Posts tagged Mileage Run
It was time for me to take my final mileage run of the year, another trip to Seattle. Why so many trips to SEA? Simple, SEA is the longest non-stop flight that American Airlines offers from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. If I want to go any farther than SEA I need to go beyond the lower 48 states.
I got to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport before 5 a.m, and quickly cleared security. I went to the Admirals Club and prepared for my 6 a.m. flight to DFW. But then, to my embarrassment discovered one problem; my flight was not until 7:05! I’ve always flown out at 6 a.m. and just took it for granted that I’d do it again this day and failed to look closely at my itinerary. I was surprised when the AAngel behind the counter told me “We haven’t had a Saturday 6 a.m. to DFW for more than two months.” Oops! So I had an extra hour to sit in the club.
I eventually got my flight to DFW, and was then pleased to find out that I had received an upgrade to First Class for my flight to Seattle. This meant a more comfortable seat and a meal; at least I would not be hungry once I arrived at SEA.
We departed DFW on time and soon after that it was time for breakfast. I ordered the cheese omelet, which came with potatoes, a roll, and fruit.
After the meal I slept for a an hour or so, then prepared for our arrival in Seattle. I’ve made several trips to Seattle and had great weather on some, poor weather on others. This was going to be a poor weather trip.
We landed at Sea-Tac International Airport in rain, wind, and overcast skies.
I left the terminal and took light rail to Pioneer Square, home of the Underground Seattle tour.
I took the train downtown and walked a few blocks to Pioneer Square, home of the Underground Seattle tour. I had a great time on this tour and highly recommend it. Basically, it tells the story of the founding of Seattle, the construction of buildings downtown that were flooded on a regular basis when the tide came in, and the eventual construction of retaining walls to keep the mud out, but the walls left the first floor of most buildings below ground level. You’ll get a more detailed explanation by visiting their website.
One of the more unique items we saw was one of the first toilets in Seattle.
The tour took 90 minutes and was a lot of fun. Seattle has a colorful history and the tour guides (many of whom seem to have some experience doing stand-up comedy) brought that history to life with their humor and enthusiasm. Be sure to visit Underground Seattle on your next trip to the Emerald City.
Once the tour was over I set out towards my next destination, the Flagship Store of REI. I had seen a story about this unique store on a travel show and decided it was worth visiting. I pulled out my trusty Seattle street map to get directions and quickly realized this is 2010 and it made more sense to use the GPS on my cell phone.
It took almost 30 minutes for me to walk there, not the most fun I have ever had considering the rain and the cold, but what the heck, I always try to do something unusual during a mileage run, so this was part of that.
If you are a person who loves the outdoors, a visit to this store will be like a trip to heaven. Although the store is located in town it does not feel that way; REI did a beautiful job of landscaping the property by planting trees, putting in a creek and waterfall,
The store is amazing! It’s much larger than any other REI store and obviously has a wider selection of products. They’ve installed a mountain-bike trail outside the store where you can test our your new bike, there’s a 65-foot (19.8 meter) climbing wall, and many ways for an outdoors person to get ready for their next adventure.
My next stop was Pike Place Market; I’ve stopped there on every Seattle trip I have done! After a 20-minute walk I arrived; I was cold, wet, and hungry and looked forward to sitting down, warming up, and eating. I walked past the Pike Place Fish Company: they may have fresh fish, they may have friendly staff, but they are most famous for tossing fish.
I found a French restaurant and ate crepes for dinner, then visited a brew pub and sampled some of Seattle’s freshest beers. By then I was relaxed, warm, and ready to call it a day.
I walked back to the light rail station and took the train to Sea-Tac. My flight to DFW was on one of American Airlines’ new 737s. These are really nice planes and still have that “new-plane-smell” and feel. The flight was like every other flight I have been on lately, filled to capacity.
I slept most of the way to DFW. After landing I ate breakfast at McDonalds, the only food place open at DFW at 5 a.m. When the Admirals Club opened I stopped there, took a quick shower, and relaxed, with a coffee and muffin.
My flight back to Austin was uneventful, other than the fact that we arrived 15 minutes early and the gate was not yet ready for us. After a short wait we were able to put up to the terminal and deplane. I was home by 9 a.m.
It had been another long weekend, but a fun one. I earned over 8,600 AAdvantage miles and got home safely on time. That’s all I can ask for!
Time again for another mileage run. This time I was taking advantage of an American Airlines promotion offering triple Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and triple bonus mile on flights between Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and New York LaGuardia (LGA). Triple bonus miles is a good deal; triple EQMs is hard to pass up, so I booked my flights for the last Sunday that the deal was available. It would be a simple itinerary: Austin to ORD, 2-hour layover, ORD to LGA, 2-hour layover, LGA back to ORD, 2-hour layover, and then ORD back to AUS. I’d leave at 6:20 a.m. and return at 10:25 that evening. As much as I wanted to leave LGA and go into New York City, there were no flights available that would allow me to do that, so this would be an all-day-in-the-airport schedule.
I got to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport early that morning and, after clearing security, went to the Admirals Club. I had received messages from American Airlines telling me that it was time to renew my Club membership, They gave me the chance to renew online, but I decided against that, preferring instead to renew at the Austin club. Why? Well, the AAngels at the Austin club have always treated Mrs. Happy Flier and me very well and, if I renewed at the club, they would get credit for my renewal. So, that was the first thing I wanted to do when I got to the club, renew my membership.
Unfortunately, AA had updated the Admirals Club software the night before and they were having problems with it. After 20 minutes the AAngel behind the desk gave up—the software glitch would not let her renew my account. She apologized and thanked me for trying to renew in person. I told her that I would try it again on my next trip.
After that I boarded my flight to ORD and saw something I had not seen in a very long time—an empty plane. There were no more than 15 or 20 other people on the flight. Suffice to say, AA lost money on this one.
We landed on time at ORD and I went to the Admirals Club. It was a quiet morning, the club was not crowded, and I took advantage of the time to catch up on my sleep.
Earlier this year I had flown form ORD to Boston on one of AA’s new 737-800s. They are so much nicer than the MD-80s I always fly on from AUS and I had hoped to get one for the ORD-LGA flight. However, no such luck, it was another MD-80. And, unlike my previous flight, it was completely packed.
We had a smooth flight to New York and got some great views of lower Manhattan as we came over Brooklyn and the East River.
We arrived on-time at LGA. I wandered the terminal, looking to see if there was anything interesting to see now that I was in New York. LGA is an old airport, so there was not much to see, but I did find something I had not seen in a long time.
Think about it, when was the last time you saw a payphone? When was the last time you saw a row of payphones? I can’t remember the last time I saw it.
I went to the Admirals Club where they had problems checking me in due to the ongoing software issues. They were eventually able to do it, and I spent some time enjoying the view from the club.
After a relaxing stay at the Admirals Club I boarded another MD-80 for the flight back to Chicago. This flight was also filled to capacity. We had a smooth flight to ORD and landed almost 30 minutes early. That gave me the good news / bad news moment of the day. The good news was that we were 30 minutes early. The bad news was that we were 30 minutes early and they had no gate available for us at the terminal. So, we waited for almost 20 minutes until they could get us to the gate.
I went to the Admirals Club and again, they had problems checking me in, just as they had had 12 hours earlier in Austin. Once I got into the club I found a quite corner, took out my Kindle and read for the next 90 minutes. Then it was time for my 8 p.m. flight to Austin.
Again, it was an MD-80. The flight was packed, virtually no open seats, which always causes problems with people trying to put their bags in the overhead bins. I watched one lady try to put both of her bags overhead, instead of one overhead and one under the seat in front of her as the flight attendants had requested. One bag went in without trouble, but the other was too full to fit, so she had to take her first bag down and move clothes from one bag to the other to make it fit. In the meantime, no one could get past her to sit in that aisle. Such is the state of airline travel these days.
The engines won’t start
A few moments before 8 they closed the door and prepared for departure. At 8:05 we had not moved. At 8:10 we had not moved. At 8:12 the pilot announced, “Well, we’re still at the terminal.” That got a laugh from everyone. He went on to say that we had a problem, the engines wouldn’t start.
Engines wouldn’t start? That was a first for me! He explained that the auxiliary power units on the plane were not working, so they would use a start-cart to power up the engines. Unfortunately, the start-cart did not work either and they had to find a new one. In the meantime, the cabin was sealed, we had no air conditioning, and it was getting very very stuffy. After a few moments they dimmed the cabin lights as a way to reduce the heat. Ten minutes later they were able to get a functioning start-cart, the engines started, the air conditioning came on to great cheers from the passengers and we were on our way. Or maybe not. We pulled away from the terminal, came to a stop and sat there for 10 minutes. Why? I don’t know, but at least we had air conditioning.
Eventually we took off, almost 40 minutes late.
Once we had reached cruising altitude the pilot made the standard announcement about altitude, weather conditions, etc. and concluded his announcement by saying, “Thank you for flying American, and enjoy your flight.”
That made me wonder. Does anyone, other than the people in first class, actually enjoy their flight? What is there to enjoy? You’re crowded into a small seat. If the passenger in front of you reclines you have no room to use your laptop. They don’t give you a pillow. They don’t give you a blanket. They don’t feed you. If you are on an MD-80 there is no in-flight entertainment. The restrooms are claustrophobically small. You have to pay to check your bags. Given all this, what is there to enjoy? But I digress, this can be covered in another post.
We were able to make up some time during the flight, landing in Austin 25 only minutes late. I was home by 11:30 that night.
It had been a long day, but I got home safely, and earned almost 10,000 miles and EQMs. It was another good mileage run.
I’ve booked my last mileage run of the year: no surprise, it’s another trip to Seattle. I’ve lost track of how many trips I have made to the Pacific Northwest, but it is the longest non-stop flight that American Airlines (AA) offers from DFW in the lower 48, so it gives me the chance to earn the largest number of miles.
AA is running a sale that ends tonight, August 26, and I took advantage of it. Austin to DFW to Seattle and back for $251. That’s 2.91 cents per mile, not great, but these days I am thrilled to find any fare below 3 cents.
It’s a November 6 trip, I’ll fly out at 7 a.m., get to Seattle at 11:25 a.m., then fly out on the red-eye to DFW at 11:55 p.m., arriving back in Austin at 8 Sunday morning. Another long day, but a good close to the year.
People have recommended the Seattle Underground tour, I may take advantage of it on this trip. I’d love to do the tour of the Boeing plant, but since it is in Mukilteo, 25 miles northwest of Seattle, there is no easy way to get there without renting a car.
November in Seattle can be cold, particularly when compared to Central Texas, but I look forward to it nonetheless.
I did another mileage run this weekend, this one to San Jose, California. American Airlines (AA) was not offering any great deals on this trip, but it was a better deal than most I had found lately, so I made the reservation. These would be easy miles, I’d get home Saturday evening, no red-eye from the West Coast.
Twenty-four hours before the trip began AA sent me the standard e-mail telling me that I could now check in for my flight. I’ve done this in the past, printing my boarding pass at home. Since I am flying without luggage, that means I can go straight to the security check-in line when I get to the terminal. Not needing to check in for my boarding pass saves anywhere from 5-15 minutes waiting on line. so it is a good deal.
I noticed that AA was offering a new service: they would send an electronic boarding pass to my smartphone. Interesting! So I tried it. Moments after hitting “submit” I received an e-mail from AA with a link to my electronic boarding passes. This page provides more information on the process and shows what the pass looks like.
I would be taking four flights, and had four boarding passes. Each contained the digital design at the top, with my name, flight number, seat number, etc. beneath it. I looked forward to seeing how it would work.
I drove to the airport and took the shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal, arriving a little before 5 a.m. My first stop was the security check-in line. When I got to the front the TSA agent asked to see my boarding pass and ID. I gave him my driver’s license, and told him my boarding pass was on my phone.
He smiled and said “Not a problem!” He turned on an electronic scanner/reader at the side of his desk, said “Let’s wait a moment for it to warm up,” and then “Place your phone under the scanner, screen up.”
I followed his instructions. After two seconds the reader beeped, signifying that it had read my pass, and the agent sent me on my way. I was impressed, the boarding pass worked!
After a short stay at the Admirals Club, it was time for me to board the aircraft. When I got to the front of the line I told the gate agent I had an electronic boarding pass. Rather than scanning it, she simply asked me for my name, I gave it to her, she entered me into the system, and I boarded the plane.
We had a smooth flight to DFW and landed on time. I took the SkyLink to Terminal D, and after a short wait, prepared to board my flight to San Jose.
When I checked in, I told the gate agent that I had the electronic boarding pass. The gate agent in Austin had not even tried to scan the pass, but they did try at DFW. I held my phone under the reader and no matter what we did, we never heard the beep signifying that the scanner had read it. After several failed attempts we finally gave up and she did the same as the Austin gate agent, asked me my name, entered it in the system, and then let me board.
So, I had tried to use the electronic pass three times. It worked great with the Austin TSA, the Austin gate agent did not even try to use it, and we could not get it to work at DFW. That was enough for me, when I got to San Jose I had them print my return boarding passes, at least I know they work.
We had a smooth uneventful flight to San Jose, arriving on time. I had flown through that airport several times before and it was not one of my favorites: the terminal was old, crowded, too small. I expected to see the same, but was in for a pleasant surprise.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport had been rebuilt with a brand new terminal! No more crowds, no more problems trying to walk past a gate but not being able to because there were so many people trying to board a flight. Those days are gone at SJC!
As travelers carry all sorts of electronic devices with them, one of the major problems they face is trying to find a place to recharge them at an airline terminal. It’s almost impossible to find an outlet at some airports. That is not a problem at San Jose.
Many of the seats in the terminal have power outlets built into the armrests, making it very easy to recharge that phone or laptop. I have never seen this at any other airport, I wish more of them had this feature!
I had two-and-a-half hours before my flight back to DFW. I had coffee at Starbucks, ate a slice of pizza for lunch, and spent some time at the Admirals’ Club before going to the departure gate.
The flight back to DFW was on an MD-80, as were all my flights that day, It was an uneventful flight, landing 10 minutes early.
I went to the Skylink shuttle to change terminals. There are two Skylink routes, one going around the airport clockwise, the other counterclockwise. So, it doesn’t matter which line you use when changing terminals, they will both get you where you are going, but one will get you there a few minutes faster. I went to the station and heard the announcement that the Skylink line I needed was out of order. No big deal, I simply took train in the other direction and got a grand tour of DFW.
After a quick stop at the Admirals Club I boarded the flight to Austin, and was on the ground an hour later.
All of my flights this day were almost completely full, not unusual considering that AA’s current capacity level is 86%. The bad news, at least for me, is that the high capacity rate lets the airlines keep fares much higher than last year, making mileage runs more difficult to find
This was a good mileage run: I took four flights, never ran into turbulence, and three flights arrived on time while the fourth was early. The worst thing that happened was the poor performance of the electronic boarding pass. All in all, it was a good day.
The small town of Rachel, Nevada, has something that no other town anywhere in the world has: a KFC logo so large that it is supposedly visible from space! Want to see it? Here’s what to do.
- Go to Google Maps
- Enter 37.646188,-115.750709 in the location bar. (These are the geographic coordinates, 36.6 degrees north, 115.7 degrees west) of the logo.
- Click on Search Maps
- Voila! There’s the logo!
According to Wikipedia, KFC built the logo in 2006 to mark the debut of a “massive global re-image campaign that will contemporize 14,000 plus KFCs around the world.” The logo was built in 6 days from 65,000 one-foot-square tiles.
When you zoom in you’ll see an 18-wheeler parked to the left of the Colonel, and the shadows (next to his ear) of two people looking at the logo.
This Saturday I am doing a mileage run to San Jose, California. It doesn’t look like a flight from DFW to SJC will fly over the logo, but a St. Louis to San Francisco flight might. I’ll bring a copy of this article and give it to the flight crew: who knows, maybe bad weather will divert us north.
Thanks to MentalFloss.com for finding the story!
One of the comments I received on my last post (“Finally – I’ve Found a Mileage Run“) came from Bo who asked “How about AUS-ORD-LGA using the triple EQM promo for ORD/BOS-LGA flights?” Great question!
American Airlines and Delta are competing for traffic on the New York La Guardia (LGA) – Chicago O’Hare (ORD) route. Delta offered triple miles and triple elite qualifying miles, (EQMs) and American matched the offer. It runs until August 31.
I checked the price for the remaining Saturdays; it sounds like a great deal, but at $399, it still came to 4.8 cents per mile, including the triple miles, and that’s not a great deal. I checked the price for the remaining Sundays during the promotional period, and actually found a better deal for August 29, the last Sunday of the promotional period. The price was $350, and I could get an additional 10% off using the Century in the Making promotion. It’s still not a great deal, but I desperately need the EQMs and the triple EQMs between ORD and LGA would come in handy.
I used the multi-city feature at AA.com. found an itinerary I liked that would get me home that evening, and I decided to book it. But there was one problem, I was not able to enter the Century in the Making promotional code to get my 10% discount.
I called the AA Platinum desk to ask how to use the 10% discount and was told it was not available on multi-city bookings; it could only be used on round trip reservations. I’m not sure why that policy is in place or what sense it makes, but I had to deal with it.
So, I went back to AA.com and changed my search criteria from AUS-ORD-LGA-ORD-AUS to a more simple AUS-LGA round trip. I looked farther into the listings and sure enough, I found the exact same itinerary through ORD that I had found when using the multi-city feature. And, I could get the 10% discount because I was now booking it as a round trip ticket instead of a multi-city ticket, even though it was the exact same flight. (Note to American Airlines: that doesn’t make any sense!)
My final cost for the ticket was $331. Not great, even with the triple miles between ORD and LGA, it’s almost 4 cents per mile. But I’ll also earn triple EQMs for those segments which will change my total EQMs for the trip from 3,422 to 6,354. Since my biggest need at this time is not miles but EQMs, that will be a big help.
With no business travel this year, and American not offering system-wide double EQMs as they did last year, I’ve given up on making Platinum again this year. But this trip will make it much easier for me to at least make Gold. I won’t get my double miles next year, but I’ll still be able to board early and won’t have to pay luggage fees. I’ll take it.
On another note I saw that American is trying to build business from several cities. For the rest of the year, they are offering triple miles and double EQMs on all trips originating and terminating in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Nashville, or Raleigh-Durham. Any time American wants to offer that from AUS, I’ll be happy to accept!