Jan 21st 2012
Saturday morning and the start of a unique weekend for me — the first time I have done two mileage runs in one weekend. I had the same itinerary for each trip, Austin to DFW to San Francisco (SFO) and back. With American Airlines offering two promotions that would piggy-back on each other, I’d earn 10,784 elite qualifying miles (EQMs) and 10,784 redeemable miles (RDMs) on each trip. The trips cost $220 giving me a cost per mile of 2 cents. It’s been a long time since I have had a cost per mile as low as that.
I had a nice start to my Saturday trip, my flight from Austin would not leave until 8:40 a.m., one of the latest flights I have had. I appreciated the extra sleep that late departure provided me.
I got to the terminal and went to the security check-in line. Even with my priority access there was still a very long line, much longer than normal. I looked across the terminal to the area where Southwest has its gates and there was no one on line at the check-in. I mentioned this to the man and woman behind me, they joined me in the walk to the other end of the terminal and the very empty security line.
As we got closer I knew we had made the right decision: there was no one on line and the TSA agents were just standing around talking to each other. We walked up to the agents and one of them asked if he could help us. We replied that we wanted to go through security. He looked at us and said “We’re not open, you have to go to the other end of the terminal to check in.”
So, it’s 7:20 a.m. on Saturday morning of a three-day weekend, the airport is mobbed, Southwest has long lines of people waiting to check in, but the TSA line isn’t open yet? Not good. There was not much we could do about it so we walked back across the terminal and got back on line. We were eventually able to clear security and after a short Admirals Club visit I boarded the plane for the flight to DFW.
This video starts with the Austin skyline in the distance. At the 1:40 mark you’ll see where construction has started on Austin’s Formula 1 race track. At 2:40 we zoom in for a view of downtown Austin. The people behind me were traveling with a small dog, if you listen carefully you may hear it whimpering in the background.
I had a smooth flight to DFW where I had a short layover and had to quickly change terminals and go to my departure gate without visiting the Admirals Club. This would be a day of short layovers, I’d have barely one hour at SFO before I would fly back to DFW on the same plane that took me to SFO.
This flight was on a 737 that I hoped would have the new Sky Interior that I had the week before but I was out of luck, it was a standard 737. I didn’t see an empty seat in coach, there were either a lot of people flying to San Francisco or the plane was full of other mileage runners.
We arrived in SFO on time and I went to the Admirals Club to meet a friend from Twitter who also does mileage runs — he and I had traded messages for over a year but had never had the chance to meet face to face. He had taken an earlier flight from DFW to SFO, so we were finally able to meet on this day.
We sat down in the lounge at the Admirals Club, he told me that he had spoken with several other mileage runners who were in the Club — apparently a lot of people were taking advantage of the triple miles bonus.
He had applied for an upgrade for the flight and been approved, I had not yet heard about my upgrade. Since I had barely an hour to spare before the flight would depart I gave up on the upgrade and grabbed a quick bite to eat in the club. Shortly after I finished eating it was time to get on the plane.
I was standing on line, waiting for them to allow Platinum members to board when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see who it was and was glad to see it was the guy who sat next to me on the flight from SFO to LAX a week earlier. We laughed at the coincidence of us meeting again and then boarded the plane.
We walked through First Class and saw where my friend was sitting, talking to the lady in the seat next to him. I recognized her as a mileage runner from Austin — it’s a small world.
We had a beautiful view of the harbor when we took off an a crystal clear afternoon.
We had a smooth flight to DFW where I had a two-and-a-half hour wait for my flight to Austin. I used the American Airlines app on my phone to check schedules and saw there was an Austin flight leaving in 40 minutes, maybe they’d have room for me.
I took the SkyLink to Terminal A and got to the gate before boarding had begun. I gave my boarding pass to the gate agent who told me she could not only get me on the plane but could give me an exit row seat. Perfect!
As we were waiting to board I spoke with the lady from Austin who had been on my flight from SFO: she was doing 11 trips to SFO in January and would have Executive Platinum status by the end of the month! She also said she had several hundred thousand unused miles in her account and wished she had time to use them for a vacation.
I boarded and went to my window seat. Shortly thereafter a husband and wife sat down next to me, After we took off the husband asked if I was doing a mileage run; he and his wife were both doing one. The husband explained that they had never done this before but a coworker told him about the mileage bonus, he ran the numbers and decided it was worth it for them to do. He explained that they had taken two vacations last year, one to Budapest, Hungary, the other to Seoul, South Korea, and with all that flying only earned Gold status on American. Now they could fly to SFO several times, spend less money than they did the year before and make Executive Platinum. He said that was too good a deal to pass up.
We landed on time in Austin and I was home by 9:15, a good time since I had to be up by 3:30 the next morning for my 6 a.m. Sunday flight.
I was up early and arrived at the airport shortly after 5. I must say I had never seen the airport so empty. So few people were flying that there were only two other people going through TSA security at the same time as me. The agent said it was the middle day of three-day weekend — those days area always slow.
I spent a few moments at the Admirals Club then boarded my flight to DFW. As we were coming in on final approach at DFW, I got nice view of the sunrise.
I got off the plane and had enough time to change terminals, visit the Admirals Club to get a cup of coffee to go (which I could not do because they did not have any to-go cups!) and then made my way to the gate where they were just starting the boarding process.
The gate agent took my boarding pass and tried to scan it but it would not go. After three tries she said, “I know what’s going on, your upgrade to First Class came through!” That was great news!
I boarded and went to my seat: I had a window seat in the first row. That meant I had the bulkhead in front of me and no seatback in which to put my items, but it also meant I had even more legroom, so this was a good deal for me.
We took off and shortly after that they served breakfast.
I was glad to get the meal, and glad that I was able to fall asleep shortly thereafter — I slept almost all the way to San Francisco.
I had a three-hour layover before my return flight to DFW, and spent most of my time in the Admirals Club. I looked for someone I might recognize from my previous flights but did not see anyone.
Once it was time to board my flight I saw plenty of mileage runners. The guy in front of me gave me his agenda: fly to SFO and back Friday-Saturday-Sunday and Monday of this week, do it again next week, then Saturday and Sunday the week after and that would give him ExecPlat. That’s a lot of flying but he was at least getting some time off this weekend to go to Las Vegas. As he was talking to me someone poked me on the shoulder — it was my friend who sat next to me last week and was also on my Saturday flight. That game me three departures from SFO and he was on my flight each time.
The inbound flight had arrived on time but took a very long time to empty, which meant we boarded and departed late, ten minutes late to be exact. I was concerned about this, I had a very short layover at DFW and might miss my connecting flight.
We made up a little bit of time on the flight, but still landed late. As I got off the plane I looked at my boarding pass — it had the time when my AUS flight would begin boarding, and that was five minutes ago! I ran to the SkyLink to change terminals and had some good luck as I was waiting: I got a call from AA flight status letting me know that departure of my AUS flight would be delayed 10 minutes — great news!
I got to the gate on time, boarded, and enjoyed the quick flight to Austin. We landed no time and I was home before 9:30.
It had been a good weekend. I had no major problems with my flights, got home safely and earned more than 21,000 EQMs and RDMs, putting me over 30,000 miles by the middle of January. For me, that is an extraordinary total! I have three more flight in January, then two in February and should be less then 25.000 miles from ExecPlat at that time. It promises to be an exciting year!
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