I wrote about the trepidation of booking an award ticket a few weeks ago. That was based on the true story of trying to find a flight back to the US after I hopefully complete the Athens Marathon. I found a flight to Greece on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class after bypassing the peasant options of flying coach. I still needed a flight to the US from Egypt, my R&R destination after my Athens victory.
This proved to be challenging because I faced the following obstacles:
- Fly a good carrier from the Middle East.
- Avoid blowing my Emirates/SQ points.
- Preserve my United miles for my Tahiti trip.
Basically, my choices came down to One World carriers of Qatar or Etihad. I flew Qatar business long-haul twice on a 777 as part of my $77,000 Trip Heard Round the World, going from JNB-DOH & DOH-JFK. The experience was average at best.
I turned to Etihad and was annoyed that apartment class was still unavailable to the US. I did notice that Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to LAX and SFO with greater availability on the latter route. After careful research, I learned of Jetihad, Etihad’s partnership with Jet Airways, an Indian carrier. The reviews left much to be desired. The AUH to SFO option was out.
I found availability from AUH-LAX which is the 3rd (soon to be 4th) longest flight in the world. That’s 16.5 hours of first class! Next, I found availability from Cairo to Abu Dhabi on Etihad also on first. I will be spending one night in Abu Dhabi spoiled by chauffeur service to and from the airport. Etihad does allow pick ups and drop offs as far as Dubai but I’m staying in town to check off another ‘country’ from the TCC list.
Finally, and this is the part I am most proud of, is added first class from LAX-SEA on Alaska then SEA-MSO. Flying to Montana can cost as much as flying to Europe so getting back for free was a great bonus.
I called to book the flight and the agent said that she couldn’t get me in first to MSO which is when I informed her that it’s a prop plane that carries 20 passengers. Moments later, everything was confirmed and I was told my reservation would be ticketed in two days. It took over a week to ticket but am glad it finally went through.
The ticket cost 90,000 AAdvantage Miles and $130 in taxes. I will be receiving 9,000 miles back since I have the Citi AA card, making this an especially great deal.
Here is the beautiful itinerary: