Vancouver – Osaka via Europe: Getting Home and Final Thoughts. (5 of 5)

In a previous article I outlined the various ways to travel from Singapore to Osaka when redeeming Aeroplan points. If you haven’t checked out that article or this series, you may want to check out the series from the beginning. We’ll revisit some of those options on the final leg of this trip.

Taipei or not Taipei: That is the Question

I would have about a week in Osaka before reluctantly needing to leave for home, so now it’s decision time. Do I fly direct from Osaka to YVR in J on an Air Canada 787 with their excellent Business Class product, or do I make a few stops on the way?

Initially when looking for flights I looked for flights from Taipei in business class. EVA is a great airline to fly with. The good news is that there departures leave for YVR quite late, which is great if I could find an early early flight from Osaka, or a late departure the night before. I’d have a full day in Taipei.

I really wanted to visit Taiwan, and I really wanted to experience EVA’s service on their long-haul flights out of Taipei. In addition, EVA doesn’t add a fuel surcharge, so I’d save myself a few hundred dollars compared to flying with Air Canada or ANA.

Sleepless in Seattle or 12 hours in Y

EVA leaves Taiwan to Seattle and Vancouver around the same time… midnight, and Seattle is fairly convenient, arriving at 8PM or so, however the problem was availability. The only flight available in my window would mean shortening my Japan trip from 7 to 5 days and I really wanted at least a week in Japan.

There were two options:

  • Taipei–Seattle-Vancouver which gave me 5 days in Japan
  • Taipei–Vancouver in economy (Y) which gave me 9 days in Japan.

I really didn’t want to shorten my time in Japan, and transiting through the USA meant I’d have to go through immigration and make sure I’m not running afoul of any weird import laws in the US when it comes to Asian meat products. They’ve confiscated instant chicken ramen before… bird flu ( seriously?).

There were also no late night flights out of Seattle to Vancouver available, so I’d be sitting in Seattle’s Airport just chilling until the morning with two heavy bags, which didn’t seem like a nice way to end the trip… especially if I had to sacrifice a couple of days in Japan.

In addition, I’d probably have two full bags of Japanese food. I would have two full suitcases as I’m bringing back lots of things from Japan.

So that left the flight from Taipei to Vancouver… in economy. Although I really wanted to check out Taipei, I wasn’t sure i wanted to fly economy for 12 hours on my final leg home. I know that sounds snobby, but if I can find an alternative Business class ticket for that long-haul across the Pacific, I’d strongly consider it.

In short, I needed alternatives. And that’s where Hong Kong comes in.

Hanging Out in Hong Kong

This really demonstrates the flexibility you need to have when flying on crazy itineraries. You need to find availability across the Ocean and work the short itineraries afterwards. There didn’t seem to be any perfect options, but there was a close second.

My flight from KIX-TPE would land past midnight. At that time, Taipei is pretty much shut down, especially considering it would take an hour to get into the city. But what were my options for flying out of Taipei home? Hong Kong.

EVA has lots of flights to Hong Kong every day, so if I could find a flight out of Hong Kong home in business class, I’d be golden. As it turns out, there were seats on AC8 leaving about 8PM.

The first flight from Taipei was 7am, after a short 2 hour flight to Hong Kong, I’d have about 10 hours to explore the city. This was a good compromise and AC’s product from HKG is pretty good. I’d have to make the most of the situation.

However, I’m definitely going to keep an eye on flights from TPE to Vancouver. If a Business-class ticket opens up, I’ll be calling Aeroplan and paying the change fee to get that direct flight from Taiwan. It effectively wouldn’t cost me anything as the hefty carrier surcharge should drop off or be significantly reduced.

Lots of Flying

In the end, I’ll be flying for about 52 hours over 3 weeks. I realize that’s not everyone’s idea of a good time. Admittedly, it’s a lot of flying, and it’s probably a trip that deserves another week at least, but I think I’ve done a good job of not having too many layovers in between stopovers.

This is what the full itinerary looks like:

Vancouver (YVR)Montreal (YUL)2,295 mi
Montreal (YUL)Zurich (ZRH)3,736 mi
Zurich (ZRH)Budapest (BUD)501 mi
Budapest (BUD)Istanbul (IST) (stopover)651 mi
Istanbul (IST)Bangkok (BKK)4,669 mi
Bangkok (BKK)Singapore (SIN) (destination)875 mi
Singapore (SIN)Osaka (KIX) (stopover)3,040 mi
Osaka (KIX)Taipei (TPE)1,058 mi
TaipeiHong Kong (HKG)501 mi
Hong KongVancouver (YVR)6,392 mi
Total23,719 mi

When it comes to maximizing the actual distance permitted, I could have squeezed in another few stops, but I’m hoping that EVA will open up business class to either YVR, SEA, or SFO on a day that works for me, which would add a couple of thousand miles to that return journey, so I do still have some room if I’m forced, for example, to fly through SFO and DEN.

VancouverSingapore12,727 mi
SingaporeVancouver10,992 mi

I learned a lot in the booking process of this flight. I learned the limits of MPM. I have ideas for future redemptions I want to take. And I realized that stopovers on a plane, if planned well, can be less of an inconvenience, and more of an opportunity.

My current journey, as planned, looks like this, travelling anti-clockwise from Vancouver on this map:

Around the world… in much fewer than 80 days.

Remember: Stay positive, be flexible, and try to make the best of every situation.