Reader Poll: You plan my next booking!

I’ve got a trip coming up in a couple weeks and, thanks to my ability to procrastinate spectacularly, I’ve yet to book the return half. There are, as I see it, three reasonable options available to me and none of them are particularly compelling so I’m reaching out to you, my readers, to help me choose. Note that this is not a binding vote or anything like that; I’m just curious which y’all think makes the most sense given the parameters I’m about to lay out.

Which Route

Option 1: Norwegian and the 787

This is the only revenue fare option I’m considering; the other two are award trips. It would include an afternoon flight from my origin to Oslo, a three hour layover and then onward to JFK on the 787. At least in theory. I’ve previously booked the Norwegian 787 and ended up flying on a disgusting A343. The 787s continue to have reliability problems for Norwegian though, best as I can tell, only two of the past ten have been a swap to something else. All-in the fare is ~$550, including a seat assignment and some meals in-flight. One new line for my flight history map.

Option 2: Star Alliance award

For 30,000 UA miles and ~$50 in taxes I fly via Frankfurt, also in the afternoon, into JFK. Similar total flight time as the Norwegian option but this one also involves the Lufthansa 744 in economy. Not my favorite long-haul coach product at all. On the plus side, good flight times and I know what I’m getting in to. Also one new line for my map.

Option 3: oneworld award

Only 20,000 miles and a similar $50 in taxes, but I also need to position on the European end to get to a gateway served by a oneworld partner which adds ~$90 to the total. It also involves an overnight in Helsinki in mid-January but I’m already going to be in cold weather mode so I see that as a perk, not a drawback. This one involves more new lines (3) and I can probably add on another random domestic one-way flight later in the year as part of the same award so that’s a plus. The downsides are higher costs (including the positioning flight and the extra night in Helsinki), a 65 minute connection in Manchester and I only have AA Gold status (and that’s in theory as the challenge hasn’t “cleared” yet).

So, which would you choose?

[yop_poll id=”2″]

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. I wasn’t going to fly enough to meet an EXP challenge and probably not enough to make switching wholesale worthwhile either. Certainly having it for this one trip isn’t worth much.

  1. Not sure if you’ve ever been through Manchester, but it’s a pain of an airport to transit through and a delay of any sort would probably cause you to misconnect.

    1. I haven’t ever been through MAN so that’s good to know. It is early enough in the day that I’d like to think AY/AA would be able to fix any issues with some help from BA but I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

        1. MAN is a bit of a rabbit warren, but no worse than FRA or LHR IMHO. It’ll only be a problem (IRROPS aside) if you have to get to/from T2 as it’s an airside bus shuttle from T1/T3 (which are joined by a walkway).

          On the other hand, make it a stopover if you can. MAN is one my favourite cities, a real crucible of creativity, music, sport. It’s grunge/boho rather than elegant, but brilliant nonetheless. The Crowne Plaza on Shudehill is usually excellent value for IHG Reward nights, and the Hilton on Deansgate is one of the city’s most striking buildings.

      1. I have transited MAN a couple of times and didn’t find it too bad, especially if you already have your boarding pass in hand. The only issue will be waiting for the little transfer bus as you go from T1 to T3. Both times I transited MAN I was the only person on the bus and at transit security when I went through.

        I would guess it took maybe 20 minutes from getting off the plane to getting through transfer security. You should be fine as long as your inbound flight is on time.

  2. how do u plan to use the stopover on AA award?
    if you can use the stopover, it would probably be the best deal….

    otherwise, i would stay with *A due to lounge access, etc.

  3. I like MAN – my favorite UK airport. Good train connections, and much easier than LHR.

  4. How about non of the above. Instead FI via KEF you can do a stopover in KEF too ๐Ÿ™‚ At least that’s the route I’m thinking of doing in May/June from OSL

  5. Will you have time to see anything in HEL or just a few hours to sleep? I’d see a new city if I had time. And I would use the extra one-way. And I would make MAN a stopover as suggested above (visited in October, awesome cultural scene and some great Pakistani restaurants; also flying out was easy, way better than LHR)

  6. I considered the FI option but it is rather more expensive (they don’t fly direct to my actual originating city) and I don’t have time for a stopover anyways. If I’m going to pay cash for the flight then it’ll be the cheapest possible and that’s Norwegian.

    The HEL/MAN option has ~18 hours in Helsinki so enough time to see a few things before a quick sleep and off to the airport.

    Adding a stopover in MAN is not viable at this point.

  7. I’d definitely go with Option 1. When else will you get a chance to take advantage of the 787 ex-OSL? Not an opportunity that arises often

  8. It took me a bit longer than I’d hoped to get things sorted, but I ended up going with option 3. Part of that was wanting to burn miles rather than cash right now and part was the extra one-way trip NYC-LAX in June to position for a JetBlue Mint transcon back eastbound so I can see that product in action. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the way it worked out. At least so far. We’ll see how I feel if I end up stuck in MAN. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    Plus, that option did get the most votes.

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