If you’ve been reading my previous posts you’ll know I’ve been travelling a lot around Europe and the Middle East this year, but August was going to see my return to Asia and some of my favourite cities to visit in the world. I was, as usual, given the budget of a Premium Economy trip to work with and I set about looking for options to either plus my flights or make them unusual or special. I essentially had to find 3 routes, London to Seoul, Seoul to Tokyo, then back home to London again.
The first trip required me to spend a week in Seoul and a week in Tokyo. It made sense both economically and with less time zone changes for me to do this in one back-to-back trip.
My first tip for this kind of trip is to never book the middle leg with your main long-haul flights. For some reason they always seem to be very expensive and for the middle leg you often don’t need any Premium cabin as it’s normally the shortest part. So, I always book the middle leg separately.
This left the main outbound and return legs, which I thought would make sense on an open jaw ticket, probably with British Airways, see my article on open jaw tickets here. However, this was not to be the case, as with other trips I’d planned this year, BA seemed to be the most expensive, so I started shopping around. The next logical option was Cathay Pacific, probably flying out to Hong Kong, then on to Seoul, Tokyo back to Hong Kong and home. But that was pricey. How about JAL, possibly flying to Tokyo on a return ticket, then adding the trip to Seoul in, again not very affordable. I simply could not find a flight combination that worked with a return booking, open jaw or not. In the end I started searching one-way tickets and this is when I found a good option.
For the outbound I found flying with Cathay Pacific, in Premium Economy, via Hong Kong was going to be my best option and on budget. Cathay is a One World airline, so all my frequent flyer benefits would apply, and I’d collect points. Coming home it was almost JAL in Premium Economy, as they fly direct, but for only a few hundred pounds more I could fly Business with Qatar. Yes, this would mean a stopover in Doha for a few hours, but given the length of time it takes to fly from Tokyo to London with everyone avoiding Russian airspace, a break would be a welcome thing. Plus, it was Business Class all the way, so lie flat beds and much better service.
I was still keen to try JAL as when I’ve flown them in the past, I’ve found their service to be impeccable. Luckily there is an option to JAL from Seoul to Tokyo, going from Seoul’s smaller regional airport; Gimpo International. The Economy flight was within budget, but again I decided on a treat and it wasn’t too expensive to upgrade to Business. This would be a particularly interesting flight as it was on a 787 with JAL’s latest Business Class suite. A great opportunity to compare it with the all the other suites I’ve tried on BA, Finnair and Qatar.
All flights booked and ready to go, look out for my next reports on how these trips go!
This just goes to show, you CAN fly Business for about the same price as Premium Economy if you’re willing to hunt for the deals. Going indirect on different airlines often opens all sorts of possibilities. If you stick to your chosen airline alliance, your frequent flyer benefits will still apply too.