My Final Mileage Run of 2011

Hard to believe, but this is the story of my final mileage run of 2011.

I had several goals for the year; one of them was to requalify for Platinum Status with American Airlines. To do this I would need to earn at least 50,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) for the year. As of the middle of September I had 46,489 miles and needed only 3,511 to reach my target. I would exceed that with this mileage run.

My itinerary was fairly straight-forward. Austin to Chicago to Seattle to Chicago to Austin. I’d leave Austin early in the morning, getting back shortly before midnight. I’d spend the whole day in the air or at an airport — no time to go into town.

The day started easily enough, my first flight was at 8:30 which gave me time, by mileage run standards, to sleep in. For so many of my trips I’ve had to get to the airport at 5 a.m. for a 6 a.m. departure; on this day I would not need to get there until shortly before 7:30.

I arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International, cleared security, relaxed for a while in the Admirals Club, then boarded my flight to Chicago. Normally, I like to sit in the exit row since it gives me extra legroom, but I didn’t do that on this flight. I had a short 40-minute layover at O’Hare and wanted to get off the plane as quickly as I could, so I reserved a seat near the front of the coach section in aisle 9. It wasn’t as roomy as I’d like but I knew I’d be able to get off the plane several minutes earlier once we landed at O’Hare.

We left Austin on time and it was a delightfully uneventful flight; no turbulence, the pilot never had to turn on the seat belt sign — it was one of the smoothest flights I have had in a long time. We landed at O’Hare on time and I quickly made my way through the terminal for my next flight — no time for me to stop at the Admirals Club today!

Boarding had already begun when I got to my gate. I got on the plane and took my seat near the front, again in aisle 9. I had a short layover in Seattle and wanted to be able to get off the plane as soon as possible. We departed and once again I had an uneventful flight, at least it seemed that way until we began our descent to SeaTac. We were supposed to land at 2:10 p.m. Almost an hour before that the pilot told us to prepare for landing. He explained that we had found a strong tailwind and would land 40 minutes ahead of schedule.

That was great news, I was glad to hear it, I’d have more time on the ground in Seattle. And then I realized that might not be such a good deal.

Good news: We arrived in Seattle 40 minutes early due to a strong tailwind.

Bad news: We’d need to fly back to Chicago, into what would now be a very strong headwind. I might miss the connection to my Austin flight.

Once we landed I had enough time to visit the food court, where I watched some of the flight operations. The food court at SeaTac is one of the best places I know to watch aircraft land and take off.

After a few moment I started to walk to the gate, stopping at the bagel shop whee I got a bagel and cup of coffee to go, and then walked to the plane. I planned on eating the food before we left, but no such luck. As I got to the gate I heard the gate agent announce that they wanted to load the plane as soon as possible and depart early due to the wind conditions. So, I boarded the plane; we departed almost 15 minutes early.

I have to say the flight to Chicago was one of the most enjoyable I have had in a long time. I was back in aisle 9, sitting on the aisle, the middle seat was empty, and a man had the window seat. Once we took off and I finished my food he and I started talking and never stopped talking for the entire flight. We had some things in common (we both had served in the military and had stories to share); he was fascinated by the concept of doing mileage runs, and I was fascinated by his job with security at Tiffany Jewelers. We had a great time together and Scott, if you are reading this, thanks for the great conversation!

We landed in Chicago 15 minutes late. I had planned to eat at the food court but there was not enough time so I stopped at McDonald’s, grabbed a shake and made my way to the gate where they had already started the boarding process. I made my way to my seat on the exit row. Although my reservation was for an aisle seat there was no one else in the row so I moved over to the window and got some shots of our take off and Chicago at night.

The plane landed in Austin shortly before midnight, I was home by 12:30 a.m.

It was a good weekend. I passed the 50,000 EQM mark on the flight from Seattle to Chicago, so while I earned the 25% Gold bonus on my miles for the first two flights, I got the Platinum double mile bonus for the two flights coming home.

I flew 5,388 miles. How far is that? If I had flown from New York to Los Angeles and back to New York that would only be 4,950 miles, so, I spent a lot of time in the air. I earned 8,757 miles, that gives me 105,000 miles in my account. My ticket cost $281, I paid 3.2 cents per mile. That’s more than I would normally pay, but it was worth it to reach Platinum status which will give me double miles on all flights until February 2013. In addition, when we fly to Rome we will have access to the Flagship Lounge at JFK, and the other OneWorld lounges (British Airways) at Rome for our trip back home.

It was a good weekend. Now that I have hit my goals for 2011, it makes no sense for me to spend any more money on mileage runs for this year. I’ll spend that money instead on 2012 flights to help me earn status for that year. I look forward to doing mileage runs again next year!

Sometimes We Forget — Flying is Special

We live in a time when almost all airfares are far lower than they were ten or twenty years ago. Commercial airliners routinely fly halfway around the world non-stop. And so many people have access to air travel that we tend to take it for granted.

For some of us though, flying is special. Even though I have made so many flights over the last few years, I still get excited when I have the chance to fly again.

British Airways’ latest commercial shows us beautifully that flying was, and can still be, special.

Enjoy.

If you do not see the video, you can view on YouTube by clicking this link: British Airways’s Latest Commercial