Archive for January, 2011
My flight from New York landed in Boston on time and I looked forward to eating lunch; other than some snacks I had put in my bag I had not eaten since I left the house 10 hours earlier. As I got off the plane I realized how cold it was; I could see my breath as I walked up the jetway.
I took a few moments to enjoy the view of a snow covered Boston Logan International Airport.
I went to the food court, none of the options held much appeal to me, so I settled for pizza and spaghetti. I took my time eating — I had plenty of time until I had to board the flight to Chicago.
When I finished eating I went to the restroom. It was 3:15, my boarding pass said I still had twenty minutes to spare until they started boarding my 4:05 flight, so I had plenty of time. As I left the restroom I heard the announcement to board First Class for my flight. Board my flight? The flight would not leave for another 50 minutes and they had already started the boarding process? Ridiculous!
I ran towards the gate; naturally it was at the other end of the terminal. By the time I arrived they were already boarding Group 3. My boarding pass said “Priority AAccess,” one of the benefits of elite status. This let me go to the front of the line to board. I quickly went to my seat and stowed my gear. The plane was one of the new Boeing 737s American is getting to replace their aging fleet of MD-80s. I had an aisle seat near the front of the plane; there were three of us in the row but the row in front of us was empty. As soon as they closed the door I moved into that empty row and had it all to myself. That extra space came in handy — I slept almost all the way to Chicago.
We arrived on time in Chicago; I grabbed a bite to eat and then went to the Admirals Club to watch football and call home.
The flight back to Austin was a smooth one on a 737; I had the exit row to myself. We landed on time and I was home less than an hour later.
It had been a long day, but I got home safely and that is always the most important thing. I also earned 7,700 AAdvantage miles. It was a good day!
January 15, time for my first mileage run of the year.
This would be a pure mileage run — no going into town this day, I’d spend all my time in the air or at an airport.
I’ll leave Austin at 6 a.m. then fly to Dallas/Fort Worth, New York LaGuardia, Boston, Chicago, and then return to Austin, landing at 10:45 p.m. My biggest concern on this trip was the weather; mid-January is not the best time to fly to the Northeast or Chicago, heavy snowstorms had disrupted travel during the Christmas holiday season and a blizzard had hit Boston earlier in the week. Fortunately, the forecast called for good weather on the day of my flights, and all airports were operating normally.
I woke up early and drove to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, arriving at 4:45 a.m. It had been raining all night and the rain continued on my drive to the airport. I parked in the lot and took the bus to the terminal; normally there are other people on the bus with me but not this morning. The driver remarked that it had been a very slow morning for him. When we got to the terminal I saw that he was right, almost no lines the counters and a very short line for the security check-in.
I got my boarding passes, cleared security, spent some time at the Admirals Club and then went down to board my first flight of the day. This was a bad news – good news – bad news flight.
Bad news: American Airlines flight 708 would take me from Austin to DFW to New York LaGuardia (LGA). If I had one flight take me to DFW and then another to LGA I’d get bonus miles for the AUS-DFW segment (fly 183 miles but earn 500). Since it was one flight number all the way to LGA AA would give me credit for a direct AUS-LGA flight and I’d loose those bonus miles.
Good news: I’d be able to relax on the flight, taking one plane all the way to New York without having to change planes at DFW.
Bad news: No I wouldn’t. Instead of taking one plane to LGA I’d have to change planes and terminals at DFW. To me, that makes it two different flights and not one, but I guess the airline looks at it differently.
We took off on time and had a smooth flight to DFW, arriving at terminal A.
I took the SklyLink shuttle to Terminal C and had a very short wait before we took off for LGA on a new plane, but with the same crew. Almost all of my flights last year were very crowded but that was not the case today; both flights were less than half full and I had a row all to myself. I had a window seat and hoped for good weather and good photo opportunities in New York.
After a smooth flight we made our approach into New York. If you are ever on a flight from the south to LGA be sure to sit on the left side of the plane, the view is worth it as the plane flies over New York Harbor and then up the East River, providing a wonderful view of lower Manhattan.
We landed a few minutes early and I had time to go to the Admirals Club and call home to let my wife know I had arrived safely.
After a short rest I went to board my Boston flight. During my first flight they had announced that the Boston flight would depart from Gate C-1 so I headed that way. And that is when the silliness started.
I had arrived at gate D-1. My flight to Boston would be on American Eagle which departs from the C terminal. Unfortunately, that meant I would have to leave one terminal and then clear security again to reach my gate at the next terminal.
So, I walked down to the C terminal; just before I got to the check-in I put my keys, cell phone, pocket change, etc in my carry-on bag, and then cleared security without any problem.
I got to gate C-1 for my 1:45 departure and saw that they were waiting to board a flight to Montreal with a 1:25 departure. Twenty minutes would not normally be enough time for one plane to leave the gate and another to arrive so I asked the gate attendant. He told me that I was at the right place.
Then I remembered to get my cell phone out of my carry-on; I looked and saw I had missed a call from the American Airlines flight update service. I listened to their message, it said my flight would depart from gate D-0. That wasn’t good, I’d have to go back to the D terminal and clear security if that was correct. I found a monitor that listed departures and sure enough, it said D-0 was my gate.
I went back to C-1 and told this to the attendant, he again told me that the Boston flight would be at that gate.
Then my phone rang. It was American Airlines calling again to say the flight was at D-0. I ended that call and my phone rang again, American Airlines calling to tell me my flight would depart from gate C-1A. C-A? Where was that? I started to look and my phone rang again, this time to say that my flight would depart from C-1. Three calls in less than three minutes, but it appeared that they finally got it right.
I looked out the window at the tarmac and saw the American Eagle plane at C-1, then I saw a bus pull up next to it. Once it arrived they announced the departure of the Montreal flight. Instead of going down the jetway to the plane, those passengers went down a stairway and boarded the bus. Once it departed they announced the Boston flight (with the sign at the gate still listing Montreal as the destination) and we boarded.
Our aircraft was an Embraer ERJ-135 (ER3), a small plane with two seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other. The good news was that it was a jet and would get us to Boston quickly. We departed on time and had a smooth 34 minute flight to Boston. I had an 85 minute layover in Boston and looked forward to being able to eat for the first time since I left home.
To be continued
2011 is upon us. I hope this will be a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year for you all!
Since it is a new year, I found horribly depressing numbers when I logged onto aa.com today: my year-to-date elite qualifying miles, elite qualifying points, and elite qualifying segments all show the same value – zero. On a positive note however, I now have more than 900,000 lifetime miles, so I can start the countdown to 1,000,000 lifetime miles and lifetime Gold status!
I had major surgery in January last year and was not able to do my first mileage run until April 17; that put me in a deep hole that I could not dig out of. I hope to do better this year. I did not earn Platinum status last year so I will drop to Gold status on March 1; until then I am Platinum and want to take advantage of the double mile bonus that I will earn. I’ve booked four mileage runs for January/February. I’ll leave early Saturday morning and return late Saturday night on all of them.
- Austin – D/FW – New York Laguardia – Boston – Chicago -Austin
- Austin – D/FW – Portland – Seattle – D/FW – Austin
- Austin – San Jose – Austin
- Austin – DFW – San Francisco – DFW – Austin
I booked the first one a few months ago. It has its good points and bad. On the positive side, I’ll earn 7,730 miles for less than three cents per mile. Unfortunately, there are several negatives to the trip. The first is the possibility of bad weather disrupting the trip. I can’t believe I booked a mid-January trip to New York, Boston, and Chicago; all three of those cities are subject to winter storms, I hope we don’t see a horrible storm hit like the late December storm that paralyzed much of the East Coast.
The second negative is that I will fly from Austin to New York on AA flight 708. Since it is the same flight number from Austin to LaGuardia, I only get credit for an AUS-LGA flight, 1,520 EQMs. If I had one flight number to DFW and then another one to LGA, I’d earn 1,889 EQMs. The difference is the bonus miles that I would earn between Austin and FW; although it is a 183 mile flight I earn 500 EQMs. Since I am on the same flight all the way to LGA I don’t get the bonus for having a flight of less than 500 miles.
And the final negative is that I will go through three of America’s great cities: New York, Boston, and Chicago, but will not have a chance to leave the airport and see these great cities. Oh well, at least I will earn the miles.
I’ll earn more than 9,500 miles on my second trip, again for less than three cents per mile. I’ll fly on American from Austin to DFW and then Portland. I’ll fly Alaska Air’s commuter airline, Horizon Air, from Portland to Seattle, and then come home on American. I’ll have two segments that are less then 500 miles each (AUS-DFW and PDX-SEA) so I’ll earn the bonus miles for those flights. The two flights combine for 312 miles, but I’ll earn 500 for each for a total of 1,000. I’ll have enough time for a meal in Seattle, but will not leave the airport on this trip.
The third trip is in February on Alaska Airlines. They had a special fare, Austin to San Jose for $59 each way. My total fare was $150, I’ll earn 5,904 miles at 2.54 cents per mile. Thankfully, I’ll earn AAdvantage miles on these Alaska flights.
I’m looking forward to this one, I’ll have an 8-hour layover in San Jose, which will give me time to leave the airport and go into town. I’ll visit some websites to see what I’ll have time to do. I may visit Stanford University, I may spend all my time in San Jose itself. If you have any suggestions for places to go or good restaurants in the San Jose area, please let me know.
Final trip takes me to San Francisco. American is offering double miles and double EQMs for flights between DFW and Los Angeles and San Francisco as it counters Virgin America’s new service from DFW to those cities. With the bonus, I’ll earn almost 11,000 miles on this mileage run.
With these four trips I’ll earn more than 18,400 elite qualifying miles, and almost 34,000; that is a great way to start the year! I’ll need another 31,600 EQMs to get my Platinum status back. I was able to do that two years ago when American and other airlines offered double EQMs for several months, something that they did not do in 2010. I hope they will do that again in 2011!
It’s January, let the mileage runs begin!