My next “big” trip will be…

I’ve received a few questions lately about what my next “big” international trip will be, given that I’m more or less caught up on trip reports. I’m in the process of moving over the coming week, so for the most part I’m taking it slow on travel as I try to furnish my new place and explore the Seattle area (of course with me luck the record good weather streak will end the day I move).

That being said, a couple of weeks ago there was a mistake fare between Yangon and Montreal in first class, for roughly $500-800 one-way. I couldn’t resist booking a few of them, and my first one is coming up very soo. While Swiss apparently isn’t honoring the tickets issued on their ticket stock, none of my tickets are with them, as I’ve flown Swiss first class many times and wanted to fly a different airline. Instead one of the trips I booked is as follows:

ANA 914 Yangon to Tokyo departing at 9:30PM and arriving at 6:15AM (+1 day) [Business Class]
British Airways 6 Tokyo to London departing at 10:55AM and arriving at 3:10PM [First Class]
British Airways 95 London to Montreal departing at 6:20PM and arriving at 8:15PM [Business Class]

The flight from Yangon to Tokyo is operated by a 737 in an all business class configuration. Tokyo to London is operated by a 777-300, meaning it’s guaranteed to have British Airways’ new first class, which I’ve been wanting to try. And since I’m continuing to Montreal and making a same day connection from international first class, I’ll have access to the Concorde Room. That flight is operated by a 777 with no first class cabin, and I’ll be in business class.

I’ll be crediting the miles for the British Airways segments to American which will help me cross 125,000 elite qualifying points with them, the threshold for the 2012 Elite Rewards. So while the timing may be inconvenient, I have a hard time saying no to this ticket since it was just ~$500.

This is just a few days after I’m set to move in so I’m really not in a position to spend much time over there, and as a result hope I can do the whole trip in about four days. If nothing else it’ll be a good chance to try some new airlines and view them for you guys.

I still have to figure out how I’ll get to Yangon. The goal is to be there for less than 24 hours so I don’t have to get a visa. I don’t see any good options for the outbound just yet, though will likely wait till within a few days of departure, and then snag a seat on one of the top 10 products I’ve been meaning to try. The most practical options seem to be Cathay Pacific as far as Bangkok using American miles, Korean Air all the way using miles in their program transferred from Ultimate Rewards, or a Star Alliance award all the way to Yangon on Thai Airways.

But here’s the 16 trillion dollar question (and I’m legitimately curious about the answer to this): can anyone explain why on earth ANA flies an aircraft configured in an all business class configured to Yangon? That seems like the last market in the world that would warrant an all business class product. Best I can tell Yangon doesn’t even have a three star hotel, let alone the demand for an all business class flight from Tokyo.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. It’s a shame you don’t plan on staying in Burma longer. It is an incredibly beautiful country, even Yangon has enough to keep you occupied for several days. There are some lovely hotels in the city, but the only one which will give you any points is Traders Hotel if you are part of Shangri La’s Golden Circle. I would recommend staying in either The Governor’s Residence which is run by Orient Express, or The Strand, a beautiful colonial hotel built by the same people who built Raffles in Singapore.

  2. A bit jealous as I have a Swiss issued ticket that is, for now, cancelled. From the FT thread it was suggested the business jet is to cater to the textile industry. Something about the US dropping a ban on goods of Burmese origin opening Myanmar up as a production hub. Not sure if this is correct but it seems the most plausible explanation.

  3. “Best I can tell Yangon doesn’t even have a three star hotel,”

    Well, I believe Shangri-la has a quite nice property there.

  4. @ Nick — I have two (or 10) of these booked, so I promise to spend more time there on a future trip once I’m settled in in Seattle.

  5. You guys are right, looks like I was a bit off on hotels. Actually look quite nice. I had searched a long time ago and should have probably looked more closely. :p

  6. I have a flight booked on the ANA BJ 737 too and was also curious about the configuration for this route.
    I know both countries have an investment treaty and long ties of trade especially during WWII.
    Looking forward to the trip reports

  7. “16 trillion dollar question”
    It’s flying to Yangon… so it’s more like a 40 dollar question 🙂

  8. “Within Asia, the airline will start three weekly flights between Tokyo Narita and the emerging destination of Yangon in Myanmar from October 15. The spokesperson said that ANA expects a high use of these flights by business travellers.

    “There will be many Japanese businesses who have demand to fly to Myanmar,” she said. “Many Japanese companies will move into the country.”

    The service will use an all-business class 737-700ER (38-seater), according industry website to The ANA spokesperson said that three weekly flights was the maximum number the airline is currently allowed to operate to Yangon, but that they expect this allowance to be increased and will likely launch more flights then.”

    Where’s my $16 trillion? 🙂

  9. Wish I hopped on this deal on some * partner other than Swiss. The number of MP miles you get is enough to fly there in Y. So basically 22K PQM for $600-800, I’ve done better, but not in paid int’l F.

  10. @Lucky – regarding BA, so if we connect at LHR from a BA F flight to a BA economy flight to Scotland, we can use the Concorde Room?

  11. Seriously, how many of these Yangon-Canada OWs have you booked? Just curious… 2 or 10 or more? 🙂

  12. are you using miles or paid ticket to get there from YUL-Yangoon? cuz the fare mistake is only for a one-way from Yangood-YUL, not hte other way around. curious how you’re swinging the one-way there, cuz BA fuel is too painful to bear with miles.

  13. Funny you should mention Burma and Yangon – I read a newspaper article about the real estate prices just a few minutes before going through my RSS feeds.

    I couldn’t find the article online, but I’ll quote a few of the interesting sections.

    “A small, wealthy elite in Myanmar/Burma battle for control of the country’s real estate market. The result is some of Asia’s highest real estate prices.

    Yangon, formerly the capital, is facing major changes. Because of the economic sanctions there has not been built any new offices or hotels for the last 20-25 years. The quality of the existing building mass is poor. In addition it’s expensive;
    Hotel rooms are usually two or three times as much as comparable properties in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. One-bedroom apartments are rented out to foreign businessmen for more than 3500 USD per month”.

    Burma is expecting a huge economic growth, mostly because of plans to create a huge industrial area with oil refinery, ports and shipyards with more, covering over 250 square kilometers.
    With rice, rubber and other agricultural products as export goods, the economic growth is expected to be around 6-7% next year. New laws are passed in order to make it easier for foreign companies to establish themselves in Burma, and they speculate that the economy will quadruple by 2030.

  14. @ Carl — Correct, that’s my understanding

    @ MarkC — Nope, didn’t book any on Swiss.

    @ Apurva — Only about a handful.

    @ Eric F-D — I’ll use miles for the outbound. Haven’t booked it yet as I haven’t decided how to get there yet.

  15. Myanmar is having a huge boom in real estate and other industries since Hilary Clinton’s visit last year, lots of sanctions by western governments have since been lifted. Japanese companies surely are investing heavily in this emerging market, which is likely why ANA made this route all business class.

  16. @Carl – yes you can and I’ve done so many times myself!

    Anyone arriving/departing same day in F can use the CR regardless of the class of travel on their other flight.

  17. FYI – Yangon has (at least) two 5-star hotels that I am aware of as I have been there a few years ago before it started opening up to tourists. The Strand which is under the LHW chain and The Governor’s Residence (where we have stayed) under the Orient-Express Chain. Both are nice hotels with a bit of history behind them.

  18. If you are spending any amount of time in Montreal let me know if u have time to meet up. currently live here..but from Seattle originally so might be able to give you a few pointers. Also doing a rgn trip in Dec so lookin forward to a trip report

  19. The all business class 737 is the CRJ-200 of Japan. When you fly 747s for 100 mile hops and have a very sophisticated and dedicated clientele, the best of regional jets from Canada or Brazil won’t suffice.

    The 737 also has the legs to do a route like NRT-FUK-BOM (although cannot do NRT-BOM). RGN isn’t as far, but what other 50 seater in ANA’s fleet or potential fleet could do that route?

    What about a J reward to RGN. I know the shock, but hear me out. TPA (or SEA) to PHL on US in domestic F, then PHL-FRA in US J and FRA-BKK on TG on their new A380 in their new J and then finally BKK-RGN.

    Or, fly from BKK-KUL on Ethiopian and then take a short Air Asia flight to RGN. You could alternatively do BKK-HKG if you want to stay in a few nice hotels before heading off to RGN for 24 hours.

    If you wanted to take the US envoy suite, you’re already using a J fare for part of the trip, why not save some mils and try two new J products?

  20. Can recommend both Governor’s Residence (small, intimate, residential neighborhood) and the Strand (more central, old world elegance). Japanese business has had a long relationship with the dictatorship – many of the existing hotels (especially in Bagan and Inle Lake) have been run by Japanese companies with Japanese managers imported to supervise the domestic staff.

  21. You can get a visa on arrival at Yangon, I echo Nick that it would be a shame to pass up the chance to explore Myanmar.

  22. I think there is a lot of money flowing into the country right now. Have you seen the prices they want for hotels? I’m leaving tomorrow for my first trip. Flying Qatar for the first time to get there. I was also surprised to find some of the places I wanted to stay in the country booked months in advance. I’ll be flying the business jet in Feb. and am very interested in a trip report.

  23. I didn’t even realize Americans could visit Burma. I thought they were about a half step above Iran and Cuba on our diplomatic sh** list.

  24. Very interested to hear how the VOA goes. Recent speculation is that it is a no-go if you aren’t a diplomat. Now maybe you ARE a diplomat….. but anyway, it will be go to hear a detailed report of this, as I’m sure many of us would like to do similarly.

  25. Japanese firms looking to move manufacturing operations into the next low-labor-cost place will fly their executives there and back. Next question?

  26. It’s quite fortuitous that the flights you booked didn’t contain any Swiss segments.

    FYI, The Traders Hotel is nice and centrally located but it not up really up to the level of an international 5 star hotel.

  27. @ seattleguy — I just might, haven’t booked flight out. Will let you know.

    @ JetsettingEric — That’s actually the goal, good thinking. Want to try two new business class products via Europe on Star.

    @ John — Issued by BA. They’re honoring it I suppose because things get sticky if they don’t. While this ticket doesn’t touch US soil, those that do have to be honored, so at that point I guess they’re just honoring all of them.

    @ hobo13 — Even for stays of less than 24 hours where you’re entering from another country? I thought I was “safe” in that case?

  28. You need to do some research about Mayanmar before you go. It looks like you haven’t done any…

    First, you need a visa just to get on your in bound flight. Myanmar has strict visa rules and it takes time to get a visa. It took me about a month. Expect to answer questions about your career (journalists, bloggers, photographers, media type are denied entry)

    Second. There are no ATM’s in the entire country and no one takes debit or credit. It is an entire Cash economy. You must enter the country with BRAND NEW $100 bills without any creases, tears, marks, etc… Once in country you exchange you money (black market or not) for Myanmar Kyat. The current rate is 800kyat to 1USD.

    I think it’s great that you’re “going” to Myanmar but you need to really do your research. Myanmar isn’t Thailand

    P.s. One of the best hotels in the world is in Myanmar. “The Strand” is right on the river in Yangoon and goes for about $1200 a night.

  29. @ Matt — Thanks. Unless I’m missing something don’t they offer transit visas for stays of less than 24 hours? Doesn’t seem like I’d need a visa in advance if I stay for less than 24 hours and am connecting from one country to another.

  30. Ben — You know I’m a good friend, but suggest doing your homework! The Round 1 RGN is HUGE for a reason. JanetDoe (or something like) keeps updating the visa situation, which sort of seems to change by the day.

    I’m a big skeptic of the value of many your competitor blogs — so how about you show us some real value here by reading that whole damn thread and summarizing what we need to know in a couple of blog posts? That would be incredible useful. Oh, and do it one better by actually VALIDATING all the information yourself in-country….. without ending up in a Myanmar jail, LOL!

  31. Bottom line — I would sure as heck not count on getting a transit visa. You better have a backup plan!

  32. There is no transit visa available as of now (at least not to the majority of nationalities). The VOA is a Business Visa and requires an invitation though the visa sgency can arrange that, it’s about 80$. Better to get a Visa in either HKG (150 HKD overnight), SIN (35 SGD 2 Business days) or BKK (same day possible but usually 3 days). As mentioned above, this changes daily…

  33. Sebasitan — say you have two trips to Burma, and there is 2 weeks in the USA from the day you get back from Trip 1 until you leave for Trip 2. Clearly you should get a proper visa for Trip 1. That’s easy.

    What about Trip 2? Use a visa on arrival service?

  34. Seattle extended great weather season ends this Friday, sorry. It was nice while it lasted but I will be glad to not have to water my lawn and shrubs anymore.

  35. Consider getting your visa at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok and then buying a one-way to Rangoon. The FT consensus is that one can expedite and get a same-day visa if one arrives early in the morning or pick one up the next day. Despite living in New York, I kind of screwed up and should have gotten mine weeks ago, as I probably leave the states next week, having assumed that the waiting period was overnight-ish, not at least 5ish days as stated in the FT thread. I’ll go to the Mission of Burma tomorrow morning but may need to spend a few days in Bangkok. KUL, HKG, and BER also have pretty quick Burma visa services, according to FT.

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