Trip report introduction: “Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

01. Introduction: “Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”
02. United Airlines 737-900/ER economy class San Diego to Chicago (ORD)
03. Turkish Airlines 777-300/ER exit row economy class Chicago (ORD) to Istanbul
04. Turkish Airlines A321 exit row economy class Istanbul to Vienna
05. Moxy Hotel, Vienna Airport
06. Figuring out how to use the Vienna CAT train
07. Austrian Business Class Lounge, VIE
08. Austrian Airlines 777-200 business class Vienna to Los Angeles

2018 is shaping up to be one of my busiest travel years ever (it’s all listed on my flight log), and I’m getting to the point now where I’m starting to lose track of all of the trips I’ve taken over the past 8 months or so. It’s a quiet Wednesday afternoon here at home as I sit down to write this introduction (roughly 3 weeks after I returned from this trip to Austria) and I can feel a migraine coming on as I try to recall exactly how it all came together in the first place.

*A brief three-minute pause while holding my head in my hands in complete silence*

Backtracking through dusty memories in order to uncover the specific series of events that lead up to the creation of this itinerary wasn’t easy, especially knowing that my cat was sitting beside me paying very close attention to how motionless and mute I was. The longer I sat there in silence, the more irritated she became, pissed off that I had finally kicked the bucket and that her primary source of food was gone. All you cat owners out there know exactly how serious of a situation this is. If the cat ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Thankfully I managed to figure it all out before things got sketchy.

travel cat

Don’t be fooled by those cute little eyes. She gets moody when there’s a chance of being denied food!

The only real requirement I had for this trip was that I wanted to go somewhere overseas. Business class or economy class didn’t really matter, especially now that I don’t have a full-time day job and the luxury of being able to spend frivolously on travel, so finding the best deal possible was also very important. I should also mention that Asia and Australia were my primary choices, but I was pretty much open to anything and willing to go wherever I could find a good deal.

The first thing I did was to check business class award availability across a multitude of airlines with ExpertFlyer, and I was really bummed out to see that there wasn’t much available for mid August (the time that I wanted to do this trip). There was absolutely no award space to Australia, and it was slim pickings to Asia as well. Much to my surprise, I did find a handful of interesting flights to and from Europe – which was unexpected considering that pretty much all of Europe is on vacation during the month of August and it’s typically the most expensive time to head over there.

Something that caught my eye right off the bat was an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to Los Angeles. ExpertFlyer was showing a lone business class seat on one specific day, at the “saver” level – meaning that it was a standard-priced award, available for a mere 70k United MileagePlus points. I scooped that up as fast as I could and used that as the baseline for the rest of the trip. That settled it – I was going to Vienna!

Finding a flight to get me to Vienna proved to be a bit more difficult. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t find any business class awards for a reasonable redemption rate that fit within that same time frame. However, I ended up discovering that Turkish Airlines was having a really good sale going on and I was able to get a smashingly good economy class deal from San Diego to Vienna via Chicago and Istanbul. I’ve always wanted to try Turkish Airlines, so this ended up being perfect.

On a side note, is there anyone else who can’t hear the word “Turkish” without thinking about the movie “Airplane!” and Joey’s visit to the cockpit?

The fact that I watched that movie at least 100 times between the time when I was 12 and 18 should make it no surprise that it’s one of my favorites and that I have it completely memorized. Yeah, it’s pretty much etched into my brain permanently from all those viewings, and I’m absolutely convinced that there’s an “Airplane!” quote for nearly every situation in life.

Here’s my full itinerary for this trip to Austria:

08/14/18 UA555 737-900/ER economy first class SAN-ORD
08/14/18 TK6 777-300/ER economy class ORD-IST
08/15/18 TK1887 A321 economy class IST-VIE
08/17/18 OS81 777-200 business class VIE-LAX
08/17/18 UA849 737-900/ER economy first class LAX-SAN

Those of you paying extra close attention will notice that the final UA 737 segment from LAX to SAN is not included in the list of articles / reviews for this trip report series at the top of the page. I decided to skip it! Sorry – I’ve already written far too many reviews of UA 737 service between LAX and SAN (here, here, and here), and I think I’ve pretty much covered everything there is to know about that experience. Especially since that particular flight was a near carbon-copy of the time I did it after my Emirates trip to and from Dubai. It was the same time of day, same weather, almost the same seat, etc. Don’t worry though – if you reach the end of the VIE-LAX review and you feel like you need the closure of reading about the LAX-SAN leg, just go back and read that other one from the Dubai trip. You’ll get 99% of the actual experience!

Anyway, forcing myself to sit down and document very specific details about my trips requires a ton of dedication and commitment, and I’m not going to lie when I say that sometimes (like today) it feels like a crappy chore. But you know what? If I didn’t take the time to sit down and write this all out, it would be squeezed out of my lobes by useless information such as the entire script from a certain movie about a Boeing 707 that sounded like a propeller plane. If only I could remember what the title was?

Thanks as always for following along on my quest to document (and archive) my travel experiences here on SANspotter.com! This trip to Vienna kicks off in just a few days with a thrilling (that’s totally clickbait) short hop from San Diego to Chicago on a United Airlines 737–900/ER

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    1. itripreport September 10, 2018
      • SANspotter September 10, 2018
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