Ukraine

Sacrilege: 6 Flights Where I Elected NOT To Earn Miles

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On a day to day basis there aren’t many decisions I make where I don’t consider the implications they have on my mileage accounts. Whether it’s earning points by doing online shopping through a mileage portal, or earning bonus points for dining at certain restaurants, or using the right credit card to maximize my spend, points are always on my mind.

Obviously you don’t (typically) earn miles when you redeem miles for a flight, but as I’ve been going over my travels of the past year, it has occurred to me that I’ve taken six trips where I could have earned miles but elected not to. I know, this sounds absolutely crazy to any miles & points geek, so I figured I’d come clean in this post.

Here are those six trips from the past year, starting with the most recent:

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Ukraine International Airlines Is (Temporarily) Adding An A330 To Their Fleet

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Several weeks ago I flew Ukraine International Airlines business class from Kiev to New York, which was… an adventure. The entire experience seemed well intentioned, though it was easily the most uncomfortable transatlantic business class experience I’ve had. I recognize the country perhaps has other priorities than having a world class business class product, but that doesn’t make the product any less competitive. ­čśë

In fairness, UIA’s business class pricing is consistently very reasonable, so I suppose you get what you pay for. Personally I’d rather fly premium economy on an airline that has personal entertainment and power ports, and maybe even wifi, given that I was bored for this 10+ hour flight.

As it stands, UIA has four 767s, which they primarily fly to Bangkok, Beijing, and New York. I know in the past the airline has considered permanently expanding their longhaul fleet, though it looks like that never came to fruition.

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Review: Ukraine International Airlines Business Class 767 Kiev To New York

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I’ve flown most of the world’s best airlines, so nowadays I especially like trying new airlines, ones where I really have no clue what to expect. Usually there are already reviews out there about an airline, though UIA’s business class was a real mystery to me, as there wasn’t much out there about it at all. To me, that made the flight even more exciting. Ukraine’s website does very little to explain what to expect onboard, so I honestly had no clue what to expect onboard.

We boarded through door L2, which is rare for a 767. At the door we were pointed left towards business class. In front of the door were a few rows of UIA’s premium economy, which is in a 2-3-2 configuration with a decent amount of legroom (UIA’s normal economy section is in a 2-4-2 configuration, which is insanely tight for a 767, where almost all airlines have seats in a 2-3-2 configuration).

Ahead of premium economy were two rows of business class. UIA’s 767 business class consists of a total of 12 seats, spread across two rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. My first impression was that this reminded me of American’s old 767-200 premium cabins, except this cabin felt even tighter.

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Review: Kiev Airport Lounge

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The bus from the remote stand dropped us off at the transit area of the terminal, which was chaotic. There were massive queues both for people connecting and also for people arriving.

They weren’t able to print the boarding passes for our flight to New York when we checked in at Baku Airport, so we headed to the transfer desk, where fortunately there wasn’t a very long line. Within a couple of minutes the agent printed out our boarding passes, showing a 3:05PM departure time, rather than an 11:05AM departure time.

She didn’t even mention the delay, though when we asked her about it she confirmed that the flight was late. After doing some research it seems as if the plane was about seven hours late arriving from Beijing. Our three hour layover just turned into a seven hour layover.

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Review: Ukraine Airlines Business Class 737 Baku To Kiev

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Upon boarding we were greeted by two young, cute, chipper flight attendants. UIA has a more traditional intra-Europe business class product, meaning that business class is simply economy with a blocked middle seat. This allows the cabin size to be flexible based on demand, and on this flight there were a total of four rows of business class.

We initially settled into seats 3A & 3C, with the middle seat blocked. While legroom wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible either. I was happy to see that Ukraine didn’t have the slimline seats with very limited recline that many other airlines have nowadays.

As usual, there was a curtain separating business class from economy, and that curtain can be moved based on the demand for the cabin that day.

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Introduction: Transatlantic Insanity

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My biggest blog goal for the year has been to review as many new premium cabin airline products as possible. While I started off the year with what I thought was an aspirational list at the time, I’ve found reviewing new airlines to be so fun that I ended up expanding it significantly.

Earlier in the year I managed to review a lot of mainstream business class products for the first time, though all along there have been some seemingly random airlines on the list (at least from a US perspective) that I’ve wanted to try.

Tiffany and I hadn’t yet taken a big trip together this year, so since we both love flying and visiting random places, we crafted an itinerary that would allow us to try four transatlantic products over the course of about 10 days.

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Airport Lounge Or Psychological Torture?

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Hello from Kiev!

We are (slowly) making our way back from Baku, and are presently luxuriating in the Ukraine International Business class lounge, which the Kiev airport boastfully describes as:

“Business lounges of the Boryspil International Airport provide an exclusive atmosphere of respectability and comfort in which you can get ready for a pleasant trip as well as effectively work prior to the departure of your flight.”

I think we might have some different ideas about what “effectively work” means, because unless you’re an aspiring UN translator or airhorn operator I don’t see how anyone could possibly get anything done here.

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