Archive for August, 2011
This has been a good year for me. After flying less than 25,000 miles last year and losing Platinum status with American Airlines, I am in very good shape to requalify for it this year. Why is that important to me? With Platinum status I’ll earn double AAdvantage miles on all of my trips through February 2013 rather than the 25% bonus I have been earning while Gold.
I need to earn 50,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) to become Platinum again; I am currently at 41,174 EQMs, leaving me 8,826 miles short of my goal. My next two mileage runs, both scheduled for September, will put me over that line.
The first trip is Austin to DFW to Portland to Seattle to Chicago to Austin. I’ll fly out early Saturday morning and return late that evening. I’ll spend the whole day in the air or in a terminal, there will not be enough time for me to go into town at any of these locations. I’ll earn 5,315 EQMs, leaving me 3,511 short of my goal. Since I have Gold status for this trip, I’ll only earn 25% bonus miles for a total of 6,643. The ticket cost $264, so I am paying 3.97 cents per mile. That’s not bad for a Gold flight. If I was Platinum I’d earn 10,630 miles at 2.48 cents per mile.
There is an interesting story to how I found that route. I used AA.com to look for a round trip flight to Portland. This was one of the itineraries that came up. According to the AAdvantage computer this is a round trip flight to Portland, coming home via Seattle and Chicago.
My second mileage run is Austin to Chicago to Seattle to Chicago and back to Austin. Once again, I’ll spend the entire day in a terminal or in the air. I’ll leave early Saturday morning and be back that evening. I’ll earn 5,398 EQMs for this trip, giving me 51,187 miles for the year and Platinum status. My cost for this ticket is a bit higher, $280.80. I’ll earn 25% bonus miles for the flights to Chicago and Seattle, but will pass the 50,000 EQM mark on the flight between Seattle and Chicago, so I will earn double miles for those two flights. So, I’ll earn a total of 8,771 miles at a cost of 3.19 cents per mile. If I was Platinum for the entire flight I’d pay 2.6 cents per mile.
I’ll pay more than three cents per mile on both of these trips. Normally I’d say that is not a great deal. But by investing that money now I’ll have Platinum status and earn double miles on all flights through February 2013. Given that, I’m happy with what I am paying for these trips.
It’s late August, almost two-thirds of the way through the year, and a good time to look at my numbers for the year, and also review future plans.
These are my numbers for 2011 listed on AA.com:
- YTD Elite Qualifying Points: 19,131
- YTD Elite Qualifying Miles: 41,174
- YTD Elite Qualifying Segments: 37
- Miles Towards Elite Upgrades: 22,743
- Program to Date Miles: 1,018,631
- Total Available Award Mileage: 88,631
Some of these numbers are important to me, some not.
My Elite Qualifying Points don’t matter. I need to earn 50,000 to reach Platinum status, so I need 30,000 more points. Since I usually fly with a discounted ticket that only earns half a point per mile, I need to fly more than 60,000 miles in the 4 remaining months to earn Platinum based on points. That is not going to happen, so I don’t pay much attention to this number.
The important one for me is YTD Elite Qualifying Miles. I only need 8,826 more miles to reach 50K and earn Platinum status. That’s a big deal to me!
Elite Qualifying Segments: some qualify for elite status by flying a lot of segments. I need 23 more flight segments to earn Platinum. That won’t happen.
Miles Towards Elite Upgrades: I’ll earn four additional upgrades when I reach 30,000 miles for the year, That is within reach, I only need to fly 7,257 miles to reach that goal.
Program to Date Miles: it’s exciting to see that I have passed the one million mile mark. I’ll have Gold status for the lifetime of that program. My new goal is lifetime Platinum at 2,000,000 miles; I need to earn another 981,369 miles to reach that goal, it’s so far off that I can’t worry about it at this time.
I have 88,000 miles in the account that I can use for travel. That’s a good starting point for next year.
My goal for the rest of the year is to earn Platinum Status, the quickest way for me to do that is by flying an additional 8.826 miles. That’s a reasonable number that I can reach with two mileage runs. Now I need to find those trips and book them.
Our San Diego trip was nearing its conclusion.
On our last morning in town we met some friends for brunch at a restaurant near the convention center, which is located downtown, next to the shoreline..
After brunch we said good-bye to our friends and drove to the airport. We returned our rental car, checked in and got the good news that we had been upgraded to First Class for the flight to DFW, then went to the Admirals Club to relax.
We boarded the flight; as always I enjoyed being in First Class. An hour after take-off dinner was served. I had baked ravioli with shrimp cocktail and a salad.
Our flight to DFW was the kind I like — totally uneventful. We landed at DFW and changed terminals for our flight to Austin.
One of the people on our flight was Earl Campbell, winner of the 1977 Heisman Trophy after his senior year at the University of Texas, NFL Rookie of the Year, NFL Most Valuable Player, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Earl is not doing well these days, having a variety of health issues. In fact, he was taken aboard the plane in a wheel chair. That was sad for me to see, I will always remember Earl as one of the most dominant running backs that I have ever seen; I have not seen anyone who could equal his combination of speed and bruising power. This video shows the Earl Campbell I will remember.
We had a smooth flight back to Austin; our friend picked us up at the airport and were home by 10 p.m. It had been a fun trip but as always, it was good to be back home.
It was our last full day in San Diego; my wife and I had with nothing planned for the afternoon, but wanted to get out and see some of the local sights. We looked at a tourist map and saw that the Cabrillo National Monument looked like a short drive from where we were staying in the Point Loma section of San Diego. So, we decided to visit.
I found the monument on my GPS and left the hotel for what appeared to be short drive but wasn’t. On a straight line, the monument was not that far from where we were; unfortunately, there were no roads that followed that straight line, so we had to drive a little bit farther than expected, but it was worth it.
As you approach the monument you have to drive through a small US Navy base. Google Maps identifies it as US Space & Naval Warfare Systems. After that you drive through the beautiful Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where thousands of service members are at eternal rest on a hillside, looking out upon San Diego Harbor.
After you pass through the cemetery you arrive at the entrance to the Cabrillo National Monument. The area is a national park, you will have to pay $5 per car to enter.
The park celebrates Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who, in 1542, stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. It’s located at the end of a piece of land pointing out to sea, some 600 feet above sea level, with magnificent views of San Diego, its harbor, and the Pacific.
A monument to Cabrillo dominates the site.
At one time there was a working lighthouse in the park, but it was replaced in the late 1800s. While it seemed a good idea to put a lighthouse in the park they soon found there was a problem: it was too high above sea level. It worked great on a clear night, but if it was foggy it would be lost in the fog, too high to be seen by ships in the area. So, it was eventually replaced by another lighthouse that was closer to sea level.
Being from Texas we expected warm weather during our time in San Diego, but the temperature never rose past the low 70s. At Cabrillo Point we were several hundred feet up, surrounded by the ocean, with very high winds. We found it to be so cold that we bought hot chocolate to warm up. At that point we realized it was time to leave.
We got in the car and drove to the area known as Old Town. The website gives a great description of the area: “Old Town San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California. San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization.”
Old Town has some small museums, gift shops, and several Mexican restaurants.
Old Town actually has two areas: the older historical area, and an area of restaurants lining both sides of the street nearby. We walked through the restaurant area and quickly realized we were tired and hungry. We chose the Café Coyote: our meal was very good but we actually enjoyed getting off our feet even more.
After the meal we returned to our hotel and called it a night. We’d return to Texas the next day.