I’m not a travel hacker, not really. I enjoy the places, not the interfaces. And traveling in coach is just fine with me, thanks. As a matter of fact, I do much of my traveling BY coach—bus, that is. I went all over Mexico and Central America before I ever crossed an ocean thirty-five years ago. And the only time I’ve ever flown first class was when they bumped me up for free. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m an avid collector of frequent-flyer miles, but I’d have to have an awful lot before I’d waste them on a fluffy first-class seat, the typical stuff of many travel-hackers.
Everybody knows about airline prices these days and how screwy they are, different prices for every passenger, depending on who what when and where they bought it (from). Strangely enough some of the same games carry into the ‘frequent-flyer’ booking process. For example, for my upcoming trip, to Central and sub-continental Asia, I figured to start in either India or Sri Lanka (I’ve never been to either, strangely enough, and I plan to go to them all). That costs 90K frequent-flyer miles from LA, either way you go, east or west. But Bangkok is only 65K, and I can take a stop in Colombo, SL, for free. Huh? An extra stop for fewer miles? Okay. Works for me.
Of course, as long as you’re returning back on the same route/direction from where you came, you can stop at any one of a number of major hubs (no RTW allowed; too romantic, I guess, so worth more), and the fact that BKK is much closer to LAX straight over the Pacific—rather than the usually much-more-expensive Atlantic-Europe-subcontinental route—seems to make no difference.
So I got an eight-hour layover in Munich (where I’ve never been) on the way over, and two weeks in Istanbul on the way back. Flights to India from BKK are cheap on Air Asia, one of the region’s best bargains (despite their affiliation with ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra). There’s only one problem. I’ve got less than 63K miles, so short a couple thou.