To recap where the last blog post left me, I still had yet to book my flights to Singapore and Hong Kong and the lodging was generally up in the air. I've actually left on this adventure as of yesterday, so here's the final line-up!
The Round-the-World Series
From this plan, I was missing flights from DXB-SIN and SIN-HKG. My original plan was to fly Business Class on Thai Airways, using 60k United miles that I had accrued and scrounging up an additional 5k somehow. However, looking at the flexibility of United's award redemptions (free stopovers!) I didn't want to waste it (and a wasted opportunity for a stopover in Bangkok). Looking at my options, I was at a loss. AA miles didn't have any open redemptions either. So I ultimately decided to go with a paid ticket (gasp) in economy (double-gasp).
My reasoning for this was threefold:
- Singapore Airlines offers free/discounted stopovers. By buying a single ticket to Hong Kong, I could take advantage of Singapore Airlines homebase of SIN, and get the whole thing in one go.
- Singapore Airlines is also extremely affordable. The cost for the above ticket was only around $300.
- Singapore Airlines is supposed to have one of the fairest and nicest economy offerings of the mainline carriers. Might as well give it a shot!
I thought my reasoning was fair and well thought out so I decided to go for it. $300 wasn't much more than the taxes on an award ticket. To congratulate myself, I decided to splurge for Premium Economy, which are basically exit row seats for $50 a flight. However, I failed to take into account that buying airplane tickets when tired is a dangerous business.
I had bought the tickets in the wrong month. Thankfully, I didn't go for the lowest fare class that does not allow for any changes at all, but still that $100 change fee stings. To add insult to injuries, premium economy seat upgrades are non-transferable. So I basically threw $200 away because I was tired. Lesson learned. Hopefully.
Additionally, after AA schedule changes caused a misconnect I also decided to upgrade my MCI-ORY leg to First. The routing was a bit more hectic, but I would be flying on British Airways metal for the trans-Atlantic segment which looked swank.
On the lodging front, I decided to reverse my initial plans. For my initial stop in Paris, rather than AirBNB it, I decided to use yet another credit card perk from my Citi Prestige card. This card allows you to get the fourth night free at nearly any hotel (but not AirBNB!). So after TripAdvisor-ing it up, I selected four nights at Paris's Hotel Joke, which has great ratings, despite its relatively cheap price (for Paris...).
London, I went with my initial plan of the London Park Lane InterContinental for 40k points plus $70 a night for two nights. That would've completely emptied my IHG account, except for the fact that the Chase IHG card accidentally gave me (and many others) 80k status-qualifying points, which pushed me into the highest category of IHG status, Spire Elite. This status comes with an additional 25k points, on top of any other perks (admittedly few). I also took advantage of an IHG points sale, buying 120k points for $690. This gives a 0.575 cpp for those points, but given the values of the redemptions, it still comes out cheaper (by about $250).
Dubai, I went for a two night AirBNB rental, which I'm very excited about. In Singapore, I will be staying with a friend from elementary school (my only existing personal connection the whole trip), and in Hong Kong, I took three nights at the Hong Kong InterContinental, at the same 40k + $70 / night rate. My final accommodation is a four night hotel stay in Hotel Niwa, another TripAdviser favorite (and another Citi Prestige free night perk).
That brings us up to Friday, where everything had been booked and ready to go. I thought it'd be smooth sailing from there on out, until I had one last surprise left:
An actual surprise party. My boyfriend and friends conspired against me to throw me a surprise going away party, complete with authentic(ish) foods from each location, a "Bye Felicia" banner and a Burn Book cake (carrot, my favorite!).
Thanks to the folks who let me know that I wasn't going to be completely ignored for the three weeks that I'm gone!
And with that, we're caught up to today/yesterday. I plan on writing blog posts every few days to update on the latest goings-on, and my next post will include the BA232 trans-Atlantic flight in First on the 777-200 (spoilers... Oh... My... Gosh...).