Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flying Hither and Yon

Bit the bullet last night and today and booked my upcoming travel for the next few trips:
  • San Francisco for Sundance Stompede
    October 15-18
    Virgin America
    Late morning flight going, with a somewhat tight deadline to get to my workshop in time
    Mid-morning return on Monday and then direct to the office from the airport
  • Madison for the IAGLCWDC Hoedown
    October 28-31
    Redeye flight going, to get there in time for morning workshops and afternoon meetings
    Early evening flight back
  • Washington DC for Mid-Atlantic Leather (my 12th time there!)
    January 14-17
    American (via frequent flyer miles)
    Very early morning flight going, but it’s also business class; I can nap at the hotel when I get there
    Noon flight back
Total cost for the three tickets is $510, so not too bad.

I’ll probably have an additional trip to book in a month, to go to Palm Springs for New Year’s.  Next flying trip after that probably won’t be until Memorial Day, to wherever the next IAGLCWDC summer hoedown ends up being.

I find it interesting that my frequent flyer programs have shifted over the years.  My first frequent flyer trip was via TWA back in 1991.  I wanted to fly to Seattle for Norwescon, but flights were horrifically expensive at the time, but a travel agent friend found a deal to do three round trips to Los Angeles on TWA at like $75 each (I literally did “fly down, catch the return an hour later”, three times), which would get me a free flight from San Jose to Seattle. (Seems very weird in retrospect.  The flight to Seattle must have been priced at $350 or more; compare to the $150 or less you could often get a decade later.)

During the 1990s, American got almost all my business (with some in-California stuff going to Southwest, back when it was actually affordable; for this San Francisco trip, Southwest was almost double other options!)  In the late 1990s, Alaska took over as my preference for West Coast flights; in San Jose, they had a dedicated set of 2 or 3 gates less than 100 yards from their ticket counter — most convenient travel setup ever!  (Even after 9/11, you could still arrive at the airport less than an hour before your flight with no worries.)

For the past decade, since I moved to Seattle, I’ve been slowly eating through my American miles.  I don’t know that I’ve flown them but maybe once in the last five years.  Due to inactivity, my last miles (about 41,000) were going to expire in December, so I used 37,500 for the trip to DC, including the to-DC leg being business class (so I’ll get breakfast for the first leg and booze for the second; I couldn’t have had a flight with fewer miles in non-business, although a redeye option would have been available, so no complaint).

In the past few years, Alaska use has also slowed some.  Actually, I’ve still flown a decent amount on Alaska, but mostly using either miles or their special deal where a smaller amount of miles cuts the price in half, making it much more decent to fly coast-to-coast on them.  So my mileage block on Alaska is down in the 40K range these days, as well.

(Mmm, I remember having credit cards that gave me miles on American, and maybe one that gave them on Alaska as well.  Those really helped build up the balances.  Really built up the credit card balances, too, of course, which is why I don’t have those cards any more!)

I flew United a couple years ago and have about 1000 miles from them, which will apparently expire in the next few months.  May it be soon, so I can never hear from them again.  Every time I’ve flown with them in the last 15 years (about three times), I’ve had a bad taste in my mouth.

More recently, my miles have been accumulating on Delta and now on Virgin America, where I have nearly a free flight’s worth on each; these trips may push me over that edge.

I wonder where my miles will live in another 10 years?

Updated on September 21, 2010
Crap.  Couldn’t even remember my own schedule!  Madison redeye is one of those true “last flight out” things, leaving at 12:50 am, which is close to when I usually go to sleep anyway, so if I remember a pillow and ear plugs, I’ll be able to sleep some.

I opted for the DC redeye after all, with an 11:30 departure and a 3 am (Pacific time, ugh!) layover in Dallas, but it gets me in early enough to both shop the leather mart and catch up on sleep for the partying and cruising that night.  And that’s what I’m there for, after all!


  1. Did you know that APE is same weekend as the Stompede?

    Let me know if you'd like to get together either while in SF or possibly at the Madison airport; haven't finalized my flight plans yet, but I'll be flying out of there or Milwaukee the evening of the 31st myself on the way back from the American Gods event at the House on the Rock.

  2. Man, I haven't been to APE since it's first year in San Francisco. What was that, 2000? I'll send you my schedule details.