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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:
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.
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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I’d do it!
@ Dan — Ethopian’s seats are nothing special, so I wouldn’t want to spend 25+ hours in them unless I was earning lots of status miles on the cheap. In generic business class cabins, awards are best flown on the shortest route. In fabulous F cabins, awards are best flown on the longest route. 🙂
Take a stop over in Ethiopia. It’s beautiful country
Wish it was possible on a United award. This would allow most of a day in Addis.
why does it say 2 stops when its just one?
There is actually a second stop in Seoul. The plane then continues on a fifth freedom flight to Tokyo.
Oh yeah. I see. do you have to deplane?
I’m honestly not sure. Typically, if you must deplane during a layover beginning/ending a fifth freedom leg, the process will be very organized.
Why not? I’d do it if I was flying alone.
Depends on how big of an aviation geek you are. I would do it, but my friends and family would think I am crazy.
It’s funny, on a message board I frequent there’s an off-topic “chat” section. When I mentioned that I was taking a longer routing to Tokyo on ANA to enjoy first class for an extra few hours, you’d think I was singlehandedly despoiling the Earth from the way I was attacked. Then I mentioned that I flew internationally in premium cabin 2 to 3 times per year…
Cue poster after poster saying that no one “needed” to fly that much, I should be ashamed of myself, and that flying should be rationed.
LOL. It’s not like that plane is gonna fly without you.
I do get the ANA first thought, though. Saw SFO-IAH-NRT available and thought that sounded better than simply SFO-NRT.
I was looking at this flight a few weeks ago. For me it would be based on how long the layover is.
That is a lot of extra time in economy.
Well this comment involves a BIG fare reduction (and many more FF miles) by flying a weird itinerary to take advantage of lower airfare if staying over a Saturday night. At the time I lived in Tulsa and had to get to PDX (Portland, OR) for a conference that ran Tue AM to Thur PM. Standard AA connection via DFW on Mon, returning Fri was something like $1,100 round trip. Have relatives in Baltimore so had the corp travel agent quote Fri to BWI via DFW, Mon BWI to PDX via DFW, then return the next Fri PDX to TUL via DFW. Fare was less than $500 and got about 6,400 FF miles instead of about 3,800 on the higher cost trip. Saved $600 and got nearly 3,000 more miles.
Which proves some of us do weird things to get more miles
Which proves some of us do weird things in the name of more FF miles.
Do it. The answer for this question as always yes. As someone who wishes like heck that he can do what you are doing, the opportunity to fly on a carrier I have not tried is so exciting!
Not so sure about Ethiopian Business Class nor the layover. A no-brainer if on a great airline.
Have had some pretty dodgy layovers over the years that took all the fun out of the discovery trip. And some basically bad onboard experiences (Qantas, Sao Paulo)
Some people see it as sub-par. I see it as a new and exciting experience. Layover would give you most of a day in Addis.
I’m surprised by your Qantas experience. One of my nicest long-haul economy flights was with them on a 747.
i would do it!!