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OneWorld? More like Many Worlds. - Australian Fiasco 2011

OneWorld? More like Many Worlds. - Australian Fiasco 2011

Old Sep 25, 11, 11:43 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: HOU
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Posts: 79
OneWorld? More like Many Worlds. - Australian Fiasco 2011

A report of my frequent-flying family’s recent trip to Australia, full of interesting airline experiences.


Contents:

I. Planning
II. To Australia
III. Aussie Sights (coming soon)
IV. 11th Hour Rearrangements (coming soon)
V. To USA (coming soon)
VI. Aftermath (pending resolution)
VII. Summary (coming soon)

Last edited by arboc7; Sep 25, 11 at 12:55 pm Reason: Updating Contents
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:44 am
  #2  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: HOU
Programs: AA EXP, AMEX Plat
Posts: 79
I. Planning

The easy part was choosing to travel to Australia for two weeks in August/September 2011 due to the launch of Qantas’s DFW service. With many thousands of miles in the AAdvantage program between the three of us (one EXP, one PLT, and one GLD), we wanted to take advantage of the non-stop travel from Dallas to Australia, and as a new route, we could find business award seats. Moreover, thanks to FT, I knew that an OneWorld Award would be the most valuable and efficient use of our miles for this trip. We easily had one non-AA OW airline (Qantas), but finding another airline without traveling via Asia or South America proved challenging.

We had settled on the outbound international and domestic portions of the trip: DFW-BNE-ASP-AYQ-CNS-BNE-CBR-MEL-SYD. Even with a return SYD-DFW, we were over 20k miles, so it made sense to add more flights to get as close to the mileage bracket limit of 25k miles—without going over, of course! With >4k miles to spare, we added our annual Florida trip, but because the originating city cannot be used for a later stopover under the award rules and we wanted to stopover in Dallas between Florida and Australia, we started the trip in Houston, adding IAH-MIA and PBI-DFW. In hindsight, OKC would have been better because we would not have had to use the only open jaw permitted for MIA/PBI, flying OKC-DFW-PBI instead and allowing the destination to be DFW instead of IAH.

While exploring our options to find a suitable second non-AA OW airline to complete the requirements for a OneWorld Award, we discovered several options, including LA SYD-AKL, BA NAS-GCM, BA NAS-PLS, and options to include the now-defunct MX. After many hours on the phone with and drafting numerous e-mails to Concierge Key shifting the trip back and forth in a 5 week window, we finally discovered a combination of our domestic itinerary and the LA SYD-AKL leg with a AKL-LAX-DFW return that had business class award availability on the entire trip.


The final ticketed trip:
IAH-MIA/PBI-DFW-BNE-ASP-AYQ-CNS-BNE-CBR-MEL-SYD-AKL-LAX-DFW-IAH
14 segments
7 stopovers (PBI, DFW, AYQ, CNS, CBR, MEL, and SYD)
One overnight connection (AKL)
Miles to be flown: 24,405 miles
AAdvantage miles used: 150,000 per person (same amount of miles as one standard business round-trip to Australia + one domestic economy MileSAAver)


Australian hotels booked:
AYQ – Sails in the Desert (only paid hotel)
CNS – Hilton Cairns (points)
CBR – Park Hyatt Canberra (Chase Hyatt CC free night)
MEL – Park Hyatt Melbourne (points)
SYD – Marriott Sydney Harbour (points, because Park Hyatt Sydney is undergoing extensive renovation)
AKL – Hilton Auckland (points, even on the eve of the Rugby World Cup!)
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:44 am
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II. To Australia

Flight Path DFW-BNE:

Fiji. We were in Fiji, not Brisbane, but Fiji! Florida went so well, without a hitch in fact. But now, after securing Qantas F seats with J service in the nose of a 744 DFW-BNE, not only was there fog in Brisbane, but while on approach to Noumea, the pilots learned that there was fog there, too! So we turned around and flew 2 hours back to NAN. Two more hours on the plane on the tarmac to see if the pilots could get a waiver to go over their legal hours slightly, then they let us off and into the Air Pacific lounge because the waiver did not come through.

QF agent on the ground? Nope. Skype working to call QF in Australia? Nope. Called QF on lounge phone to rework our complicated itinerary? Nope. As soon as the agent saw it was an AA ticket, he said “Call AA.” Called AA on lounge phone to rework the itinerary? Nope. AA EXP desk could not see any award inventory and had no authority to override anything, since it was QF’s problem. Moreover, AA EXP agents claimed that they are not allowed to even talk to QF agents, only AA’s QF liaison can do that, and get this: they’re only in the office M-F 9-5! Here we were in Fiji on a Sunday (Saturday afternoon in the US), with no one to talk with to resolve the missed connections to AYQ for our one night stay, then immediate hop up to CNS for two nights.

After eight hours in the Nadi airport (not allowed to leave), a new flight crew arrived on a Pacific Blue flight, and we resumed our flight to BNE, arriving around 8pm, a 15 hour delay. We had convinced AA to rebook us to CNS the next afternoon, since we were planning to head there anyway, but QF had also rebooked us for the next day: BNE-CNS-AYQ-CNS. The AYQ-CNS was our originally scheduled flight, operated with the same plane as the CNS-AYQ flight. So much for seeing Ayers’ Rock during a 30 minute turnaround. We settled for continuing the remainder of the trip as ticketed, throwing out AYQ in the meantime, hoping that we might be able to add it back in at the end of the trip.

Last edited by arboc7; Sep 25, 11 at 12:18 pm
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:45 am
  #4  
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III. Aussie Sights

Coming soon!
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:46 am
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IV. 11th Hour Rearrangements

Coming soon!
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:47 am
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V. To USA

Coming soon!
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:47 am
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VI. Aftermath

Coming soon!
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Old Sep 25, 11, 11:48 am
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VII. Summary

Coming soon!
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