Shame on me. This is supposed to be a travel blog, but I somehow neglected to mention that today we’re beginning our first long trip, our first international trip in more than two years. We’re leaving Texas this morning and flying to Sydney, Australia.
Here’s our route map.
Not quite as simple as it sounded, is it?
Why, you may ask, are we stopping in Tokyo instead of flying direct to Sydney? And on the return trip, why are we stopping in Jakarta and Tokyo instead of flying direct to Dallas?
Here’s the answer.
I’ve made a career out of accumulating frequent flier points. Jamie and I pay for everything with our airline credit cards. And I mean everything. At one extreme, we paid for her car with that credit card. At the other extreme, I often use the same credit card to buy items so inexpensive that I could easily have paid for them with the spare change in my pocket. If the credit card company offers a special bonus for certain activity, I immediately sign up and do whatever is necessary to accumulate those bonus points. And I once had a client who paid me in frequent flier points. As a result of these machinations, we have stacked up somewhere north of 2,500,000 points.
Enough, we thought, to last us the rest of our lives.
In the past we have flown business class to Australia and back for as little as 105,000 points. Then they raised it to 200,000 points. That, we thought, was a bit greedy of the airline, but we had plenty of points and thought, “That’s expensive, but we still have enough points to last us the rest of our lives.”
And then along came Covid, the Flu Manchu, the Asian Contagion, the Moo Goo Gai Pan Health Plan, the Chinfluenza, the Commie Cough, General Tso’s Revenge.
Want to fly business class to Australia? In an effort to separate tourists from their hard-earned frequent flier points, the airlines have jacked up the price of tickets to and from Australia. What once cost 105,000 points, and what cost just 200,000 points as recently as three years ago, now costs 750,000 points. Per person. Seriously. Seven hundred and fifty thousand points each. The 2,500,000 points we’ve accumulated, the points we thought would last for the rest of our lives, are no longer enough to buy us three business class round trips to Australia.
If you choose to pay cash instead of points, be prepared to get screwed on that deal, too. I just looked up what Dallas-to-Sydney would cost if we were paying cash. Are you sitting down? Are you prepared to be dumbfounded?
What used to cost $7500 (sometimes much less) now costs $23,000. Each. Seriously. Twenty-three thousand dollars per person. Yes, you read that correctly. Twenty-three thousand smackeroos. Twenty-three thousand greenbacks. Twenty-three thousand clams. Twenty-three thousand simoleons. Twenty-three thousand…well, you probably get the idea. It’s outrageously freakin’ expensive.
As a result of this out-and-out airline avarice, I got on the phone and spoke to a very helpful airline representative who was a frequent flier point specialist. She helped me find a far more affordable, but far more inconvenient route (Dallas-Los Angeles-Tokyo-Sydney-Adelaide) for just 200,000 frequent flier points each. The return route is even crazier (Adelaide-Sydney-Jakarta-Tokyo-DFW).
Between flight times and layovers, what should have been a 15-hour experience has turned into a 33-hour ordeal.
But what the hell. I’m a glass half full kind of guy so I look at our three hour layover in Tokyo as a chance to visit a country we’ve never before visited.
And since this is supposed to be a travel blog, that’s probably a good thing.