Honeymoon Around the World: Part 3

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A reader wrote to me recently about his success story planning and booking a fantastic Round-the-World honeymoon, through knowledge and tips he picked up right here on MileValue. He was eager to share his story, in hopes of showing you all that a luxurious round-the-world adventure is completely within reach if you apply and dedicate yourself to making it happen. For the sake of anonymity, we will call him by his avatar here on the site, Pumatiger. 
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Where A Reader’s Honeymoon Around the World, Part 2 left off: With the Maldives portion of the trip and a side journey to visit Pumatiger’s grandmother in Bangalore set, it was time to figure out how they would get to their final destination, Australia. 
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And now, back to you, Pumatiger…

From Bangalore to Australia With An Interesting Twist

From Bangalore we had various options to get to Sydney including Qatar Airways (via Doha) and Etihad (again via Abu Dhabi). Another option was to fly cheaply to Dubai and then fly via Qantas to Sydney. Initially I reserved an award via Doha with a long layover but after talking with family it looked like if we transited through the UAE a cousin of mine could be our tour guide. I also saw this MileValue post about the Etihad A380 apartment and this one about the Etihad A380 lounge.

These articles and the various YouTube videos I watched along with the prospect of seeing family and having a 21 hour layover in the United Arab Emirates all sounded great. We were able to find Business Class tickets for the dates we had in mind and we jumped on them, again having to call Australia to make the booking. We were excited to be able to get a long layover in UAE, see family, and enjoy Etihad Business Class service that included chauffeur pick up in Bangalore and drop-off in Sydney! Plus, there was the great A380 lounge and the chance to possibly get the A380 Apartment a few days before the flight! The Business awards from Bangalore-Abu Dhabi-Sydney were 45k miles (90k total for two people) and $86 total in taxes.

Here are some photos from our 21 hour layover in the UAE:

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Skyline of Dubai
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Indoor Skiing!
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The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa.

We didn’t end up with the A380 First Class Apartment, but Business Class on the A380 was still quite luxurious.

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The A380 with the iconic AUH air traffic control tower!
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Etihad Business Class on the A380 from Abu Dhabi to Sydney
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Etihad Business Class on the A380 from Abu Dhabi to Sydney
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Premium lounge flying Etihad on an A380

Accommodation and Our Time in Australia

For the first part of our Australia trip we decided to stay in the Blue Mountains using AirBnb. It was nice having a whole home instead of a hotel room for a bit. We took advantage of the washer to do laundry

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The Jamison Valley, a Grand Canyon with trees

We decided instead to use miles for our time in Sydney. After garnering the correct amount of AA miles I opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 40K Ultimate Reward bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements. By adding my fiancé as a registered user I was able to acquire an additional 5k miles and after purchases I was able to get the account up to 60k miles.

I joined slightly before Chase upped their award from 40k to 50k. This was a bummer– calling agents made no difference and they would not honor the additional 10k.

With the 60K Ultimate Rewards we looked at booking the Park Hyatt Sydney via the Ultimate Rewards website but after reading about transferring Ultimate Rewards to partners instead of cashing them in for a penny a piece for cash back, we performed a comparison analysis of transferring to Hyatt and decided to do that instead.

We were able to book two nights at the beautiful property right on the harbor.

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Our hotel, the Park Hyatt Sydney
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View of the Opera House from outside the Park Hyatt Sydney

For the other two nights we planned on staying in Sydney, I opened the Hyatt Credit Card featured in this MileValue post so we could extend our stay at the same Park Hyatt.

Any round-the-world trip is bound to hit some snags and this was the biggest for us: the two nights posted after hitting the $1000 minimum spending requirement, but Hyatt created a second rewards number for me. Since I was looking in the account with my original rewards number, I never saw the award post. I finally realized the error one day before we were leaving the Blue Mountains to head to Sydney, however, the property decided to block one of the nights we needed. As a result, we had three nights booked with one night not booked. When we got to the property we asked for the night to be made available and we were given the run around and definitely made to feel as though we were second class citizens since we were booking via points. I don’t know if this was a Hyatt thing or just specific to this property but that along with other peculiarities makes me believe that the Park Hyatt Sydney is not the most welcoming to those wanting to redeem points.

But a trip is what you make of it– and the trip was still great. We enjoyed Sydney to the fullest.

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A honeymooner’s welcome 🙂
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Catching a drama at the Opera House
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The Thai food in Sydney was to die for!
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Bondi Beach

Getting Home

For our return to the United States we used my wife’s AA miles to book two economy awards on Qantas. Her 50k bonus from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card had come through which allowed us to book two tickets from Sydney to San Francisco at 37.5k miles each (75k total). For whatever reason, in order to reach Phoenix from San Francisco on an award we would have had to route through Seattle.This was out of the way and not something we wanted to do at the end of our trip. Instead we opted for a 12 hour layover in San Francisco to have lunch with friends and family, and then to simply fly to Phoenix using cash since the tickets were approximately $80 each one way. We were able to use 500 mile upgrades to get into First Class and finish the trip the way we started.

In the end we were able to visit four countries in two weeks. We spent 345,000 American Airlines miles and approximately $400 each ($800 total) on airfare– the actual cash value of which was approximately $50K total. Our booking at the Hyatt should have been approximately $800/night, $2400 total. Instead we got the three nights for free.

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(click to enlarge)

It was a great trip and only made possible through a lot of hard-work, patience, and the great advice from MileValue! There were definitely frustrations and planning took more than most would probably be willing to do, but hopefully you can see what is possible and that you too can book a dream vacation for you and your loved ones!

Happy Travels!

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-Pumatiger

Bottom Line by Scott

I would like to extend a big thank you to Pumatiger for taking the time to write about the process and execution of an excellent set of awards that took him and his wife around the world. It’s stories like these, written by real people and not professional bloggers that study miles and points on a daily basis, that remind us that anyone can book amazing travel for very little money if they put their mind to it.


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