a “Business VS Love” but in our case, the love for airplanes/flying First class falls into “love”, it is not “business”.

    Some people never ever wanna get married, ever, or never wanna have kids, ever, does not mean their lives are less meaningful than those who do.

  110. An amusing post, Ben. I hear you!! Yes, of course the award booking and backward routing that you describe is an impressive feat, but you’ve made your point. Even a spunky youngster like you needs a little down time once in a while, so if the penalties are not too harsh, cancel the trip, re-bank your miles and spend a little more time with Mommy and Daddy. Will the blog survive if you take a ‘vacation from vacation?’ Of course it will. I suspect that you’d like to write/publish a few posts that are not directly related to a specific flight, airline, hotel, city or already completed trip. It really IS OK to stand down for a bit… -CG

  111. @concorde02 – I never made *any* remarks about anyone who’s not married or aren’t parents having less meaningful lives. I’m pretty sure they can and they do. But surely those folks have friends, family and parents too, so the quote is still worth remembering.

    As to whether it’s a business vs love thing, I can’t comment on the whole love of flying thing as I don’t fly often – certainly not to the extend of folks like Ben. Not that I don’t enjoy that part of it when I do travel. It’s great if your business is also something that you love. But if it’s not, or it stop being fun… your friends and family will always be there for you.

  112. I haven’t read all comments, but maybe, just perhaps, you are starting to see the excess, obsessiveness and vacuousness of what you spend all your time doing? Do you actually spend much time in all these cities? It seems to me you do all this flying just for sake of flying. I enjoy your posts, but, just how satisfying is this to you on a personal level? Are you contributing to the world in a positive way? First Class seats and Champagne and hotel suites with butlers, do exactly…..what….? Is it an ego boost for you? Does it make you feel “rich” or “wealthy”? Does it make you feel like a better person? Is this how you want to spend your life? Does it not feel a bit…empty? “I have to fly every airline in the world, and experience every business class in the world, and every first class in the world”. In the end, this gets you what? Love? Fulfillment? Satisfaction? It seems to me more like a rather unhealthy obsession at times than a “hobby”.

  113. Another poster commented:

    “You would be the last person to avoid flying as in so many of your posts you have stressed on the fact of how much you love flying and this is your passion etc.”

    Actually, I’m not sure it’s really a love of flying. Sam Chui is someone who loves flying. He’ll go to North Korea to fly an old Soviet built Ilyushin. Or he’ll travel to Iran and fly an Iranian airline to just fly one one of the last 707’s that are still operating in passenger service. Once again my intention is not to be rude, but to make you think. It seems to me that this is really not about a love of aviation but more has to do with…..being pampered.

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