Old Jul 18, 17, 11:08 pm
Join Date: Oct 2012
Programs: DL Diamond, UA Silver, HHonors Diamond, Marriott Ambassador
Posts: 845
Oceania the long way and 787 Tour | SEA-SFO-SYD-AKL-NRT-SEA | UA/NZ/NH J

Welcome to my first trip report!

Having been inspired by many trip reports (wisdom) I've read here on FT, I decided to write my own -- and now I have so much respect for those who do this often. It's quite time-consuming sorting through your photos and trying to remember things, so kudos to you all. After all, it is quite enjoyable.

Any feedback is welcome – this is my first time writing a trip report so please be gentle, but after all I am posting here for discerning FT eyes and know the consequences.

I work in the consulting industry - every now and again you get a period of time between projects when you essentially have nothing to do besides find your next gig.

Having traveled extensively for client gigs last year, I've accumulated many different currencies among UA, DL, Hilton, and SPG, as well as elite status nearly everywhere (except Hyatt!).

Finding myself with at least a 2 week break between projects, I decided to spontaneously take a "working holiday," if you will. Options were Asia, Oceania, or Europe, and I wanted to use UA miles earned from the 70k Mileageplus Explorer card signup bonus awhile back, account balance from flying BR and AC last year, and combine them with my Chase UR.

I really had just 2-3 days to plan for this trip before leaving. In fact I was spending time with my parents for a short 4th of a July getaway when I booked this trip – I told them the next morning and they stared at me in disbelief. Who books a trip on a Monday night to leave Wednesday evening? Yes – these points and miles fanatics do.

After poking around and finding bad weather for most of my top Asian destinations, poor routings/schedules to Europe with UA and partners, I ended up finding availability down under (after extensive searching) The routing would cost 150k UA miles and ~$200 in taxes and fees. I'd get to sample UA, NZ, and NH J products as well as utilize the UA Explorist Perk between SYD and AKL. Award space on these airlines is generally hard to find, so I was very pleasantly surprised (and felt like I won the lottery!) with this routing with solid J products.

SEA-SYD was priced at 70k on UA metal, SYD-AKL was free (taxes were $90!!), and AKL-SEA (via NRT) was 80K on NZ and NH metal. All in all I'd get 3 days in Sydney and 2 days in Auckland. I was hoping I could work a BR leg in there, but alas, the schedules and availability did not work out. Booking 2 days out, beggars can't be choosers.

For reference, DL wanted 260k for an itinerary similar to this (if you can find availability), though surprisingly with a last-minute booking there was saver J availability (LAX-SYD for 110k SkyPesos). Count me out. A revenue booking like this would have cost upwards of $17,000, which made me the value-seeker in me feel good, but I also knew I would never pay for a last minute J ticket down under I have to thank the miles and points game for letting me take a holiday like this so last minute, and in relative style.

I’m lucky that in my industry I can work from virtually anywhere as long as I am reachable. Being 17-19 hours ahead (and with long periods without WiFi) of the North American west coast (where I am based) this was slightly difficult, but worked out well as I tend to be quite disciplined with my schedule on the road.

A few friends in both SYD and AKL ended up being free, so this will be the tale of traveling through these cities along with some eating and drinking.
  • SEA - SFO in UA Y (waitlisted for J but did not clear) on an A320
  • SFO - SYD in UA J on a B789
  • - Stay at the Hilton Sydney for 3 nights -
  • SYD - AKL in NZ J on a B772
  • - Stay at The Langham, Auckland for 2 nights -
  • AKL - NRT in NZ J on a B789
  • NRT - SEA in NH J on a B789

In total, nearly 20,000 miles flown over 7 days with 5 days on the ground.

As a last note, I tend to be a Delta-loyalist, but realize the value of UA miles (I’ve used them quite often to fly BR J regularly). Overall, I was generally quite impressed with other carriers outside of my home DL-realm (though, still wouldn’t fly United domestically given the choice ).

  1. SEA – SFO in United Y on the A320, the AMEX Centurion Lounge SFO and SFO – SYD in United “Polaris” J on the B787
  2. Hilton Sydney and Sydney sights
  3. Dining Around Sydney
  4. SYD – AKL in Air New Zealand J on the B772 and the Air New Zealand SYD Lounge
  5. The Langham, Auckland and Auckland sights
  6. Ziplining, Wine Tasting, Olive Oil Tasting on Waiheke Island
  7. AKL – NRT in Air New Zealand J on the B787, ANA Business Class Lounge NRT
  8. NRT – SEA in ANA J on the B787

Unfortunately I did not bring my DSLR on this trip -- I packed everything into a carry-on (including some gifts for friends) and did not have room to pack in my camera. As such, everything is shot on a revolutionary iPhone 6S

NEXT UP: SEA – SFO in United Y on the A320, the AMEX Centurion Lounge SFO and SFO – SYD in United “Polaris” J on the B787

Last edited by bj27; Aug 20, 17 at 11:58 am
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