Having taken our earlier trips to Asia during spring and summer months, we realized we should plan our next annual South East Asia trip to happen in the Winter months to get away from the inevitably gray weather in the Pacific Northwest at that time of year. Once we were within the 330 day booking window of January 2013, it was time to start planning! We had already covered Bali and Maldives on previous trips and despite having enjoyed both, Mrs. Points Honeymooner was looking for a new beach destination. Phuket seemed like an obvious choice, and with enough Delta SkyMiles for two business class tickets, I got to work. At first, it looked like our itinerary would closely mirror our honeymoon to the Maldives on Malaysia Airlines, except for avoiding the transit in Beijing. My planned routing was SEA – LAX – (NRT) – KUL – HKT – KUL – (NRT) – LAX – SEA, about 20,398 miles with about 85% on a Malaysia 777, which we had enjoyed flying on our trip to the Maldives.
As I outlined in my post about planning the Maldives trip, I used the technique of holding an itinerary with only the Alaska Airlines SEA – LAX – SEA flights, and then called in to have the Malaysia Airlines legs added. After adjusting our dates slightly, I was able to get availability for all our desired flights, and given that we now had Platinum Medallion status with Delta, I had the reservations ticketed without hesitation since I knew that we could make free changes if our plans changed.
Within a few days of booking the above itinerary, I noticed Malaysia Airlines was getting ready to introduce their first A380 on one of their two daily KUL – LHR flights. Being an aviation geek, and never having flown the A380 before, my brain started working through how we could reroute to fly the A380 on our way to Asia. Too make this happen, we needed to fly across the Atlantic to get to London on our way to Asia, but the key restriction at play was that Delta allows routing over the Atlantic only if you are flying to the Indian Subcontinent and not to South East Asia – for the latter, you are forced to route over the Pacific. The irony, however, is that you can still route through the Atlantic and fly to the Indian Subcontinent (which includes the Maldives) via South East Asia. Working with these rules and restrictions, I was able to formulate an itinerary which would allow us to fly the Malaysia A380: SEA – JFK – LHR – KUL – MLE – KUL – LHR – JFK – SEA.
There were two things I knew I still had to do to make this work:
(1) Find availability
(2) Convince Mrs. Points Honeymooner to go to Maldives again
I felt (1) wouldn’t be too much of a problem given sufficient flexibility with dates, but convincing Mrs. Points Honeymooners would require a bit more effort! While we both enjoyed our honeymoon to the Maldives, my wife has a dislike for repeating destinations when there are several new places yet to be explored. After pleading my case for flying the A380 for a few days, I had her convinced.
When setting out to find availability, I realized that connecting to the MH A380 on the way to Asia worked well in terms of timings, but the same could not be said for the return. Playing with Delta’s award calendar, however, I was able to find space from Paris to Seattle via Los Angeles for the return, with the CDG – LAX leg flown by the Air France A380 (this was prior to Delta losing access to the majority of AF award inventory). Since Malaysia operates a daily KUL – CDG flight with suitable timings for a connection to the CDG – LAX Air France flight, it looked like this would all fall into place beautifully. Getting to fly two different A380 products on one itinerary seemed irresistable, so I quickly held the flights and got the following ticketed: SEA – JFK – LHR – KUL – MLE – KUL – CDG – LAX – SEA
The itinerary priced at 120,000 SkyMiles for each roundtrip ticket in business class, as expected, but we did have to cancel our V1 itinerary to have enough miles available to book this one. In c0mparision to the 20,398 miles for the first itinerary, this new one clocked in at 29,477 miles with 42% on the A380, 22% on a 777, 12% on a 767, and the remainder on narrow body aircraft (SEA – JFK, KUL – MLE – KUL, LAX – SEA legs). I was truly excited about the flights on the A380.
The universe, however, had an alternate plan for us, and this itinerary lasted for a few months before its appeal got called into question – not because of its lack of merit, but because an even more compelling option presented itself. What could be better than trying two new A380 business class products, you ask? The famed Singapore Airlines First Class of course! Stay tuned for more details in the next post.