Last year I did a round the world trip in 6 days, mostly off the back of the Alaska Airlines 50K USA-Asia reward sweet-spot on Hainan.
At some point I will get around to writing up a report on that trip, but for now the planning for the next crazy journey has begun. The main flights I want to take are A380 first class on Etihad and Singapore. The first for Shower Class, and the second for Singapore’s Suites. However I am neither American so cannot
abuse use their banks for buckloads of miles nor super wealthy, so this have to be done efficiently.
For Etihad, the obvious answer is an AA partner award. I say obvious, clearly to someone not deep into this hobby it wouldn’t be obvious at all, but given all the different way of getting oneself into an Etihad Apartment, between Abu Dhabi and London or Paris, the best option is clearly AA.
Pulling up their award chart shows the 62.5K Europe to Middle East or Indian Subcontinent. There is a slight issue here in that I don’t have any AA miles and getting them in the UK is not the easiest…however… AA is known for its mileage sales, and they allegedly go as low as 1.72 US cents per mile. Now I doubt I will get it that low unless I buy more than need, but at current exchange rates, I can expect to pay about £900 for those miles. And as you will see later, I will be transiting onto that ticket through India, so the taxes are minimal, and AA covers the fuel surcharges, so £900 is basically the all in price. Clearly this is not an amount of money to be sniffed at, but for a 4hr flight in Business Class, a few hours in the Etihad lounge in AUH, and then 7hrs in an Etihad Apartment it really doesn’t seem bad value to me.
So, I need to get to India to start the Etihad experience. Casual browsing of the Singapore A380 routes shows that they run daily A380 flights to both Mumbai and Delhi…interesting. And the Saver award in First Class is only 53K miles on the Kris Flyer award chart – for a 6hr flight: not bad. And as an Amex MR rewards transfer partner they are also not too hard to get hold of, even for non Americans. And 53K miles lines up perfectly with the UK SUP of 35K and then a referral for another 18K. Excellent. Singapore doesn’t add fuel surcharges so even better.
So now I need to get to Singapore… my first thought is to go the long way round and do another Alaskan Award but I don’t have the miles or any way of generating the miles short of buying them all = no. Hmm. Need to get from Europe to South East Asia… Aha. Etihad Airways to the rescue – with their bizarre Czech Airlines sweet spot. 26.5K miles and £150 in taxes in fees for a lie flat seat Prague – Seoul. That at least gets me in the right award zone for programs that work zonally. Not the world’s sexiest business class but a lie flat bed and an under reviewed product and precisely the sort of nutty routing that I like.
Getting from the UK to Prague is easily solved with a sprinkling of Avios or an LCC flight. But for Seoul to Singapore, something better is in order – the ability to use another sweet spot I’ve been looking at for a while. I’ve started to collect some Aegean miles as a result of their low Star gold qualification (and even lower requal) and their inter Far East zone awards, at 21K for Business one-way are a stormer. Either a 6.5hr direct flight on Asiana or Singapore’s regional product, or throw in a connection for 7.5-8.5 hrs in some combo of those two and ANA, Eva, or Thai, Shenzen, Air China. Star Alliance has plenty of options and outstation connections too. Fuel surcharges and taxes always under £60 meaning at 1ppm, it’s around £30-35 per hour flying in Business. Not bad.
So all together we have this:
53+26.5K MR points
21k Aegean Miles
£160 YQ, £70 taxes
£900 to buy AA Miles
£40 to fly to Prague.
Sum = £1170 + 79.5K MR +21K Aegean Miles = ~£2200
For approx. 21 hrs in business class and 13 hrs in Suites/Apartments.
I’ll take those numbers.