I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What have you DONE4 me lately?

Right, I'm in the proper final stages of planning my holiday now. Good job too, since it all kicks off in less than 3 weeks! I've got me visa for the one country that needs it (Australia), sorted out a few hotels and some extra flights and am just waiting for my travel agent to come back off holiday(!) to actually pay for the damn ticket.

Ah yes, the ticket. I'm DONE4! Bit of airline/flyertalk geekery here, but basically I'm pissing away a shitload of money by treating myself to a 20-odd flight (2-part holiday circumnavigating the globe visiting 14 cities in 9 countries, all in business or first class.

I'm obsessed with flying in comfort and earning BA miles and tier points/status after going to Taipei (and back from San Francisco) in business class earlier this year. I also need a nice long break after the year I've had so far -- not necessarily in terms of relaxation (I'm visiting a whole bunch of concrete, not beaches or fields), but in terms of time away from work, home, England.

Circumstances dictate that (a) I have the opportunity to do this, and (b) this is possibly the only opportunity I'll ever have to do this. It's a bit out of character (IMO) -- never been one for adventure or doing many crazy things on my own, this is going to be a proper bloody eye-opener and I can't wait. Really really excited but shit-scared at the same time, innit!

So, yes, thanks to flyertalk I've learnt all about this DONE4 ticket and I've (almost) bought one. It's a flexible ticket that I've got a year to use up, allowing me to fly:

  • in business (D) class
  • on Oneworld (ONE) Alliance member airline-operated flights
  • in 4 continents (Europe+Middle East, Asia, Southwest Pacific, North America)

I picked a route, going east, and got myself an itinerary sorted. I'm taking a break when I reach North America, coming home on a separate ticket and going back out to flit around sometime next year (probably late May, early June); what I'm about to embark upon is, in true flyer-geek terms (IATA airport code central!), this:


A trip like this doesn't half take some planning, I'll tell you that for nowt. Here's what I'm going to be getting up to:

LHR-GIB 0650-1040 September 8th (Friday)

Heathrow to Gibraltar. A really early start taking me to The Rock. Paid for this ticket separately but because I had to leave it so late, and required flexibility, I ended up plumping for business class. Might as well get used to it early, heh.

I bought my DONE4 ticket from Blands, a Gibraltar travel agent, because it's considerably cheaper than starting in the UK (the saving is way more than the cost of 2 one way flights, even in business class). The actual DONE4 ticket starts with the next flight, which is back the same evening.

GIB-LHR 2030-2215 September 8th (Friday)

Gibraltar to Heathrow just 10 hours after I landed. It's not a huge rock but I've been assured that I won't by any means get to see everthing. On the other hand it's a small enough place (you can walk from the airport to the city in 10 minutes!) that I'll be able to cram a fair bit in on a whistlestop tour. They take English money and there are pubs, and if the worst comes to the worst I can just go back to the airport early and sit in the lounge ;) It's from the BA desks at the airport I need to pick up my ticket anyway, and I probably don't want to pick them up in the morning and carry them round with me all day.

In London I've got less than 24 hours before the flight to Dubai, which means it counts as a connection/transit, not a stopover. So I get to go home, sleep in my own bed, pick up luggage and go back to Heathrow on Saturday afternoon for an hour or two in the lounge without breaking the rules of the ticket. Living near Heathrow rules!

LHR-DXB 2140-0730 September 9th/10th (Saturday/Sunday)

Heathrow to Dubai. 2 nights in Dubai. Going to Dubai for various reasons. It's supposed to be nice but the main reason is that it's the furthest you can go in "Europe/Middle East" as defined by the ticket's rules, which means it earns a lot of BA miles and Tier Points, but the planes are the long-haul ones, so they have beds. Handy given the flight times! Hopefully this flight will be the one that gives me BA silver status. Not much use on this trip given the class of my flights, but useful for any work or leisure trips I take between October and May. Also I think the remaining flights on the trip will be enough to make me reach Gold :-)

DXB-LHR 0145-0620 September 13th (Wednesday)

Dubai to Heathrow. Back home before I venture outside of my continent of origin. This means I won't have had to take a huge amount of luggage to Dubai, will be able to drop off anything I've bought, and do a bit of washing. Plus I need to get prepared for the real meat of the trip...

LHR-SYD 2150-0515 18-20/09 (Mon-Wed)
LHR-SYD 1215-1850 15-16/09(Fri-Sat)

London to Sydney. I want to go to Sydney on the Friday and spend 6 days or so there. But at the moment the flights are all full, on that day and over the weekend, and the first one they've found a seat for me is on Monday night. I'm on the waiting list but I think I screwed up by not giving my BA number at the time, that would at least give me a tiny bit of priority. Not to worry, an extra couple of days at home is OK... might even be up to seeing Gorgasm in London on 13/09 if I've 3 more days to recover from Dubai!

SYD-AKL 1135-1635 September 22nd (Friday)

Sydney to Auckland. 3 nights in Auckland. I kinda chose the number of nights in each city pretty randomly except for Sydney (which is the only one to have screwed up!), with a minimum of 2 to make sure I get at least a full day in each. I guess for Auckland I chose 3 because I'm arriving on a Friday, so I get a full weekend experience. Or something. Who knows?

AKL-SYD 1325-1450 September 25th (Monday)

Auckland back to Sydney. Visit my brother for a second time. Either for 2 days or 4...

SYD-PER 1220-1525 27/09 (Weds)
SYD-PER 1220-1525 29/09 (Fri)

Sydney to Perth. I'm booked to do that on the 27th but it depends now. If I do manage to get an earlier flight from London to Sydney then I'll stick with that, but if not then I'll want a couple more days in Sydney on the second visit so will put my trip to Perth back by 2 nights. Expertflyer.com lets you check how busy a flight is and I have a guest account with 20 free queries which let me run a few today, and flying this route in the middle of Friday looks fairly empty at the moment. Either way, 2 nights in Perth should do me.

PER-HKG 0925-1715 29/09 (Fri)
PER-HKG 1220-2015 1/10 (Sun)

Perth to Hong Kong. It's Hong Kong that screws up, really. I don't want to change too many flights basically because I'm a wouss who isn't that confident dealing with airlines and stuff. I'm not a proper fatcat frequent flyer just yet :-/ So if I leave Sydney 2 days late, I take those nights away from Hong Kong. 4 nights or 2 nights, therefore. Have to wait and see what happens. 2 nights isn't ideal especially when I don't arrive until 8pm anyway. What's that, 10pm at the hotel? :-(

HKG-SIN 1040-1420 October 3rd (Tuesday)

Hong Kong to Singapore. Nice. You can see why I'm loathe to change the timings, these are very agreeable times of day indeed. Mind you by now I'll probably be so fucked with jetlag and not having a clue where I am each day it won't bloody matter. Singapore's supposed to be a nice place but I won't exactly be staying in the Raffles hotel. In fact I've not really got any plans for Singapore yet.

SIN-HKG 1605-1955 October 6th (Friday)

Singapore back to Hong Kong. Arrive late, leave early, I'm just going to stay in a cheap nasty place near the airport. I might regret this if it does end up I only spend 2 nights there first time round. Given that come the end of the whole trip I'll have masses of BA miles, it looks from this distance like a trip to Hong Kong will be worth redeeming them for.

HKG-NRT 0910-1425 October 7th (Saturday)

Hong Kong to Tokyo. Uh-oh! 4 nights here and the whole city sounds MENTAL. Might try and grab a trip to Mount Fuji, perhaps a guided tour, etc. Got some great advice from LapLap on FlyerTalk even though I instantly went for a hotel that wasn't suggested, heh. I chose the place I am staying in because it sounds nice (on TripAdvisor etc), has internet in each room, but most importantly is right next to Tokyo train station. This is the station (with a great name -- imagine "London station"!) that the bullet trains from the airport go to and has a name I should be able to recognise. Also strikes me as a useful base for the days I'm there and an easy place to get back to Narita from when I leave.

NRT-JFK 1755-1715 October 11th (Wednesday)

Tokyo to New York. This is where I spend 13 hours on a plane and arrive 40 minutes in the past. ie, younger than when I left. MENTAL. Originally I didn't want to stay for long in New York, but after a crazy across-the-international-date-line-for-the-first-time-ever journey I thought maybe it'd be better if I chilled out for a while before going home. Especially as the flight home won't be in business class :-(

JFK-LHR 2001-0800 October 14th (Saturday/Sunday)

New York to London. Home. Yahoo! Q3 results come out a few days later, hope they're good so the stock goes up and I can pay off my enormous credit card bills, heh!

At the time of writing I've got accomodation sorted for Dubai, Sydney (both times -- I hope!), Auckland, and Tokyo. I should sort out Singapore really, but don't yet know what to do about Perth and Hong Kong. Hrm. :-/ But fuck it, it's an adventure, right? Maybe I'll just not bother, arrive at the airports and pitch up at a desk. "Got any rooms, luv/mate?"

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