Welcome back to another installment of “Booked:” where we walk you through our booking process of flights to help you plan and prepare for your next international trip!
I recently finished booking a 10 day trip around the world in the beginning of December. I had golf in mind along with revisiting Munich since I fell in love with it after going for Oktoberfest.
I set my sights on Japan, specifically Tokyo which offers mild winters in the low lands. I have always wanted to visit so I decided to cross this off my list with some nippy but playable golf weather in the beginning of December.
Leg two brings me to Singapore. Again, another location that has been on my list for quite some time. December should offer comfortable golfing weather and a great holiday atmosphere.
To complete my trip, I finish in Munich for a few days. For this flight, I make a quick 2-hour pitstop in Doha, Qatar before going up to Munich for a few days then heading back to San Diego.
San Diego, California to Narita, Japan
Starting off the trip, I missed a great opportunity but still ended up on the winning side. A couple weeks prior to booking, I was able to find Delta economy with one stop from SAN to Narita for around $350 which is the lowest I’ve seen on that route. Usually it will drop into the high $300’s which is a great deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of my schedule ironed out to pull the trigger. Just recently, I bought my ticket for $495 in economy class on United where I go from SAN to LAX then hop on a 787 to Narita. I’m not too mad about it since this flight will get me my Premier Silver status with United.
The night before check-in, I checked to see upgrade availability and I found a bulkhead seat in Economy Plus for $116 where a few days prior it was $180! I decided to jump on this deal for the 12.5 hour flight.
COST: $495* (Not including upgrade)
Narita, Japan to Singapore
This leg was the biggest surprise and the best score. Knowing I’m flying in the Asia market, I looked to see if I could redeem any Alaska Miles through their international partners.
I lucked out in finding a business class flight on Japan Airlines direct from NRT to SIN for 25,000 miles and $30 in taxes. Already having 16,000 miles in my account, I only had to purchase an additional 9,000 points. Just as I was looking to purchase, Alaska announced a one-week points sale with a 40% bonus over 10,000 miles purchased. I ended up getting 14,000 miles for $295 after taxes. In all, I spent $295 to get a 7-and-a-half-hour direct business class flight on Japan Airlines from NRT to SIN. Can’t complain there.
Singapore to Munich, Germany
After getting down to Singapore on a clutch Business class award ticket, I hopped back on the economy train. Although I was back in economy, I felt lucky to see that Qatar was offering a cheap flight from Singapore to Munich with a quick layover in Doha. I was also excited to see one leg would be on the A350 and the other on their 777-300ER. The entire economy ticket cost $680.
Munich, Germany to San Diego, California
I am extremely bummed about this leg of the trip. I so dearly wanted to fly from Frankfurt to JFK with Singapore Airlines in their A380 First Class Suite using Chase Ultimate Rewards points. When I was initially looking months ago, there was waitlist availability for only 80,000 points. Wait listing with Singapore entails a lot of risk. The reward availability can disappear, or not confirm up until the last few days before the flight. Also, you have to have the required amount of Singapore miles in your account before booking. I was gun shy, and didn’t commit so when looking over the past couple weeks, that 80,000-point rate was gone leaving the 130,000-point option available which is not worth it.
I then looked elsewhere to try and redeem points. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue, United Mileage Plus, and Virgin America Rewards. British Airways had first class and business class options available for 92,000 and 74,000 Avios points respectively along with $400 in fees and taxes. Flying Blue was also similar with business class availability but with massive tax and surcharge fees. Unfortunately, Virgin was not offering any reward availability on this leg.
United Mileage Plus had the most reasonable redemption value at the economy level. 30,000 miles with $120 in taxes and fees. The business class redemption was 155,000 points which is absurd on the dated Lufthansa A340-200 which flies direct to San Diego. I went with the flight and although I think I could have done better, it is direct and has a low cost in terms of points. I used points which I had earned through my Marriott Rewards Program and transferred them at a conversion rate of 3:1 with a recent Marriott and United Promotion.
FINAL COST: $1,598
In all, for just about $1,600, I am able to fly around the world in 10 days and enjoy the three destinations. I am excited to see how the trip will unfold and I can’t wait to show you the experiences I have on board these amazing airlines. Be sure to stay tuned to the website and social media pages to follow me on my journey!