Etihad

One Last Hurrah: Europe / Africa Itinerary – Part 2

Part 1 of One Last Hurrah can be found here.

Etihad Leg

September 11, 2013

Seychelles – Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class – Airbus 320

After spending 5 days in Seychelles, for the next leg of our journey, we will be taking advantage of the Etihad Seychelles Business Class mistake fare from a few months ago.

We paid $400ish out of pocket to go from Seychelles (SEZ) -> Abu Dhabi (AUH) -> Dublin (DUB) in Etihad Business Class.

It is hard to tell if for $400 this was really a great deal given what a pain in the butt it is was to get down to Seychelles in the first place and the fact that it is only a one way ticket.

That being said, Seychelles was absolutely amazing and is a place I normally wouldn’t have visited on my own, so I’m extremely happy that this Etihad mistake fare originated from Seychelles. In addition, since it is fairly difficult to redeem miles for premium cabin travel on Etihad (since they don’t have a branded credit card and SPG points are fairly valuable), for $400 it seemed like a decent deal for the chance to fly in Etihad Business Class.

For our Etihad flights, we will be able to credit the miles we earn on Etihad to American Airlines, which should net us around 8,000 miles. We aren’t sure if the miles will count towards the recent AA Executive Platinum offer, but if they do that would be icing on the cake!

To make things even better, my Friend and I were both able to status match to Etihad Gold last month! Now I am not sure what additional benefits this will bring us, since we are already flying in Business Class, but we will take it!

September 12, 2013

Abu Dhabi – Stopover

When we booked the Etihad mistake fare, it seems that United Arab Emirates wants people to visit their country and spend money in UAE, so you are allowed to make a free stopover in UAE!

I have always wanted to visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so I figured we might as well stopover while we are in the neighborhood since it is basically free.

Dubai

Everyone knows that middle eastern carriers like Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, etc are great airlines, but since Etihad and Emirates are both based in UAE, the lengths they will go to please their premium cabin travellers is fairly amusing.

As part of our stopover, since we are flying Business Class, we get a free pick-up and drop-off chauffer service anywhere within UAE! We will also receive the same benefit when landing in Dublin!

To maximize this benefit, we are going to have the chauffer drive us from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and then pick us back up for our flight from Abu Dhabi.

For hotels, since it is basically 1 million degrees in UAE this time of year, we opted to take advantage of the Abu Dhabi Park Hyatt “stay 1 night, get 1 night free” offer that One Mile At A Time posted. It is also helpful that Eric is currently doing the Hyatt Diamond Challenge, so for $50 each a night, we not only get to stay at a Park Hyatt, but will get upgraded and also get free breakfast. Kind of hard to beat…

September 15, 2013

Abu Dhabi to Dublin

Etihad Business Class – Boeing 777

This flight is the real gem of the entire itinerary and the reason why we booked this crazy trip to begin with! We will be flying an Etihad 777 in Business Class for around 8 hours!

While there won’t be any showering the sky, needless to say I expect it to be fairly awesome and of course a full trip report will follow.

We were hoping to potentially get bumped to First Class for this flight since we are Etihad Gold but apparently the 777 on this route only has 2 cabins.

Regardless, we are fairly excited to check out the lounges the Etihad lounges at Abu Dhabi Airport, as you get free 15 minute massages and a whole host of other benefits. Additionally, since we are Etihad Gold we are going to do our best to try and get into the Etihad Diamond First Class lounge, but we won’t hold our breath.

Cyclades Islands Leg

September 17, 2013

Dublin to Amsterdam

Aer Lingus Economy Class

As stated earlier, since we are flying in Business Class Etihad will drop us off for free when we reach Dublin.

Our current plan calls for spending 2 nights in Dublin.

After that, we will make our way down to Greece with a 23 hour stopover in Amsterdam.

We searched for cheap ways to get down to Greece and the Cyclades Islands, which can cost upwards of $100 each way for the 35 minute flight between the islands.

So to get down to Greece, we opted to burn 25,000 United Miles for a round trip ticket. Eric happens to be United 1K, so since he can basically change around tickets for free, it made the most sense. Additionally, similar to what I did for my main Africa – Europe United ticket, we will get a double open jaw, and free stopover.

There is no direct Dublin -> Athens route so since we have to connect anyways, we are opting to do a quick 23 hours layover in Amsterdam. These types of 23 hour layovers are free on United awards, so we figured we might as well take advantage of them.

September 18, 2013

Amsterdam to Athens

Aegean Airways Economy Class

Since our United award again allows for a free stopover & double open jaw, we are going to use the stopover in Athens.

September 20, 2013

Athens to Santorini

Aegean Airlines Economy Class

While there is a high-speed ferry to Santorini from Athens, when we are only spending 2 days on the island, it doesn’t make sense to spend 5 hours on a boat getting to Santorini. Hence why we opted to take the 35 minute flight!

As I stated earlier, the flights between the islands and Athens start at $100, so flying from Athens -> Santorini -> Mykonos -> Athens out of pocket at a minimum would have cost $300+, so it made more sense to bundle all of these into a 25,000 mile United award ticket, take a free 23 hour layover in Amsterdam, free 2 day stopover in Athens, and then end our first leg in Santorini.

September 22, 2013

Santorini to Mykonos

High Speed Ferry

Between Santorini and Mykonos there is a $50 high-speed ferry that we will be taking. We could have opted to fly but the flights are not direct and connect in Athens, so a ferry was cheaper and made more sense.

September 25, 2013

Mykonos to Munich

Lufthansa Economy Class

We plan on spending 2 more days in Mykonos and then continue onwards to Munich for Oktoberfest.

While I hate burning 25,000 United miles as much as the next person, the cheapest flight from Mykonos or Athens to Munich was over $600. The reason being of course that it is Oktoberfest!

So by using the 25,000 United miles to get from Dublin -> Amsterdam (23 layover) -> Athens (stopover) -> Santorini (high-speed ferry) -> Mykonos -> Munich, we will be saving over $1,000 out of pocket.

In Munich, since most hotels are $300+ for Oktoberfest, we opted to burn 7,000 Starpoints and stay at the Four Points Munich.

Second Leg

September 27, 2013

Munich to New York

Lufthansa Economy Class

For the return back home, I will be slumming it up in Economy since it is hard to justify paying almost double in terms of points (30,000 compared to 50,000) for a short 8 hour flight.

I am going to try and call in a “schedule change” and see if I can route thru Frankfurt and take the A380 back to JFK, but we will see how successful I am with that…

I have a “free one way” on AA from when I went to Madrid, so I will be ending my United trip in New York and then using my free AA flight to get back home to Chicago.

Recap

All in all, as I write this post, I have already been traveling for over 21 days! While it has been an amazing trip so far, extended traveling is certainly not for everyone and there are definitely some parts that get old like eating out everyday!

That being said, if you were paying attention, it is fairly amazing how many cities and countries you can fit into 1 trip if you use your miles correctly and take advantage of extremely liberal routing rules on United.

For 115,000 United miles (90,000 + 25,000) and $350 for trains, ferries, and European low cost carriers, I was able to go from Chicago -> Amsterdam -> Copenhagen (11 day “stopover”) -> Prague -> Vienna -> Bratislava -> Budapest -> Rome -> Copenhagen -> London -> Addis Ababa -> Seychelles -> Abu Dhabi -> Dubai -> Abu Dhabi -> Dublin -> Amsterdam (23 hour layover) -> Athens -> Santorini -> Mykonos -> Athens -> Munich -> Frankfurt ->New York -> Chicago.

If you are keeping track, that is 17 cities I am visiting in 13 different countries for a total of 25,297 miles flown, all for basically less than $800 in total out of pocket transportation costs (if you included the $200 in taxes for the United awards and $361 for the Etihad ticket)!

Given that much of the legs on this trip are in Business Class, this ticket would probably have cost over $15,000+…

While I don’t expect or encourage anyone to follow my lead of traveling non-stop for 37 days, my trip should be a pretty valid testimonial that if you want to see the world at prices you can afford, it is certainly possible.

I am back on the “road” tomorrow in Abu Dhabi, so I encourage anyone who is interested in following my trip to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

-Parag

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4 Comments

  • DL says:

    Wow – amazing itinerary! I'll be waiting for your follow-up report. As a person who doesn't enjoy hanging around airports, I'm impressed with your stamina. I'm more of a fly and stay kind of traveler.

    That said, as a seasoned Greek traveler, I find the Athens airport (including getting to and fro the city) to be one of the biggest travel hassles around. I recommend taking the high speed ferry to Santorini. There's really nothing like arriving at Santorini by boat – it's one of the most spectacular sights in Greece. Plus blowing that much time at the Athens airport for such a short flight is not for the faint of heart. Getting to the airport will take over an hour, and you should be there 2 hours early because you never know how many TSA agents are coming to work on a given day, and if the plane is arriving from another destination you may have Greek delays to deal with, so you're likely to go over the 5 hour travel time on the ferry. Plus you miss the spectacular arrival views of Santorini when traveling by boat.

    Going down to Pireaus is simpler and you don't have to endure security lines. Your taxi may be able to drop you right in front of your ship.

    Looking forward to hearing the good, the bad and the ugly!

  • Frequent Flyer University says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Andy F. says:

    For the 25l intra-Europe ticket, how did you book it? Did you ticket it online or call? TIA 🙂

  • Frequent Flyer University says:

    My friend is 1K so we called it in but you can do it online too.

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