Last week I wrote about an upcoming affair I’m planning in October. I’ll be cozying up to a Lufthansa (LH) business class seat on my way from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Bangkok (BKK) on a fairly inexpensive ticket I purchased for the sole purpose of trying out a premium cabin on a carrier outside of the oneworld (OW) alliance. As I mentioned in the previous post, I was pretty excited after I first bought the ticket. With my steadfast loyalty to OW, it’s not that often that I have the opportunity to fly in a premium cabin on a major member of a rival alliance. The excitement dampened a bit when I realized that I would find myself in BKK after my flight and would eventually need to find a way back to KUL for my flight back to the US.
What’s a guy to do?
My first instinct was to run back into the arms of oneworld. The only direct option from BKK to KUL on OW is with Royal Jordanian (RJ). The price offered for an economy seat was very competitive for the date I was looking at. Only AirAsia and Jetstar, both of which are low-cost carriers, beat out RJ for a seat in the back of the aluminum bus. After a little bit more thought, I decided that the flight was so short that I could afford to experiment a bit more and fly on a carrier that wasn’t within OW. Since this entire detour on my trip to SE Asia started as an affair with a non-OW carrier, I figured I should go big or go home. Bring on the cheating!
The other options I was considering included direct flights with Malaysia Airlines (MH), Thai Airways (TG), and the same LH flight I came into BKK on. MH appealed to me because it would be entering the OW alliance at the end of the year, so it would be an opportunity to test out the product offering on a future member. TG was interesting because I’ve heard good things about the in-air service. LH was only an option because they were offering very low ticket prices back to KUL.
For awhile I even considered jumping on other 5th freedom flights out of BKK that would add a unique flavor and opportunity to this detour. Kenya Airways (KQ), Air Madagascar (MD), and Ethiopian Airlines (ET) offer flights into Guangzhou (CAN). KQ, ET, and Emirates (EK) offered flights into Hong Kong (HKG). LH even has another tag flight from BKK to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). At the end of the day I decided that adding another destination to my itinerary was getting a bit too complicated for my taste, and went back to direct flights from BKK to KUL.
So what did I ultimately pick? None of the above.
I decided to get a bit quirky and bought a business class ticket from BKK to KUL on Egyptair (MS). It was relatively inexpensive (thought still more than the economy tickets being considered on LH and RJ) and provided me with an opportunity to fly on an airline that I’d realistically never be on in the future. There are so many airlines flying into Egypt that I know I’d elect to use another carrier if given a choice. The MS flight offered an interesting angle to my transportation issue since the flight was so inexpensive and MS is also a member of the rival *A. This short 2 hour 5th freedom flight is operated by MS’s newer Boeing 777 with angled lie-flat seats and a new inflight entertainment system. For the low price of the business class ticket, I figured I’d give it a shot and see what MS has to offer.
So that’s the totality of my tawdry affair with Star Alliance (*A). I’ll be experiencing business class on LH’s 747 from KUL to BKK, spending a little time in Thailand, and then returning to KUL on MS’s 777 business class product. Despite being a OW loyalist, I do happen to have a United (UA) MileagePlus account that I use on the rare occasion that my day job requires I fly on a *A carrier. It’s currently empty of miles, but I’ll be able to add a few thousand to the account based on these two flights.
I’m looking forward to seeing what life is like in the premium cabins on the other side of the fence. And you can rest assured that there will be some detailed trip reports on these two products when the journeys happen in October.