Around the World with the Star Alliance

In early May, I learned that our winter break was being extended by one week, making it a grand total of five weeks. However, I had no plans to travel anywhere, except for a quick trip to Orlando right after I finished my final exams. It felt strange to not have anything planned, however the feeling did not last for very long. Six months earlier, I had learned that a long-time friend would be moving to South Korea to take a new job. And, remembering this milestone, I decided to use some of the United miles I had earned from the past year (150K EQMs in 2010), to visit my friend and his family on Jeju Island.

A few months had passed, and I found myself questioning the routing. I had chosen ANA from Dulles to Seoul, via Tokyo, connecting to Asiana from Seoul to Jeju Island. Both carriers were well known for their premium products, but there was still something missing. Ok. Back to the drawing board.

Over the next several weeks, I thought about turning the trip into a round-the-world, which would give me an opportunity to try out the Lufthansa A380, but I was still a bit hesitant. I decided to leave the trip as it was, and started to look up information on the local area. Hotels seemed scarce, except for a Hyatt Regency.

Two months later, I received a note from my friend, mentioning that they would not be taking the job. Naturally, this kind of killed the point of my trip, however it also opened up a new opportunity. Immediately, I modified the itinerary, allowing me the chance to do my first round-the-world. I'd always wanted to visit Asia, so this would give me an excuse to do so.

Over the next four months, I made more phone calls to the 1K Desk than most people make in a two-year period. I began with DEN-SFO-FRA-ZRH-NRT-ICN-NRT-IAD-DEN, with SFO-FRA on United, ZRH-NRT on SWISS, and NRT-ICN on ANA. Something was still "wrong" with the trip, so I spent several hours looking up availability in KVS. Although it was 4am, I was so excited with the thought that I would be visiting Asia at the end of the year, that I was unable to sleep. Another call to the 1K Desk confirmed that one routing idea would exceed the Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM) for an award ticket, so I hung up in frustration. I figured it was more important that I get some sleep at this point, so I shut things down for the "night".

Later that afternoon, I finalized my airline and routing choices. The ticket turned into DEN-ORD-YYZ on United, YYZ-NRT on Air Canada, NRT-ICN on United, ICN-HKG on Thai, NRT-ZRH-LHR on SWISS, and LHR-FRA-DEN on Lufthansa. HKG-HND/NRT was the only challenge, as none of the Star Alliance flights had award availabilty for January 3rd. Not even in Economy, although I was shooting for First ;-). Instead, a friend traded me some of his Cathay Pacific miles, which allowed me to redeem for Cathay First Class from HKG-HND on the 747. The upside would be that I could visit the Wing and sample Cathay First, but the downside was that the flight wouldn't arrive to Tokyo until 9:05pm. Well, you win some and you lose some.


Stay tuned, as I'll be releasing another segment in the next day or two, detailing the trip to Toronto, Air Canada Executive First, Delta Business, and a fight between passengers that resulted in the Toronto Airport Police being called to the gate.


dmel January 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Can't wait for the rest! and pictures!

Anatoly January 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

Hi Daniel, I am reading your story about your all around the world trip and I find it very interesting.I keep on reading your news about countries you've visited. By the way, who's your frind in South Korea? Best, Anatoly

Hi Anatoly! Good to hear from you :)

My friend in South Korea is Tim, Brian's son.

Give my best to Vladimir!