I’m embarking on a quick trip from Los Angeles to New York…via London, Cairo, Beirut, Istanbul, and Kiev! Why? Aeroplan and a cheap business class ticket.
This trip was born of a cheap business class fare on Ukraine International Airlines back in June, only 326EUR one-way from Istanbul to New York via Kiev. In the meantime, Lucky booked, flew, and reviewed UIA, but I am still looking forward to offering my own feedback on it.
But how to get to Istanbul? Flying nonstop from Los Angeles to Istanbul was certainly an appealing option, but I have already flown Turkish Airlines four times this year and wanted to mix it up a bit.
One airline that few people seem willing to fly and even fewer write about is EgyptAir. In checking award space, I found that I could route from New York to Istanbul via Cairo for 57.5K Aeroplan points (flying just from New York to Cairo would have been 82.5K points). That seemed perfect, though I could not find any space from Los Angeles to New York so I waited a day to book it.
That was dumb.
The space from New York to Cairo disappeared so I had to get even more creative. I had only one criterion–an EgyptAir 777-300 in business class. With no space out of Toronto either, the only way to experience EgyptAir’s premium business class (unless I traveled a few days early) would be to fly from London to Cairo.
Air New Zealand released space from Los Angeles to London, creating a perfect schedule from LAX-LHR-CAI. But that meant I arrived into Cairo at around 8:55p and had a 6:55a flight out of Istanbul the following morning, creating a scheduling conflict. The EgyptAir non-stops from Cairo to Istanbul operate in the morning and afternoon and I would just miss a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul and the next one would be too late. One more connection was needed!
It turned out there was only one option that would potentially work — flying from Cairo to Istanbul via Beirut. That would get me into Istanbul at 5:55a, giving me exactly one hour to connect to my Ukraine International Airlines flight. One hour also happens to be the minimum connect time (MCT) at Istanbul, so without luggage I felt it was worth the risk.
The Aeroplan reservation was easily booked over the phone: 57.5K miles and about $68 in taxes for LAX-LHR-CAI-BEY-IST. While United no longer lets you customize award routings, Aeroplan does. I also booked a JetBlue return from New York to LA.
So with a connection of no longer than four hours in any airport, I will be traveling non-stop for the next 48 hours. The plan is not to step out of an airport until I get back to LAX!
No wonder my wife calls me verrückt (crazy)…