Flying the 747 around-the-world – Plot-twist! Part 4

KLM 747-400 on it’s way to Nairobi from Amsterdam on Dec. 4, 2017 – Nikon D500, 200-500mm @270mm, f/5.6 1/60 ISO100

You know when you order something online and you get tons of useless follow-up emails? Well be sure to check those things out because not all of them are completely useless!

I had just booked my around-the-world-on-747s itinerary for March, most of it through Aeroplan miles and all of it on 747s. Whew! Job done, I thought. I downloaded all the email itineraries and printed them out. Time to start booking hotels and planning my day trips.

About a week later, I got yet another Aeroplan email with another attached file. I almost deleted it but eventually decided to look it over. It was for my Thai Airways flight from Seoul to Bangkok on March 17 which my friend had graciously purchased for me. Everything looked fine except I happened to scan the whole page and under Aircraft it said A359! Oh no! Thai Airways changed the scheduled aircraft from my beloved 747-400 to a brand-new Airbus A350-900! I’m sure everyone else who cared was elated. But without every segment flying a 747, the whole point of my whole trip was ruined. Minor point also, they downgraded me from First to Business class *and* didn’t appear to refund the cost difference in miles. Grrr…

FInnair’s A350-900 OH-LWD landing Heathrow from Helsinki on Dec. 8, 2017 – Nikon D500, 55-200 @75mm, f/5.6 1/800 ISO200

So after several hours stressing and wondering if I should still take the trip on it’s own merits (of course any travel is awesome!), I started wondering when Thai had made the change in their schedule from 747-400 to A350-900. Turns out that around March 1 they replace the older 747-400 with their brand-new A350-900 aircraft. Who could blame them? Well, me! Actually I totally get it but they just destroyed my trip in one fell swoop!

I had to sit and think for a while. I decided that it might be possible to backtrack my whole plan several weeks, putting the ICN-BKK flight into mid march give or take, and thus saving the whole 747 idea.

Once again I had to plot out the available days for all the flights I had already booked. The FRA-ICN flight with Lufthansa was again the difficult route to book as there were few available dates with Business class award seats still available. Thai still showed good availability but seat selection was much more limited now, and I absolutely have to have a window seat for any flight. I pay my money (and my miles) for a big seat and the view, not the champagne!

As it turns out, the new itinerary of available seats changed my schedule quite a bit. Since booking my first flights, I had done more research on Thailand and South Korea and felt I wanted to adjust the days I spent in each place. So the plan now was to only spend 2 nights in Germany, freeing up an extra day for later. South Korea would be the same, with only 2 nights there. I’d love to do some birding there but there’s probably a more productive month for it. So that left Thailand with 4 nights now, which is perfect. Not too short, not too long if it’s too hot and Tropical for me. Then, because Qantas only flies their 747-400ER to JFK on tuesdays, left me a choice between 3 or 10 days in Australia. Of course I chose 10!. Sure, it’s a lot of vacation days to use up this year but I could make it my one big road trip around Australia while shooting tons of birds and chilling out down under.

Qantas “Longreach” lifting off from Sydney in March 2014 – lots of heat shimmer – Nikon D3, 300mm + TC-20e III, f/5.6 1/1600 ISO400

All fixed then, right? Not so fast. Each Aeroplan change cost me $100 and the Qantas change cost me $150 I think. The final price of fixing Thai’s aircraft change was over $500. Sheesh…let’s hope nothing else changes between now and then!



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