Some frequent flyer programs let you redeem miles for one-way trips rather than enforcing you to use them for a round trip. This gives you the flexibility to mix alliances and airlines as the fit the best for your travel plans.
The Hilton HHonors Program has the benefit of earning both, points for your stay and airlines miles. Since BMI, which was very generous if it came to Double Dipping with HHonors (it was 1000 miles per night , up to 3000 miles per stay), is no longer in business, I switched to Virgin Atlantic (VS), which also let you earn 1000 miles but per stay. With 30 stays per year, this earned me more than 30000 miles in a year on my Virgin Atlantic Account. With the usual double miles promotions running every now and then I soon had enough miles for a one way flight on VS in upper class from London to the US West Coast.
I had a meeting / workshop in Seattle in October 2013 and was looking for West Coast destinations and was delighted to find availability on one of the two Virgin Atlantic flights from London to Los Angeles. The key for redeeming miles is flexibility and this means you do not necessarily have to fly the airline serving your final destination but to an airport close by with a good network of flights to your final destination. This was the case for Los Angeles.
I had previously looked about connection and three were competitive fares available on United Airlines (UA), Alaska Airlines (AS) and also Virgin America (VX). Having secured my Star Gold Status, there was no need to fly Star Alliance and trying a different airline is always a good choice. As I was flying Virgin Atlantic on the transatlantic route, I decided to book Virgin America in Main Cabin Select on the flight from Los Angeles to Seattle. Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic have no relationship, but you are able to earn miles on Virgin Atlantic if using selected fare classes on Virgin America.
At the time of the booking, the First Class Fares were still quite high, but main cabin select was available for a reasonable price and there was always the option to upgrade to First Class for a reduced fee during check in. It turned out, that this was a good choice, as VX had changed the upgrade during check in and raised / changed the fee for an upgrade from Main Cabin to First Class. In so far, this was not a problem for me, as I was already booked in the cabin below First Class.
I had another appointment in Hong Kong later in October and I looked into my options for this flight. One of the benefits holding Senator Status with Lufthansa is that I am able to book awards on Singapore Airlines (SQ) if there is availability for a standard award in Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Frequent Flyer Program and this includes the (now discontinued) longest nonstop flight between Newark and Singapore. As connecting flights were available I booked a one-way award using Lufthansa miles from Chicago to Newark on UA and Newark to Bangkok via Singapore on SQ. This gave me the opportunity to fly the longest commercial non-stop flight after 2004 for the second time. This was something I wanted to do again and most likely one of the best value for miles option on Lufthansa Miles & More Program.
In 2013 Thai Airways (TG) got their first A 380 and had scheduled them for intra-Asian flight, among them TG 600 from Bangkok to Hong Kong. At the time of booking this was a bit of gambling, as TG is well known for swapping aircraft, but I was lucky and so the United Airlines Mileage Plus miles were a good investment using them for a Royal Silk (=Business Class) flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong on the A 380.
For my flight back from Hong Kong I was able to use British Airways (BA) Avios and to redeem them for a Cathay Pacific (CX) flight from Hong Kong to London in Business Class on a 777 with the new Business Class. Despite the discussion among frequent flyers about the low availability for flight awards using Avios on BA, I had again not problems to find flight awards using my BA Executive Club Avios with a little bit in flexibility regarding my travel dates. While there was not flight awards on BA for the dates, CX had a very good availability and as I wanted to fly CX anyway, the lack of award flights on BA was no problem.
Regarding my time in the USA, I wanted to see how American Airlines (AA) and US Airways (US) compare in the light of the merger of both airlines and also in comparison to United Airlines. For this reasons I booked a Q-UP fare on American Airlines from Las Vegas to San Juan in First / Business Class and from San Juan to Chicago in Business / First Class. For my flight to London I booked a Club Europe fare on British Airways and for my flight to Las Vegas from Seattle an economy ticket on Alaska Airlines.
In so far, I flew on quite a number of different airlines on this trip and also tried a few number of new airlines as well. This means, I could share more experiences on oneworld airlines and also add a few airlines not (yet) belonging to an alliance.
In regard to the hotels, I decided to make use of my Hyatt Diamond Status and book a few Hyatt Hotels as well as the usual SPG and Hilton properties.