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I’m in the middle of planning a round the world trip for Carolyn and I
Our itinerary is fairly close to the above map, except that we’re going the other direction (east to west). We have the tickets from Singapore to Dubai to New York booked on Emirates First Class (using Alaska miles), which includes a stopover of about a day and a half in Dubai
Booking the first half in first class
My “problem” comes when trying to book the first half of the ticket. Before the American Airlines devaluation hits in March, we used 67,500 American miles to fly first class. Currently, the only available space was in business class via Shanghai.
Because American allows unlimited changes to award tickets as long as your origin and destination remain the same, I am hoping for some First Class space to open up on either Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific, two of the top first class products out there. While you can no longer have a stopover using American miles, you CAN have layovers on an international ticket, as long as those layovers are less than 24 hours
A lot of what we’ll actually do depends on what award availability opens up as we get closer to the departure date. But I still thought I’d explore the different options to see what the possibilities are. Remember, all these options have to end in Singapore, where we’ll spend 3-4 days. While I’m normally more of an “economy” kind of guy, part of the whole point of this trip is to try various first class products and see what they’re like. So I’m not as worried about spending “too much” time in airplanes / lounges, at the expense of on the ground destinations. Like I said, for this trip, that’s part of the allure.
Option 1: Cathay Pacific with a layover in Hong Kong
If Cathay Pacific first class space opens up, that would probably be the simplest option. Most Cathay flights from the US to Hong Kong arrive in the afternoon, so we’d have the rest of the day there as well as the next morning to explore Hong Kong before continuing on to Singapore. Given transiting from the airport to the city center (twice), that wouldn’t give us a ton of time there, but a little taste.
Option 2: Japan Airlines with a layover in Tokyo and Hong Kong
The problem is that Cathay space has not opened up that much. On the other hand Japan Airlines first class space has been pretty reliably opening up as we get close to the destination.
So we could fly from the US to Tokyo, and then have 23 hours in Tokyo and 23 hours in Hong Kong. This would allow us to fly first class on both Japan and Cathay – the 13 hour flight to Tokyo and a 5 hour and 4 hour flight on Cathay.
Option 3: Japan Airlines with a connection in Tokyo and a layover in Hong Kong
But we’d arrive in Tokyo again in the mid-afternoon and given how far Narita Airport is from the Tokyo city center, by the time we got there, it would be time to check in and then turn around and go back out to the airport.
So we could arrive in Tokyo around 3pm, hang out at the airport and take a 6:20 pm flight to Hong Kong, arriving at 10:30 pm. Then we’d have that whole next day in Hong Kong before taking an early evening flight to SIngapore.
Option 4: Japan Airlines with a connection in Tokyo and going right to Singapore
There is one direct flight from Tokyo to Singapore, but it leaves at 6pm and arrives in Singapore after midnight. Plus it’s a Japan Airlines flight, so we wouldn’t get to fly Cathay, AND this particular flight only appears to have business class (no first class). I know, I know… poor little pampered me… 🙂
Plus I am not super excited about getting into Singapore at 1 a.m. and trying to navigate our way to our hotel
Option 5: Something else?
It seems like I could potentially fly Malaysian Airlines and connect in Kuala Lumpur if we wanted. Or maybe there’s something else? Again, this is all premised on what flights are available, but these are my thoughts.
So readers, what do you think? Which options would be your top choices?