Earlier this month I did my first really long mileage run of the year, all the way to Anchorage, Alaska. It was special because of all the miles I earned at a great price, and also because my friend joined me on his first ever run.
The day started early, he picked me up at 4:30 a.m. and we went to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. After a short stay at the Admirals Club, we went to our departure gate for the short flight to DFW.
This was my first visit to an AC in many months and I was glad to see that they had updated the coffee service. In the past your choice was regular or decaf and that was it. Now they have one of the newer machines that also offers cappuccino, latte, and mocha. For me, that is a welcome addition to the club.
We had an uneventful trip to DFW and quickly went to the Terminal A Admirals Club. Our DFW layover was 4 hours 45 minutes. I knew there was an earlier flight to Seattle and I hoped we could get changed to that one. The AAngel behind the counter gave us stand-by boarding passes for the earlier flight and told us to go the gate and see if they had any seats. My hope was that we that we would make that flight and then also get an earlier flight from Seattle to Anchorage.
As we walked to the gate I saw a familiar face, Tom Horton, the CEO of AMR Corporation, American Airlines parent company, whom I had met last year when I went to the 787 Dreamliner event at DFW. I said hello to him and he spent several minutes talking with us. He had no entourage, was dressed casually, and seemed very excited about where the company was going, and expressed confidence that the Justice Department lawsuit blocking the American / US Air merger would be tossed aside. I was not only impressed by his enthusiasm, but also the fact that he stopped to talk with us and did not blow us off. Thank you sir!
We arrived at the gate and asked the gate agent if there was room for us on the flight. I suppose he was dealing with numerous issues at once, his attitude told us he was too busy to deal with us now, he told us to wait. My friend said to me, “We were just treated better by the CEO of a mufti-billion corporation that we were by a gate agent.!” He was right. But once the GA got all of the other things take care of, he was much nicer to us. Everyone boarded the aircraft and he told us there were two seats remaining, we got them without having to pay a change fee (having elite status does have its benefits!) and we boarded the flight to Seattle. I had a first class upgrade on the original flight and ended up in coach on this one, but I was glad to give it up to get this earlier flight.
I sat in the front of the coach section, which AA calls Main Cabin Extra. The extra legroom was a pleasant surprise, I appreciated being seated in that area.
We arrived in Seattle and went to the Alaska Airlines Board Room club where I hoped we could be moved to an earlier Anchorage flight. This was when I found the benefit of my American Airlines elite status, and what it meant to not be able to use it. The very friendly Alaska staff said we could probably be moved to another flight, but we had to see a ticket agent, they could not help us. They also added that there would be change fees involved. Change fees? With that news, we decided to stay at SeaTac for 4 hours and get our regularly scheduled flight to ANC.
We ate some snacks in the club, then decided to visit the food court for lunch. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: the food court at SeaTac is one of the best places in the nation to watch planes depart and arrive.
We soon made our way, by train, to Terminal N, the remote terminal that Alaska Airlines uses. We looked at the people waiting to board and said “Don’t they realize they are going to Alaska?” These people were in shorts, t-shirts, no jackets. We joked that they obviously thought they were going to Anchorage, Florida. How wrong we were.
We boarded: my original reservation said that I was in 9C, an aisle seat, but my boarding pass said 9B, the middle row. Again, another issue with not having elite status on Alaska Airlines. Fortunately, the two gentlemen I sat with offered pleasant conversation and the flight passed quickly.
We landed on time at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage and made our way to the People Mover, the bus that goes downtown once an hour. As soon as we stepped outside I was stunned at how gorgeous it was. Clear skies, no wind, moderate temperatures, just wonderful!
Almost all of the documentaries I see about Alaska show it as cold, remote, barren. That was the picture I had in my mind, it just never occurred to me that Alaska would have mild temperatures and flowers in bloom. As they say, that’s my bad, I should have known better.
We took a cab downtown, that cost $20. The public transit system has a bus, The People Mover, that goes downtown, but it only runs once an hour and we did not want to wait another 45 minutes for it to arrive, time was short.
We got out of the cab at the Captain Cook hotel land walked a few blocks to the water’s edge where we walked through a park and I saw one of the most clever signs about dogs that I had ever seen.
By now we were hungry, very hungry. A guidebook had recommended The Glacier Brewhouse on 5th Avenue; we were nearby so we decided to stop there for dinner. We were led to our table after a short wait. Living in Central Texas we can visit seafood restaurants, although Red Lobster can get sort of old. One of the things I like about visiting a town on the coast is the seafood, it always tastes so much fresher. I reviewed the menu and decided on the Wood-Grilled Alaskan Salmon, cilantro marinade, seared crab and rice cake, skillet roasted corn relish, fresh lime hollandaise, and grilled fresh asparagus. I was glad I did.
I was glad I made that choice. The salmon was tender and full of flavor, but I really enjoyed the crabcake, easily the best I had ever had. I ordered their Barvarian Hefeweizen as my beverage, it was wonderful. My friend ordered a different beer, I don’t recall what it was, but they brought it to him in a wine glass, explaining that it was so high in alcohol content that they could not serve it in a larger glass. He and I each had one sip and decided that was enough.
Once dinner was over we spent a few hours walking through downtown, we really did not have any specific goal, we just wanted to see the area.
Anchorage is a fairly good-sized city with a population of more than 300,000. Thus, while walking around downtown, we really don’t get a feel for being in Alaska, it just feels like another medium size city with department stores, fast food chains, etc. Other than the mountains in the distance, we could have been in Omaha for all I knew.
We bought some souvenirs, then found a place that a friend had recommended called Humpy‘s on 6th Avenue. We had a late night snack and some more of their home-brewed beer, which we found to be tastier than what we had at our previous location. We stayed quite a while, enjoyed the live music, then got a cab back to the airport. It was past 11:30 and our flight to Seattle would depart at 2 a.m.
By now we were thoroughly exhausted; it had been almost 23 hours since we had left my house and while that was not a challenge back in our college days, well, let’s just say we are not as young as we once were at leave it at that.
There was a very long line at the security check-in which normally would not be an issue, but since we were flying out on Alaska Airlines we did not have elite status, thus no priority access and we had to wait on the security line. At least that made me appreciate my AA status even more.
We cleared security, went to our gate and soon thereafter were on our flight to Seattle. Once we arrived at SEA-TAC we went to the Alaska Airlines Board Room for coffee, juice, and pancakes. Fully refreshed, we boarded our AA flight to DFW. Once we arrived at DFW we were able to switch to an earlier flight to Austin, getting in 2 hours ahead of schedule.
It had been a very long weekend, but it was worth it. I earned 14,428 miles from a ticket that cost $355: that came out to 2.46 cents per mile, one of the best rates I had gotten in a long time. I also earned 7,260 EQMs It was worth it. And at that great price we have two more Anchorage trips scheduled — we’ll rent a car and get out of Anchorage on those trips.
Let the mileage runs continue!
This has been a busy year, leaving me with little time to do mileage runs, a problem particularly if we want to return to Bali next year.
I was looking through the mileage run section on FlyerTalk and saw several great deals to Anchorage, Alaska from Los Angeles and New York. I wondered if I could get one from Austin. I visited the ITA Matrix site and saw that I could fly from Austin to Anchorage and back in August over a weekend for just $351. That’s an outstanding price! So, I immediately went to AA.com to make my reservation. And that is where the problem occurred.
That was not what I expected to see. How could there be a $125 difference between ITA Matrix and AA.com. they are usually in total agreement. I went back and looked at the itinerary that ITA had put together — I couldn’t even recreate it on AA.com. What to do?
I decided to visit Kayak.com and found many itineraries for the weekend I wanted, priced at $356, five dollars more than ITA but still more than $100 less than AA.com.
Some of the schedules were easier than others. The shortest in duration had me leaving Austin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, arriving in Anchorage shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, then flying back to Austin at 2 a.m., arriving at AUS at 6 p.m. Sunday. I gave that some thought and decided I did not want to fly all the way to Alaska and not even be able to leave the airport. So, I selected a much longer trip, with extended layovers, but the chance to leave the airport and go into Anchorage for several hours.
We (my good friend is joining me on the trip, his first mileage run!) will leave Austin at 6:35 a.m. on Saturday, arriving DFW at 7:35. Then we have the first problem of the trip, a very long layover — we won’t depart DFW until 12:20, a 4 hour 45 minute layover. Thankfully, things improve after that! We’ll arrive Seattle at 2:20, then take leave for Anchorage at 3:55 on Alaska Airlines, arriving ANC at 6:35 p.m.
We’ll have plenty of time to go downtown, see some sights, and hopefully get some good food; I’m looking forward to some good salmon!
We’ll leave ANC a 2 a.m. Sunday arriving SEA 6:15 a.m. At 7:30 we’ll be on our way to DFW, arriving at 1:15 Sunday afternoon. And then another long layover, we won’t leave for AUS until 5:20 p.m., getting in at 6:15.
I’ll earn 7,216 EQMs and 14,432 RDMs. With a price of $356, that puts my cost per mile at 2.46 cents, one of the best deals I’ve gotten in quite a while.
Kayak had a link to visit AA.com to purchase the ticket and sure enough I got that itinerary at that price. That raised the question of why did Kayak let me buy a ticket from AA for $356, but the best AA could give me was $476?
I wrote to AA and asked why there was such a great discrepancy. They replied that the website will not build an itinerary that features layovers of more than four hours, and I have two of those. They said I could have gotten that deal if I had requested a multi-city itinerary: AUS-DFW-SEA-ANC-SEA-DFW-AUS, but that was the only way.
I did some research on FlyerTalk.com and found that a layover of more than four hours is considered to be a stop, rather than a layover, which makes a difference to the airline, although not much to me. Too much legalese for me.
We’re going to try to improve the schedule. We plan to see if we can go standby and get an earlier DFW-SEA flight. If we can do that. we’ll see if Alaska Airlines will let us do that same for the ANC flight, we’d arrive ANC almost two hours earlier. If we get the first change but not the second, it will at least break-up the long layover.
On the way home, there are several DFW-AUS flights that leave before our scheduled flight — we’ll try to go standby on one of those and get home earlier.
It will be a long weekend, but we’re looking forward to it!
Late February — it was about time for me to have my first mileage run of the year. Last year I had completed almost a dozen trips in January alone, the triple EQM award to San Fransisco was a great incentive. This year there weren’t any comparable deals, so I kept looking. I eventually found a trip I had taken many times before, Austin to DFW to Seattle to Portland to DFW to Austin for $240. Not great, but not bad either. I’d leave Austin early in the morning (6:10 a.m.) and be back by 10:30 p.m. It would be a long day, made even longer by the the fact that this was a mid-week flight and I would have to be up early the next morning to go to work.
The day started well, I got to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and got word that I had been upgraded to First Class for the AUS-DFW segment. Normally I would not be overly excited about an upgrade on a flight that lasts less than an hour, but I had a short layover at DFW and sitting in the front of the plane would get me off and on my way to the next flight more quickly.
I had an uneventful flight to DFW, got to my departure gate and was glad to see that I was number one on the upgrade list to First Class. An upgrade for a 4.5 hour flight, that’s nice!
My upgrade came through and I boarded the Boeing 737 for the flight to Seattle. I was looking forward to one thing: watching a movie. I got a Kindle Fire HD tablet for Christmas and had loaded some movies on there for the trip. The first was a classic movie, an all-time great, that I had never seen from start to finish: The Godfather. I set the Fire on my food-tray, plugged in the headphones, and started to watch it. The only problem was that I did not realize The Godfather was a three-hour movie. By the end of the second hour, I was hoping someone, anyone, would make Don Corleone an offer he could not refuse if it would end the film.
While I joke about it, all it all I was pretty happy with the experience. The Fire was easier to carry around than a laptop, gave me an HD picture, and still had 70% power left when the movie was over. So, it was a good experience.
I did have to pause in the middle of the movie for a delicious breakfast.
It was soon time to land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC). It had been a smooth flight and we arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. I had a 90 minute wait before I took my Alaska Airlines flight to Portland. I spent that time in the Alaska Airlines Board Room, eating some snacks and catching up on my email.
I soon made my way to the Alaska Airlines departure area for my short one hour flight to Portland aboard a Dash 400.
We landed on time in Portland. leaving me with another one hour layover. Shortly after we arrived though I received a call from AA flight status letting me know that the Portland-DFW flight would depart 30 minutes late. I had a one hour layover in DFW for my Austin flight, would this delay cause me to miss my connection?
I called AA’s Executive Platinum desk and explained my concerns. The representative listened as I explained my story, then laughed and said “You don’t have anything to worry about sir, your flight to Austin is also going to be late.”.
I received the upgrade to First Class for the Portland-DFW flight which left 35 minutes late. We had a smooth flight to DFW where I connected to my Austin flight which also departed 35 minutes late. I should have been on the ground in Austin by 11 p.m., but it was almost 11:30 when we finally landed and well past midnight by the time I got home. This might have been okay for a Saturday flight, but on a Tuesday when I had to get up for work the next morning, it was not much fun.
But I did earn 4,775 EQMs and a total of 9,548 miles, so it all had a purpose. I never left the airport — my next mileage run however will give me almost a full day in Seattle, so I look forward to that. In the meantime, I continue to look for good deals, which appear to be few and far between. But I’ll keep looking!
We’re two-thirds of the way through 2012, and I must say it has been a pretty good AAdvantage year for me.
I’ve earned Executive Platinum status through February 2014.
I’ve used many of those miles to purchase a trip for later in the year when my wife and I will visit Bali, Indonesia. We’ll fly First Class on American Airlines from Austin to Los Angeles, then Business Class on a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER to Hong Kong. Then we’ll again fly Business Class on Cathay to Bali. This flight was originally on a 747-400 and we were seated upstairs. But Cathay, like many other airlines, is starting to ground the 747-400 to reduce costs. So now we are on a “regional” 777-200.
The difference between this plane and our LAX-HKG plane is that the 777-300ER is a three-class aircraft (First, Business, and Economy), and business class seating is only four seats across per aisle; it is Cathay’s most luxurious aircraft. We’ll be in a forward section of the plane that only has two rows for a total of eight passengers.
The 777-200 is a two-class aircraft (Business and Economy), and business class is seven seats across per aisle. In other words, while it will be nice, it will not be as luxurious as the 777-300ER is or the 747-400 would have been. I’m sorry that we won’t be on the 747 for that flight, it may have been our last opportunity to fly on one of the most iconic aircraft of the 20th century. Japan Airlines, British Air, and Cathay Pacific are just some of the airlines that are grounding the 747-400 in place of more fuel efficient aircraft. Boeing has launched the 747-800, but so far only Lufthansa has ordered the aircraft for passenger service (several companies have ordered it as a freighter). Since Lufthansa is not a Oneworld partner with American Airlines, the chance of me flying with them is very small.
And that’s it for me for the rest of the year. I don’t have any other trips planned, no mileage runs on the calendar. What a difference from earlier in the year when I was flying so much!
I’ve looked for some 2012 mileage runs, but have not found many good deals. With that I have decided it make more sense for me to put my into flying and re-qualifying for elite status next year. I’ve seen some January-February R/Ts to Seattle for $235 which is good, but certainly not great. I may book some of those as we get later in the year if I can’t find anything better. I’ve looked at Flyertalk.com and seen some interesting deals (Honolulu to Chicago to Helsinki, Finland and back) but not found any that I can get to work from Austin.
I’ll keep looking, something is bound to show up. However, I think AA is probably holding off on any special deals until it emerges from bankruptcy and possibly merges with another airlines.
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corp, the parent of American Airlines. The total value of my holdings is less than $90.
After all my trips to San Francisco (SFO), it was time to travel to another location. I made a reservation to go to Portland, this would be my first trip after the conclusion of the American Airlines SFO double Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) promotion on March 31. However, soon after I made the reservation AA extended the SFO promotion to the end of June. Had I known at the time that they would do this I would have made another SFO run.
I had originally looked at a trip to Seattle, but the cost was almost $300; not a good deal. I found the trip to Portland (PDX) for only $240, what made it odd was the fact that I had to go though Seattle to get there. So I added a Seattle-Portland round trip and it lowered my cost by more than $50. Weird. No double EQMs on this flight, but I would still earn more than 5,000 EQMs, more then 10,000 redeemable miles, and only pay, after my Platinum Bonus, 2.27 cents per mile, not a bad price at all! My itinerary would have six flights: AUS-DFW-SEA-PDX-SEA-DFW-AUS. I’d leave Saturday morning, return Sunday morning.
I arrived at Austin-Begstrom International Airport early Saturday morning. I used the kiosk to check in and get my boarding passes. After all the boarding pass problems I had had with the AA iPhone app in the past, I decided to not use it again; paper is more reliable.
My day started early. AA’s first AUS-DFW flight had, for a very long time, been at 6 a.m. But now they have added a 5:45 a.m. flight and that was my first flight of the day. It was a smooth flight to DFW, I arrived at 6:40 and departed for SEA at 8 a.m.
This was also a smooth flight, a 737 to SEA that arrived on time at 10:10 a.m. This was not unusual for this trip, all of my flights departed and arrived on schedule.
Once I got to Seattle I had my first long layover of the day, two hours and fifty minutes, my PDX flight would not leave until 1 p.m. With that much time to spare, I went to the food court to do some plane-watching. The view of the runways at SEA is spectacular, I have not been to an airport that offers better views of arriving/departing aircraft.
After quite a while of plane-watching, it was time to go to the club. American Airlines no longer has an Admirals Club in Seattle, it closed many years ago. But they have made an agreement with Alaska Airlines that allows Admirals Club members, flying on AA, to use the Alaska Airlines Boardroom club.
I went to the club, showed them my Admirals Club card, then had to show an AA boarding pass for that day. Once that was done they wrote my information on a sheet and welcomed me.
It’s a two-story club at SEA, but I stayed on the ground floor. It offers many of the same amenities as the Admirals Club: comfortable chairs and sofas, many places to plug in your electrical device to charge. work areas where your laptop can connect to the internet, and also offers food and beverages.
It was in that last category that the Boardroom pulled ahead of the Admirals Club. The Boardroom offers a larger selection of non-alcoholic beverages (I didn’t sample the alcohol, so I can’t compare the two clubs in this area.) The Admirals Club offers two types of coffee; regular and decaf. (Or, as we call it at home, leaded and unleaded.) The Boardroom matched that but had a machine that also made lattes and cappuccinos—I sampled them both more than once. I’d love to see the AC get a machine like that! (Can you put it on your post-reorganization shopping list?)
The Boardroom also offered a larger choice of complimentary food in the morning: bagels, English Muffins, and full-size rather than mini muffins.
I enjoyed my time at the Boardroom, but it was time for my flight to Portland. I’d be on an Alaska Airlines D-400, a turboprop that they are using for all of their short-haul flights.
I’d flow this route several times in the past and did not mind the fact that it was not a jet. We’d be in the air less than 35 minutes. The plane was not crowded, I had a row to myself and was able to get a window seat. It was not until we took off that I realized how very lucky I was.
I’ve been to the Pacific Northwest when it has been cloudy, raining, and windy, matching the stereotypical opinion people have of the cold and wet Northwest. This day however could not have been a more beautiful day, affording me spectacular views on the flight.
Mount St. Helen’s is quiet now, the top crater appeared to be full of snow. It’s almost impossible to describe the devastation that occurred when it blew: these photos from Boston.com will give you a good idea of what happened that day.
One of the other passengers on my flight said geologists are now keeping a close eye on Mount Rainier, thinking it will be the next mountain to blow. When will that happen? No one knows, it could be soon, it could be hundreds of years from now, but they are watching.
We landed at Portland on time and I went to the light rail station to take the train downtown. The train stops right next to the terminal, it’s not necessary to to take a long walk to it as it is in some airports. Round trip was $5, a lot better than the $16.20 I paid in San Francisco a few weeks ago.
My Portland layover was almost five hours, so I hoped to be able to eat dinner downtown. However, it took longer than I expected to get downtown: that should not have come as a surprise to me, Pioneer Square was 17 stops away.
Portland light rail is not a subway, the trains do not run below ground in a tunnel, they are always at the surface. As a result the cars are almost always in the Sun and will get warmer than they would have otherwise. I did not think of this until a lady got on with her dog and it decided to stretch out and lay on that warm floor.
When I got to the Pioneer Square station I got off and walked around for a while. It was a simply gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the low 80s (28 degrees C).
I went into the Pioneer Square tourist office and asked what time I needed to be on light rail to get back to the airport in time for my flight. They looked it up on the computer, and the answer was 4:35 p.m. Glad to know it, but that meant I had less than 2 hours until I had to be on the train back to the airport, less time than I had expected. So, I decided to walk around and look for a place to eat.
As I said, it was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed walking around the area. I found several restaurants but realized I wasn’t very hungry, I had snacked too much at the Boardroom in Seattle. So I looked to see if there were any tourist type places to visit nearby, but did not see any.
Then I came around a corner and saw the Simon and Helen Director Park. People were sitting and enjoying the beautiful weather.
I saw a Starbucks across the street, got one of their frozen drinks, found a place to sit in the park, pulled out my Kindle and had a wonderful hour, just sitting, reading, and enjoying the glorious day. My only regret was that I did not have more time to spend in Portland!
Too soon, it was time for me to head back to the airport. I found the light rail stop next to Pioneer Square and had a 10-minute wait for the next train.
I boarded the train, looked at my watch and thought that I would make it on time,I just hoped the security lines would not be too long at the airport. I was flying with an Alaska Airlines boarding pass which did not give me Priority AAcess the way an American boarding pass did.
The ride back to the airport went smoothly, at least the first half of it did. We had a problem after that. The train pulled into a station and as passengers were getting on and off we heard a man scream on the platform then saw several people go running towards the front of our train. What happened?
We sat for several minutes, then the engineer came on the PA system to announce that a man had been injured on the platform after falling down the stairs, and the engineer would need to stay with him until the ambulance arrived. So, until that ambulance came, we were stuck. I wasn’t happy with the delay, but was glad I had gotten the train at 4:15 instead of 4:35, perhaps that would give me enough time to make up for the delay.
We sat at the station waiting for the ambulance. And then we sat some more. And then some more. We sat for at least 15 minutes, and by this time I was getting concerned. The TSA security lines were extremely long when I landed a few hours earlier; if they were as long this evening i might miss my flight to Seattle.
The ambulance finally arrived and we continued on our way back to the airport. I started to remove all the items from my pockets and put them in my carry-on, I did not want any delay when I had to clear security. My Alaska Airlines boarding pass did not have anything on it to indicate priority access, but it did say I had Platinum status with American: would that be enough for me them to allow me to go to the front of the line?
We got to the airport, I had little more than an hour until my flight departed, but long lines could cause issues. How soon would Alaska Airlines start the boarding process?
I sprinted through the terminal and up the escalator, hoping to make up for lost time. And then I came around the corner and saw the security check in line. There were three people on line. The line was so short that they were allowing everyone to use the priority access line rather than go through the maze of the normal check in line.
I cleared security and went to the boarding gate. I was so early that the plane had not even arrived yet. So much for missing my flight.
My plane arrived shortly after that and I had a smooth flight back to Seattle. This layover would be more than 4 hours.
I went back to the Alaska Airlines Boardroom club and relaxed. I read, snacked, caught up on my email, and enjoyed not being in the noise and crowds of the main terminal.
My flight to DFW was scheduled to depart at 11:40 p.m., or 1:40 in the morning according to my body clock. My upgrade to first had come through and I hoped to sleep well on the flight back to Dallas, and made sure to take my sleeping pills 30 minutes before we departed. They must have worked—I remember the plane taking off and nothing else until we landed at DFW!
I was hungry and there aren’t many options at DFW at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning other than Mc Donalds. I looked, but none of the other establishments had yet opened. So, I went for an Egg McMuffin with a hot cup of coffee. At that hour of the morning it really isn’t bad. From there I went to the Admirals Club that had just opened.
I checked in and asked if a shower was available. One was, and they gave me the key. I had been traveling for almost 26 hours and was tired, but a nice warm shower really made the difference and made me feel so much better. I was also lucky to have the shower at the Admirals Club in Terminal A, home to the famous car-wash showers, where water not only comes down on you from above but also from the sides. Fancy!
My 8 a.m. flight to Austin was less than half full, we landed in Austin at 9 and I was home by 9:30.
It had been a long weekend with my first red-eye of the year, but a fun one. I enjoyed my short time in Portland, saw some incredible scenery, had no problems with any of my flights, and got home safely. I earned more than 5,000 EQMs and 10,000 RDMs. My miles posted and show that I now have 93,150 EQMs on the year. This weekend I will do a quick trip to SFO and back. If my math is correct, that trip should give me Executive Platinum status with a YTD total of 1000,006 EQMs. I’ll keep the status until February of 2014, and should get a lot of First Class travel during that time. My wife and I are going to Chicago in a few weeks, with reservations in coach. I’ve been told I need to call the Executive Platinum desk about that and they will bump us to first. I am excited by this, and look forward to the extra benefits I will earn from my new Executive Platinum status!
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines. The total value of my holdings, as of 5/4/12, is less than $85.00
How many flights have I made to San Francisco this year?
To be honest, I have lost track, and while it would be simple enough to look up the answer, I’d rather not—it might be too depressing. I have never traveled so many times to one destination in such a short time period.
But the lure of triple Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) in January, and double EQMs since then has been a siren song I cannot resist. So, once again I went back to the City by the Bay. But this trip would be different, I scheduled it so that I would have enough time to actually leave the airport and go into town, something I had not yet done this year. But there were some challenges I had to meet first.
Four days before my trip, on April 3, a series of tornadoes struck North Texas. While there was extensive damage, there were no fatalities and no deaths. But can anyone forget the video of the twister tossing truck trailers hundreds of feet up in the air? I can’t.
Almost 100 American Airlines aircraft were damaged at DFW in the hailstorm that followed the twisters: each of those aircraft had to be hand-inspected for hail damage. More than 400 flights, almost all from DFW, were cancelled the next day. Each day more and more aircraft returned to service, but I was still concerned that one of my four Saturday flights would be cancelled. I follow American Airlines on Twitter (@AmericanAir) and wrote to them about this, they wrote back that it all looked good for me and I had nothing to worry about.
American put more aircraft back into service each day and as @AmericanAir predicted, I had nothing to worry about, none of my Saturday flights were affected.
The day started well, with a smooth flight at sunrise from Austin to DFW.
We landed on time and I changed terminals for my flight to SFO. I was glad to see it was on one of my favorite aircraft, the 767-300, and the plane was not crowded at all, I had an entire row to myself.
The flight to San Francisco went very smoothly. In fact, it was as close to a perfect flight as there could possibly be: we took off on time, the pilot never needed to turn on the seat belt sign due to turbulence, and we landed early.
I immediately left the terminal and went to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station to take the train downtown — as I mentioned I was excited to finally be able to leave the terminal.
I have to admit I was surprised when I bought my BART ticket: round-trip from the airport to downtown was more than $16! Compare that to Seattle where light rail from the airport to downtown is less than $6.00, or Chicago where round trip downtown from O’Hare costs less than $5.00. I know the Bay Area is supposed to be expensive, but $16 is ridiculous.
I bought the ticket and took the train to the Embarcadero station; this left me a short walk from the Bay.
While it was a beautiful day and I was enjoying myself, time was short. My total layover in San Francisco was 5 hours, 4 when you realize I had to be back at least an hour before departure. I was nowhere near the airport and needed to find a place to quickly eat so that I could get back to the airport on time.
I went it and was escorted to a table with one of the most breathtaking views I had seen in a very long while.
I ordered crabcakes with rice and mixed vegetable, with a beer to wash it all down. I enjoyed the meal, and the view made it all the more enjoyable—it was so good to finally have the chance to leave the airport!
But time was short. I finished the meal and went back to the BART station.
I arrived back at the airport 90 minutes before my flight, giving me time to stop at the Admirals Club for a few moments. While I was there I got word that my upgrade to First Class had come through for the flight to DFW.
That flight left SFO on time and arrived at DFW at approximately 9:15 p.m. This was the same time I arrived a week earlier when I was stranded at the airport. But no problem this time, I had a reservation on AA’s 10 p.m. flight to Austin—if that flight had been scheduled the previous week I would have gotten home on Saturday night rather than Sunday morning.
The flight landed in Austin shortly before 11 p.m. and I was home by midnight.
It had been a fun day, I really enjoyed being able to go into San Francisco, truly one of the most beautiful cities in America, if not the world. With AA’s double EQM promotion, the trip put me at almost 88,000 EQMs for the year, rarefied territory for me. Two more trips and I’ll earn Executive Platinum status through February 2014. But more importantly, these extra miles gave me enough to book a Business Class trip to Asia later this year for my wife and myself, a trip I would otherwise not be able to afford. We both look forward to it!
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corporation, American Airlines’ parent company. The total value of my holdings is less than $75.00.