2015: A year of air travel

An annual review of my air travels in 2015

Advertisements

2015 is now coming to an end. Lots of nice things happened and a lot of them are to do with travelling! With the knowledge of how to maximise my travel experiences with minimal costs I have managed to travel 74,550 miles on 33 different flights…

Introduction

I have to admit I travel differently from other people: I travel quite often with no detailed planning in advance. I am a last minute traveller. I usually only go to a particular place because I have a flight connection there, such as London Heathrow. First I only go into city for half a day then in the future I try to do week-end trips to there using airline miles I saved throughout my flights.

Flying is one of my biggest hobby: I really enjoy the good services provided in the airport lounges and on the aircraft. Also being able to explore places for less also motivates me to pursuit in this hobby.

Flying trends

Travel Map 2015

As you can see I am based in two locations: Edinburgh and Hong Kong. Hong Kong is my home though I study oversea in Scotland. During major holidays I usually fly home to visit friends and family, and by doing so I managed to pool a big amount of airline miles to redeem regional flights to travel and for Munich, travel and to catch another flight back to London Heathrow.

To reach Hong Kong and Edinburgh I have (mainly) two choices:

  1. Flying Cathay Pacific, British Airways to London Heathrow or  then connect to Edinburgh
  2. Flying Qatar Airways to Doha then transfer to Edinburgh

I could have travelled with say Turkish Airlines and connect in Istanbul though as I focus on OneWorld alliance members only (for now…) I decided to stick with them. Since British Airways is the most rewarding to their frequent travellers (when flying premium with status) I stick with BA for all flights between Asia and Europe. However in October I had a goal on Qatar Airways and it was mainly an enjoyable experience.

Flights, classes of travel and total distance

BA CW 777
British Airways Club World to Hong Kong on Boeing 777

In 2015 I travelled on the following airlines:

  • British Airways (25 times)
  • Cathay Pacific (4 times)
  • Japan Airlines (2 times)
  • Qatar Airways (1 time)
  • Virgin Atlantic (it is not OneWorld though £48 one way to London is a great deal!) (1 time)

Here is the spread of classes I travelled this year:

  • Economy: 69.7%, 22 times
  • Premium Economy: 0%, 0 times
  • Business: 32.2%, 10 times with 1 operational and 1 mileage upgrade
  • First: 8%, 1 time by mileage upgrade

Most of the flights in economy are domestic flights between Scotland and London (All airports) in which there is only one class of service. Since June this year I started flying in premium cabins as it turned out by doing this would help me to fly economy at the same price as economy. Since then business class becomes my mostly travelled cabin with the exception of Qatar Airways in October.

This year is also the first time I started upgrading myself into upper class of service. In February I scored an upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club World for 15,000 Avios (British Airways miles) on the A380 flight. Same thing happened though instead it was an upgrade from Club World (business class) to First for 30,000 Avios points. I used the Avios points to try these cabins for the first time (both of them are on the new A380s!) and it was very memorable: big seat, flat bed, good food, lounge access… these experiences make me realise flying IS a fun thing to enjoy.

Airline Loyalty Programmes

One of the biggest flying related achievement is gaining British Airways Executive Club Silver status. This is the same as OneWorld Sapphire, a middle level membership across member airlines. With this card I was able to access all business class lounges when flying OneWorld, regardless of travel class, fast-track immigration, security, check-in, boarding and priority baggage handling with extra allowance. It also gives me priority when wait-listing in case of irregular operation.

On the other hand I also created a new Iberia Plus account from Iberia Airlines. IB and BA belong to the same company, International Airlines Group. Since they use Avios on both programmes I can transfer points between accounts to score cheaper redemptions between programmes.

Finally I have wiped out almost all balance with Asia Miles in late July as they were expiring on 31st August 2015. I redeemed business class flights around Japan and Hong Kong for 50,000 miles and around £40 of taxes and fees.

Lounges

WP_20150106_13_21_48_Pro__highres
View from Concorde Room terrace at Heathrow’s terminal 5

 

With my British Airways Executive Club Silver status and my ticket I accessed the following lounges throughout the year:

  • British Airways Concorde Room in Terminal 5 LHR
  • British Airways Galleries First lounge in Terminal 5 LHR
  • British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Terminal 5  North LHR
  • British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Terminal 5 South LHR
  • British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Terminal 5B LHR
  • British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Munich MUC
  • British Airways Arrivals lounge in Terminal 5
  • Cathay Pacific ‘The Wing’ business class lounge
  • Cathay Pacific ‘The Cabin’ business class lounge
  • Cathay Pacific ‘The Bridge’ lounge
  • Cathay Pacific Lounge in Osaka KIX
  • Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge in Sapporo CTS
  • Qantas Hong Kong lounge

With aid of a Flyertalk (frequent flyer forum) member I was able to visit Cathay Pacific ‘The Wing’ first class lounge and Concorde Room in January, even without the needed status. I would like to thank him in this opportunity again.

WP_20150412_22_16_23_Pro__highres
Shower in Qantas Hong Kong Lounge

 

After visiting all the lounges the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is the most preferable lounge in my opinion. It may be a shock to frequent flyers in Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific have really good lounges. The reason for me choosing Qantas HKG Lounge is that it is big and not many people use it. Most travellers op for Cathay Pacific lounges and there just aren’t many flights departing from gate 15-19, where the lounge is situated. Even though they do not have the best design (Cathay has it in this round) Qantas has won with big bright open space, getting a shower in no time (this seldom happens at Heathrow unless the showers are not working), LOTS of charging ports and very importantly… the staffs. I really appreciate their good level of service such as greeting as well as chatting with me. This makes me feel comfortable and to have a really nice evening.

Goals for 2016

Hopefully in 2016 I will do the following:

  1. Visit North America
  2. Visit Hawaii
  3. Visit Australia
  4. Visit Cathay Pacific ‘The Pier’ first class Lounge
  5. Have sufficient Avios points as reserve

Conclusion

Flying shaped the way I live 4 years ago as I started studying abroad. Without air travel I would not be able to visit friends and family quickly and efficiently. This year I started to take advantage of air travel to actually travel, explore around the world. I am really grateful that I have accomplished these journeys without too many issues (though they really happened… I would explain that later). I am thankful for members of a frequent flyer forum, FlyerTalk share their travel knowledge freely and willingly so that my travelling knowledge gets better time by time.

P.s. my biggest tip for all leisure travellers is to get involved in a frequent flyer programme, regardless how often you travel.

 

 

 

Author: Samuel

Samuel, 18, was born in Hong Kong though since 2011 he started studying in Scotland. Samuel is a big fan of travelling, however he is no ordinary traveller -- he is a premium traveller. With the use of different hotel booking strategies and ticketing hacks he is able to turn the dream of business class travel into reality while paying the price of economy (sometimes less than that).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s