Nothing cries out for a BIG trip idea like a few weeks with nowhere to be.
I’m considering going from Hawaii to Croatia from mid-February to mid-March. I’ve been thinking about:
- where has good weather that time of year
- where I have friends with whom I can cross paths
- where I haven’t been
- what sweet spot awards are out there
- and what First Class cabins I want to fly
I think I’ve come up with a pretty awesome trip, that I’m giving heavy consideration to booking.
I like that three of the awards are indisputable sweet spots, I’d visit three new countries, fly a new First Class, and get to see a friend I haven’t seen in a year. It would be four awards:
- Honolulu to Fiji (three day stopover) to Melbourne for 27,500 Alaska miles + taxes
- Melbourne to Bangkok (layover) to Manila for 30,000 United miles + taxes in Thai Business Class
- Angeles City, Philippines to Hong Kong (layover) to Bangkok (layover) to Doha for 50,000 American Airlines miles + taxes in Cathay Pacific First Class and Qatar A380 First Class
- Doha to Zagreb for 12,500 Avios + taxes + $44 fuel surcharge
Let’s look at the awards in turn.
Honolulu to Fiji (three day stopover) to Melbourne
- Alaska Airlines allows stopovers and free one ways on one way awards
- Fiji Airways flies from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu to Fiji and from there to several destinations in Australia and New Zealand
- Going to Australia, New Zealand, or Fiji is the same price
You can search for Fiji Airways awards on alaskaair.com. Many routes operate only a few days a week, so I’d suggest figuring out what days operate on kayak.com before searching because Alaska Airlines’ multi-city search tool isn’t the best if you don’t know what dates the flights operate.
Fiji has good award space in economy on most routes, but very little Business Class award space.
Fiji charges 40k/55k one way from the mainland to Fiji, Australia, or New Zealand in economy/Business and 27.5k/45k from Hawaii to Fiji, Australia, or New Zealand. (Ignore that the chart says different prices. The chart is wrong.)
Here’s a sample award from Hawaii to Melbourne for 27,500 Alaska miles plus $138 (of which all but $12.50 is taxes. The $12.50 is Alaska’s partner booking fee.)
This award has a free 3.5 day stopover in Fiji.
I would go to Melbourne because I have a friend living there. Fiji has six total destinations in Australia/New Zealand to choose from.
Unfortunately you cannot stopover in Fiji and then continue onto Hong Kong, Beijing, or Taipei on an Alaska award. Alaska doesn’t list any price to fly Fiji to Asia on its award chart, which means you can’t do it.
Melbourne to Bangkok (layover) to Manila
- United severely underprices awards from Australia/New Zealand to SE Asia
- Could get Thai First Class experience for 40,000 miles
One of the best sweet spots in all of the milesphere is United’s awards between Southeast Asia and Australia or New Zealand for 17.5k/30k/40k miles one way in economy/Business/First for quite a lot of flying.
Unfortunately to Melbourne, Thai only flies its 777 with angled lie flat Business Class. Luckily award space is cheap and available basically every day.
Connecting in Bangkok, I’d get amazing treatment and food in the Thai Business Class lounge, plus a free massage.
If I wanted even more luxury, I could reposition to Sydney for tens of dollars on a paid ticket and fly Thai First Class from Sydney.
That would get me a flat bed, gate-to-gate attention in Bangkok, access to the Thai First Class lounge, a free hourlong massage.
I would choose the Philippines for my destination because I haven’t been, and I love Southeast Asia. A quick search reveals amazing lagoons, beaches, cliff jumps, nightlife in Manilla, and ultralight flying lessons north of Manilla.
Angeles City to Hong Kong (layover) to Bangkok (layover) to Doha
- 50,000 American Airlines miles in First Class between SE Asia and Middle East
- Go out of my way to fly two First Class flights including Qatar A380
American Airlines killed most of the value in its First Class award chart in March, but some reasonable redemptions remain like Southeast Asia to the Middle East for 50,000 miles.
I’d hop around the Philippines on low-cost-carrier flights, and fly out of Angeles City. I could fly to Doha with only one connection in Hong Kong, but that would mean only flying Qatar Business Class.
Instead, I can connect in Hong Kong and Bangkok to fly Cathay Pacific First Class for a few hours and 7.5 hours of Qatar A380 First Class.
That sounds awesome! I have flown and loved Cathay Pacific First Class, but Qatar First Class would be new to me.
I’d search this award on ba.com and book by calling American Airlines. BA.com is not going to find the three segment award I just mentioned, so I’d search segment-by-segment and construct it myself. Award space is excellent on all three routes.
Doha to Zagreb
I’d spend a few days in Qatar to check it out; I’ve only been to Dubai in the Middle East and didn’t like it at all, so I’m open to having a good experience in the region.
Then I’d hop on with Avios, which are always great for short, direct, economy flights. Ideally Avios are best on routes with no fuel surcharges, but this route has only a modest $44 fuel surcharge, which is the only fuel surcharge of this whole trip.
Award space is great on the route.
Getting the Miles
United, American, and Alaska miles are all easy to get in bunches from credit cards.
Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.
I haven’t booked anything yet, but I’ve fantasized of stringing together sweetspot awards to fly top First Classes to several new countries on a meandering journey from Hawaii to Croatia. If I do book, you’ll be the first to know.