Posts tagged AAdvantage miles
The new year has started, American Airlines shows that I have 0 miles, 0 segments, so it’s time for me to get started on the 2014 mileage runs.
The first comes later this month, the longest in time and distance that I have ever done, a five day trip to Johannesburg, South Africa!
FlyerTalk has listed discount rates to Johannesburg since last October, I finally had the time and money to take advantage of those fares.
I managed to book the following itinerary for my friend and I:
- We’ll leave Austin on an American Airlines MD 80 at 6:10 p.m., arriving at DFW at 7:20 p.m.
- At 8:20 we’ll board an American Airlines 777-200 for the flight to London Heathrow, arriving at 11:20 the next morning. Then we’ll have one of the worst layovers you can have: almost six hours. That’s long enough to be inconvenient, but not long enough to leave the airport and go into town.
- At 6 p.m. we’ll board a British Airways 747-400. for the 11 hour flight to Johannesburg, arriving at 7 a.m. the next morning.
I’m Executive Platinum, so I am hopeful of an upgrade on the AA flights. However, the BA 11 hour flight, will be in coach. We’ll arrive at Johannesburg at 7 a.m. and will take their light rail (built for World Cup a few years ago) to the main business district of Johannesburg, called Sandton. We have hotel reservations at a property just a few blocks from Nelson Mandela Square. They probably will not let us check in that early, but hopefully they will be able to watch our luggage.
At noon, we’ll board our tour bus for our trip to the local Lion Park. I’m looking forward to this, something that I can check off my bucket list.
We’ll get back to the hotel that evening, look for a place for dinner, then call it a night.
The next day we’ll take the hop-on hop-off bus tour of Johannesburg.
After a full day in Johannesburg we’ll head home.
- At 8:15 p.m. we’ll board a British Airways A-380, the world’s largest commercial aircraft, for the 11 hour flight to London, arriving the next morning at 5:10 a.m.
- At 9:45 a.m. we board an American Airlines 777-300 ER for the flight to DFW. I’m looking forward to this, this is AA’s most modern aircraft.
- We’ll arrive at DFW at 2:05 p.m., clear customs, and, at 4:30, take an AA MD-80 to Austin, arriving at 5:30 p.m. We will have been gone for five days.
Is it worth it? The ticket cost $1,215.00. I’ll earn 21,742 Elite Qualifying Miles, and 42,848 redeemable miles, at a cost of 2.79 cents per mile. Is that great? No. But lately, any flight under 3 cents per mile from Austin is a good deal. The 21,742 EQMs will give me a good jump on my elite qualifying for the year, and the 42,000 redeemable miles is a huge number. So yes, it’s worth it.
Johannesburg the sequel
Exactly one month later my friend and I will be heading back to Johannesburg. Our itinerary is completely different.
We’ll leave Austin at 8 p.m. on a British Airways non-stop flight to London on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This is the first major international flight from Ausitn-Bergstrom International Airport, and will start just a few weeks before our trip. I’m extremely excited to be able to fly on the Dreamliner, which I first saw almost two years ago when it made its first trip to DFW Airport.
We’ll arrive at London at 10 a.m. and then have an 8-hour layover. I think that will be enough time to get into town, eat a meal, and then get back to Heathrow on time for our 6 p.m. departure on a Airbus A-380-800. We’ll arrive JNB at 7 a.m.
What will we do during this trip? I don’t know, I haven’t made plans yet, Hopefully we’ll get some good ideas during our first JNB trip.
We’ll spend one night in JNB, flying out at 9:45 p.m the next night. on a 747-400 to LHR, arriving 6:45 Tuesday morning. Another long layover — we’ll take the BA 787 back to Austin, leaving LHR at 12:35 p.m. arriving AUS at 6 p.m.
Is it worth it? The ticket costs $1,165.00. I’ll earn 21,072 EQMs and 42,144 RDMs at a cost of 2.76 cents per mile. As I said, anything less than 3 cents per mile has been very difficult to find lately from Austin, so I am happy with this rate.
By the time the miles have posted from both flights, I’ll have 42,814 EQMs, making it almost certain that I will earn Platinum Status this year, and making EXP a reasonable goal. I’ll have earned almost 85,000 redeemable miles: with what I have in my account that will almost cover our first Business Class ticket to Bali for November 2015.
These are long trips, but I have always wanted to go to Africa. The visit to the Lion Safari will let me check off one more box from my bucket list. I’ll also be able to fly on the 777-300 ER, the A-380, and the 787 Dreamliner. I have wanted to fly on all three of those so that is another positive. (If that doesn’t prove that I am an aviation geek, what does?”
So, in answer to the “is it worth it” question, I reply with an emphatic YES! Trip reports to follow.
Disclaimer: I own stock in American Airlines and Boeing.
The main reason I do all of my mileage runs is to earn enough miles to travel internationally in the great luxury of either First Class or Business Class, a trip I could otherwise not afford.
My goal has been to accumulate enough miles to purchase two Business Class tickets to Bali, Indonesia, returning to the place where we had such a wonderful vacation two years ago. Each ticket required 110,000 AAdvantage miles. When we made the trip two years ago we flew on AA from Austin to Los Angeles, Cathay Pacific from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, and then Cathay to Bali. (Trip Report)
As soon as my AAdvantage account hit 220,000 miles I called the American Airlines Executive Platinum desk and told them I wanted to reserve three business class seats to Bali in November of this year. (Three seats: my wife and I, and our good friend. He had the miles in his account to pay for his seat.) I wanted to reserve the seats, put them on hold for five days so that we could give it some thought, be sure it was the itinerary we wanted. and then make the purchase.
As I said, I called AA, explained what I wanted, the customer service rep (CSR) looked and told me there was no availability for the dates I wanted. Things can change, I was calling 10 months in advance, maybe something would open up soon.
I called back a few days later and was told there was no availability.
I called back a few days later and was again told there was no availability.
I called back a few days later and this time the CSR checked 37 consecutive days and found no availability.
I waited almost a week, called back, and was again told there was no availability. This time the CSR suggested I call back twice a week for the next four months, maybe something would open up. She put the blame on Cathay Pacific, saying they offered very few award seats.
Needless to say, I was not happy with this. Then I remembered an article I had read on the wonderful Million Mile Secrets blog. Darius and his wife run the blog (and travel around the world in First Class at no cost), I had met them at a Chicago frequent flyers seminar and seemed to remember that he had written an article about how to find Cathay availability when told there was none. I looked around his site for a little while and soon found what I was looking for.
His system involves using the British Airways website to find seats that American Airlines apparently did not know about. I suggest you read his article to get the full story. (Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability Using the British Airways Website)
So, pen and paper in hand, I started my hunt. We wanted to get to Bali, spend 13 nights, and wanted to make the trip in November. Using Darius’ suggestions, I found an itinerary in less than 90 minutes.
I wrote down all the details, called the AA EXP desk, and asked if there was availability on the specific dates I needed. The answer, of course, was no.
So I asked the CSR, “Can you book us on this flight from Austin to DFW?” Yes she could.
“Great, can you get us on this flight from DFW to Hong Kong.” Yes, she could.
And this continued. Each time I gave her a flight number, she was able to find awards seats for us. In very little time, our itinerary was complete.
- Austin to DFW, First Class, MD-80 on American Airlines
- DFW to Hong Kong, Business Class, Boeing 777-300 ER on American Airlines. (DFW-HKG is a new AA route that will launch in June, and will be the longest flight the airline offers)
- Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, Business Class, Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300
- Kuala Lumpur to Bali, Business Class, Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 ER
And the return trip:
- Bali to Singapore, Business Class, Qatar Airways, Boeing 777-300 ER. (After visiting the Qatar Airways website and seeing the service they offer, I wish I was on a longer flight than three hours!)
- Singapore to Hong Kong, Business Class, Cathay Pacific, Boeing 777-200 ER
- Hong Kong to DFW, Business Class, American Airlines, Boeing 777-300 ER.
- DFW to Austin, First Class, American Airlines, Boeing MD-80.
And there it is, our trip to Bali on dates when AA said there was no availability. As you’ll see later on, this would not be the first time that we got incorrect information when calling AA.
First Class on the flights to and from Austin on AA really does not matter, we’ll only be in the air for 32 minutes.
Business Class on the AA 777-300 ER from DFW to HKG will be very nice: lie-flat seats, aisle access from each seat, only four seats across in each aisle. (more details). The flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur on Cathay’s Airbus A-330 will offer similar comfort.
The Malaysia Airlines 777-200 will not be as nice. Seating is a 2-3-2 configuration, which means we will not have lie flat seats: they will be nicer than coach, but not really luxury seating as the earlier flights are.
The Qatar Airlines 777-300 ER offers six across seating (2-2-2), but lie-flat seats and highly acclaimed customer service in the air.
The Cathay 777-200 from Singapore to Hong Kong offers similar service to the Malaysia Airlines flight. Nice, but not luxury.
We’ll then take the wonderful AA-777 300ER from HKG to DFW and then the MD-80 back to Austin.
We had what we wanted. Until a problem came up.
I had made a reservation for three of us. My friend called the AA Platinum desk and tried to use his miles to pay for his seat, and was told that wince the reservation was in my name, only I could pay with miles; the representative suggested he transfer the miles to me so that I could use them.
This was a BAD idea. It costs money to transfer miles, and takes several days for the transaction to process. (I don’t know why this is, the system is computer automated, it is not run by someone sitting in a basement with a pad and pencil, it should go through very quickly.) My friend pointed out that the several day wait did not work, the seats were only on hold for another four days and the miles would not transfer in time. The rep’s reply was “We’ll make a note of that.”
We’ll make a note of that? That’s another bad answer from AA customer service.
I called the EXP desk to see if they could do any better, and thankfully, they could. The CSR was able to put my friend on a separate locator so that he could use his miles, while keeping him on the same flights as I had reserved. A good answer from an AA CSR. Yaay! And yes, I sent a note to customer service at AA.com thanking her for her wonderful service.
So, my friend used his miles, I used mine, and we now have our confirmed reservations for our dream trip to Bali in November. It’s a unique itinerary: eight flights on four airlines — one North American, two Asian, and one Middle Eastern.
And we made it happen when AA incorrectly told us there was no availability, and the only way for my friend to get his seat was to transfer miles to me,
We’re looking forward to the trip. Many thanks to Darius at Million Mile Secrets for providing a way for me to find our route.
Disclaimer: I own stock in both American Airlines and Boeing.
My goal for a large part of this year has been to earn Executive Platinum Status with American Airlines. To do that I would need to earn at least 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, (EQMs), something I would normally not be able to do. But this year is different, I’ve earned me double or triple EQMs on virtually every flight I have taken, allowing me to accumulate miles much faster than I normally would.
I started the weekend with almost 94K EQMs. I’ve had several years in which I have flown 50-60 thousand miles and earned that many EQMs; so I have never before had an EQM total as high as this.
I had booked one more trip to San Francisco (SFO) to take advantage of the double EQMs between Dallas and SFO. This trip will give me 11 SFO trips so fat this year. I like San Francisco, but not that much!
MY last two mileage runs (SFO and Portland) had enough of a layover that I was able to leave the airport and go into town. This would not be one of those, my longest layover was 1 hour 10 minutes, at SFO. This was a get-out-there and then get-back type of trip.
I boarded the 6:30 a.m. American Airlines flight from AUS to DFW. As I was checking my email I got a message from another FlyerTalk user, Mike, who told me he was on my all of my flights today and we could meet at DFW. Sounded like a good idea! We described what we were wearing so we’d recognize each other. We had a smooth flight to DFW, arriving a few minutes early, something all of my flights would do this day!
I met Mike when I deplaned and he offered to take me to the United Airlines Club in Terminal E. That sounded like a great idea, I had never been in a United Club, so I looked forward to it. We would not be able to stay long though, our layover was little more than an hour.
I wondered how the club would compare with American Airlines’ Admirals Club and the answer is a definitive “better and worse.” Each club offers a place to rest and get away from the normal terminal noise and congestion, so that is a draw. The AC however has a much more luxurious feel to it (this might be different if I was visiting a different United Club, such as the one at O’Hare, for example.). The chairs and sofas at the Admirals Club look much nicer, more modern, more comfortable. The chairs I saw at the United Club did not look like chairs I would want to sit in for several hours.
The one place where the United Club excelled was in the food selection. Their self-serve area offered cereal, muffins, bread, bagels (with a toaster!) and a coffee machine that not only offered regular and decaf, it also offered espressos and cappuccinos. Can I get these items at the Admirals Club? Maybe, but if they offer them they are not out in the self-serve area where I can just grab them and go. So, this advantage goes to the United Club.
After a short visit we made our way to the gate for our flight to SFO. The plane was one of my favorites, a 767, and I had a window seat in the exit row. Bad move on my part.
While the flight could not have gone better, I have to say I have never been as cold on a plane as I was on this flight. I have sat in window seats in the exit row dozens of times and not had any issues with it, but there was something different about this one. I just could not get warm. Maybe it was because it was a 767? Maybe we were at a higher altitude? I don’t know, but I was so glad when we landed at SFO and I could get away from that uncomfortably cold seat.
I took Mike to the beautiful SFP Admirals Club, and have to admit I actually stood for a short while in front of their fireplace, trying to warm up. Hot tea helped a lot!
While we were in the AC, we met another FlyerTalk member from Austin who was also on our flights. He was excited, with the flight that day he would earn Platinum status.
The AC was very relaxing. so much so that we lost track of time. The other Austin flyer came up to us saying we had to run if we wanted to catch our flight back to DFW. We told him that couldn’t be, we still had another hour. “Really? Well enjoy yourselves, my flight is getting ready to leave!” I looked at my watch, which was still on Austin time, and realized he was right.
The three of us ran to the gate where they were already boarding Group 3. Fortunately, my First Class upgrade came through and I had a much more comfortable flight back to DFW than I had had earlier in the day.
We had a smooth flight to DFW. landing 10 minutes early. I had an easy connection to my Austin flight which also landed early, and I was home by 8 p.m., much better than some of my earlier trips this year when I did not get home until almost midnight.
This was a totally uneventful mileage run, I didn’t even take any pictures. Great service by American Airlines, which went four for four. I had four flights and every one of them arrived early.
The following day my miles for the flight posted, giving me 97,078 EQMs for the year. Now I just had to wait for my bonus miles for the SFO-DFW flights.
Two days later I had to let my dogs out at three o’clock in the morning: while they were busy outside I picked up my iPhone, visited the AA application, and saw the following.
I had 100,006 EQMs and had earned Executive Platinum status!
I called the Executive Platinum desk that morning, they had already submitted my wife and I for upgrades to First Class for our Chicago trip later this month. Later this year we will fly to Asia on Cathay Pacific business class. Normally that would allow us to use Cathay’s business class lounge in Hong Kong — with EXP status we will be able to use the First Class lounge, and American’s Flagship Lounge in Los Angeles. So, we will get some benefits from my new status. For a detailed description of Executive Platinum status. you can read AA’s brochure with all the details.
I’ve made a lot of trips this year, it’s time for me to spend some time at home. I’ll do some more mileage runs, I just don’t know when.
Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines. The total value of my holdings is less than $90.
Yes it’s true! American Airlines announced today that the double Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) promotion is back!
Well, actually it never really went away. It was scheduled to expire on March 31 — they’ve extended that to June 30. That will allow more than enough time for me to earn enough miles to reach Executive Platinum status!
The plan basically remains the same: earn double EQMs and double redeemable miles on flights between DFW and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), and also on flights between Chicago O’Hare and LAX, SFO, and an addition, Orange County, (SNA) California. Oddly, the bonus to SNA is only from ORD and not from DFW.
For all the details, visit the AA promotion page.
I have two mileage runs currently scheduled, one to SFO later this month that will earn double EQMs, and one in April to Portland that will not, but because of the odd routing (to Portland via DFW and Seattle) I’ll still earn more than 5,000 EQMs.
Two more SFO trips by June 30 and I will reach Executive Platinum. Barely, by my math I’ll have 100,011 miles, but more than 100,000 is more than 100,000.
This is an awful lot of flying for me early in the year, but it makes no sense for me to get this close to EXP and not go for it. I’ll fly fewer miles this year to make EXP than I did last year to make Platinum. This would not have happened without AA’s promotions, so to AA I send a huge THANK YOU!
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!
As January drew to a close I had two more mileage runs to complete: one on the last Sunday of the month, the other on Tuesday, the last day of the month and the last day of the triple EQM promotion. Although the two trips had the same itinerary, they could not have been more dissimilar.
I had the same itinerary for each trip: depart Austin at 7 a.m., have 1 hour 15 minutes to make my connection at DFW, have 1 hour 10 minutes at San Francisco (SFO), then 40 minutes on one day, 90 minutes on the other at DFW before taking my Austin flight home. At least that was the plan.
Sunday Mileage Run
My Sunday trip precisely followed that schedule. I boarded on time, the plane was less than half full so I was able to get a window seat and get a nice view of downtown Austin when we did our dawn departure. Once we got up in the air we had a nice view of downtown Austin and the Texas Capitol building.
We had a smooth flight to DFW where I easily made my connection for the flight to SFO. Even though this was the last weekend of the triple EQM promotion, the flight had plenty of empty seats; the middle seat in my row was empty, as it was in almost every other row. That made it easier for me to get some sleep and also catch up on my reading. The in-flight movie was one I wanted to see, Moneyball, but I decided not to watch, preferring instead to get the DVD and watch it at home on my big-screen TV.
We arrived at SFO ten minutes early which gave me enough time to go to the Admirals Club, get a bite to eat, meet and chat with some other mileage runners, and then board the same plane and sit in the same seat for the return flight to DFW. I had put my name on the list for an upgrade to first, but there were so many Executive Platinums on the plane that I didn’t come close, I was #19 for the upgrade.
While there were a a lot of empty seat on the inbound flight, the outbound flight was packed, no empty seats in coach or first class. That becomes a major problem if you have to use the rest room. There are almost 180 seats in coach on the 737, but only two lavatories at the rear of the plane. It was not unusual to see 5-10 people standing in the aisle waiting to go to the bathroom. This creates a problem for the people who are leaving the lavatory to get back to their seat: the aisle is narrow enough as it, it’s even worse when you have to try to pass a dozen other passengers. And I imagine it is annoying to the people in the aisle seats in the last few rows to constantly have someone standing next to them waiting for their turn in the lavatory.
Even with all that, it was a smooth flight back to DFW. I had a very short wait until my AUS flight but that was okay, I arrived at gate 35 and would depart from gate 31. Even with the very short amount of time to walk from one gate to another, I still arrived at the gate after they had started to board.
I took my seat for the very short flight back to Austin. I passed on the complimentary beverage they offered and instead finished my bottle of water. Some pilots will announce in advance that the plane is about to begin its descent, that gives the passengers time to use the rest room if needed. But on a DFW-AUS flight where we are only in the air for 34 minutes, the pilots normally do not make that announcement and that was true in this case. Unfortunately, I did not use the rest room while we were in the air and, as we descended over Central Texas I looked forward to our arrival at the gate so I could rush to the men’s room. Little did I know that this would be a Murphy’s Law flight (if anything can go wrong it will go wrong).
By the time we landed on time I was even more anxious for us to get to the gate. But I soon noticed something was wrong, we were taxiing very slowly. Why7 Then I noticed that we were approaching the terminal from a different taxiway, not the one we normally use to get to the American Airlines gates. In fact, we pulled up at the far end of the terminal from AA’s gates and came to a stop. What was going on?
After a moment or two the pilot announced that due to a mechanical problem no AA gate was available for us but they were working on it and we should be at the terminal in 10-15 minutes. Ten to fifteen minutes??? Oh no, I need to use the restroom now!
The seat-belt light was still on so I could not get up and use the restroom on the plane. I knew from past experience that the crew would not allow anyone to get up and walk to the restroom before we arrived at the terminal, so all I could do was sit, very uncomfortably, and wait for us to get to our gate which we did ten minutes later.
As the plane emptied I wished I had a seat near the front of coach and not in the exit row, aisle 21. Eventually everyone ahead of me managed to wrestle their overstuffed bags out of the luggage bin and get off the plane. As soon as it was time for me to get off I literally ran off the plane to the men’s room that was opposite our gate. Lessons learned on this flight: use the restroom on the plane when you can, particularly if you have been drinking water all day as I had done, and take advantage of a seat near the front of the plane if possible.
Tuesday Mileage Run
Two days later I was back in the air for my sixth and final mileage run of January. My itinerary, other than the longer wait at DFW in the evening, was identical to the Sunday trip.
We departed Austin and arrived at DFW on time. My phone rang shortly after we landed, it was an American Airlines flight status update telling me my flight would depart on time at 9:15 a.m. I took the SkyLink to terminal D and was sorry to see my gate was not near the Admirals Club. I made my way to the gate and saw a notice that the flight was delayed and would not depart until 10 a.m. This surprised me because the flight status update normally lets me know of delays but not this time. So, I walked back to the Admirals club where I had time to drink a cup of coffee and eat some fruit.
I spoke to the AAngel behind the counter, she explained that the flight was delayed due to early morning fog in San Francisco; rather than having us take off on time only to circle the area, wasting fuel while waiting for the fog to burn off, they would simply delay our departure on this end. That made sense.
After a while I went back to the gate. We started to board at 9:25 and pushed back from the terminal at 10 a.m. However, the air traffic delay must have still been in effect — instead of taking off we taxied to a holding area where we sat for another 20 minutes, not taking off until 10:25 a.m.
I knew this delay would make a mess of my schedule for the day, but at least I would not miss my return flight form SFO, it would be on the same aircraft and thus could not leave before we landed.
This out bound flight was like my Sunday flight with lots of empty seats, the middle seat was empty on almost every row. We made up some time on the flight, landing at 12 noon, only 50 minutes late. If we had been on time I would have had more than one hour at SFO and might have had enough time to grab a bite to eat, but not on this trip. When I finally got off the plane I had enough time to go to the Admirals Club, use the men’s room, refill my water bottle, grab some fruit and go back to the gate whee they had already started to board the outbound flight. No food at SFO on this day, I was glad I had managed to take the fruit!
We took off at 12:55, 45 minutes behind schedule and were able to make up some time, arriving at DFW at 5:59 p.m., 25 minutes late. I got a call from AA flight status telling me that my flight would depart on time at 7:05, that barely gave me enough time to finally grab a bite to eat. I stopped at the food court, bought a meal and wolfed it down, this was not the day to take my time eating. When I finished the meal I quickly walked to the gate where they should have already started the boarding process. But when I got to the gate I saw they had not only not started to board, they didn’t even have an aircraft. What was going on?
The gate agent explained that a flight was inbound from Sacramento where there had been a weather delay but it would arrive shortly. This really annoyed me; I know the airline cannot control weather delays, but flight status should have told me the flight would be delayed, if I had known that I could have eaten at a more relaxed pace and even stopped at the Admirals Club.
The Sacramento flight eventually arrived, thankfully it was not very full and they were able to empty it quickly and allow us to board. We took off at 7:30, 25 minutes late and arrived in Austin at 8:25, again 25 minutes late. It had been a rough day — four flights and only one was on time, but I got home safely, that was the most important fact.
So January came to an end, a month in which I could ask the question “Where did I go more this month, the grocery store or San Francisco?” The correct answer was San Francisco. A week later all of standard miles and most of my bonus miles had posted to my account.
With 58,396 EQMs I had already earned Gold and Platinum status for the year, and had more EQMs than I did for all of 2011! I still had not received the bonus miles for the problem flights (my rtip on Jet Blue and the trip that ended at DFW); those should post next week. With my two additional mileage runs in February which will give me double EQMs, I should have almost 75,000 EQMs by the end of the month, putting Executive Platinum well within reach for the year. All in all, it was a busy month, but a productive one. I look forward now to taking only two trips in February.
Disclosure: I own stock in AMR, the parent company of American Airlines. As of 2/15/12, my shares are worth less than $80.