Part 1: Introduction (the planning of a trip)
Part 2: various happenings
Part 3: Catastrophe
Part 4: YYC-SFO on AC in J
Part 5: SFO-ZRH on LX in F
Part 6: A few hours in Zurich
Part 7: Zurich Swiss First Class Lounge
Part 8: ZRH-HKG on LX in F
Part 9: My stay in Hong Kong, including the Mira Hong Kong
Part 10: Hong Kong airport & lounge hopping
Part 11: HKG-ICN on Asiana in First/Business
Part 12a: Seoul Asiana Business Class Lounge
Part 12b: Seoul Airport Train & a taste of the city
Part 12c: Seoul Asiana First Class Lounge and Seoul airport
Part 13: ICN-FRA, Asiana First Class
Part 13a: Asiana First Class menu
Part 14: FRA-MUC, Lufthansa Business Class
Part 15: My stay in Munich, including the Holiday Inn City Centre
Part 16: Munich Airport & Lufthansa First Class Lounge
Part 17: MUC-YUL on Lufthansa in First Class
Part 17a: Lufthansa First Class Menu
Part 18: YUL-YYC on Air Canada in Business Class
Part 19: Conclusion
This was my first completely leisure trip in a really long time (maybe 2 or 3 years). Of course, as any true frequent flyer (especially one that resides on FlyerTalk or MilePoint) I was looking for the best possible value in using my Aeroplan miles. The obvious answer is of course to purchase an Asia First Class reward for 120,000 miles. As most of you know, these can be routed via Europe both ways. And of course, that’s what I did.
Planning started during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (different timing than US) and booking happened on the last day of that weekend. I was looking at various things, and ended up piecing together an itinerary that would have me fly on the maximum number of First Class flights, some new airlines, and an interesting place to visit (for 36 hours). And that brings me to the duration of the entire trip. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t permit lots of holidays, and that’s OK, I’m very happy with my current schedule, however that of course means that booking a RTW couldn’t mean being away from home for 2 weeks, heck, even a week was tough to pull off! The whole trip ended up only being 5/6 days (depending on how you look at it). That’s incredible considering that we flew more than around the world! There, my next point came up. Since this was Thanksgiving, I hadn’t even gone on my first RTW (which I also wrote a Trip Report on). My mom was very happy to have some time at home without my dad & I, and my dad was willing to go. It would be his first time flying any premium product on long-haul (I’m still relatively new to the frequent flyer world), and his first time in Asia.
- total time of trip: 5/6 days
- destination: Hong Kong
- time at destination: approximately 36 hours (!!)
- travel companion: dad (who was great!)
Anyways, looking at booking flights is always half the fun. It’s like a huge math exercise. You really try to find everything, and then suddenly the solution is looking you right in the face. Dates were fixed for February, so I didn’t have a lot of play looking for flights. Of course, looking for two people doesn’t help either in finding availability. I have found that finding flights from North America to Europe is the hardest, and Europe to Asia definitely the easiest (so many options!). Having only Lufthansa and Swiss with desirable First Class products makes finding optimal flights quite difficult.
I found Chicago-Frankfurt on an LH 747. Yes, I know it’s not optimal, the layout in the 747 makes it feel much less intimate, the LH service isn’t especially good (don’t get upset here, I’m just comparing to other First Class products), and ORD isn’t a particularly nice airport. But I had found something, an option that I could also connect with (from YYC, home base). That’s also something that has to be considered. For example, DTW (Detroit) sometimes has availability, but getting there means a connection in Toronto, which is OK, but that takes away 1 extra of the maximum 10 segments possible in this award booking. Anyways, UA had availability in First from YYC-ORD for 1, and in Y for the other. That’s OK, I’ll tough it out in economy for one flight.
So far, so good. YYC-ORD-FRA. Where from there? I wanted to try various airlines, so I tried various flights for availability, but ultimately decided on one of the CDG-BKK flights (the earlier one, to be precise) on TG (Thai) in the leased 77W from 9W (Jet Airways). These have the suites like TK (Turkish) also has in it’s First Class. FRA-CDG was easy, in the faux-business class of Lufthansa. Unfortunately, the connection in FRA could only be 1.5 hours, and the connection in Paris was 3.5 hours, a shame because I wouldn’t really get to experience the FCT for too long.
OK, so we have YYC-ORD-FRA-CDG-BKK. I had decided on HKG as my final destination (for many reasons, a new place, a new airport, no visa requirements, etc.). BKK-HKG was a choice between F on a TG 747 with only an hour connection or C on a TG 333 (I think it was, at least) with 3 hours. I had wanted to experience BKK airport, but since the choice was between F (in the new layout, to boot!) and C, I went with the shorter connection.
Good – YYC-ORD-FRA-CDG-BKK-HKG with exactly 5 of the 10 segments used. I’ll worry about the hotel later.
Now, how to get back? I decided to try to find something on OZ (Asiana), and amazingly, there was availability for two on the ICN-FRA 747 flight. Getting to ICN was accomplished by a red-eye in C on the 333. Later that flight was changed to a 747, which meant that it also had First Class, but OZ doesn’t sell F on the HKG flights, so I couldn’t book it. I worried about that later, however. The layover in ICN was about 7.5 hours, which meant that I would be able to choose between staying in the airport or going to revisit a little of the city (and experience the new airport train!).
HKG-ICN-FRA. So now I’m in Frankfurt. Not exactly a place I’d like to stay overnight in (no, I don’t mean it’s bad, I would rather be someplace more interesting, that’s all). I found availability on LH’s MUC-YUL flight and that was the best I could do. Nothing on the ZRH-YUL LX (Swiss) flight, unfortunately… That didn’t end up so bad, I really like Munich, and I was happy to be back. My dad also said that he’d like to be in Munich, although he hadn’t been there in over 20 years. Perfect. Finding an LH flight from Frankfurt to Munich was very easy, and I had two options. A 45 minute connection (the minimum connection time in Frankfurt) or a 2.5 hour connection. Normally, I would have opted for the longer connection, however, seeing as we wouldn’t be able to use the F lounges anyways (arriving on OZ F) and that if we took the short connection we would still have some evening left in Munich. So, in Munich we would spend one night and almost 24 hours flight to flight.
HKG-ICN-FRA-MUC-YUL. OK! Super, now it’s time to get home! YUL-YYC had no regular award availability, however my Super Elite status with AC opened up some seats for us (using IKK, for those in the know).
All done! YYC-ORD-FRA-CDG-BKK-HKG-ICN-FRA-MUC-YUL-YYC, using up exactly 10 segments out of the 10 allowable, and flying on one new aircraft (the 747, believe it or not!), two new airlines (TG and OZ), and visiting two new airports (BKK & HKG).
A perfect trip!