Going RTW: Introduction & Trip Index


Although I need no reason to fly, work commitments keep me engrossed most of the time. In April this year, BoardingArea and Randy Petersen invited me over to Colorado Springs to be a part of a gathering of BoardingArea bloggers and a select group of other travel/points & miles bloggers, fondly called BACon (BoardingArea Conference).

Work commitments did not permit me to fly out to the USA from India anymore than a day ahead of the event starting, and like you know its a long flight. I tried various permutations and combinations with revenue flights, but most of them were going to bring me to the USA shores only on the day of the event, and then there were going to be connecting flights and all that jazz so, I’d effectively be able to make it for only one day of the two day long conference. Then I looked at my stash of miles, and tried looking for a suitable award ticket. American Airlines via London was still going to bring me in a day later than needed. So, it eventually boiled down to using a non Oneworld partner, i.e., Etihad Airways. I’ve been looking to try their first class product anyways for a long while, and this looked like a good opportunity to arrive in New York well rested.

And since New York is not exactly in my backyard so I thought of spending a couple of days there catching up with friends and the city as well, before I headed back.

I booked revenue tickets from New York to Colorado Springs and on the way back, albeit on different airlines. Somehow, American Airlines was pricing very high on my date of departure, so for once I had to look at United Airlines. On the way back I went with American Airlines, however there was a big mechanical failure there which caused for some on-the-fly rerouting.

I’ve been looking out to fly the two longest flights in the world before they go away: the Singapore-Newark-Singapore and Singapore-Los Angeles-Singapore routes flown by Singapore Airlines on their all-business class A345s. I could not find much availability using KrisFlyer miles at that moment, but I did find a seat from LAX to Singapore for myself. I was not going to risk it trying to get out on Lifemiles which was the latest fad then, so I decided to keep my redemption ticket, which I booked after transferring Citibank PremierMiles to my Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account.

Eventually, the whole itinerary cost me 90,000 AAdvantage miles + $47.50 for a BOM-AUH-JFK-LAX first class redemption on Etihad First (with a free segment on AA 3-class First), and 76,500 KrisFlyer miles + S$460 for LAX-SIN-BOM in business class. For my internal flights, I used an American Airlines voucher, and United tickets I had to buy with cold cash, but overall I did not spend much on this trip.

This is how the itinerary looked at the end.

map

In terms of booking the redemption tickets, while Singapore Airlines was done directly on their website,with American I had to hang up and call back 3 times to get the availability I needed. The first agent told me nothing available, the second one was proactive and could not find anything, so advised me on taking a flight from Delhi to Tokyo on JAL, and another flight from there to US West Coast. However, the whole thing was not solving my problem of getting there in time, and, was pricing out far more expensive. Ultimately, the third agent could find me the exact flights I needed and I could hold them for four days.

I initially tried getting redemption tickets all the way to Colorado Springs, and while the first agent was okay with it conceptually, the second was not, and by the third time I had decided I’d just add a long F segment inside USA for free just in case I’d use it sometime later. The whole thing had to do with the fact that one needed a published fare between the origination and end points, and Etihad did not publish a fare between Mumbai and Colorado Springs. When I called the third time however, I  forgot about the internal segment at that moment and only blocked BOM-AUH-JFK.

When I called 5 days later to ticket, I asked about the possibility to add a JFK-LAX F class to the ticket as well, and the agent was only able to find one on a supper flight on the AA 3-class 767s, which I took for the moment, thinking I’ll call later to change if needed. Ticketing took being on the phone for 1 hour, since the computer initially priced this as two different tickets BOM-AUH and AUH-JFK-LAX, and eventually after a long hold and a call with the rates desk, I got it for 90,000 miles.

I know this is going to be a long trip report, like the trip index indicates. You may wonder why have I included some US domestic segments, because hey, I tried those cabins and airlines for the first time.

So, I’ll try and do my best to make sure you don’t fall of your chair sleeping (laughing is okay!), and we’ll get this trip report done soon (hopefully!!!!!)

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Comments

  1. AJ – how do you end up getting the AA Plat EXP being based in India? Any secret sauce there which we could avail?

    • @Parag, at the oneworld megado I was offered to get EXP for a lower target. From there on it was just about flying enough to retain it. So no secret sauce here.

  2. AJ…this looks interesting, can’t wait to read more! Btw will you be kind enuf to explain Booking etihad using AA miles in one of ur posts?

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