A follow up from Albert on his ATW trip:
Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
BLUF: From 24 August to 3 September 2019, I undertook my first Around-The-World trip (going eastward). In total, I flew 21,830 miles on four different airlines in both economy and business class. With three major stops and a mix of revenue and award tickets, it proved to be a great experience.
Today’s AAR takes us through my first ATW trip: the logistics, mechanics, flights, and destinations (in a multi-part series).
After completing my United award ticket to MXP, we booked a single night at the Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport Hotel using one of Joey’s AMEX Bonvoy credit card single-night award certificates. With his Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status, we enjoyed an upgrade to a junior suite and access to the Club Lounge, which puts out a nice evening and morning food spread.
Speaking of airport hotels, I find them to be invaluable in my travel planning. With positioning flights, staying at the airport is convenient. Plus, even with the best of planning, sometimes the best flight to get the best deal is the super early one. This is when staying at the airport can help relieve the stress of getting up early and making an early flight. I’m a morning person, so a zero-dark-thirty accountability formation is not a problem. Someone else requires a more gentlemanly start to the morning. LOL!
On Monday, 26 September, we made our way to Swiss Business check-in to drop off luggage and get our boarding passes to ZRH and BKK. After utilizing the GOLDTRACK express lane for security, we headed to the Lufthansa Senator/Business Lounge. Milan Malpensa, IMHO, has out-of-date décor, but we were surprised the LH lounge was quite nice. It had some great eats to include a full-tended bar area.
After an hour or so in the lounge, we made our way down to the gate for our very short flight to ZRH. We were sitting in Swiss Business on the small Embraer 190 jet, so we each had a row to ourselves, and when landing in Zurich, we had a designated shuttle to take us from the plane (which parked at an apron spot) to arrivals.
With over two-hours before the long-haul flight, we processed out of “Europe” and into the E Gates. We headed straight to the Swiss Senator Lounge. Here we enjoyed some great plane spotting and a small snack. We didn’t want to fill up on lounge food (Swiss employs cooks at the Senator Lounge for made-to-order items) or drink too much (there a whiskey bar in the lounge as well) since we were hopping 10h36m flight in Swiss Business Class to BKK, and dinner and drinks were just around the corner.
During the booking process, on the Swiss 777-300ER, I chose seats 4K and 4J—the bulkhead seats in Business class. I chose these because 1) they were available and 2) bulkhead seats have bigger footwells. Seat 4J doesn’t offer direct-aisle access, but when traveling with a companion, it’s not that big a deal. However, I knew at check-in (24 hours before our itinerary began), I’d be able to choose seats 4D and 4G—the two bulkhead seats in the center. These seats can only be pre-booked by Swiss Miles & More HON and Senator-level customers, but at check-in, they’re available to anyone. These two seats are great. Plenty of foot space and storage. Being the first row in Business also ensured we’d be served first!
Swiss Business class was very nice. The flight attendants were quick with dinner service and were quick with drink refilled. The lie-flat bed, while not the most comfortable I’ve been in, allowed me to get about 4-5 hours of sleep. Most impressive is the tv screen, which is huge! I watched AVENGERS: ENGAME again, and the picture and the sound were great.
Our arrival into BKK was uneventful as we processed into Thailand and connected to a Malaysia Airlines business class (award tickets via BA Avios) flights to KUL and onward to Penang (PEN) for a four-day food and touring holiday.
Penang cuisine is unique—spicy combining Thai, Malay, Indian, and Chinese flavors—given its colonial history. Much of George Town, the capital, still maintains British colonial architecture throughout the city and island. It’s a less-developed but still interesting Singapore. Put it on your off-the-beaten-path travel destinations list.
In sum, my flights from Europe to Asia proved to be great on both Swiss and Malaysia Airlines. As I was continuing east on my around-the-world flight, the continued time zone transiting eliminated any jet lag. At this point, I’m almost two-thirds around the world (Washington, DC – Penang, Malaysia). The final third is still ahead.
Albert Guerrero, USAF, Ret.
“Let’s Travel Farther, Together!”
Follow my travels on Instagram: @albert_traveler