Introduction: An Insane Week In The Sky

Introduction: An Insane Week In The Sky
Review: China Eastern Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Shanghai
Review: Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Review: China Eastern Lounge Shanghai Airport
Review: China Eastern Business Class A330 Shanghai To Colombo
Review: Hilton Colombo
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Colombo To Doha
Review: Oryx Lounge Doha Airport
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class 787 Doha To Casablanca
Review: Hyatt Regency Casablanca
Review: Royal Air Maroc Lounge Casablanca Airport
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class 787 Casablanca To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Doha To Colombo
Review: Saudia Business Class 777 Colombo To Jeddah
Review: Saudia Lounge Jeddah Airport
Review: Saudia Business Class 787 Jeddah To Manchester
Review: Pakistan Airlines Business Class 777 Manchester To New York
Review: Airspace Lounge New York JFK Airport Terminal 5
Review: JetBlue Mint A321 New York To Los Angeles


One of the main reasons I travel is to review new airlines, which is why many of my trips are quick and have crazy routings. However, this trip ended up being insane, even by my standards, as I ended up flying over 33,000 miles in a week. I did this trip with my friend Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly, and we had a heck of a time.

Booking the flights

The planning for this trip started when Qatar Airways published an extremely cheap business class fare between Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Casablanca, Morocco. While you could fly Qatar Airways the whole way, what intrigued me most was the ability to fly Royal Air Maroc between Doha and Casablanca for the same price, given that the two airlines codeshare on the route.

The route is operated by Royal Air Maroc’s brand new 787, so that seemed like an awesome opportunity to try them. I know booking a roundtrip between Colombo and Casablanca seems quite random (and it is), but distance never exactly stopped us from traveling anywhere. 😉

Royal-Air-Maroc-Business-Class-787 - 1

The other benefit is that a lot of airlines publish cheap fares out of Colombo, so we could easily book cheap premium cabin tickets to get back from Colombo to the US.

After locking in the roundtrip between Colombo and Casablanca, it came time to book the outbound to Colombo. We had both tried many Asian airlines operating between the US and Asia, so after looking at award availability and considering what would be most interesting, we decided to book China Eastern business class. They have brand new 777-300ERs they fly between Los Angeles and Shanghai, and there was a practical connection available to Colombo from there. We could book this for 70,000 Delta SkyMiles one way.

China-Eastern-Business-Class-777 - 4

I was especially interested in flying China Eastern after my recent flight on SkyTeam airline China Airlines, which very nicely impressed me.

Then it came time to plan the return flight. Long story short, we considered several options, though eventually decided to book Saudia from Colombo to Jeddah to Manchester, since they had a reasonable business class fare.

Saudia-787-Business-Class - 1

From there we booked another cheap business class fare from Manchester to New York on Pakistan Airlines, on one of their more unique fifth freedom routes.

PIA-Business-Class-777 - 3

Lastly, from there we booked JetBlue Mint from New York to Los Angeles, and since we were booking in advance, managed to snag their “Mint Suites.” I was curious to see how JetBlue compared to other airlines in the market.

JetBlue-Mint - 1

In the end, here’s a map of our routing, covering 33,000+ flown miles:

Crazy-Trip

Furthermore, here are the exact details and cost of our routing, with all segments being in business class:

07/26 MU586 Los Angeles to Shanghai departing 12:30PM arriving 5:30PM (+1 day)
07/28 MU231 Shanghai to Colombo departing 2:05PM arriving 7:00PM

Cost: 70,000 Delta SkyMiles + $190.20 taxes/fees

07/29 QR665 Colombo to Doha departing 10:50AM arriving 1:05PM
07/30 AT217 Doha to Casablanca departing 1:15AM arriving 6:55AM

07/31 AT216 Casablanca to Doha departing 1:10PM arriving 10:15PM
08/01 QR664 Doha to Colombo departing 2:15AM arriving 9:35AM

Cost: ~$620

08/01 SV781 Colombo to Jeddah departing 5:35PM arriving 8:50PM
08/02 SV123 Jeddah to Manchester departing 3:45AM arriving 8:20AM

Cost: ~$700

08/02 PK721 Manchester to New York departing 12:45PM arriving 2:55PM

Cost: ~$900

08/02 B61323 New York to Los Angeles departing 9:45PM arriving 12:44AM (+1 day)

Cost: ~$600

Booking the hotels

On this trip we needed hotels for three nights:

  • One night in Shanghai
  • One night in Colombo on the way
  • One night in Casablanca

Matthew needed Hyatt stay credits to requalify for Diamond status, so we decided to book the Grand Hyatt Shanghai for our one night stay, given that I’ve reviewed the Park Hyatt Shanghai and Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai before. The paid rate there was ~$210, which seemed like a better value than redeeming points.

Grand-Hyatt-Shanghai - 12

Then in Colombo we decided to book the Hilton given that there aren’t many decent hotels near the airport. While it was a bit of a haul for our quick overnight, it seemed worthwhile. The rate for the one night stay there was ~$140.

Hilton-Colombo - 12

Lastly in Casablanca we booked the Hyatt Regency, where the rate was ~$150.

Hyatt-Regency-Casablanca - 12

Bottom line

This was such a fun, yet crazy, trip. Matthew and I are both airline & onboard product nerds, and this trip ended up having some of the most entertaining flights I’ve ever taken, so it was great to have someone along for the ride.

While I’ve done a lot of insane trips, this had to be one of the most insane ones I’ve ever taken. I think when we planned this we didn’t fully consider what the return journey would look like. We’d be flying from Casablanca to Doha to Colombo to Jeddah to Manchester to New York to Los Angeles without spending a night in a hotel, which meant we were up for ~72 hours without a bed. That’s crazy, even by my standards.

Suffice to say we were tired as could be by the time we got back to LA, though the whole trip was worthwhile.

Thanks for reading, and as always, any comments/questions are welcome!

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About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. @ Sam — Great question. I credited:
    — The Saudia flight to Korean SkyPass
    — The Qatar itinerary to American (I suspect the Royal Air Maroc flights won’t credit, but will figure out to do with those later, I guess)
    — I haven’t credited the Pakistan flight anywhere, since I don’t know of any partners they have, and I don’t see myself flying Pakistan again anytime soon

  2. @Ben
    You may be able to credit PK to TK, although I didn’t find anything about it on the TK website http://www.piaawards.com/pia/apartners/tk.aspx

    While you might want to avoid Turkey now, you can use the miles for Star Alliance.

    For Royal Air Maroc, The Points Guy had an article a while back about where to credit and he said IB as you can transfer then to BA and you get a 50% bonus for C class. http://thepointsguy.com/2014/05/where-should-you-bank-miles-when-flying-royal-air-maroc/

  3. This sounds like it’s been an enlightening trip (for both you and your readers!) – I can’t wait to read the full trip reports!

  4. Susan cares.
    Cares about pumping her blog and website via inane posts in Ben’s comments section.

  5. Like PeterFox, I’m very curious how Jeddah went. It was one of the main parts of your trip I was looking forward to.

  6. Lucky – how do you make these maps of your flights with the points and connecting arcs? Oh and I was reading your post on TMobile for international usage; do you still like it? Traveling to Asia and stopping by a few countries and didn’t want to break the bank. It’s coming down to Google Fi or TMobile. Thank you.

  7. I don’t know which is the best way to get my Russian Visa or where to stay and would love some kind of input. I want to go there but not on a tour and was hoping someone could tell me as much as they can.
    I also wish I could find some English speaking friends there if anyone knows.
    I have not used miles and it would be quite a benefit but I am so familiar with my old cards and hate getting into something with a yearly fee, but it’s most important I get some info on even which plane to go onl

    Thanks a bunch for any info
    Margie

  8. Lucky – next time in CMB try the Taj gateway airport hotel and ask for a room in the NEW wing. It is MUCH better than the regular rooms and only approx $10USD more. It is a short ride, and given that the Hilton is currently such a dump, really a great place to relax as it does not require the haul into the noise and pollution that is Colombo proper. The Taj points system isn’t fancy, but for runs like this, I think it makes a lot more sense than the Hilton.

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