With all of the devaluations of travel loyalty programs lately, I’ve tried to do a better job of burning miles, and not just growing my balances. It was a change in my mindset, but I think the right choice. I recently returned from another Star Alliance Business Class trip to Europe, burning more of my stash of United Mileage Plus miles.
Booking a pre-devaluation award with United miles
This trip had a few fun components. Including exploring Istanbul for a short time, and I got the elusive Luxembourg passport stamp. I also saw my first English Premier League match in person, at Anfield, home of the mighty Liverpool Football Club. I also did some beer tasting and touring in Belgium.
It was a fun trip, and I think I made good use of a 100,000 mile award, which unfortunately now would cost 140,000 miles using Star Alliance partners or 115,000 miles for travel exclusively on United. With many options for trans-Atlantic flights, I wanted to try a new product. Ultimately I settled on Turkish Airlines. They had pretty good availability on the Houston route, which is served by the 777-300ER with flat bed seating. Not the most direct routing, but it worked for my needs. The later departing red-eye is my preference, and Houston to Istanbul is a longer flight, so I could hopefully sleep on board. This routing would also allow me to fly a true business class in Europe on Turkish, as opposed to a blocked middle seat on most other carriers. I also had a few flights in Swiss Air Lines, and the domestic flights to get me to/from Houston were on United.
This trip came about as a friend and I wanted to see Liverpool play in person. It was a wonderful experience to get to Anfield, and Liverpool is a great city to visit. I’ve been there before on business trips, but it was nice to explore and get the feel for the city.
Liverpool to Luxembourg
After Liverpool, I flew in Swiss Business Class to Luxembourg via Zurich. Always a nice airport to transit, plus a flight on the Avro RJ100 was fun, the mini 747.
From Luxembourg I took a train into Belgium and explored Wallonia. My French skills are basically non-existent, but it wasn’t too hard to get by. I stayed in Bastogne and hired a tour guide for a day. Tasty beer all around.
Maximizing an overnight layover in Istanbul
Finally, I had about a 20 hour layover in Istanbul before heading home, so I got to explore some of the sights of this amazing city on my brief visit
These few instagram photos are a preview of the full trip report to follow. I will focus primarily on the flights and maybe a brief commentary on each stop over location. In addition, I had 2 visits to the famous Turkish Airlines CIP lounge in Istanbul. A lovely lounge, but my opinion is not as rosy as most other reviews I’ve read.
- Booking an award trip to Europe in Turkish Airlines Business Class (this post)
- Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Houston to Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines 737 – True Business Class within Europe
- Exploring Liverpool
- Swiss Air Lines Business Class intra-Europe
- A few hours in Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines CIP Business Class Lounge Istanbul Airport
- Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Istanbul to Houston