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The Trip of AA Lifetime (Asia, Australia, Middle East) – Introduction
Review: Iberia Business Class CRJX Madrid to Frankfurt
Review: Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge Frankfurt
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class B777 Frankfurt to Hong Kong
Review: InterContinental Hong Kong
Exploring Hong Kong
Review: Holiday Inn Express Hong Kong SoHo
Review: Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge Hong Kong
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class B747 Hong Kong to Bali
Review: The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali
Exploring Bali
Review: The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali
Review: Premier Lounge Bali
Review: THAI Airways Royal Silk B777 Bali to Bangkok
Review: Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers Bangkok
Exploring Bangkok
Review: THAI Airways Royal First Lounge Bangkok
Review: THAI Airways Royal Orchid Spa Bangkok
Review: THAI Airways Royal First B747 Bangkok to Sydney
Review: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
Exploring Sydney
Review: Radisson Hotel and Suites Sydney
Review: Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge Sydney
Review: Etihad Airways First Class A380 Sydney to Abu Dhabi
Review: Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort
Exploring Abu Dhabi
Review: Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort Dubai
Review: Qatar Airways Premium Lounge Dubai
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A320 Dubai to Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class B777 Doha to Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways First Class Lounge and Spa Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways First Class A380 Abu Dhabi to London
Review: British Airways Club Europe A320 London to Kraków


Wow. Wow. Wow. A few weeks ago, I completed the greatest trip of my life (so far…). During two weeks, I travelled to Asia, Australia, and the Middle East, flying with the world’s top airlines in First Class. I was able to visit a number of new places, experience new cultures, and generally live the life in a part of the world I hadn’t been to yet.

My trip included the following destinations (in this order): Hong Kong, Bali, Bangkok, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. Doha was supposed to be the last destination before heading home, but thanks to Qatar Airways’ *wonderful* organisation of the “free” Doha City Tour, I unfortunately wasn’t able to visit Doha during my long layover.

The main motivations for this trip were:

  • I hadn’t been to Asia or Australia yet
  • I wanted to fly to multiple parts of the world during the same trip
  • American Airlines killed changed many things about AAdvantage this year, including award charts
  • My desire to fly with some of the world’s best airlines
Etihad Airways First Class A380

Etihad Airways First Class A380

The primary two motivations, though, were that I hadn’t been to Asia or Australia yet and really wanted to visit, and also American Airlines significantly changed many aspects of AAdvantage and I wanted to redeem burn all of my miles before the changes to the award charts were made.

I posted a few times during the planning phase of this trip, as I really wanted your guys’ feedback as to what airlines I should fly and what places I should visit:

To those of you that commented on the posts and wrote me emails: Thank you! It was challenging to plan this trip months in advance since not all of the flights that I wanted were available.. so I had to get creative.

Initially, I didn’t really know what places to visit in Asia. I decided to plan those places around what airlines I would be flying. Since I knew I would be flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, I decided to make Hong Kong the first destination. Then I couldn’t decide where to head next. I knew I wanted to fly THAI Royal First to Sydney, but didn’t want to simply fly from Hong Kong to Bangkok and that’s it. So, since Bali is so captivating and gorgeous, I decided to fly another segment on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Bali.

Cathay Pacific First Class B777

Cathay Pacific First Class B777

I spent four days in Bali before continuing on to Bangkok, for just one night… and then down to Sydney for three days. From Sydney, I booked the most exciting and amazing flight of my life, Etihad First Class on the A380 to Abu Dhabi. In the United Arab Emirates, I knew I wanted to visit Dubai again and therefore booked a flight out of Dubai a few days after arriving in Abu Dhabi, and I could spend a few days in each city.

The journey out of Dubai took me all the way home, back to Kraków. It included a 10+ hour layover in Doha, where I thought I would be able to visit the city for at least a few hours… since I didn’t get to do that, I still want to return to Doha and explore it in the future. I knew I wanted to fly Etihad’s A380 in First Class twice.. but I also knew I would be in Dubai. Therefore, I simply booked Dubai to Doha and then Doha to Abu Dhabi on Qatar Airways in First Class, continuing on to London on Etihad’s A380, before the final flight on British Airways to Kraków.

The planning phase of the whole trip was very long. I actually booked all of the flights backwards. So I first booked Sydney to Abu Dhabi, then Dubai to Kraków, then Kraków to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Bali, and finally, Bali to Sydney. I changed the three award tickets that were issued by American Airlines multiple times.. to the point where they entirely screwed up my ticket.. a few hours before the first flight! Fortunately, after reissuing millions of times, it was ticketed and confirmed.. a few hours before departure. So what ended up as months of planning, changed the last minute.

 

Flights

Kraków – Hong Kong: 70k American Airlines miles and ~$70 USD

16 July: Iberia 3667 Kraków (KRK) – Madrid (MAD), 03:50 – 07:10, IB Economy
16 July: Iberia 8614 Madrid (MAD) – Frankfurt (FRA), 08:45 – 11:25, IB Business
16 July: Cathay Pacific 288 Frankfurt (FRA) – Hong Kong (HKG), 13:45 – 06:50 (+1 day), CX First

Flights with oneworld are a bit limited out of Kraków and the only options I have are: Air Berlin, British Airways, Finnair, and Iberia. I knew I somewhat wanted to avoid British Airways since taxes/fees and fuel surcharges are high when flying through London (and on BA). The best option was with Air Berlin to fly from Kraków to Berlin to Frankfurt, however their Berlin to Frankfurt didn’t have availability. Finnair isn’t really an option since they don’t have great availability and also don’t operate daily flights to Kraków.

Initially, I was booked with Air Berlin, flying from Kraków to Berlin to Dusseldorf, before continuing on Cathay to Hong Kong. Literally, the day of departure, I changed it since I needed to be in Frankfurt and the only availability with oneworld was with Iberia.. through Madrid!!! I’m actually surprised they let me backtrack on the award ticket.. but then again, they screwed it up and I didn’t know if I would be flying the day of departure. Basically, instead of changing it, they cancelled it.. then they refused to reinstate it at the old mileage level.. until finally something magical happened and it was reissued. You have got to love AA. So incompetent at everything.

 

Hong Kong – Bali: 22.5k Alaska Airlines miles and ~$30 USD

19 July: Cathay Pacific 785 Hong Kong (HKG) – Denpasar-Bali (DPS), 10:10 – 15:00, CX Business (First)

This was the easiest booking from the entire trip. Simple, yet Alaska still managed to not get it ticketed until I arrived in Hong Kong. Finally, an agent did the ticketing manually and I was all set. And thanks to my oneworld status, Cathay assigned me a seat in the nose of their Boeing 747 in First Class (since they don’t have First Class service on the flight, but have a First Class cabin).

 

Bali – Sydney: 40k United Airlines miles and ~$40 USD

22 July: THAI Airways 432 Denpasar-Bali (DPS) – Bangkok (BKK), 17:40 – 20:50, TG Business
23 July: THAI Airways 475 Bangkok (BKK) – Sydney (SYD), 19:20 – 07:20 (+1 day), TG First

Definitely an amazing redemption. Just 40k United miles for First Class between South Asia and Australia! And since I was departing from Bali, I obviously had to route through Bangkok.. where I spent a day before my flight to Sydney. Since the layover was less than 24 hours, no additional miles were required.

 

Sydney – Abu Dhabi: 60k American Airlines miles and ~$65 USD

26 July: Etihad Airways 455 Sydney (SYD) – Abu Dhabi (AUH), 20:45 – 05:40 (+1 day), EY First

I first locked in this award on Etihad from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi and added Sydney to Melbourne on Qantas. Then when award space showed up from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, I switched to that flight for free since AA allows free changes on award tickets (one of the few things I like about them).

 

Dubai – Kraków: 40k American Airlines miles and ~$135 USD

29 July: Qatar Airways 1007 Dubai (DXB) – Doha (DOH), 12:30 – 12:40, QR First
30 July: Qatar Airways 1040 Doha (DOH) – Abu Dhabi (AUH), 02:15 – 04:20, QR First
30 July: Etihad Airways 19 Abu Dhabi (AUH) – London (LHR), 08:00 – 13:05, EY First
30 July: British Airways 872 London (LHR) – Kraków (KRK), 16:10 – 19:35, BA Business

I’m also surprised AA let me backtrack a bit here, too. I didn’t change this award too much, other than the first flight – where I adjusted the times a bit, since I wanted to visit Doha.

Qatar Airways Business Class B777

Qatar Airways Business Class B777

 

Hotels

I didn’t book hotels until about a week before departure, since I literally didn’t know where I would be when due to the constant changing of my award tickets as availability opened up. Thankfully, points redemptions and reasonable rates were available at all of the hotels I wanted (except Hong Kong). As you can see below, I did a mix of actually paying for hotels, redeeming points, and also using cash + points.

17 July: InterContinental Hong Kong (IHG Free Night from the Chase Credit Card)
18 July: Holiday Inn Express Hong Kong SoHo ($80 USD)

19 July: The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali ($120 USD)
20-21 July: The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali (SPG Cash + Points)

22 July: Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers Bangkok ($80 USD)

24 July: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney (Club Carlson Free Night Certificate)
25 July: Radisson Hotel and Suites Sydney (Club Carlson Free Night Certificate)

27 July: Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort ($90 USD)
28 July: Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort Dubai ($110 USD)

 

All in all

Wow, I realise this trip report introduction is way too long. If you’re still reading, thanks!

This was easily the trip of a lifetime for me.. so far. It was truly amazing to visit Asia for the first time and then experience a chilly winter in Australia, before heading to the Middle East, where it was, well, kind of warm.

As you can see, this trip report will be super long, however, I think most of the articles should be interesting to read since all of these experiences, airlines, lounges, hotels, etc. were new to me. Besides the amazing destinations, the highlight was flying the Etihad First Class Apartment, it truly is flying reimagined and it is the world’s best First Class.

I enjoyed Asia, Australia, and the Middle East a ton. I experienced a variety of different cultures throughout two weeks, and I made a ton of memories that I will never forget. This trip was really special to me since I could finally see a new part of the world, while travelling in total luxury.. for little cost.

Anyway, get ready for the trip of AA lifetime: Asia, Australia, Middle East! And thanks SO much for reading!


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