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A post-Freshman year RTW, featuring AA/BA/CX/KA/QF F and BA/LA/JL/RJ J

A post-Freshman year RTW, featuring AA/BA/CX/KA/QF F and BA/LA/JL/RJ J

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Old Jun 13, 11, 6:50 am
  #1  
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A post-Freshman year RTW, featuring AA/BA/CX/QF F and BA/LA/RJ J

Introduction

I am currently sitting in the British Airways Galleries First lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 5 (incidentally, if anyone is in T5 from now until 9pm on the 13th I’m happy to guest you in, PM me) sipping a glass of 2007 Bouchard Père Et Fils Meursault Les Clous and decided to dive into my first contribution to this forum.

This trip report will cover the journey I am taking over the next fifteen weeks, around the world, flying over 80,000 miles on Oneworld airlines. Currently I have three different tickets: first, a positioning flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia booked in discount business (I) upgraded to first for the TATL legs on American Airlines. Second, a Oneworld Explorer 5 Continent in First (AONE5). The ticket features longhaul legs in first class on British Airways, Qantas (on the A380) and Cathay Pacific, as well as business class on Royal Jordanian, Japan Airlines and LAN. Most recently I booked an award ticket issued by AA on Royal Jordanian from Amman to Erbil and returning through Amman to Cairo in economy. I plan to book at least two more tickets in the coming weeks for shorthaul travel.

I knew of the existence of Around the World tickets long before I discovered FlyerTalk, but I did not know of the extreme value of premium cabin RTW tickets beginning in countries in the Middle East and Africa until joining this forum in November. It was at this point that I decided I would spend the summer following my freshman year at the University of Washington travelling around the world in premium cabins. I considered the RTW products offered by Oneworld, Star Alliance and Skyteam and chose the Oneworld product because it has no mileage limitation. Thus, on this one ticket I will fly 59,600 miles and earn approximately 140,000 AA miles. With the addition of the positioning flights I will easily make Executive Platinum on AA with over 125,000 Elite Qualifying Points.

The booking process for the Oneworld Explorer was quite difficult. Though Oneworld has a decent planning tool on its website that (ostensibly ) allows online booking, I ultimately needed to have the AA Around the World Desk issue my ticket. My first attempt to book the ticket was while visiting a friend one evening in mid-January. I had been mulling over whether to book in first or business for a great while, and ultimately decided to pay the relatively small premium to fly in F. I interrupted her conversation with another friend by shoving my laptop in their faces and saying that I was going to purchase the most expensive thing in my life thus far. I asked the two of them to click the confirmation button with me. Anticlimactically the next page simply listed an entirely unhelpful and esoteric error code. They rolled their eyes and went back to gossiping. I was incensed and spent the next few days trying over and over again to purchase the ticket.

After reading reports of others with similar issues I gave up and decided I’d have to jump through the hoops to invoke the Canadian exception (it sounds like I’m summoning a demon or something ). The Canadian Exception is a relatively simple way to get a carrier to issue a RTW ticket starting in another country at that country’s fare. If you were to call up the AA RTW desk and book a RTW ticket beginning in Saudi Arabia, you would need to pay the same price you would pay if originating in the U.S., which is about $7,000 greater. There is a Canadian law, however, that mandates that if a ticket is purchased in Canada but departs from a foreign country, that the fare charged must be the lower of the Canadian fare and the foreign country’s fare. After a few calls to the AA RTW desk I had a held reservation queued for ticketing in Canada, and simply needed to drive up to Vancouver to purchase it. The ticketing agent at YVR was surprised when I gave her my record locator; apparently in all her years working for AA she had only once before seen a RTW ticket…two days previously.

With an AONE5 in hand, I booked my positioning flight to Riyadh. I was surprised to find that even six months out I did not have my first choice of date if I wanted to book an I fare. Nevertheless I found a suitable flight and upgraded to F immediately due to the abundant A inventory. Only about two weeks ago, I decided I wanted to visit Arbil/ههولێر in Iraqi Kurdistan. I planned on purchasing a revenue ticket in economy for the short two hour hop from Amman on Royal Jordanian, but ticket prices in restricted economy were upwards of JOD600 round trip for the least desirable days, so I elected to spend 35,000 AA miles on an economy award, tacking on a flight to Cairo on the return and then travelling overland back to Jordan to continue the RTW.

The flights were ticketed and I slowly (verrrrrry slowly) began to pack my bags as the annoyance of final exams distracted me. The upcoming adventure was all I could think about.

Yes, this is my 8 page ticket receipt...

Last edited by BrewerSEA; Dec 23, 11 at 3:21 pm Reason: removed stock control number on ticket receipt
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Old Jun 13, 11, 7:05 am
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Sounds like a good start. Be sure to start using your camera for your TRs.
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Old Jun 13, 11, 8:02 am
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Looking forward to this, BrewerSEA!

However might I recommend you edit the photo of the ticket to block out the ticket number (down at the bottom.) No reason to let the world see that.
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Old Jun 13, 11, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Looking forward to this, BrewerSEA!

However might I recommend you edit the photo of the ticket to block out the ticket number (down at the bottom.) No reason to let the world see that.
I was under the impression that this is simply the stock control number and had no link to the actual ticket. Is that incorrect? On an e-ticket receipt the ticket number is printed on the top rather than the bottom.
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Old Jun 13, 11, 1:03 pm
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Looking forward to all you're going to write about. Enjoy your trip.

You might also consider editing out your full name no the ticket. Unless that stuff doesn't bother you.

Either way
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Old Jun 13, 11, 2:28 pm
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Originally Posted by BrewerSEA View Post
I was under the impression that this is simply the stock control number and had no link to the actual ticket. Is that incorrect? On an e-ticket receipt the ticket number is printed on the top rather than the bottom.
I don't know. I presume you've checked? Starting with 001 it sure looks like an AA ticket number.
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Old Jun 13, 11, 4:44 pm
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Looking forward to loads of photos! Have fun.
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Old Jun 13, 11, 10:52 pm
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Epic! Excited for updates, stay safe!
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Old Jun 13, 11, 11:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Sahcurity View Post
Looking forward to all you're going to write about. Enjoy your trip.

You might also consider editing out your full name no the ticket. Unless that stuff doesn't bother you.

Either way
I tend to use my full name on the internet. I find when I feel less anonymous I feel more accountable for what I say online. Thanks for the heads up though.

Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
I don't know. I presume you've checked? Starting with 001 it sure looks like an AA ticket number.
I'm not certain, but better safe than sorry.
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Old Jun 14, 11, 7:55 pm
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AA SEA-DFW in Domestic F

Note: sorry for the quality of the pictures so far. My DSLR was stolen recently and I'm only just adjusting to using this point and shoot in low light.
Seattle to Dallas/Fort Worth – Sunday June 12, 2011
AA 1658
12:10-18:05 (3:55)
Boeing 737-800 New Configuration
Seat 4F
First Class


At 12:15 on Saturday, when OLCI opened (didn’t work, as I expected), I wasn’t exactly prepared to fly 9,500 miles with enough crap to last 15 weeks in such disparate locations that I need be prepared for weather ranging from 0-50° Celsius and the expectations of conservative Riyadh and the beaches of Thailand. In fact, I didn’t even have a proper bag to check. A mad dash to REI with my mom ensued where she, I’m not joking, insisted I buy new underwear “because the stuff you have won’t wick well in the heat.” She’s probably right, but I couldn’t help laughing at such stereotypical harping mother behavior from a woman who is in no way a stereotypical mother. We left with a gargantuan rolling duffel which I’m using to carry my internal-frame backpack (for my more off-the-beaten-path destinations) as well as some liquids. Then I went to my fraternity (ΦΑ to any ΣΑΕs out there) to move all my possessions home for the summer. You can see I’m an extremely organized person. When done moving just after midnight, I went home to pack, which only took about an hour. Then back to the fraternity to say goodbye to some friends, an abysmal four hours of sleep, some final errands, and back home to get a ride to the airport from the ‘rents.


I arrived at Sea-Tac just about an hour before departure. There was one couple at the First Class counter, which was served by one agent with one station empty, but no line. After less than a minute I was helped. I handed the agent my passport and was asked where I was headed today. After answering Riyadh, she flipped through my passport to locate my visa before even typing anything into her computer. I was impressed by her knowledge!


Saudi transit visa

She put the newish AA priority tags on my bag. The security lines were abysmal (for SEA, suck it big cities) leading up to the doc checker, but PriorityAAccess had only one or two people ahead of me. I was ushered to a backscatter x-ray and opted out, as did the woman in front of me. After the screams of FEMALE ASSIST! MALE ASSIST! we were lead through the WTMD and given our “enhanced pat-downs.” For those of you who haven’t experienced this, I highly recommend it. Quite a titillating experience ::. Nothing compares to having a stranger draw his fingers around your waste inside your underwear in the middle of a crowded departure hall.


Pain aside, I made it to the gate about ten minutes before boarding. I wouldn’t have made the first call if it weren’t for the PriorityAAccess security. After those with special needs were boarded, First, Executive Platinum, Oneworld Emeralds and Uniformed Military were called, consistent with AA’s new boarding order. I sat down in 4F next to a 85-90 year old gentleman who promptly introduced himself and shook my hand, though his name escapes me now. We went on to talk sporadically for much of the flight. He was in Seattle with a number of family members (who he ribbed endlessly as they passed on their way to coach) for his son’s wedding. When he saw me taking notes for this TR, he told me he was a pilot during WWII, and I responded that my grandfather was a navigator on a B-24 out of the Aleutians. (Fun fact, in 1944 the B-24 was put into service on Qantas Empire Airways’ trans-Indian Ocean route, which was at that time the longest nonstop route (PER-CMB) in the world, operated by a PBY Catalina in 27 hours. The B-24 flew an approximately 500 mile shorter route out of Learmonth, north of Perth. The flight was called the Kangaroo Service, and was the first time Qantas used the kangaroo logo.) We talked about life and this trip for most of the flight and I was able to miss the film, which was Beastly.


Qantas Kangaroo Service (1944)

The food and drinks service on this flight was decent. I was not offered a PDB (though I never have been in Seattle) but about 30 minutes after takeoff we were offered drinks and warm mixed nuts in a ramekin. I asked for my first gin and tonic of the day and it was promptly delivered.


Warm mixed nuts and a gin and tonic with lime

For lunch we were given the option of chicken enchilada or chicken Cobb salad with pepper cream dressing. I chose the salad, as I always do on AA lunch flights. There was a ridiculous amount of bacon on it, which was nice considering I was headed to the land-of-no-pork. It was also served with pita chips and hummus, which is typical of AA.


Chicken Cobb salad with pita chips, hummus and white wine

My seatmate ordered the enchilada, but I don’t think he understood what it was. He seemed to enjoy it. I drank the offered white wine, which was crappy as usual. My wine was refilled once and I was offered G&Ts at least four times after lunch, though I only had one more. Later in the flight we were offered warm toffee sugar cookies, which were delicious, and coffee or tea. My coffee was flavorless.


Toffee sugar cookie


Black coffee

I think AA has the best food service in domestic F, though I can’t compare it to AA and UA’s offerings on the New York – California routes. I can say that the food was comparable to what I got on a nighttime LHR-RUH in J on British Airways.


After lunch service a man came up from coach who looked very ill and stood by the aircraft door. The FAs were very accommodating and gave him water and a sickbag and put down the jumpseat. I think his situation must have deteriorated because a short while after he returned to his seat they rushed up and down the aisles with a first aid kit and stethoscope. There was no call for doctors, but when we arrived at the gate 10 minutes early there were paramedics standing by, though for some reason F was allowed to deplane first. I walked landside to smoke, which was a mistake as when I later found a smoking lounge in the D23 Admirals Club. Overall this was probably one of the most enjoyable midcons I've flown.
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Old Jun 14, 11, 8:07 pm
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Freshman year.... served on domestic airline....typical age of 18/19 does not add up here :P
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Old Jun 14, 11, 8:11 pm
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Originally Posted by armattheus View Post
Freshman year.... served on domestic airline....typical age of 18/19 does not add up here :P
Shhhhhh! :P
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Old Jun 14, 11, 8:40 pm
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Enjoy the libations.
But beware of Gin, it's a viscous mistress.
Originally Posted by BrewerSEA View Post
Shhhhhh! :P

Last edited by Yoshi212; Jun 14, 11 at 8:51 pm
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Old Jun 14, 11, 8:48 pm
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Great TR so far, looking forward to the next installment.

Question: was RUH the cheapest place in the ME to price the DONE5 out of?
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Old Jun 14, 11, 8:54 pm
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Fantastic!! Keep going, enjoy and stay safe.
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