The trip to Australia is getting closer and closer (under 20 days now) and while I haven’t really talked much about it, now is the time. The trip to Australia has me leaving on the 2nd of March. I should arrive into Brisbane on the 8th of March. Everyone who knows about getting to Australia is right about now thinking “that math don’t add up”. It does if you aren’t going the quick way and taking my time getting there. It is time for me to have a bit of a break on my way and to have some Avgeek fun on the way as well.
So the whole trip is booked on points thanks to a number of years of earning points and getting those levels high and thanks to not having a time frame of when I need to be back, it means I can take my time and do some dumb stuff. So why is it taking so long to get to Australia? Well I am going via the middle east. This all stemmed from wanting to use points to get to Australia (business class of course because you know, I can) and the options were just not out there. With the help of my friends at nomascoach they found a flight from Doha to Adelaide. This was the base for where I started putting things together. Could I really justify going the “Long Way” to Australia. I don’t see why not. The first part was getting myself to Doha. I could get to Adelaide (and getting from Adelaide to Brisbane is an easy thing) but getting to Doha is a bit different. I was looking around with the points I had (Chase & Capital One) and one that intrigued me was Turkish Airlines.
I could get a really good deal with Turkish to Doha (45,000 points one way in Business) but it was a crappy layover in Istanbul (8 hours) and it would mean at least a couple of days in Doha. I have been to Doha before back in 2012 so spending a few days wasn’t ideal. Since I had not been to Dubai before, I looked into maybe flying to Dubai. That didn’t work either as I could use the same amount of points to go to Dubai instead of Doha (even with the crappy 8 hour layover) but then getting from Dubai to Doha was a bit crappy option wise. I really wanted Dubai as I have always wanted to visit the Burj Khalifa and experience it. I spent days trying to make stuff work in my spare time looking at options, trying other routings to Australia and it just didn’t work. Until I gave Abu Dhabi a try instead of Dubai. Instantly my connection in Istanbul went from 8 to 3 hours. SCORE! Then for an additional 8000 points I could add an Abu Dhabi to Doha flight to my Qatar ticket for getting to Australia and it would be one through ticket with only a 3 hour layover in Doha. EVEN BETTER!
While it meant I was staying in Abu Dhabi instead, I could still get to Dubai for a day as its only a couple of hours by road (buses go all the time and I’ve arranged a Day tour to Dubai to see the Burj Khalifa). So getting to Adelaide was done. It would mean a new airline (Turkish), a new aircraft (737 Max 8 from Qatar… not the 9… I will be fine people stop it) and a lot of new Airports! (Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Doha (the new Hamad International Airport) and Adelaide). Unfortunately I needed a night in Adelaide on arrival as my Qatar flight gets in too late on the 7th for a flight to Brisbane, so I can have a relax in Adelaide for the night and fly to Brisbane the next day. I decided to go with Rex for that flight to Adelaide as the cost was right and bringing my new airlines to two for this trip.
So getting to Brisbane was sorted. Getting home, well that was a different story. I had plenty of time to figure out point situations as I had already used a big chunk getting to Brisbane (45k for Seattle to Abu Dhabi and another 75k for Abu Dhabi to Adelaide. I paid cash to get to Brisbane from Adelaide for $150USD). I checked around and I figured getting some Alaska points was the best way to earn the points needed to get to home. So I needed to churn that but as the Alaska card is Bank of America, that meant dealing with them again…. Sigh. But as the points took so long to post (and BofA was being the dumb self that they are getting me the card but that is another story), the options were dwindling. First it looked like I could make BNE-SYD-HNL-PAE work, but that dissapeared. Then BNE-SYD-NAN-APA-HNL-PAE but that dissapeared (thank god!) and there was no Qantas options at all directly into mainland US. In the end another friend of mine said “Have you looked at United yet”. I groaned to myself… not United. But I had not. Turns out there was a BNE-SFO flight for around the dates I wanted to return back to the USA (end of April, early may) but couldn’t make the add on to SEA work. So another ticket that meant. But while United was a good option, turns out they have the most amount of uplift from the States into Australia now, more than Qantas!
So with all of that done, this is what the trip would look like to get me home to Australia and back again. But that isn’t the end of it. Heidi obviously wanted to come down and see some of Australia again and this time, just 5 nights in Brisbane would not suffice. I felt like it was back to my time at Down Under making itinaries for people wanting to travel from the USA to Australia. I had a 2 week time frame to play with and to see some stuff Heidi hasn’t seen but also spend some time with my family/friends with her. We ended up settling on Heidi flying into Sydney, we spend 4 nights down there then fly to Cairns for 4 nights and then back to Brisbane for almost a week before Heidi flies home to Seattle. I would fly down to Sydney the day before so that the hotel room would be ready for Heidi when she lands. I won’t go into hotel choices as that is a whole other post. I also threw a trip into Sydney for Anzac day as the flights were cheap when I booked it (round trip was $150USD).
So all in all, my trip would look like this:
Saturday 02nd March – Turkish Airlines – Seattle to Istanbul+1 (787-9)
Sunday 03rd March – Turkish Airlines – Istanbul to Abu Dhabi+1 (A321Neo) – get in at 2am on the 4th March sigh
Monday 4th March to Wednesday 6th March – Abu Dhabi
Wednesday 6th March – Qatar Airways – Abu Dhabi to Doha (Hamad International) (737 Max 8)
Wednesday 6th March – Qatar Airways – Doha to Adelaide+1 (777-300ER – Qsuites!)
Thursday 7th March to 8th March – Adelaide
Friday 8th March – Regional Express – Adelaide to Brisbane (737-800)
Friday 8th March to Monday 18th March – Brisbane with my folks
Monday 18th March – Qantas – Brisbane to Sydney (737-800)
Monday 18th March to Saturday 23rd March – Sydney
Saturday 23rd March – Qantas – Sydney to Cairns (737-800)
Saturday 23rd March to Wednesday 27th March – Palm Cove
Wednesday 27th March – Virgin Australia – Cairns to Brisbane (737-800)
Wednesday 27th March to Wednesday 24th April – Brisbane with my folks
Wednesday 24th April – Regional Express – Brisbane to Sydney (737-800)
Wednesday 24th April to Thursday 25th April – Sydney
Thursday 25th April – Regional Express – Sydney to Brisbane (737-800)
Thursday 25th April to Tuesday 30th April – Brisbane with my folks
Tuesday 30th April – United – Brisbane to San Francisco (787-9)
Tuesday 30th April – Delta – San Francisco to Seattle (A220)
or if you look at it on a map, like this:
Ok, so now who thinks I am crazy!