Into the European Winter in Style

Our member nonpop recently embarked on a trip to Europe for a white Christmas and New Year. And they certainly travelled in style… Business class on a combination of Emirates, Finnair and Qantas was used to reach Europe where the likes of Vienna, Budapest and Munich awaited!

A trip to the Qantas First Lounge for the famous salt and pepper squid, topped off with champagne, proved a great way to get into the festive spirit. It was Christmas Eve and the beginning of an exciting tip! Unfortunately the Emirates experience that followed left a little to be desired. But after one short night in Bangkok, the onwards leg with Finnair seemed to make up for it. It was the maiden long-haul trip for Finnair’s newest Airbus A350. The passengers and crew on the flight to Helsinki seemed equally happy to be a part of the occasion.

The crew I was speaking with told us this was the planes Maiden passenger long haul flight after being used on a couple of intra-EU flights to get the plane and crew ready. They were still finding their feet with it but really like being part of the A350 crew as everything was new and they knew pax would like the experience. Overall, an excellent value for money flight. The A350 hard product did the trick for us nicely.

Eventually our member reached their first destination, Budapest. This picturesque, historic city has so much to offer! The many castles, churches, restaurants and even ruin bars are enough to keep anyone entertained for days. But being a chilly winter’s day, what better way to warm up and fight the jet lag than a visit to the local thermal baths?

There are also a series of thermal baths indoors through the complex. So you effectively thermal bath hop just like you airline lounge hop. It was a lot of fun. A great way to start the afternoon … 3 deg C outside and the water was 25 to 28 deg depending upon the bath. We had a ball of a time. And there didn’t appear to be too many tourists either.

Everything about Budapest – the food, the people, the culture and everything in between – proved a real hit. But soon it was time to move on. A short train ride away was the equally beautiful city of Vienna, where more sightseeing and adventures awaited.

Our member recently attained Gold status with Hilton HHonors. This comes with numerous benefits including late check-out and free wifi. But perhaps one of the best benefits for Gold members is that they receive the fifth night free when redeeming rewards points. Having paid for four nights using HHonors points, our member was very happy to use this benefit in Vienna.

Having recently acquired HH Gold (via status match) and having the exact amount of HH points, we booked 5 nights (5 for 4 with points deal) at 136,000 points. As we were crossing new years eve, the cash rates across hotel in Vie was rather unpleasant. So this seemed to be a good choice.

This trip report contains many detailed photos and plenty of helpful advice covering the many airlines, hotels and airport lounges and cities visited. Enjoy the read HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]