Burn, United (Miles), Burn: Introduction

United Global First Lounge Washington Dulles (IAD)
Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounge Washington Dulles (IAD)
ANA First Square Class Washington Dulles to Tokyo Narita
ANA Suite and Business Class Lounges Tokyo Narita (NRT)
ANA Business Class Tokyo Narita to Beijing
IBIS Beijing Capital Airport Hotel
Air China First Class Lounge Beijing (PEK)
BGS Premier Business Class Lounge Beijing (PEK)
Business Traveler’s Lounge Beijing (PEK)
Lufthansa A380 First Class Beijing to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa B747-400 First Class Frankfurt to New York JFK
United PS Business Class New York JFK to San Francisco

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the upcoming United devaluation/slaughter of their award chart (and if you haven’t, you need to start following other blogs). In all honesty, it’s really not that bad for most people who are just looking for economy redemptions, as most of those awards haven’t been increased that much. But the ugliness starts to appear in the business class redemptions, and the horror appears in first class redemptions.

Like any good travel blogger obsessed with miles and points, I aspire to try as many aspirational premium cabin products as possible, but since I’m relatively new to the scene, I haven’t actually tried that much. In my last trip around the world, I got to try Emirates, Qatar, and British Airways, and I have plans to try Cathay Pacific, Asiana, Thai, and Singapore in the coming months. But with news of the United devaluation, I saw the possibility of sampling Lufthansa and ANA disappearing.

Part of the reason why I haven’t tried Lufthansa or ANA is that both airlines generally don’t release much or any award space in first class in advance, and as someone who holds a full-time job, it’s hard to plan around the possibility of space opening up. In addition, I have a lot of travel booked in the next couple of months, so finding time to take an additional trip to burn my United miles before February 1, 2014 wasn’t looking promising.

But this weekend happens to be one of the better weekends in the next three months for me to take a spontaneous trip, so I started looking for award space for a trip around the world this weekend. Yes, I’m flying around the world again. My goal was to find space on Lufthansa first class, to depart out of Frankfurt in Lufthansa first class to experience the First Class Terminal, and to try out ANA’s First Square product on their Boeing 777-300ER.

I managed to find an itinerary that does exactly those things, with minimal other ugliness: I’ll try ANA First Class on the 777-300ER, Lufthansa First Class on the A380, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and Lufthansa First Class on the 747-400. The total trip cost: 140,000 United miles (I already had 70k in my account, and I transferred in 70k from Chase Ultimate Rewards), $94.40 in taxes and fees, and a $50 close-in booking fee (I’m United Silver). I also need a hotel room for one night in one city, and I’ll have public transportation costs in New York where I’m staying with a friend and in San Francisco to get to/from the airport.

Crazy? Yes, but so is the United devaluation for first class travel on Star Alliance partners. I’ll post my exact routing once this trip gets going. For now, I leave you with my theme song for this trip.

2 thoughts on “Burn, United (Miles), Burn: Introduction

  1. SS

    I’m in the process of planning something similar on Lufthansa, ANA and Thai. Would you mind putting up your route and any tips on getting ANA First?

    If you will be in NYC for a night and would like to grab a beer do drop me a note. Safe travels and enjoy this one last UA splurge!

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