I’ve observed that there are generally two different types of travelers within award travel circles in which I mingle. One type is concerned primarily with convenience. If there is a nonstop flight, they book it. Another option might be considered if it saves them serious cash or miles, but convenience is paramount. Comfort is also a large part of the equation, and they’re more than willing to shell out additional miles for a more comfortable experience.

Then there is another type of traveler. This traveler will route through Salt Lake when flying between Detroit and New Orleans, just for the MQMs. Or they’ll fly Emirates and Etihad (first class or bust, right?) via the UAE on their way to Europe. It doesn’t matter if this takes an extra 24 hours. They love airplanes and/or the flying experience, just for their own sake.

If you haven’t guessed it, I belong in the second camp. I may not be the geekiest of avgeeks, but I can identify plenty of aircraft, and airports are one of my favorite places. A flight for the thrill of it? Sign me up. Even in economy sometimes, but preferably in business class. And most preferably on a new aircraft or carrier.

Booking An Unnecessary Cross-Country Trek

I’ve penciled in a trip for later this year to Seoul and Shanghai. It’s not until September, and I am going to play it by ear with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. I expect the worst to be past us by then, and/or the disease to be better understood. But who really knows how far this will spread and how long travel will be affected.

In any case, I’ve already locked in my outbound flight. I was originally looking to fly Korean Airlines nonstop from San Francisco to Seoul using Delta SkyMiles. This seemed like the most time and cost-effective option. Awards priced at 85,000 SkyMiles, which is consistently the cheapest non-sale price I’ve seen.

a group of airplanes parked on a runway

What beauties parked near the Grand Hyatt at SFO!

But then I found a better option. Well…it is one that I consider better. On one potential date, I noticed that I could actually fly from San Francisco to Atlanta and then catch a flight to Seoul. Why is this appealing? For a single reason: Korean Airlines operates a Boeing 747-8i on the ICN-ATL route.

San Francisco currently only sees Korean Airlines 777-300ER aircraft, which are fairly blah at this point. I’ve flown the 777-300ER with Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, and United, along with 777-200 on a few more carriers. There are lots of 777s soaring through the skies these days.

The 747-8 Intercontinental is a different story. I’ve yet to set foot on one. Flying a 747-8i has been on my list for quite a while. The trip requires an extra six hours of flying and a total of ten extra hours of travel, but this doesn’t phase me one bit. The idea of flying across the country, even on a red-eye, for this experience is totally fine. Even better: I’m booked in a window seat on the upper deck. It’s about the best result I could possibly have asked for!


I’m sure those who value their time and convenience think that this is completely nuts. I understand the point of view. However, I’m sure there are plenty of other avgeeks who would choose the same award as I have in a heartbeat. If you’re reading this, please identify yourselves and let me know your own crazy routing stories!