The Most Rewarding Travel Leads Home…

This was supposed to be a really exciting week for travel. In late May I wrote about the trip I had planned to the Middle East for this coming week:

  • Jet Airways business class from Toronto to Brussels and Qatar Airways business class from Brussels to Doha using 67,500 AAdvantage miles
  • Qatar Airways inaugural A380 flight from Doha to London
  • TAP business class from London to Lisbon to Miami

Then a week later Qatar Airways announced there would be a delay in their inaugural A380 service to London Heathrow, due to their desire to “fine tune” their interiors. As of yet the new inaugural date still hasn’t been set, unfortunately.

Are delays due to fine tuning of their first class product?

While I was excited about the other elements of the trip beyond the A380, I figured I’d put off the entire journey until I actually had the chance to take the trip in full.

I then looked at other options, and decided it was finally time to review Japan Airlines’ new first class product. My intent was to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita, and then Tokyo Narita to Jakarta, which is a route I’ve really been meaning to fly. That’s because:

  • I’ve never visited Jakarta
  • Tokyo Narita to Jakarta is the only intra-Asia route on which Japan Airlines offers a first class product, and it’s a flight that’s further than New York to London, so is a great way to maximize an award ticket between the US and Asia

Japan Airlines’ new 777-300ER first class

So I had that booked for Sunday, and was getting ready to take the flight.

I should add that it’s my mom’s birthday on Tuesday, and all along my intent was to visit her for a week after I returned from the above trip. She can’t take off more than a day around her birthday, so we could have spent more time together if I visited next week anyway. While it won’t compete with the trip to Bali we took for her “round” birthday last year, at least I’d be able to spend time with her.

Switching gears, slightly, people often ask where I get the nickname “Lucky” from. There’s not actually a good reason.

Lucky was my dog’s name, and growing up he was basically my best friend (I’m in no denial about being an introvert!). So when I decided to pick an online “username,” I figured Lucky worked, and for whatever reason it stuck.

Well, unfortunately Lucky passed away this past weekend, which is devastating.

I’m simultaneously probably the most and least emotional person out there, and when it comes to things like this I have a brief moment where I’m ridiculously emotional, and then I quickly come to my senses and realize that there’s nothing that can be done. But I do try to be sensitive to the fact that others (particularly my mom) don’t get “over it” as quickly when it comes to losses like this.

Beyond that, Lucky was incredibly fortunate and aptly-named. He almost died when he was a year old due to an allergy, then had a near-miss due to health issues a few years ago as well. For the last few years he has been blind, deaf, and diabetic, but despite that was as happy as he ever was and had an amazing appreciation for life.

Lucky enjoying the #spglife at the St. Regis Bal Harbour this past Christmas

Lucky was also my mom’s best friend, so it’s especially tough on her. She always said that Lucky reminded her of her dad, and oddly enough Lucky passed away the same day of the year that her dad did, which makes her even sadder.

Anyway, my point isn’t to sadness-shame all of you or anything like that, but rather to explain that I won’t be able to review either of those experiences this week, though I do hope to do so in early July.

What I decided to do instead is to surprise my mom.

She thinks I’m enroute to Jakarta (I told her I couldn’t refund the trip), though I’m actually in Tampa, and will go to see her shortly (she doesn’t know I’m here yet). And I’ve also planned a getaway for her birthday for one night, which she doesn’t know about (and more than deserves).

Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — in the grand scheme of things miles and points don’t matter, and premium cabin products don’t matter. What matters is family, making the most of life, and telling the ones you love that you love them. I swapped an international first class suite this afternoon for a seat in economy, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Ben, well done! I have two pups, and I love them nearly as much as I love any human on the planet, including my son! Go see your mom, let her know how special she is, and be thankful for all the joy Lucky brought to your lives. All the best

  2. Perhaps one of your best posts ever. I love my mom, I love dogs and I love flying and I would have done exactly what you did today.

  3. Sorry about the passing of your dog, Lucky. Great choice to spend time with your family at this time.

  4. Sorry to hear about four legged Lucky. This is a far better use of miles than another review of another first class product. I hope that after your mom has some time to deal with the loss, that she has some lucky puppy in her future.

  5. My condolences. Lucky sounds like a wonderful friend and companion, so understand your loss. I hope there will be a new puppy in your mom’s life soon.

  6. So sorry to hear about Lucky. Best to you and your family, can’t even imagine how I’ll handle it when my 12 year old Yorkie gets there. Best, Gary

  7. I am sure most of us, your loyal readers, share their lives with most beloved pets. My fat, old cat Adolf died while I was on a business trip to Jeddah last month. I am on the road due to work much of the year. And my home base is far from those I love. But there was always Adolf. For 16 years there was Adolf. Always there to greet me at the door upon my return. Always there to purr into my ear as he laid on my chest. But no more…

    Ben, if you have time, I would personally like to see more photos of Lucky.

  8. Sympathies…. Maybe you and your Mom will recall your favorite Lucky stories over the next few days to properly eulogize the precious companion. Nice you’ll be together as a family.

  9. sorry to hear, mate. our pets are truly family. sweet gesture for your mom and such a well-written post. happy travels.

  10. The thrill you’ll get from seeing the surprised joy on your mom’s face will beat the thrill from flying any cabin on any flight.

  11. My condolences… Sorry to hear about your loss and hopefully your mom and you can spend some quality times together!

    There are plenty of opportunities to review Japan Airlines First Class.

    Take care!

  12. Very very sorry for your loss, Lucky. Your mom will be very happy to see you — though after your Royal Jordanian flight, I thought you always send an email or text with a photo of your boarding pass to your parents before each flight? Wouldn’t your mom suspect something if you didn’t send her the LAX-NRT-CGK boarding pass? (BTW, I will be flying JFK-NRT-CGK in late June!)

  13. @ Joey — Thanks. I usually send the e-ticket and will sometimes text her pictures of the seat/plane, but in this case just sent her the e-ticket. 🙂

  14. I’m so sorry to you and your mom for your loss. Our fur-babies get in our hearts and stay there forever. It’s so hard to lose one. It’s awesome that you get to spend some time with your mom. Well done on being an awesome son 😉

  15. That was a kind decision. I’m so sorry about the loss of your furry friend. It can be devastating, and there’s nothing wrong with being emotional about it for as long as you need to- and sometimes the sadness over loss (whether it’s canine or human) comes and goes. Hugs to you and your mom.

  16. Ben,
    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I lost my 16 yo old dog earlier this year and it has been very hard for our family. The house just feels empty without him.

  17. I’ll agree with Rob. This might be your best post ever, and could not agree with you more, on every single point. GREAT on you, Ben for having your priorities and heart where they matter most.

  18. Good for you, Lucky. I did something similar for Mother’s Day. First time in my life I ever bought a walk up fare, but it was worth it. Plus I got to see my own four legged buddy, who ironically is also named Lucky.

  19. My Condolences to you and your Mom Lucky. This is the best post you have ever written and a nice change of pace from your usual trip reports. Great Job!

  20. So sorry to hear about your loss. We just lost our beloved cat, Oscar, last Wednesday. He was 18, pretty much with me my entire adulthood, and was my rock as people came and people went. Oscar shares my history and has met everyone important in my life, past and present. The house is so lonely without him, and it will be difficult to get used to that way. Hugs for your mom, too, and my deepest sympathies.

  21. A little disappointed but I do realize these things are out of your control. I’m fortunate enough to never have lost a close animal or person in my life, though losing my school principal as a kid was devastating enough. Go to your mother, rest well and recover from this trauma, and remember that Lucky (the dog) is resting in heaven and is perfectly safe.

    But you switched from a suite to a Y seat…on what route?

  22. I just wanted to say that I’m really sorry for your loss but so glad that Lucky had an awesome life with a family that really cared about him. And, you’re a terrific son. Your Mom will be so happy to see you. That’s what matters. Miles and points are fun but spending time with family is priceless. I’d give anything to have a chance to spend time with my parents again. You made a really great choice here.

  23. The words below put warm smiles of remembrance on our faces–when we lost one of our special Furson family members. These words are now shared–for Lucky, your Mom and you:

    The Rainbows Bridge Poem

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

  24. @ Lucky — so sorry to hear about the passing of original Lucky! 🙁 On the photo he looks very similar to my dog with whom I grew up, a black poodle named Charlie. He also had a long life but his death was very hard on my parents and me… Anyhow, glad you are coming home and I’m sure your mom will be very, very happy!

  25. Just let you know Lucky that your writing touches our heart. Best regards, and thank you for sharing a personal part of your life!

  26. I’m sorry to hear that Ben. I think you should try Garuda Indonesia First class product from Narita-Jakarta-Narita. They have a really good F product and also the services.

  27. Luky, it is because of your posts, I have decided to take my parents to a trip to Europe next year. Thanks you.

  28. Well done!

    Also feel very sorry for your loss, my condolences.

    But but a curiosity… How doesn’t she know you’re in Tampa? Doesn’t she follow your blog (or instragram)?

  29. @ Lucas — By the time I posted this I just arrived in Tampa. And no, she doesn’t follow Instagram, that’s too high tech for her. 🙂

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