I've been calling the United Airlines frequent flyer call center a lot the last few days. I didn't even mean to end up with United. I'm a Continental frequent flyer—Newark is my home airport, so this makes sense as Newark is a Continental hub. But airlines become other airlines as corporations merge and change. And so I found myself a United customer, with enough miles to go to Burma over the Christmas holiday, which is no longer under the shadow of a tourism boycott.
Of course, it's one thing to have the miles. It's an entirely different thing to get the empty seats over the holiday season, when everyone else wants them too.
But not being able to do something only makes me want it more. So there are no seats from the East Coast to Burma. Big deal! I'll just fly the wrong way around the world.
I am now flying from Dulles (near my mother's) on Christmas Eve, via Paris to Bangkok to Burma. Silly, but hey, it works.
The return was a lot tougher. I need to be back to teach class on January 8th. If I taught on Thursday or Friday, this would have been much easier as there are seats available after the 8th. But that isn't an option.
I'll be starting my trip in Bangkok on the return. I'm stopping over to get my teeth cleaned and buying some more zebra T-shirts. And getting lots of Thai massages.
But the only return I could find across either the Pacific or Atlantic was via Tokyo. Tokyo! That's a long way from Bangkok. A long expensive way.
I relentlessly pieced together options for a few days. I annoyed people at the MileagePlus center. I hung up on one slower specialist who simply couldn't keep up with what I pieced together. The computer wouldn't do it—it needed someone to input it manually. See if you can figure out why.
I have it now.
Crazy, yes. But considering I traveled from Tahiti to Newark via Auckland and Japan last year, this seems almost reasonable.