We love to hear stories from our readers about how a passion for collecting miles and points has affected their lives. Honeymoon plans in the works, a gift to their parents, a vacation to Srinagar or Singapore or just that premium airline seat that they secured on redemption. We’ve heard many such stories, and this year, we will try and bring more of these stories to you. The first one to start 2019 is about the Etihad Business Class A380 experience which came via points and miles.
This week, I want to share with you the success story of a lovely couple who used their miles to end their vacation on a high note by flying Business Class from Paris to Bengaluru. We turn over the mike now to Geetanjali Chitnis, who has been a reader for many years.
Until this trip, my business class travel experience had been limited to three occasions – all with Jet Airways and all on the same route, which was Bangalore to Mumbai (or vice versa).
I had heard so much about the Etihad Airways A380 business class experience from my husband, Geeth, that I was itching to try it out myself. So, when we decided to head to Europe for a vacation, we wrote to JetPrivilege to check seat availability for our travel dates. Once we heard back from them, we booked two mileage redemption ticket seats using our JPMiles and then proceeded to plan the rest of the trip around this.
My first international business class experience was the last leg of our European vacation from Paris to Bangalore – but it was the first thing we booked!
In a sense, the prospect of flying back home in luxury helped me extend the joy of my vacation. The typical post-vacation blues tend to set in as you’re preparing to head back home but, in my case, I still had one last experience to look forward to – perhaps the pièce de résistance of the entire trip. As we got closer to the date of our departure from Charles de Gaulle, the anticipation built up.
The first leg of our journey from Paris to Abu Dhabi was on flight EY32, the magical A380 I had heard so much about. We made our way to Etihad’s Business Class counter and checked-in our luggage. Along with our boarding passes, we were handed another card which turned out to be a literal key to exclusivity! These passes helped us skip the long security lines – we made it through security and immigration in less than 5 minutes.
Still, in awe of what I had just experienced, I found myself being whisked away past the shopping area (nice try, husband) and towards to the Etihad First and Business Class lounge. We had about 2 hours or so before it was time to board the flight, so we decided to check out the breakfast buffet.
Soon, it was time to board. The moment had arrived, and the empty priority boarding line beckoned. But wait – why was I being led down an entirely different part of the aerobridge? I turned around, starting to panic – what if I’d gone the wrong way? But my fear was met with a chuckle as my husband explained that the A380 business class section was at a different upper level – literally.
I made my way into the aircraft, and I was greeted by smiling members of the cabin crew and the familiar Etihad boarding music playing softly in the background. As I walked towards my seat, I took in the sight of beige, brown and gold elegance all around me.
The first thing I noticed was the little areas of extra storage. I tend to like having easy access to my personal belongings when I travel – I carry a physical book, notebook, pens, headphones, a sweater or a jacket and a Kindle. I was able to find storage space for all of these items under the armrest. The next thing was the large entertainment touch-screen in front of me. I’m a huge movie and documentary buff, so I quickly scrolled through the content available and identified what I was going to spend the next 6 hours watching!
The Etihad cabin crew made sure I was comfortably settled in and offered me a hot towel and refreshing lemon and mint drink before take-off. I quickly figured out how to adjust my seat (including the headrest, back support and cushion firmness) and settled down to watch Bradley Cooper in “Burnt” while I sipped on a glass of wine.
What I was looking forward to the most, however, was the dining experience, since Etihad offers an a-la-carte menu and ‘dine anytime’ option when you fly business class to accommodate the needs of passengers operating on different time zones. I spotted lamb biryani on the menu, and my desi heart beat a little faster. I hadn’t eaten Indian food for 15 days during my European vacation, so I knew what I was choosing for the main course! When the food in the movie got a little too tempting, I asked for the biryani 😉 I followed this up with a slice of opera cake with strawberries – delicious!
Eventually, I got drowsy and decided to test out the fully-flat bed capability. I don’t think I’ve ever slept better on a flight! We were soon descending, and my love affair with the Etihad Business Class A380 experience was coming to an end. I still had another leg of my journey left, from Abu Dhabi to Bangalore, on what I will now refer to as ‘regular’ business class since it’s an A321. The bar had been set so high with this flight!
Thanks to our business class boarding pass, we were comfortable in the Etihad lounge during our layover in Abu Dhabi. I savoured some delicious hummus before I boarded my onward flight to Bangalore.
Let’s hope the miles come in soon so that I can plan my next trip 😉
This is a fantastic story of how Geetanjali and Geeth used their miles to fly Business Class all the way back to India from Europe. Geeth scored this redemption by accumulating JPMiles through his regular flying and using the HDFC Bank JetPrivilege Diners Club card. In turn they managed to save EUR 3,800 (INR 3,00,000) by spending 1,68,000 JPMiles for this redemption (84,000 JPMiles per person).
JPMiles are relatively easy to earn via multiple co-branded credit cards and can be redeemed across 20+ airlines. Some of our top picks are the Jet Airways ICICI Bank Sapphiro Credit Card and Jet Airways American Express Platinum Credit Card. You can also transfer miles from various other cards such as the American Express Membership Rewards Credit Card to JetPrivilege.
For sharing her story, we are sending along to Geetanjali an INR 1,000 Gift Card.
Also, we would love to hear more from you, our readers. Tell us about your success stories with scoring a great redemption, a fantastic hotel deal and everything in between, please share it with us, on ajay @ livefromalounge.com and shipra @ livefromalounge.com and we will pick the best stories and publish them for everyone to read. Also, you get a prize to share your stories from our side as well.
Tell us more about your favourite redemptions in the comments section below
If you’d like to learn more about using your miles & points effectively, join in on the Mileage Mentor MasterClass on January 19, 2019