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It turns out an iPad with the Ultrathin Logitech keyboard cover makes an awesome travel companion. Say what you will of a smaller-sized iPad Mini – the full sized one with a keyboard cover is a pure joy to use. In fact, when it comes to writing, I feel that the additional threshold of minimizing one app and opening another is enough to encourage me to write more concisely, continuously, and without distraction. Besides, every time I whip it out of my bag I like to say to myself – “it’s an iPad, nope, just wait, just you see…” *click* “…it’s a lean mean iPad machine – just you wait until I watch Blackadder and write a thesis on it while this flight’s still on” in the hopes of someone near me being silently impressed.
I’ve spent the better part of the last week trying to find suitable flight plans for a trip across Asia, and it’s been an interesting, if not at time frustrating experience to say the least! I have wanted to visit two particular destinations, Kochi (Kerala), India, and Auckland, New Zealand, and finding a way to bridge the two in a sensible flight plan that might allow me about 80 days of travel hasn’t been easy.
The three main airline alliances, OneWorld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam all offer passes and packages for round the world (RTW) as well as region-specific flights. Round the world trips usually require travel in one direction only, going over the Atlantic and Pacific at least once, with prices tiered by continents visited or miles traveled. Since I was looking at mostly Asia, region-specific packages seem to make more sense.
Here’s what I discovered:
SkyTeam Asia Pass
This pass is tiered by the number of travel segments used, with a minimum of 3. The pass is awarded to a traveler only if they book a roundtrip flight from IATA region 1 and 2 (Europe, North/South America, Africa) into Asia.
OneWorld Circle Asia & South West Pacific
This pass, provided by a select number of airlines within the alliance, only allows for travel as far west as Thailand. Cost is tiered by mileages traveled capped at 13,000 and 17,000 miles, and appears to average around $3200 for the 13,000 mile ticket.
Star Alliance Circle Asia
Again, this pass excludes the Indian subcontinent from travel, and tiers pricing at 15,000 and 18,000 miles. Using their handy tool, I figured a circle trip covering 17,000 miles costs about $4200.
There are several main hubs in Asia for flights extending across the South West Pacific region as well as the Indian subcontinent: Seoul, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. Hong Kong is a big hub for flights to Auckland, and Bangkok serves as a good point for connecting to Kochi and points westward. In short, it makes a lot more sense to buy roundtrip tickets from these hubs to points of interest, especially since my trip is going to be more of a hub and spoke rather than a pretty circle. I’ll write more once I have my tickets purchased tomorrow! If all works out, I should be looking at covering 15,000 miles for about $1500.