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Posts by HappyFlier
American Airlines has announced a sale price to Frankfurt, Germany. I can leave on a Saturday morning, be home by Sunday evening, and pay even less per mile than I am paying for Helsinki.
The price is so good that Flyer Talk is getting scores of posts from people who are taking advantage of the deal. One couple in San Francisco are so caught up in it that they will fly San Jose-Chicago-Frankfurt and back five times in six weekends! Sounds crazy, but when they are done they will have enough miles to fly anywhere in the world business class for 70-80% less than it would cost if they bought the ticket.
This is a pure mileage run with no sightseeing. They get to Frankfurt, have a 3 hour wait, then get back on the same plane and fly back to the US. With such a short stop, they will not have enough time to leave the airport.
I guess I’ll go for it too. I looked at American Airlines and saw several itineraries, but they were all Austin-Chicago-Frankfurt and back. Some people on Flyer Talk wrote about finding some good deals from the west coast to Frankfurt: I checked and saw that none of them would work for a Saturday-Sunday trip, but I did find an odd option.
Instead of flying from Austin to Chicago, I can go Austin to Dallas to Orange County, California. I’d have a four-layover, enough time to meet my cousin and her family and have lunch with her, then fly on to Chicago and then Frankfurt. Taking the route through Orange County will get me an extra 7,000 miles and strangely, lower the ticket price by $10. So, I booked it.
I fly out on Saturday, March 1, return on Sunday March 2. Will earn slightly over 26,000 miles for the trip, at 1.74 cents per mile, by far the best return I have ever earned! How good a price is this? My ticket is a little more than $400, the same ticket in June would cost over $1,300!
It will be tiring, but it will be worth it.
I was looking through Flyer Talk today and saw several messages about an American Airlines sale on flights to Helsinki, Finland. It was one of those odd deals where a trip to Helsinki cost less than a trip to London, even though you had to go through London to get there!
I haven’t done an overseas mileage run before. But I looked at what I paid to go to Seattle twice in December: the trip to Helsinki would cost only $30 more, but I would get several thousand additional miles. So, I went for it.
Will depart on Friday, February 8, flying Austin to Dallas to Frankfurt. After a 3-hour layover I’ll take Finnair to Helsinki, arriving at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon.
What will I do once I get there? A lot of the posts said that Helsinki has a very compact downtown area, you can walk to all the major sites. And, the restaurants clubs stay open until 4 a.m. So, my plan is to go downtown (Finnair offers a bus from the airport to the downtown hotel district) and then start walking. I’ll play tourist all afternoon, evening, and overnight too.
At 7:30 Sunday morning I’ll get a Finnair flight to Paris, then connect to Dallas and then Austin. I should be home by 7:30 Sunday night. It will be a long weekend, but it should be exciting. If I can sleep on the trans-Atlantic flights I should be okay: in Texas time I’ll get to Helsinki at 6:30 a.m., then leave at 11:30 p.m., so I should be able to stay on Texas time and get through it okay.
I’ll earn over 26,000 miles for the trip, paying less than 2 cents per mile, making this the best price I have ever gotten on a mileage run.
I am looking forward to this!
I’ve just returned from Seattle after my second mileage run to that fair city this month. The trip last Saturday and Sunday went well, so I hoped for the same this weekend! Unfortunately, even though I was not going anywhere near Chicago, bad weather there would still cause me some problems.
As always, my routing was indirect as I try to build miles. I flew American Airlines from Austin to Dallas to Oakland to Seattle, arriving at 2:30 p.m. The OAK-SEA flight was on Alaska Airlines, but was a codeshare with AA so I would get my full mileage credit. My return flight, going through Los Angeles, was scheduled to depart at 9 p.m., so I would need to be back at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac) by 7:15 or so. That gave me less than five hours on the ground to enjoy Seattle!
I left the terminal and immediately realized one thing: it was COLD! The temperature was barely 40 degrees, 10-20 mile winds, and light rain was falling! After the 70 degree temps in central Texas, this was quite a shock to the system. The gloves and wool cap immediately came in handy.
I took the bus downtown as I had done last week and got off near the Pike Place Market. Starbucks had a booth set up near the bus stop offering small samples of mint coffee and hot cocoa as a holiday treat. The line was long, but the warm drink was well appreciated!
Since the weather was so bad I decided to stay inside the Market as much as I could. I wandered the shops, bought a few small items, actually enjoyed the crowds as they did their holiday shopping, and then went looking for dinner. I found the Ipanema Brazilian Grill on 1st Avenue, less than a block from the Market. What fun this was!
The restaurant serves Rodizio, a Brazilian all-you-can-eat dinner. You start by serving yourself from their very nice salad bar, and then it gets exciting. Their servers, called passadores, bring you food on a long skewer that looks like a sword. One server will bring a skewer with beef, several minutes later another server brings a skewer with chicken or lamb or pork. As you eat, the servers continue to come by your table offering more food and will keep serving you unless you display a card they gave you that tells them to wait a while. If you like a lot of tasty grilled food, this is the place to go. They will continue to serve you until you tell them to stop!
After dinner I walked back to the bus stop and stood there shivering with many other people as I waited for the bus. A short ride later I was back at SeaTac for what I hoped would be an uneventful trip home. However, that was not to be.
My Alaska Airlines flight to Los Angeles was scheduled to depart at 8:55 p.m. I boarded at 8:30 or so along with 30 other people, this was not a crowded flight. The seating on the plane is three-across and I was sharing a row with another gentleman. I knew I would want to sleep on my way to Los Angeles, so I asked the flight attendant if I could move to another row where I could have all three seats to myself: he said yes, so I moved back 12 rows and settled in for what should be a quiet ride.
At 8:50, ten minutes before departure, I noticed something odd: no one was in the cockpit! No pilot! No co-pilot! This was not good! Five minutes later they arrived and apologized, they had been delayed getting in from Chicago where there was a bad winter storm.
Twenty minutes later we were still on the ground. The pilot announced that we had a slight mechanical problem but it would be fixed quickly. At 9:45 the flight attendant got on the public address system and asked if I was on the plane, and if so, to signal her.
I assumed I was about to get in mild trouble for changing seats, but it was worse than that. “Are you connecting in Los Angeles?” she asked. When I said I was, she said, “This flight will be late and you will miss your connection, so you need to get off the plane while we figure out how to get you home.”
It took a few minutes but they found a solution: American Airlines had a direct flight from Seattle to Dallas leaving at 10:40 p.m. I would lose some miles since I was no longer going through Los Angeles, but at least I would get home. They gave me a ticket for American, and I made the long walk to the other end of the terminal.
I got to the gate, saw several dozen people waiting for the flight and sat and relaxed. In less than an hour I would be on my way home!
Ten minutes later the gate attendant paged all those (just me) who had transferred from Alaska Airlines. I went to the counter and he gave me the bad news: because of bad weather in Chicago, the plane to Dallas would not even arrive in Seattle for another 4 hours! They expected it at 2 a.m. with a 2:30 departure!
I was stuck. There was no Admiral’s Club at SeaTac, and most of the restaurants had closed by that late time. So, along with others, I just sat. And sat. And sat. Finally, the plane arrived at 2:10 a.m. Sunday morning and, after the passengers had deplaned, we boarded. We took off at 2:40 a.m.
My original itinerary had me land at SeaTac at 2:29 and take off at 8:55, for a total time on the ground of 6 hrs 26 minutes. That evening I had arrived at SeaTac at 7:15 and did not take off until 2:40 the next morning: I spent more time sitting in SeaTac than I had originally planned to spend in Seattle itself! Oh well, at least we got out of there.
I dozed off shortly after we took off and slept all the way to DFW. Once we arrived I went straight to the Admiral’s Club and had a very restful shower. After a couple of cups of coffee I was ready-to-go for my 9:15 flight back to Austin.
The passengers and I boarded; I looked and was happy to see that, unlike my Alaska flight, we did have a pilot and co-pilot! A few minutes before we were set to depart the pilot announced that they needed to replace an oxygen canister in the cockpit. “Don’t worry, this is not a safety issue, but we cannot take off without the canister. It will only take 5-10 minutes to replace, so this should not delay us very much.”
He was right, it only took a few minutes to replace. What he neglected to say was that it would take 50 minutes before they could get the replacement cannister to the plane! So, we sat and waited. Eventually they installed the part and we took off 7 minutes after we were scheduled to land in Austin.
After a short flight home, the Mileage Run was complete. The delays getting out of Seattle were a negative, but a minor one. I got home safely and I earned my miles.
This is the first of two mileage runs to Seattle in December. Why Seattle?
Since the primary goal of a MR is to get as many miles as possible, Seattle wins by default. People on the east or west coasts can do a cross-country flight. Flying out of Texas, I don’t really have that option. So, Seattle wins because it is the longest distance flight I can do without leaving the 48 states. I could go to Alaska or Hawaii, but the prices for those flights are so high that they are not good MRs.
In order to maximize my miles, I am taking a non-direct route to Seattle. Instead of flying directly (Austin-Seattle-Austin), I flew Austin to Chicago to Seattle, with a return route of Seattle-Los Angeles-Dallas-Austin. That added 1,900 miles to the trip without increasing the ticket price, helping to make it a good MR.
I landed at Seattle-Tacoma airport (SeaTac) at 2 p.m. Some MRs do not allow enough time to leave the airport; I set this one up so that I could go into town and eat some good seafood! Seattle has a great public transportation system, I was able to get an express bus from the airport to downtown, a 25 minute trip for only $1.25!
My first stop was Pike Place Market. This is a must-see stop for anyone visiting Seattle. It features a large variety of shops and restaurants. Some of the shops are aimed at tourists, others are markets selling fresh fish and produce for the locals. You can spend a lot of time here.
One of the highlights is to visit the Pike Place Fish Market. The staff is famous for tossing fish at each other, sometimes, as in the video below, they will even let a customer catch one!
The Daily Dozen Doughnut Company is a popular stop: watch as these mouth-watering bite-size doughnuts are fried right before your eyes. This isn’t really a standard bakery, it’s more of a booth you walk up to, so your order is always “to go.” It’s easy to find, just look for a booth with 20-30 people standing on line in front of it — that’s it! You’ll get the doughnuts, covered with powdered sugar, in a bag. Once they cool off, they make a delicious taste treat as you continue your casual walk through of the Market.
I had a great time visiting the wide variety of shops in the Market and nearby areas. After several hours I took the bus back to SeaTac.
I took an Alaska Airlines flight to Los Angeles, departing at 9 p.m. Even though it was not an American Airlines, flight, I did get credit for the flight because the two airlines have a reciprocal agreement under which they can award miles for each others’ flights. I slept all the way to LA, getting in at 11:30.
I went to the Admiral’s Club to relax, then took a flight to Dallas (DFW) at 1 a.m., arriving DFW at at 5:30. Two hours later I was on a flight back to Austin, landing at 8:35 and was home shortly after 9 a.m.
All my flights were on time, everything went well. This was a good trip, a good mileage run.