Suggestions for Spending 140k miles?

Old May 20, 09, 10:17 am
  #1  
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Suggestions for Spending 140k miles?

I currently have around 140k miles, and I'm trying to work out what to do with them, particularly as the general consensus seems to be that it's better to spend them sooner rather than later! (I've also a few other flights upcoming soon, and still have a full purchase allowance left if I need to push this up - 150k seems like the 'magic number' for several key options)

My current plan is a 7 or 8 month trip from mid/late September through to April/May next year. The only 'fixed' destination is mid-December to mid-Feb in New Zealand (and even that has some flexibility). The rest of the trip is still wide open, although I would like to travel around a bunch of the SE Asia countries, and if I can make it work I'd quite like to visit some friends in Japan (preferably after NZ, but before is also possible). I'm based in Estonia so would will probably be starting and finishing in Zone 2, although it's possible I'll need to go to Kyrgyzstan around the time I'd be starting anyway, so I might need to factor that in.

My plan is to do it all in business class (so that's what I'm using in my calculations), but if I were to end up with a bunch of spare miles I'd consider doing some of it in first.

My first thought was a RTW (150k+1020), but although I'm quite happy to spend a few months in South America and/or some of the Pacific Islands, I don't necessarily need either a trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific, so I started looking at alternatives.

A simple round-trip to NZ would be 150k miles with no top-up or 75k+510, and booked as two singles would give me two stop-overs that I could presumably make a couple of months long each, and book some separate flights for traveling around during that time.

I'm assuming Tokyo isn't going to be a valid stop-over (is there any way of finding what options there are other than plugging destinations into the online calculator and seeing what routes they take?), but Z2->Z9->Z8->Z2 comes out at the same amount as a simple Z2->Z9 return, due to the cheaper Z8->Z2.

Presumably then I could make a Z7 stopover on the Z2->Z9 leg, maybe Australia on the NZ->Japan one, and somewhere else interesting between Tokyo and Z2. And I'd only have used half the miles of a RTW, so I could spend the rest on flights within zones 7, 8, and 9, or construct a more elaborate route (e.g. 2->10->9 isn't that much more than 2->9 and would give another stopover (CPH-BOM on EgyptAir seems to offer IST or CAI).

Are there any flaws or gotchas in building a trip like this? Anyone have interesting route suggestions? Any other threads here I should read on it?

Thanks for any ideas or pointers!

PS I only have a Silver Card, so don't get any of the Gold benefits. Not sure how important that might be, but thought I'd throw it in anyway.
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Old May 21, 09, 1:37 am
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Sounds like a great plan
Ignore the RTW ticket, you get better value/flexibility by booking a number of one-way flights. Then you can really just choose your countries and destinations - you can then take advantage of the one stopover with each flight to enjoy yourself.

FYI - if you go the other way around the world, i.e. Europe - USA (One-way, so you could have 2 US cities) then from the USA, Japan would probably be a reasonable stopover place for a flight to Australia if you get yourself in one of the cities that UA / NH / AC flies to Japan and then get a suitable onward flight with NZ (IAD, LAS, YYZ etc)

As an FYI, I was doing a similar trip to Australia and worked out it was almost as cheap to do a Z2 - Japan (stopover) - Seoul (One-way), then Seoul - Hong Kong (stopover) - Brisbane (One-way) as it would have been to do a straight UK - Australia flight with one stopover, although because I was going in F, and from around SIN/HKG/other australia stopovers there wasn't an onward F flight so it was pointless to pay F miles and only get to go half-way in F, so had half an F trip and half C.

PS: Search around the board for posts over the last week, a few other people have been asking about the best way to get to Oz in business which has suitable recommendations on carriers, this one has been busy;
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/bmi-d...-possible.html
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Old May 21, 09, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by littlevoices View Post
Ignore the RTW ticket, you get better value/flexibility by booking a number of one-way flights. Then you can really just choose your countries and destinations - you can then take advantage of the one stopover with each flight to enjoy yourself.
Thanks. That's what I was thinking, but I wasn't sure that there weren't some gotchas.

Are there any restrictions on the number of coupons or sectors or where you can stopover? Or is it just a matter of it being a valid route, and then it's charged based on the start/end point and you can have a stopover anywhere the plane goes?

For example, looking at AKL-CPH, there are, unsurprisingly, no direct flights, or single coupons. But there are a wide variety of routes, including the choice of going east or west.

It just seems a little surprising that going CPH-(BKK)-NRT-(HKG)-AKL-(YVR)-CPH as three singles is only 100k miles (25+25+50), when it's also a valid RTW @ 200k (especially as an award RTW is only 10 segments/6 stopovers).
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Old May 21, 09, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by salvadors View Post
Are there any restrictions on the number of coupons or sectors or where you can stopover? Or is it just a matter of it being a valid route, and then it's charged based on the start/end point and you can have a stopover anywhere the plane goes?
I've got limited experience, you can check the redemptions thread for more info/examples, but really it seems like as long as its a reasonable stopover they won't make a fuss. The main rule is no backtracking - but even limited backtracking is allowed when it seems reasonable (e.g. my CPH-ZRH-NRT-ICN is theoretically a backtrack on the NRT-ICN segment, but its a very reasonable one as you can't get to ICN in F easily from CPH and its a stopover)

To my mind your routing of; CPH-(BKK)-NRT-(HKG)-AKL-(YVR)-CPH seems reasonable (ish) due to the stopover, although its more than 50% of the distance its not crazy.

And you're right, a RTW isn't a good deal and probably only gets sold to people who don't read flyertalk or the rules carefully

And I think your sums work too (but who'd go economy, and who wouldn't do Cash+Miles)

Good luck with your booking
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Old May 21, 09, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by littlevoices View Post
The main rule is no backtracking - but even limited backtracking is allowed when it seems reasonable
But does backtracking even mean anything if you're just buying a series of singles? As long as it's an offered route, you're just stopping in the middle. It doesn't matter what your combined route might end up like, or how long you stop in any place, etc., right?

Originally Posted by littlevoices View Post
And I think your sums work too (but who'd go economy, and who wouldn't do Cash+Miles)
Well, the sums were just for an example, rather than my actual route! And my plan definitely doesn't involve going economy! These are actually coming out so low with cash+miles, and leaving me with so many miles to spare, that I'm considering first rather than business for at least some of the legs.

My current thinking is either a fairly simple Zone 2-9-8-2 (with what seems to be plausible routing giving me 7, 8, and 10 stopovers):

1) RIX-(SIN)-AKL. About a 2 month stopover in SIN, with a variety of side-trips from there, then about 3 months in NZ.
2) AKL-(NRT)-ICN. 3-4 weeks in Japan, and a couple in S. Korea.
3) ICN-(DEL)-RIX. A week or two in India on the way back.

That comes to 100k base (i.e. 75k + 1020 in business + taxes that look like being about 360).

or:

A a full-blown zone 2-10-7-9-8-2 series which would still only come out at 110k base and give a LOT more stopover options (IST or CAI between 2-10, any number of other SE Asia locations on 10-7, Australia on 7-9, etc). Although I'm also intrigued by making the 7-9-8 be something like SIN-(MEL)-TBU-(AKL)-NRT, with a week in Tonga before my 3 months in NZ. Or maybe even switching Japan to before NZ with a 7-9 of BKK-(NRT)-AKL and using my 8 on the way back to visit TAS or ALA! (I'd love to see Turkmenistan, but I can't find a route that goes that way, so Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan would have to do instead

Anyone see any problems with this sort of thing?

When booking something like this, is it better to do it all in one go (albeit step by step) or actually book each single separately? I've never done a redemption before (which is one of the reasons I have 140k miles in the first place!)
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Old May 22, 09, 1:46 am
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Originally Posted by salvadors View Post
But does backtracking even mean anything if you're just buying a series of singles? As long as it's an offered route, you're just stopping in the middle. It doesn't matter what your combined route might end up like, or how long you stop in any place, etc., right?
Backtracking only applies on each ticket, so it doesn't matter if you book 5 single tickets that backtrack all over the place, as long as there isn't any backtrack in the middle of each individual ticket!

I'm not best placed to advise on what routings will be 'allowed' you can always try and see since sounds like you are flexible. Sometimes it can depend on the call centre agent - but in general a reasonability test is applied and none of your options sounds too out of this world. If you check the miles on this website http://www.webflyer.com/travel/milemarker/ then you can apply your own reasonablness test. If you have flights that are more than double the mileage directly between two cities then it might be getting to the dubious stage (though this is only a rule of thumb and may still be valid anyway)

To work out if star alliance flies somewhere you can use the *A website;
http://www.staralliance.com/en/travellers/index.html
You will find that Star Alliance (Turkish Airlines/Lufthansa only) flies to Ashgabat, so if you have a routing via IST or GYD (Azerbaijan) then it will work. If going somewhere exotic like this as your final destination you will find the routing becomes more generous as its difficult to get there, and you may be able to, for example, have a day in IST, as any stop in a city that is less than 24 hours doesn't count as a stopover.

I think you are best now having a look at the sticky in this forum on how to use the ANA tool and work out routings/airlines that work for your dates with business class availability. As you're doing a lot of routes, and sounds like you're pretty flexible I'd probably say book each route when you find the availability. Also have a read of the general forum sticky for tips on dealing with the call centre. I use ANA along with the Star Alliance website for bookings. If the Star Alliance website shows a routing then its 99% sure that it will be a valid one for bookings, though it doesn't show stopovers too well.

When booking something like this, is it better to do it all in one go (albeit step by step) or actually book each single separately? I've never done a redemption before (which is one of the reasons I have 140k miles in the first place!)
You have to book each ticket individually, however, you can book 5 tickets on the same phone call if you wish. The main FAQ has more details and tips on the whole booking process

As a PS... if flying a lot like you are then you can, if you wish, try out lots of different business products by varying your airlines during the trip if you like that kind of thing - it doesn't have to be all with the same airline!
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Old May 22, 09, 2:03 am
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A much simpler way to achieve this type of trip would to use your miles for a nice C/F return trip to and from Kuala Lumpur, and use http://www.airasia.com/ based in KL to go wherever you want whilst there.

Maybe fly into KL (or Singapore and take the aeroline bus with very good biz type seats to KL for 20)

Once in KL you can go just about anywhere in Asia at very little cost. I just flew KL to Langkawi for 7.50.

All you need to do then is get back in time for your return C/F flight home.

This method probably has a more realistic chance of being arranged and certainly more flexible.
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Old May 22, 09, 3:13 am
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Originally Posted by littlevoices View Post
Backtracking only applies on each ticket, so it doesn't matter if you book 5 single tickets that backtrack all over the place, as long as there isn't any backtrack in the middle of each individual ticket!
That's what I thought - I just keep expecting that there's got to be some problem with doing this that I'm missing

Originally Posted by littlevoices View Post
To work out if star alliance flies somewhere you can use the *A website
Thanks. I found the RTW calculator slightly easier to use for this than the normal flight lookup, mostly because its 7-day tool groups the flights better, and I can see at a glance what stopovers would be possible. But either way I'm operating on the basis that if it offers a route between two places, there should be no problem with booking it and taking a stopover on anywhere that's already listed as a 'via', yes? I'm not actually constructing any route myself and hoping they'll be OK with them.

So, for example, the 8-2 ticket of ICN-RIX offers an OZ/TK/TK via DEL/IST as one of 9 possible routes. So presumably there's no problem with me booking that with a stopover in DEL? Or would they say that as that's 2 different carriers and the stopover is in a different zone I would need to buy 8-10 and 10-2 (which would be nearly double the miles required)?

Originally Posted by littlevoices View Post
As you're doing a lot of routes, and sounds like you're pretty flexible I'd probably say book each route when you find the availability. Also have a read of the general forum sticky for tips on dealing with the call centre.
*nod*. It's because I've read a bunch of call centre threads that I'm wanting to make sure I'm absolutely sure that my plan is OK before calling!

Thanks for the detailed response!
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Old May 22, 09, 3:34 am
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Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post
A much simpler way to achieve this type of trip would to use your miles for a nice C/F return trip to and from Kuala Lumpur, and use http://www.airasia.com/ based in KL to go wherever you want whilst there.
Thanks - that's very useful. I was wondering where the best base in SE Asia might be to do something like this, and that's looking pretty good. My primary destination (in terms of being both where I'll be staying the longest, and the furthest away) though is NZ. Most of what I'm doing is looking for interesting ways of breaking up the trips there and back. But I do plan to stop off on the way for a couple of months and travel around like that.

I actually wrote a little program to analyse the mileage redemption chart to look for routes that could be flown for around the same price by going via another zone. I was surprised to find three that are *cheaper* doing that (the well known 1-8 via 2, but also 2-7 via 10, and 3-6 via 1), but pleased that there are 16 different routes where it comes out the same (e.g. 2-9 is 100, but 2-8-9 is 50+50, thus allowing a 'free' destination of, for example, Tokyo or Seoul on the way to and/or from Aus/NZ, plus, of course, an extra stopover. (And this is doubly useful to me as I'm actually based in Zone 2, rather than Zone 1, so don't even need a positioning flight.)

So the simple expansion of a 2-9 return is a set of 2-8, 8-9, 9-8, 8-2 singles, giving 3 destinations and 4 stop-overs, vs the 1 destination/1 stop-over of the naive booking for the same price.

On the simple version I listed, I'm not even doing all that, I'm just going 2-9-8-2. But now I'm thinking that I may as well take an extra 8 on the outward, as it would allow me to position better in a 7 stopover or get an extra couple of free Asian cities saving even a couple of cheap AirAsia flights

Originally Posted by guitarplayer View Post
This method probably has a more realistic chance of being arranged and certainly more flexible.
Is what I'm describing actually unrealistic? I don't want to waste a lot of time on this if it's very unlikely it'd actually get booked!

Thanks.
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Old May 22, 09, 4:14 am
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Is what I'm describing actually unrealistic? I don't want to waste a lot of time on this if it's very unlikely it'd actually get booked!

Thanks.[/QUOTE]

I think it depends on how many trips you want to take and how flexible you are on dates. Trying to get a lot of redemption flights on specific dates is difficult, so the airasia method is more flexible.
If you look at the airasia timetable, you can plan visits to many countries on date you want.
Maybe fly to NZ on redemption, when finished there get a cheap RTN flight (or redemption) to KL and start your SE Asia country hopping from there?
I just think that trying to get all on redemption will restrict you, whereas using Airasia will allow you to go just wherever you want whilst in that area and allow you to visit cities for just a couple of days before moving on.
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