Off to See the Wonderful Ayers of Oz: Introduction
Pasco (PSC) to Portland (PDX)
Delta SkyClub Portland
Delta One Business Class Portland (PDX) to Tokyo (NRT)
Ritz-Carlton Tokyo Hotel Review – The BEST Hotel Stay of My Life
24 Hours in Tokyo is Not Much Time in a Big, Big City
Japan Airlines Sakura First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita
Japan Airlines First Class SkySuite Tokyo (NRT) to Sydney (SYD)
Park Hyatt Sydney and My Ridiculously Insane View
Seeing Sydney Is Cheap and Easy
Virgin Australia Business Lounge Sydney
Virgin Australia Business Class Sydney (SYD) to Ayers Rock (AYQ)
Desert Gardens Hotel Review – A Lot of Money for a Mediocre Hotel
Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) in 24 Hours – It Can Be Done
DoubleTree by Hilton Alice Springs Prison Cell Review
Qantas Lounge Alice Springs
Qantas Economy Class Alice Springs (ASP) to Melbourne (MEL)
Qantas Business Class Lounge Melbourne (MEL)
Qantas Business Class Melbourne (MEL) to Sydney (SYD)
Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel Review
Qantas Business Class Lounge Sydney (SYD)
Qantas Business Class Sydney (SYD) to Melbourne (MEL)
Melbourne Marriott Hotel Review
Marching around Magnificent Melbourne
Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne
Qantas First Class Melbourne (MEL) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles – Not as Nice as Their Australia Lounges
Alaska First Class Los Angeles (LAX) to Seattle (SEA)
Horizon Air Economy Class Seattle to Pasco (PSC)… If You Really Care
The Big, Dreaded 3-0
Believe it or not, I’m about to hit the big 3-0 come December. Your 20s are supposed to be the most intense and fun decade of your life, and I am sad I will soon be leaving them behind.
Fortunately, I will have (or am on pace to) accomplish at at least one goal by the time I am 30–Having traveled across 6 continents. While it is certainly the most substantial goal I am on pace to meet, the thought of making it a reality only occurred within the last year or two.
It certainly helps that including North America, I have already been to 4 continents (South America, Asia, and Europe). Which leaves Australia (well, until recently!) and South Africa (later in the year)!!
I Wasn’t Going to be in Kansas Anymore…
My travels seem to be a sequence of haphazard planning that manifest themselves at very opportune moments. Last fall, as serendipity would have it, Qantas First Class award seats became quite readily available using partner miles, which is incredibly rare. They say that which is hardest to achieve is most desirable. Well, I suppose because Qantas First Class seemed so impossible and beyond me, I had long hoped to fly Qantas First Class since first getting into the miles and points game, whilst admiring One Mile at a Time’s Qantas First Class trip Report way back in 2011.
My Routing and Flights
As seems to be my norm with increasing regularity, I booked this trip backwards, starting with the return flight.
Connecting in Tokyo: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
I ended up with a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in routing through Tokyo. I badly wanted to fly Singapore Suites on the Airbus A380 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT), but even with a little flexibility for my departure dates, my only option was to waitlist flights on this route.
I didn’t want to be left out in the cold and without a way to get to Australia, so I booked a back-up award ticket using up 110,000 Delta miles I had stockpiled for Delta One Business Class from Portland to Tokyo. More than I wanted to pay, but originally it was just a back-up option. A couple of weeks from departure, I noticed the Saver Level of 70,000 miles was available on the same date and flight, so after calling up Delta and kindly reminding them of my Gold Medallion status, I was able to get 40,000 miles re-deposited as a “one-time” courtesy, as well as tack on the Pasco (PSC) to Portland (PDX) flight on the same award ticket for no extra charge.
While my Singapore Suites waitlist would eventually clear couple of days before departure, I ran into issues confirming my flight (BUMMER!) as my account was audited. Delta has a pesky policy that does not allow redeposited mileage on award tickets cancelled within 72 hours of departure, so I decided to stick it out with Delta.
Enter the Japan Airlines First Class SkySuite
Either way, I had intended to connect through Tokyo anyway, so a couple of months before departure I checked Japan Airlines’s (JAL’s) website for options. Within just a few minutes I found a First Class award ticket in JAL’s Boeing 777 Sky Suite, then called up American Airlines and successfully booked the ticket for 60,000 American Airlines miles. Honestly, it surprises me how effortless booking some award flights can be, as a quick and easy search showed me that I actually had my pick of multiple departure days–in First Class. Then again, there probably isn’t a backlogged list of folks calling up American to redeem airlines for JAL First Class between Tokyo and Sydney.
Anyway, my Tokyo to Sydney flight was scheduled such that I could connect from my Delta flight overnight as a buffer (besides, I’ve never heard anyone complain about “having” to visit Tokyo), and then then fly out to Sydney the following evening. Added to that, I flew All Nippon Airways a few years back, so the chance to fly the “other Japanese carrier” was intriguing personally.
For the inter-Australia flights, for the most part I was able to use a combination of British Airways and American miles to get me where I wanted to go.
To do my first trip to Australia justice, I badly wanted to visit the Outback and Ayers Rock. However, as anyone who has been there will likely attest to, it does not come cheap! (As in $350 a night for a basic hotel expensive! Yeah.)
Added to that, I have a bad habit of booking at the last minute, so all of the outbound award options were gone. The easiest and quickest option was to book a direct Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Ayers Rock. In the end, based on opportunity, timing, and the fact that this was my only revenue (non-frequent flier miles) flight on the entire trip, I justified ~$700 for Virgin Australia Business Class to Ayers Rock.
For various reasons I decided to fly out of Alice Springs, back to Sydney. This actually which worked out in my favor twofold:
1) I arrived in Australia, and accustomed to my first taste of Australia in the comfort of Sydney.
2) I will admit that while flying is quick and easy, there is a certain beauty to driving (or in my case riding) cross-country, as it allows you to see and experience all the scenery you so easily take for granted up in the air. I ended up booking a bus transfer to get me from Ayers Rock to Alice Springs, which allowed me to see some sights and enjoy the scenery along the way. Thus, I considered such a ride as much a “sight” as any of the tours or attractions I saw on my entire trip!
My Routing to Oz and Back
My full itinerary was as follows, PSC-PDX-NRT-SYD-AYQ, ASP-MEL-SYD-MEL-LAX-SEA-PSC:
Total Transportation Lodging Costs – 343,440 Miles/Points** $2,121
**All miles and points are not considered equal. Addition of them is done only for high-level summary purposes only.