Another round the world for 90K: Introduction

In June EVA Air joined the Star Alliance, and I was really itching to try them. They have a phenomenal reverse herringbone business class product on much of their longhaul fleet and are the only airline in the world to serve Dom Perignon in business class, so what’s not to love?

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class

Given that Taipei is located in North Asia per US Airways’ award chart, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to book a business class award ticket for just 90,000 miles.

My family is from Germany, and when I was younger I’d spend every summer in Germany. My mom always made a point of exploring some nearby country every time we went, so by the time I was 12 I had seen most of Western Europe. When I started mileage running I traveled almost exclusively to Asia on award tickets, simply because there were so many cultures that were new to me, Asian airlines are typically better than European airlines, and it’s a great use of miles. So since starting this hobby I’ve visited most major cities in Northern and Southeast Asia. However, now that I’ve spent so much time in Asia I’m really itching to explore Europe more again.

Since US Airways lets you route from the US to Asia via Europe I figured I chose to make the primary destination on the trip Europe, and in the end decided on Southern France. Earlier this year Hyatt announced that four French properties would be rebranded as Hyatts, including a property in Nice and Cannes. Since I had never been to Southern France before, spending a couple of days in each sounded like fun.

In addition to that I haven’t been to Zurich before, so decided to plan a stay there, at the Park Hyatt.

I dragged a friend along, and in the end the award looked as follows for 90,000 US Airways miles per person in business class the whole way:

06/27 LH491 Seattle to Frankfurt departing 1:35PM arriving 8:35AM (+1 day)
06/28 LH1060 Frankfurt to Nice departing 12:30PM arriving 2:00PM
07/04 OS562 Zurich to Vienna departing 10:25AM arriving 11:50AM
07/04 OS51 Vienna to Tokyo Narita departing 1:30PM arriving 7:40AM (+1 day)
07/05 BR195 Tokyo Narita to Taipei departing 10:30AM arriving 1:05PM
07/08 BR28 Taipei to San Francisco departing 11:30PM arriving 8:10PM

I booked this literally a day before departure, and the taxes were $160 per person, plus the $75 quick ticketing fee and $50 Dividend Miles processing fee. As is usually the case with US Airways, what’s allowed really depends on the agent you get, as I discussed in this post. So while that routing was perhaps not totally legal, a US Airways agent had no issue ticketing it.

Then to get between Nice and Zurich I used AviancaTaca Lifemiles for that ticket. That cost 12,500 Lifemiles per person, and I booked the following flight in economy:

07/02 LX563 Nice to Zurich departing 10:40AM arriving 12:00PM

In the end the routing looked as follows:


While I’ve flown it before and know it’s not great, I decided to fly Lufthansa’s nonstop flight from Seattle to Frankfurt in business class, even though it’s the old product. The truth is my last few dozen longhaul segments on Lufthansa have been in international first class, so I was curious to see how my perception changed when “downgrading” to business class.

Lufthansa Business Class

Then between Europe and Asia I decided to do Austrian business class again, which is one of my favorite business class products.

Iced coffee in Austrian Business Class

In terms of hotels, I booked the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee for our first two nights for 18,000 Gold Passport points per night. Given that rates were over 350EUR per night I considered that to be a pretty good value.

Hyatt Regency Nice

Then the plan was to take the train to Cannes (about a 30 minute train ride) and stay at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez, which cost 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. Paid rates were over 450EUR per night, so that was a pretty good deal as well.

Grand Hyatt Cannes

Initially the plan was to go to Zurich from there, though we decided to spend one more night at the Hyatt Regency Nice on the way back, which we once again booked using 18,000 Gold Passport points per night.

Then in Zurich we spent two nights at the Park Hyatt Zurich using the sign-up bonus from the Chase Hyatt Visa Card. As a Diamond member you get two nights in a suite, so I confirmed the Park Suite, which was going for over 1,500CHF per night.

Then in Taipei we split our time between the Le Meridien and W, which are just a block apart. We booked paid stays for both of those stays, and the rates were a bit higher than I would have liked at about $300 per night. Sadly the cost on points was even more prohibitive, so it still seemed like the better option.

W Taipei

Best of all, from a travel perspective I got to visit four cities for the first time, which was exciting!

I have a lot of trip reporting to do in the next two weeks, so I hope to roll this report out really quickly, as I still need to cover my trip to Bali with my mom before leaving on my next big trip in a couple of weeks.

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

Filed Under: Austrian, Awards
  1. @ Alan — I spent a while in San Francisco and then booked a separate ticket back to Seattle on Alaska.

  2. Just curious, how many times do you have to HUACA to get your USAirways routings. Your last trip including LH First (supposedly a definite no-no) and this one has a land segment, or whatever you want to call it…

    OR do you have a special agent and would you share their extension…


  3. Would you include some thoughts on Nice and Cannes outside of the Hyatts? Also, what was the train like? (I’ve never been, and it would be nice to see a TR on France outside of Paris.)

    This is an awesome trip…one of your longest? (~2 weeks)

  4. @ David — Absolutely. I intend to include my experiences in each city with the hotel installment. Trying to keep the report in as few installments as possible.

    Train was perfectly civil. Just a 30 minute ride. Nothing like the high speed trains between major cities, but not horrible either.

    Indeed, also one of the longer trips I’ve taken!

  5. would this work for 90k .
    LAX to Berlin (TXL) stopover
    TXL to LHR (destination)
    LHR to TPE (what should the segments be to get there?”
    Tapei to LAX

  6. Oops…..I mean to write.

    LAX to LHR (stopover)
    LHR to TXL/BUD (destination)

    TXL or BUD to Tapei (what would the segments be)

    Tapei to LAX on EVA

  7. @ sil — The destination needs to be in Asia if you’re going via Europe, atl east technically. So that wouldn’t be allowed.

  8. Thanks Lucky. Do you mean that I cannot have a stopover in Europe such as London or Budapest but I can route through Europe to have stopover in Asia?

  9. @ Sil — You can definitely route through Europe and have a stopover there, though if I’m understanding correctly you’re wanting to do stops in Europe. You can only do one.

  10. Any good way to get 90k on us air? Got 250k amex points but does not have transfer to us air. Would really love to go to Asia for 90k

  11. On my side I would like to do the same kind of trip for starting from Europe and end in the US, such as
    NRT – CDG(stopover)-EWR.
    Is it feasible with USAir? How many points would it cost?

  12. @ Henry — You can purchase them for 1.88 cents each which is a pretty good value. Unfortunately aside from Starwood they don’t have many transfer partners, though.

  13. $300+ per night in TPE seems really high. Do you ever consider not booking a chain to save money when you are paying cash?

  14. @ RakSiam — Something must have been going on that week because all hotels were crazy expensive. Some non-chain hotels may have been cheaper, but by the the time you factor in free breakfast, internet, points, etc., don’t think the difference would have been huge.

  15. @ Al — For my nights the Four Points was about $150. Don’t really use corporate rates outside the US either…

  16. My mind is simply blown. You convinced the agents to fly you to Asia from Seattle *via* Europe. I mean, I’m shocked the agents did not simply laugh you off the phone. I would never have thought this sort of thing possible. I assume this is some openness of the US rules and no other airline would allow this?

  17. @ Steve — Routing from the US to Asia via Europe is allowed by many Star Alliance airlines, including Air Canada’s Aeroplan, United, and US Airways.

  18. Are these just international award redemption rules, or does this work domestically as well? Like, say going SEA to BOS while requesting stops in Las Vegas and Orlando?

    Clearly, this seems like a situation where you have to plan your route and then call the airline and negotiate it directly, because no airline’s website is going to spit out this award route for you.

  19. Is the following routing allowed using United mile?:

    SEA/FRA/FCO on LH Stopover
    CDG/BKK/HKG on TG Destination
    HKG/HNL on OZ

    Is this an example of 2 OJs & a stopover?

  20. @ EY — Well with US Airways you’re technically only allowed one stopover OR one open jaw. I got away with more on this ticket, though per the rules you’re only allowed one or the other, though that wouldn’t be allowed. But it really does depend on the agent you get.

  21. As always I’m blown away by your creativity Ben – but then you sure have the experience now! I love the way you can fly so far for 90K in business with Dividend Miles, but I wonder if you have any thoughts on maximizing points from a European starting point – are there any gems we should know about? I’m kind of doing the same development as you in terms of travel destinations – after pretty much ‘exhausting’ Europe I’ve just discovered Asia and am hooked. Same goes for the States so any neat ways of combining the two (but preferably starting in Europe) would be greatly appreciated. And yes, it really does depend on the agent – witness my ability to book Norway-Thailand via Milan, with the Milan to BKK return flight in Thai First Class for 40K Dividend Miles…:-)

  22. @ Andy — Originating in Europe I tend to think the best values are first class to North Asia for 100,000 miles or business class to Australia for 120,000 miles. Business class to Africa for 75,000 miles can be a great value as well.

    Tough to beat the value you got, though!

  23. Well Lucky good job and you sure seem to know exactly what to say to the agents. I spent a couple days trying to book
    IAD-CPH-BKK (stopover)
    BKK-NrT (Destination)

    and couldn’t seem to sweet talk them into pricing at the North Asia level..


  24. lucky, you mention best value from Europe is First Class to North Asia. Can you help me booking LH F for this R/T?

  25. Lucky-

    would this work for 90k on biz

    LAX-LHR (stopover)
    LHR – DPS (destination)

    What would the segments look like from LHR to DPS for flat seat on Biz? What carriers?

    Also, can I route from DPS-TPE-LAX to try EVA biz class

  26. Lucky-

    would this work for 90k on biz

    LAX-LHR (stopover)
    LHR – DPS (destination)

    What would the segments look like from LHR to DPS for flat seat on Biz? What carriers? Will be for August 2014.

    Also, can I route from DPS-TPE-LAX to try EVA biz class

  27. @ FlyingDoctorWu — Yeah, that’s a tough sell. The destination is the furthest point along your journey and in this case it’s Bangkok, so not surprised you had a hard time.

  28. @ julience — Since they block the space it’s typically not possible, and I try to play within the rules for my consulting, so it’s not something I can help with. Sorry. There are lots of other great carriers between Europe and North Asia, though, like ANA and Asiana.

  29. @ Mike S. — As of now they fly it to LAX, SFO, JFK, and YYZ in North America, and then to CDG and AMS.

  30. @ Sil — Bali is in South Asia, so you’d be paying 120,000 miles roundtrip in business class. You could fly just about any airline you want from London to Bali, and can connect on Lufthansa, Thai, Asiana, etc.

    The return should be fine as well.

  31. Not true that EVA is the only airline to serve Dom Perignon in business class. India’s Jet Airways has been doing that ever since they launched!

  32. Hey Ben, thanks for this and your hard work on the blog.

    What impact do you think the merger will have on this 90k Asia via Europe option?

    Would be great to hear your thoughts!

  33. @ Jason — My guess is that when the two programs are combined and they release a joint award chart the award costs will go up a bit across the board, as is the norm. American charges 110,000 miles for business class to “Asia 2,” so my guess is that the combined airline will charge 120,000-125,000 miles for business class to Asia (either the same as United or a bit higher since I’m sure they have a devaluation coming soon as well).

  34. Uggg! Do you think there will be much advance notice? What do you think the timeline will be? We are still 18 mos. out from our planned trip.

  35. @ Jason — I do expert there will be some advance notice, possibly 1-2 months. It’s anyone’s guess when the programs will combine, though my guess is we’ll hear of the new award chart in the first quarter of next year. Just my speculation, though.

  36. Oooh… W Hotel and EVA Air is getting me excited to read on!! I also wonder if the OS flight to NRT was on a B777 or a B767?

  37. @ Lucky – As you have talked about devaluation, if you had miles on both M&M and MP to redeem on LH F on october, would you book the tickets on M&M and if they became availabe on MP, pay 50 euros to cancel them and use the miles on MP?
    Or, on another words, I’m going to Europe on october and to Asia next year (don’t know when, yet). Would you hold your miles on M&M or MP to use next year?

  38. @ Carlos — I think your strategy is a good one — book a ticket with Lufthansa miles now, and then if closer to departure something opens up through United you can book through them. Seems like a good way to go.

  39. Hey Lucky – trying to plan this to get on the Hello Kitty flight for a friend IND-CLT-JFK (US Gateway)-TPE-FUK (Hello Kitty Flight) – ICN-SIN-CGK… do you think this will be allowable under the US airway plan?


  40. @ Felix — What’s your destination? If that’s just your outbound that’s too many segment, as you’re only allowed four transfers per direction.

  41. @lucky – Thanks for the info! beggars can’t be choosers… so do they count the international gateway from IND-JFK as 2 different x-fers?

  42. @ Felix — Yep, a transfer is anytime you’re connecting in an airport, whether domestic or international.

  43. @lucky – All clear now… looks like will have to board that older BR Laurel class from TPE-CGK then!

  44. @ Andy — This is the biggest gem on the US Airways award chart and one of the best award values out there. No other airline charges just 90,000 miles for business class between the US and Asia.

  45. Have loved reading about these trips and just booked my first 90k US Air RTW ticket…flying SFO-HKG with a long stopover in Germany and then a return HKG-SFO on “Brussels airways” via Taipei. Ticketed easily with the first agent I spoke with. Thanks for the tips, Lucky!

  46. @ lucky
    “ONE of the best”??
    a UA bidness r/t to europe alone costs more than 90k.
    something’s not being said out loud here (:

  47. @ Mr. Cool — US Airways charges 90,000 miles for a business class award between the US and North Asia, and they allow routings via Europe with a stopover there. So that’s how I booked it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *