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The two regions of the world I put off until I had flexible time were West Africa and South Pacific. Last month I made a huge circuit of West Africa, today it is South Pacific time.
Several months ago I booked one of those ≈$400 ANA/United US Singapore/Bangkok fares. Though I booked it under different personal circumstances and was undecided to use it, I found a plan that works. I will pass through Singapore with a stop in Sumatra to see orangutans, then continue to Australia on AirAsia. Some of this brings back memories, such as Singapore Airport’s transit hotel still does not have live booking confirmation.
I had planned to also take in Indonesia’s Moluccos and West Papua, then I found Qantas release rare award space for Lord Howe Island so am diverting there. Lord Howe Island typically has one or less seats in either direction per month released to partners, a few more for its members, because Qantas has a monopoly and they get away with typically charging USD$1,000+ for the trip. 16,000 Citi ThankYou points transferred (overnight) to Qantas (no award holds) plus US$43 taxes/fees is the deal I have been searching for two years.
Air New Zealand is even worse with Norfolk Island. I have never seen a partner award seat on any Norfolk flights. Getting points into their program is a Starwood transfer at terrible rate or credit flights. I don’t know their program or if members get seats on these flights.
Aircalin is hit or miss using Air France FlyingBlue. Lots of business availability for these short flights, not much economy close in.
Fiji Airways is an award bright spot if you don’t mind economy. Booking one week out, every flight except the cheapest had economy availability. None had business. I used American Airlines miles instead of Alaska Airlines, even though mileage price was higher. Alaska miles are more valuable to me and I am conserving them for a time I can better use their generous stopover rules. Tarawa and Tuvalu come to mind. It may be a challenge, though. Fiji seems to price tickets between Pacific islands that transit Fiji as separate tickets, which causes award trouble. It took some time for my same-day Tonga-Christmas Island via Fiji to price as a single 15,000-mile award instead of 30,000. The American rate desk sorted it out in the end.
Oh, and I could not get an American Airline award for Los Angeles – Las Vegas to finish the trip on the same ticket. A cash ticket on United was all of $44, while Delta and American were selling for $64 (or 30,000 American miles!).
Here’s the outline:
- Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia
- Lord Howe Island, Australia (via Sydney, my first time)
- Norfolk Island, Australia (only Air New Zealand service, yeah, it’s a geopolitically quirky place)
- Christmas Island, Line Islands, Kiribati (you can do a 10-hour layover same-day turn, or stay a week and 10 hours)
- Wallis and Futuna (France)
- New Caledonia (France)
Readers, your suggestions and experiences welcome!