Introduction: Around The World (And Then Some) In 5 Days

Introduction: Around The World (And Then Some) In 5 Days
Review: United Polaris Lounge Newark Airport
Review: Austrian Business Class 767 Newark To Vienna
Review: Moxy Vienna Airport
Review: Austrian Business Lounge Vienna Airport
Review: EgyptAir Business Class 737 Vienna To Cairo
Review: Oman Air Business Class A330 Cairo To Muscat
Review: Oman Air First Class Lounge Muscat Airport
Review: Oman Air Business Class Lounge Muscat Airport
Review: Oman Air First Class Service By Design
Review: Oman Air First Class 787 Muscat To London
Review: Air Belgium Lounge Charleroi Airport
Review: Air Belgium Business Class A340 Charleroi To Hong Kong
Review: SkyTeam Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Review: Korean Air First Class A330 Hong Kong To Incheon
Review: Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon Airport
Review: Korean Air First Class 787 Incheon To San Francisco


Welcome to my next trip report, covering travel in business class on Austrian, EgyptAir, Oman Air, and Air Belgium, and travel in first class on Korean Air and Oman Air. This should be a fun one!

Planning the trip

This trip was motivated entirely by being able to review some new airlines. There are some interesting new airlines and products this summer that I really wanted to review. The two things I was most interested in reviewing were Air Belgium, a startup airline based in Charleroi, and Oman Air’s new 787-9 first class, which was debuting between Muscat and London as of July 1, 2018.

So all my planning was based around that.

Booking flights

Over the course of my five day trip I flew from Newark to Vienna to Cairo to Muscat to London to Brussels, then drove to Charleroi, and then flew from Charleroi to Hong Kong to Incheon to San Francisco. Here’s what that 24,000+ mile routing looks like on a map:

That being said, let me explain the booking process based on the order in which I booked flights, rather than the order in which I flew them.

My top priority on this trip was to fly Oman Air’s new first class product, which is exclusively available between Muscat and London. Since there’s no easy way to redeem miles for Oman Air first class, I knew I needed to find a decent paid fare, and the best one I could find was out of Cairo.

Specifically, Oman Air has ~$1,200 paid first class one-way fares from Cairo to London via Muscat, so that’s the first itinerary I booked. That routing looked as follows:

7/01 WY408 Cairo to Muscat departing 1:10AM arriving 7:15AM [Business]
7/01 WY101 Muscat to London departing 2:30PM arriving 7:10PM [First]

My flight from Cairo to Muscat was even operated by an A330 featuring Apex Suites, so that was a special treat for that short redeye.

Since I found myself in London, next I decided to book Air Belgium from Charleroi to Hong Kong. I was landing in London on Sunday and Air Belgium operated a flight on Monday, so I booked the following flight for ~$1,277:

7/02 KF851 Charleroi to Hong Kong departing 2:10PM arriving 7:40AM (+1 day) [Business]

In reality there’s a lot more to that ticket, since Air Belgium canceled the first flight I was booked on, then they upgraded my return to business class, and in the meantime they canceled that flight as well, so…

Then I needed to actually get from London to Charleroi, so I booked the following British Airways flight from Heathrow to Brussels for 7,750 Avios plus $40 in taxes and fees:

7/02 BA388 London to Brussels departing 6:35AM arriving 8:50AM [Business]

Then I just hired a car service to drive me from Brussels to Charleroi, which to my surprise only took 45 minutes, even though it was a Monday morning. I figured it was easier to do a ground transfer than to fly from London to Charleroi with a connection.

From Hong Kong I wanted to get back to the US, and I had really been wanting to try Korean Air’s new 787-9 first class. In reality they use the same seat in first and business class on this plane, which I found to be odd. I also hadn’t yet flown Korean Air’s A330 first class, so I could try that between Hong Kong and Incheon.

I booked the following for 80,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles plus $86.13 in taxes and fees:

7/03 KE604 Hong Kong to Incheon departing 12:15PM arriving 4:55PM [First]
7/03 KE25 Incheon to San Francisco departing 8:00PM arriving 3:00PM [First]

The very last portion of the trip that I booked was the outbound flight, and I only ended up locking this in a couple of days before departure. I was in New York, and my goal was to fly a Star Alliance airline out of Newark, so I could visit United’s new Polaris Lounge.

Austrian had business class award availability on the 767 (it had been years since I’ve reviewed them, and I’ve only flown their 777 and not their 767), so I booked the following for 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles plus $30.60 in taxes and fees:

6/28 OS90 Newark to Vienna departing 5:50PM arriving 8:25AM (+1 day) [Business]

The catch is that this still didn’t get me all the way to Cairo, as I’d first be spending a night in Vienna. I ended up having to book a separate award for that, so I booked the following for 25,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles plus ~$130 in taxes and fees:

6/30 MS798 Vienna to Cairo departing 3:30PM arriving 6:50PM [Business]

Booking hotels

As you can see, I was doing a lot of flying over the course of five days, so I only needed two hotel nights:

  • One night in Vienna
  • One night near Heathrow Airport

I had over 24 hours in Vienna so I knew I had more than enough time if I actually wanted to stay in the city. However, I knew I’d be busy, and I was also interested in reviewing a new Marriott brand, so I decided to stay at the Moxy Vienna Airport. The rate for my one night stay was 90EUR.

Then I just had a quick overnight at Heathrow, so I stayed at my preferred Heathrow Airport hotel, which is the Sheraton Skyline Heathrow. I won’t be reviewing it this time around, as I’ve reviewed it in the past.

Bottom line

This was quite a whirlwind trip, given that I flew over 24,000 miles with only two hotel nights. I flew all the way from Vienna to Cairo to Muscat to London without spending a night anywhere, and then all the way from London to Belgium to Hong Kong to Incheon to San Francisco without spending a night anywhere.

As an airline product geek I had such a fun time experiencing some new products, and many of the flights left me quite surprised. Thanks for reading!

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. Ben,
    Do you think that you will be able to take your return Air Belgium flight, from HKG-CRL, if they eventually offer to fly you there on another date ? Or is it more likely that you will be given a refund for that flight, and/or rebooked on Cathay Pacific (again…) ?

  2. Hi Lucky,

    When you finally get to San Francisco on this trip, can you do a review of the newest hot spot in SF? That would be Salesforce Transit Center Rooftop Park.

    It’s easy to get there. From SFO, take BART to downtown, get off Embarcadero station, walk one block toward Salesforce Transit Center. Come here during lunch time, not at night time!

    Can’t wait to read for your review on this.

  3. I’m looking forward to reading all the reviews. Thanks for your passion!
    Next time, take Eurostar instead of flying to Belgium, haha.

  4. thrilled to check out this report. Will be flying Oman from IST to BKK in January and interested in hearing about your experiences in their new lounge facilities.

  5. Wow this is interesting and why I read this blog. Always good to know where airlines and airports stand so I can plan my own trips better. Thanks

  6. Looking forward to the review of the Moxy Vienna Airport as I need a hotel for a one night stay at the end of January. I hope it’s positive.

  7. can you please get this report out in a timely manner unlike the last one that took over 6 weeks to complete.

  8. @MR G
    Ben already posted first impressions of the Moxy in Vienna in this blog (interesting read so far).

    From my experience – if you are looking for a place to stay for a night, which is literally oposite the airport, no shuttle needed, this is the place to stay in. The quality and else… I leave this one up to Ben to provide his impressions (apart from those he already mentioned).

  9. Hi Ben, for purchased Oman Air business class tickets (not a redemption), is it best to credit the miles with Oman? Or Etihad? Or something else is better? Thanks.

  10. This is the exact sort of crazy for which I read your blog, @lucky. Ain’t no geek like an avgeek!

  11. Congrats. Now you can join the Circumnavigators Club for those who have flown around the world (in one direction). I’ve been RTW 14 times… and all on award tickets!

  12. @ucipass $30.60 is clearly AV fee+911 fee.
    @Lumma As everyone who has redeemed BA short range flight, like EU/North Asia people know, economy is notorious hard to come by, and in a lot of them are controlled by scalpers .

  13. @Penny Just walked the new SF Salesforce Transbay Rooftop Park. Beautifully done. Enjoyed free nightly music fm 5-6pm & saw a sign for daily complimentary Workouts @ various times on MainStage. Especially enjoyed vegetation and trees fm around the world, I.e. Monkey Trees (Araucaria), native Chile & Argentina. I’d think it would behove Lucky to wait until the retail and restaurants get built. [Not aviation related but interesting new spot for those transiting SFO]. Reminds me of NY High-line. //

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