I have, from time to time, built some ridiculous itineraries. Yesterday I did it again, piecing together a RTW trip which will allow me to experience the last ever scheduled commercial flight of the DC 10-30 in passenger service on Biman Bangladesh Airlines, as well as get a few other interesting flights over a week at the end of the year. I booked a combination of award (to position for the Biman flight) and revenue (the Biman flight) tickets and everything came together surprisingly well, though not without a bit of second guessing myself and the choices I was making along the way.
Here’s how I got to what I booked.
The easiest part to figure out was the Biman flights. They’re on a set schedule and I know I don’t have any points which can be redeemed on Biman (their program will launch later this year). Based on the Airline Route post the last DC 10 flight is currently expected to be from Abu Dhabi on 1 December 2013. It will make a short stop in Sylhet, Bangladesh before finally landing at Dhaka.
A quick search for the flight on ITA spooked the hell out of me, coming in at roughly $900 and also showing a different routing than what the Biman website offers. Fortunately, however, the Biman website is actually reasonably functional, if not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Plus, it is selling seats on the same flight for just over $200. At that price point I can actually afford to go on this boondoggle.
(N.B. – In the time between when I bought my ticket earlier and writing this post Biman updated the site. It is much prettier now but doesn’t seem sell seats anymore. Whoopsie.)
With the Biman flights secured I now needed to figure out how to get to Abu Dhabi and home from Dhaka. This is where my quirks start to show. I knew I wanted award seats for a few reasons, the main one being they’re fully flexible with my elite status. I also originally planned to go in coach but there were a number of business class options available so ultimately I decided to splurge for that. And then I started scouring the United website to see what routing to choose and which day to arrive.
I didn’t want to land in Abu Dhabi with only 4 hours until the next flight so I’m going in a day early, landing on Friday night. I considered more time in the region but with many things closed on Fridays the extra day didn’t make much sense. There were a few options which would involve routes I haven’t flown before but I chose one I know well – flying the overnight from Dulles to Frankfurt on Lufthansa‘s 747-8i. I like the business class seat on that plane and it was also one of the better timed options I had available. I’ll head down from Newark and continue on to Abu Dhabi later the following day from Frankfurt.
Finally, I had to figure out how to get home. This was actually a much harder decision than it probably should have been. Because I’ll be in South Asia on the United award chart I have my choice of flying over either the Atlantic or the Pacific to get home. Turkish Airlines, Singapore Air and Thai Airways have flights from Dhaka to their hubs and from there on to the rest of the Star Alliance network. Thanks to the limitations the United site has with multi-city searches these days I was somewhat stymied in putting together all the options but I eventually came up with several, including the Thai A380 via Paris, a number of Istanbul routings and options via both Seoul and Tokyo on United, Asiana or ANA.
Mostly for the sake of flying routes I previously haven’t experienced I chose a Pacific routing. Getting to fly TK1 would be fun (and add to my collection of #1 flights) but I have flown Turkish recently and I want something a bit different. In deciding between ICN-JFK and NRT-JFK I had to pick between a carrier I’ve never flown on a route I have previously flown or an old carrier and new line. I chose the former. Seoul to JFK on the Asiana 77W would be my flight home.
There was one more decision to make regarding the trip. For the flight between Bangkok and Seoul I had a choice between Thai and Asiana. The flight is a 5.5 hour redeye so I’m mostly going to want to sleep. Both carriers have a regional business class configuration so the seats are just OK; neither is great. And yet the Thai option was compelling. Why? Because I want the 30 minute massage in the lounge in Bangkok prior to the flight. Yeah, it is a bit silly, but all else being equal, why not??
I’m also hoping to get a few domestic flights in while I’m in Bangladesh. United Airways has some interesting planes and routes and touring the ship breaking yards at Chittagong or visiting one of the longest beaches in the world at Cox’s Bazar both seem like fun things to do. Maybe even an open jaw with a drive between the two. The 130 kilometer drive shows on Google Maps as a 3.5 hour journey. Piece of cake.
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