Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Hard Decisions

My travel time window to Japan has finally opened. I find myself with two options for the pair of business class tickets I want. I don't consider the cost to get me to Oregon or Lisa to California in anything below, because it doesn't affect the conclusion that much -- that is, any constant expenses are irrelevant, and no matter what we do, there's an expense to move one of us between the here and there. Flying coach is Not An Option.

United SFO-NRT has upgrade availability on the days I want to travel. $1550 + 60,000 miles per person. I have the miles right now and could book this ticket immediately.

I am 9K miles short on enough Alaska miles to buy two Northwest business-class tickets. Unfortunately, NW appears to only give Alaska one business class seat for their PDX-NRT route; there are no dates at all with two seats available. The agent at Alaska was very nice and found this routing that has a pair of seats, and she can get it for us if I can find the other 9K miles within 72 hours: PDX to SEA (Horizon), SEA to HNL to NRT (Northwest World Business Class).

Getting the miles into the Alaska account is the issue. If I transfer them out of Diners Club or my Marriott Rewards account, it will take 3-6 weeks to credit my Alaska account and the seats may vanish. I can buy the miles outright immediately from Alaska for $225. Mind you, I also need Alaska to credit the 569 miles I flew last night -- it's that close -- so I might end up spending $250 to buy 10K miles just to be sure. These "instant miles" would post to my account immediately, so I could use them right now and jump on the roundabout routing.

The roundabout routing is nearly free ($108 in fees and taxes, plus the $225 for the instant miles), but requires leaving PDX at 6:20 AM (thus arriving at around 5 AM), and we'd be traveling for around 21 hours before arriving at Narita around 6:20 PM local time on Tuesday the 28th. I'm sure we'd both be in terrible shape after such a trip. And due to other constraints on our travel, we wouldn't even be able to enjoy a stopover in Hawaii, even if allowed by the fare rules.

The direct flight from SFO would be around ten hours, leaves at 11:30 in the morning and arrives at 2:15 PM (next day). It is vastly more expensive, but we might not be quite as wrecked by the experience.

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