Date: April 11 – April 20, 2019
Route: YVR – PVG – SIN | SIN – BKK – HKG – PEK – TPE – YVR
Booking Class: Business
Total Cost: $382.61 + 155,000 Aeroplan miles
This is actually a booking I made for a friend (for free!) who asked me to build her an itinerary with the following requirements:
- The vacation time available is very short – it had leave around April 11 and get back by April 21 in time for a wedding
- Fly as many different business class products as possible
- It had to have a couple days in Beijing and Hong Kong
- The booking is for 2 people and they have to fly together
Given these requests, I started out as I usually do by browsing flightconnections.com and finding different city-pairs MPM to find an appropriate destination that both maximizes MPM and is a interesting place to visit.
Here, I hit my first snag – my client lives in Vancouver (YVR) and is too close to HK or Beijing to give us much MPM to play with. HKG is regarded as the furthest city in the “Asia 1” group of Aeroplan’s award chart, but even then we only get a MPM of 8,381 miles. A direct flight from YVR-HKG is 6,392 miles, so there isn’t much “slack” miles to work with at all.
I ended up choosing Singapore as the turnaround – even though we will need to pay a extra 5k Aeroplan miles per person, we get respectable 13,196 MPM for the route (a direct YVR-SIN flight is 7,967 miles, so we get a staggering 5,229 miles of slack MPM to play with).
The second problem is her short holiday – only 9 days. To maximize the number of business class products I had to build in a number of layovers. After accounting for time actually flying and transiting in airports, this left very little time in the 2 stopovers that will be used in HK and Beijing.
In the end, when I was trying to book a test itinerary on the phone, I managed to make Singapore just a 10 hour layover which was approved. This is amazing because even though SIN was technically a layover, it still counted as the destination giving us the MPM we needed to make the rest of the flights work. I’m still not quite sure how it happened – if the agent had to override something in her system to make this work or if this is actually a valid routing that can be normally ticketed.
Finally, the massive question of availability. Given her tight date flexibility and the fact I had to find business class flights for 2 persons, I am quite proud to have pull this off. Also, keep in mind, I booked this around 4 months before departure which is a very bad time to find availability (close to departure but not close enough for airlines to release their unsold seats).
I tested a few dates out and managed to find space on the EVA air flight departing from TPE back to YVR on April 20, but on the outbound leg we had to fly Air Canada. However, as you will see the surcharges wasn’t too painful.
In the end, we came up with the following flights:
Vancouver – Shanghai [AC] | Business | 787-9 | 10 hr layover
Shanghai – Singapore [SQ] | Business | 777-300 | 10 hr Destination
Singapore – Bangkok [TG] | Business | 777-300 | 1 hr layover
Bangkok – Hong Kong [TG] | Business | A330 | 5 day stopover
Hong Kong – Beijing [CA] | Business | A321 | 2 day stopover
Beijing – Taipei [CA] | Business | A330 | 6 hour layover
Taipei – Vancouver [BR] | Business | 777-300| Back home
Total costs were $351.11 with $205 of it coming from Carrier Surcharges.
Add in the phone booking fees of $31.5 for a total cost of $382.61.
Booking these flights with cash would have cost $12,198. This gave a cost per mile of 7.6c!