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1. Emirates Miles Expiring, Extension Not Possible

So, let's use 'em, not lose 'em

sunny 75 °F
View Paul to Yala Land on paulej4's travel map.

Chapter One; Saturday, August 7, 2021

I am finally back at it. I miss adventure travel terribly. But this trip? It only happened because of a weird and hard to believe set of circumstances.

Early in 2021, Emirates Airlines let me know that my vast amount of award miles would expire at the end of the year, I was certain a mistake had been made. COVID had decimated air travel. Every airline, hotel chain, rental car company, etc., was extending expiration dates because nobody could travel. However, even after calling, Emirates seemed to be the holdout exception. So, I did what any vagabond would do: I looked at their route map to try to figure out a place to go that I had never been.


Sri Lanka! A bit of research showed that Yala National Park boasts the highest concentration of leopards anywhere in the world. I've been in the wild to photograph big cats before: Lion and cheetah in Africa, tiger in India and jaguar in Brazil. But leopards have been more elusive for me. Maybe I once caught a glimpse of one sleeping in a tree in Kenya but, then again, maybe it was just a clump of leaves.


Now is my time. I find I've got enough soon-to-expire Emirates miles to fly business class, round trip, to Sri Lanka. But, there is a problem. Emirates will fly me to Sri Lanka but, because of COVID, they will not fly me back out of Sri Lanka. It's a complicated story but it appears that many Indians eager to escape COVID were making their way to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to grab a flight to anywhere in the world during the time that they could not fly out of India proper. Emirates was caught in that travel prohibition dodge. So, I was caught up in it as well.

But there is a solution. Fly an Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 one way to Sri Lanka and then buy a ticket on some other airline to get home. There is an added bonus to such a devious strategy. I have enough Emirates miles to fly one way in FIRST CLASS.

To get home, I learned that Qatar Airways will happily accommodate me from Columbo via Doha to Chicago. I book it. But then, 24 hours before I am to begin my trip, Qatar Airways cancels my flight home. There is a paint problem on their fleet of A350-1000 aircraft involving come cracking and their regulatory agency grounded the affected aircraft one of which was to fly me home. I didn't want to fly Air India through Delhii or Mumbai. But then, miraculously, Emirates changed their policy and I was able to book a trip home with them. Never mind that my final connecting flight from Chicago to Kansas City was no longer possible. The main trip could be undertaken.

At noon today, after B4 dropped me at the airport, I flew to La Guardia, took a Lyft to JFK and holed up in the Priority Pass Lounge until the Emirates Lounge opened and then stepped aboard Emirates A380 flight 202 for a stop in Dubai before heading on to Sri Lanka. Why is B4 not coming along? Long ago we came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of trips. One is 5-star, spa-filled, hotel-suite. The other is dusty roads, showers when you can grab one, look-out-for-animals-before-you-open-the-door. This is the latter. Plus, unlike me, she has a company to run.

Check-in was difficult. I had to produce not only my passport but also printed copies of a negative COVID test (taken within 72 hours), a Sri Lankan visa, a Sri Lankan health form, proof of a hotel reservation and proof of a return flight. Forewarned and overly cautious, I had all of that.

Emirates has, arguably, the most amazing first class flying experience in the world. This is particularly true if you fly In one of the only 14 first class suites aboard one of their Airbus A380, double-decker, 517 passenger super amazing aircraft. Beginning in 2007, 254 of these enormous aircraft were built but, in this economy, only 24 are still actively flying; the one I am scheduled to fly aboard is one of the 18 still in use by Emirates. A380wide.jpegA380cu.jpegWhen new, these babies listed for $445 million each (today you can pick up an early model on the used aircraft market for $77 million). This is the aircraft type that has, in the rear of the first class cabin, two gigantic bathrooms with, get ready, showers.

I'm in. The closest I've ever come to a shower at 35,000 feet was when a flight attendant spilled a drink on me. Or I spilled it on myself, I'm not sure. At least that is my plan. I board in about an hour. I'll let you know how the flight went in the next chapter.

Posted by paulej4 05:29 Archived in USA Tagged sri_lanka emirates_airlines a380

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Whew! You were a man on a mission! I was exhausted after reading about what it took to book your trip. B4 and I share the same view of travel. Have fun! 😘 Becky

by Becky Pruett

What a great trip and a perfect way to use those miles, and BRAVO on your resilience in getting the itinerary sorted! Have only dreamed about flying their First Class product. If you ever need a +1 (or more accurately a +2) on your "shower when you can
trips, let us know!

by Steven Russell

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