What a week! For 9 days, I was hopscotching between countries and cities and airports. No, I didn't join the Amazing Race. I was simply on a race with myself. For ages, I've been dreaming of doing a round-the-world trip. But since I don't have the time and money for a long journey (like 1-2 years), I was happy enough to do a mini-version. One that still allowed me to circumnavigate the globe.
Thanks to a fantastic deal I found out through Flyertalk, my aspirational trip became possible. This involve mostly free airfare and accommodation. Back in December last year, Air Canada's frequent flier program Aeroplan had an unbelievable promo. For 75,000 miles, one can redeem a free business class ticket to Asia (i.e. Bangkok, Beijing, Singapore excluding Manila), normally the same amount needed for an economy class ticket.
Choosing between business class and cattle class was a no-brainer for me. The only thing was that the 'promo' was meant to be short-lived. So I had to act quickly. I immediately transferred 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points to my dormant Aeroplan account at a 1:1 transfer ratio.
Since Aeroplan is a member of Star Alliance, a network of 25 airlines all over the world, I had the option of booking with different member airlines as long as there were award seats available. I spent nearly a whole weekend piecing an itinerary using Aeroplan's booking engine. As an aviation buff, I wanted to maximize utilization and fly on as many segments as possible. In the end, I came up with something that I was pleased with, all in business class:
The above itinerary normally cost $12,000++. My total cost was $451 - for taxes and fuel surcharges.Lufthansa (A380) - New York-Frankfurt
Lufthansa (A321) - Frankfurt-Athens
Turkish Airlines (A321) - Athens-Istanbul
Turkish Airlines (A330) - Istanbul-Singapore
Singapore Airlines (A330) - Singapore-Seoul
Asiana Boeing (777) - Seoul-New York
I also tagged revenue air tickets while in Greece, flying into Santorini on Olympic Airways A320 and returning on Aegean Airlines A320. Both flights came out to about the same price as the more time-consuming ferry ride: about 100 Euros total.
For accommodations, I also used points. There were no taxes. I booked a free room at the Crowne Plaza in Athens, at the newly-renovated Marriott Hotel in Singapore and at the Millenium Hotel in Seoul. I paid separately for a room at the Oia Mare Villas in Santorini.
Now that I'm safely back, I can say I'm very happy having been able to do things I really wanted to do. This may not sound like a typical trip but let me tell you, this was not just about destinations. This was about the journey as well. As I always believe, the best use of miles & points is one that truly makes you happy.