When I first started travel hacking, one of my goals was to experience more long-distance flights in premium cabins on different airlines. I also wanted to try out the very popular new plane in the sky, the A380.
After my deployment, I was planning to go to Manila and this would be a perfect chance to put those miles to good use. I researched for the best way to ge award flights for this route and came to the conclusion that my stockpile of Delta Skymiles was my best bet. Since Delta is part of the Skyteam, I could redeem my Skymiles for Korean Air flights in their brand new A380’s. Korean Air has a couple of flights that leave from Los Angeles to Incheon and I can connect from there to Manila.
After countless calls with the Skymiles Platinum desk, I finally booked dates for my departure. This is where being a Platinum Medallion comes into play as I can change/redeposit award tickets at no cost. I then added the Fairbanks-Seattle-Los Angeles legs in First Class by finding Alaska Airlines availability to complete my outbound itinerary. The next thing to do was figure out how I’ll be going back to Fairbanks. Since I wanted to try as many different airline products as I could, I searched and found availability on China Sothern Airlines, another Skyteam partner. My routing for my return would be Manila-Guangzhou-LA-Sea-Fairbanks. All in all, this itinerary cost me 145k Skymiles and a $200 + in taxes. Not bad for a ticket that normally sells for $6000! It is important to note that the international legs do not show up on Delta.com. You must call Delta and have them request the seats from the partner airlines if they do not see availability for your dates.
I was really looking forward to my first A380 experience and it didn’t disappoint. After my domestic first class flights, I had a short layover in Los Angeles where I met up with my parents. Since I was flying Business class and because I was a Skyteam Elite Plus, I was entitled to 3 checked-in baggages. My parents were going to ship a box to Manila but I told them I had room to check-in one more baggage. This invaluable perk saved them both time and money.
Before boarding, I also visited the Korean Air lounge in LA which was what one would expect it to be. Comfortable chairs, free internet, free alcohol and some snacks before the flight. The KE A380 is configured to have all business class seats on the top floor. Upon, entrance of the cabin, I was really impressed with the overall design and layout of everything. From the very comfortable seats, lounge bar area, and the mini duty-free shopping mall inside the plane, everything was very well appointed.
The seat was very comfortable as it reclined to a fully flat position. We were given our amenity kits, blankets and slippers before takeoff. The service of the flight attendants were top notch. Also, the food throughout the flight was great. It had a mix of both western and Korean dishes wish I both happily tried. One flight attendant even taught me how to eat Bibimap! After landing in Incheon, I proceeded to the Korean Prestige Class lounge. After some drinks and snacks, it was time to board my flight to Manila. Although this wasn’t the A380, the service remained top notch, even for a short flight. Here are some more pictures of the experience.
Here are other pictures from the rest of the cabin..
On the return to Fairbanks, I flew with China Southern and although it wasn’t the same level as Korean Air, it was still a pleasant experience. The best part about the return flight was the stopover in Guangzhou and the China Sothern lounges. Because I had a pretty lengthy layover, I booked a private room inside the lounge to get some much needed rest. The food options on both the China Southern lounge and Skyteam lounge were also pretty good.
All in all, this award redemption was definitely a great use of my hard-earned miles. I must admit that this experience has set the bar high for me for future travel and it will be really hard flying coach on long-haul flights in the future!