A380 Addiction: Introduction

Filed Under: Asiana, Awards

Hi, my name is Ben, and I’m kind of addicted to A380s.

Up until Asiana began longhaul service with their A380s in August, I had reviewed A380 first class on every airline that operates the whale jet, including Air France, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.

Qatar Airways A380

I had been waiting for a long time for Qatar Airways to finally launch their A380 service, given that it had been delayed by several months. So once the Qatar Airways A380 inaugural flight schedule was finalized, I figured I’d book a trip which would allow me to knock out both of the remaining A380s at once.

So I booked the following:

10/03 OZ201 Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon departing 12:20PM arriving 5:20PM (+1 day)
10/07 EY873 Seoul Incheon to Abu Dhabi departing 12:20AM arriving 5:20AM
10/07 EY653 Abu Dhabi to Cairo departing 10:05AM arriving 11:55AM
10/09 QR1304 Cairo to Doha departing 1:15PM arriving 5:30PM
10/10 QR3 Doha to London Heahtrow departing 7:55AM arriving 1:15PM
10/11 US733 London Heathrow to Charlotte departing 2:25PM arriving 6:20PM


Here’s a rundown of how I booked all of this:

Booking flights

Asiana A380 first class Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon

I booked the first portion of the trip using Avianca LifeMiles. The timing couldn’t have worked out better, since it was right before LifeMiles devalued their award chart.

Asiana A380 first class award space is quite open last minute, so I had no problem booking a couple of weeks before departure.

The award would usually cost 75,000 miles one-way, though with LifeMiles you can purchase up to 60% of the miles needed at the time of ticketing.

So I decided to redeem 40,000 LifeMiles for the ticket, and then had a cash co-pay of $555.60, which included all the taxes, fees, and additional miles.

Asiana first class A380

Etihad first class Seoul Incheon to Cairo

One of the very best values on American’s award chart is for travel between “Asia 1” and the Middle East, as they charge just 45,000 AAdvantage miles one-way. Flights from Seoul to Abu Dhabi are ~10 hours, so that’s a heck of a value for a first class redemption. I‘ve flown Etihad extensively between the US and Middle East, so was curious to see how the experience compared coming from the other direction (at the very least it wouldn’t involve their horrid US pre-clearance facility).

The ticket cost me a total of 45,000 miles plus $28 in taxes.

Etihad Airways first class A340

Qatar Airways first class Cairo to London

The reason for the side trip to Cairo was that several airlines publish great first and business class fares out of Cairo.

In this case, Qatar Airways had no premium cabin award space on the A380 inaugural flight (or any A380 flights, for that matter), though for $1,800 I was able to book a paid first class seat from Cairo to Doha to London. That was well worth the cost to me. Booking a paid first class ticket on the nonstop Doha to London flight would have cost me more than twice as much.

Qatar Airways first class A380

US Airways business class London to Charlotte

When I had originally finalized this trip I locked in a 50,000 mile business class award on US Airways from London to Charlotte. It was intended as a backup, though I didn’t see anything better open up. So I ended up sticking to that, which cost me 50,000 AAdvantage plus plus $311.70 in taxes (they’re so high because of the UK’s hefty Air Passenger Duty).

US Airways business class A330

Booking hotels

Park Hyatt Seoul

I absolutely love the Park Hyatt Seoul, and find it to be one of the best value Category 4 Hyatt Gold Passport properties. I stayed for two nights, and redeemed 15,000 Gold Passport points for the first night, and an annual free night certificate from the Hyatt Visa Card for the second night.

That was a heck of a value, given that paid rates were $400USD+ per night.

Park Hyatt Seoul

Le Meridien Cairo Airport

This hotel exceeded my expectations more than any other in recent memory. I booked a $113 per night rate at the Le Meridien Cairo Airport, though got upgraded to a massive panoramic suite. The hotel is brand new as well, and even connected to (parts of) the airport.

Le Meridien Cairo Airport

Crowne Plaza Doha The Business Park

While Doha has a lot of great hotels, most of them are quite far from the new Hamad International Airport. So I redeemed 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points for a night at the Crowne Plaza Doha, which is just a 15 minute taxi ride from HIA.

Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4

For my overnight in London I booked the Hilton Heathrow Terminal 4, knowing I’d have a lot of work to catch up on at this point in my trip. Since my Qatar Airways flight arrived at Terminal 4 and my flight the next day departed from Terminal 3, it was as convenient as it gets.

Heathrow hotels are notoriously overpriced, so I redeemed Points & Money for the stay, at a cost of 24,000 HHonors points plus $65GBP.

That being said, I reviewed the hotel last year, so won’t review it again with this trip report.

Bottom line

I know I’m way behind on trip reports, so I have aspirations of publishing this one at record speeds, so I can also publish my two other major trip reports ASAP. Ideally before I go on my big round the world birthday bash trip with my dad. 😉

  1. Ben, did you write this yourself? It doesn’t sound anything like your usual writing style. Have you brought in someone to ghostwrite?

  2. @ Sam — Hah, really? Yes I did.

    Was trying to keep the intro more factual so I could get on with the rest of the trip report.

    I do have a nasty cold, so I can’t even hear myself thinking in my own head. Not sure if that’s part of it or not. 😀

  3. Wow, Ben….Sam is right…..your style is different. Do colds really cause us to write in a different style? Whatever the case, the A380 info is always appreciated.

    Still awaiting for my first A380 experience!


  4. I’d say the A380 addiction is your upcoming trip with your father since it’ll include Emirates A380, Qantas A380, & Singapore A380!
    By the way I thought you already wrote your Asiana A380 review a few weeks ago but I guess that was the First impressions post.

  5. So far, on both A380s I’ve flown, I (sadly) found that it feels just like any other plane. Perhaps because we were upstairs, but I was kind of hoping for a different feeling. Wishful thinking, I guess.

    And not for nothing, but that room at the Park Hyatt Seoul is butt ugly.

  6. FWIW, I think you sound just like you. And I loved my only experience on an A380 – upstairs on KE from JFK-ICN. It was eerily quiet. And lovely.

  7. Do you expect a similar love affair with the A350 one day or are you monogamous? 😉

    The blog entry sounds like your writing style to me so not sure the cold is affecting anything except your immediate quality of life. Speedy recovery!

  8. @ Todd — Personally I find the A380 to be substantially quieter and smoother than any other plane in the market. And the lounges found in the front of most of the upper decks is pretty cool as well, in my opinion.

  9. @ Peter — I’m an airplane size queen, so highly doubt it. 😉

    Certainly haven’t had the same love affair with the 787.

  10. I think that what’s different in this post is that you didn’t write a straight text, but used more headlines inside it (I don’t know how to call that exactly in English).
    I found it funny that you started your trip report from the last one and skipped the other two. This seems to be quite large, or are the trips to Portugal and Iceland just one?
    By the way, how do you keep your records of the trips? Do you have a good memory, write notes or type them? When the flight attendant serves your food with a smile, do you make a note right away, wait until finishing the meal or else?
    Lastly (is this Ask Lucky? 🙂 ) are you going to New Zealand with your dad or did you keep your original plan?

  11. Surprised there isn’t a way to get the APD refunded, as (I’m assuming) you weren’t in the UK for longer than 24 hours.

    Oh, and I’m pretty Ben likes A380’s, because they are (partially) German made.. 😛

  12. @ Navin — Unfortunately probably a long ways off from that happening. Would happen eventually, but wouldn’t expect it anytime soon.

  13. @ Carlos — The Iceland/Portugal trip report are just one, as it was a single trip. I do take a lot of notes and already organize the pictures during the trip, so I’m not going off of memory when I write them. I actually constantly take notes on my iPhone, and then after the meals/lounge visits take notes on my laptop.

    Still trying to decide for sure regarding the trip with my dad!

  14. Lucky: You are sick because you lowered your standards and flew US Air Biz……..and because of that you have probably been hanging your head in shame and it’s caused your airways to be blocked………..come back to the dark side Ben and drink the Krug!

  15. Hi Ben, I thought your report sounded like fun until I added up the costs of a weekend away in Cairo. I calculated just the airfare and used values like Lifemiles at 1.5CPM (old buy rate), and AA miles at (2.0 CPM as that is what the Points Guy values them at)

    So your addiction cost you

    $1155.60 – LAX-Seoul 40 LM x 1.5 ($600) + $555.60
    $900.00 – Seoul – CAI 45 AA x 2.0
    $1800.00 – Qatar flight LHR
    $1311.70 – London – Charlotte 50 AA + $311.70

    $5167.30 + hotels, cabs, food, attractions etc.

    I also am addicted to flying the A380 and just flying in F in general. I can’t believe that people would not choose flights based on the A380 over other aircraft types, but hey, we are all different. Unfortunately I recently I just reviewed how much I spend on my frivolous weekend travel I do and probably spend similar amounts. It was important for me to re-examine my addiction to travel as I was shocked to see how much I spend, even though I am only spending a small fraction of the retail cost. That trip you describe probably would have been a $20,000 ticket for a round the world in F from the US or more!

    Perhaps it would be an interesting story to hear how an individual can make a modest income traveling and flying around the world. Or perhaps that is too personal and I can understand that. Your blog and writing style is second to none. It is one of the best out there and I always look forward to hearing about your adventures.

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