Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Scandi Run: Preview

Photo from my accommodations.  Adorable, yes?
I never mileage run to Europe.  Not kidding.  I have been to Asia, South America, Africa, you name it.... but never Europe.  There's a few reasons for this historically, most having to do with it simply not being far away enough to make sense, and Oneworld not having the most hub cities there. 

This is not to say I don't jump at the chance to go, it just tends to be a destination I get to by using my miles, not on account of earning them, and I try to stay awhile.

But, as they say, we live in interesting times.  As I tried to lay out some time ago, when AA switched the system up and effectively ruined mileage running for long distances on low fares, it was a choice of giving up or getting creative.  Guess which one I (and my friends I've met along the way) went with??

(I'm now going to go on about how this actually works, rather than random facts about airports, and hijinks I stumbled into in random cities.  If you're not interested in this, I suggest jumping down about 3 paragraphs where I'll get back to my thoughts on 36 hours freezing to death in Denmark in March)

The new strategy to still earn plenty of miles is to stalk the deals for cheap fares in premium cabins of other Oneworld airlines.  This usually means business class on Qatar, or premium economy on British Airways, and occasionally Cathay Pacific.  The further bit of intrigue, is that these deals almost never originate in the US.  So to take advantage, one has to first get to the city of departure.  What this further means (if you're still reading this at all) is that it's in your best interest to buy more than one of the deals when you find them at a time so you only have to get one 'positioning flight' per year, or per deal.

Let's put the plan into context, shall we?  This year, there have been some premium economy deals on BA out of most all of the Scandinavian countries to the US, and specifically, to LAX which is clearly convenient for me in particular.  To further sweeten the deal, there have on occasion been some crazy cheap economy deals on AA from LAX to various European cities, including....Scandinavia.  You see where I'm going with this?

The deal has been good from Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, and on occasion Helsinki, which all adds up to it getting coined (yes, by me) the 'Scandi run' since the destinations are interchangeable, more or less, for the same prices and miles earned.

100% Denmark- bikes, bricks & spires.  Nothing's overly tall in Copenhagen, so it's nicknamed the city of spires as they're the defining feature of the skyline, if you can even really call it that.
What it all adds up to for me this year, is flying out to Copenhagen on AA in March, and then 'returning' on that ticket in October, and flying back and forth on BA premium economy tickets on scattered weekends in between all year.  3 weekends, to be exact, though I'm thinking of adding one more at the end, and then flying back on an award ticket.  We'll see.

So.... this all results in my getting to say I GET TO GO TO DENMARK 3 TIMES.  Sure, each time is only for about 2 nights, and I have to brave 12+ hours of slightly more comfortable economy to get there, but after 16+ hours in coach to Hong Kong a few weeks ago, I'm feeling pretty bulletproof.  I'm honestly more worried about how in the heck to pack light on a mileage run for actual winter conditions.  I'm quickly realizing that all my other runs were to hot, and many times insanely hot, climates. 

A particularly famous spire- Christianborg
My outbound flight is on AA (the first half of the 'positioning flight') and so I'm playing the upgrade game to Heathrow.  After a stopover for some food and a shower at the excellent lounges there, I'll make the quick hop to CPH and take the metro into town. 

Copenhagen is extremely easy to get around on public transportation, just about anywhere you want to go.  I had initially thought of staying by the airport in the AC Sky Bella hotel in Orestad, which is a newer, planned area of Copenhagen by the Kastrup airport, but after realizing it is really only a 15 minute train into town, and I could save 50% by booking an Airbnb in the center of the city, my choice was easy.

I'm now staying in Christenshavn, which is a truly adorable part of the city on a series of canals, in a flat with my hosts Magnus and Mikkel.  Awesome.  It's central to many attractions, full of cafes and bars, and you can walk/bike just about anywhere in a few minutes. 

This, however, also brings up the fact that on arrival I'll likely have to answer the age-old question of why I'm in Denmark in the first place, and further, why I'm only there for about 36 hours before turning around and going right back where I came from.  It may surprise you, but many people find this just a tiny bit strange.  Hotels don't ask, but I get the feeling that my host(s) just might.

I've thought from time to time about coming up with a reusable story to explain myself, other than having to dig into the whole logic (or illogic) of mileage running.  But what to say?  Most business travelers don't come into town just for a Sunday, of all things.  They also don't stay up late/get up early to stay on their home timezone, and they definitely don't wander in looking very much like they've just spent 15 hours in economy and somehow still are enjoying their lives.

In any event, it's a work in progress.  I'll let you know.

I expect there may be snow on all of this when I get there.
For more details of things to do in Copenhagen, we're currently writing up our adventures from the Summer over at Baby Flyer Blog.  On these shorter, colder, trips, I'll probably try to get to some favorite places like Honen & Aegget and Den Vandrette in Nyhavn for tradition's sake, but other than that I'm looking forward to playing my one real day in town by ear.  I have no delusions of elaborate castle tours, or getting a table at Noma.  That's not what mileage runs are all about.  Get there, see a thing or two, chat with some locals, and get safely back home again.

My flight out on Monday is plenty early (7am!) which with the time change is about.... 11 at night back home?  You can't think too hard about these things, just get to the plane.  The return flight from London this time around is on BA's, and the world's, largest passenger jet, the a380.  They're smooth and modern, and I was able to preselect a good seat without paying extra on account of the Oneworld Emerald status I'm flying so far to keep up.  I do have the potential option to try for an upgrade by using some Amex points, but I think this time around I'll let it go and see.  It's only 12 hours, anyway.  Easy.

So, that's the Scandi run in a nutshell.  I hope it goes as I think it will in my head, seeing as how I'm doing it at least three times this year.  Wish me luck.


1 comment:

  1. Pay mindful attention to your 380 seat. BA moved me without any forwarning!