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When searching for awards to Japan a couple months ago, I stumbled across a routing that I never would have expected. It certainly made my list of quirky award routing options you should consider. It stood out because there are good nonstop options of ~6,250 flown miles. That already is a long-haul. But why fly that when you can fly 14,000 miles!

U.S. to Japan via…Africa?

When pricing out awards to Tokyo from Chicago, one would expect the options to include the nonstop flights offered by United, American, JAL and ANA. There is plenty of air traffic between these two cities. What I was actually looking for was ANA business class space. But instead of finding that, I found something way cooler:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Typically I wouldn’t have clicked on the option, except it was the only one at the time. Knowing that Ethiopian flies between Seoul and Tokyo, I figured that this must be an ORD-ICN-NRT itinerary, but with the final segment on Ethiopian. But that was totally wrong.

Instead, I was presented with a 14,000-mile trek on entirely on Ethiopian Airlines! It’s an utterly ridiculous way to get to Tokyo, but I cannot deny that I am more than mildly interested in flying it. Here is a comparison of the two routes, the direct flight in red, and the better option in purple.

a map of the world

Would you be up for flying over twice the distance to our destination if it cost the same number of miles? Does this 14,000-mile award itinerary sound like too much?

Map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper. Copyright © 1996-2019 Karl L. Swartz. All rights reserved. 

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