Alaska #3471 Orange County (SNA) to San Francisco (SFO) First Class and Emirates Lounge
Emirates #226 San Francisco (SFO) to Dubai (DXB) First Class
Emirates First Class Lounges
Emirates #352 Dubai (DXB) to Singapore (SIN) First Class
Crown Plaza Singapore Airport and Airport Terminal and Lounge
Singapore #223 Singapore (SIN) to Perth (PER) Business Class
Doubletree Perth Northbridge
Qantas #776 Perth (PER) to Melbourne (MEL) Business Class
Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne
Qantas #93 Perth (PER) to Los Angeles (LAX)
I have always been a fan of aviation and travel and I am lucky enough to have a job where travel is common and I am able to accrue a large number of points through flights and credit card purchases. I have been able to essentially pay for a honeymoon all on points, treat my parents to a vacation in Europe for their 60th birthdays, and help friends out with travel a couple times. I’ve been able to redeem points to fly on the 787 when it first came out as well as the 747-800. Still, I haven’t been able to yet hit a bucket list item until now – fling around the world in first class.
I’m relatively savvy at options for points and flight combinations to maximize value, but planning for a trip around the world has a few more complications. I needed flights to line up and have award availability. The trip needed to be places I wanted to visit, in addition to the airlines I wanted to try, and I only had a certain amount of vacation days available for the trip. True first class is harder to come by given airlines removing the cabin or restricting award availability. When you factor in that I needed to be utilizing major west coast hubs, it meant that everything had to line up perfectly. It finally happened.
My largest deposit of miles was with Alaska Airlines so that focused my efforts on their partners, namely Emirates and Qantas. Finding a Qantas first class award often feels like finding a needle in a haystack so I started there, and after looking through several month of options I found a PER-MEL-LAX award that included first class on their A380 for the second leg and business on their A330 for the first. With the last leg in place I looked for the starting point and found Emirates first class out of SFO. I searched for a connection in Dubai that would work. First to Perth without luck, and then to a number of places in Asia. Availability to Singapore popped up along with a flight from SNA to SFO, so that meant my first and last legs were booked. That middle segment from SIN to PER ended up taking the last of my United miles. While Qantas flies that route, you are not able to book awards between those regions with Alaska so I needed to use United miles for a Singapore business class ticket and availably was present. I did consider transferring some Chase Rewards to Singapore Air, but the United redemption rates for the award were much better.
I’m estimating that the retail cost for my flights, hotel stays, along with a budget for food and activities would be approximately $30,000. I’m only spending $2,200 out of pocket (mostly for food and a couple hotel nights in Singapore) along with 400,000 miles from my Alaska, United, and Hilton accounts. I think it is a great value for the experience for what is a once in a lifetime type of vacation and crossing off that bucket list item.
Make sure to come back to Nonstop Points individual reviews on the flights, lounges and hotels!
What an amazing trip!