It’s summer, which is the time of year where I stay inside and don’t fly anywhere to avoid the heat and the crowds (not to mention the insanely high airfare we’re seeing right now).
The downside to summer for me is that it’s the time where I plan far too many trips for the future. It’s like going to a supermarket on an empty stomach, and you end up buying everything, just because it looks good. Well, I’m having one of those moments right now, and I’m trying to avoid booking everything (or anything, for that matter).
I’m starting to realize more than ever before that award tickets ideally have to be booked 9+ months out. That’s not to say that it isn’t possible to get an award ticket closer to departure (I do it every day for clients), but more so than ever before it’s tough to get an ideal itinerary without planning far out. It used to be that I could set up the perfect round the world trip two months before departure, though I’m finding that tougher than ever before since travelers have gotten a lot savvier and premium cabin award space seems to generally be on the decline.
Anyway, there are a few award opportunities that tempt me.
Korean Air Airbus 380 out of New York
I have a small fortune of Delta SkyMiles burning a hole in my pocket, and I’m always looking for ways to use them. I noticed that Korean Air will soon be introducing their Airbus 380 between New York and Seoul, and I’m incredibly tempted to book an award on it. Business class award availability is excellent, and at 120,000 SkyMiles, it’s tough to beat. I’m looking at early next year, and thinking of actually making Taipei my destination, a city I’ve yet to visit. Given that I see space all the way from Tampa to Taipei with the long flights both ways on a Korean Air Airbus 380, I’m very tempted. I have something on hold, though I’m trying to convince myself not to ticket this.
Ever since flying the Airbus 380 three times on Qantas a few weeks ago, I’ve fallen in love with the plane, and want to fly it again, even if “only” in business class.
Star Alliance business class sampler for $1,350
US Airways once again has a 100% bonus buy miles promotion through June 30, so there are a few days left to pick up a maximum of 100,000 miles at under 1.5 cents each. I realize others just like to have a huge stash of US Airways miles, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. Ideally I’d like to buy points and make a booking right away, to avoid any risk of devaluation.
I’ve done first class on just about all Star Alliance airlines, so now I really want to try business class on a few of the Star Alliance airlines that don’t have a first class product.
A US to North Asia business class award costs 90,000 Dividend Miles, and those miles can be purchased for $1,350. For that I could fly US Airways’ new Envoy class from the east coast to Europe, then Austrian business class from Europe to Asia, then SAS business class from Asia to Europe, and maybe Air Canada business class to finish off the award. I’d love to see more of Japan, so I’m very tempted.
Decent American Airlines revenue fares…
Now that I’m an Executive Platinum with American, I need to earn another 70,000 elite qualifying miles this year in order to requalify. That’s perfectly doable, though will require a bit of planning. I have eight of their systemwide upgrades that I need to use by the end of the year, and I see some reasonable fares.
For example, flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Dallas to Chicago to Shanghai and back on the same routing costs $900 all-in right now for the fall. That’s by no means an amazing fare, though it’s not half bad. The advantage of booking now would be that I could confirm my upgrades immediately, which some value should be placed on. I would earn about 20,000 elite qualifying miles or 40,000 redeemable miles for the roundtrip.
I’ve also always wanted to visit India, and I see fares on American are about $1,200 all-in for the fall. Yet again, that’s not amazing, but as far as India fares go, it seems pretty good. It’s also about 20,000 elite qualifying miles, so I’m tempted to pull the trigger on that.
At the same time, I can’t help but think in the back of my head that there will be a promotion of some sort that I’ll be missing out on if I book now, be it in the form of a fare sale or some bonus miles. Maybe even double elite qualifying miles? Who knows…
So apparently Lufthansa does release first class award space on the Airbus 380…
About five days ago I was looking for award space between San Francisco and Frankfurt for a client for sometime next year, and I couldn’t help but notice a first class award seat on the Lufthansa A380 between San Francisco and Frankfurt. It wasn’t what my client was looking for, so I thought to myself “well, someone’s gonna get lucky.”
Last night I couldn’t help but wonder whether the space was still there. I figured it was a near guarantee that it would be gone, but it wasn’t. So I couldn’t help myself, and I booked it. But going from the US to Europe is only a few thousand miles cheaper than going from the US to Asia via Europe. So what did I do? I added a connecting flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok on a Lufthansa 747, after a 12 hour layover. I’ll then connect onwards to Chiang Rai, which I’ve been meaning to visit for a long time. I might do a week or so in Thailand, and try to visit Chiang Mai and Phuket as well. I’m still not convinced I’ll take the trip, though it would pain me to cancel it.
What to do, what to do…