Posts tagged AAdvantage miles
It was time for another mileage run to San Francisco (SFO) this weekend as I try to earn as many bonus miles as I can during the special January promotion period. This is my fourth tip to SFO this month.
The trip got off to a nice start: I spent the night at the Hilton Hotel at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. You may recall from a previous post that I had gotten a great rate, $23 a night and had paid for it in advance; my confirmation letter stated the rate was non-changeable, non-cancellable, and non-refundable. Given those stringent limitations it surprised me last Wednesday when I got a reminder email from Hilton that showed the rate to be $118. I called Hilton guest services, explained the situation, and told them that if it turns out the original rate was a mistake and they were not going to honor it, I understood that, mistakes happen, all I ask is that they refund my pre-payment. They called the hotel and found that it was indeed a mistake but the hotel would honor it. So, I was able to spend the night there, eat breakfast at the hotel, and then take their van to the terminal.
Everything was uneventful. I spent some time in the Admirals Club, then boarded my 8:40 a.m. flight to DFW. Shortly after they closed the door, as I was getting ready to turn off my cell phone, it rang, I was getting a call from American Airlines flight status update. (This is a free service and is one of the best features American offers, you’d be foolish to not sign up for it whenever you fly on AA.) The update was not a good one — my flight from DFW to SFO had been cancelled. What do I do now?
I called the AAdvantage Platinum desk and explained the situation: they said they could get me to SFO on a later flight, but would not be able to get me back to Austin that evening. Since AA is also offering bonus miles to Los Angeles, I asked if they could send me there instead. The representative put me on hold — unfortunately I never found out her answer as I had to turn off the phone before she got back on the line.
If passengers has still been boarding my DFW flight I might have been able to get off, but once they closed the door I was stuck on that plane. I didn’t think that was too bad a deal — DFW offered me many more flight options than AUS did so maybe I’d be able to salvage the day after all.
When I got to DFW I turned my phone back on and had a call from AA, (this one from a person and not a computer!) telling me to call the Platinum desk. My experience in situations like this is that it is better to go to the Admirals Club and get face-to-face help from the AAngels who work there — they have always provided exceptional customer service.
I checked in at the club and explained my situation to one of the ladies behind the counter and was surprised by her response, she told me to call the AAdvantage Platinum desk to see what they could do for me. I was surprised because I had always gotten such great service from the staff at the clubs before — I’m not sure why this happened this time.
I called the Platinum desk and found there was not much they could do for me other than book me on an earlier flight back to Austin. I asked if I would be able to get credit for the SFO flights that I would miss, all they could do was tell me to call AAdvantage Customer Service which would not open for another 20 minutes. So, I did just that.
Customer Service told me that I would get the credit but I would need to wait until the next day when my DFW flights posted.
With that knowledge I went back to the ladies in the Admirals Club, making sure I did not get the one who did not help me earlier. This time I spoke with a lady who was most helpful and booked me on an Austin flight that would leave in 45 minutes. I took that and was back in AUS by 1 p.m.
I stopped off at the Admirals Club, when I walked in the door the AAngels behind the desk said, “What are you doing here, you’re supposed to be flying!” I explained what happened and one of them said she could not believe she had let me get on a flight that morning when the next flight had been cancelled. She looked up the flight information on her computer and saw the cancellation had come through at 8:23 a.m., a half hour after I had left the club. She told me I should not have a problem getting my miles for the missed flights, all I needed to do was call AA Customer Service and tell them I had taken a trip in vain. That’s AA’s legal language for someone starting a trip but not being able to complete it due to a problem with an AA flight.
It turns out I was very lucky that I did not make it to SFO. My return flight was scheduled to depart at 1:40 p.m. but did not leave until 7:31, almost six hours late. It landed at DFW after midnight, long after the last flight to AUS had departed. If I had been on that flight I would have spent the night at DFW and hoped to get an early AUS flight the next morning. I guess things work out for the best after all.
Getting my miles
The miles for my DFW flights posted on Monday. When I saw them I called AAdvantage customer service and told them I had traveled in vain and requested the miles for the SFO flights. They agreed to give them to me and said they would post the next day. I checked on Tuesday and saw I had only received miles for the DFW-SFO flight but not for the return. I called again, the lady promised to submit the miles and said they would appear the next day. As I write this it’s two days later and I still have not received the miles.
I’ll call again today and if I don’t get the miles I’ll write to them on the website. I had a similar situation a few years ago when I did not receive the miles for a red-eye from Seattle to DFW. After several failed attempts at submitting my miles, they changed my flight number to an earlier SEA-DFW flight and that worked. Perhaps the same thing is happening here. I’ll let you know what happens.
Update: I spoke to AA customer service on Thursday, the representative confirmed that my miles had not posted, said she would resubmit and would also monitor the situation and take further action it they don’t post by Friday. Today is Friday, I just checked, and the miles are still not there. I’ll give them until Monday to see if they can get it right this time.
Final Update: A week went by and I still had not received the miles for the SFO-DFW flight. I decided that I needed to elevate this to the supervisory level, so I called AAdvantage customer service again and spoke to a supervisor. I explained the situation and he immediately said, “I’m sorry you had the problem, this is an easy fix and I’ll take care of it.” His solution was to modify the record to show that I made the SFO-DFW flight on Monday rather than Sunday. He explained that the computer had looked at my Sunday itinerary and apparently decided it was not possible for me to have been on that flight, so it refused to accept that entry and give me credit for it. (It would have been nice if the computer had given an immediate error message to the ladies who tried to help me, they might have been able to solve the problem more rapidly.) He changed the date to Monday and said the miles would post the following morning. I thanked him for that and sure enough, the miles had posted the next morning. So, I received (finally!) full credit for a trip to San Francisco and back.
Saturday morning and time for my first mileage run of 2012. As I explained in my previous post, the first leg of my trip would be on Jet Blue, nonstop from Austin to San Francisco. After that I’d take American Airlines to Los Angeles and then nonstop to Austin. I was doing this trip to take advantage of the triple miles bonus that AA was offering.
I arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at 6:30 giving me plenty of time to check-in for my 8 a.m. flight. Since my first flight was on Jet Blue I expected to have a normal boarding pass and not a Priority Access pass that I get on American, meaning that I would have to wait on the security line rather than going to the front as I normally do. The only thing I did not know was where I was supposed to go to check in.
My itinerary on AA.com listed the Jet Blue flight, so I first tried to check in at one of the American self-serve kiosks. That did not work, I got an error message telling me that it was unable to process my request. So, I went to Jet Blue and tried to check in at their self-service kiosk. Jet Blue had sent me an email confirmation that had a bar code on it which it said I could scan to check in. I tried that, no luck, it did not work. So I tried to check in manually; I thought I was making progress, it asked for my full name, date of birth and gender, the standard information for TSA, but when I completed that I got a message that I would need to check in at the counter. Fortunately the line was short and I quickly got my boarding pass for the Jet Blue flight, but not for the AA flights.
I cleared security and then had time for a quick stop at the Admirals Club where they gave me my AA boarding passes, and then went to the gate to board. This would be my first flight on Jet Blue. I boarded the plane, an Airbus A-320 and was immediately impressed. We had leather seats and each seat had a TV screen with Direct TV and Sirius/XM radio.
I was even more impressed when I sat down and felt how comfortable the seat was. While it did not have as much legroom as I get while in an exit row seat on AA, there was definitely more legroom than a regular coach seat on American Airlines has.
The captain did one thing that I thought was very nice. Every flight features the captain welcoming the passengers, saying how much he and the airline appreciate us, and giving information about the flight. We got that on this flight, but the captain actually stood at the front of the passenger compartment where we could see him rather than speaking from a closed cockpit as normally happens. Do all Jet Blue pilots do this, or was this his idea? I don’t know, but I thought it was a nice touch.
The four hour flight to San Francisco went smoothly. Jet Blue served beverages and a snack (cookies). I decided not to order one of the meal packages.
We arrived on time at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 1. I had flown out of SFO in the past and did not remember a modern terminal. They have done a major redesign since I was there: I don’t know if Terminal 1 was an old terminal that had been renovated or was new, but either way, it felt like a brand new terminal. And it did not cause one of my met peeves — they actually had clocks in the terminal!
My American Airlines flight to LAX would depart from Terminal 2, so I followed the signs that would take me to that terminal. I was disappointed to find that although I did not have to go outside to change terminals, I did have to leave the secure area and would have to go through security again in Terminal 2. Fortunately my next flight was on AA and my boarding pass said Priority AAccess which would allow me to go to the front of the security check-in line.
They have done a nice job with the terminals, even putting artwork on display.
After a long walk I eventually made it to the far end of Terminal 2 where gates 50-59 were located. I quickly cleared security and as I was putting my shoes back on I looked up and saw something that I had never before seen at an airport — a Yoga Room.
Terminal 2 was recently renovated and is now home to American Airlines and Virgin America.
The first thing I wanted to do was eat lunch. I went to the food area and was not impressed with the selections. Really what I wanted was something like a Chili’s where I was familiar with the menu, or a seafood restaurant like those at Sea-Tac. I found neither. There was a sushi bar, a burger joint (named The Burger Joint :-)) It turns out that the airport has a high standard when choosing restaurants and, “The airport expects its food and beverage tenants to provide sustainable food to the greatest extent possible.” I suspect that requirement would stop many food chains from having a location at SFO. (You can read more about SFO’s high environmental standards at this page.) I eventually found a Mexican restaurant where I ordered a burrito.
When I finished I went to the Admirals Club. On the way I found that SFO has a special location where people can refill their water bottles.
In addition to the water refill station, the terminal had one thing that more and more terminals are adding — locations where passengers can plug in their laptops, tablets, or phones to recharge.
In keeping with the modern feel of the terminal, they had some modern seats.
It was also easy to tell the time in Terminal 2.
I went to the Admirals Club where I was able to use one of their computers to check my email and also charge my iPhone while waiting for my next flight.
After resting for a while I made my way to the departure gate where I boarded the 737-800 for my flight to Los Angeles. As soon as I boarded I knew this would be a special flight — this would be my first opportunity to fly on a plane with Boeing’s new Sky Interior.
Boeing developed the Sky Interior for the 787 Dreamliner and has made it an option on the 737. So far it has delivered over 200 of these new aircraft to airlines around the world. There are several things that make the Sky Interior special.
The first thing you notice when you board is the LED lighting and the new design of the overhead luggage bins.
Amazingly, although the luggage bins are larger than they are on older planes, there is actually more headroom beneath them than on a standard 737.
Boeing gave a lot of thought to the panel directly above the passengers and used a new design.
There is an old joke about doing something that seems obvious. “If we were able land man on the Moon in 1969, why did we have to wait another 25 years for someone to put wheels on our luggage?” Moving the flight attendant call button away from the light switches is like that, it is such an obvious thing to do that I wondered why it had not been done sooner.
We took off for our short flight to LAX. I had a window seat, the middle seat was empty, and it turned out that the gentleman in the aisle seat was from the Dallas area and was also doing a mileage run take advantage of the triple miles bonus American was offering. He was also supposed to fly on my DFW-SFO flight that was cancelled. Whey they offered him the chance to fly on Monday he did something I should have done — he called the AAdvantage Platinum desk and got a much higher level of customer service than I got. They ended up booking him on a DFW to Chicago to San Francisco route which actually earned him more miles than his DFW-SFO flight would have given him.
He and I had a nice talk, it turns he is also on FlyerTalk and is making the trip several times in January as I am. When I took my camera out of my bag he laughed, we even had the same camera!
We landed on time at LAX: I had enough time to go to the Admirals Club, relax for a while and watch the NFL playoffs on TV, and then board my flight to Austin where something unusual happened.
When a plane lands and pulls up to the terminal the crew makes an announcement, “Please remain seated with your seats belts buckled until the plane has come to a complete stop at the terminal.” Immediately after that we hear a “ding” and the lights come on, telling us we can get out of our seats. But that did not happen on this flight.
We landed on time in Austin, pulled up to the terminal and heard the announcement, but the bright lights did not come on. Very odd. After a minute or so I saw the pilot had left the cockpit and was talking to someone as we remained in our seats. And then I saw why. Two Austin police officers came on board the plane, told a passenger in First Class to get up, and then escorted him off the plane. I found out that this passenger had been very loud, used bad language, and when the passenger behind him asked him to quiet down he shoved him back into his seat. But he didn’t shove him by pushing on his shoulder — he pushed on the man’s face. And that is how you get the police to take you off a plane.
I was surprised the next morning to see that the miles for my AA flights had already posted, that used to take 2-3 days. That afternoon I called AAdvantage customer service, told them about the flight cancellation and asked for the miles that I did not get due to my “involuntary reroute” after they cancelled my flight. The representative took a few moments to verify what had happened and even told me why the DFW-SFO flight had been cancelled — the aircraft had been damaged in a bird strike. It may seem hard to believe that a bird can damage a multimillion dollar aircraft that weighs many tons, but it can. Do you remember the US Air flight that landed in the Hudson River a few years ago? That plane was damaged after it flew through a flock of geese. He agreed to give me my miles and said they would post the next day.
So, I got all the base miles for my trip (the bonus miles will take 6-8 weeks to post), had the chance to fly Jet Blue and a new AA 737, and got home on time. All in all, it was a good day. My first January mileage run was complete, leaving me four more for the month.
In just a few short days it will be January 1. On that day my Elite Qualifying Mileage for the year will drop to zero. But it won’t stay there long!
American Airlines is running two promotions at this time: double Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) on all flights until January 31, and double EQMs and double Redeemable Miles (RDMs) on flights between DFW and San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX) through March 31.
The important thing for me is that these promotions will piggy-back on each other, giving me the chance to earn triple EQMs and triple RDMs on some of my flights — that is too good a deal to pass up! So, to take advantage of these promotions I have booked five mileage runs in January and two in February. Here is how those will work for me.
January: four flights AUS-DFW-SFO-DFW-AUS
Base mileage is 3,928. I’ll get double EQMs for the entire flight, giving me 7,856. I’ll then get double mileage again for the DFW-SFO flights. That’s 1,464 each way, giving me an additional 2,928 EQMs. Add that up and I’ll earn 10,784 EQMs for each flight. I already earn double RDMs for my Platinum status, so that gives me 7,856 plus double for the DFW-SFO flights, giving me the same total of 10,784. So, with these four flights I will earn 43,136 EQMs and RDMs.
January: one flight AUS-DFW-SFO-LAX-AUS
I was a little bit too quick with the purchase button on this one, buying it before I realized that the return flight went through LAX instead of DFW, which means I won’t earn as many miles on this flight as I did on the others. Base mileage is 3,706 times 2 gives me 7,412 EQMs. I’ll get double miles for the DFW-SFO flight, so that is an additional 1,464 EQMs for a total of 8,876. Again, I already earn double RDMs for my Platinum status, so that gives me the same 7,412 plus 1,464 for the same total of 8,876.
Total mileage at the end of January: 52,012 EQMs and RDMs
February: one flight AUS-DFW-SFO-DFW-AUS
Only one promotion is in effect in February, so I will not earn as many miles as I did in January. Base mileage for this trip is 3,928 plus the DFW-SFO bonus of 1,464×2 = 2,928 + 3,928 for a total of 6,856 EQMs. I earn double RDMS for my Platinum status so I’ll have 7,856 miles plus 2,928 for a total of 10,784.
February: one flight AUS-DFW-LAX-DFW-AUS
Base mileage is 3,470, plus double for the DFW-LAX segments gives me another 2,470 for a total of 5,940 EQMs. My Platinum status gives me double RDMs 6,940 plus the extra mileage to/from LAX of 2,470 for a total of 9,410 RDMs
Total for February: 12,796 EQMs and 20,194 RDMs.
My year to date totals after these 7 flights: 64,808 EQMs and 72,206 RDMs.*
That total will put me closer to Executive Platinum in February 2012 than I was to Platinum in February 2011. I may never have this chance again to go for EXP, so that will be my goal for the year. I’ll need another 35,192 EQMs to make it.
But that isn’t all that will happen for me in January and February. I signed up for a Hilton promotion that will give me 40,000 bonus points for 4 stays before March 31. Then I saw a note on Twitter about a mistaken room rate at the Hilton at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport of $20 per night. I actually waited a day before I booked this, but finally did and ended up with 4 one-night stays for a total of $93. For that price I’ll earn almost 45,000 Hilton points.
When I spend another $1,000 on my new Chase Sapphire Card I’ll earn 50,000 Ultimate Reward points than can transfer into Hyatt points at a 1:1 ratio. Given what I already have, I’ll soon have almost 60,000 Hyatt points.
All of these miles and all of these points at two different hotel programs (in addition to the 47K Starwood points I already have) give me great flexibility on arranging our next vacation. Once the miles/points have all gone into my accounts, I’ll be able to start the search.
Where will we go? Bali, Fiji, Maui are a few locations that quickly come to mind. Once I have the points in hand I’ll be able to see what is available and what we can afford. I do know one thing for certain: the search will be fun!
*Mileage figures come from the Flying Fish application. American Airlines measurement of the miles will be approximately the same, but no more than 20 miles difference for each flight.
I wrote earlier about American Airlines offering double elite qualifying miles (EQMs) and double miles to the west coast through March 31. That is a great deal. Now they have made it even better.
I received an email announcing that they are offering double EQMs on all flights from December 13 to January 31. This includes tickets that were bought before this bonus was announced, all I have to do is register. That is too good a deal to pass up!
With the holidays and all, my schedule for the rest of December is pretty full so I won’t be able to fly in December. Instead, I’ll need to load up in January. I looked at some flights to Europe and saw that AA now has the oddest pricing I have ever seen. I can fly to Frankfurt for $148 one way! Fabulous! But the return flight costs $319. Still not bad, But by the time they have finished adding all the fees and fuel surcharges, the trip that started with a $148 fare costs $885. So, even with double EQMs that was not an option for me.
So, I looked at doing additional trips from DFW to either Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO). I was already earning double EQMs on those trips in January and February. With the new promotion I’d earn triple EQMs on any trip in January. That’s too good a deal to pass up.
In late October when the first promotion was announced, I booked one trip to SFO on January 14, I paid almost $300 for that trip. But now that they have the second promotion, the price has dropped to $220. So, I booked it for January 15, (yes, I am flying to SFO two days in a row) and then another trip on January 29.
If my math is correct, I’ll earn 10,784 EQMs for each of those trips, for a total of 32,352.
I have two trips in February, one to LAX and one to SFO. Since the newest promotion will have ended I’ll get double rather than triple EQMs. I’ll earn 6,856 EQMs for the SFO flight, and 5,940 for the trip to LAX, for a total of 12,796 EQMs. Combine that with my January flights and I’ll have 45,148 by the end of February. Not bad for flying slightly more than 16,000 miles! I will also have earned more than 55,000 redeemable miles. (RDMs).
In 2011 I did not reach 45,000 EQMs until August, so I’ll be way ahead of the curve to start 2012.
My goal for the year has always been to maintain Platinum status; that requires 50,000 EQMs. If I do one more trip to SFO in March before the promotion expires, I’ll hit that goal. Then what do I do?
I can say “I’m Platinum!” and stop flying for the rest of the year, but I doubt I will do that.
I can keep flying for the rest of the year, building up as many RDMs as possible. Or, I can set my goal on reaching Executive Platinum status, which requires 100,000 EQMs. Normally I wouldn’t even consider that, but with the fast start to the year that the bonuses are giving me, I think I’d be foolish to not try. The chances of me having this many miles so early in the year again are pretty slim, I need to go for it while I can.
So, I’ll look for some deals in January. I looked at FlyerTalk and saw one person had found a good deal on a trip from New York to Hong Kong, spend 8 hours at the airport and then fly back. That’s a bit extreme for my tastes, but if I can find a good enough deal, I just might take AAdvantage of it. I’ll let you know what I find.
Last week American Airlines launched one of the best double-miles bonus programs that I have seen in quite a while.
You can read the full details here, but here are the key points:
- American is offering double elite qualifying miles AND double flight miles on flights between DFW and San Francisco or Los Angeles, and flights between Chicago and San Francisco or Los Angeles.
- The bonuses will be awarded on flights between now and March 31, 2012
- This bonus is only available to residents of Texas, Illinois, and California.
The thing that jumped out at me is that the bonus runs until the end of March next year. That means I can front load my year with several of these flights in the first few months and get off to a very quick start on earning Platinum status again next year.
I’ve booked AUS-DFW-SFO-DFW-AUS for the middle of January. Here is how the numbers work out for me.
The ticket cost $311. Without the bonus, I’d earn 3,928 EQMs and 7,856 miles at 3.96 cents per mile, not a very good deal.
With the bonus I’ll earn double miles between DFW and SFO, so I can add an additional 2,928 miles to the trip, giving me 10,784 miles at 2.88 cents per mile. That’s okay; not great, but okay.
The most important thing to me however is the double EQMs that I will earn between DFW and SFO. That will raise my EQMs for the trip to 6,856. If I do that trip three times, I’ll earn almost 9,000 bonus EQMs. That’s a great start towards my goal of 50,000 for the year.
I looked at some other routes. From a mileage standpoint the longest flight I can make is AUS-ORD-LAX-ORD-AUS, but I can’t get that to work without spending the night in the Los Angeles airport. So I tried the same trip but with San Francisco as the destination and found a good schedule that would get me home that same day, but the ticket would cost $510, making it impractical.
So, I have booked one of these trips and will look to book at least two more. I not only look forward to the miles, but also look forward to seeing the new American Airlines terminal at SFO that opened last year. I won’t be able to leave the airport during this trip, but will try to make that work on my subsequent bookings.
On another note, I saw a great bonus from Citi for the American Airlines credit card, a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus. That was the good news, The bad news is that it is only available to people who do not currently have a Citi American Airlines card as I do. Here is a link to the offer if you are interested.
I had two mileage runs left for the year; this was the first of the two. While my itinerary said this would be a trip to Portland and back, my route was actually much stranger. Austin to Dallas to Portland, and then the trip home; Portland to Seattle to Chicago to Austin. I’d fly out at approximately 8 a.m. and land back in Austin at midnight.
I’ve said many times that one of the best features that American Airlines offers is the flight notification service. Give AA your cell phone number and you’ll get a call two hours before departure to let you know if the flight will be on time, and which terminal and gate it will depart from. On several occasions I’ve been at the terminal and the flight was moved to another gate or cancelled; I’ve received the call from the flight notification system before the gate agent has made the announcement; this made it possible for me to avoid the rush once the other passengers get the word.
A few years ago I was in Chicago with tickets for a noon flight the next day. The notification service called me at 9 o’clock the night before to let me know that my flight had been cancelled. Less than an hour later it called again to let me know which flight I had been rebooked on. This was a great service.
Where am I going with all this? I’m trying to put into context what happened to me on this trip.
My flight to DFW was scheduled to depart at 7:50 a.m., so I went to bed the night before expecting a call at 5:50 a.m.
At 2:15 in the morning my phone rang, waking me and my wife. In our household a call in the middle of the night never means anything good; someone has been arrested, has been in an accident, or has died. I staggered out of bed and ran across the room to answer the phone but did not get to it before it went to voice mail.
I looked at the screen and saw that the call had come from American Airlines. Since my flight would not leave for another five-and-a-half hours, there had to be a major problem for me to get the call so far in advance. I waited for my voice-mail notification. Finally it came on and I quickly entered my password to hear the message. MY flight schedule had indeed changed and I was glad to get the advance notification until I heard what it was: My 7:50 a.m. departure had been changed to 8:00 a.m.
Come on American! You call me in the middle of the night, five-and-a-half hours before departure to let me know my flight would be leaving ten minutes later? I could understand that if the flight had been cancelled, and might even understand if it had been changed to ten minutes earlier, but not ten minutes later. Tell me about the change once I get to the terminal, and I won’t even notice it. Even better, have us board for a 7:50 departure and hold us for ten minutes… But don’t call in the middle of the night to let me know about such an inconsequential change.
And that was the start of the trip.
I got to the airport just after 6:30, cleared security and went up to the Admirals Club. I walked in and the AAngel behind the desk immediately greeted me by name! I was amazed, I had not flown in almost three months but she remembered me! I was so impressed that I immediately went to the Club’s business center, visited AA.com and left a very positive comment about the AAngel.
Shortly after that it was time to go to my 7:50 flight that was now scheduled for 8:00. I got to the gate and saw they were already boarding Group 3! I quickly boarded and went to my seat. A few moments later the pilot announced “Everyone is on board so we’ll leave a few minutes early.” And with that we pushed back from the gate at, wait for it, 7:50.
I had the normal quick flight to DFW where I transferred to my Portland flight. Although I only had 50 minutes for my transfer, that is not a problem at DFW. The Skylink rail can get you from any gate to any other gate at the airport in 10 minutes or less.
I boarded the plane for the flight to Portland; it was a Boeing 737-800. In years gone by that wold have been an MD-80, but American Airlines is phasing those out and thankfully replacing them with the 737.
It was an uneventful flight to Portland, I took advantage of the opportunity to both catch up on my reading and sleep.
We arrived a few minutes early at Portland and I made my way to the commuter terminal for my flight on an Alaska Airlines Q-400 to Seattle. Alaska Airlines has been very proactive in reducing its carbon footprint, increasing its recycling efforts and being a “green” airline. This plane, which they called “comfortably green” is an example of that, using less fuel and creating less pollution than the small commuter jet it replaced.
I had a short wait at the commuter terminal before boarding my flight to Seattle. I am always impressed by Alaska Airlines: on a short flight in a turboprop plane, they serve beverages including complimentary wine and beer, and give out snacks too. I can’t remember the last time I had a snack on American.
We made the trip to Seattle in less than an hour. I had almost an hour and fifteen minutes before my flight to Chicago, so I decided to visit the Alaska Air Lines Board Room.
American Airlines used to have an Admirals Club in Seattle, but it closed a few years ago. No one seemed to know if if closed due low use, or because the airport raised the rent too high. Since then there has not been a similar club at SEA that I could use. But now there is. A month ago American and Alaska announced an agreement: Admirals Club members could use the Alaska Airlines Board Rooms in Portland and Seattle as long as they were flying out on American Airlines that day.
I found the club and went to the desk to check in. I had to give the representative my Admirals Club card and my boarding pass for my departing flight. She wrote down all the relevant information, returned the items to me and wished me a pleasant day.
I went into the club; there was a stairway leading to the second floor, but I checked out the ground floor first. It was very similar to an Admirals Club; there were comfortable seats, big screen TVs, and a row of tables by the window that all had electrical outlets for charging your phone, laptop, etc. It seemed a perfect place from which I could call home, except for the sign that said the downstairs area (where I was) was the quiet area, if I wished to make a call I should go upstairs.
I decided instead to get some food. The club had a wider selections of beverages, sodas, coffees, and teas than the Admirals Club. Like the Admirals Club they offered complimentary alcoholic beverages. They also offered a wider selection of complimentary snacks, including soup, salads, and a selection of cookies and crackers. I took advantage of the food (I wasn’t going to get any food on my flight to Chicago), charged my phone, then went to my departure gate.
I got there just as they were ready to start the boarding process. The gate attendant announced that the flight was overbooked and they needed someone with flexible travel plans to volunteer to be bumped. That caught my attention! Then I heard the deal: they would put the person up overnight in a hotel near the airport, then fly them to Chicago the next morning, and would give them a $300 voucher. Three hundred dollars for a delay of more than twelve hours? As soon as I heard that I lost interest and boarded the plane.
As expected, the plane was packed. I used my time on board to read from my Kindle and take a quick nap. We arrived in Chicago on time and I made my way to the food court for dinner. I’ve been to the O’Hare food court many many times and always seem to end up at McDonald’s. I resolved not to do that this time. But when I go there I saw how little time I had and ended up getting a combo meal from McDonald’s. I ate it quickly and walked to my gate, thinking I had plenty of time.
By the time I got to the gate for my Austin flight, they were already doing final boarding! As I walked up to the gate, the gate agent greeted me by name.
“How do you know my name?” I asked.
“Simple,” he replied. “We only have two passengers who have not yet boarded, and you don’t look like a Susan.” Good one, thanks for the laugh!
We had an uneventful flight to Austin, arriving ten minutes early. I was home by 12:45 a.m.
It had been a good trip. I earned 5,315 EQMs, and a total of 6,643 miles. My ticket cost $264, so I paid 3.97 cents per mile. That’s not great, but it left me within 3,500 miles of 50,000 and Platinum status, so I was willing to pay a bit extra to earn that recognition. One mileage run left, and I’ll have Platinum status again.