Saturday, December 1, 2012

One down...

First flight of the mileage run season completed, and working on the next.  I’m currently on the transcontinental from Boston to LAX, about half way in.  My plane geek side is enjoying seeing AA’s 737 retrofitted main cabins for the first time.  They now have several rows of “main cabin extra” which offer a few extra inches of legroom.  It’s free with status, or a small upsell if you don’t.  On longer flights, it’s worth it to avoid getting your laptop snapped shut on your fingers when the person in front of you reclines their seat. 
            Managed to get some sleep on both flights so far, and feeling pretty good.  Thought it might be a good time to go back and explain more of what got me here in the first place.  (If you don’t care, and you’re more interested in strange travel stories, you can skip ahead a few paragraphs to my rant about what to pack to fly for no reason, which is more entertaining and has yoga pants in it)  As most things do, it starts with an argument.  Well, not an argument so much as an almost…sorta…but not really…but then again yes labor dispute between the airline and the pilots. 
            There was plenty of news coverage, slow flights, etc.  In response, to try and appease its frequent flyers, they’re offering double elite qualifying miles (DEQM) through the end of the year, as well as bonus miles towards future flights.  The short story is when all is said and done, the combination of my status level and the promotion is earning me triple miles towards future flights and double miles toward status.  Plus, the fares are at their lowest of the season.  I spent weeks checking fares, holding and re-holding, and doing a lot of math.  Okay, it was basic grade school level math, but it still counts.
            The basic conclusion was this- done right, the airline would be paying me to fly.  And I’d get back to Executive status.  Win-win.  The miles earned will be enough to redeem for two round-trip economy class tickets, or one first class trip.  The metric used by frequent flyers to tell if they’re getting a good deal is how many “cents per mile” (cpm) you’re spending on the ticket.  Anything under 5 is pretty good, things getting near 3 are mileage run territory, and anything under that is hard to pass up.  With some free AmEx gift card use, my tickets this month are averaging 1.5 cpm (redeemable) and 2.3 (elite-qualifying). Not bad, but the real value comes from the elite upgrades you get as a bonus for passing the 100k mark.  Their combined value is $3,000 minimally.  Then there’s the value of just having the status for the year, which is significant.  Moral of the story- I now know how much I value my weekends at…. Though I can’t figure out how I feel about it.
            Okay, enough math for this morning, but it had to be said.  Onto something else.  How about what to pack when you’re flying without leaving the airport?  This topic is brought to you by my perusing a thread with this title this week where people were sharing what was in their survival kit.  There were some unusual, but probably useful items- Japanese Gatorade, and a passport on a domestic flight….just in case you get re-routed through another country. (speaking of, the guy in the row in front of me is currently browsing through it…should I say hi?)  

Anyhow, here’s my list:
-Laptop, iPad, iPhone & chargers
-Change of clothes (or 2 in case of forced layovers)
-Pillow I’ve been carrying around in luggage since a JetBlue redeye years ago
-Advil, Tylenol PM, Benadryl …okay basically half a CVS
-Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.
-Snacks (mostly healthy, but there are also gummi bears involved.)
-Yoga pants because they’re good for overnights and also because there’s an honest-to-god yoga studio in the SFO terminal 2.
-Biggest sweatshirt I own
-Game face    
            Looking forward to completing the first round-trip transcontinental of the challenge!  Still going strong.

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