Some mileage runs go well, some do not. This was my final mileage run of 2008, and it went as well as I could possibly hope.
My flight departed Austin exactly on time at 6 a.m., the flight to Chicago O’Hare was very smooth, arriving on time at 8:30. The Chicago sky was dark and overcast, but not nearly as bad as it was when I came through in September.
Cloudy skies at O'Hare

We were greeted by overcast skies at O’Hare. This was a huge improvement over the record-setting rain I experienced on my previous flight into ORD. (click on photo for larger image)

I had a two-hour layover at O’Hare, allowing me time to visit the Admiral’s Club, have a cup of coffee, and relax.

At 10:25 I was on my way to Portland, and the flight could not have gone any smoother. I’ve come to expect turbulence as we fly over the Rockies, but there was none today. We had a spectacular view of Mount Hood as we flew by.
Mount Hood

Fortunately I was sitting on the right side of the aircraft and got this wonderful view of Mount Hood. (click on photo for larger image)

Mount Hood

We were so close to Mount Hood that some passengers were looking for climbers. (click on photo for larger image)

We landed at at Portland right on time at 12:50. I’d be returning to Chicago on the same plane, with a 1:50 departure. Since we got in on time, I at least had the chance to refill my water bottle and buy a snack for the return flight without rushing.
It was a beautiful day in Portland, the sky was bright and clear. I really wished I had enough time to go into town, but that was not to be.
Aircraft taking off at taxiing at Portland International Airport

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 takes to the sky as a Horizon Air Bombardier CRJ-700 taxis to the terminal. (click on photo for larger image)

Horizon Air plane with college colors.

It’s college football season in America: Horizon Air has painted some of its aircraft with the names and logos of the teams that play in the Pacific 10 Conference. This plane carries the colors of the Oregon State Univeristy Beavers. (click on photo for larger image)

Forty-five minutes after we landed I was back on the plane in the same seat, 20B. I joked with the flight attendant “I had so much fun on the flight from Chicago that I decided to fly back there with you!” We departed Portland on time and had a very smooth trip to O’Hare, highlighted by more spectacular scenery.
Mount Rainier and Mount St. Hellens.

Mount St. Helens is on the right, with Mount Rainier in the background. It’s late October, the mountains have more snow on them than they did during the September mileage run. (click on photo for larger image)

The only problem was that we had a strong tailwind, the pilot said it was 120 knots, and that got us into Chicago 45 minutes early. That sounds good, but they were not expecting us so soon and there was no gate for us, so we sat for 10 minutes before we pulled into the terminal.

Once we got to the terminal I rushed to the Admirals Club, hoping that they could book me on an earlier flight to Austin, but I was out of luck. As the AAngel told me (the fabulous ladies at the AC are known as AAngels) “we have some very comfortable chairs that you can sit in for the next two hours.”

With no other option, that is what I did. My Austin flight departed at 10 p.m. and arrived right on time at 12:30 a.m. I was home before 1:30.

And so, I have now completed my final mileage run for 2008. This was a good one: all my flights were on time or early, no weather problems, and I earned almost 11,000 miles for a very low cost per mile (two cents). I’ll start looking for 2009 MRs, hopefully the schedule will allow me to spend more time at my future destinations.