A week from today, I will be embarking on another around the world adventure — this time it will include a stop at one of my favorite places in the World — Munich during Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest trip is one that I’ve taken the past four years, so it was a no-brainer to book a fifth straight year at the Weisn.
I will be joining ten other friends in Munich for four days, and at least two days at the tents of Oktoberfest — the world’s largest festival. We also plan to attend a Bayern Munich match, the famed Hofbrauhaus, and some other various sites in and around Munich. Last year I was able to experience the closing of Oktoberfest, and it was definitely worth the effort to stay for it on Sunday night, so we will be enjoying the closing ceremonies once again from the Hacker Pschorr tent.
When planning this trip last year, I wanted to take advantage of a stash of US Airways miles that I had on hand, as I was uncertain of how the impending US Airways / American merger would affect the very favorable US Airways award chart. As such, I decided to stretch the value of my miles as far as possible. I also want to try several Star Alliance first class partners while I could, since one could no longer book US Airways on Star Alliance partners after March 31, 2014.
In order to squeeze that extra value out of my award, I decided to book a trip from the US to North Asia… yes, North Asia.
With a stopover in Europe — in this case, Munich.
On the US Airways Award Chart, this award was only 90,000 miles round trip in Business Class (it’s now 110,000) or 12o,000 miles in First Class versus 100,000 miles in business or 125,000 miles in first for a basic round trip to Europe.
At these rates, I decided to splurge the extra few thousand miles for first class.
So, essentially, I get to travel to Europe AND Asia on one award for fewer miles than a straight roundtrip from the US to Europe!
- I kick things off by flying from DC to Chicago, where I’ll meet a friend who is joining me on my United flight from Chicago to Munich, in United GlobalFirst Class. I’ve flown this product before (LAX-SYD and SYD-SFO), so while I’m not expecting much from the service or catering, I should get a great night’s sleep in the GlobalFirst Class flat-bed suite.
- As previously noted, I’ll be spending four days in Munich during the closing weekend of Oktoberfest at the tents, around the city and at Allianz Arena for the Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96 match.
- After Oktoberfest, three of us will continue on to Shanghai via Bangkok on Thai Airways in First Class on their B747-400 (new first class product — for now). We will have a full day layover in Bangkok where we plan to go into the city and of course enjoy the offerings of the Famous Thai Royal First Lounge and Spa at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. A relatively short redeye flight will bring us to Shanghai.
- I’ve never been to Shanghai before, so I’m particularly looking forward to this part of the trip. Any suggestions are certainly appreciated!
We then plan to take a side-trip to Hong Kong (using a separate, paid ticket on China Eastern). Hong Kong is my favorite city in the World, so I can’t wait for spending the weekend back there! It’s also one of my favorite culinary cities out there, so there will certainly be some good eating!
- After returning to Shanghai for another evening, the journey will continue in Air China’s Forbidden Pavillion First Class for a short hop from Shanghai to Tokyo-Narita.
- I built a 22 hours layover into this itinerary to allow us time to get into the heart of Tokyo for a day of sightseeing and good eats.
- To conclude, I’ll be flying non-stop from Tokyo-Narita to Washington-Dulles in ANA’s First Class Square — one of the top first class products out there.
So, essentially, I’ll be flying around the World by booking a single award ticket from the US to Asia via Europe on the way there, and via the Pacific on the return. Not a bad value out of only 120,000 US Airways miles! Especially considering that a first class award to only Europe is 125,000 miles round trip!
This incredible value still exists in the US Airways award chart, though the business class rate increased from 90,000 to 110,000 miles — still just a fantastic redemption. The biggest difference is that US Airways now is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, so its partner airlines are different from the United, Thai, Air China, and ANA flights that I’m taking. OneWorld partners on an itinerary like this one could include American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines (JAL), for example.