Help me decide my route home!

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So despite promoting this site as Europe's answer to loyalty programmes, I've actually been in Asia for the last 2 months and am looking forward to finally getting my feet back on home soil. Except I haven't bought my ticket home yet. But I want to give my readers the opportunity to decide how I do it!

You see when you play the points game, you will come across many instances where you are cash poor but air miles rich. So I'm trying to get back for as little money as possible, whilst still getting decent value out of my ticket.

One particular instance I've been working on is exploiting American Airline's Oneworld and All Partner Award Chart which has a sweet spot between Asia 2 (most of the Central and Eastern countries in Asia minus Japan and Korea) and the Indian Subcontinent/Middle East region, whose countries include: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan.

30k miles for business class and 40k miles for first class!

30k miles for business class and 40k miles for first class!

The beauty of American Airline awards is that you get:

  • As many transfers as you want, so long as you don't transit in a third region, with certain exceptions. Don't underestimate just how big Asia is!
  • 25% surplus MPM – which nicely ties into my earlier post on the same topic
  • No fuel surcharges, airline fees nor airport fees. You are only subject to Government taxes, which in many cases can be reasonable. (As you are about to find out!)
  • ‘Unlimited' segments (though in reality I've never hit a maximum, most ticketing systems will only let you book 16 segments)

However, the biggest requirement is that “The transregion airline must publish a fare between the origin and destination(Scottrick's words). This itself isn't really a problem for my case, as Taipei to most places does tend to be a published fare. So instead let's have a look at the route maps to get some ideas of where I can fly

Cathay Pacific's Middle Eastern destinations

Royal Jordanian's Asian destinations

And let's not forget Malaysia Airlines will be joining OneWorld in 4 days which'll throw another variable into the mix!

Malaysia Airlines route map

And finally the wildcard Etihad, who are not part of the OneWorld alliance, but does open up some interesting opportunities.

Etihad's route map

I called up American Airlines yesterday to do a test booking for TPE-HKG-MNL in Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class, and MNL-AUH-AMM in Etihad Business Class (all in one ticket), which would look roughly like this:

Dark green is for CX flights and Orange is EY flights

This itinerary, covering near 7000 miles, would cost me 30k AA miles plus ?11.  (Yes eleven pounds of which ?6 in taxes plus ?5 offline ticketing fee, which I'm going to try to argue for them to waive anyway!). Another important reason for going through the trouble is that it brings me nicely into British Airways' zone 4 tariff as this is less than 3000 miles from London.

   (image from Flyertalk)

With BA redemptions I will have to pay all airport, government and airline fees and surcharges which is a massive drawback. However there are a few particular routes of note to complete my journey back to London. Egypt, Jordan and Israel all have a business class fuel surcharge of ?25 whilst the other countries in the same zone have ?130+. So I need to exploit the overlaps on the two airlines award charts to get me to the cheap areas! From there I'll be subject to the following costs (at time of writing):Tel Aviv to London, o/w (one way) in BA Club World for 25k Avios plus ?40.40 Amman to London, o/w BA CW for 25k Avios plus ?66.10Cairo to London o/w BA CW for 25k Avios plus ?63.90Ironically I only went to Egypt, Israel AND Jordan last August for holiday! I haven't flown British Airways Club World before (though I've done Club Europe several times) I'd favour going via a different airport for a bit of variety.However, there is another cheap method of using my hard-earned (!) Avios points – by spending them on Air Berlin who do not impose fuel surcharges when booking your flights on them! I could potentially fly from Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf on AB's swanky new business class seats launched in December 2012.However I've searched high and low for award availability on those flights and they just don't seem to exist. Never say never though! The other option is Abu Dhabi to Berlin on AB's old sloping business class, which isn't representative of what I'd expect of business class these days.

Image from Rask Travel 

But the upside is that this route costs 25k Avios plus ?13.30. Of course I will need to tag another DUS/TXL – LHR  onto the end of that though at 4500 Avios in economy class plus ?15 I can live with that. I thought Cathay Pacific's new longhaul business class was a very good offering and whilst I would love to do it again, I'd still prefer the variety of Malaysia, Royal Jordanian or Etihad's products.

I have a rough idea of where I could go. And it might come down to one of the following two:

  1. TPE-HKG-MNL-KUL-BKK-AUH-AMM-CAI-LHR (covers CX, MH,EY,RJ,BA business classes)
  2. TPE-HKG-BKK-KUL-SIN-AUH-DUS/TXL-LHR (covers CX, MH,EY,AB business classes)

So here's something for the readers. What products do you to see reviewed? Which airports/lounges would you like to see the inside of? How much do you love/hate me and want to see me end up in a sloping chair? Leave you ideas below!

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