If you’ve been reading up on the blog for the past few months, you will know that my family and I are going to be heading out on an adventure of a lifetime.  We will be visiting Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Auckland, Melbourne, Cairns, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New York and Vancouver.

As with our other vacations, we will be flying in premium cabins and I wanted to share with you what we are flying, how many miles it will take and how much we are out of pocket so you can get a sense of what is possible with miles and points.


We will be taking a total of 13 flights and flying over 36,000 miles with most of the travel in Business or First Class.

As you can see from the map above, we will be doing quite a bit of travel and it will represent the biggest trip I have ever done by almost 12,000 miles.  For reference, the longest trip I have taken prior to this one was our mini-RTW adventure last year, which was also quite a bit of travel.

Below I have listed the Route, Class of Service, Airline Flown, Program Used, the Cost in Miles, Taxes in CAD and the Retail Value of the flights.

The way the retail value of the flights was calculated was by using ITA Matrix to find the actual cost of the flight for each leg.  The prices were pulled as of September 11, 2017, and while I understand that some may find this methodology questionable, it should be noted that all flights are at least 90 days in the future so discounted fare rules would most likely be in effect.

The price you see above is per person, which makes this trip truly incredible.  Outside of the points spent, we are going to be out of pocket a minuscule $779.55 and that includes a revenue flight from MEL-CNS which costs $278.09!  If we take that flight out of the equation, we’re at roughly $500 per person in taxes for $43,719.93 in flight value!!!

Granted, I know a thing or two about how to find these flights and make the most out of your points but if you were ever on the fence about whether or not it’s worth the effort, I hope these numbers help you see the value.

You will notice that the LAX-HKG and HKG-AKL flights show a ” – ” in the Cost in Miles and Taxes in CAD column and that’s because the cost is captured in the YYC-SEA-LAX row.  If you recall from my Alaska Partner Redemption Series, you can fly with Alaska Airlines and one of their partners for one price, which is why the entire YYC-SEA-LAX-HKG-AKL routing only costs 80,000 Alaska Miles and $162.93 in taxes!  What a deal!

For those that are very astute, you’ll also notice that the HKG-AKL flight is in Business Class.  You may be asking why would most of the legs be in First Class except the last one.  The reason for this is that Cathay Pacific flies their new A350s for their routes to Australia and New Zealand and these new planes feature a 3-cabin configuration with Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy, thus there is no First Class available.  Cathay also flies their 777 from Hong Kong to Auckland but again, it does not feature a First Class cabin.

Why I’m Excited

There are many reasons that I am looking forward to this trip, the chief among them is flying Etihad’s First Class Apartment on their A380.  Taking a shower at 42,000 feet has been on the top of my bucket list for some time and I’ll finally get a chance to do it on my Etihad flight!

We also get to fly Etihad’s Business Studio on the way from Abu Dhabi to New York and Etihad’s Business Studio is supposed to be one of the best Business Class products in the sky.

I’ll be curious to see the difference between the two product and can’t wait to help my readers understand if it’s worth the price difference to book the Apartments or if the Business Studio is a much better option.

I’m also loving the idea of flying Cathay Pacific’s First Class product on a long 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.  As well as from New York to Vancouver.

Some of the key highlights that make this an interesting trip for an aviation lover like myself include:

  • Flights on the A380 from SYD-AUH and from AUH-JFK – this is a plane that has escaped me for the past few years so I’m excited to finally fly it and in style!
  • Flight on the A350 with Cathay Pacific – with this being the newest plane from Airbus and the rival of the 787, I’m curious as to how the flight experience is compared to regular long haul Airbus products.
  • Flight on the 787 with LATAM – again this is a plane that has escaped me for a long time and I’m finally flying it!
  • Two Fifth Freedom flights with AKL-SYD on LATAM and JFK-YVR on Cathay – these will be my 2nd and 3rd Fifth Freedom Flights with my first being on Qatar from Hanoi to Bangkok.
  • A bunch of Qantas Business Class flights – I’m curious as to whether Australia does Domestic Business Class any better than North America

How to Do It Yourself

In an earlier post, I talked about how this trip was a Frankenflight that required many different types of miles and points.  It has taken me a while to accumulate these miles but most of them were done through credit card sign-ups and day-to-day spend.  If you want to quickly accumulate miles, check out my post on churning the MBNA Alaska Credit Card for up to 100,000 miles over the course of a year … the best part?  You’ll pay $60 in fees!

For American Express Membership Rewards, you can check out my reviews of the cards so you can make the best decision for your own personal circumstance.

If you want to learn with some of the best minds out there, be sure to check out PointsU in Calgary on November 3-4th at the Marriott In-Terminal Airport Hotel.


As we inch closer and closer to our vacation, I’m getting more and more excited about the prospect of experiencing all these airlines and aircraft, not to mention the lounges.  I plan on documenting the entire experience so I can share it with the PointsNerd audience.  Feel free to leave a comment about what you would like to see me cover on this trip or if you have any suggestions on what to do in the destinations we will be visiting.

On the next post, I’ll take a look at the cost of our accommodation in these cities and examine how much we paid so you can get a complete picture of how cheaply this can all be done on miles and points.



Jayce is the founder of PointsNerd, and avid traveller and a teacher by nature. He prides himself on flattening the learning curve through step-by-step guides because everyone needs to start somewhere.


  1. AS 115,000 miles: Need to apply for 4 AS cards earning 30K miles opening bonus each or 3 AS + 1 Mariott (then convert Mariott to SPG to AS miles)
    AA 170,000 miles: Need to apply for AA Plat Personal, AA Plat Biz, Barclay AA Aviator earning 60K miles opening bonus each
    BA 53,000 avios: Best way I can think of is the Chase Ink Preferred for 80K UR opening bonus , then transfer 53K to BA
    AC 15,000 miles

    I remember you did the Mariott package deal to get hundreds of thousands of miles but for someone who doesn’t find value in the package deal, is there a more efficient way to earn the miles rather than apply for the 8 cards above?

  2. Awesome Itinerary Jayce!

    You mention you will be travelling with your family, now I can see how one could accumulate 350k points across different rewards systems for a trip of a life time. But another 350k for the wife/gf and possibly for kid(s) too seem very difficult.

    Is your significant other also churning on their end or how could you possibly get more than 700k points by yourself?


    • Hi Steph,

      Thanks for your question. I would first say that this trip is an extravagant one and not one that is typical of your normal family but I have been saving points for roughly 1 – 1.5 years to make this happen. It’s difficult to give you an exact length of time it has taken to accumulate but it taken some strategic saving.

      Now, you can definitely make this much more affordable if you you booked a mini-RTW with Aeroplan so you can visit 3 cities for the price of 1. For example, last year, the family and I went from Calgary to Montreal (1 day), Istanbul (4 days), Cape Town (8 days), and Rio (4 days) on an Aeroplan mini-RTW trip. That cost us 150,000 points and about $175 in taxes each. If you signed up for the 4 AMEX cards out there that earn Membership Rewards, you would earn 190,000 miles for $700 in annual fees (all links below and in the blog post are to my reviews of the cards – application is inside – I do this because I want to make sure my readers understand what they are signing up for).

      American Express Gold Personal – 25,000 Membership Rewards after $1,500 spend – No Annual Fee for the First Year
      American Express Gold Business – 30,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – No Annual Fee for the First Year
      American Express Platinum Personal – 60,000 Membership Rewards after $3,000 spend – $699 Annual Fee (get that to $299 – info in the review)
      American Express Platinum Business – 75,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – $399 Annual Fee

      Now I realize that that is a lot of points for most but it’s also a pretty spectacular trip so I would encourage you to think about it as a luxury goal you are after. Much like purchasing your dream car, unless you’re wealthy, is a long term goal that takes some planning and scrimping.

      This is all to say that yes, this is a crazy expensive trip but it was a choice I made early on so I saved and saved until I could make it happen.

      Perhaps my readers want something simpler or perhaps more complex … whatever the case, the points I am trying to convey is that it is doable and if you try, you are very likely to get some extreme value out of your points.

      Hope that helps.

  3. Amazing trip!! I think it’s one I sign up for the MBNA Alaska card. I’m sitting at 500k MRs and 300k Aeroplan. Probably enough. Would love to fly emirates through Alaska!

    Currently in Zanzibar on a mini RTW. Yyc -IST – DAR- ZNZ- DPS -NRT.- Yyc

    • That’s amazing Ken!

      It’s great to hear that you’re taking advantage of the mini-RTW! Sounds like an amazing itinerary!

      I would really love to fly with Emirates as well … it’s too bad that they devalued the award chart so badly for premium class travel but given that Alaska Miles are fairly easy to get if you churn the MBNA card, it still might be worth pursuing.

      Have a great trip!


  4. Jayce. What dates are you going? I have the same itinerary in Australia in Nov so just curious.

    Also rest all is achievable but I dont understand how to get AA points fast being a Canadian?

  5. nice route. I would love to do something like this, but i don”t believe you can book more than a year in advance, and this looks like at least a 3-5 year trip, any advice

    • Ebene,

      The cost in the chart is per person. So 353K per person. As far as the churnability of the Alaska card in the US, I’m afraid I do not know. Cheers


  6. Nice 🙂

    For your JFK-YVR F redemption, aren’t you entitled to one stopover as it is an international itinerary? Did you enquire whether it is possible to do JFK-YVR (stopover)-SEA-YYC?

  7. “If you recall from my Alaska Partner Redemption Series, you can fly with Alaska Airlines and one of their partners for one price, which is why the entire YYC-SEA-LAX-HKG-AKL routing only costs 80,000 Alaska Miles and $162.93 in taxes!” I actually did a search around and couldn’t see anything on this. So the agent allowed you to add YYC-SEA-LAX at no cost, because CX doesn’t have flights from both YYC or SEA?

    Question, does this work both ways, e.g. if I want to travel from AKL to YYC? Or will I be stranded in LAX?

    • You wont be able to search the YYC-SEA-LAX-HKG-AKL route as Alaska Airlines doesn’t display Cathay Pacific award availability. Yep you got it, the agent allowed YYC-SEA-LAX at no cost because CX doesn’t have flights from both YYC or SEA. And the free positioning flights on Alaska Airlines is included on both directions of travel YYC-AKL / AKL-YYC.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here