An Around the World Trip — Introduction

As I previously wrote, I will be embarking on a two-week journey around the World starting tonight.  While I’m meeting twelve other friends in Munich, two of them will be joining me for our exploits in Asia.

Though we all have somewhat different flights, we all did manage to get on the same THAI flight from Munich to Bangkok to Shanghai.  And we all managed to do it all with miles.

How exactly did we do it?

I’m so glad you asked…

An Around the World Trip — Oktoberfest and Asia


My Itinerary

As I’ve written before, I redeemed 120,000 US Airways Dividend Miles for a first class award to Shanghai with a stopover in Munich for Oktoberfest.  Specifically, I will be flying:



  • United First Class from Washington-National (DCA) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
  • United GlobalFirst class from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Munich (MUC)
  • THAI Royal First Class from Munich (MUC) to Bangkok (BKK)
  • THAI Royal Silk Business Class from Bangkok (BKK) to Shanghai (PVG)
  • Air China Forbidden Pavillion First Class from Shanghai (PVG) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT)
  • ANA First Square Suite from Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to Washington-Dulles (IAD)

Again, all of these were part of the same 120,000 mile US Airways award — some value, huh?

The Friend with Tons of Miles

Another one of my friends had a whole bunch of miles sitting around, so he decided to use three different mileage currencies to redeem the various segments of his trip.  He struggled a bit with his British Airways flights, resulting in a couple of connections en route to Munich.

  • American First Class from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Atlanta (ATL)
  • British Airways First Class from Atlanta (ATL) to London-Heathrow (LHR)
  • British Airways Club Europe class from London-Heathrow (LHR) to Munich (MUC)

Much like me, he will be on the exact same flights for our journey to Shanghai…

  • THAI Royal First Class from Munich (MUC) to Bangkok (BKK)
  • THAI Royal Silk Business Class from Bangkok (BKK) to Shanghai (PVG)

However, he will leave out of Hong Kong using American Airlines miles for a one way between Hong Kong and Dallas.

  • Cathay Pacific First Class from Hong Kong (HKG) to Los Angeles (LAX)
  • American First Class from Los Angeles (LAX) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)

Luckily, this friend had the mileage accounts to throw at these awards.  He had substantial balances in each, but not enough to take advantage of stopover and open jaws associated with many round trip awards.

The damage?

  • 75,000 British Airways Avios (For the British Airways segments)
  • 100,000 United Miles (Europe to South Asia in First Class) — Ouch, I know
  • 67,500 American AAdvantage miles (Cathay Pacific First Class)

Lots of miles, yes.  But he sure is going about this thing in style!

The Friend Flying in Steerage

Finally, my last friend, bless his heart, is doing this entire trip… in economy.

I know.

I was able to redeem an Aeroplan award from him for the entire around the world itinerary.  He transferred 75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points directly to Aeroplan.  Air Canada’s Aeroplan only charges 75,000 miles for a roundtrip in economy from the USA to Asia 1 region, and allows two stopovers.

Air Canada Aeroplan Award Chart

Air Canada Aeroplan Award Chart

The taxes are sometimes bad with these awards, but I was able to minimize the taxes he paid by maximizing the flights on United and Air China.  The one segment — MUC-BKK-PVG on THAI had some significant taxes, but at the end of the day, 75,000 Membership Rewards points and about $400 isn’t a bad deal for an around the world ticket… even if it is in economy.  His flights are:

  • United Economy Class from Atlanta (ATL) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
  • United Economy Class from Chicago O-Hare (ORD) to Munich (MUC)
  • THAI Economy Class from Munich (MUC) to Bangkok (BKK)
  • THAI Economy Class from Bangkok (BKK) to Shanghai (PVG)
  • Air China Economy Class from Shanghai (PVG) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT)
  • United Economy Class from Tokyo-Narito (NRT) to Newark (EWR)
  • United Economy Class from Newark (EWR) to Atlanta
Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 11.20.55 AM

All Three of Our Itineraries

Overall, we all effectively used miles to get us around the World — some of us in First Class, and others in Economy.

We’ll also be staying in some pretty decent hotels, including:

  • Le Meridien Munich
  • Park Hyatt Shanghai
  • Grand Hyatt Hong Kong (or Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Tsa Tsui)
  • Hyatt on the Bund, Shangai (or Andaz Xintiandi, Shanghai)
  • Hyatt Regency Tokyo (or Andaz Toranomon Hills)

So, it looks like we’re going to have a pretty decent time on this trip.  I’m really glad to have two good friends joining me on this trip around the World!

Stay tuned…


16 Thoughts on “An Around the World Trip — Introduction

  1. Bon Voyage! Will you have a tablet or a laptop with you for blogging? I’m asking because I’m in the middle of deciding what to buy.

  2. Aeroplan allows two stops plus destination on a regular redemption. The true round the world redemptions with 5 stops are 200k each in economy

  3. Kind of tough to revise that one, Sean. Either your buddy cashed in 75000 MR points and you got him his ticket, or not..

    • It was 75,000 MR points — when I originally published this post, I listed the incorrect number of stopovers allowed on Aeroplan awards, but have since revised the post. On this Aeroplan ticket, we utilized the two stopovers (MUC, NRT) in addition to the destination (PVG).

  4. So how did you amass the needed miles and how long did it take you? I know now that the amount would be more since the merger but it would be something I’d like to shoot for for 2015.

    • I got 40k miles from the US Airways credit card. Eventually, I’d amassed about 78k through various spend bonuses and a little flying. I then got the remaining 42k miles through the US Airways 100% Share Bonus that they offer periodically, where you could essentially buy miles for about 1.1 cents each. That cost me about $460. Since I go to Munich every year, I used this ticket as my flight there, and home (via Asia).

  5. Hi Sean,

    What would you recommend a points & miles newbie do if he wants to snag 2 first class seats flying MCO-NRT-MCO with as few stops as possible? Like what kind of miles/points he should start accumulating, which credit cards to sign up, what are the best airlines that will take him there and back, etc. Let’s say he would like ANA to one one of the airlines.

    Warm regards,

    • Unfortunately, it’s become quite a deal more difficult to fly ANA in First Class since United devalued its award chart. It now costs 110k United miles each way for ANA first. Now, the best way that I can think of to fly ANA First Class would be with Singapore Krisflyer miles. You can redeem 68,750 Singapore miles each way (137,500 miles round) for a trip from MCO to Tokyo via a ANA gate way (IAD, JFK, ORD, LAX, SFO) — you can shave 10% off this by booking on Singapore’s site. You can get Singapore miles by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards or AMEX Membership Rewards directly to Singapore. As such, the best cards would likely be a flexible point currency card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold / Plus, or the AMEX Gold / Platinum.

      There are other points currencies that can get you to Japan for cheaper on other airlines. American and US Airways can get you there right now on oneworld partners such as JAL (Japan Airlines) and Cathay Pacific — each of whom also offer fantastic first class products. There are a number of American and US Airway credit cards to accumulate for these miles.

      Hope that helps… I could go into a ton more detail on the subject and may make a new blog post about it.

  6. Thanks, great advice, Sean! I’ve no issues flying JAL. But how does one fly from a gateway city to NRT on Cathay Pacific? Fly to HKG first, then HKG to NRT? If so, would that require more miles, if yes, any idea how many miles from HKG to NRT? I’d be happy to use your referral links to apply for AA and US Air credit cards. Where do I get those links?

    • No, generally it wouldn’t cost any more miles, as US Airways / American award charts are zone-based. North Asia encompasses both regions for US Airways, and on AA, you should be able to transit HKG en route to NRT. Therefore, your flight from MCO to the US-gateway would be included, as would the flight from HKG-NRT. And yes, to fly Cathay, it would have to be via HKG (from EWR, JFK, ORD, LAX, SFO, YYZ or YVR). JAL US gateways include JFK, BOS, ORD, SAN, LAX, and SFO (though BOS and SAN do not offer First Class).

      Unfortunately, I do not have any credit card affiliate links, though a number of my fellow Prior2Boarding and BoardingArea bloggers do. I believe both American and US Airways have some 50k credit card offers available right now.

  7. Thanks again, Sean! Your suggestions are so much better than those professional award booking service guys, and I contacted several, none of them even come close to your suggestions. Well, if you can see my email address, send me whatever links you have, Uber, etc., I’ll be moving to the US come mid-Jan. Take care.

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