Excuse Me, Where’s the Nearest Pagoda?: Introduction


When most people plan a vacation they typically choose the destination, and then figure out how to book flights to get there.  As is usually the case with “mistake fares”, it works the other way around.  There will be an amazing, sometimes once-in-a-lifetime deal on a specific flight/route, and if you blink it’ll be gone.

And that’s how our trip to Myanmar came about.  In April 2012, the Myanmar Kyat’s value suddenly devalued by approximately 99%.  So the value of 100 kyats went from over $100 to around $1 overnight.  I must have been paying attention in my economics class, because the first thing that jumped into my mind was currency arbitrage.

The reason an arbitrage opportunity presented itself was due to the fact that airlines file rates in the local currency based on departure origin, and because airfare rate schedules aren’t necessarily updated automatically.  So the price in kyats of a first class ticket from Myanmar to the US went from something like 15,000 kyats = $15,000, to the nice and affordable amount of 15,000 kyats = $250 under the new exchange rates, which is what I paid.  These prices were only available for less than a few hours, and while others scooped up 10+ of these tickets, I was content with the two that I bought for Lisa and myself.

Now that we had a one-way ticket for Myanmar – SFO, we just needed to figure out how to get there.  Just when I was ready to buy a cheap revenue ticket to get us there, it just happened that Singapore Airlines was converting their reservations system in July 2012 and due to some oversight magically opened all of SQ’s much coveted and highly protected first class availability.  I was able to snag tickets to Bangkok via Hong Kong, and all of a sudden we were all set with our flights.  Now the hard part begun…having to wait another six months for our 1st first class flying experience.

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