First of all, Merry Christmas! TravelWhimsy and I appreciate your continued support of our blogs, and wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and all the best for 2013!
Today, we are excited to share a story from TravelByPoints reader and dear friend Art, who recently completed a first-time-ever 3-day 13,102-mile 11-segment mileage run (mostly in American Airlines’ first class cabin). Art set out on this journey to qualify for AA’s Executive Platinum (EXP) elite status (their top tier), which normally requires 100,000 miles flown in a calendar year.
Both Art and her husband, Flip, travel frequently for business. Flip, an AA EXP member for many years, had already re-qualified with over 140,000 miles flown for the year. Art, however, found herself just 29,000 miles short in mid-December. Thanks to AA’s “Double-Elite-Miles” promotion valid for any AA-operated flights between November 1 and December 31, 2012, Art realized that EXP was actually within easy reach if she could put together an optimized mileage run.
To this end, we put our heads together and came up with a rather ambitious 11-segment mileage run just two days before Art started her 3-day journey. Her trip is detailed in the chart below, and included the following:
-One-way positioning flight (LAS-HNL) using miles;
-Round-trip ticket (HNL-SJU);
-One-way flight home (LAX-LAS).
Art and Flip’s main motivation behind doing this mileage run is to get those 8 coveted systemwide upgrade certificates that could be used to upgrade their trips to Europe and Asia from economy to business class.
Without further ado, here’s Art’s story.
I can’t thank you enough for helping me with my very first mileage run. I couldn’t have done this without your help and advice. With one trip, I racked up almost 30,000 elite-qualifying miles on American Airlines and flew mostly in comfort and style. I am looking forward to becoming an AA EXP member for the first time in 2013! Here are some stories from this epic 11-flight trip that I would like to share with you and your readers. Hopefully, it will give you guys a taste of what it’s like to go on a crazy multi-city mileage run.
Traveling nowadays is a little different from the past. We used to get on board and talk with people next to us. I was hoping to do that, but what I found was that no one wanted to chat any more. Most solo travelers have their headphones on or bury their faces in their cell phones or tablets. I only had a few conversations with my fellow passengers during my 11 flights. Thankfully, some airplanes had WiFi on board, so I was able to get online to chat with my family back home. I also packed my iPad, two books, and my laptop, and didn’t once feel bored during my 3-day travel.
Positioning Flight from Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to Honolulu, HI (HNL)
I left home early on Saturday morning for my positioning flight to HNL via LAX. Everything went smoothly and I slept through the 6.5-hour flight to Hawaii. Getting myself ready to enjoy the rest of this long trip, I stopped by a local Hawaiian brewery for a glass of draft beer and said Aloha to the crab cake appetizers. Everything is so expensive in Hawaii, especially at the airport, but it’s important to always keep a positive attitude. Put yourself in a good mood by treating yourself to small indulgences.
Flight in First-class from Honolulu, HI (HNL) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
My mileage run officially started with this flight, and I had a window seat in the first-class cabin. The same aircraft that took me to HNL was taking me back to LAX. The food served had a touch of Hawaiian flare. I enjoyed the food and wine while watching in-flight entertainment.
Red-eye Flight from LAX to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) and Early-Morning Flight from DFW to Miami, FL (MIA)
I got on a red-eye flight from LAX to DFW, and then caught the morning sun before I landed in MIA. I had a few hours of layover in MIA, so I walked around and made a stop at Nathan’s Hot Dog. This East Coast joint serves the most delicious hot dogs. I walked through the terminal very slowly just to kill time and stretch my legs, and stopped to admire the beautiful fish decorations on the wall. Having been to this airport more than 4 times, I was always in a rush to catch my flights and never had a chance to stop and smell the roses until this trip.
The Most Beautiful View on the Flight from MIA to St. Thomas (STT)
The flight from Miami to St. Thomas flew over the Caribbean and the US Virgin Islands, and I was blown away by the beautiful view. At the beginning of that flight, a lady asked if I could exchange my window seat for her aisle seat. I felt guilty saying no to her, but was thankful for the fantastic view for the duration of the 3-hour flight. I promised myself then that I would one day return to St. Thomas for a real visit.
A Really Short Flight from STT to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
I celebrated my arrival in STT with a bottle of local Virgin Islands beer. The sunset from the airport was stunningly beautiful, and I was the only passenger at the airport enjoying the view after all the other afternoon flights had taken off. Around 7 pm, a small American Eagle plane arrived to take me, along with four other passengers, to SJU. We took off ahead of schedule, and arrived in SJU after about 20 minutes. I walked off the plane and straight into the adjoining airport hotel, and promptly crashed onto the bed.
Pit Stop at the SJU Airport Hotel
It was a perfect break after the first 48 hours of my 7 flights. I woke up at 5:30am to grab breakfast, and stepped right out across the walkway to the American Airlines check-in counters. The airport hotel is so conveniently located, and I highly recommend it to everyone contemplating a mileage run to SJU. San Juan was apparently sad to see me leaving so soon – it was raining cats and dogs. I was thankful that I hadn’t planned a hotel stay away from the airport.
The Best Popcorn in the Country Found at the Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD)
I took the morning flight back to MIA, and then my 9th flight from MIA to ORD. At that point, I had to pat myself on the back for being my own lucky charm because there had been no delays or cancellations affecting my long journey. I made my usual stop at Garrett Popcorn Shops, selling the best popcorn in the country! I love the Chicago mix of 70% Cheese and 30% Caramel. Trust me, this is the best and you have to try it! It will make your trip extra joyful while you cruise to your next destination. Oh, also don’t think about trying other popcorn stores at the airport. I learned it the hard way, and it was a waste of money. Stick with Garrett!
The Final Stretch of My Mileage Run
Walking around ORD, I could breathe Christmas in the air and took pictures of the beautiful decorations. Two more flights, I would be back home, so you could imagine how happy I was. The first thing I ordered when getting on board the flight from ORD to LAX was a glass of champagne. Cheers to myself for making it thus far! Outside of the window, the sun was setting at the edge of the sky, and it looked stunning. We landed in LAX around 5:30pm. I “threw-away” my last flight from LAX to HNL, and ran to the Delta terminal to catch my ride home to Las Vegas.
Proud of My Very First Mileage Run
I survived my first mileage run, and still can’t believe that none of the 11 flights experienced any major delays or cancellations. Well done, AA!
For those of you who might want to do a similar mileage run in the future, please do so with an open heart and mind. Enjoy yourself and have fun with the journey. I signed up for flight e-mail notifications and frequently checked the AA phone app for my flight status. I got back home with a smile on my face and lots of good memories. Thanks again, Jimmy, for your help! I can’t wait to travel more in 2013. Happy Holidays!
P.S. For more pictures taken during my journey, check out this album on my Facebook page.