The Long Way From Abu Dhabi To Doha: Introduction

Gulf Air Falcon Gold Lounge London Heathrow
Gulf Air Business Class A330 London To Bahrain
Westin Bahrain City Centre
Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Etihad Airways First Class Apartment A380 Abu Dhabi To London
Andaz London Liverpool Street Hotel
Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel Copenhagen
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen
Sheraton London Heathrow Hotel
Cathay Pacific Lounge London Heathrow Airport
American Airlines First Class 777-300ER London To New York
Sheraton New York JFK Airport
American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK Airport
American Airlines First Class A321 New York To Los Angeles
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
American Airlines Admirals Club Honolulu Airport
American Airlines First Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To London
Sheraton Skyline Hotel London Heathrow
Etihad Airways Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Etihad Airways First Class 777-300ER London To Abu Dhabi
Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa
Cairo Airport Ahlan VIP Service
Qatar Airways First Class 777-300ER Cairo To Doha
The Airport Hotel Doha Hamad International Airport
Qatar Airways A350 Inaugural Flight Gate Party
Qatar Airways Business Class A350 Doha To Frankfurt
Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport
US Airways Business Class A330 Frankfurt To Philadelphia

I’ve lived in hotels full time for close to a year now. When I started this experiment the plan was to always spend a couple of weeks in one place before moving onto the next. Unfortunately that’s not how it has worked out in practice. Instead I’ve been horrible at planning, thanks largely to the fact that I’ve had commitments all over the place which have prevented me from spending extended periods of time outside the US.

Not only have I not spent extended periods of time in one place, but I’ve also planned super last minute. Like, I’ve literally checked out of hotels without anything else booked, and then sat in the lobby connected to wifi until I figured out where I was going next. Not so glam, sometimes!

As I start to write this trip report, I have no clue how to even begin to tackle this, given that it basically covers a month of my life which was full of nonstop travel.

When I started planning this “trip,” there were three things I was centering it around:

Qatar Airways A350 delivery ceremony

I booked paid tickets on both of those flights by strategically positioning in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Cairo, Egypt. And then from there I had to figure out how to structure the rest of my trip.

After I got those flights confirmed, I left the trip alone for a while, figuring I’d eventually decide how to position myself. Then a couple of other things came up:

Copenhagen, Denmark over New Years

And everything else was just kind of “filling in” the gaps as much as possible.

In the end, my itinerary looked as follows:


And here are the flight details and cost of each itinerary:

12/22 BA379 Toulouse to London departing 7:10PM arriving 8:05PM [Business]
12/22 GF2 London to Bahrain departing 9:30AM arriving 7:00PM [Business]

Cost: 30,000 American AAdvantage miles

Gulf Air business class A330

12/25 EY376 Bahrain to Abu Dhabi departing 6:05PM arriving 8:15PM [Business]
12/25 EY266 Abu Dhabi to Colombo departing 9:35PM arriving 3:35AM (+1 day) [Business]

Cost: 30,000 American AAdvantage miles

Etihad Airways business class A320

12/26 EY267 Colombo to Abu Dhabi departing 4:35AM arriving 7:55AM [Business]
12/27 EY11 Abu Dhabi to London departing 2:35AM arriving 6:35AM [First]

Cost: ~$2,500 paid ticket

Etihad Airways first class A380

12/27 AA57 London to Miami departing 9:45AM arriving 2:40PM [First]
12/27 AA56 Miami to London departing 7:10PM arriving 8:40AM (+1 day) [First]

Cost: ~$1,500 paid ticket

American 777-300ER London Heathrow

12/29 BA822 London to Copenhagen departing 6:30PM arriving 9:25PM [Business]
01/02 BA819 Copenhagen to London departing 6:05PM arriving 7:15PM [Business]

Cost: 18,000 British Airways Avios

British Airways business class A320

01/03 AA107 London to New York departing 5:05PM arriving 8:20PM [First]
01/04 AA255 New York to Los Angeles departing 10:00AM arriving 1:20PM [First]
01/04 AA297 Los Angeles to Honolulu departing 4:25PM arriving 8:25PM [First]
01/07 AA162 Honolulu to Los Angeles departing 1:38PM arriving 9:03PM [First]
01/08 AA136 Los Angeles to London departing 6:40PM arriving 1:15PM (+1 day) [First]

Cost: ~$1,500 paid ticket

American first class 777-300ER

01/12 EY20 London to Abu Dhabi departing 2:05PM arriving 12:55AM [First]
01/14 EY651 Abu Dhabi to Cairo departing 12:50AM arriving 3:05AM [Business]

Cost: 40,000 American AAdvantage miles

Etihad Airways first class 777-300ER

01/14 QR1302 Cairo to Doha departing 6:40PM arriving 10:40PM [Business]
01/15 QR67 Doha to Frankfurt departing 7:40AM arriving 12:30PM [Business]

Cost: ~$700 paid ticket

Qatar Airways business class A350

01/16 US701 Frankfurt to Philadelphia departing 1:00PM arriving 4:05PM [Business]
01/16 US1883 Philadelphia to Tampa departing 6:05PM arriving 8:58PM [Business]

Cost: 50,000 American AAdvantage miles

US Airways business class A330

As you can see based on the index above, I won’t be covering every single hotel and every single flight. Instead I’ll focus on the ones that I think are most relevant and interesting, since that’s still 25+ installments.

For the hotel reviews, I’ll be explaining why I chose each individual hotel along with the cost in the individual post.

Bottom line

All things considered, this was one of the most exhausting but fun journeys I’ve ever taken. Though suffice to say by MLK weekend I was ready to hibernate for weeks on end.

As always, any questions/comments are welcome! Thanks for reading, and thanks for your patience! I should be rolling out these installments pretty quickly now.

  1. “12/27 AA57 London to Miami departing 9:45AM arriving 2:40PM [First]
    12/27 AA56 Miami to London departing 7:10PM arriving 8:40AM (+1 day) [First]

    Cost: ~$1,500 paid ticket”

    Why did you do this? Just because it was “cheap”?

  2. @ Bruno — Because the miles I earned from taking it were more than the cost of the ticket, and it got me an extra couple of year end systemwide upgrades to use in 2015. 🙂

  3. @ Carlos — You mean Toulouse? I had booked Singapore Airlines from JFK to FRA, and then Lufthansa from FRA to TLS.

  4. Thanks for sharing the cost so clearly. Thats a lot of flying and a lot of points/cash, even if it all might have been a good deal in some way.

  5. Thanks for including the costs, but I hope you know there are a lot of loyal readers who know (because you shared every misstep in real time) who will remember that you didn’t actually take all those flights.

  6. This itinerary looks incredible, I’m looking forward to the trip report.

    Btw, did you fly on the ‘new’ club Europe seats with the reduced pitch?

  7. 12/29 BA822 London to Copenhagen departing 6:30PM arriving 9:25PM [Business]
    01/02 BA819 Copenhagen to London departing 6:05PM arriving 7:15PM [Business]
    Cost: 18,000 British Airways Avios

    I know you often take a lot of crap for only flying biz+first, but wasn’t this just “intra-europe” style biz class (middle seat blocked)? Do you really think it’s worth paying double the miles on a < 2 hour flight?

    Looking forward to the detailed reports 🙂

  8. @ Kurt — Personally I do, yes. I value Avios at maybe ~1.2 cents each, so that’s like ~$50 each way for an upgrade. For me that’s worth it for an empty middle seat, better service, food, drinks, etc. But I realize everyone values miles differently.

  9. hey Lucky. I was curious when did you book the first class ticket from MIA-LON? That seems a great price. Was their a special?

  10. Hi lucky,

    I was wondering if the prices are right? 1500 dollars london to miami return? How do you get these fares? Thanks


  11. Lucky, can you include other fees like the departing London fee next to the mileage cost? It helps to see the total cost of the segments you’re taking. (And there are TONS of them here)

  12. @ Ken — I wasn’t originating in the UK so there was no UK APD. In all cases taxes were under $100 per ticket.

  13. I am super pumped to read this! I’m hoping you got a couple of photos of the new Etihad business class when you flew in the First Apartment. Would love to see how they turned out

  14. Ok, I’m confused. It looks like about half your flights are departing London on different paid tickets. Why don’t those trigger the departure fee?

  15. 12/26 EY267 Colombo to Abu Dhabi departing 4:35AM arriving 7:55AM [Business]
    12/27 EY11 Abu Dhabi to London departing 2:35AM arriving 6:35AM [First]
    Cost: ~$2,500 paid ticket

    How did you get it so cheap?

  16. @ Ken — The intra-Europe awards are Reward Flight Savers, so the UK APD isn’t charged. The paid tickets already have the APD factored in.

  17. I can’t wait for your report about Cairo Airport VIP Service, since I reserved their services to transfer from an incoming international flight to a domestic flight last July. They never showed up to meet me! Glad I didn’t prepay.

  18. “Not so glam, sometimes!” When I read that I thought, uh yeah, it is glamorous. Then I read the list/dates of the flights. I don’t think I could have done the LHR>MIA turn MIA>LHR…doesn’t sound glam. Thanks for the miles/prices info and thanks for taking all of us along for the ride.

  19. I hope you continue on with your travel-based life and can tweak it so that it approaches your desired ideal. You are a fantastic writer and your posts are not only informative they’re inspiring! I enjoy your daily entries but also find that when I search for travel-related information you almost always have some older entry that has just what I’m looking for and it provides more detail than any others. I also appreciate that you are honest about the things that don’t work out so well.

  20. Lucky, I enjoy your trip reports as much as anyone. What I would love to see is a little more diversity. I feel like you have covered every possible Emirates, Qatar, Dubai/ME3 related airline/route there is, as well as Cathay Pacific to death. Would love to see some more stuff to South America, maybe Africa, Oceana, etc. I know you’ve done them, but they are just more rare. Thanks!

  21. Hi Lucky,
    Really enjoy your trip reports. Do you use any particular search engine to find these discounted/promotional fares?
    Thanks for the advice.

  22. Lucky, can you show the process you use to find the best price for your flights because the cost/miles used are surprisingly low.

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