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05 November 2009 @ 09:11 am
Ozzy ozzy ozzy, oi oi oi!  
We've got our tickets for Australia!

The original plan was to buy economy-class tickets, upgrade to business class with miles, and stop over in Singapore on the way. That plan fell through when it turned out that Singapore's in a different "region" and the stopover would turn the trip into three separate legs. Then it turned out that upgradeable economy class tickets were insanely expensive (not as bad as business class, but more than twice the non-upgradeable fare). But it was possible to buy enough miles to obtain business-class tickets outright. Also, looking at the itineraries of the Star Alliance partners we thought we'd be able to stop over in New Zealand on the way. But that too proved infeasible -- New Zealand Air is extremely stingy in releasing business-class tickets to its partners.

So here's what we wound up with: we'll be flying business class PDX-LAX-SYD-MEL, departing on August 25 and returning on September 22. The Worldcon is in Melbourne September 2-6 and our itinerary is otherwise completely open.

Business class makes a HUGE difference on a flight this long. Because of the arbitrariness of upgrade awards I was really worried we wouldn't be able to get it, so I'm greatly relieved. The additional miles we had to buy to make this possible cost a little more than one economy-class ticket, so we're flying business class for about half the price of economy (plus, of course, every single mile in both our accounts).

Now that we've reduced our United mileage balance to near zero, I'm seriously considering switching to Alaska as my primary mileage account. United does fly everywhere but it's sometimes been extremely unpleasant to deal with them.

Laura Anne Gilmansuricattus on November 5th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
*is jealous*

Not sure Australia's in the cards for me this summer, if I'm going to be in France three weeks after...

(no, I can't go from Australia directly to France. The cats would kill me)
dd-bdd_b on November 5th, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
The one time I went down to Australia and NZ on business, they bought me business class, and I must say I'm very glad they did.

And I'm 20+ years older and about 5 inches fatter now than I was then.
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on November 5th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
I flew to Sydney and back in coach just last winter, and have lots of experience flying very long haul in business (and once to Tokyo in a three-class plane in First. Caviar cart!). And I'll tell you that long-haul coach was not as bad as I expected.

I had an aisle seat both times, which was *very* helpful, and I brought an amenity kit from a previous flight which contained the airplane socks, ear plugs, eye mask, chapstick, and so forth that they give you Business.

What really improved the flight for me, though, was bringing my video iPod and extra power for it, so I could watch and listen to what I liked.

But, Business class is roomier, and more comfy, and the food is certainly better, and pretty often the staff is nice. Enjoy!

Dave O'Neilldaveon on November 5th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
And I'll tell you that long-haul coach was not as bad as I expected.

That really depends on the airline. At 6'4" even with better leg room I start to suffer around the 6th or 7th hour. Over 10 and I'm chewing the walls. On a night flight it's even worse.
barbhendee on November 5th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)

Oh, David, I just read your post.

Wow! Australia!

I jumped online to price some tickets, but JC doesn't seem too keen on the idea yet. I'll keep working on him (smiles). I'd love to be able to see Melbourne and then deduct the entire trip.

I'm so glad you're all set to go. That's awesome.
(Deleted comment)
David D. Levinedavidlevine on November 5th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
It's mostly Kate's doing.
scottedelman: Astro Boyscottedelman on November 5th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Irene and I have our business-class tickets thanks to miles, too. See you there!

And sorry we didn't get the chance to talk longer at WFC.
Smofbabesmofbabe on November 5th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Very glad we'll be seeing you here!
Dave O'Neilldaveon on November 5th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
I was considering switching to United over Alaska and have decided not to purely because United's aircraft and customer service all appear to hail from the 1970s.

The only problem with Alaska is that while their mileage plan is excellent, if you want to go somewhere outside the US and Mexico, you'll be flying Delta.
Azahruazahru on November 6th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
Oi Oi Oi :-)
lauriemannlauriemann on November 7th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
We also have managed to book our trip to Australia on miles, though we're in coach. We're going on 8/26 and coming back on 9/15. Do you and Kate plan on going to Sydney, or maybe hitting some wineries outside of Melbourne? We should talk.

The one weird blip - having to fly EASTWARD to go to Dulles, and then westward to LA. The 15 1/2 hour trip from LA to Melbourne will be twice as long as any flight we've ever taken.

Still, it might not be as bad as the 7 hour flight from Boston to Shannon on Aer Lingus, surrounded by a lot of drunk guys from South Boston. I was sitting in the middle seat of a five-across row. *Gaak*

David D. Levinedavidlevine on November 7th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
Our itinerary is completely open so far, though we're not so much with the wineries (neither of us particularly likes wine). The longest trip we've taken so far was to Thailand, though that was divided into Portland-Tokyo (~8 hours), Tokyo-Singapore (~8 hours), and Singapore-Phuket (~2 hours).