Introduction: A Non-Erotic Journey From Milan To Minsk (And Whitehorse)

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Welcome to my next trip report, which recaps a trip that was more destination focused than my usual review trips. I wasn’t just chasing a particular airline, but also a particular route. So in this post I’ll be reviewing a couple of Marriott-branded hotels, Air Italy business class, Condor business class, and Air North economy.

Planning the trip

Andrew and I usually go on a trip every year, and this year the option seemed obvious. The planning for this trip started with one very intriguing flight — Condor’s seasonal once weekly flight between Frankfurt and Whitehorse, located in Canada’s Yukon. We were both fascinated by this flight.

On one hand I get why the route exists (a lot of German tourists like to go to Yukon), though that doesn’t make it any less random-seeming. So we had booked that flight months in advance, and then the rest of the planning sort of just came together over time.

Booking flights

As is often the case for me, planning for this trip started backwards. At first we didn’t know where in Europe we wanted to go, but rather we just knew we wanted to fly Condor from Frankfurt to Whitehorse. Condor often has reasonable business class fares, so we booked the following flight for $940 per person, which also happened to be Condor’s last flight of the season to Whitehorse:

09/16 DE2426 Frankfurt to Whitehorse departing 4:00PM arriving 4:30PM [Business]

Condor is an Alaska Mileage Plan member, and Condor business class fares earn 200% elite qualifying miles and 300% redeemable miles (not including any elite bonuses), so I was earning a lot of miles for this flight.

We knew we wanted to spend a couple of nights in Whitehorse, though we also both had commitments that week, so next we decided to book our flights from Whitehorse to a bigger Canadian gateway before returning to the US.

No, we didn’t book Air Canada, even though they had business class award availability. Rather we booked Air North in economy. Air North is Yukon’s airline, and they run a fascinating little operation. We booked the following flight for $168 per person:

09/18 4N505 Whitehorse to Vancouver departing 7:30AM arriving 9:45AM [Economy]

Then it came time to fly the outbound. Andrew is always gracious in letting us fly products that are new to me (for review purposes), and we both spent several weeks trying to find a new transatlantic award option that was decent. Eventually we found award availability on Air Italy, which is what Meridiana has rebranded as, after Qatar Airways’ 49% investment.

The airline is a British Airways Executive Club partner, so we booked the following for 75,000 Avios plus $174 in taxes and carrier imposed surcharges per person (note that since then the surcharges on Air Italy have gone up for flights originating in the US):

09/12 IG902 New York to Milan departing 8:30PM arriving 10:35AM (+1 day) [Business]

As you can see, we had three days in Europe, and we had both been to Milan before, so wanted to go somewhere new. The question became where we hadn’t been but also where we could easily get to from Milan.

After spending many hours looking at options we decided on Minsk. Belavia, the national airline of Belarus, had a nonstop flight from Milan that was well timed, which we booked for $167 per person:

09/13 B2882 Milan to Minsk departing 12:50PM arriving 4:30PM [Economy]

Besides, who could resist a journey from Milan to Minsk? šŸ˜‰

The last segment we had to book was from Minsk to Frankfurt, and this ended up being the most complicated part of planning the itinerary. Belavia had a flight to Frankfurt, though it arrived less than two hours before our flight to Whitehorse would depart.

That just seemed too risky to me, because if we were late we’d miss our connection, and this isn’t just a once weekly flight, but this was the last flight of the season. So the convenience of a two hour connection was overshadowed by our concern over missing the connection.

So we decided to leave a buffer. I figured award availability would eventually open up on Lufthansa, so we waited… and waited… and waited.

It was only finally two days before departure that award seats opened, so we booked the following for 12,500 Avianca LifeMiles plus $62 in taxes and fees per person, leaving us with a night in Frankfurt:

09/15 LH1487 Minsk to Frankfurt departing 2:10PM arriving 3:35PM [Economy]

In the end, our routing looked as follows:

Booking hotels

For this trip we had:

  • Two nights in Minsk
  • One night in Frankfurt
  • Two nights in Whitehorse

I’m primarily a Marriott/Starwood and Hyatt loyalist, so in Minsk that narrowed down our options to the Marriott or Renaissance. I had heard from some that the Renaissance has a better location, so we booked that. The rate was about 100USD per night.

Then in Frankfurt I wanted to try something new, though over the years I’ve tried most of the major chain options. I hadn’t yet stayed at the Marriott, which didn’t look particularly nice to me, but I figured a one night stopover was ideal for testing it out. The paid rate was 160USD.

Lastly Whitehorse has fairly limited accommodations. The best hotel in town is the Best Western Gold Rush Inn, and that was sold out for our dates. So Andrew ended up booking us an Airbnb, which was awesome. This was only my second time ever staying at an Airbnb.

Bottom line

It’s not often you’ll visit Minsk and Whitehorse on the same trip, so I was quite pleased with how this turned out. Andrew is a great travel companion, and our friend Toby even joined us for a couple of days in Minsk, so it was a fun trip.

I’ll be skipping a few installments in this trip report:

Thanks so much for reading!

  1. Dont you think you are incredibly inefficient by booking one flight at a time, and paying one fare
    for every flight when one could get multiple sectors on one (often cheaper fare)?

  2. @alan. Might the ignorant, incorrect smack-talking belong somewhere else?

    @lucky. Iā€™m an Airbnb superhost and wouldnā€™t mind a review with links. Iā€™d just ask permission first.

  3. I feel like pictures of the house wshould be ok as every airbnb losting has tons of pics of the house on it.

  4. Few pics might be nice, but imo not worth a full review, let alone an independent post. Though at the end of the day it’s up to you Lucky šŸ˜‰

  5. Can’t see the issue with reviewing AirBNBs, since the photos and reviews are posted by the owner on AirBNB for commercial purposes. To be safe, you could always ask for your host’s consent.

  6. curious why you wouldn’t post pics of airbnb… free publicity that I’d love as a host, plus there’s already pics online by virtue of the listing. I say go for it!

  7. Technically you would be allowed to since you have to consent to stay their and should treat it a bit like a hotel and also aren’t there heaps if photos on the Airbnb website anyway advertising this property though I don’t know I have never really stayed in an Airbnb (I sort of did once)

  8. Welcome to the world of Airbnb! As Superhosts and photographers, we posted our own photos on our listing, and we’d be pleased to allow photography by guests.

    However, we would NOT like to have our address or the front of our residence shown on any website.

    When we first listed our home, we had an unwanted visitor who identified us because of the photo of the house we posted. That photo was immediately removed.

    Moral of the story: ask for permission, which most hosts will happily grant.

  9. Andrew made a great post with lots of funny punch lines on the massage episode (did it move?).
    Now that Rochelle, Rochelle has been brought up (does not seems like LuckyĀ“s humour), I expect another funny post by Andrew with Seinfeld references.

  10. I mentioned Rochelle Rochelle in a comment on an earlier post about this trip and got no responses. Glad that someone noticed the humor in the Milan-Minsk portion of this trip.

  11. Ask for Airbnb hostā€™s permission, then write a review. Many of us stay in Airbnbā€™s all the time, so it would be interesting to get your take.

  12. Please make a post about your Airbnb stay! I frequently use the site, and I love the search for the optimal location/amenities/price when I am traveling. I am curious to know how an Airbnb in the Yukon Territory compares to elsewhere in the world, so please let us know

  13. I feel sorry for anyone in this world who doesn’t immediately recognize any and every Seinfeld reference.

  14. On a personal note, I would be interested in the Airbnb review. It helps me decide on places to stay sane as a hotel. I think as long as you maintain the privacy of the homeā€™s location, it would be fine. The hosts already promote their places with pictures of the interior online

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