Feb 2011 36,000+ mile MR (at 36,000 ft)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by jason8612, Feb 22, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. jason8612
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    jason8612 Gold Member

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    To start, my itinerary looks like this

    couple days overnight/R & R

    should net me a total of 36,143EQM on UA MP. The above flights are all UA / LH minus the KOA-HNL on HA.
    and everything except 3 flights (PDX-SFO-KOA/HNL-SFO) are confirmed into C/F
    and also got to use some of the VDB and ecerts I had. So the overall price was about $1700.

    Also, I will get a few days in KOA to relax.

    I did start packing well in advanced and I think it's all good to go. Got all my clothes (undies, socks, jeans, polo shirts, a sweater, swim trunks, shorts, camera, camcorder, and electronics like ipod, netbook) all packed into my carry-on and laptop bag. I'm just loading some movies on the netbook and on the ipod.
    Also printing everything off is time consuming, but has to be done.
    And for this trip, I got myself a Scottevest fleece vest/jacket that I will be using :) which should come in handy for any of those agents that weigh my carry-on and also for the siteseeing and just keeping everything on me that I will need.

    The day of the trip:
    got up early and started getting the apartment ready for the week leave. Went to take care of the errands and then hopped on the 1:50pm train to the airport. I was into the lounge by 14:30 :)

    KRK-FRA on LH and overnight at FRA
    I'm relaxing in the lounge here in KRK. It's a contract lounge - has some OK drinks, a few snacks, seats, wifi, some computers and printer. Nothing too fancy but sure beats the rest of the airport. I realized I forgot some of my USA credit cards! I only have 2 USA ones with me, so I hope I should be fine for the trip; I mean I'm on the plane the whole time, right? I just don't have my starbucks card but I will try to get the mobile app on my blackberry.
    The flight still looks on time and it looks like a E170 with LOT so a decent shorthaul plane.
    I got the Nh hotel booked at FRA. I started looking a few weeks ago for hotels around FRA, but I don't know what was going on, but they were just some crazy prices. I think it quoted me over 150euro for a HI! So I just pricelined the Nh for about 70USD and that will be just fine.
    the flight was uneventful until we got to FRA. LO catering is better than LH shorthaul by far. A nice wrap and drink compared to LH constipating cheese brick and some old bread which birds wouldn't eat. We parked in a remote apron (nothing unusual for FRA) and waited. and waited, and waited. After a few minutes the captain came on and informed that we are waiting for the stairs, which were only a few feet from the aircraft, but noone to move it. Considering I have like everything in my vest (had an umbrella in there as it was raining in KRK) I searched for a ladder, but to no avail could not find one. Before I had a change to makeshift one from my USB cords and other items in my carry-on, they opened the door at which point we bussed it to downtown (or at least it felt like downtown)
    I arrived in FRA terminal and made my way out of the terminal. Remembering that hotel food is expensive, I went to the airport city mall and stopped by a Thai restaurant named "Thong Thai" Seeing thai but no thongs, I decided this will have to suffice for the night. I ordered some Phad Thai and some chicken starter, grabbed it to go in a paper bag and headed to the airport shuttle.
    One thing i did like was the speed of the shuttle. While other hotels run buses every 30min, Nh runs them every 20min, which when one has hot food is very important. And the hotel is quite close to the airport which was also nice. I checked-in and went to my room. Nothing fancy; wooden-ish floors, a desk, small tv and a bed plus the shower. But at the priceline rate, I found it was just fine. Watched some Big Bang and went to bed.

    I had a 5AM wakeup call set. I learned the hard way to check the phones before you go to sleep. the one by the bed did not work, while the one by the desk did. Trying to talk for a minute into a non working phone was not very productive, but I did get up. Grabbed the shower and headed to the airport. the walk from the UA desk to the tower lounge felt like I should earn some EQM for it and I figured, if I waled like this at every airport for the trip, I could drop a few lbs. Could be an interesting marketing point.... Earn UA 1K and drop those extra pounds! Nothing helps you loose weight like earning UA 1K :)
    But the tower lounge was quite nice and I was able to watch the plane get ready for the departure.

    I had a nice upper deck seat in business and enjoyed the AVOD and the new UA C product. I also bought the crew a box of chocolates (BTW the heart ones for the holiday is on sale like 1/2 off) and overall a nice crew. I enjoyed the flight and the service. Only thing I wish they had was bloody mary mix that wouldn't kill a man. 1800+mg of sodium in a can is just crazy. It's not the flying that will kill me but the BM mix will!

    Was able to grab a photo of the approach into ORD

    Arrived about 30min early into ORD and made my way over to T1. Life is so much easier with global entry. I was in T1 under 15min. But the TSA managed to mess up the good timing. The priority line was long so I headed over to the T1/T2 security noone ever uses - and noone really was using it. But they managed (with the help of the clueless traveler) to waste 15min of my time to go thru. I headed to the RCC in C concourse and got a few minutes of R&R and printing out some BPs for other flights before I headed to my flight to SFO.
    The plane was a 767. I can see why it's called a ghetto bird. I never noticed it before but F is crowded. The bins are too small for many of the carry-ons and it just feels weird having more people in F than a flight from KRK-FRA..
    But the crew was nice. The food is better than before (from what I recall). I was expecting some "enhancement" in food with the UDU, but with a hot meal, soup and a hot cookie (which kicks CO F meals a$$ any day) it was quite good.
    I headed to the SFO RCC and looked at the loads for the HNL loads.. Hmm slightly oversold. I can have them put me to LIH instead which at the time shows some F and Y seats open, so we will see what happens. Either way I will eat a pineapple on the flight!
    Screw the halfway to hawaii contest - the real contest should be - how many pineapple wedges in the mai tais must you eat before you eat a pineapple?
    Answer - After about 1/2 a pineapple, it's real difficult to calculate. Much more testing is needed :D
    I guess they didn't need me for the VDB so I took my F seat for the SFO-HNL flight on the ghetto bird. Flight was quite nice with the crew who kept the mai tais flowing. After boarding, I spotted a mileage runner on the flight and we chatted a bit. seems he is also doing a turn around also to LAX and 2 other mileage runners VDB'd on the SFO-HNL segment. seems a bunch of mileage runner are out doing some MRs also. I also found out there was another plane (LAX-HNL) that went mechanical for over 7hrs (saw the arrival time at 7pm and new one at 2am) which also was the 767 so we got a bit worried until we did a bit of verifying and all looked good for us :)
    Got into HNL and went to the AA AC lounge to grab a shower (which was nice). Why aren't there more showers in HNL? It's a shame as there are a fair amount of longhauls coming in/out. But other than the shower, the AA AC lounge wasn't anything special. Quite small, no food and nothing that the RCC didn't have. I then headed back to the RCC for a mai tai - which I found out that they are not comp! Just means more mai tais on the flight.

    HNL-LAX-SEA-IAD-TPA on UA and overnight at TPA
    I can't comment much on the flight or it's service as I basically passed out as soon as I got on and slept till LAX. No mai tais, no nothing. Sleep was needed. We arrived a tad early and we headed to the RCC to grab some breakfast.

    The mileage runner I was traveling with continued his MR and I'm waiting for my flight to SEA on the Cool Ride 7 plane. At least the upgrade cleared so it should be a OK flight. also saw the loads for my SEA-IAD flight being F0Y1 so I might have em put me on the VDB list for that. But so far everything is going according to the schedule, which is nice.

    My LAX-SEA flight was delayed slightly to a warning light, but I guess some tape over the light fixed that issue and we were on our way to SEA. I must say even the express jets F is a hundred times better than Europe C. Nice amount of legroom, seat size and also had a few drinks and the snackbox, which was somewhat healthy and was a good start for breakfast (fruit cup, bagel chips and cheese dip).
    The flight to SEA was fine. I enjoyed the skywest service onboard and the F seats. It was a very enjoyable flight. We got into SEA a tad late, but I had enough time so I still had time to visit the RCC. It was OK and then headed for the flight to IAD. I was able to meet up with the mileage runner from earlier in the RCC and chat a bit before he headed onward. the flight to IAD was an uneventful flight. And the flight down to TPA was a nice sleep. Nothing to write about.

    Got to TPA and called the hotel (county inn and suites TPA north) for a shuttle. Apparently there is no shuttle after 11pm. ?!?! no 24hr shuttle? Had to grab a cab (which was $16 + tip) and headed to the hotel. It was a new property and the rooms were nice, free wifi, and free breakfast relaxed me a bit after the no 24hr shuttle dilemma.
    Got a nice night of sleep, a nice hot shower, decent breakfast and headed to the airport in a shuttle :) and the shuttle was a private car service.
    Got to TPA and had some time before the flight to walk around and see what's up. Seems theres a lot of family and non frequent flyers out of here which made security take a bit of time, but I wasn't in a rush.
    Flight to ORD seems to be on-time and I have my F seat, so it should be a decent flight. time to finish Big Bang Theory season 2...
    I was able to finish off season 2 and also had a good flight as usual. The usual food - hot sandwich, minestrone soup, cookie, and a few of those sunrise sunset cocktails.
    I got some time before my LAX flight, and am thinking maybe I should be adventurous and order the salad next flight!
    And I'm thinking about what to do with dinner in LAX tonight. Maybe that encounter restaurant in LAX, though I'm not looking forward to reclearing security.
    Got into LAX and wasn't hungry after the flight. the pasta on the flight was filling (salad just scared me). Headed over to the RCC and went to sign the board, and relaxed for a few hours before the flight to IAD. What I find interesting is how many people talk on the phone while in the restroom. There was at one time 2 people talking, 1 texting....in the restroom! Oh well, maybe they just don't get service outside.
    As usual, I slept the whole flight to IAD. We landed a tad early.

    I headed to the RCC to relax before the flight to TPA. Had about 1.5hrs. The flight was nice. Purser served the F cabin well and we landed a few minutes early into TPA. When I boarded for the flight to ORD, it was the same crew! So the flight was once again enjoyable until disembarkation. I was in row 2 and trying to get out of my seat while people were pushing past me, running their carry-ons over my feet because they couldn't wait for me to pull my carry-on out of the overhead, which by the way is stored how it should be and requires about 5sec of time. And to add to it, we arrived 30min early! People have no manners. I was about to do some .....ing, but no sense trying to talk to them. they won't understand....
    I went to the RCC and had the agent print off the other BPs for tomorrow and I found out that my ORD-PDX is oversold. So I will try and VDB and see what can be done. Got a few possible reroutes written down. Either way I'll be in a hotel and showering tonight :D and a good night of sleep. At this point I don't know what day it is. I just follow the spreadsheet I have and BPs and make the flights.
    I did get to VDB but that was a BIG mistake!
    I was placed on the 540pm 757 to PDX. at 4pm **** hit the fan and all 757 were grounded. Meaning my nice 2hr later flight now was pending. So I went and protected myself on a 840pm flight. figuring I will have somewhere under 5hrs in PDX to "relax" I decided to skip the 400 extra eqms I'll earn and do ORD-SFO and overnight there then do SFO-KOA. All looked good. I would be in SFO by 11pm, meaning I'd get like 7hrs in the hotel to get some sleep and relax.
    Got to the gate and flight is delayed 1.5hrs meaning 1am arrival. Meaning if I'm lucky thats 2am in the hotel with a 845am dept to KOA I'm looking at those same 5hrs i would of had in PDX. Not cool!
    So was the $400 VDB worth skipping another night sleep, rebooking part of this MR and putting myself into a zombie like state? I don't know. At the current state if I knew that I'd be this delayed, I would of passed on the VDB. and considering I had to book a new hotel in SFO (not a big deal as I used some points so it's "free") I should of just rejected that VDB and flew into PDX.
    I really hope that SFO flight goes out at 10pm. It says aircraft servicing, which is interesting as it's a 767
    which it didn't have issues. It got delayed till 11pm. At that point I called up the 1K desk and had them protect me on the next day ORD-SFO-KOA flights, and i went to the RCC, moved some hotel rooms around and took that option. I was waitlisted for ORD-SFO and in F SFO-KOA.
    I went to the hilton airport hotel and got a good night sleep :) didn't lose the points for the hotel as I just cancelled my later stay I had in SFO and moved the point night till then. At the end, it worked it.
    to update: I got am email from UA 1K with a $300 ecert for the 757 issues...

    After a great night's sleep I headed back for the 9am flight to SFO. It was an airbus and as there were a lot of GS from last night's 757 issues I didn't get the upgrade, but I did get a good window E+ seat. The flight was excellent to say the least! The crew was just amazing! They went around every 15min with water, 2 beverage services/food and also gave out the rest of the red wine from first for E+ pax. i think this flight was better than many of my F flights I had. They deserved the GTEM which I gave them, and each of them came and thanked me personally. Very nice touch!
    We landed in SFO and I headed to the RCC to start booking flights for the parents in June. Which also proved to be impossible until I found some options on DL. the flight to KOA was oversold and also slightly delayed. they were giving $400 VDB, hotel, and flight out in the AM. I was tempted but I would need to change the hotel in KOA which I couldn't due to priceline and talking to them is like talking to a wall.
    The flight was nice. Uneventful, good service, good food. The Trader Vic salmon was a nice choice along with the many mai tais. I tried the halfway to hawaii game again and this time i was only about 40sec off, but someone was closer than me :eek: . Got into KOA, took the shuttle to the hotel and have some R&R time.
    I checked later and got Y bonus on one of the flights which gives me a tad more EQM then ORD-PDX-SFO-KOA :)

    KOA mini vacation
    The Sheraton was a OK property. Outdated rooms, nothing really special but the priceline rate was real good. As with many hotels on the big island, no beach access but they had plenty of pools. the room i got was a upgrade but "2 twin bed" which when I got to the room was more like 2 queens. I had a view of the lagoon.
    One thing that this property does to is charge a $15 resort fee. this resort fee isn't too bad as it actually includes some stuff (unlike other hotels) including: 2 welcome manta punches (similar to a mai tai), free wifi, free business center usage, and a few other things. I never got charged the resort fee (guess they don't charge priceline rates). In addition they got coin laundry (which really came in handy) $1.25 for wash, $1.25 for dry, $1.25 for detergent.
    The pools were nice and the landscaping was quite nice. Below are some photos.


    I spent the day exploring the property, taking photos and also booking award tickets for my parents for june. As a side note I was able to find 2 skyteam tickets in business to europe at the highest peak season for 66.5K per person! DL has a promo if you transfer membership rewards points for the first time, you get a 50% bonus (plus 25K MQM which is silver status) so finding those 2 tickets was just really nice and they are happy!

    I was able to see the sunset, but wasn't too impressed. Waikiki one seemed a lot nicer.

    The Kai restaurant (hotel restaurant) has a thursday special. 3 courses of local flavor for $38. I also had a $10 voucher for turning down housekeeping (heck with 2 queen beds, who needs housekeeping?) so the dinner was very affordable and consisted of a salad with some pineapple dressing, seared tuna and kona coffee ice cream.

    The next day i had a 815am shuttle to the airport which concluded my short vacation...

    KOA-HNL on HA and HNL-SFO on UA with SFO overnight
    I must say, KOA security is just horrible! The line was 80+ people deep, 1 lane open and took 40min to go thru. To add to it the metal detector was out of service so everyone was getting a pat down which by some luck I was the last person as they got it fixed. All KOA airport consists of is a bunch of huts.
    this was my first time in a long time flying HA and also flying an airline without status and I must say, man I miss status! even though it was a short flight, getting the 2nd to last row and a seat where they must never of heard of leg room was just bad. But the positive thing was this was my first Boeing 717 flight.


    but before I had a chance to chop off my legs, we landed in HNL and I proceeded to head over to the kona brewery restaurant for lunch (very good pork sandwich) and then to the lounge to get about an hr of relaxing in before my flight back to SFO.
    The flight to SFO was another enjoyable flight. Crew was good and it was the 777 so there were actual overhead bins and cabin interior that didn't look like it came from a 3rd world country. The macadamia crusted chicken was excellent and once again so were the mai tai. I have a feeling I prevented the cold I could feel coming on by all the pineapple slices I ate (from the mai tais). And before long we were in SFO where it was colder, rainy, and dark. I headed off to the airport hotel (HIX south)
    The Holiday inn express south (hix south) was a good hotel. They gave me a nice welcome gift. It was samples, but it still helped out. Some creams, facial scrub and a razor with extra blades. The room was OK and there was a good sized LCD tv in the room.
    the next morning I headed to the airport. didn't have a chance to grab breakfast, but the free hot breakfast had eggs, pancakes, waffles, cinnamon rolls, etc.

    SFO-ORD-MUC on UA and MUC-KRK on LH
    I got "selected" for secondary security. I guess a guy in cargo pants looks sketchy. I wanted to do some complaining, but since SFO uses a private company, I didn't want to run any risk of having the TSA back in there. I found out that another mileage runner which I met before was on the same flight to ORD as me! With it being a intl 767 config, we got a few games of backgammon in (first time playing) and some breakfast. Made the flight go by quickly and it was nice to see some other mileage runners during this MR that were also doing MR themselves.
    We got in early and that gave me enough time to meet with the family landside and grab lunch at the Hilton before my flight to MUC. It was nice to see them, even if just for a few hours.
    And then I headed off to my flight to MUC. I found out when I sat down that a friend of mine was sitting behind me, so it also made a nice flight being able to chat with a friend, though I was quite tired, and had the express dine option (which basically they bring everything out at once. No need to wait) and tried to get some sleep. I slept thru breakfast (if you call a few pieces of fruit and a roll breakfast. I call breakfast what I get at the BA F lounge - eggs, bacon, tomatoes, beans, sausages.... enough to make you full for the next week) and we headed to the SEN lounge in MUC.
    Which I must say, the newer SEN lounge is a lot nicer than the other one. I don't think many people know about it as it's quite empty. Showers are not as nice, but there is better ventilation and no lines, and having a barista making coffees is a nice touch.
    I had about 4hrs between flights, which gave me enough time to do some emails and paperwork, shower, eat lunch, and get a quick nap in before my last flight - MUC-KRK.
    The flight to KRK wasn't anything special. I got an exit row so plenty of legroom. I took the train back into the city and cabbed it home from there - saved me about $20 that way and took the same amount of time.

    Well, what is there more to say? Some 20 flights later, 36,000+ miles flown, eating basically airplane food for the whole time, living in the air and in the airport (minus the few hotel nights), having my life packed into a carry-on with some room to spare it was quite an interesting adventure. Am I happy with the outcome? Yes! Lots of miles, meeting other mileage runners during the journey and just seeing/doing what basically others would call a valid reason to send one to a mental hospital was fun.
    Would I do it again? Yes. Actually I am planning something in April/May that might involve also some AA flying so I can top off my BA account this year.
    I wish I could convince some friends to go with me, but I heard comments that they rather be shot out of a cannon then flying this much along with some dirty looks.
    Oh well, guess these MRs are meant for the die-hard fans!

  2. chef4u
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    chef4u Silver Member

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  3. scubaflyer
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    scubaflyer Silver Member

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    Yes, WOW! I don't know whether to be jealous or sympathetic. Regardless, that's quite a trip!
    FriendlySkies likes this.
  4. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    thanks for the report
  5. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    WOW is a bit of an understatement here [​IMG]. What was the time course start to finish?
  6. jason8612
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    jason8612 Gold Member

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    Started 2/11 ended 2/20
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  7. GreekDeno

    GreekDeno Silver Member

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    Wow is indeed right. Thats a helluva trip. Thanks for the write up

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