A bucket list item some of you may have is to circumnavigate the world on a single journey. I did just that on my recent trip. The most typical way is buy or redeem miles for a round the world ticket(RTW). This option requires at least 200k miles. On top of that, the routing rules can be limiting.
Instead, I booked several one-way tickets to cross over the Pacific(TPAC) and return over the Atlantic from Europe(TATL).
JFK to ICN(red color)
I flew from New York to Seoul using 62.5k Korean Air Sky Pass miles in business class. I transferred the points from Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Korean Air Sky Pass. Taxes/fees totaled $104.xx. Overall not a bad redemption compared to the mileage requirements using United miles.
GMP to TSA(blue color)
I bought a cash ticket for $82 USD on Eastar airlines flying from Gimpo(Seoul’s smaller airport) to Taipei’s smaller airport – Songshan. I could have used BA Avios miles to fly on Cathay Pacific from ICN to TPE, but the redemption would have been 7,500 miles and $29.xx in taxes/fees. The cash ticket option was more convenient because the flight flew into TSA airport, which is accessible to downtown via metro. The TPE airport is located outside the city limits and connected with a high speed rail(HSR).
TPE to HKG(green color)
I booked an award ticket using 4,500 Avios points and 19.xx to fly from Taipei’s TPE airport to Hong Kong in economy class. The redemption was pretty straightforward and the availability was wide open. The in-flight snack was served in miniaturized shopping bag complete with a drink and dessert, which I thought was pretty unique. It certainly was my first time seeing something like that.
Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China
I bought a one-way train ticket for $27.
Guangzhou, China to Qatar(orange color)
I really wanted to try out Qatar Airways especially on their A380 aircraft because I heard so many good things about their onboard bar. I redeemed 50k AA miles and $15.55 in taxes/fees for a ride in Qatar Airways first class. I had to pay a close in booking fee of $75 for booking less than 21 days in advance.
But it was worth it.
One, the bar did not disappoint. It’s probably the BEST bar the sky by far. The picture speaks for themselves. I had a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue while enjoying the ambiance.
Doha, Qatar to Rome, Italy(purple color)
I booked a one-way ticket in economy class on Qatar Airways for 12.5k British Airways miles and $56.26 in taxes/fees. Business class would have been 37.5k miles, but the flight was during day and only about 6 hours. I opted for the strategic use of miles than just splurging for business class. I would have loved to try out Qatar Airways business class, but maybe another time.
I used 30k Aeroplan miles one-way in economy, which I transferred from American Express Membership rewards points. The taxes/fees totaled about $61.xx USD. I was perfectly fine flying economy because it was a non-stop flight during the day. I was moved to economy comfort plus on a bulkhead row to accommodate some elderly passenger who needed to move up front, but couldn’t seat in the exit row in the event the doors needed to be exercised. I just got lucky because the bulkhead made the flight even more comfortable.
There were no fuel surcharges with my redemption because the operating carrier was United Airlines. This is one of the handful of airlines that do incur fuel surcharges when redeeming Aeroplan miles. I could have used United miles, which doesn’t have any fuel surcharges for any redemption. However, my Membership rewards balance was running low and I rather keep a larger untouched balance with United Airlines.
When I was looking to redeem my Avios miles from Doha to Europe, it was advantageous for me to fly into the nearest city European city that falls into the Aeroplan’s Europe Region. That’s because it required less Avios miles due to it’s distance based award chart.
For example, in lieu of Doha to Rome, I could have flown to another European city such as Amsterdam or Brussels. However since the redemption requirement for Avios is a based on the distance flown, the aforementioned cities would require 20k one-way in economy – requiring 7.5k more miles than flying to Rome.
While flying to the U.S. from any part of Europe whether it’s Amsterdam, Brussels, or Rome would require 30k Aeroplan miles.
This is why I choose Rome as my destination(also the food is pretty good there). Similarly, I could have flown to Milan for the same 12.5k Avios miles, but the redemption options back to the U.S. worked out better from Rome.
If you’re looking to fly around the world, it pays attention to award chart regions and try to capitalize on the different zone. Korean Air Sky Pass only requires 62.5k miles in business while United requires 70k or 80k depending on the carrier you fly.
Also using cash tickets on budget airlines in SE Asia and Europe is a great way to get from one hub city to another to start an award trip. This trip was a short, but I got to sample a wide variety of food from countries in a short span of time. In total I spent 159,500 miles and $327.xx in cash. Not bad considering I went to 6 different countries.