Friday, June 9, 2017

Mileage Run Preview: Yes, this is real life.

"Double window addiction"
First off- I finished writing up my Havana trip!!  Final post with all the other links in it here!

Okay, so, I figure at this point that of the people who are reading this blog still at this point, 95% of them have classified me as certifiably crazy, 3% are other mileage runners I've met along the way, and 2% are my Mom and Mrs. CruisingAltitude, although at this point I have good intel...the BEST intel...that they don't even read most of it. 

However, I'm of the opinion that my next mileage run is totally something the average person would entirely enjoy.  It's fully understandable to fly in and out of Doha 3 times in 4 days, right? Right.

Here's how this came about- As you probably didn't read (mostly because it was a whopper of a mileage run, and I haven't finished posting it yet) in February, some brave souls and I flew entirely around the world in 80 hours.  The main flight that got us there was from Columbo, Sri Lanka to Boston via Doha.  It was a round trip booking, but that trip only used half of it, so I have the return flight to take in about a week. This, of course, leaves me 'stranded' in Columbo.  So, what's a mileage runner to do?

Well, go to Cairo, of course.  Okay, sure, Cairo isn't exactly on the way back from Columbo to Los Angeles, but hear me out. Remember when the Egyptian pound got un-pegged and took a tumble last year?  No?  Well, it did.  This suddenly made tickets that booked in that currency 'cheap.'  This is one of the strange hidden benefits of booking tickets that start around the world if you get lucky.  So, I found a very cheap one-way business class ticket from CAI to Houston through Doha on Qatar and booked it.  You have to admit that though Cairo isn't exactly 'on the way' from Sri Lanka, it is at least closer than many other places are.  So, I figured that one way or another I could connect those flights.  It's a doable, but fairly expensive mileage flight since Sri Lanka is considered 'Inidian Subcontinient' and Cairo is considered "Africa" for purposes of Oneworld partner awards, but it was an option. 

Then, as it turns out, the Sri Lankan Rupee wasn't having a great time (I assumed) and Qatar has a lot of capacity and competition from Sri Lankan, which is also a Oneworld partner, out of CMB this year.  What this resulted in was another cheap one-way ticket find a few months later for a business class itinerary from CMB to Cairo through Doha, also on Qatar.

So..... that gets me to and from Columbo with just the need for a couple domestic positioning flights- one to Boston to start it, and one back from Houston to finish it.  Since I have to be in Houston that month for work anyway, the latter takes care of itself this time around.

If you didn't bother to sort out all that nonsense, I can encapsulate it this way- I'm spending the weekend flying around the Middle East and India in business class, spending each night in Doha.  I'm going to have between 8 and 15 hours on the ground inn Doha each night, and about 7 hours in Columbo to actually leave the airport and see a few things.

All in all, it's made up of 5 different itineraries, 9 flights, 7 airports, and only two airlines - American and Qatar.  Should be fun...

"The Pearl" Qatar



Wait for it....

.....Keep waiting

Okay....yes, what follows is real life.....

Imagine at this point in reading (or as I did, writing) this post you took a break to get on a flight, wait out said flight's delay, fly to Houston, land at 2am, get luggage, Uber to a hotel and pass out for the night.  Then imagine you wake the next morning to an inundation of texts/emails/news alerts blaring that Qatari planes are being banned from one airspace after another indefinitely.  First are Saudis, then the UAE, and next ...of course.... is Egypt.....followed by the Maldives, Mauritius, part of Syria...the list continues...

Well.  This sucks.

Update to now, and it's been a strange week.  I'm currently in the middle of an unrelated work trip, and have had to spend every break trying to call Qatar to get some kind of help with this situation.  I have called the US number probably 20 times, sat on hold for hours, finally broke down and started trying to call their worldwide offices - London, Sydney, you name it.  I even filled out a 'call back' form days ago.  They called me back too late, and the call was actually coming from Doha, so I probably paid a few bucks to tell them so.

I finally, finally, managed to get someone on the phone late yesterday and they hung up on me once they saw my travel plans.  I was unintentional.  I eventually got past the point of annoyance and just moved on to disbelief.  The specter of flying to Sri Lanka without knowing how exactly I was getting home, even for me is a little much.  Just a little.

After another hour of hold time, I got someone else on the phone and tried to explain myself.  It was a long explanation.  Fixing one itinerary in this mess is a lot, fixing two when they include a tight turn around in a city they can't fly to is something else entirely.  

I have to give credit where it's due though.  It took over an hour of work, but the agent eventually got it done, though not without putting me on short holds to (I assume) control herself since something about my travel plans she found particularly hilarious.  I can't imagine why.  At one point I think I heard her coworkers in the background, also laughing at me.  The words "why wouldn't you just go direct" came up more than once.  I can only imagine the scene at a call center someplace.  I feel reasonably famous.  

But nevertheless she persisted, and re-routed me on a turnaround to Amman, Jordan instead of my Cairo flights.  I'll take it. We're friends now, and apparently I 'made her day.'  That's really all I'm after with this anyway.

So, where does that all leave us?  Well it currently leaves me sitting in the Houston Centurion lounge having a latte and writing about it.  Next up is a quick hop IAH-CLT-BOS to get this thing started.  Everything's cleared for the upgrades, and it looks like a good day to fly!

Wish me luck,


Read Up Next- Location, Location

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