Staying Sane: Dreaming Of Travel While The World Is Grounded

an airplane flying in the sky

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As the crisis we’re now facing was beginning to unfold I made the decision to ride out the storm in the UK rather than in Los Angeles so right now I’m living under the moderately strict rules that the UK government has imposed on my movements…and I’m fine with that.

What this means, however, is that as I’m effectively being asked (told) not to leave home unless it’s for exercise or essential groceries and/or medicines (it’s amazing to see what some people consider “essential”), I’m having to find ways to distract myself from the fact that I’ve quickly gone from being one of the freest people on the planet to just another housebound human being. Thinking and dreaming about future trips has really helped.

I have absolutely no idea when the chaos around us will abate but I have to believe that travel to large parts of the world will be possible by December of this year – I think I’d go crazy if I allowed myself to believe otherwise.

With that in mind, I’ve already made sure that I have booked flights back home to LA for Christmas and New Year but I’ve also been seeing what else I can find for 2021 and I thought I’d share a few of the fares I’ve been finding and trips I’ve been considering – If any readers want to join in please feel free to share any trips you’ve been thinking about (fantasy or real) or any other ways you’re distracting yourself from what’s going on around us in the comments section at the end.

A Few Trips I’ve Been Considering

Most airlines don’t allow you to book more than 331 days out so there isn’t exactly a huge 2021 travel window open right now, but that hasn’t stopped me from finding (and almost booking!) a few very nice deals.

South Africa

An amazing Qatar Airways Business Class fare between Stockholm and Cape Town has caught my eye…

a screenshot of a phone

…and this especially tempting as, not only have I never visited Cape Town, but the trip would earn me 560 Tier Points (over a third of the way to BA Gold status) and, as long as I’m careful with the flights I book, the sector between Doha and Cape Town would be operated by a Qatar Airways A350-1000 complete with the Qsuites Business Class cabin.

a seat in a plane
Qatar Airways Qsuites

Hawaii

Stockholm (and a few other Nordic countries) are a hotbed of great Business Class deals right now and this Business Class fare to/from Maui that I found on Google Flights…

a screenshot of a flight schedule

…and confirmed by United.com…

a screenshot of a computer

…has to be the cheapest Europe – Hawaii roundtrip Business Class fare I’ve ever seen.

I’m guessing that there may be some even cheaper fares if you’re prepared to fly to Honolulu, but as Oahu is my least favorite of the Hawaiian islands (by a considerable margin) I haven’t bothered to check.

Even though I’d love to get back to Maui to see the Humpbacks and to dive with the Hammerheads off Molokai I haven’t been overly tempted to book this fare because I don’t really want to give United any of my Business right now…but this slightly more expensive fare is definitely on my radar:

a screenshot of a flight information

Not only does this fare allow me to avoid giving United any money but, as long as I choose my routing carefully, it would also earn me at least 640 Tier Points and, as an added bonus I could also fly on the Finnair A350 all the way from Helsinki to LA.

a screenshot of a computer

This is a truly fantastic deal and the only reason I haven’t booked it is that I’m not 100% sure that I’ll be back in Europe (from LA) in time to catch one of these flights and I don’t want to have to position myself to Europe just to book this deal as that would increase the cost significantly and make this a somewhat pointless exercise – I could just fly to Maui from LA! 🙂

Southeast Asia

Cambodia and, in particular, Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat complex currently sits at the top of my “places I want to go” list, and there was a fantastic Qatar Airways Business Class fare between Oslo and Siem Reap on offer a week or so ago (approximately $1,700 roundtrip), but that came and went very quickly so I never even got a chance to consider it properly….but how amazing would it be to visit this place?…

a stone building with trees and vines
Angkor Wat via Giulia Brchetto & Unsplash

While there’s a distinct lack of good Business Class fares Siem Reap, my attention has been drawn to Bangkok – a city that I last visited in January 2018 and a city whose sights and attractions I don’t think I’ve yet fully exhausted.

I loved the tours I did in Bangkok a little over two years ago so, with the chance to book with SWISS for under $1,800 roundtrip (and a chance to try out the airline’s 777 Business Class cabin)…

a screenshot of a website

…or the chance to rack up 560 Tier Points by booking this sub-$1,600 roundtrip fare with Qatar Airways…

a screenshot of a phone

…it’s really very tempting to dust off a credit card and to get booking.

Bangkok is another destination to which Qatar Airways operates 1 – 2 daily flights with its Qsuites Business Class cabin so that makes the sub $1,600 fare even more appealing.

Australia

This a wildcard idea that I have right now because a trip to Australia would also involve Joanna and, as far as 2021 goes, she’s not going to be free to fly before the end of March (and most airlines aren’t offering seats that far out).

a city skyline by a body of water

Still, Joanna loved Sydney and Perth when we visited last year and there are a whole host of trips and tours in New South Wales that we didn’t get a chance to do in 2019, so I’m seriously considering trying to pull together a trip for 2021.

A trip to Australia would dovetail nicely with my wish to book some Etihad premium cabin awards using AAdvantage Miles before American and Etihad take that option away (the idea that the AA/EY partnership is ending is currently just speculation on my part) and, as long as we’re happy to make our way over to Europe (in whatever way we can), finding First Class and Business Class awards doesn’t look like it’s going to be that much of a challenge.

There are at least 2 First Class seats available between Paris and Sydney for most dates between the beginning of the year and mid-February 2021…

a screenshot of a screen

…and Business Class availability is even better so unless Etihad tightens up award availability in the next couple of months (which I think is unlikely), we should be able to find flights that work for us without too much trouble.

Europe – Australia in Business Class costs 85,000 miles per person (one-way) while First Class costs 115,000 miles per person and these are both fantastic deals when you consider that the Etihad A380 Business Class seat looks like this…

a seat in a plane
Etihad Business Studio on the A380

…and that the First Class Suite looks like this:

a seat in an airplane

a bed in a plane
Etihad A380 First Class

The only issue we’re going to have is that we don’t currently have enough AAdvantage Miles to book these awards for both of us (I’ve been crediting all my flights to the British Airways Executive Club and running down my AAdvantage balance for the past two years) so, as none of the main transferable currencies converts over to the AAdvantage program, we will probably have to buy some miles if we want to book these awards.

I estimate that we’ll probably have to spend around $2,000 to top up our accounts so that we have enough miles to book First Class in one direction and Business Class in the other and, while that’s not ideal, the fact that points would be paying for all our accommodation on the trip makes this an easier cost to swallow.

Bottom Line

That’s about as far as I’ve got with my thoughts and plans for when we’re allowed to take to the skies again but I’ll be keeping a lookout for other amazing deals as the weeks go by and, eventually, I’ll probably book one or two as well.

How are you guys dealing with not really knowing when you’ll be traveling next? Have you been looking for ideas into 2021 or are you sitting tight and waiting until things are a bit more certain?

 

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