Can we afford it? (International trip)

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Can we afford it? (International trip)

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:34 am

I am going round and round on this and have decided to ask the forum for your collective wisdon (Ala "Ask Suze; Can I Afford It?")

We are planning an international trip in the fall. It will entail an 11 hour flight, a 14 hour layover, and a 7 hour flight. The coach fare is (for 2) $2442. The business class fare (for 2) is $11,500. The airline does not have a Premium Economy option.

We are retired. Ages 64 and 68.
Our retirement income (pensions &SS) is $82,680 annually
Our basic expenses are $73,000 annually
We have $600K in IRA accounts
We have $200K in a taxable account.
We have 1 debt ($109K balance on a mortgage @3.25%) The house is appraised at $400K.

The cost of the trip (based on a coach fare) will be about $15,000. It will be paid for from the taxable account.

Can we afford the Business class fare?
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby NYBoglehead » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:37 am

Absolutely. Between your pension and social security, your income exceeds your annual expenses by more than 10%. That's without even looking at your 800k portfolio. You can definitely afford this trip. Enjoy!
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby barnaclebob » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:44 am

I'd do it. Time is the most valuable thing a lot of us have. It will add 2 days to your vacation (and maybe more if he helps with jetlag) and you probably get to use the airline lounge for that 14 hour layover. Also even if you go coach some airlines may have a long layover policy that gets you some perks, may want to check into it.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby tyrion » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:50 am

Sure you can afford it.

Is $9k worth it for 18 hours worth of better seats? I flew coach on a 12 hour flight with 2 young kids. I'm not sure I would have spent thousands of dollars to move up in class. Well, maybe halfway through I would have.

I would save the money on airfare and splurge on the rest of your trip - accomodations, meals, etc.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby stan1 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:54 am

Sure, you can afford it especially if this trip is something you are only going to do a few times in your lifetimes. I am a frequent flier so occasionally get upgrades to business. It's an improvement, but for personal travel I wouldn't pay that much to upgrade.

My advice is to keep your expectations low no matter which airline(s) you are flying. You are buying a little more convenience and comfort, not a luxury product that comes with good food or good service. Sometimes you'll get lucky and you'll get decent food and good service, but its better to be surprised when your expectations are exceeded than to be disappointed when they aren't met.

Having access to the business class lounge during your layover will be nice, as you'll be able to take a shower at most international gateway hubs in Europe or Asia. With a 14 hour layover I'd also consider getting a room at an airport hotel -- or taking a 4-6 hour city tour. What is the layover city?
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:58 am

If this is a "once in a lifetime" sort of adventure. Do it and enjoy your vacation.
I would not recommend spending so much every year though - maybe every 2 or 3 years. ;-)

Enjoy Australia or New Zealand. :D
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:03 pm

tyrion wrote:Sure you can afford it.

Is $9k worth it for 18 hours worth of better seats? I flew coach on a 12 hour flight with 2 young kids. I'm not sure I would have spent thousands of dollars to move up in class. Well, maybe halfway through I would have.

I would save the money on airfare and splurge on the rest of your trip - accomodations, meals, etc.



Well, it's 18 hours each way, so a total of 36 hours. Plus the layoever time. The last time we went this far, the flight back was 13 hours. DH was ill and he said that 13 hours, sick in coach, was the worst 13 hours of his life. My sphincter muscles tighten ip at the thought of spending that much money. We love to travel - except for the long flights which seem to sap up more and more as we get older. Hence my request for the opinion of this forum.


stan,
The layover city is Inchon. I do think we'll get a hotel room while we are there. The first flight arrives at 5:30PM and the connecting flight leaves at 8:25AM. The main reason I'm considering this is they offer the flat bed seats in Business. It is so hard to get any sleep in coach. We use ear plugs, eye shades, neck pillows and Benadryl, but it is hard to sleep sitting up.

Enjoy Australia or New Zealand


Both those are on our bucket list. (More long flights)
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby German Expat » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:07 pm

Try to see if you can find lower deals at flyer web sites or can you use miles or points ? There were a couple recent sales to Asia in business class but those might not work for your final destination.

Where are you heading to from Incheon ?

To answer your question, you can afford it but do you want to ? It is 9k more money for 36 hours of a more comfortable flight (might only be 22 hours because the local Asia flight might not be in a lay flat business class if it just has a regional product). Also you got a nice long break so personally I would only be worried about the 11 hour and not so much about the 7 hour flight.
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Big premium!

Postby Gill » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:10 pm

$9,000 is a very steep premium to pay for a few hours of comfort. I'm older than you and with equivalent income, and probably wouldn't spring for the extra comfort. On the other hand, a month after paying the airfare you'll probably never miss it and neither would I. Those long gruelling flights is probably why I'll probably never see Australia. That money could add an awful lot of luxury to the rest of the trip as another pointed out. Don't let those of us with lifetime habits of denying ourselves influence you too much. :happy
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:15 pm

German Expat wrote:Try to see if you can find lower deals at flyer web sites or can you use miles or points ? There were a couple recent sales to Asia in business class but those might not work for your final destination.

Where are you heading to from Incheon ?

To answer your question, you can afford it but do you want to ? It is 9k more money for 36 hours of a more comfortable flight (might only be 22 hours because the local Asia flight might not be in a lay flat business class if it just has a regional product). Also you got a nice long break so personally I would only be worried about the 11 hour and not so much about the 7 hour flight.



We have lots of miles on American Airlines, but their partnr airline is Japan airline which does not have as short a flight. Flying JAL would entail many more stops (and we would have to buy additional miles)
The final destination is Kathmandu, Nepal. We will be returning from Bankok. If it were just me, there is no way I'd consider spending that much, but as I mentioned in a previous post, DH was ill the last time we returned from Asia. The seats were so uncomfortable (Hainan Airlines). It was a miserable flight for me, but unbearable for him. The older we get, the more flying beats us up. It takes several days to get our energy back.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Kelmscott » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:18 pm

I wouldn't spend the money, but that's me. I could never rationalize spending $9,000 on airfare-- that would pay for almost 3 of my annual trips to Europe -- including meals and lodging!

Your flights are long, but they're broken up by a 14 hour layover, when I'll assume you'll be checked into a hotel and can rest and/or walk around. Is that what you have planned?

If that's the case, you have a 7 hour flight, which isn't that awful. Then a very long layover where you're out of the plane. And the 11 hour flight which, yes, is long, but it will go quickly. If you have an aisle seat, you can move around/stretch (and you should be doing that, anyway). Grab a few books or your Kindle, listen to music, watch movies, doze off, eat a few meals, etc and you'll be there in no time.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby DidItMyWay » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:25 pm

I think you can afford it and I would probably do it if it were me, only because the flights are so long. On the other hand, it is a big difference in price. So I think the next question would be is it worth it to you. On my international work trips, I try to travel on "off peak" travel days (usually Tues-Thurs) in order to maximize my chances of having an empty seat next to me or snagging an emergency exit row seat, but my flights are typically not as long as the one you are taking. Enjoy your trip!
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby livesoft » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:33 pm

I've flown coach to Australia and back (14 hours non-stop). Since one just sleeps on the flight, I would not bother with business class for that price.)
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby German Expat » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:36 pm

I can see some availability e.g. in August on Cathay First from e.g. SFO to HKG using miles. Not sure an award allows you to add KTM to it, worst case you might just need to buy a separate ticket on Dragonair. Hongkong is a nice city, so you might want to consider staying 1 or 2 days anyway. The HGK -> KTM flight is about 6 hours so you might want to decide if you can just fly economy for this flight.
Not sure you have enough AA miles though for 2 first class tickets but you can buy some or get the AA credit cards to top off (will take a little while though).
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby JupiterJones » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:44 pm

Let's say you were given the flight for free. Business class tickets too!

Then, as you're settling into your seat, a wealthy couple comes up to you. Turns out they really wanted business class seats, but none were available, so they're stuck in coach. They're reasonably good seats in coach, but still, they had their heart set on business class. They're also (coincidentally) on your same itinerary both there and back, and you'll share the same flights the whole trip.

So they offer you guys $9,000 if you'll agree to swap with them for the flights. Cash in your pocket (or whatever form you prefer). Tax-free. You could use it to help defray the cost of your hotels, etc., and/or to treat yourself to a nicer hotel or restaurant than you were planning on. Or to use on another vacation entirely (maybe a cruise?) later in the year.

What do you tell them?

Do you take the money? Or do you decide that having to sit in coach instead of business class isn't worth getting $9,000, and you turn them down?

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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby WHL » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:09 pm

I fly to Germany almost every month for work...9-12 hour flight depending on direction. I'm miserable in coach! You already addressed the frequent flyer issue, which sucks, but I think you should be able to afford it.

I'd definitely look into the frequent flyer issue more, however. I have credit cards from so many airlines just to "game" their bonus points.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby WHL » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:09 pm

JupiterJones wrote:Do you take the money? Or do you decide that having to sit in coach instead of business class isn't worth getting $9,000, and you turn them down?

JJ


I would definitely take the cash :)
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby NYBoglehead » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:15 pm

WHL wrote:
JupiterJones wrote:Do you take the money? Or do you decide that having to sit in coach instead of business class isn't worth getting $9,000, and you turn them down?

JJ


I would definitely take the cash :)


Agree. My earlier post about "yes, you can afford it" was not intended to be an endorsement of that expenditure.

I'd add to JupiterJones' remarks: That 9k can pay for some extremely extravagant meals throughout your vacation. With that 9k in pocket instead of taking the more expensive seats, you can pretty much afford to whatever you please while you are on vacation. I'm guessing you made the decision not to stay at the most expensive hotel you could find. Maybe you spent a few hours researching to see where you could save $100 a night (or even less). That is peanuts compared to the flight differential.

That said, I still think you can afford it even though I think the money would be better spent elsewhere. But you worked hard for your money and if the comfort on the flight is important to you then you should do it.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Watty » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:15 pm

We are planning an international trip in the fall. It will entail an 11 hour flight, a 14 hour layover, and a 7 hour flight.

We are retired. Ages 64 and 68.


Since you are retired I would assume that time is not a big constraint so what I would so do is expand the 14 hour layover into two days or more. You might be able to find a return flight that connects though a different city.

I can't imagine any major city that you would connect at that you couldn't find something interesting to do for a couple of days or even longer. The two extra nights in a hotel and food that won't very much compared to the upgrade.

In addition to costing less this will greatly help you with jet lag too.

You might also be able to break up the other flights into shorter segments with stopovers at interesting places.

Think outside the box(like Iceland!) and make it a grand tour for the same price instead of paying so much for just a few hours.

There are also repositioning cruises that are relatively affordable if you like cruises and the timing works out.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby likegarden » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:36 pm

Where that standard seats in which you were so miserable (Hainan Airlines)? I remember flying with a local airline in South Korea and those seats were made for smaller people. I usually flew Business class in my 15 or so business trips to Asia. One time I had to take Coach and just then I had a back problem. Surprisingly sitting somewhat straight up for 14 hours helped my back.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby hand » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:45 pm

Alternately, consider buying coach, but checking in a bit early and planning to take advantage of last minute pricing on an upgrade to Business assuming seats available.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby eaglesfogbowl » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:58 pm

$9k is a lot of money, but in my mind it's a no-brainer... If it's that uncomfortable for your husband to travel on that long of a trip in coach and this trip is something you're both completely on board as a couple with, either spend the money to upgrade or explore other options. One way or another, don't go on a trip that is going to leave him in agony.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby German Expat » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:03 pm

You can also cut the costs down in 1/2 by having him fly up front and you stay in the back :D

And before somebody complains I did fly in the back a while ago with my wife in the front when only my upgrade made it and I gave her my seat. Also some airlines (e.g. United) allows you to change seats once during the flight if you ask nicely (preferred right after boarding).
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby EmergDoc » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:04 pm

I agree you can afford it. I'd spend the money on something else, but it isn't my money.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby awval999 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:07 pm

Possibly spring for a nice long couples massage at destination and when you get home instead?
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby kenyan » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:07 pm

36 hours / $9000 is $250/hour, or $125/hour for each of you. Do you feel that it is worth it to sit in coach for $250/hour after taxes? Is the suffering worth that income?

Given your financial situation, it might not be. I certainly wouldn't pay the money, but my situation (financial/age/health) is extremely different than yours.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby XtremeSki2001 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:16 pm

hand wrote:Alternately, consider buying coach, but checking in a bit early and planning to take advantage of last minute pricing on an upgrade to Business assuming seats available.


This. Had a fried a few weeks ago fly from PHL to Copenhagen. Spent $1,000 roundtrip for business upgrade ... would have spent $6k before the fact.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby HomerJ » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:52 pm

livesoft wrote:I've flown coach to Australia and back (14 hours non-stop). Since one just sleeps on the flight, I would not bother with business class for that price.)


Assuming one can sleep in coach. Sounds like you're one of the lucky ones...

I flew to Rome a year or so ago, in coach, where we flew all night, and I got maybe an hour of sleep... My back ached, I was miserable, and it ruined my first day in Rome (we were only there three days, and then off down the coast)

Flying back wasn't as bad because we left in the morning, so we were flying all day instead of all night, so not sleeping wasn't the end of the world.

I told my wife that we ever flew that far again, I'd want to take business class, so I could lie down with a pillow and a comforter. But that was just me talking... $9000 is a lot of money... I'd probably get a lot more enjoyment out of spending an extra $9000 during the vacation instead of getting to the vacation... Or spending that $9000 on 2-3 MORE vacations in the States.

Is it possible to buy business class one-way, and coach the other direction? I think I'd rather have business class when GOING to vacation then when coming home...
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby HueyLD » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:44 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:We are planning an international trip in the fall. It will entail an 11 hour flight, a 14 hour layover, and a 7 hour flight. The coach fare is (for 2) $2442. The business class fare (for 2) is $11,500. The airline does not have a Premium Economy option.

We are retired. Ages 64 and 68.
Our retirement income (pensions &SS) is $82,680 annually
Our basic expenses are $73,000 annually
We have $600K in IRA accounts
We have $200K in a taxable account.
We have 1 debt ($109K balance on a mortgage @3.25%) The house is appraised at $400K.

The cost of the trip (based on a coach fare) will be about $15,000. It will be paid for from the taxable account.

Can we afford the Business class fare?

Yes you can. If you don't start flying business class, your children will.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby foxfirev5 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:02 pm

I flown plenty over the last 35 years. Many times I gotten free upgrades but have always flown coach overseas. My take on it is that combined you'll be flying 36 hours for $9000 or $250 per hour each in savings if you go coach. I can find a lot of ways to have fun with that cash. It's all about priorities 8-)
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:29 pm

If you don't start flying business class, your children will.


That thought has occurred to me as well...... :oops:
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby carolc » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:35 pm

I have upgraded on the day of the flight when I get to the airport. I went to Ireland a few years ago we upgraded on the way over (additional $600. for each of us) because I had a bad knee and figured having my leg up would help. It absolutely was worth it. We're heading to Italy in April and I intend to at least ask the price of the upgrade.

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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Rodc » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:22 pm

Boost an already not cheap trip by 60%?

$9K is a very good chunk of your next car, $9K is more than half of another entire international trip or a nice domestic trip.

I'd take the cheap seats and two vacations personally, but that is just me.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:29 pm

Vehicles are not important to us. We are driving a 2000 RAV4 with 170K miles and a 2003 Tundra with 80K miles on it.

Travel is our passion.

I appreciate all of the responses. And so many kindred spirits. I still don't know what we'll do. I did find out that Korean Air is a partner with Delta (and I have some miles with Delta). I'm trying to find out if an upgrade with miles is possible. I called Korean Air and they said "yes, but I'd have to book the flight with Delta. Delta's website doesn't recognize the code for Kathmandu, so I may have to call them in person and ask.

I did find out that KAL does not do upgrades at the counter. They will leave business seats empty rather than that - just policy.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby kiligi » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:16 pm

I agree with everyone else that you can afford the expense, but I would also ask when the last time you flew with Hainan was. We recently did 12 hours with Hainan (this past summer) - and it was actually very pleasant...or as pleasant as 12 hours can be sitting upright. Food decent, seat space larger than I had anticipated. I think if you get ill, business class isn't going to feel appreciatively better. You are still stuck on a plane and ill.

As for the illness piece, not sure what the affliction was but I do swear by a combination of ginger root capsules and grapefruit seed extract capsules when I am traveling. Take recommended dosage twice a day and I have luckily never gotten sick whilst traveling. Combine with bonine if motion sickness is an issue.

Good luck, I hope you have a wonderful trip!
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby countofmc » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:21 pm

Have you flown on non-American airlines? Looks like you are flying KAL, which is a pretty good airline nowadays.

I ask because the coach experience on some of these international airlines (esp the nice Asian ones like KAL, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, etc) are very good, and much better than the coach experience on a domestic carrier.

Of course business class would be superior in all aspects, but since cost is a factor, I don't know, you may be pleasantly surprised with flying coach.

EDIT: Just saw that you have flown to and from Asia before. sorry. But yea, I think KAL has a pretty solid economy class.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby ddunca1944 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:36 pm

Yes, we've flown on a number of non American carriers (Hainan, BA, Air New Zealand) and I agree that the international service is superior to US domestic service. We last flew Hainan in 2010. My husband was already ill when we got on the plane; had been for several days. Had he been able to lay down, it would have been a lot better for him, but he had to sit for that 13 hours (there had also been an earlier 2 hr flight prior to boarding).

I did have the idea of buying coach tickets and trying for an upgrade with our Delta miles. But KAL said I had to book through Delta. For coach tickets, (upgradeable), Delta quoted me $6117/pp :shock: !!!!)
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby German Expat » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:46 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:Yes, we've flown on a number of non American carriers (Hainan, BA, Air New Zealand) and I agree that the international service is superior to US domestic service. We last flew Hainan in 2010. My husband was already ill when we got on the plane; had been for several days. Had he been able to lay down, it would have been a lot better for him, but he had to sit for that 13 hours (there had also been an earlier 2 hr flight prior to boarding).

I did have the idea of buying coach tickets and trying for an upgrade with our Delta miles. But KAL said I had to book through Delta. For coach tickets, (upgradeable), Delta quoted me $6117/pp :shock: !!!!)

Unfortunately this is the problem with Delta and their upgrades. You need very high fare classes. You are better off trying to find award space with the Delta miles that books direct into business or first class. Try United because it is easier and they also tend to up sell more of their seats if they are free.

What dates do you plan to fly and what is your starting airport ? There are specials to Asia once in a while coming up (none to Katmandu usually but you could just buy this part separate in economy since it is the shorter flight and I am pretty sure it is only a regional non lay flat business class on most airlines anyway).

11k sounds awful high, should be able to get that down especially having so much time to look for bargains and also if you are willing to fly economy to KTM from your transfer airport in Asia.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Rodc » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:19 pm

Vehicles are not important to us. We are driving a 2000 RAV4 with 170K miles and a 2003 Tundra with 80K miles on it.

Travel is our passion.


Don't get hung up on the vehicle example, just tossed that out as just about everyone needs a new car sooner or later no matter how long you keep your cars, and whether one loves cars or just tolerates them . Unless you think you are on your very last one. Maybe when the RAV4 gives it up in a few years you will downsize to one car.

The point is to consider where else that money could go.

Money is fungible, so no matter what the money "goes" towards it is money you will not have for your next trip if that is your passion.

May be you only want one trip per year. Maybe having $9,000 for a few nice weekend getaways is not useful to you. Honestly, if you want to spend it, it is your money. You are the only one who knows what a little extra legroom is worth to you. We're all different.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Keep It Simple » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:29 pm

Can you afford it...sure.

Should you afford it....I suggest no.

Maybe plan another trip at a later time with the extra money, or put it towards your favorite hobbies.

Either way, enjoy your trip!

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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Cherokee8215 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:47 pm

Personally, I'm a slim guy and don't mind 7+ hours in a coach seat, so long as it's not a middle seat. I've taken advantage of first/business class upgrades when available for free. Even if you could fit two of me in the first class seat. I'd pay up big to avoid a middle coach seat on a long flight though.

While the OP can afford the upgrade, if it were me, I'd get the coach seats and spend $150 on booze between the two of us during the first couple of hours, thus allowing us to be numb and not remember the rest of the trip in coach. :sharebeer
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby prudent » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:14 pm

It's hard for me to imagine spending that much money on airline tickets - but I do absolutely detest flying, and in this case (able to afford it, and two long brutal flights) I would do it in a heartbeat. Those hours of extra comfort would greatly improve my frame of mind for the entire trip. Honestly, the $9,000 upgrade cost is more than I have spent on vacations in the last 5 years combined, and while I am not one to throw money around, this is one reason I would do it.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby supalong52 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:20 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:I am going round and round on this and have decided to ask the forum for your collective wisdon (Ala "Ask Suze; Can I Afford It?")

We are planning an international trip in the fall. It will entail an 11 hour flight, a 14 hour layover, and a 7 hour flight. The coach fare is (for 2) $2442. The business class fare (for 2) is $11,500. The airline does not have a Premium Economy option.

We are retired. Ages 64 and 68.
Our retirement income (pensions &SS) is $82,680 annually
Our basic expenses are $73,000 annually
We have $600K in IRA accounts
We have $200K in a taxable account.
We have 1 debt ($109K balance on a mortgage @3.25%) The house is appraised at $400K.

The cost of the trip (based on a coach fare) will be about $15,000. It will be paid for from the taxable account.

Can we afford the Business class fare?


I wrote a long message, but it timed out, so I lost it. I wouldn't pay full fare -- that's for suckers and business types. Try accumulating frequent flyer points. We got 2 business class tickets that would have cost us $14,000 for $100 and a few hours of my time. I signed up for 3 credit cards and transferred some funds to Fidelity and got almost 200,000 miles. This required 240,000 miles total -- I had the balance in my frequent flier account already.

United has a good award ticket policy. You can book an open jaw itinerary w/ stopover -- for example, leave from JFK to Shanghai (stopover for a week), then go to Thailand (this is one leg), on the return leg you open jaw it and leave from Manila (for example) back to JFK. You have to book Thailand to Manila separately. But you get to see more places on the same ticket for free. We booked on a Star Alliance partner, so got the better food/service to boot.

check out thepointsguy.com or flyertalk.com for more info on these types of strategies to maximize your $$.
Last edited by supalong52 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby FireProof » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:26 pm

You can definitely afford it - you're spending less than you make. It's just a matter of priorities, and those are personal. Weigh it against other luxuries you could spend the $9000 on and see what you would prefer. If you are not limited in purchasing your wants, then it seems a no-brainer. And I say this as someone who'd rather cut off his own foot than spend an extra $9000 on a planet ticket.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Jim127 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:53 pm

Spend the money now on things that you will enjoy, such as the business class tickets. When you are in your mid 70's, your health may not allow you to travel as much. You have saved all your life so that you can enjoy retirement and this is one of the ways you can do so.

You can still shop around with ticket brokers and other routes if you want to save a few bucks. However, this amount should not be a barrier to buying the tickets.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby crowd79 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:21 pm

You only live once, go for it. Travelling is the best thing to do in life. See the world around you and get cultured!
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Bungo » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:34 pm

What's the point of a lifetime of hard work and saving if you aren't going to reap the rewards? Based on your finances, there's no question that you can easily afford it. I hate long coach flights more than almost anything else, and would rather not travel than endure them. If you feel the same way, then of course you should splurge. You will turn 36 hours of torture into 36 hours of comfort.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby SurfCityBill » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:17 am

I agree it's a huge cost differential and would make any sensible Boglehead think twice but I can tell you I've been to New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, and Tahiti.
All long flights. Business class left us refreshed and prepared to enjoy the vacation. The sleeper seats and small extras are great. Had we gone coach we would have needed 2 days just to feel good enough to enjoy the vacation part. Go for it.
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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby cherijoh » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:21 am

I am mostly a cheapskate Boglehead and would probably not pay that much of a premium for a business class flight even for a trip of that duration. I'd add a day or two to the layover and choose a flight where it was likely not to be fully booked. The wide body airlines I have flown on are often 2-5-2 or 3-4-3 in coach. I'd recommend the window/aisle in either configuration - the center of 3 seats is likely to be the last booked. Or if larger or long-legged try opposing aisle seats. (Although that strategy can result in the center seat being filled for the 3-4-3 arrangement).

I have however flown the lie almost flat arrangement (once an upgrade to 1st class on a business trip provided by company travel department - but not an overnight trip) and once round trip when only a 1st class frequent flier award was available. It was MUCH more comfortable than coach, but I don't think I would have paid $4500 for the privelege and I still would have been miserable there had I been sick! Of course I was in my forties - not sixties - so I may not place the same value on comfort as you do.

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Re: Can we afford it?

Postby Wolkenspiel » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:34 am

In the last few years I have flown > 100k miles per year, mostly US-Europe and US-Asia. Between upgrades and some mis-priced promotions ($2k for Cathay-Pacific business class FRA-HKG roundtrip!?!), a good fraction of that were business class flights. When I have a business class trip coming up, I actually look forward to the flight, which usually has decent food, wine, movies and no neighbor sticking his elbows in my ribs (and no guy in front smashing his seat in my face while I'm working and no kids in the back kicking my seats). On economy flights, I just count the minutes until the flight is over. I envy people who can sleep in economy, while I try to ignore their snoring (which gets past my noise-cancelling headphones).

At present I would not spend my own money on a regular price business class ticket (i.e. 4-5x coach), but being able to afford 3-4 international business class trips a year (for me and the wife, kids have to fend for themselves) is my #1 retirement goal.
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