A little over a year ago I defined what I called my «ultimate travel goal», which was to fly First Class to Australia. Australia is about as far as it gets from Norway, so the journey there usually takes closer to 25 hours with decent stopover times.
A few days ago I managed to book it! I started out with relatively few miles in my SAS Eurobonus account last year, but utilizing all the earning tools at my disposal, I’ve racked up more than 150 000 Eurobonus points in the last year alone.
With the SAS American Express Platinum credit card and a yearly spend of 100 000 NOK (a little less than $12 000), I earned a so-called Companion Ticket, offering 2-for-1 or half off any award trip with Star Alliance carriers to any destination. To Australia that means 120 000 points for one or 240 000 points for two in first, or 90 000/180 000 in business class.
My initial thought was that it would be fun to try Singapore Airlines, and finding award space in business class was fairly easy, using the brand new SAS Star Alliance award search. This was the route I first booked:
- Oslo to Bangkok in Thai Airways 777 Royal Silk business class.
- Bangkok to Sydney in Thai Airways 747 Royal Silk business class.
- Melbourne to Singapore in Singapore Airlines A380 business class.
- Singapore to London in Singapore Airlines A380 business class.
- London to Oslo in SAS Plus.
I couldn’t help but think about the urge to fly First Class, however, so I returned to searching, this time using the United booking engine, which allows you to search for First Class awards, something SAS’ doesn’t.
There aren’t all that many airlines flying with First Class cabins anymore, at least not if you wanna travel in the ultimate style all the way to Australia. Singapore Airlines recently opened up First Class award space on their Copenhagen-Singapore route to SAS Eurobonus members, and says two seats on almost every flight are available for points and miles.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any seats on the dates in question, and since Singapore seemingly has a special deal in place with SAS, these seats don’t show up in the United Airlines search either, so the only option is to call SAS and ask.
Swiss doesn’t release any First Class award space to partners, and Lufthansa releases theirs only two weeks in advance. That basically left me with two options: Asiana through Seoul or Thai Airways through Bangkok. Both seem to be easily available in First Class, at least if you are flexible on the routing and days of travel. I had to prolong my trip with a few days from my first plan, but ended up with the following flights (in January and February):
- Oslo to London in SAS Plus
- London to Bangkok in Thai Airways A380 Royal First
- Bangkok to Sydney in Thai Airways 747 Royal First (new First Class cabin)
- Sydney to Bangkok in Thai Airways 747 Royal First (old First Class cabin)
- Bangkok to Frankfurt in Thai Airways A380 Royal First
- Frankfurt to Oslo in Lufthansa economy
It’s not my optimal itinerary, as I would have liked to try more than one First Class product, but I have a tiny little hope that it will be possible to rebook the outbound leg to Lufthansa if I call two weeks in advance. Fortunately, all award trips on SAS are changeable for a small fee, and you can also cancel for free.
I had a slight internal debate as to if it would be better to fly Singapore business class on the return leg, but decided that if I was gonna fly First Class, I wanted to do it as much as possible (and the difference in points is negligible).
The price of my current itinerary would have been slightly more than 50000 NOK, meaning I got more than 0,40 NOK of value per point – almost 5 US cents. Not too shabby!
Stay tuned for the reviews.
(Heading image by David Iliff, CC BY-SA 3.0)