Here’s for the AvGeeks.
I don’t use any flight logger or seek out new airlines or airplane products. I book what gets me where I need to go and book as cheaply as I can.
Other than some domestic Delta and United upgrades, all were in economy, except:
- LATAM New York JFK-Toronto $89 business class flights, cheaper than the $141 in economy – RIP to that route!
- American Airlines pre-2016 devaluation business class awards:
- JAL New York-Tokyo-Shanghai
- Sri Lankan Shanghai-Colombo
- (insert Avios economy ticket Colombo-Maldives)
- Etihad Maldives-Abu Dhabi-Casablanca
- Avios business award on Qantas Sydney-Brisbane, cheaper than available economy options
Why I seldom redeem for premium cabin travel:
3. I have more travel than miles.
2. Earning miles is getting more time-consuming and more expensive for me.
1. Redeeming for premium cabin for my wife is a much better use!
Three airfare lessons I learned in 2016:
1. Skyscanner is extremely useful for finding creative routings and for finding OTAs that can ticket obscure airlines.
2. Citi ThankYou Points are useful for ticketing routes that OTAs block for reasons such as credit card fraud. Example: South African Airways Abidjan-Accra I could not ticket on South African’s website or any OTA, but was a breeze with Citi.
3. Many frequent flyer programs have great award charts until you put them to the test. Example: Etihad’s Virgin Australia chart looks great for short flights until you learn that they cannot book on flights operated by Virgin Australia regional.
In that spirit, the below list of airlines I flew on is not intended to show off. Rather, it is to say, yes, I have booked and flown these. If you have a question about them, I am happy to help!
The airline I flew most is probably Ethiopian, entirely on United awards.
My 2016 Airline Awards:
New favorite European airline: Aegean. Lots of fun and minimal hassle. Unlike many European airlines, Aegean does not torment customers will all kids of ticky tack fees and polices (or at least, does not enforce them.) Wow the flight attendants are beautiful.
Favorite experience: ANA economy long-haul. Trick or treat on Halloween!
Least favorite: TAP. Incredibly tight seating in economy. Lisbon transits are a mess. Bus gates. TAP even closed down it’s own lounge.
Most impressive operation: tie between Fiji Airways and Nauru Airlines. Both have overcome operation unreliability of prior years to run great operations.
Airline I resolve to avoid: American. I keep getting baited by Avios awards and Citi ThankYou redemptions. Thoroughly unpleasant and operationally unreliable.
Favorite lounge (international): ANA at Tokyo-Narita during afternoon sushi service. Star Wars video game, too!
Favorite lounge (domestic, to them): the Qantas and Virgin Australia domestic lounges are much better than their international business class lounges. Sadly, the Cadbury CoCo tree is no more.
Favorite lounge in the US: Star Alliance Lounge at LAX, which you can access with United Gold and above for domestic United flights.
Most disappointing lounge: Singapore Airlines’ lounges in Singapore for business class and Star Alliance Gold are pathetic. I have not seen the first class lounges. Singapore has a nice lounge in Brisbane.
Most inspiring: the rise of African airlines. I had so many flights in African and the vast majority were on-time and well-run. Only exception that gave me a lot of grief was ASKY (owned by Ethiopian). ASKY operates a rudimentary hub in Togo with too few aircraft that serve challenging destinations. The result is rolling delays as they hold flights until all connecting passengers arrive. With a new airport and bigger push from Ethiopian, this should improve. Ethiopian now runs Newark and São Paolo flights to Togo to link us with ASKY.
The Airlines I Flew On in 2016
- Air France (Guadeloupe-Martinique)
- Air Canada
- Norwegian (US to Guadeloupe & Martinique)
- AirAsia X
- China Eastern
- Korean Air
- Sri Lankan
- Air Burkina
- Air France (multiple Africa routes)
- Arik Air
- Royal Air Maroc
- South African
- TAP Portugal (Sao Tome-Accra)
- Trans Air Congo
- TAP Portugal
- Virgin Atlantic
Middle East (transits only):
- Air New Zealand
- Air Vanuatu
- Fiji Airways
- Nauru Airlines
- Virgin Australia