Award Success: Two Helsinki–Phuket Tickets For New Years 2022

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A bunch of friends of mine usually get together for New Years’ in Asia, but most recently, we did so in Mexico City for NYE 2020.

The tentative plan for the end of 2021 is to meet in Phuket and ring tin 2022 there, and hopefully leaving the COVID-19 era behind us.

I searched for awards directly to Phuket, although I cannot imagine Bangkok still being closed for international arrivals quarantine-free at that point.

Nothing was available on United or Flying Blue (Air France – KLM) or Delta. Options were available to Bangkok, but I preferred to fly directly at the destination.

American Airlines AAdvantage:

American offered two connections and the Finnair flight to Dubai was in economy (on a short-haul plane). The exit row seats with no seat in front of me have more space than the business class seats on these planes.

There is a long connection in Hong Kong that I would not be too fond of, but I could get some work done during the transit. I also would need to overnight in Helsinki.

I genuinely doubt, however, that Finnair will operate the Helsinki – Dubai flight that they are currently selling for late December.

The optimal connection would be the direct Finnair flight to Phuket or via transit in Hong Kong. These were not available using miles right now, but could be later.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

The beauty of Singapore Airlines that many frequent flyers from other programs hate is that they give much better award availability for using their miles instead of those of partners.

I was able to book a Frankfurt – Singapore – Phuket with only actual fees (no fuel surcharges) and 92,000 KrisFlyer miles that I had previously extended for cash and were further extended by SQ without fees due to the pandemic.

I am also not confident that Finnair would operate two daily flights between Helsinki – Frankfurt in late December, and I booked an award flight using AA miles for the previous date.

It would be inevitable that I would need to have either overnight in Helsinki or Frankfurt with this itinerary due to not spending Christmas in Helsinki.

Conclusion

If there are no better options coming up in the next eight months, I will likely choose to go with the SQ option and cancel the American Airlines award. I am almost sure that there will be schedule changes, too, as things continue to be very fluid at the moment.

There is no guarantee that Thailand won’t require quarantine for international arrivals in December, although they plan to open Phuket quarantine-free in July and other areas later.

After I am done with Latin America (depends on the vaccination schedule in Finland), I’ll meet some friends in Europe and plan to head to Asia for July and August (I like the early fall in Europe).

Let’s see how 2021 ends up playing out when it comes to Covid-19 and travel restrictions. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst simultaneously.

I am still not committing myself to any paid tickets more than max a week or two out to destinations that are open for arrivals based on my nationality, vaccination/Covid-19 status, and residency. All other itineraries, I am booking with miles (good time to burn them too).

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