This weekend, I did a mileage run with my wife to San Francisco (SFO), literally, for about 40 minutes, and turned right around. I tweeted about it some, but really wasn’t as thorough as I would’ve liked, so I thought I’d offer some thoughts and experiences.
Getting to the Airport
So, I think we started this little “trip” off with high stress, when we opted to leave from dropping our dog off for boarding about 2 and a quarter hours before our flight was due to depart. Full disclosure: traffic in the Washington, DC area is bad normally, Friday its glacial. All of our usual routes were slow and our handy GPS was telling us that they were all 2+ hours. It did have an alternative option – driving through the city. So really, before our flying journey, we took quite the journey through northeast and northwest Washington, DC. I don’t recommend that. The Lesson: if we really did miss our flight, I had in the back of my mind that we had an option: The Flat Tire Rule. Its an undocumented rule that essentially says, if you arrive to the airport within 2 hours of your original flight, if there’s a seat on the next flight, you can get it, generally without any fees. Ironically, Points With a Crew wrote about that yesterday.
Long story short, this was the first time in quite some time that I’ve run to the plane. We literally parked the car in the daily lot, and bolted to security. In one of those rare experiences, TSA PreCheck had no line. We were through security, and still had a bit of a jog. By the time we made it to the plane, they greeted us by name (because we were probably within the last dozen to board).
Date Night at 40,000 feet: Dinner and a Movie
My wife and I like to think of these crazy weekend trips and mileages runs as Date night. When you think about it, there’s generally a movie playing, and if the flights long enough, whether you’re in First (we were lucky), or in Economy, you’re going to eat. The meal on the way out was lasanga (my wife), and Chicken Tikka (me). The first flight though, even being the longer flight from DCA-DFW, American chose to show a bunch of NBC shows I’d never heard of (which seemed to prove I’m not up to date with what NBC shows after 8pm, aside from Sunday Night Football).
For our first flight, perhaps the most notable points were: all 4 of us in row six were enjoying vodka based drinks, and one of the other folks in the row brought his own olives for his beverage. It’s not often you see someone break out a jar of olives from their carry-on, at least not for me.
After a brief stop at the Centurion Lounge in D terminal of DFW, we were on to our second flight. Again, we were the last folks to arrive in First Class (we enjoyed the lounge too much). The Lesson: If the Skytrain is going oneway (as it was on Friday night), there is an alternative. You can walk to the end of the D terminal (near D40), go up an escalator, and with the aid of moving walkways, walk to C terminal. We did that, and we cut an estimated 25 minute Skytrain ride to about a 15 minute walk. I learned this from my seatmate on the first flight from DCA-DFW.
The second flight was uneventful, except that we finally got our movie; Godzilla. I thought it was a great movie, very well done, although I kept thinking that the father was Robert Redford. He is not.
Where the Mileage Run started getting old
Arriving into San Francisco, we were tired and weary. We first went to the gate, because ExpertFlyer was showing the flight fully booked, and I was thinking Voluntary Denied Boarding (VDB), with a few hours in a hotel. I put us on the list, and we made our way to the Admirals Club for a bit. When we made it back to the gate, they had no need for volunteers, but, even better, our upgrades had come through – 3E and 3F here we came. At this point we knew we were 4 for 4 on upgrades, which was great, but we were exhausted. Our flight at 12:20am was 3:20am East Coast time, and we had started at 5:45pm the day before. We slept most of this flight.
Back at DFW at 5:30am, we stumbled off of the plane and found the Skytrain to head back to the Centurion Lounge for our just shy of 2 hour layover. Alas, we learned that the spa didn’t open until 9am (incidentally, the spa is open 9am-8pm, the overall lounge is open 5:30-9:30/10pm). After printing out our remaining boarding passes, one of the lounge staff reminded me of the chaise lounges.
An hour later, we were back up, and hustling to our last flight of the night….er…day…er…trip?
That flight was uneventful, more NBC sitcoms, although I recognized one — Chicago Fire (that’s not to say that I’ve actually seen an episode on the ground).
Is it worth it?
That’s the question I was asking myself a lot on the second half of the trip. In a word: Yes. But why you may ask? Because the marginal cost is minimal. I’m at just over 74,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) for the year (before this Mileage Run). I’ve got a trip to Hong Kong which should be roughly 18-18.5k EQMs. Yes, I’ll likely have to do one more run this year, but the difference between Platinum and Executive Platinum is rather significant. Of course, given how I’m feeling at the moment, I’m definitely going to be figuring out a better way to maintain status next year.
I’ll leave you with a photo looking out on the way home… Perhaps the real reason of why I do it.