Archive for January, 2008
Mileage runners are always working to build up the number of miles in their account. With those miles we are able to take trips that we might otherwise not be able to afford. My wife and I did that last year, traveling to Hong Kong and Thailand, flying Business Class and First Class on American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines. I build up the miles, then spend them on travel.
But some people let them build up and build up and build up.
CNBC recently ran a documentary called “One Week in the Life of American Airlines.” It was an informative show that talked about how the airline functions, covering issues like the cost of jet fuel, aircraft maintenance, and the AAdvantage Program. That’s the American Airlines frequent flyer program.
They introduced a man who has, they said, more miles in his account than anyone else. How many? Thirty-one million miles!
How do you build up that many miles? Well, you can fly first class from New York to Los Angeles and back to New York 2,065 times! How long would that take?
You could fly from New York to Los Angeles on Monday, and then fly back to NYC on Tuesday. Then do the trip again on Wednesday and Thursday. Then again on Friday and Saturday. And keep doing that every day for the next 11 years! (You should know every flight attendant in the system by that time!)
Welcome to the 31 Million Mile Club!
And what can you do with all those miles? You can fly First Class from the United States to Thailand 213 times, or First Class to Europe 248 times, or First Class to Hawaii 258 times!
Enjoy the trips!
Obviously, the man who has 31 million miles flies a lot! He insisted that he spends his miles: if one of his employees gets married, he uses the miles to pay for their honeymoon! That’s nice, but still. 31 million??
I’ve had two mileage runs messed up by bad weather in Chicago in the last month-and-a-half. I’ve even posted messages warning about problems in Chicago. Now I realize I did not follow my own advice.
I go to Frankfurt in March. Instead of flying direct to Chicago, I’ll go to Dallas and then Orange County, California. After a short layover I then fly to Chicago and have only a 50-minute layover to catch my Frankfurt flight. What was I thinking? A short layover at O’Hare in March?
I can only hope that there are no weather problems. I’ll need to talk to the American Airlines people in Orange County. If they say there are problems and I will miss that connection, then I’ll have to see what other options are available. This may turn into another trip to Seattle, but I hope not!
Hopefully it will be a cold and clear day with normal flight operations.
I’ve been doing mileage runs (MR) since 2005, but my next one will be my first international MR. On Friday, February 8, I fly American Airlines to Dallas, then connect to Frankfurt. I’ll arrive in Frankfurt on Saturday morning, have a three-hour layover, then connect on Finnair to Helsinki, Finland! I arrive at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and am there until 7:30 Sunday morning.
I’ve done a lot of research on Helsinki. It has a relatively small compact downtown area, and the bars and restaurants stay open until three or four in the morning. So, no hotels for me, I’ll be sightseeing, shopping, eating, and probably drinking a beer or two.
At 5 o’clock Sunday morning I’m on a bus back to the airport. I take Finnair to Paris at 7:30, have a two-hour layover, then fly American back to DFW. I should be home by 7:30 Sunday evening.
I’ll earn over 26K miles for the trip. so it will be worth it!
The miles have posted for my weekend trip for St. Louis. My Platinum bonus posted, so I got double miles for the trip. But, due to the bad weather, I did not get the trip I paid for. What will the airline do about that?
I called Customer Service and explained that I had paid to go to Tulsa and Chicago, but had to take an “involuntary reroute” due to weather. Since I did not get the trip that I had paid for, what would the airline do for me?
“Involuntary reroute” is the magic phrase when talking to American Airlines customer service, one that helps get action.
They put me on hold, then came back and said that they could not give me a refund, but could give me miles for flying to Tulsa and Chicago. Since the miles were what I wanted in the first place, that was good enough for me!
Next trip is February 8, Helsinki, Finland!
I did my first mileage run of the year today. This was the big one that would give me enough miles to qualify for American Airlines Platinum status. With this, I will get double miles on all AA flights until February 2009!
My itinerary today was, as always, odd. This would be a pure mileage run with no time to leave the airport. Austin to Dallas to St. Louis to Tulsa to Chicago and back to Austin. Leave Austin at 8:35 a.m., get back in around midnight.
With this being an all-day trip, I planned to eat lunch in St. Louis and dinner in Chicago.
The Austin-DFW flight went okay until we landed. The plane taxied to the terminal but stopped a few hundred feet away. The pilot announced that another plane was sitting at our gate blocking us; once it finished loading and departed, we would pull up to the terminal. “We should be there in ten minutes or so.”
Thirty-five minutes later the other aircraft finally cleared the terminal and we were able to arrive. The bad news was that we had spent so long sitting there that I had no time to visit the Admiral’s Club for a while, I had to get to the other terminal as quickly as I could to connect to my St. Louis flight.
We arrived in St. Louis on time, I ate lunch, and went to the Admiral’s Club. I logged onto the American Airlines website and saw that my itinerary had changed, it showed me flying from St. Louis directly back to Austin. What happened to Tulsa and Chicago?
Then my cell phone rang. It was American Airlines operations in Tulsa calling to tell me that there was a problem with my trip. As the agent tried to explain the situation to me I was paged by the Admiral’s Club staff. The agent told me to speak to them, they could help me best.
The AC staff explained that Chicago was having bad weather that was causing problems throughout the system. As a result of this, they could get me to Tulsa, but with no guarantee that I could get to Chicago. If not, I would have to spend the night in Tulsa at my expense.
If they could get me to Chicago, there was no guarantee that they could get me back to Austin. I could spend the night at a hotel at my expense, or try to sleep at O’Hare. They knew they could get me home Sunday, but did not know what time.
It looked like I did not have many options in this situation. I agreed to head back to Austin.
An hour later I was on a direct flight back and was home by 6 p.m.
I was not able to complete my full agenda, but I did qualify for Platinum status, giving me double miles for all my future flights. When all was said and done I got home safely. Mission accomplished.
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.