Salt Lake City International Airport
A sign is shown at the United ticketing counter at the Salt Lake City International Airport Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Many airline flights are nearly empty as virus undercuts travel. Image Credit: AP

Do you play chess or other board games? Here’s my version, get from Jakarta, Indonesia to Dublin, Ireland – avoid airlines that are closing or may close, airports that are closing or may close, or avoid being put into quarantine.

Good. Oh yes, one more thing – we need to do it avoiding business class. And preferably on flights where luggage is included but if it’s an added extra, so be it.

Seems easy? Well, most of the big-brand airlines are cancelled.

And for the record, you don’t broadly need to worry about visas or things like that, you have two passports – Ireland and Canada. Also, let’s keep the currency as Euros for simplicity’s sake (roughly Dh4 to €1).

One other thing to keep in mind, because of the disruptive nature of this virus, avoid third-part websites. Book with them and the flight is cancelled, and you won’t be rebooked and will have a hard time getting a refund.

Right let’s start. It’s Friday morning, 12:00 local time in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The guide book tells you that this is a vibrant capital offering. Here’s the Wikipedia blurb, just so you know: “Jakarta, Indonesia's massive capital, sits on the northwest coast of the island of Java. A historic mix of cultures – Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and European – has influenced its architecture, language and cuisine. The old town, Kota Tua, is home to Dutch colonial buildings, Glodok (Jakarta’s Chinatown) and the old port of Sunda Kelapa, where traditional wooden schooners dock.”

Only right now, you haven’t left the hotel because you’re social distancing and tourism is frowned on right now.

First up, a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Air Asia, for €139, with €9.88 more for 20kgs. Leaves at 15:10, into Kuala Lumpur at 18:20.

Kuala Lumpur. I’ve only ever passed through the airport here before. This is what the Wikipedia blurb says: “Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. Its modern skyline is dominated by the 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers, a pair of glass-and-steel-clad skyscrapers with Islamic motifs. The towers also offer a public skybridge and observation deck. The city is also home to British colonial-era landmarks such as the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.”

Sounds nice. Will have to give it a try. Not right now. Social distancing and all of that.

I know what you’re thinking. Malaysian Airlines to London. Too easy. All booked up. And no business class, remember?

Next move?

Think carefully. Most flights are going up towards the Gulf. But most of those flights are full.

There’s nothing in India.

Let’s use some tools out there and see what planes are moving on the world map, but zoom on the region…

That’s when it hits me.

You land at 18:20. You’ll need to wait for luggage and some leeway in case things are delayed. Realistically, you won’t be able to get a flight before 20:00

Try Kuala Lumpur to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Nothing. Oh there are flights listed but they route through Singapore – but it’s closed. I know that because I had a KLM flight cancelled on me four days ago, putting me into this predicament.

From there, Ethopia to Addis Ababa. Nope.

Ok. So maybe there’s another way.

Jakarta to Narita in Japan.

Leave here at 06:40, into Tokyo 16:05. Between luggage and a seat, it’s €670. That would bring me further away from my intended destination but somehow closer to home, if that makes sense.

I’ve never been to Tokyo. Here’s the blurb from Wikipedia: “Tokyo officially Tokyo Metropolis (is the capital of Japan.[8][9] Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu and Ogasawara Islands.”

Kinda ironic going through Tokya, given that the 2020 Olypmics have just been cancelled.

Tokyo to London?

Pity. There are a few Aeroflot connections through Moscow, leaving earlier in the day. Besides, Russian authorities have announced that only Russians returning home can use Aeroflot.

And from Narita, there’s a couple of options on to London …

And once I get to London, there’s Aer Lingus or Ryanair to Dublin. That’s a slam dunk – or at least it should be if Ryanair haven’t grounded more than 90 per cent of its flights.

Do I go for it?

And if you were in my shoes, dear reader, what would you do.

You do realise, however, that this is not fun. Nor is it a game.

Around the world by 80 ways.

Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe