Monday, August 29, 2011

Almaty Adventure: Introduction


It’s time again for our yearly “epic trip of the year” thanks to Dividend Miles from US Airways. (Our Moscow trip was the first of such trips).  This time we’re going to Almaty, Kazakhstan. It took a while to convince Lydia to say yes to this trip. What is there to see? What is there to do? Is it like the movie Borat? Honestly at that point of time, I didn’t know much about Kazakhstan and was more interested in the First Class experience and other destination we would be visiting as part of this trip.

As usual, we are maximizing some interesting routings in First Class thanks to the way some countries are put in North Asia in the US Airways redemption chart. (Too bad that Russia is no longer in North Asia – would love to visit St. Petersburg or return to Moscow).  The start of the trip as usual would be in Hong Kong. To get to Hong Kong from Penang, we are taking Air Asia as prices on full service airlines like Malaysia Airlines, Singapore, etc were priced almost double what I could get on Air Asia. Instead of flying direct to Hong Kong, we had to fly on Air Asia through Bangkok (which include an overnight layover) since prices on the direct flight was super expensive due to the holidays in Malaysia. Figured stopping over in Bangkok and staying nearby Suvarnabhumi airport itself and enjoying cheap massages and Thai food before we started of the trip proper wouldn’t be too bad.

The actual routing for the US Airways redemption ended up being a pretty simple 6 segment redemption. Tried to redeem an eight segment redemption that had overnight layovers in Zurich and Paris to further maximize the redemption but the desk rate rejected it.  In the end, we settled for the following routing:

·         HKG-ICN on Asiana Business Class with an overnight layover allowing us to explore Seoul
·         ICN – FRA on Asiana First Class. Another overnight layover in Frankfurt which would allow us to visit Frankfurt after missing out on our previous trip.
·         FRA – ALA – FRA on Lufthansa First Class
·         FRA – BKK –HKG on Thai First Class.

Overall, we are pretty happy and excited on the redemption:
·         5/6 flights in F Class.
·         Trying Asiana First Class for the first time.
·         Visiting Seoul and FRA for the first time.
·         Visits to the Lufthansa FCT and FCL in FRA and Thai First Class Spa and lounge in BKK.

I am writing this in Hong Kong as we start off the trip. Almaty, Kazakhstan is sure on the beaten off path. We are both nervous and excited about it. Let’s see what happens at the end….


  1. So how many *Alliance miles did you redeem for this itinerary

  2. I'm curious too. I'm based in HKG and looking at the UA *A redemption chart, Only need 50k miles for 1st class from South Asia to Central Asia. Is it allowed to route through Europe from HKG-ALA ?

  3. 40K for US Airways. Not sure about United though - not too familiar with their program.

  4. Hmm. AA actually allows you to route through an European destination even though the redemption was for within North Asia. Good loophole to exploit :)

  5. LH doesn't require all-miles for an F redemption via US Airways? Nice! (BD does)

  6. Us Airways is all-miles redemption. No cash+miles..