Update On My Dad’s Big Birthday Trip: A380s Around The World!

In December I wrote about my dad’s upcoming “round” birthday. It’s actually next November which seems far out, though November can be a tough time to find award space to warm climates, so I figured I’d get a head start in planning the trip.

Last year I took two amazing trips with my parents — I took my mom to Bali for her “round” birthday, and my dad to Europe a couple of months before his birthday. I had a blast on both trips, and can’t wait to spend similar quality time with my parents this year.

Anyway, I asked you guys for feedback on planning the trip, so figured I’d provide an update of what I have planned, given the amazing advice you guys shared.

It’s going to be a surprise trip for my dad

While my mom probably wouldn’t like a trip that’s a total surprise (since for her anticipation of the journey and destination is part of the fun), I asked my dad how he’d feel about a surprise trip. He loved the idea. He has insisted that I tell him just the dates we’re going and nothing else. Heck, he even asked that when we reach our first destination he not know where we’re going next. It’s ridiculously adorable how excited he is about a surprise trip. He told me he’d like to literally show up at the airport and only know the next destination once the boarding passes are issued.

I’m really excited about this as well, as I’ve never been able to plan a total surprise trip for someone. And that’s why I want to go all out, so his expectations are exceeded every step of the way.

A380 first class around the world!

There are people that couldn’t care less how they get to a destination, while others enjoy the journey as well. As some of you may recall, my dad had his first A380 flight in Lufthansa first class back in September, and he was indescribably elated. He enjoyed it so much that he didn’t want to sleep or watch a movie, because he just “vanted to enjoy za ambiance.”

So I figured I’d blow his mind and book an around the world A380 extravaganza, stopping in four awesome cities he has never been to. After this trip he won’t have any trouble sleeping on A380s, as he’ll have more time to “enjoy za ambiance” than he knows what to do with! We’ll be flying the following:


I’m still trying to figure out how to get him from Tampa to Los Angeles and New York to Tampa, though I’m not really in a rush to do that.

The per person cost breakdown is as follows:

  • 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for Los Angeles to Dubai to Singapore (with a stopover)
  • 63,750 Singapore KrisFlyer miles for Singapore to Melbourne
  • 9,000 British Airways Avios for Melbourne to Sydney
  • 72,500 American AAdvantage miles for Sydney to Los Angeles to New York

On the whole I’d say that’s a pretty good value, and I’m thrilled to have grabbed the segments I did. Qantas A380 first class can be nearly impossible to get on miles to/from Los Angeles, so it really required planning as soon as the schedule opened.

Emirates A380 First Class

Singapore A380 Suites Class

Qantas A380 First Class

Park Hyatt suites around the world!

I have to say Hyatt’s new Points + Cash program couldn’t have been introduced at a better time, as it proved invaluable for this trip. I wanted to be sure I went “all out” for this trip, so wanted to get as many suites as possible. As luck would have it I had two Hyatt Diamond confirmed suite upgrades expiring this February, which I wouldn’t otherwise have a use for. But they can be applied to future reservations, and since Points + Cash bookings are eligible for suite upgrades, I really couldn’t be luckier.


So in terms of hotels I’ve booked the following:

Bottom line

I’m very excited about this trip, and can’t wait to see my dad’s reaction. Usually when traveling I don’t really plan activities on the ground in advance, though since it’s such a special trip I’ll spend the next 10 months planning as much of the trip as possible. Thanks to everyone that shared advice, I really appreciate it!

Oh, and after the positive feedback my dad got on his last trip report (you know, the one he faxed me that I had to type out), he won’t just be sharing his overall impressions of this trip, but will be writing a segment-by-segment report. So put on your reading glasses and German accents — you’ll need it!

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Has he been to Sydney before…view from the Harbour bridge top would be a great adventure.

    Sydney QF F Lounge – fabulous…give him plenty time there

    Park Hyatt – Great Views – The VIP Hotel of Sydney

    Melbourne – Great Food Culture


  2. haha I am looking forward tot his trip report and your comments along the way !!

    you father is ”Lucky” to have you as his son šŸ™‚

  3. @ Travel Summary @ choi — I had a pretty wide range of dates we would be able to travel, and booked right when the schedule opened.

  4. @ choi — I don’t know that I’ve ever seen three seats available at once. You might have a chance with booking two, and hoping a third is released closer to departure.

  5. Didn’t you bring up the idea of more video content for the blog? Surely, your dad’s trip report would be even better with the genuine accent.

  6. Sounds like an amazing trip, Ben! I’m sure you and your dad will have a blast! I can relate to your dad about “enjoying the ambiance”. During our last few F flights, I just left the moving map on the whole flight and enjoyed the amazing “ambiance” and service. šŸ™‚

  7. two things came to mind

    I know you are not big on domestic stuff but as a comparison to AA’s A321 transcon you are planning, why not also do the new JetBlue Mint product with your dad?

    That would come in hand in hand with your comment in the previous post about T4 being nice, maybe check out T5 šŸ˜‰

  8. Re my last comment re Sydney / Melbourne. Try Neil Perry’s Restaurants in both Cities…@NeilPerry #RockPool

  9. Any chance your dad is turning 70 on 11/30? That would be really weird (because mine is)!! Haha. As for the trip – sounds great. I actually prefer the QF F (A380) seat to the SQ suites, but hey, who’s complaining about a double bed?! I’m sure he’ll LOVE the EK showers though!!!!

  10. Ben,

    When you booked Sydney to LAX and then on to NYC — did you book it all at once or did you add on the LAX-JFK portion after booking? The reason I ask is when I called Executive Platinum Customer Service they said they were not allowing to add on any additional trips, even though I’m flying the A380 Mel-Lax and wanted to add JFK.

    Was she ill-informed?

  11. @ Mike — Hah, given that LAX-JFK is included in the award from Australia to the US I’d have a hard time justifying paying for that when I could get what’s probably a superior product included. I do hope to try the new JetBlue product sometime soon, though.

  12. @ Michael — I first booked SYD-LAX and then later added LAX-JFK. Sounds to me like the agent was misinformed.

  13. 100k for LAX-DXB-SIN is a great deal (although I do not care for the bling of the EK suites)! I think I need to spend some time boning up on possible uses of AS miles.

  14. Ben, this is awesome!! What a cool idea. Thanks for sharing it with us! I love your parents trip reports too. Cheers!

  15. I don’t think going to Rockpool in both Sydney and Melbourne would be the most effective use of your time imho. Don’t get me wrong they’re both great and each with its own character but if I’m in your situation I’d go to Rockpool Sydney and Vue de Monde when in Melbourne.

    If you’re interested the local frequent flyer community can organise a casual meet up somewhere nice too.

  16. What “steams my noodle” is that AA lets you get QF F for 72,500, while QR wants to charge me 300,000 for the same.

  17. @lucky – makes sense if lax-jfk is already included in the american reward.
    could use jetblue going through jfk on his way from tampa to LA šŸ˜‰

    looking forward to experiencing mint myself also.

  18. Great trip!

    I also have some Hyatt suite upgrade expiring in February – to what extent can I now make a cash+points booking and change it later? (i.e. change date OR hotel?) Thanks in advance.

  19. @ flo — If you change the date or hotel then the suite upgrade won’t stick if it’s after February 28. Up until February 28 you can switch it around, but once the suite upgrade is supposed to expire you can’t change dates anymore.

  20. A restaurant I really like in Melbourne is Charcoal Lane on Gertrude st in Fitzroy. They are really creative with native ingredients (Kangaroo, Wallaby, barramundi etc. for meet and fish and a lot of native fruit and vegetables). it’s also a restaurant with a purpose, teaching disadvantaged young people to chef and front of house skills.

    There’s a great cocktail bar a few doors down, The Everleigh, where saying ‘surprise me’ is well worth while.

    You and your dad must have at least one pie whilst you are in Australia, I will defer to more seasoned residents as to where the best one can be had although I did have an award winning peppered roo pie that was fantastic at Portsea just south of Melbourne.

  21. It appears according to the filed QF F fare forSYD-TPA that SYD-LAX-JFK-TPA is a valid routing. As long as you do not plan a stopover in NYC you should legally be able to add the JFK-TPA leg to the record.

  22. @ Mike — Indeed, though unfortunately there’s not any award space JFK-TPA as of now. Hopefully that changes.

  23. Sounds like a great trip! Are you going to split time evenly between each destination or mostly concentrate on Australia and do just 1-2 nights in Dubai & Singapore?

  24. You have inspired me, I think I’m going to plan a similar (albeit different route) trip with MY dad..IAD to EZE to Patagonia, to CPT to SYDNEY To HKG back to SFO (he can figure out how to get home!)

  25. Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge with your dad! It’s not cheap (nothing in Australia is) but it is an amazing experience and since you are staying at the Park Hyatt, it is just around the corner! We had a gentleman celebrating his 70th birthday on our climb a couple weeks ago and he loved it!

    The concierge at the PH recommended Fish at the Rocks one night for dinner and it was fantastic. Make sure you have a reservation for dinner in Australia – it can be difficult to get in most places without one!

  26. OMG that sounds so awesome! cannot wait to hear your father’s reaction to each stop! (i love his attitude and wish someone would do the same for me some day)

  27. Terrific itinerary! Happy Birthday to your dad and have an amazing time.

    Could you shed some light on how you found 2 seats on SYD-LAX on QR F? Do you know when the schedule opens up for BA/QF/CX flyers? Any particular time of day?

    I have been checking EF 350 days out for the last few days and haven’t seen any seats on QR F open :(. Planning a trip down under next year so any advice would be appreciated.


  28. That’s the thought I had in mind prior to reading your post =). Thanks for sharing! As of now, BA shows no seats available on Jan 18th (355 days from now) from SYD/MEL – LAX. When would you expect Jan 19th to be available on BA?

    FWIW, I have been checking 355 days out for the past 2-3 days with no luck :/.

  29. Wait, are the miles posted for BOTH tickets? I’m in shock! I just started reading this blog and I absolutely love it. I recently purchased a U.S. Airways r/t from BOS to CDG economy class for 60,000 miles and I thought it was a steal.

    I am VERY inclined to sign up for the consulting service, especially when it’s time for a big trip with my sig. other!

  30. Damn it, you could’ve gone for Ritz-Carlton Singapore on Virtuoso! (costs about USD$773/suite if you’re booking via website)

  31. take him to CafĆ© Sydney (if you can get in – I’m sure you will). In my opinion it has THE best view of Sydney and the food is sensational. Ask for an outside table if the weather permits!

    PS. Thats one awesome surprise for your dad! I’m sure he is extremely proud of you..

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