British Airways & SWISS first class for $700, & background on the cheap Myanmar first class fares

In the travel hacker world, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding one-way and round-trip tickets originating in RGN (Yangon, Myanmar).  For now a third time this year, there have been INCREDIBLE fares for travel from Myanmar to various Canadian destinations.  For example, I recently booked this one-way:

Yangon-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore in Malaysia Airlines business

Singapore-London Heathrow in British Airways First

London Heathrow-Zurich in British Airways business

Zurich-Montreal in SWISS First

Usually a one-way itinerary like this would cost in the range of $9,000-$12,000

I PAID $702

Now I cannot take any credit in discovering this “fare mistake.”  I originally read about the first version of this from a post by Matt at upgrd.com (late April/early May 2012), and the most recent version originally from a post by View from the Wing (Sept 27, 2012).  The current FlyerTalk discussion about the latest round can be found here.  The crux behind this is somewhat of a mistake fare by the airlines, but primarily due to the Myanmar government fluctuating their currency by ENORMOUS magnitudes.

Compared to the USD, the Myanmar Kyat (MMK) changed from 6.41:1 to 822:1.  That’s a factor of ~128x.  If you took $1,000 to purchase MMK, you would have 822,000 MMK.   After the valuation change, if you sold them at 6.41:1, you would then have ~$128,000!  What a payday that would be!

The red bars (which I added) are the approximate time periods for the airfare mistake sales.

The MMK fluctuations occurred primarily around 3 periods:  early April, early August, and early September.  And about 2.5 weeks after the initial fluctuation is when the feed frenzy of airfares happens.  So if you took a $12,800 fare, it would only be about $100, of course overly simplified.

I bet that Burmese government is enjoying the extra tourism revenue caused by this, at the expense of the airlines.  My guess is that this is not the last time we’ll see them play with their currency.  Keep an eye out for the next dip, I’m sure another sub-$1,000 premium class fare will pop up shortly thereafter.

Currency fluctuations are key ways to Travel above your means and within your budget.  I have a friend that used to buy round-the-world tickets in business class and first class, and only pay about $5,000 for it.  After you include the miles you earn which you then redeem later, it was a steal.  And again, he would buy a round-the-world ticket from a country which has a high exchange rate to the USD.

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