In October, I took a two-week trip to Europe – mostly Slovakia – to attend wedding of my high school friends.
Even though getting some new review material for this website was nowhere near the top of the agenda for this trip, I still managed to try a fair amount of new airlines (and even an aircraft type as you’ll see below), as well as airport lounges and hotels.
Keep on reading to see what the travel arrangements for this trip looked like and what reviews and other articles you can expect in the coming week.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Booking the Flights
Initially, I was considering taking Emirates’ late night flight out of Japan the night before the wedding due to having other obligations here, but in the end my schedule changed, and so I was able to extend the trip a bit longer.
When looking for return flights from Tokyo to Vienna, Aeroflot came out the cheapest, however, it still wasn’t as cheap as I was hoping for it to be – and since I will be flying it in December, it wouldn’t have provided for any new content for this site either.
I kept searching until I found a reasonable fare with the two IAG airlines – British Airways and Iberia. The only catch was that while the return portion was from Vienna via Madrid to Tokyo, the outbound portion departed from Seoul (to Vienna via London). Even with the extra flight to Seoul, it would still be about the same as the Aeroflot ticket, though, and so I went ahead and booked it.
As an added bonus, the itinerary ended up earning me over 14,000 British Airways Avios miles which can be used for, among others, three one-way domestic flights within Japan on JAL.
With the main ticket of the trip booked, it was time to figure out how to get to Seoul. Initially, I was looking at taking Peach’s late night flight out of Haneda which would get me to Seoul several hours before the British Airways flight’s the mid-morning departure.
In the end, though, I decided to burn some Delta miles as I find flights between Japan and Korea to offer one of the best uses of those. Rather than just taking a Korean Air flight from Tokyo to Seoul, I decided to book a flight from Fukuoka to Seoul to get a chance to fly on Korean Air’s 787-9 for the first time.
To get to Fukuoka, I booked a JAL flight out of Tokyo Haneda using Qantas miles. While they don’t present a value nearly as good as when using Avios, I had to do something before they would expire, and so I thought why not use them for this…
So, in the end, the itinerary looked like this, all in economy class:
- Tokyo – Fukuoka on a JAL 777-200
- Fukuoka – Seoul on a Korean Air 787-9
- Seoul – London on a British Airways 787-8
- London – Vienna on a British Airways A320
- Vienna – Madrid on an Iberia A320
- Madrid – Tokyo on an Iberia A330-200
While I won’t be reviewing the domestic JAL flight and the two British Airways flights this time as I wrote about a couple of such flights in the past, you can expect an article about the Korean Air and Iberia flights.
I also visited several lounges along the way and the ones I will be reviewing include:
- KAL Lounge Fukuoka
- Qantas First and Business Class Lounge London Heathrow
- JET Lounge Vienna
- Iberia Premium Lounge Velazquez Madrid
Booking the Accommodation
Since I stayed at my parents’ house in Slovakia, there was not much to take care of in terms of accommodation. I still had an overnight layover in Seoul and Madrid, though, so I needed to do something about those two nights.
In Seoul, I booked Hotel SKY Incheon Airport. However, as I mentioned in this article, when I arrived at the hotel, I was shocked to find it closed for renovation. As such, I booked another hotel – Incheon Airport Hotel – which was located right next to Hotel SKY.
In Madrid, I was originally thinking of staying overnight at the Iberia lounge, however, in the end I decided to book Hotel Tach Madrid Airport for a more comfortable layover.
I will be reviewing both of those hotels as well.
A Very Welcome Avgeek Bonus
Originally, the above was supposed to be all there was in the trip related to this blog, however, a couple of weeks, I saw a post on Facebook about an interestingly-sounding event being organized at Budapest airport.
It turned out that the weekend before I was about to leave Europe (I was leaving on Monday), there would be a couple of sightseeing flights on the Soviet version of the DC-3, Lisunov Li-2, out of Budapest airport.
With Budapest being about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from my home in Slovakia, it was a no-brainer – I booked the flight less than an hour after seeing the post which allowed me to log a type I haven’t flown on before during this trip.
All in all, the trip turned out to be a great one – I got to enjoy the wedding, spend some time with my family, and even try some new airlines (and an aircraft type) and visit some lounges I haven’t been to before.
It will take me several weeks to get all the articles done (by then I will be in Europe again), but stay tuned as I will start posting them in a couple of days!