Newbies Only

Discussion in 'SMD5 (Star MegaDO #5)' started by Randy Petersen, May 19, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    Welcome to the Newbies Only thread for the Star Alliance MegaDO5 (SMD5). For those new to flying along on a MegaDO, you'll often be faced with some confusion and a myriad of threads and posts that are even hard at times for for the repeat member of these MegaDO's to keep up with. This thread is designed to slow down that pace and provide some sense of one-on-one with your questions. Welcome.

    DO WHAT?
    OK, let's start at the beginning. A "DO" is a dictionary term used to describe a gathering, In this case it is a noun and decribes a party or other social event. The term "MegaDO" was used by one of the co-founders of Milepoint, Tommy Danielsen (Tommy777) in 2009 when he and a loose group of other volunteers (among them Oliver and Reb) thought it would be a cool idea to charter a plane (we know, bad idea huh?) and fly to see the Airbus factory in France. Despite the seemingly unsurmountable odds they pulled it off, the participants had the time of their life and now it is one of the hottest tickets on the planet for a frequent flyer/aviation experience. Yes, it's a party. Yes, it's a social event. And yes, you'll have access to tours and experiences that none of your fellow man (or woman) will likely be able to match.

    WHAT ARE YOU GETTING YOURSELF INTO?: We've been fortunate to have the press fly along on some of these MegaDo's and here's some story links to their perspective—views of what a MegaDo is all about. Here's The Wall Street Journal story on the StarMegaDo (2009) and theStarMegaDo3 (2011). If you want to really do your research, here's the Master Thread of a recent MegaDo and you'll be able to read along from the participant's view.

    ATTIRE: What to wear? From flipflops and t-shirts to blazers and leather shoes—it's what you are comfortable with. At times, some of the evening events seem to bring out a bit more dress, but typically nothing requiring bow-ties and tails. Since seeing might be believing, here's a few links to some of the photo threads of prior MegaDO's. You'll see events and inflight attire here, here and even in this video. Hope this helps ... TIP: Pack light.

    SAY WHAT?: One of the things that can confuse a newbie to any event is the veteran's use of acronyms. There's plenty of them within the frequent flyer programs and sure to be some exclusive to the MegaDO's. Here's a tip: Milepoint has a unique dynamic glossary which means that when you see an acronym you need help with it's definition, simply double-click on it or just highlight the acronym and you'll see a definition pop up in the upper right hand corner of the page. Here's an example, for instance if the SMD5 were to begin at YYZ and participants were going to earn double EQM's for the charter flight and one of the posters referred to the SMD5 and you were wondering if there is going to an any ASR for the MegaDO and if there is GS on your connecting flight. And you'll likely want to know if you have to PYOB, maybe in the UC and if the *A is going to honor any new elite status such as *G. But there may be some who get kicked up to 1K. And then if you like to make a MR on the way to or from the SMD5, don't forget that CPM is a most important factor.

    C-H-H-H-H-HANGES
    No matter the hundreds of hours that go into planning these events ... things happen. So up front here's a word of advice you'll need to keep in your back pocket at all times—there may be in all likelihood, last minute changes of events and times. One of the most important things you can do is to fall in with a repeat participant of these MegaDO's. They will likely be in tune to how last second announcements are made. As well, there will be a flood of information updated within this forum for the Star Alliance MegaDO5 so it will be a savvy move to check in from time to time as the event nears or use the "watch thread" function (a link to this term will show a video on how to do this) for any of the threads you see information about the MegaDO. This will alert you to additions to the thread—but beware, this is a chatty bunch of excited participants.
     
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  2. davegolden99

    davegolden99 Active Member

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    Good Morning. Just want to first thank Randy, Tommy, and all the folks who put in the effort to plan this trip. Also want to thank those brilliant bloggers that help us find ways to capitalize on all of the points, miles, and other reward offers. While I do not consider myself a pro, I look up to many of these pros and do my best to learn from them. The result has been a LOT of free travel, status, and other goodies. I have a spreadsheet that shows all of the rewards we have received the past few years and it's probably about fifty rows.

    So after booking our fourth straight yearly trip to Hawaii first class to stay at a luxury resort, many asked me, "Why are you flying to Toronto just to fly to Tucson and then to San Francisco?" My answer is that they wouldn't understand it - but here are the reasons my wife, Linette, and I will be attending:

    1. Networking. We're looking forward to the "party in the sky". Hope they serve Grey Goose on the flight. It sounds like a blast and I want to learn more about how to maximize awards. I want to find the holy grail, the "unlimited churn" and hear great stories about the best deals. Yes, I have met people like myself before that treat their deals as if they were trophies: building forts and castles out of them and taking pictures. My "Tide Mountain" is impressive.

    2. Splurge. The cost of the tickets serve two purposes - To just have a great time and reward ourselves for the hard work all year gathering, collecting, organizing, and spending thriftily the many rewards we receive. The other purpose is to join the team - and support MegaDO. I want to see this happen every year and hopefully participate in years to come. The expenses require a certain level of support and I hope we achieve it this year.

    3. New Experiences. The schedule looks fun. While I still consider myself a "reward rookie" and am not familiar with these acronyms you speak of, I hope to learn. I'll take plenty of pictures and hope to meet new friends along the way.

    So I just booked three nights at the Radisson in Toronto because the Ritz Carlton is likely out of our price range. (and because the Radisson was listed as one of their top hotels and cost us $0 using 2 free nights and 44,000 points) Any recommendations for San Francisco? Any other first time MegaDOers out there? Any other tips besides pack light (1 carry-on each?)

    We're not shy. Really excited about the trip and looking forward to meeting you all. Attaching a random picture of our dog, Meeko. Enjoy.
     

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  3. rehoult
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    rehoult Gold Member

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    Look forward to meeting both you and Linette. There probably won't be Grey Goose on board, but there will be lots of whatever AC's choice of vodka is (admittedly I should know, but its not my drink of choice so I don't).

    The best advice possible is to relax. Things will go wrong.

    What could go wrong you say?
    - 3 hour line at customs, and no organizers with a Nexus card
    - Pax stopped by CBP or security
    - Airline forgets to board the extra booze we paid for
    - FAs refuse to serve the duty free booze we bought to replace the booze they forgot to board
    - We lose people and/or their passports
    - Some asshat ignores the continuous pleas the night before about a change in the start time, goes by the time on his name tag, oversleeps and delays the buses leaving (see picture to the left of said asshat)
    - Our plane breaks
    - Our plane works but they send it on another flight
    - The crew officially gives up and leaves the aircraft mid-flight (hasn't occurred yet, but give it time)
    - Someone gives us a wheel of cheese instead of points
    - Hotel refuses to give all 160 of us access to the 15 person capacity lounge, citing 'fire code' or some similar BS
    - Something isn't 'Brand Standard'
    - Some stupid moron(s) makes a stink about the lounge access / wheel of cheese / 'Brand Standard' and makes everyone else look bad (if you are thinking of doing that, review this picture and then reconsider: http://ow.ly/lBl84)
    - We run out of booze (ok, you can legitimately panic at this point)

    In the end, all will be solved, all that desire will be tipsy and all will be amazing.

    Besides your carry-on advice (the correctness of which cannot be overstated), other advice includes:
    - Listen to announcements. Schedules change and what is printed on the back of your name tag may no longer be valid.
    - Be sociable. This will be my ~10th Do, and its the friends that keep me coming back, not the activities; but you only meet the friends if you're out and about. If you're in-bed asleep by 10, you're doing it wrong (http://ow.ly/lBlGl).
     
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  4. pnoeric

    pnoeric Silver Member

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    And one more good resource for newbies-- the Milepoint TV videos from the most recent MegaDO, Star MegaDO 4. There are videos for every one of the 7 days of the DO and you can find them all right here. (Don't miss the "day 4" video, with the tour of the 787 Dreamliner.)

    They will give you a sense of the itinerary and what kind of stuff goes on!

    (And yes, I'm slightly biased... ;) )
     
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  5. davegolden99

    davegolden99 Active Member

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    GREAT Tips. Believe me, I understand how difficult planning something like this can be and we will be extremely patient. Agree with you on being social, no worries there. I do not plan to sleep during the trip. :) Hilarious post, man! Really looking forward to meeting everyone.
     
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  6. alanro

    alanro Gold Member

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    Well, I certainly qualify as a Newbie here, although I've been lurking on the boards for about 10 years, and flying hither and yon for almost 25... I am thinking of flying along this year, due to a couple of serendipitous coincidences: I grew up in Toronto, and have a school reunion of sorts on October 23 and 24, and I now live near San Francisco. This seems too good to pass up; now I just have to convince my wife to join me... :) I'm not the most extroverted of people, but I would certainly look forward to meeting people who share my hobby (or obsession), and who wouldn't blink an eye on hearing that I have flown from San Francisco to San Juan to pick up a bottle of rum in the duty-free, and then returned directly home (the co-worker for whom I bought the rum thought I had lost my marbles...). Cheers!
     
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  7. rehoult
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    rehoult Gold Member

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    We'd love to have you along; always nice to meet new faces at these events. As for your wife, I can tell you for certain that she won't be the only spouse on this trip, in fact at least one other couple is also booked for their first MegaDo.
     
  8. Shera

    Shera Silver Member

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    Definitely a Newbie. Booked with the chance that arrived today. So excited!. Spouse hates traveling so on my own. Looking forward to a great experience!
     
  9. Shera

    Shera Silver Member

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    Silly Newbie question. Are there links to book the hotels? If so where?
     
  10. u600213
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    u600213 Silver Member

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    Also newbie. Text below taken from the take2 thread:

    As promised, here are the hotel booking links. Please note that they are only for SMD participants and non-participants found using them will be subject to whatever punishment I deem fit (pro-tip: we get a list of everyone who books the rate, we'll notice it).

    Toronto Marriott ($216 per night)

    http://www.marriott.com/hotels/trav...omDate=10/22/13&toDate=10/25/13&stop_mobi=yes

    Toronto Ritz-Carlton ($310 per night)

    https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Toronto/Reservations/Default.htm and enter group code: SMDSMDA

    SFO Marriott ($139 per night, rate good until Oct 31)

    https://resweb.passkey.com/Resweb.do?mode=welcome_ei_new&eventID=10722696
     
  11. davegolden99

    davegolden99 Active Member

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    Hi - I have a newbie question! My wife and I are looking forward to the trip and we want to make sure we are courteous with the size of our luggage. I understand that we are to pack as little as possible. If we packed one regular sized suitcase would that be acceptable? Or better to pack two carry on bags? Thanks.
     
  12. storyteller
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    storyteller Gold Member

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    Which ever of your 2 options would be just fine. Really.
    I am usually on an around the world, 3-4 week, multi climate & multifunction trip. And have luggage to match plus carry my work / conference related apparatus. Even with this, it works out just fine. Many folk are only away from home maybe 3 nights, so only have carry-on. Some are from far away & it is a multi purpose trip.

    It all works out.

    We go through normal airport check-in, so can check bags. The aircraft has normal luggage space, and we probably never get close to using it. Probably they never carry the usual freight that commercial aircraft carry. When we arrive, all our stuff comes out really fast.

    Actually, even though we have the plane to ourselves, we ARE at the mercy of baggage handling, so I always carry a complete change of clothing in my carry-on ( unfortunate long experience).

    We still only have the same space for our 1st bag, & overhead for 2nd item. The overheads do get full on these flghts as folk are often just carrying bags & not checking.

    So, as you say, why not check a medium sized bag, & have a carry on? Covers all bases, plus leaves your leg space free..

    Cheers. :)
     

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