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Old 9th September 2016, 8:30 PM   #1
nin82 Thread Starter
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Cool Around The World 2017 - Business Class on Frequent Flyer Points [updated 02 Nov 2016]

*cue the Daft Punk song*

Greetings OCAU!

Two big things will be happening in 2017 for me. First up I’ll be getting married and then in August/September 2017 my wife and I will be going around the world for our honeymoon. We’ll be flying in business class and we’ll be doing it using Qantas Frequent Flyer (QFF) points which we’ve both been squirrelling away for a few years now.

So I’ve started this thread to record how we did it, tips/tricks we learned along the way and how much it cost. This is also a work in progress. We haven’t got all the flights booked yet, just the first two flights. Maybe someone else will find this useful too.

A brief bit about us: I’m 34 and my missus is 29, no kids, mortgage. We’re both earning comfortable wages but definitely not that much that we could afford business class around the world tickets, nor have we flown that much that we earned enough QFF points by actually flying.

So how did we get enough QFF points?
Mostly through credit card sign up offers, the ones where they offered a bucket load of points and no annual fee for the first year. We applied for those, spent the required amount to gain the sign on bonus points and then close the account to move onto the next card. Rinse and repeat. I started doing this in January 2011 and had enough points by mid-2013. The missus only started gathering points around 2013, so I’ve been waiting for her to catch up

And how many points do you need? Where can I go? What are the limits?
A lot of this is covered in detail on other sites, but in short the requirements/limits are:
- Require 280k+ points per person for business class, plus taxes which vary depending on which airlines & airport you fly. Taxes should be around the $1k mark. (Some airlines have higher fuel taxes/surcharges than others). Also allow extra points for itinerary changes during the booking process at 3.5k points per person per change.
- Maximum of 5 stopovers, and only one stopover per city (A stopover is defined as more than 24 hours).
- Maximum of 2 transit stops per city (A Transit stop is defined as less than 24 hours).
- Maximum of 35,000 miles.
- Maximum of 16 flight segments (You can fly into one city and then fly out of another city, however you will still incur 1 segment for travel between the two cities and also the distance between those two cities are included towards the maximum 35,000 miles).
- Must fly on at least two other Oneworld airlines (non-Qantas, eg: Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific).

Also, this isn’t strictly an “Around the World” ticket where you have to abide by rules that are usually part of such a ticket like ‘must travel in a continuous east or west direction’, ‘minimum 4 continents’ or limited to certain cities etc. It is a “Oneworld Classic Reward” ticket, which most people use to fly around the world. As far as I can tell, if a oneworld carrier flies there and there are award seats available (seats that you can book using points as not all seats on a flight are bookable by points), you should be able to get it. Apparently you can fly around in circles in Asia if you wanted so long as you meet the requirements of the oneworld award ticket.

Now onto the trip itself, we're both limited in how much time we could take off work so we're limited to 6 weeks total. It will be a bit of a rush job, so we're not going anywhere too far out of the way. So far our plan is:

Brisbane -> Hong Kong (8 hour transit - Daytrip into Hong Kong) Booked!
Hong Kong -> New York (Stop 1) Booked!

New York -> Madrid (Stop 2) Booked!

Madrid -> Munich (23 hour transit - 1 night stay in Munich) Booked!
Munich -> Berlin (Stop 3) Booked!

Make our own way from Berlin to Helsinki, via Denmark & Sweden.

Helsinki -> Hong Kong (18 hour transit - 1 night stay in Hong Kong) Booked!
Hong Kong -> Ho Chi Minh City (Stop 4) Booked!

Ho Chi Minh City -> Tokyo (2 hour airport transit) Booked!
Tokyo -> Nagoya (23 hour transit - 1 night stay in Nagoya)
Nagoya -> Sapporo (Stop 5)

Sapporo -> Tokyo (23 hour transit - 1 night stay in Tokyo)
Tokyo -> Sydney (2 hour airport transit) Booked!
Sydney -> Brisbane (home) Booked!

This comes to 33,074 miles and 15 segments.

13 actual flights, however we use 1 segment for going between Berlin and Helsinki and we use up another segment in Tokyo on the way home as we fly into Haneda Airport and fly out from Narita (this was so that we could do a 23 hour transit there).

Hopefully we'll be able to get all the flights that we're after, but you have to be flexible in the planning. We originally planned to do a 23 hour transit through Zurich, flying New York -> Zurich -> Madrid, but trying to get the New York -> Zurich flight on points proved almost impossible to get. There are flights/seats available, but not in business class and not on the days that we want.

When booking popular routes, we learned that you almost have to book them as soon as they're available (especially in business class). Different airlines release their points bookable seats at different times, but best availability is almost a year in advance. And those seats go quick too. We did book those first flights just over a week ago and checking availability for Brisbane to New York now, shows no business class seats for the same dates +/- a week.

So far the booking process has been easy, the first flights were booked online using the Qantas website and multicity tool. We'll be flying Brisbane to New York via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and from New York to Madrid on Iberia. These flights cost 192k points and $224 each.

The remainder of the flights we'll have to use the Qantas call centre as there isn't a way to add flights to the existing booking, as all flights need to under the same booking reference in order to qualify for the 280k reward ticket as you can't create seperate bookings and then join them together later on.

So yeah... that's it for now, and as mentioned earlier, this is a work in progress but it's looking pretty good and we're really excited to be do this!
(we haven't even got around to planning the wedding yet )

Last edited by nin82; 2nd November 2016 at 5:42 PM.
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Old 9th September 2016, 8:31 PM   #2
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So far I've spent a few months researching and planning this trip, and the main resources that I used are:

The Australian Frequent Flyer – "oneworld" award (140K/280K/420K) Planning - The Definitive Thread 4000+ posts with a wealth of knowledge about this, took a while to get used to the jargon and airport codes

Point Hacks General guide on booking RTW with points

Oneworld Interactive Map and Oneworld timetable search For mapping the trip and trying to find those cities where we could line up flights to get a 23 hour transit

Great Circle Mapper To calculate total miles, just put in airport codes and it works it out.

How to search for oneworld availability Guide on how to use American Airlines & British Airways award seat searches. The British Airways search method was pretty useful as it could find Japan Airlines seats which aren't shown using the Qantas website.

And the Qantas website wasn't too bad either.

Last edited by nin82; 9th September 2016 at 9:35 PM.
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Old 9th September 2016, 8:32 PM   #3
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[reserved for the full trip and total costs]

Total costs so far: 287k QFF points + $1143 (each)

-----

Breakdown:

First lot of flights:
Brisbane to Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific)
Hong Kong to New York (Cathay Pacific)
New York to Madrid (Iberia)

192k QFF points + $224 taxes


Second lot of flights:
Madrid to Munich (Iberia)
Munich to Berlin (Air Berlin - Economy class only flight )
Helsinki to Hong Kong (Finnair)

91.5k QFF points+ $157 taxes (3.5k points [change fee] plus 88k points [to hit 280k point cap])


Third lot of flights:
Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh (Cathay Pacific - Economy only shows for this flight )
Ho Chi Minh to Tokyo (Japan Airlines)

3.5k QFF points [change fee] + $290 taxes (?! has not been processed yet)

Fourth lot of flights:

Tokyo to Sydney (Japan Airlines)
Sydney to Brisbane (Qantas)

Unsure of what additional taxes are as the Qantas computer couldn't work it out... to be 'manually' processed
Third & fourth lot of flights manually processed together, 3.5k QFF points [change fee] + $762 taxes

Last edited by nin82; 2nd November 2016 at 2:50 PM.
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Old 11th September 2016, 8:37 PM   #4
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that's so awesome! I wish Virgin points got you an easy RTW option, but it's a bit craptastic (had about 600K points before dropping a bunch on a return to US for me & mrs doug81 - and I had to mostly earn mine the hard way!)

very jealous mate, superb effort! Tough to always justify the extra cost of business class, but damn it's nice when you get it!
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Old 11th September 2016, 8:39 PM   #5
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How many days are you going to be away for in total? Looks like a lot of flights over a short time.
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Old 12th September 2016, 8:37 AM   #6
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We'll be away for 6 weeks so yes, it's a lot of flights in a short time. The main factor being that neither of us will be able to get longer than that away from work

It's likely that we'll be needing another holiday to recover recover from 6 weeks of rushing around

Also, rang up Qantas to add some more flights so it's coming together nicely
Now just waiting until mid-October before I can add the last lot of flights.

Last edited by nin82; 12th September 2016 at 8:58 AM.
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Old 12th September 2016, 9:43 AM   #7
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Should be a great trip, but wow, it makes me feel tired just looking at your itinerary

We had 8 weeks in Europe earlier this year, and we still felt rushed and wished we'd had another 3 or 4 weeks.

Ours was mostly a driving holiday, staying mostly in small towns from London up to Edinburgh, then Rome up to Paris via Switzerland and Germany, and then around Ireland, with a few days in Singapore on the way over and Hong Kong on the way back.
Our flights were only SYD-SIN-LHR, EDI-FCO, CDG-DUB-LHR-HKG-SYD.

The OW 280k Business RTW is great value. The best value use of points.

Another fairly economical way to fly Business or First used to be through buying American Airlines miles, then using them to book Oneworld flights. There were 6 of us on our trip, and we each bought enough AA miles over a couple of years to fly a mix of Business and First for our flights. We were lucky enough to have seats available on flights that suited .... gets a bit tricky when you're making 6 separate bookings for each flight, particularly in J and F

It used to be quite good value, probably about half the price of buying seats (or significantly less on some sectors, particularly in F).
Unfortunately the redemption rates have been tweaked since our trip, and it's not the value option it used to be for the most part.

Last edited by Gibbon; 12th September 2016 at 9:46 AM.
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Old 12th September 2016, 10:03 AM   #8
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I've done a trip on the OW RTW business class reward as well - loved it. I hit up Dubai, Berlin (then train to Amsterdam, Paris and London), Boston, Chicago and Hong Kong.

Have fun
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Old 12th September 2016, 10:06 AM   #9
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nice trip!

honestly you lost me at this though and then I got distracted and had to come back to read the rest of your post.

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Old 18th October 2016, 5:12 PM   #10
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Rang up Qantas today to book some additional flights but seem to have encountered some problems.

The flights I wanted to add were:
Hong Kong > Ho Chi Minh (Cathay Pacific)
Ho Chi Minh to Nagoya (via Narita) (Japan Airlines JL750 & JL3087)
Nagoya to Sapporo (Japan Airlines)

The Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong only had available economy award seats. This is a Wednesday and there are 3 flights on this day, but somehow the flight that I wanted only had economy. Shows the same for every Wednesday for weeks too. The same flight number on other days shows business class availability, as well as the later flights on Wednesday. But the one flight that I want had none. Really weird. I need to go on this particular flight, to keep it under 24 hours in Hong Kong so it counts as a transit, but hopefully I'll be able to change from economy to business class later on. A quick look at December's Wednesday flights shows free business seats so will try changing in July.

The Japan Airlines flights are giving me a real headache though.
The Qantas operator was only able to make a booking for JL750, but was unable to add the Japan domestic flights for some reason. Said something about no award seats being available.

I have been checking with both British Airways Executive Club search tool and the JAL mileage bank availability checker, and both of them show available award seats for SGN>NRT>NGO. BA could also see NGO > CTS, however JAL domestic award only sees 2 months & 4 days out.

But the Qantas operator's computer couldn't see either of the Japan domestic flights. I suggested to the Qantas operator if it was due to some sort of married segment rules, but still their computer said no.

Searching on BA's site shows domestic availability, even if I change the search to NRT > NGO, so I didn't think there would be a problem, but apparently there is.

Maybe there is some sort of other computer problem? As I notice that the points change fee has not shown on my QFF account nor has the payment of taxes shown up as a pending transaction on my credit card either. (The previous change fee showed up instantly on my credit card and were also instantly shown on my QFF account).

Working out taxes also seemed to take ages as I spent close to 30 mins on hold just waiting for taxes to calculate. Total phone call was an hour and a half as the Qantas operator tried different things to book those Japan domestic flights without luck. In the end, computer says no.
Taxes also seemed a bit high, compared to the other flights as the two that I booked came to $290 in taxes.

Later next week I should be able to add the final bunch of flights but most of them will be on JAL, so I wonder if I'll run into more problems with Japan domestic flights...
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Old 20th October 2016, 8:29 AM   #11
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semi related... but http://www.theage.com.au/business/av...19-gs5r9h.html

Quote:
Every dollar spent earns flybuys members one point – and more under special deals – and members can now convert increments of 2000 flybuys points into 870 Velocity points.
Quote:
That equates to an earn rate of 0.43 Velocity points for every dollar spent at the checkout, which is the same rate as the rival scheme offered by Woolworths and Qantas.
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Old 27th October 2016, 5:41 PM   #12
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Called Qantas again to book flights from Japan back home.

For info, Japan Airlines releases international award seats at 330 days in advance (and about 10am Japan Time) and searching through both British Airways and Japan Airlines award search tools only showed 2 business class seats per flight and these seemed to be gone within a week of becoming available.

Given that our travel dates are pretty tight with regards to time off work, I was anxious to grab the supposedly 2 business class seats on the Japan Airlines Tokyo-Sydney flight on the day we wanted as soon as they became available.

Got through to the first phone agent around lunch time but was unable to book seats. Computer said no.

Called again later after midnight and got a no-nonsense agent who did whatever they needed to do and booked the flights.

Trying to work out additional taxes proved too hard for the computer, so it's gone to be 'manually processed'. It's been nearly two days and haven't heard anything yet, so I don't know how much extra I need to pay but the flights do appear via the online booking management thing.

Still was unable to book any Japan domestic flights, however that may be due to some strange reason that you can't even buy a domestic flight greater than 150 days away. Searching both Japan Airlines and Jetstar doesn't find any flights after late March 2017.

So it looks like I'll need to call in April 2017 to try and get those Japan domestic flights.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 2:55 PM   #13
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Update from the weekend.

E-tickets have arrived in my email so my flights are confirmed, however I can’t make sense of the taxes charged/shown on the ticket itinerary & receipt versus what I’ve actually paid.

We still have the domestic Japan flights to add but it looks like I won't be able to add them until April, so I'll leave the taxes as they are for now because when I add those it will trigger another recalculation of the total taxes.

For info, at the top of the itinerary & receipt it shows: ticket number, issued date & ticket total $1508 per person.

It then details all the flight numbers and with 'confirmed' against each flight.

Then below the flight information it has "additional Payment Details" with payment type and credit card number and amount paid as $762

And lastly at "Total Amount Payable" as $1128

Checking my credit card account does show the latest amount charged as $762, so the total that I've paid so far in taxes is $1143 per person

Despite the taxes not making much sense to me, I’m pretty happy now that all the international flights are confirmed and I’ve been issued the e-tickets. So all that is left to do is to add/change these flights:

Change Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh flight from economy to business class.
Add Tokyo to Nagoya, Nagoya to Sapporo and Sapporo to Tokyo.

There will also be an increase to the change fee that Qantas charges which come into effect in mid-December. Currently the change fee is 3.5k QFF points per person which will increase to 5k QFF points per person, which is what we’ll get hit with when I go to do those final flight additions. Luckily, because the last two sets of additional flights got processed together we only had to pay the one change fee.

And out of curiosity I checked how much our flights would cost if we were to actually buy them and got a price of $12,770 (searching return flights and taking half that cost as the one way fare). Less the taxes paid so far to calculate the value of those QFF points means that 287k QFF points = $11627 (or about 4c per QFF point)


Last edited by nin82; 2nd November 2016 at 3:07 PM.
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Old 2nd November 2016, 3:01 PM   #14
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Sweet man that is awesome.
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Old 7th December 2016, 12:12 PM   #15
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Should post up a bit of a guide to doing the CC thing. Maybe a seperate post in the Finance area? Could be the head honcho on when to switch cards and what not to maximize points.

You seem to be totally down with this method!

Looks good dude, i'd love to do the same.
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