Greetings from San Francisco, specifically from Philz’s Coffee Shop where I am currently enjoying the best Mint Mojito Iced Coffee I have ever had!
I just arrived in San Francisco last night after a relaxing weekend at the Andaz West Hollywood in LA. In a few hours, I will be heading to the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport to start the Domestic Leg of the Star Mega DO 4!
There are going to be some HUGE surprises that you do not want to miss out on.
My India Award Ticket
As I said last week, after hours of searching I finally booked an Award Ticket to India.
Not to toot my own horn, but given the complete lack of any availability to Asia in December, I am fairly happy with what I managed to snag!
Similar to when I went to France a few months ago, when I saw that there wasn’t any direct availability on United from Chicago to Bombay, I used the Segment By Segment trick to piece together an itinerary.
This tactic is also extremely useful if you are trying to fly specific Routes, Airlines, or Planes.
In my case, to get to Bombay, when searching on United.com you typically get routed through Chicago -> Newark -> Bombay or Chicago -> Frankfurt -> Bombay.
When I went to India last year, I did both of those routes in Business Class. Although they were enjoyable, half the fun going to India is the flights, so I wanted to try some new Products and Routes this time.
My new obsession is the 747-8. For those of you not familiar with the Plane, it is basically a newer 747 with an extended hump. The neat thing is that for Lufthansa’s 747-8, they have finally upgraded their “Dentist Chair” Business Class product (which they still have in the A380s), with real Lie-Flat Business Class seats!
The Lufthansa 747-8 flies from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Frankfurt, so I was seeing if I could go via Chicago -> Washington -> Frankfurt -> Bombay, but unfortunately nothing was available.
After the 747-8, the next plane I wanted to fly is United’s new 787 Dreamliner. One of the routes United’s Dreamliner operates on is Chicago to Houston, so I did a quick search on United.com and to my utmost surprise there was Business Class Saver Availability!
Then for an even bigger surprise, from Houston to Frankfurt there was Lufthansa A380 Business Class Saver Availability! I flew Lufthansa’s A380 in Economy last year on the SMD3 and it was awesome, so I can only imagine flying it in Business Class.
All in all, my leg going to India looks like this:
For the return I currently have it booked in Business Class as Bombay -> Newark -> Chicago. Although I have flown this route before and I like it because the Bombay to Newark leg is 16 hours non-stop, I am going to try and see if I can come back via Asia on either Thai, Asiana, or ANA.
Free One Way
Thanks to MileValue, I know to always add on a Free One Way to any International United Award Tickets. At first I didn’t know what to add on for this trip, but then I remembered that Frequent Traveler University is happening in Washington D.C on April 26 – 28, 2013. So I went ahead and booked a Free One Way for that.
If you notice on the IAD – FRA leg, there is a long 4 hour layover in Frankfurt. Normally I hate layovers but in this case I went out of my way to add in a layover with the intent of dropping in Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal.
Basically I am a One Mile At A Time groupie and live vicariously through his Trip Reports. Since Frankfurt is Lufthansa’s Hub, for First Class Passengers, Lufthansa has built an entire Terminal for them. Lucky has done countless Trip Reports from the First Class Terminal and basically it looks amazing! They will even drive you in a private car to your Airplane!
To fly First Class, it is only an additional 20,000 United Miles each way. Unfortunately because the limited amount of First Class Seats on a Plane, Lufthansa only releases First Class Seats a few days before Departure when they know they won’t be able to sell them.
So my plan hopefully is to fly Lufthansa First Class to India, once they release First Class Award Space. A380 First Class from IAH – FRA I know is a long shot, but the 747 First Class from FRA – BOM I am guessing should be fine.
If for some reason Lufthansa doesn’t release First Class Award Space, then I will “suck it up” and fly Business Class to India and try to do First Class on the Return.
For this entire Chicago -> Houston -> Frankfurt -> Bombay -> Newark -> Chicago -> Washington D.C trip in Business Class only cost me 120,000 United Miles and $103 in taxes!
To purchase this ticket out of pocket would have cost around $9,000!
If the fact that I am getting a $9,000 ticket for basically free is not amazing enough, as part of my trip I will also get to fly in Business Class on both the brand new 787 Dreamliner and equally awesome A380!
While 120,000 Miles sounds like a staggering amount of miles, anyone who does some Long Range Planning can easily achieve a “dream” ticket like this.
Not only am I flying Business Class to India, but both my Parents are also flying Business Class to India on Award Tickets.
We “earned” enough United Miles for 3 Business Class Tickets by each signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 Point offer (now 40,000 Points) as well as the United MileagePlus Explorer 50,000 Mile offer (now 25,000 Miles). We also each had around 20,000 United Miles laying around from actually flying on United.
Even if you could care less about flying Business Class and would be happy in Economy, I did a quick search on Kayak.com for the dates we are going to India and the cheapest Economy Ticket I could find was on American Airlines for $2,000!
While having to drop $2,000 on an Economy ticket is not ideal, it is manageable. However if you are a family of 4, those 4 Economy tickets would set you back a staggering $8,000!
Although there is a minimal amount of work involved in signing up for a Travel Credit Card and earning miles, at the end of the day, those few hours of work not only saved my Family $6,000 in out of pocket expenses but also allowed all 3 of us to fly in Business Class for around $100 in taxes. Pretty unreal if you ask me!
I cannot stress this enough! If you take the time to plan ahead, it is extremely easy to travel around the world in luxury for 1/100th of the actual cost!
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