Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Mileage Run Turned Fun

I travel quite a bit for work, sometimes too much. I’ve tried to cut back, and I have, but I’ve ended up with some longer trips. This year I’ll go to London 6 times, which is a lot of miles, and money.

Having some status with an airline makes a difference. I’m a United Platinum level flyer, which is nice. I get upgraded in the US about 25% of the time and get to use lounges for international travel. I also get a few upgrades to use as I see fit and I can book my wife into the larger economy seats when she travels with me. Free bags are nice as well.

As I’ve traveled more, I have tried to get to a status level and stop. For a number of years, that was getting to the Gold level (50,000 miles + $6,000). I’d usually get to the middle of the year and start evaluating trips, trying to cancel or avoid some once I knew I’d get to 50,000. A few years I kept my travel in the 50-55,000 range.

The last two years I’ve made an effort to do less, taking time off for volleyball coaching during the tournament season. While this worked out well in the early part of the year, I’ve ended up with a somewhat crazy late spring and an even crazier Sept/Oct. As a result, I’m going to get a lot of miles and dollars spent with United. Last year I ended up with 81,000 miles, but only about $9,100 spent. That put me into the Platinum Mileage Plus level, but wasn’t close enough to get to 1K. The miles weren’t an issue, but spending another $3,000 didn’t make sense for the additional benefits.

This year is different. I was thinking I’d only get about 55,000 miles, but then an extra London trip appeared in May and I got a 6th scheduled for October. As a result, I knew I’d blow past 75,000 miles, but how far. I started calculating and with some expensive tickets, I realized I was going to be over the $12,000 spend for the 1K status, which includes global upgrades (across the ocean). I never get those, and have rarely paid for them. However, they’re nice when you need to fly overnight and get to work.

In June I had about 42,000 miles and $6,000 spent. When I looked forward at the known trips, I realized that I’d be about 7,000 miles short of the 100,000 for that level. Since the money is usually the hard part, I knew I needed to get a mileage run in.

I almost did one a few years ago. I was at 48,000 miles and actually booked a flight, a one day, DEN-BOS-MCO-DEN trip, but had to cancel since something came up. This year, I started looking for another run, but it’s hard to get 7,000 miles in the US. I could put together 2-3 $300 trips that would get the distance, but that seemed like a lot of work.

Then I saw the United sale to China. I started thinking, hey, that’s a good trip. I checked there, and a number of other places. I looked at Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, and more. Eventually I found that China and Hoing Kong were the best runs for the money. For $700, I could get 15,000 miles. That’s way more than I could get in the US for that price, plus I could spend a night in Hong Kong. However, at $700, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go alone.

I asked my wife where she was with miles and status. It doesn’t make much difference for her, but at that price, we could have a nice adventure together. As I wrote recently, experiences are better than things, and while a little pricey, this seems like an experience we’d enjoy.

We started looking and ended up finding a few dates that will work. Like the United magazine articles Three Perfect Days, we’ll get four. A crazy schedule, but I’m excited to go see Asia, a place I’ve never been.  That being said, here’s my Oct schedule:

Oct 8-10 – Washington DC

Oct 11-14 – New York

Oct 16-19 – London

Oct 25-26 – Chicago

Oct 27-31 – Hong Kong

Plus I have a trip a week before and one a week after this.

Then I’ll rest and do nothing until April, other than two office visits.

Now I need to find some fun stuff to do in Hong Kong with my lovely wife.

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