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.

The sun was coming over the horizon as we began our descent into 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.

I know American Airlines would have preferred that this flight be completely booked, but frankly I enjoyed all the empty seats.

American is the Official Airline of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, an association that goes back over 25 years. I appreciate their efforts in the fight against breast cancer. This aircraft, with the iconic Komen pink ribbon logo, promotes that relationship.

I had never noticed before how much the 767's wing bends in flight. The wing tip was, I'd estimate, at least 10 feet higher than the cabin during flight..

I never tire of the dramatic changing colors you can see in the western part of the United States.

It may have been a mild winter, but there was still a lot of snow visible on the mountain-tops.

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.

It was a beautiful day, albeit a bit cool by my Texas standards; vendors had set up booths and were selling a wide variety of hand-crafted items in the area. The San Francisco Ferry Building is visible in the background

The Vaillancourt Fountain, by Armand Vaillancourt., built in 1971. This wonderful sculpture sits between the Ferry Building and the end of Market Street in San Francisco at the Embracadero. You can walk around it or through it.

The fountain is a short distance from the Ferry Building.

 

It may get hot where I live in Central Texas, but at least we don’t have to post signs about a Tsunami Evacuation route.

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.

Just to the right of the ferry building I saw Sinbad's seafood restaurant. It was close, it was open, and I was hungry. It seemed the perfect place.

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 had an incredible view of the San Francisco Bay Bridge from my table at Sinbad's.

Lunch: crabcakes with wild rice, mixed vegetables, and sourdough bread.

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.

Coit Tower, atop Telegraph Hill, overlooks San Francisco Harbor and the adjoining waterfront.

One of San Francisco's famous trolleys passed me as it came to the end of its route on Market Street.

One of the many hills of San Francisco.

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.