Feb 24th 2012
January was over, and with it went the end of the triple Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) promotion that American Airlines was offering. The promotion was very good for me, with only six flights to San Francisco I had already earned Platinum status for the year, a level I did not reach in 2011 until September.
While the triple EQM promotion was over, there was still a double EQM bonus on flights between DFW and San Francisco (SFO), making yet another flight there a good deal. On Saturday I made my seventh mileage run of the year, all of them to SFO without ever leaving the airport.
I arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport before sunrise; it was raining heavily and I wondered if this would affect flight operations. Thunderstorms had passed through the Austin area overnight and, according to the weather map, they were still active in the DFW area.
Fortunately, the rain did not cause any issues. We took off from Austin on time; I always find it interesting to depart when it’s raining. We taxi and take off in the rain, experience turbulence as we pass through the storm clouds, and then pass above them into clear skies and sunshine.
We arrived at DFW 10 minutes early (an impressive number when you realize we are normally in the air for only 34 minutes between AUS and DFW!). I changed terminals, got to my gate and saw that the flight would to SFO would depart 45 minutes late due to early-morning fog in the Bay area. This gave me enough time to visit the Admirals Club, check my email, and call home. I was in no particular rush, the Club was at gate 23 and my flight would depart from gate 22.
I called home, chatted with my wife, and then, 35 minutes before departure, began my short walk to the gate, As I was nearing the elevator in the Admirals Club I heard an announcement that my flight was in final boarding and they were getting ready to close the door. WTH? So I ran to the gate and even though there was still 30 minutes until departure, I was one of the last people to board. Since they had loaded the plane so early I thought we might also leave early but no such luck, even after I boarded we still sat there for another 25 minutes before we took off, 45 minutes late.
Happily, it was an uneventful flight to SFO. No turbulence, no one in the middle seat, just the kind of flight I like. We arrived at SFO 40 minutes behind schedule but that was not a problem, I still had almost two hours until my return flight to DFW. After some of the very fast turn-arounds that I had had on recent trips, I was very happy with that. I had time to relax in the Admirals Club, call home, and then browse through some of the shops in the terminal.
I had originally planned on eating lunch at the terminal, but decided not to. I saw that I was number one on the upgrade list for First Class for the return trip — with a 2:30 departure I expected to get lunch on that flight. If my upgrade did not go though, I at least had an apple and some oranges in my bag, they would hold me until I got to DFW, so I was not too concerned. I was also not too concerned about my seat in coach; the return flight was on a 757 — there are two seats at the front of coach that have no seats or bulkhead in front of them, allowing plenty of room to stretch out. I had reserved one of those seats.
When it was time to board the gate agent told me my upgrade had gone through, so I took my seat in First Class. I did note with some disappointment that the sign said they would only serve a snack in FC on that flight. A snack? That sounded like a cookie, perhaps with some fruit.
We departed SFO on time and once we reached cruising altitude the flight attendant served the bowl of warm nuts as an appetizer. Shortly thereafter it was time for the snack and I have to say I was very happy with it!
I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and appreciated the fact that I had eaten something healthier than the fast food I would get at the food court at DFW.
We had a smooth flight to DFW and actually landed 5 minutes ahead of schedule at 7:45. I had a 1 hour 40 minute layover until my Austin flight at 9:25, but remembered seeing that there was an earlier flight at 8:10, maybe I could get to it in time.
I checked the departures list and had good news and bad news: the good news was that there was a flight to Austin at 8:10, the bad news was that it had already started boarding and would depart from Terminal D — I was in Terminal A.
I ran to the SkyLink, I just missed the train, but another one would come along in 2 minutes. When it arrived I got on board along with an American Airlines pilot. By now it was 7:54. I asked him how close to departure they would still let passengers board, and said my flight was at 8:10.
“Oh, are you on the Los Angeles flight at 8:10? That’s the one I’m going to try for.”
I told him no, I was going to Austin, and as we chatted, I found our flights were at adjacent gates, I was at D-18, his was at D-17. When the train finally arrived at Terminal D the pilot and I both ran to the escalator. He was pulling his flight bag so he couldn’t keep up with me as I ran to my gate. I got there and was glad to see they had not closed the door yet. I asked if they had a seat and gave them my boarding pass for the later flight. As the gate agents were looking at it the pilot ran past our gate and one agent said, “Look at that, we not only make passengers run, we make our pilots run too.!”
They checked and saw they did have a seat for me, and I didn’t even care that it was a middle seat. I got on the plane, the last passenger, and they closed the door behind me. Less than an hour later I was back in Austin, 90 minutes earlier than planned.
It was a good trip. The delay on the outbound flight didn’t cause me much trouble, I had time to relax in San Francisco, flew back in First Class and had a nice meal,, then managed to catch an earlier flight back to Austin. With these flights my EQM total for the year passed 65,000, putting me in very good shape for Executive Platinum, with only 35,000 more EQMs to earn. I should make Exec Plat, but it sure would be nice to see another triple EQM promotion!
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