Sydney to Washington, DC with a pregnant wife

Old Jul 4, 18, 10:16 am
  #1  
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Sydney to Washington, DC with a pregnant wife

Ms. Captain Starwood and I are expecting our first child in September. While we live in Sydney, she wants to give birth in United States in Washington DC.

We need to get from syd to Dc in early August, and my company will pay for reasonably priced J tickets, as long as we keep the total cost reasonable (these are one way tickets).

one option I’ve identified would be syd to hnl on Hawaiian or Qantas, spend a night in HNL in a nice hotel, then fly direct to washington on the United nonstop on a 767. This is roughly 4-5k per ticket. the major upside here is two flights of 9-10 hours with a short relaxing stop in Hawaii.

another alternative is Virgin J to LAX,with a less nice stopover and somewhat unpleasant arrival experience in LA. Hotel night and then connect to DC the next day.

air NZ would be a good option as well but it it involves two stops, which my wife isn’t into.

UA would’ve be my default but tickets one way are 7-8k each.

thoughts? My wife’s comfort is the most important factor here

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Old Jul 4, 18, 5:49 pm
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There are many options
QF fly SYD-LAX-JFK (all QF metal)
QF fly SYD-DFW. Then AA DFW-IAD
DL, VA, AA & QF all fly SYD-LAX

The budget may be a problem.
You mention "one way are 7-8k each". What is the cost of a return?

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Old Jul 4, 18, 6:03 pm
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A couple of things:

1. She may not be allowed on the plane if she’s too advanced. Each airline’s policy varies, check them first. She will inevitably need an obstetrician’s certificate.

2. No travel insurance will cover you that late in the pregnancy as you will be well into 3rd trimester.
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Old Jul 5, 18, 2:46 am
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It's a good point - note that she gives birth in late September and we're traveling first day or two of August, so we're pre-32 weeks. Most airlines have a 36 week cut-off.

That's true. I believe there is one Australian travel insurance that goes to 32 weeks.
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Old Jul 5, 18, 2:50 am
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Thanks - to be clear, I'm aware of the options of who flies from SYD to the US. This a prioritization and optimization problem.

From what I see, a return business class ticket will run 10k or more. The funding is for one-way, not return.

Unclear whether ticketing that is one-way J and return in E would actually be cheaper.

QF will be both the most expensive and LAX and DFW are both long flights. They are also off status for me, though that is minor issue.

UA also flies to LAX.

VA seems to be the cheapest direct to LAX.

LAX is, unfortunately, a horrible airport to land in at 6am and do the border with a pregnant exhausted wife.

SYD-HNL on Hawaiian and then HNL to IAD on UA (domestic F) may be the best bet, but it is two tickets.
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Old Jul 5, 18, 5:13 am
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You can get AUD 3,300 J one-way on Air China SYD-PEK-IAD so there is a cheap option (not sure I personally would take it), otherwise your choices are as you describe. For same $5k-ish fare you can also get QR via Qatar much longer flight but more comfortable J so maybe better overall. Otherwise via HNL on HA is not bad and they have some new J config planes now though still not up to QF standard. HNL immigration and customs is a pleasure but the airport does involve lots of walking (much more than LAX).
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Old Jul 5, 18, 8:17 pm
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Very helpful, number_6! I've heard mixed reviews of air china J, and I worry that if there is an issue being in China will not be easy from a medical perspective. I think minimizing travel time is important, otherwise the QR would be a good bet.

HNL on the A330 seems okay, better than Jetstar J. That HNL immigration is a pleasure is actually very helpful intel - I suspected this would be the case.

Re: walking, I wonder if we can ask for assistance from the carrier. A wheelchair may be a bit much, but between pregnancy and J class, HA may be open to helping us out?

HA and UA tickets both seem to be fully refundable, which is good, as well.
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Old Jul 5, 18, 9:41 pm
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You can certainly request ac wheelchair at any airport. You mention this is prioritization and optimisation problem. What factors are most important. All of these options are long travels for someone in their third trimester. There may not be medical risks but comfort is certainly a concern. It's not just the flight themselves but airports andvtin e changes
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Old Jul 6, 18, 1:55 am
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Originally Posted by captain_starwood View Post
UA would’ve be my default but tickets one way are 7-8k each.
The cheapest I can see for a single-stop UA flight in early August is A$9,757, so I'm presuming you're talking US$ there?

If you add on a IAD-SYD return leg a few months later, the total price drops to A$6,662 (US$4,935).

It looks like those fares have no maximum stay (beyond the usual 12 months), so you could potentially book it far out, and then pay a change fee to move it to the dates you actually want it if you do decide to use the return in Economy.
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Old Jul 6, 18, 4:41 am
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I’m curious as to why your wife wants to give birth in the US.

I have 2 young kids myself and I’m struggling to understand why one would want to fly 20 hours so late in the pregnancy.

If family live over there, I’d have thought it wiser to have them fly out to help you out in the first few weeks of bub’s life.

Getting them back is a hassle too - depending on how long you and your wife are staying there for, obtaining a passport for a very young kid is an ordeal, the photo process is painful when they won’t do what they’re told!

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Old Jul 8, 18, 1:03 am
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I'd strongly recommend HNL. It's a very pleasant immigration experience (and much less likely to get hassled, important considering how advanced your wife will be). It has lots of open space and seating, even out in fresh air.

HA J is great for couples. And the UA 767 will be one of the better ways to get from HNL to DC.

Avoid LAX at all costs. I'd even say a SYD-HNL-SEA-DC routing would be preferable to any LAX experience. Even if you can preboard at LAX, you may have to wade through incredible gate crowds or stand for long periods.

Last edited by CPMaverick; Jul 8, 18 at 3:00 am
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Old Jul 8, 18, 4:56 am
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Key factors are: reducing time on airplanes while ensuring positive experience for my wife in business class.
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Old Jul 8, 18, 5:00 am
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Thanks, CPMaverick. This basically confirms what I'd suspected.

Easy immigration experience is very good. I'm really trying to avoid LAX, as you suggest.

Positive review of the HNL-IAD 767 is also helpful. I've booked that ticket, and it is 100% refundable.

The only remaining issue is that the SYD-HNL flights are not refundable (HA doesn't seem to sell refundable J tickets often), and the prices are spiked.

QF J is another option, Air New Zealand is backup. Jetstar J seem like a subpar option.
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Old Jul 8, 18, 7:02 am
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1. How are you going to pay for the massive hospital bill.
2. Will the US let you in with only a one way ticket?
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Old Jul 8, 18, 9:59 am
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The technical questions raised by Annalisa12 are fairly important -- I don't think US will let you in on a one-way with no return and no corresponding work / student visa unless one or both of you are US Citizens, especially with a stay slated to be at least 30 days.

Have you looked at award availability?

There is a fair amount of SYD - LAX / SFO availability throughout August with a couple that show LAX / SFO - IAD / BWI / DCA availability (though long layover).

There's currently an award sale which puts the cost of buying 149,850 miles (the maximum under the promotion -- 81k + 85% bonus) at $3047 -- you'd have to come up with the other 11k miles.

Haven't looked at the other carriers but one-way international travel is one area where buying miles can make a lot of sense.
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