Traveler says bye-bye to the Star Alliance and samples the good life in Asian carriers before devaluation of miles sets in.
Award Trip by Olman Melendez-Pal
When United announced they were devaluing their award chart and making it extremely expensive to redeem miles for premium cabins on partner airlines, I decided to plan a trip that would maximize multiple foreign (mostly Asian) carriers that I was dying to experience.
I had no issues finding two seats on Asiana between JFK and ICN with fully enclosed suites, 31 inch TVs and one of the best catering services in the sky. We were the only two passengers in first, so of course our experience was fantastic.
We had never been to Seoul, so we planned to stay for a couple of days, and being Japan-o-maniacs, we couldn’t resist visiting Tokyo, so I booked two tickets on Korean Air using Delta SkyMiles. I was glad we made this side trip as we didn’t ‘click’ with Seoul and would have felt a little empty if we had skipped Japan.
I owed my folks in Budapest a visit, so our next stop was Europe. I had hoped to fly to Vienna on Thai Airlines A380. I’d flown it last year from Frankfurt to Bangkok in business class so I was curious about their first class and services at BKK such as the Royal Orchid Spa where you get a complimentary one-hour massage before your flight.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a nonstop flight from ICN to BKK, so I had to route myself via Beijing. I was able to snag two seats on their 747 nose, so I was excited to compare both the old and new products. For the Incheon-Beijing leg we were booked on Asiana business class operated by an Airbus A330. The flight was great.
For the trip home from Vienna to New York, I found award space on Turkish Airlines. While their hard product is far from earth shattering, I wanted to try them because of their famed lounge in Istanbul; plus, their inflight catering is provided by DO&CO. Thankfully, I wasn’t let down! Everything was amazing. The lounge was fun and the flight was probably one of the best I’ve ever taken.
FFP miles spent:
120,000 US Dividend Miles and 22,500 Delta SkyMiles
Hotel points spent:
Four Chase free hotel nights
Airline(s) / Routing:
JFK-ICN-PEK-BKK-CDG-VIE-IST-JFK on Asiana, Thai Austrian and Turkish. ICN-NRT/HND-GMP on Korean
Online (Delta) and over the phone (US Airways)
Type of award(s):
First, business and Y economy
Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Airbnb in Seoul
Month/year of trip: