May 082018

If that title didn’t grab the attention of my long-time readers, I don’t know what will! Don’t worry, I certainly haven’t done it yet…but I’m definitely considering it!

So, the background. I just returned from three weeks in Southern Africa (I promise I’ll get updates going soon), and of course, as always, that leads me to feeling like I need something on the books. Sure, I’m off to Easter Island in eight weeks, but that feels so far away. I certainly need something in the meantime.

Given I have at least a four day weekend over Memorial Day, and possibly as much as nine days, I figure I have the time for something not too complex, and certainly not something that would require visas or something. I toyed with a trip through the Canadian north, but after seeing some of the airfares in Nunavut I backed off. Yes, I know you can get them with Aeroplan miles with a bit of planning, but since this trip would be only three weeks away I need it to come together in a hurry.

That got me thinking: back in January I was wondering if I had become too soft to fly coach. Nah, I figured I could definitely do it under the right circumstances. Some of the keys I came up with are:

  • Ability to pre-assign seats, preferably exit rows or extra legroom seats…even if it means paying for it
  • Daytime flights so as not to have to sleep on the plane
  • Westbound flights preferred, as it maximizes daytime on longer flights, so you arrive tired and ready for proper hotel sleep

Really, that’s about it. Wait, sleep? Why am I so worried about sleep? Well, maybe it’s because I decided to REALLY prove that I could do it and that I haven’t gone soft…I should plow through a round-the-world ticket…in economy! Yup, I’m going to do it.

Rough plan put together, and right now, this is what it looks like:


Some of this route was dictated by low fares (yup, I’m not just doing economy, going to try and do low-cost carriers where I can) and some more of it by the chance to fly new airlines that might be “exotic” for me. What I would love your feedback on is if you’ve flown any of these routes/airlines, what are your tips to make it tolerable? I’m going to book this in the next day or two, so looking forward to hearing it!

Baltimore to Oakland on Spirit: I debated if buying the “big” seat counts as coach, but since they sell it as airfare + extra fee for legroom I decided it’s ok. Plus, gotta ease into things.

Oakland to Kona on Alaska: how bad can it be? I’ll make sure to get an aisle seat, and it’s only five hours to paradise. I need some sort of status so I can get an exit row…. Suggestions? I don’t think they let you pay outright for them, do they?

Kona to Honolulu on Hawaiian: it’s less than an hour – I can tolerate anything for that long

Honolulu to Osaka on Scoot: Seriously. There’s an airline called Scoot. For only 9 hours, and an extra $40 or so you can get an “infinite legroom” 787 exit row aisle seat. That and a full iPad should make this one pretty easy.

Osaka to Hong Kong on Peach: I admit, I’m really only doing this because the airline is named Peach. It’s only about three hours, and I assume since they’re a low cost airline they’ll let me buy an exit row seat.

Hong Kong to Bangkok on Thai Air Asia: Again, I know they sell the exit row, so I can manage this. It’s only just over two hours anyways, and most people in Asia are normal sized, so it won’t be too uncomfortable.

Bangkok to Almaty to Moscow on Air Astana: broken up with an overnight in Almaty this shouldn’t be too terrible. I don’t know how to go about getting an exit row though…I’m also considering other options from Bangkok to Oslo. I’m not wedded to Moscow and Almaty…might be fun to do something really weird like Kuwait and Georgia….open to routings….

Moscow to Oslo on Aeroflot: short flight, no worries…this I’m also not completely wedded to. I just wanted to get to Oslo for:

Oslo to Reykjavik on Norwegian: they sell the exit row, I’ll be fine…plus, it’s barely a two hour flight

Reykjavik to Baltimore on WOW: again, I could always buy the “super WOW” seats in the front row, but they actually charge like $250 extra for them…that feels like upgrading as opposed to Spirit where it’s like $49. I might have to “deal” with an exit row aisle, which should be easy for the six hour home stretch.

So what do you think? Especially Bangkok back to DC. I’m very open to routings, just need to keep it to three overnights on the way home between Bangkok and DC.

  13 Responses to “Around the World…in Economy”

  1. You’re going to be miserable and I’m going to cackle at your misery from the friendly confines of my couch.

  2. This sounds awesome. Don’t have much to add except you should do this while consuming one adult beverage for every hour in the air.

    • Haha as much as the numbing effects would be appreciated, I think it would make me feel even worse. I’m going to have to do everything possible to stay in top shape for this trip – and that means eating light and drinking very little hooch.

  3. This is awesome. I’m sure it wont be too bad. Its funny, we get so jaded by flying J/F and reading all the trip reports, its easy to disconnect from the reality of flying for most people. Ive actually had a few long haul flights in economy the last couple years, which have run the gamut from miserable (LH Sfo-Fra on a totally full a380, got seated next to the largest german dude ive ever seen), to really nice (UA Sfo-Fra on a completely empty 744, had as many seats to myself as I wanted, aka redneck business class, and an awesome crew who really wanted to get me drunk for The only data point I can contribute about your trip is about air asia, its not too bad, lots of opportunity for buy ups for early boarding, more legroom, seat selection etc(iirc). Also the BOB food options are really tasty. Looking forward to seeing your take on life in the back!

  4. On Alaska they have Premium class, which is more legroom in the front of coach. You can certainly pay for it after you get the ticket. I have status with them and often sit in the exit row but not sure if you can get that assigned in advance if you don’t have status.

    Premium class gives you one free drink each time they come around with drinks, and I think they do three services on that flight. The legroom is good enough that I now prefer it to the exit row.

    • Saw that – looks like they want $99 for it. I’ll prolly keep this a dry trip (will help with the physical challenges of so many economy miles) but it looks to be the only way to get an extra legroom seat and priority boarding, so…

  5. I would also check out “Scoot in Silence”

  6. My worry would be that you are ticketing so many different airlines that have no responsibility to you if you are delayed. My experience with Spirit is not good…it might be the weakest link and it is your first flight! Before committing to this routing, check into the flight statistics. Ponder what happens should each flight be delayed or cancelled; can you recover?

    • I fully agree with this one….it’s another reason I’ve built in a lot of overnights (in case of potentially long delays) and I’m also going into it with travel insurance (via Chase) and the expectation I might have to buy an expensive non-desirable last minute ticket on another airline just to keep the trip going.

  7. Can’t see why you’re wasting time, money and miles on this. Nevertheless, enjoy!

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