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A reader wrote to me recently about his success story planning and booking a fantastic Round-the-World honeymoon, through knowledge and tips he picked up right here on MileValue. He was eager to share his story, in hopes of showing you all that a luxurious round-the-world adventure is completely within reach if you apply and dedicate yourself to making it happen. For the sake of anonymity, we will call him by his avatar here on the site, Pumatiger. 
Where A Reader’s Honeymoon Around the World, Part 1 left off: Pumatiger had secured their flights all the way to the Maldives, flying American Airlines BusinessFirst from their home airport in Phoenix to Los Angeles, Etihad First Class from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi, and Etihad economy from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives (with hopes of upgrading to Business or First if space became available). In total that award cost 180k American Airlines miles for two people. With that portion of planning accomplished, they set the trip to the side to deal with life for a minute, and when they returned to the drawing board a few things had changed.
And now, back to you, Pumatiger…

Planning the Rest of Our Trip

Upgrading the Economy Tickets from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives

The first change of landscape was that we were suddenly richer as the 50k bonus had come through from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card. Also, I received 10% of the miles back from my 180k first class booking (a perk of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card). So with over 90k miles I decided I would begin to hunt for the second portion of our trip to Australia.

The second change was that Etihad availability had suddenly decreased and was only available for First Class within three days of travel.

The third change was that American Airlines was no longer seeing Etihad availability. I re-started my search by trying to upgrade the economy legs of our trip from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives. I saw one Business Class ticket available on the Etihad website. I called American Airlines and I was sternly told that there was no availability even when I was seeing it on the screen. I found some information about ‘QMAX’ via MileValue, a system for completing an itinerary. Since we had paid for First Class but were only receiving economy tickets I thought they might complete the award for us, like this article from Scott explains.

However, after a few attempts I gave up as it looked like the merger had ended this program. In a timely fashion Scott released this post about calling the American Airlines service center in Australia to book Etihad award space…this worked! The Americans could not (or as it seemed to me were told not to) see the award space but the Australian AA call center found it and made the booking by splitting my fiancé’s and my awards.

I waited patiently and a few months later a second Business Class ticket opened up and we were able to jump on it for myself using the exact same strategy—this time the Australian agent challenged whether I was actually in Australia (perhaps the volume of American accents had increased). I hung up quickly not being sure if they had caller ID. I called back and used an Australian accent to complete the booking with a new agent– this time there were no worries and there were no fees at all to make the change!

I hoped that First Class tickets would open up within three days of the flight and waited to see if they would become available. Unfortunately they never opened up but we still enjoyed our Business Class seats.

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Etihad Business Class from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives
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Etihad Business Class from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives

Here are some photos from our time in the Maldives…

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Hammocks suspended over the ocean

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Honeymoon = two glasses of champagne per person

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From the Maldives to Bangalore

In parallel to upgrading our Abu Dhabi to the Maldives flights I looked at booking the second portion of our trip. Since we were so close to India we wanted to visit my grandmother so that she could meet my wife. I looked at using miles to book to Bangalore from Maldives, but the rates weren’t that attractive and the only direct flight was on Air India. Not wanting to make a short two hour flight turn into a long mess by transiting through a different city, I used this MileValue advice to book the ticket with cash ($160 each, $380 total).

Here is a photo of my wife, grandmother, and I in Bangalore.

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Next, it was time to figure out how to get from Bangalore to our final international destination of the honeymoon: Australia. At least, we thought it would be our final international destination….

TO BE CONTINUED IN “Honeymoon Around the World: Part 3″…