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7 Countries, 26,000 Miles & First Class on 3 Airlines. A disaster in the making!

7 Countries, 26,000 Miles & First Class on 3 Airlines. A disaster in the making!

Old Apr 4, 13, 2:18 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Programs: AA,UA SLV, SPG GLD,Hyatt GP Plat.,National Exec., Hertz Platinum
Posts: 236
Smile 7 Countries, 26,000 Miles & First Class on 3 Airlines. A disaster in the making!

As many of you may know, I am a college student by day and the amusing, yet mystical, Bengali Miles Guru by night. After traveling almost 100,000 miles since January, I knew that my upcoming spring break trip would have to be amazing. It would also have to help me attain my 12 months, 12 countries goal.

After giving it some thought, the best idea was to include my friends into the crazy trip I’m about to embark on.

Introduction:

I didn’t know where to go but naturally, I thought that maybe it should be Europe since I just flew to Asia a month ago. I set my sights on a Eurotrip themed adventure! I knew that it would have to be awesome and that my friends would have to be amused as well. I finally settled on this proposed route plan:

Los Angeles-Frankfurt

1 night in Frankfurt (Hotwire a Hotel)

Drive to Amsterdam

2 nights in Amsterdam (Radisson Blu Amsterdam)

Drive to Paris

2 nights in Paris (Radisson Blu Champs Elysees & Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel)

Drive back to Frankfurt and visit cities a long the way.

Frankfurt- Los Angeles


The hotels alone were an absolute wonder to book. In Frankfurt & Amsterdam, I resorted to Hotwire and was able to get great rates that were sub $100 per night! The best feeling was going to hotels.com and seeing that the Radisson Blu Amsterdam was $296 on the nights I wanted to go. I got the same hotel on Hotwire for $86 plus tax!

In Paris, I elected to use my Club Carlson points to book two nights at two different hotels since we have a lot of people going. I was able to use the free bonus night stay that comes with the Club Carlson card and for 100,000 points, I got 2 rooms in Paris for 2 nights each (4 nights total for the price of 2)

In Paris, the hotel prices were about 330-430 Euros/Night depending on the hotels so I think I got great value from those points! (2.1 Cents)

It proved to be a stellar trip but I yearned for more, and that’s exactly what I got.

After booking my friends on a LAX-ATL-FRA-ORD-LAX flight (in Business Class because, you know, college students need to travel in style) for 100,000 miles, I looked into my own flights. Sure, I was going to all these cool places with my friends but I also wanted to make a great Trip Report out of it. I also wanted to get the most value out of my mile.

I sat down and thought about other routes till I could think no more. I came up with this masterpiece:

Los Angeles-Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business Class (A330) Part of US Airways 90K US-Europe-Asia


My parents modeling the Lufthansa Business Class seats

Paris-Kuala Lumpur in Malaysian First Class (A380) 105,000 Amex-British Air Points



Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok in Lufthansa First Class (Yes, it’s not wrong) United 70K First Class Award. Picture could change based on flight availability.



Bangkok-Hong Kong in Thai First Class (A380) United 70K First Class Award



Hong Kong-Frankfurt (Lufthansa 747-8i 70K United Award)



Frankfurt-Los Angeles (Lufthansa First Class 70K Award)




My Proposed Trip
To make things more complicated, I used a 90k US Airways redemption to go US-Europe-Asia. I scheduled Europe-Asia as a later trip in September so technically, I end in Europe for now. I then transferred some Membership Rewards to get myself on the Malaysian Airlines A380 from Paris-KUL. I was never supposed to come back to Europe from Malaysia but I realized my flight wouldn’t make it in time to take a free ticket I had from Singapore-Los Angeles. That’s when I dipped into my United Miles to book a return from Asia-Los Angeles.

The Total Costs:

90,000 US Airways miles & $200 in Taxes

105,000 American Express Membership Rewards & $1,000 in Taxes

70,000 United miles & 100 in Taxes

The best part of this trip is that I get to test out a bunch of new products and hopefully report them back to you guys!

Some interesting tidbits about this trip include:

Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok is actually operated by Lufthansa. It is part of their Bangkok – Frankfurt flight so it goes KUL-BKK-FRA.

Overall, this trip should be fun for me and terrifying for my mom who will probably be worrying a little too much.

By flying this route, I’ll be at 4 different A380 First Class cabins in less than 3 months of each other! I’ve already flown Lufthansa & Singapore! Adding Malaysian & Thai to the mix will only leave me with Emirates, Korean Air, Air France, China Southern, & Qantas. I am most interested in flying Emirates and China Southern’ A380s in the future!

If you don’t see me on one of these flights in the upcoming days, you’ll surely see me at FTU DC in a few weeks! Hope to meet you all! You can also follow this trip on Instagram with the hashtag #flywithbmg.


Last edited by tahsir21; Apr 8, 13 at 2:03 pm
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Old Apr 4, 13, 2:33 pm
  #2  
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Malaysia Air First Class on the A380 Paris- Kuala Lumpur

Part 1: Introduction & MH A380 First Class
Part 2: Thai Airways A380 First Class

It's been a long week for me as I have just spent a few days in Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The entire week was a blast and it was probably the best trip of my life. To make it even better, at the end of the week I was scheduled to fly Malaysia Airlines new A380 in their First Class cabin. Here's how it went.

I left Paris around 9AM to catch my 12PM departure. Originally, I was supposed to be dropped off but the train seemed like a more viable option. I got to the airport at around 10AM and proceeded to look for the Malaysia Airlines counter for the next 15 minutes. Malaysia Airlines departs out of Terminal 1 at CDG and if you don't know, the terminal is like a huge circle. I walked around for 10 minutes (in two full circles) until I realized that some airlines check in one floor below where I was. It was kind of odd, but I could see why they did that as soon as I got downstairs and saw the line. The economy line stretched so long that other airline counters were having trouble distinguishing who was flying each airline.

All the way to the corner was the check in desk for First Class. There was no line and I was checked in smoothly. As soon as I started walking away, the agent noticed that my bag looked a little big. She asked me to weigh it, and it weighed 12kg when the max was 7kg. I pleaded with her to let me take it on board and she replied "OK, just make sure you take your laptop out and put it underneath the seat." I agreed knowing that my laptop doesn't weigh 10 pounds.

After my boarding passes were checked, I was able to head to immigration/passport control. This is one part that could easily be improved as there is a priority line that is for frequent/premium passengers. However, Malaysia Air doesn't give their premium flyers a card to access this line. I didn't mind but the normal line stretched the length of the entire "circle" terminal and it took me an hour to get through just immigration.

By this time, it was 11:15 so I headed to the lounge.

The Malaysia Airlines lounge is the same lounge that Priority Pass users are granted access to, so anyone with an American Express Platinum can get in. It is called the Icare lounge and it has a pretty decent selection of food and snacks. It is a bit confusing to get to the lounge because right when you walk upstairs, a huge plaque tells you that Malaysia Airlines is actually partnered with another lounge. Either way, I made it and took a seat at which point I was served a croissant on a silver platter.

Twenty minutes later, boarding for First and Business class passengers was announced in the lounge. I headed to the gate and went through security. Afterwards, I immediately went to the gate and was let through to go to the plane. I was the first to board and I got to take a few pictures before anyone else sat down.









In some A380s like Singapore and Malaysia, the First Class cabin is downstairs, which I believe is a huge waste of space. While walking around the cabin, I noticed that there was a tremendous amount of wasted space by the front galley.

In addition, the First Class bathrooms were tiny! I was told by the purser to use the bathrooms upstairs as they are bigger. Upstairs they are the same size as Lufthansa's A380 bathrooms, but without the bench.



After boarding was completed, the purser brought by some pajamas for me to change into. She also noted that all my amenities were in the Malaysia Airlines bag that was on the ottoman. I think that the amenity bag Malaysia gives out is the best ever as often times, my suitcase is bulging with clothes and opening it midair means that I'll never be able to close it again!



The amenity kit included a toothbrush set, socks, mouthwash and lotions by Bvlgari. It was a nice package with a nice toiletry bag. It also included noise canceling headphones.



I looked around my seat and found that the seat itself has immense amounts of storage space. There were 4 storage areas not including the huge storage area under the ottoman. In addition, every suite has it's own built in closet! The seat itself is made of velour sidings.








Velour Walls



By this time, we were taxiing for takeoff. The MH A380 has an auto tailcam feature so that everyone can watch it at the same time while taking off. The tailcam is turned off about 5 minutes after takeoff and cannot be seen again until landing.



About 15 minutes after takeoff, the pilot came on air to inform us that it would take about 11 hours and 15 minutes to reach Kuala Lumpur. Right after, the lunch service began. The purser came around to my suite and chatted with me for about 15 minutes during which I learned a lot of things. Firstly, the crew at Malaysia Air only flies to the US once a year! That means that each crew member only goes to Los Angeles (their only North American destination) once a year. I'm not sure how they do that as I believe Malaysia Air has service to Los Angeles 3x a week! Her take was that Malaysia Air wasn't really prepared for this plane when they got it because they only placed orders for the A380 due to competition from other airlines. By doing so, Malaysia will lose a lot of money in the long run. They did however, have a nifty app on their iPad that told the crew every detail about me. She offered to take a picture on her iPad that would later be sent to me.

The service by Malaysia Air is very friendly. Unlike other airlines that try to just serve you, the MH crew tries to personalize the service. I personally prefer this type of crew because I like to interact with them. One crew member literally stood at my suite for 20 minutes talking to me about my camera and where to buy it. I enjoyed that but I can see where some other travelers might have a problem with that, so you should consider whether you'd like this level of chattiness.

While looking around the cabin, I came to another realization. Malaysia Air caters to families. I was the only person in this cabin that did not know anyone. the other 7 people were all family members with 2 kids occupying 2 seats (good for them!) I asked the purser what the load is like in First Class and she said it's usually families like the one today. The best part is that they upgraded 5/8 people from business class. That's amazing and partially explains why they aren't making a ton of money on this product.

After chatting for a bit, the purser told me to look at my menu card which was inside a leather folder.





I had pre-ordered a few weeks back so I just chose the Amuse Bouche and Soup; both of which were very good! The best part is that they have a great snack menu if someone get's hungry between meals.








Amuse Bouche


Satay


Chicken Soup


Main Course: Beef Medallion



Dessert: Chocolate Cake

Last edited by tahsir21; Apr 8, 13 at 4:03 pm
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Old Apr 4, 13, 2:34 pm
  #3  
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After lunch, I went and changed upstairs and also got to take some pictures of the business class cabin. There is also a business class lounge at the top of the stairs. I was advised that I could use the lounge upstairs to get snacks and also the lounge in the galley behind me except, there was no lounge behind me as it was just a basket with snacks.



Business Class



I came back down and my bed was made without even asking! I loved the service on this flight because this crew literally anticipated all of my needs. Water was placed on the side table and I was ready to get some sleep but couldn't.



I started browsing the entertainment selection which had a few movies and TV shows. The selection was good, but the software itself is a bit sluggish. I found myself constantly going back and forth between programs because the system was so slow. In addition, I feel like the remote is very poorly made. When it was dark, half of the lights on the remote wouldn't light up and it was hard to find the select button.






The seat itself is one of the most comfortable seats in the sky. It features a memory button so it can remember the exact position you like if you have to get up and do something or even switch positions to eat. The design of the suite is stunning and it offers a lot of privacy but I found it a bit hard to find the power and headphone jack because it was buried under an armrest. I would've easily found it, but the lighting in this suite is so horrible that you can see more without it than you can with it. For example, the reading light pointed towards the TV. The top reading light pointed to my face instead of the table. When the seat is fully reclined, another reading light that does not have any light power shoots at the TV as well. I literally had to feel my way around the seat until I got fed up and used my phone's flashlight.




Although the lighting and entertainment are a bit off, I love everything else about this suite. At night, I felt like I was in my own personal movie theater as there was backlighting behind the 23 inch TV. It looked amazing! Also, the best part about this suite is that there is a dedicated air vent. This is a great addition because I get really warm under blankets when flying, and the air vent helped out a lot! The blankets on this flight were down comforters and the pillows were feather down. Both were extremely comfortable!



My own movie theater!


You get your own vent!

I slept for about 6 hours and was woken up an hour before landing. I foolishly pre-ordered king prawns for breakfast and was hitting myself on the head for eating something like that for breakfast instead of cereal. I asked the purser for corn flakes, which were brought out promptly.



At this time, we were 45 minutes away from landing and the captain came out to chat with everyone in First Class. Again, I felt like he knew all the other passengers as he started hugging them. I didn't get a hug . The captain came over and thanked me for flying and that he hoped to see me again soon.

The seatbelt signs turned off and I experienced the smoothest landing of my life! I didn't even know we touched down until I heard the reverse thrust.

And so we have it. One more A380 off my checklist and one great crew that really knew how to pamper their customers. As I left the plane, I looked back and saw the outside of the A380. I love the color scheme Malaysia Air put on the A380!



My overall thoughts about this product are: don't fly it unless you are on a oneworld explorer ticket or unless you really need to go to Malaysia directly. Although it's a great product, it's not worth the amount of miles needed to fly it--70,000 American miles or 105k Avios each way from London or Paris to Kuala Lumpur.

Other than that, kudos to Malaysia Air for making such a comfortable and visually stunning seat!

Last but not least, I had to post a picture of my favorite drink! Iced Milo!











Thanks for reading! I write for milevalue.com

-BMG
tahsir21 is offline  
Old Apr 4, 13, 2:48 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Washington D.C. via Sao Paulo via Houston via Washington D.C. via Boston via New York
Posts: 1,171
I just flew about 30k on an award ticket similar to you, and the one huge gripe I had about it was how hot it was on the plane, the one flight that had a fantastic temperature was the one Qatar flight I was on. The reason was the vent. I want to praise Malaysian air on including a vent blowing cooling air on you while you sleep. I'm a man of simple needs. Looking good on the TR so far though, sorry for the tangent.
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Old Apr 5, 13, 7:23 pm
  #5  
 
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I'm enjoying the heck out of your trip report. Keep it coming.^
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Old Apr 5, 13, 9:32 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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As German national I am proud about the LH product. However eager to try Malaysia Airlines new A 380 service.
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Old Apr 5, 13, 11:33 pm
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wow nice report
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Old Apr 6, 13, 5:56 am
  #8  
hsk
 
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Great report!

But please, for the love of internet, resize your photos. Especially that one Lufthansa cabin photo that stretches across 10,000 or so pixels.
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Old Apr 6, 13, 6:40 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: ORD, SJD, VNO, sandy places
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Affordable ?

Thank you for an excellent TR along with pictures that inspire !
May I ask a simple question ?
Please don't interpret this question as a nasty inquiry, just curiosity.
How can a student without noticeable 'elite' status afford all the miles utilized from several different airlines for this fascinating journey?
Perhaps you were a CEO in a previous life ?
aafreq is offline  
Old Apr 6, 13, 9:14 am
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by aafreq View Post
Thank you for an excellent TR along with pictures that inspire !
May I ask a simple question ?
Please don't interpret this question as a nasty inquiry, just curiosity.
How can a student without noticeable 'elite' status afford all the miles utilized from several different airlines for this fascinating journey?
Perhaps you were a CEO in a previous life ?
I doubt it, hes only 20 according to the bio on milevalue.com (http://milevalue.com/about/)

It does say though that his mother has worked for an international airline for a long time, I guess that's the secret!
qqg3 is offline  
Old Apr 6, 13, 12:00 pm
  #11  
 
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Enjoying the report so far ^
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Old Apr 6, 13, 3:39 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Originally Posted by aafreq View Post
Thank you for an excellent TR along with pictures that inspire !
May I ask a simple question ?
Please don't interpret this question as a nasty inquiry, just curiosity.
How can a student without noticeable 'elite' status afford all the miles utilized from several different airlines for this fascinating journey?
Perhaps you were a CEO in a previous life ?
Pretty he can churn a bunch of cards and get 500k points. Easy.
yerffej201 is offline  
Old Apr 6, 13, 4:04 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Thanks you for your report.

The Malaysia Airline's First Class is really amazing
johnmickaelteub is offline  
Old Apr 6, 13, 11:00 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Nice picture heavy report but please re-size the large pictures next time.

Side question - As mentioned in the link, OPs mother worked for a major airline. I know some airlines allow employee and employees direct family to fly for free (subject to availability ofcourse). I suppose those are no EQM flights but even if they get RDMs that's a HUGE, HUGE benefit.
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Old Apr 7, 13, 12:17 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by qqg3 View Post
I doubt it, hes only 20 according to the bio on milevalue.com (http://milevalue.com/about/)

It does say though that his mother has worked for an international airline for a long time, I guess that's the secret!
Hey Guys,
My mom does work for a major international airline but we only receive free economy class tickets once a year. In addition, there is no discount for business class and we have to buy it full fare (which we never have)

I started all this less than a year ago when I got frustrated of not being able to fly a premium cabin.

Either way,
I run an award booking service with milevalue and most of my measly earnings come from there (which are used to pay taxes for airfare and eat food here and there)

I don't do cc referrals because I never liked the idea of them.

I churn a lot. Obviously, I have little/no credit so I use my parents credit and keep a sizable amount for them as well. It's been good and like others have said, it's really easy to keep up and maintain 300-700k per churn.

Hope that helps in clearing up all the thoughts behind this.
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