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The 2015 Around the World Mega Trip Report: High Teas, World’s Tallest, Safari, Vic Falls, Jiro’s sushi all in Business and First Class.

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Last year I organized a trip for my family and best friend around the world. We flew nothing but business and first class, stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels and paid literally a fraction of the cost. My parents spent time in London and New York as stopovers en route to Africa while Dave and I took the trip below:

Here was our itinerary – dream trip 2015


Around the world 2015 - 25 of 41

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Flying around the World on one trip – check!

Miles and I had wanted to fly allllllll the way around the world on a single, extended, fantabulous trip since, well, I can’t even remember it’s been that long. But, we didn’t want to do it sitting up…

We wanted to lie flat!!!!!

Miles aboard his flight from IAD to AUH in June
Miles aboard his flight from IAD to AUH 787 Dreamliner
IMG_5952
Miles in Etihad business class A330 AUH-JNB
Miles in American 1st NRT-LAX
Miles in American 1st NRT-LAX
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Miles in Cathay Biz JNB-HND

And we wanted to send mom and dad on a dream vacation in First Class on a safari in Africa

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Mom and Dad Enjoying BA 1st EWR-LHR-JNB

Lie Flat and make the folks feel all that!?!?! Double Check!

So how did we do it?

We maxed out the value of the points we had, made some strategic credit card sign ups, used transfer bonuses, and ultimately weren’t that picky on dates. That’s probably the biggest thing – be flexible.

How did we pick the places?

The rents…

We knew we wanted to get to South Africa for a safari, but didn’t know exactly how much time we needed. After a lot of research online I found Chitwa Chitwa safari lodge – their website has some great options for multi-destination trips. Reaching out to them put us in contact with Bianca at Icon expeditions and we nailed down the spots we wanted to see: Joburg, Blue Train, Cape Town, Kruger, and Victoria Falls. We then referenced the award availability and picked dates that gave us wiggle room. All in all for my parents we booked everything on BA.

How did we get them the flights?

  • BA credit card sign up for 100k bonus
  • Card gives one free ticket with a purchased ticket, even with points, after 30k spend in a year.
  • The ticket cost 300k avios for two people roundtrip in First.
    • 150k was already in the account
    • the other 150k was earned from a 40% Amex to to BA transfer bonus.
  • Total: 150k each plus taxes

~ Each ticket would have cost roughly $17,000 when we booked them with points: almost $0.12 per point ~

How did we manage the stop overs – BA allows free stopovers in London on award tickets

  • My parents and I love high tea
  • London is quintessential for high tea
  • Grosvenor House on Park Lane is a great spot to stay and enjoy high tea for 45k Marriott rewards per nightIMG_0003
  • Blacklane offers great, reliable, and often cheaper than taxi, black car service. They love it

Dave and I balled out in the middle east. Flew Business, stayed 5 star and spent $150 for 4 nights and flights to and from U.A.E.

We sought out a different experience. Both of us were keenly interested in seeing the fare of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, plus I REALLY wanted to fly on a 787 and specifically with Etihad. Unfortunately, American doesn’t allow routing, nor stopovers, through the middle east to Africa. Our only real option was through Europe, so we booked two separate one way tickets on Etihad using AA miles to route through Abu Dhabi.

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“high” tea

Ya

Around the world 2015 - 1 of 1
Burj Khalifa

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After Africa we used the ITA matrix to investigate options of getting home. Often times when you’re at the antipodes of the earth you can find stunningly good deals. We found one way tickets to Japan for $1100…that’s almost 17 hours of business class for less than what a lot of roundtrip first class tickets cost domestically.

So we thought we’d head East to get back West.

Dave and I had wanted to check out Tokyo and the Ritz had avail with points. We also were fans of the Netflix documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ about the first Michelin 3 star sushi restaurant in the world Sukiyabashi Jiro. We were lucky enough get a reservation at the Roppongi Hills location by using the concierge at the Ritz. Both experiences were truly out of this world.

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I then set out to find us avail back from Tokyo…

We were lucky enough to catch a huge dump of award avail on AA before BA devalued last May. We nailed down tix for 75k +$135.

So what did the flights and hotel cost us

States to Middle East:  LAX-IAD-AUH-JNB

From Africa to the States: JNB-HKG-TYO-LAX

The Hotels:

Grand Hyatt Dubai

  • 2 free nights in a category 4 with Chase Hyatt Credit card
  • 1 night $200 and 3000 points for a suite upgrade

Hyatt Capital Gate

  • $95 total

Ritz Carlton Tokyo

  • 70k per night

Total:

  • Aadvantage: 102,500
  • Avios: 75,000
  • Marriott 140k
  • Hyatt 1500 points and $150 each
  • Cash – roughly $1150 each for flights ( including taxes paid on award flights)

How did we get the points?

  • We both did two sign ups.
    • US Airways 50k after 1st purchase, which converted to AA after the merger
    • Citi AA Platinum 50k after 3k spend in 3 months
    • Chase BA card 100k bonus after 20k spend in 12 months
  • The Marriott points we had, but could have done a Ritz Carlton 140k sign up offered last year
  • Hyatt card offers a great deal of 1 free night annually with a $75 annual fee

 

If you’re interested in seeing more in depth reviews and looksat all the places, check out the links at the top and bottom of the report! If you have any questions – hit me up!! And if you’re interested in Miles booking a trip for you like he did for us…hit up the Award Booking page on the home screen – he will get you more lux for less bux!

 

 

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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