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Ever heard of the Mystery of Christmas Island? Me neither, until earlier today…
The Mystery of Christmas Island
I thought I might have come across the craziest Miles redemption I’d ever seen, but alas no – a simple case of mistaken identity turned out to be the culprit.
I’m not going to pretend for a moment that this is a hugely practical post, but the nerdy side of me loves maps and award charts, and I don’t think I’m the only one who finds this sort of thing interesting (well I hope not anyway!).
When you go to the Alaska Mileage Plan site to look at the award charts, you select the departure and destination regions you want and it presents you the various options available. Alaska’s only partner for travel within the ‘South Pacific’ region is Fiji Airways, and you are shown the Miles required.
What you are also shown is an image, with the relevant region supposedly highlighted in dark blue:
As you can see, the South Pacific region doesn’t appear to include Australia but does include New Zealand. That’s inaccurate though – Australia is indeed bookable at the same price as other intra-South Pacific region destinations:
What really interests me though isn’t what is not shaded dark blue, but what is – specifically, it appears as if Indonesia has been placed in the South Pacific region, which would be a very strange way to do things.
Fiji Airways doesn’t fly to Indonesia though, so that looked like a bust. What I did discover (with a bit of help from Wikipedia) is that Fiji Airways supposedly flies to Christmas Island!
Christmas Island is a tiny Australian territory only a couple of hundred Miles south of Java – so I thought this might explain why the Alaska map appeared to put Indonesia in the South Pacific Region, if they were actually just trying to highlight that you could fly to Christmas Island, which would be far too small to show up on the Mileage Plan map by itself.
This seemed like an highly improbable route though, given that the distance is over 7,700 Kilometres (more than between London and Denver, Colorado…). On the off chance, I thought I’d plug it into the Alaska award search, and was pretty astonished to see the following come up:
The Mystery of Christmas Island Solved
Then I saw the flight time – 4 hours 40 minutes. Something nearer 10 hours is what I would anticipate, and that’s without the fuel stops that would be required for the sort of planes that would likely fly a route like this, so clearly something was up.
I then googled the airport code – CXI – rather than ‘Christmas Island’. Low and behold: Kirimati (Christmas Island), Kiribati:
Slap bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 4:30-5:00 hours from Fiji.
I imagine there’s a weak pun somewhere here about all my Christmases coming at once…
Mystery of Christmas Island Bottom line
Ok, so it might not have been the Christmas Island I was looking for exactly, and I still don’t know why Indonesia is highlighted on the Alaska Mileage Plan South Pacific region (helpfully, there doesn’t seem to be a list anywhere of which countries are included in that region)…But, I’ve still learned something interesting.
Christmas Island (the Kiribati one) looks absolutely stunning, and because Alaska Mileage Plan allows free stopovers even on one-way redemptions, you could theoretically plan an amazing trip if you were already visiting Australia or New Zealand. Something like, Sydney – Fiji (stopover) – Christmas Island – Fiji (stopover – go see a different part!) – Auckland, all for 35,000 Miles + tax/fees.
Finding availability can be a bit of a nightmare, but if you planned far enough in advance it should be possible.