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Old 8th March 2020, 01:54   #1
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Default Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

July 2018

For those who know, Award booking can be a very tedious job, considering most flights have just 2 or 4 award seats available in the First and Business class cabins.

After almost 3 years of a good amount of work travel, mainly on Jet Airways combined with co-branded credit cards, I had accumulated a fair amount of JP Miles which were waiting to be redeemed. And I did redeem them for a luxurious trip to New York. Blowing up all of them for the following, all in the pointy end of the aircraft -
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BOM-HKG Jet Airways Business Class Airbus A330-300 9W76
Cost - INR 19,018 + 2 upgrade vouchers

HKG-YVR-JFK Cathay Pacific First Class on Boeing 777-300ER CX888
Cost - 165,000 JP Miles + INR 5,376
This was a time-travel flight, departure from HKG on 4th July, arrived in Vancouver on 3rd July !


a couple of weeks around east coast and back the following way -

JFK-AUH Etihad First Apartment on Airbus A380-800 EY100
AUH-BOM Etihad First Class on Boeing 777-300ER EY206
Cost - 180,000 JP Miles + INR 29,747 (quite steep on taxes, this)


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Jet Airways A330-300 Business Class Seat 6K

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Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, Hong Kong

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Cathay Pacific B77W First Class Seat 2A

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Etihad A380 Apartment Seat 4K

But this thread is not about this trip, it is about what followed in August 2018, when the Jet Airways troubles surfaced in the news for the first time.

I had just tasted success with luxury travel and was now hungry for more. But now, needed to act fast and use up my remaining points as I had heard horror stories of many people stuck with Kingfisher points when the inevitable happened. Also, all my credit cards were Jet Airways co-brand cards except one HDFC card, which I had negligibly used in the past 2 years maximising only the jet cards.
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Old 8th March 2020, 02:26   #2
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Default The Planning

Now, while booking the above trip I had realised that because of holding only JP Miles I was restricted only to Jet Airways and its partners, hence began exploring different programs and credit cards. Found HDFC, Citi and Amex useful with good airline conversion partners, I already had an Amex, but that again was Jet co-branded.

Didn't hold Citi so was left with HDFC which I did have. Just had to get my card changed to a better variant to get max benefits.

Now, being an #AvGeek, the previous trip was pretty straight forward, so had to do something different this time around. Plan was USA again, because of 2 reasons -

1. One of the farthest places from India, so can spend good amount of time on-board.
2. With a 10 year multiple entry visa already on hand, makes much easier to book award tickets as you need to be really flexible as more often than nought, you won't find seats available on your preferred date, week or even the whole month.

Zeroed in on west coast as east was done last time around. And then, got an crazy idea, began looking for seat availability for this insane routing I had thought of, which was getting back via Australia. And with the JP Miles I had, I could only afford getting to Australia from West Coast, and not all the way back home. Had already stopped using the Jet co-brand cards now, but still had about ~135k JPMiles.

January 2019

Struck gold, the route I was looking for did not have a single First class award seat available for the next 6 months, but just 1 seat available for 28 April 2019. Booked.

Got lucky to also get hold of one seat for Australia to Mumbai using KrisFlyer points. Which I converted from HDFC reward points. Now I did not have any more points available, so had to purchase a revenue ticket to get to the West Coast. The challenge was since I needed to purchase only a one-way ticket it was always going to be expensive. But after a few days found a decent deal. Mumbai to Vancouver with a long layover in Tokyo. Perfect, could also get around Tokyo and maybe see the cherry blossoms as it would be 2nd week of April.

Last edited by yatrik : 8th March 2020 at 02:46.
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Old 8th March 2020, 03:24   #3
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Default Leg 1 - Mumbai to Vancouver

PS - This whole thread is mainly about the flights, so won't be having much details about the things I did in each place, but will try and post photos about it. Also, my day job is being a sports photographer, so I wanted a break from lugging around my camera on a leisure trip. All photos are from my phone.

2 weeks prior to the trip, I got the transit visa for Japan, which was a breeze, and they charge the fees only if the visa is done. Visa was done in 3 working days, and low and behold, it cost INR 40/- that too for a stamped visa, not even an e-visa.

Australia was an e-visa, and it took me around 15 days from date of application to getting the e-visa on email. Got the email exactly a day before I was going to leave for Vancouver.

First flight -
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Sector : BOM-NRT
Airline : ANA
Aircraft : Boeing 787-8 (JA827A)
Flight No : NH830


You need to be really careful on this flight as usually on all ex-India flights you have a vegetarian meal option by default, but on this, only if you have pre-booked you get it. Thankfully I had.

Landed on time in Tokyo, cleared immigration, didn't have to bother about bags as they were checked through till YVR, now had 9 hours here, took the train to the city and was a sight to behold.

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Spent about 4 hours, and made way back to the airport for the next flight.

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Sector : NRT-YVR
Airline : Air Canada
Aircraft : Boeing 787-9 (C-FRSA)
Flight No : AC004
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Old 9th March 2020, 20:25   #4
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Default Vancouver-Seattle-San Francisco-LA

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places I've been too. Some pictures from there -

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Stanley Park

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Stanley Park

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Gastown

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View from Capilano Suspension Bridge

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Granville Island

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Grouse Mountain

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On the Road

Seattle
I took a bus from Vancouver to Seattle, which was one of the most convenient and pocket friendly mode of transport between the two, took me about 2 and a half hours from Richmond to Downtown Seattle and cost was about CAD 50.

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The Space Needle

Now, for an #AvGeek like me Seattle was all about Boeing. And this was just around the time the 737 Max was grounded, I visited Boeing Field, their museum, Paine Field and their Everett factory. The factory visit is a must ! Costs $25 and is worth it. You are given a tour around the factory looking at the assembly line of the 767, the 747-8, 777 and the 787. We also drove past the 777X which was just rolled out a few weeks back then.

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The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field (BFI)

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The Prototype of the First Boeing 747 ever built. Which is named City of Everett

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Boeing 787-8 and Concorde

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Undelivered, Jet Airways Boeing 737 Max 8. Jet Airways was still operating, this photo was taken 2 days before the grounding

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With so many stored 737 MAX, these are parked in the staff car-park

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The Boeing 737 during its assembly and delivery cycle never visits Paine Field, but during these times when its already out of space in Renton and Boeing Field, they are now using up parking space in PAE as well.

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Scale model of the 777X

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The first operators of the Boeing 747, recognise the airlines? Try spotting the Air India logo.

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Yours truly posing with the Dreamlifter

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V1, Rotate ! The Dreamlifter takes off on its way to Nagoya. And several stored 737 MAX's at the back

Last edited by yatrik : 9th March 2020 at 20:26.
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Old 9th March 2020, 21:26   #5
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Default Vancouver-Seattle-San Francisco-LA

My cousin stays in Seattle, so during the weekend we went around the vicinity.

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Deception Pass

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Deception Pass

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Skagit Valley

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Skagit Valley

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Lake Union from Gas Works Park

After some splendid Boeing Factory visits and other sights in and around Seattle, I took a flight to San Francisco.

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Sector : SEA-SFO
Airline : United
Aircraft : Boeing 757-200 (N14107)
Flight No : UA698


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Golden Gate from the plane

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San Francisco from the plane

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Twin Peaks Summit

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The bridge as viewed from Baker Beach

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The Golden Gate Bridge

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The Cable Car

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Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae at Ghirardeli

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Sector : SFO-LAX
Airline : Delta
Aircraft : Boeing 717-200 (N966AT)
Flight No : DL2642


LA was pretty chill stay and relaxing, I stayed in Santa Monica.

Some plane-spotting from In n Out Burger close the LAX

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KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner

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Delta Boeing 767

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Qatar Boeing 777-200LR after a super long flight from Doha

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AA Dreamliner

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Lufthansa Super Heavy A380-800

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Korean A380 from Seoul ICN

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TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard

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Doing some touristy stuff
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Old 9th March 2020, 23:22   #6
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Default Los Angeles - Sydney the unconventional way

Now, the part of the trip which was responsible for the whole trip in the first place. The fancy flights !

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LA to Sydney is a straightforward 7500 mile flight, but that's what normal folks do, not an #AvGeek.

As I said earlier, it was an insane routing, and I was super excited since the time of booking, but as we got closer it started to dawn on me that it not a great idea and I'll be a mess by the end of it. But now D-Day is here. Here's what I did.

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Just added a stop in between

Sector : LAX-AUH
Airline : Etihad
Aircraft : Boeing 777-300ER (A6-ETS)
Flight No : EY170


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Checking-in

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Fascinating how LAX still uses this

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The Etihad lounge

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Checked in all the way to SYD

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The ride for the loooong flight

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Home for the next 16 hours

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Arabic coffee, dates and complimentary Wi-Fi code

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That is one comfortable quilt

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Pajamas and Aqua di Parma amenity kit

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Sunset

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Table is set for the dinner service

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Halfway There

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Bright outside

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Over Northpole?

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Yay!

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Mid-flight snack

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Relaxing

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A quick coffee and croissant before we land

And we are back on land after almost 17 hours of flying, 2 hour layover here before the next flight.

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Etihad Lounge in Abu Dhabi

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We're now boarding !

Sector : AUH-SYD
Airline : Etihad
Aircraft : Airbus A380-800 (A6-APD)
Flight No : EY454


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The Whale

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The Apartments Cabin

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Well, I don't mind another 14 hours

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Just in case you want to be sure you're not on the wrong plane

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Each First Class seat on the A380 is called Apartment

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Seat controls

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The on-board lounge, accessible to First and Business Class pax

Last edited by yatrik : 11th March 2020 at 09:21.
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Old 10th March 2020, 00:19   #7
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Default Sydney

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Dessert served during Dinner

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Watching a movie post dinner

Just after boarding, I had requested the last shower slot, which is 2 hours before landing

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In-flight shower!

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Breakfast before landing

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Some fruits with breakfast

I landed in Sydney at about 7pm.. Till midnight when I slept, I was dazed, probably jet-lagged, or just tired.

Next day, I had booked a tour for the Sydney Cricket Ground

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Steve Waugh

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The scorecard when Sachin scored 241* with out a single cover drive in 2004

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The dressing room

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Phil Hughes

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Richie Benaud

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Next couple of days were spent visiting the other Sydney attractions

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Old 10th March 2020, 17:27   #8
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Default Ghar Wapsi

Everyone is bound to not be excited as the trip comes to and end, it's almost been a month since I left from home. Been to 4 countries, and now its time to go back. But wait, the highlight of my trip is yet to begin.

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Sector : SYD-SIN
Airline : Singapore Airlines
Aircraft : Airbus A380-800 (9V-SKV)
Flight No : SQ232


The Etihad Apartment that I just flew to Sydney from Abu Dhabi is one of the biggest first class seat in the air right now, they have 9 First Class Apartments and 1 Residence in the forward section of the A380 upper deck, with just a single aisle. Which is massive, they were the first one to have just a single aisle first class cabin.

But the Singapore Airlines new A380 suite is bigger ! In the same space as Etihad A380, SQ has just 6 first class suites ! And it flies just to a handful of destinations, SYD-SIN being one of them.

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Check in was smooth, the staff in charge was amazing, while handing me over the boarding passes, I asked him not to mark anything on my boarding passes as I like to keep it as memento. He was happy to print me another set just for my collection.

So checked through till Mumbai and boarding passes for both flights + invitation to The Private Room in Singapore also issued. And I'm on my way.

First stop is the KrisFlyer lounge, which has a separate section for Suites Class, and First Class. Thing to note here is that SQ has first class only on its A380s and 777s, but both are termed different, Suites are only on A380, where as on the 777 its called First Class. You can make it out by the boarding passes also. Suites stand out with gold boarding passes.

The new suites are on the upper deck of the A380. With just 3 rows of 1-1 each so a total of just 6 suites.

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The Suites Cabin

As soon as you enter the lead attendant greets you and addresses by last name and leads you to the seat. Classic SQ

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My Seat for the hop across the equator

As soon as I get settled in the seat, the first question asked is Dom or Krug ?
I went for the Dom

The beverages menu is massive, I don't even think I went through the whole thing -

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And we're off-

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Some nuts to go with the Dom

Lunch time -

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Salad

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I skipped the main and went for the dessert

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And the Cheese platter

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Funny thing happened post lunch, the crew came up knocking and placed a stool at the foot of my seat so that I could recline and rest my feet on it !

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Seat and light Controls

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Could be controlled by this Tab too

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Time for some F-R-I-E-N-D-S

Last edited by yatrik : 11th March 2020 at 09:20.
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Old 10th March 2020, 18:06   #9
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Default SQ Suite

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The bed is made

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Still watching

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Time to get some sleep

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Mid flight snack. Indian food !

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Almost there

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And we're here !

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Adios

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Super flight on the super jumbo

Next flight -

Sector : SIN-BOM
Airline : Singapore Airlines
Aircraft : Airbus A380-800 (9V-SKF)
Flight No : SQ424


Now this is still the A380 suite class, but the older one, which debuted in 2007 when the first A380 was delivered. It is not as fancy as the one on the last leg, but its still a massive seat and its on the lower deck of the A380, so the cabin feels a bit more roomier, but it has 10 seats in First Class.

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Jet Airways went down while I was on my trip, and others were operating some of their aircrafts after stripping the former titles

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And we come back a full circle to where we began. Mitti ki hai jo Khushbu tu Kaise bhulayega, tu chahe kahi jaaye, tu laut ke aayega...

At the end of it all, the map looked something like this -

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BOM NRT 4,223 mi
NRT YVR 4,674 mi
SEA SFO 679 mi
SFO LAX 337 mi
LAX AUH 8,390 mi
AUH SYD 7,492 mi
SYD SIN 3,908 mi
SIN BOM 2,435 mi
Total - 32,138 miles (51,721 km)

A summary of what I spent on each flight ticket -

BOM-NRT-YVR (ANA and Air Canada - Economy)
INR 29,435

SEA-SFO (United - Economy)
10,000 Air India FR Miles + USD 19

SFO-LAX (Delta - Economy)
5,000 JP Miles + USD 5.60

LAX-AUH-SYD (Etihad - First Class)
129,000 JP Miles + USD 62

SYD-SIN-BOM (Singapore Airlines - Suites)
108,000 KrisFlyer Miles + AUD 105


With this, I wrap this up, I know it isn't a very nicely compiled report, but is my first one, hoping to hear from you guys how to improve, and will try and do that for further trips.

Thank you so much for your time reading through all this

If you want to see more photos from the trip, you can find it on - my instagram

Last edited by yatrik : 10th March 2020 at 18:15.
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Old 11th March 2020, 09:31   #10
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Default re: Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th March 2020, 11:29   #11
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Default re: Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

Wow, that is one hell of a trip! You certainly made those JP miles work for you.
Thanks for sharing.

Jeroen
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Old 11th March 2020, 13:01   #12
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Default re: Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Wow, that is one hell of a trip! You certainly made those JP miles work for you.
Thanks for sharing.

Jeroen
Thanks, actually had a mild scare mid trip, as 18th April Jet suspended operations, so even though my travel was on Etihad it was a ticket which was issued by Jet, and the system now de-recognised Jet issued e-Tickets, but Etihad converted all Jet issued award tickets on Etihad to Etihad issued ones, so I was good, had I booked it on any other partner airline, most of them cancelled the tickets and refunded the miles.
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Old 11th March 2020, 14:03   #13
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Default re: Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

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Originally Posted by yatrik View Post
most of them cancelled the tickets and refunded the miles.
Wonderful trip. Do you mind sharing how did you go so many Miles, to begin with
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Old 12th March 2020, 12:18   #14
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Default Re: Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

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Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
Wonderful trip. Do you mind sharing how did you go so many Miles, to begin with
To begin with, use cards wherever possible, it always help, every small point accumulation will pool together to give you a huge pool.

find the right card for you, every card(premium) has a category for which it gives accelerated points, find the category you have most spends for and get the card which gives you most points for that.

There is no one card fits all, you should have 2-3 cards as each card is different and gives different rewards.

For me, there was lots of domestic travel, that too on Jet, so I went for the Jet co-branded cards as they gave 2x points on jetairways spends.
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Old 12th March 2020, 13:16   #15
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Default Re: Around the world - Using my credit card points for flights!

YATRIK! you're one lucky man for using the JP miles at the right time. I have about 50k miles which got converted to InterMiles, but have not been able to use them because their availability is not so great.

Keep this stuff active man. Good stuff!
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