In the past week or so, I encountered some personal travel milestones that I wanted to share.
Last week I had business in the Bay Area, then from there was heading to Las Vegas for the weekend to meet some friends. I bought a one way SFO-LAS ticket on United. Due to the relatively short notice of my ticket purchase it was not a good price for a short one way, but thanks to an electronic voucher, it was only $35 out of pocket. As I walked to the gate, I noticed the “Volunteers Needed” message on the info board. As per usual, I didn’t get to the gate very early, and I haven’t had much luck getting bumps of late, most often due to no volunteers needed, or lack of flexibility in my plans. I didn’t follow Ben’s rules in maximizing bump chances, but lucked out anyway. In this instance, I knew were later flight options, and I didn’t need to be to my destination right away, so I quickly got in line at the podium. I spoke to an agent who told me they already had the volunteers they needed, so I just waited for the boarding call. Before boarding, there was another request for volunteers from the other agent working the flight, so I walked right to the desk, and offered my seat again, and this time they were happy to take it, Within a few minutes, I had $400 in United travel credits and was rebooked in first class for a flight in 2 hours. I then went back to the Red Carpet Club to get some work done.
When I went to the gate for the later flight, I saw the volunteers sign again, and figured, I still have some time to play with so I’d try for the bump again. There was already a line at the gate, but I waited my turn and offered my seat up again and was processed right away. I wasn’t expecting one bump, let alone two, so I didn’t really do much research looking at other flight options while in the RCC. I tried to look it up while I was in line, but the wonderful United mobile website was not cooperating. Once the agent was processing my new ticket, she apologized for not having any first class seats for my flight, I wasn’t too concerned about the short flight, but i quickly discovered that the next flight was on a dreaded CRJ. Oh well, I could certainly handle it for the short flight, particularly with $800 in United vouchers with me. Also, the flight was not for a few hours. I had more work to do, so timing wise it was fine.
When I was at the gate for my now third flight, they again needed volunteers (one in this case). I was tempted, but the offer for the rebooked flight was not until 11pm, I had plans for dinner, and with 2 bumps, I had spent enough time in the terminal. I’m not sure why there was so many overbooked flights to LAS this day. I later learned there was a big rave going on in town, so maybe that’s at least part of the reason. I’ve only secured 2 bumps on United in the last 2 years or so, so me getting 2 in the span of a few hours was quite a haul for me.
As a side note, I was charged a $75 close in ticketing fee when I booked this ticket. This purchase was made just after the June 15 ticketing changes. It was 7 days before departure. This was obviously an error since the fee applies only to award tickets and as a 1K, this fee is waived. A quick call to the 1K line got this fee credited back to my card.
I hit another milestone on my return flight. With my Continental Platinum status, my upgrade cleared at the 5 day window for a lunch flight on a 757-300. The meal choices were a shrimp caesar salad or the (in)famous Continental cheeseburger. I don’t typically eat much red meat, but I figured I had to try this out, as it sounded quite good.
Not the best burger I’ve had, but pretty tasty for airplane food. It was served with a cream of mushroom soup, a small fruit cup, and a brownie.
Finally, the last bit of travel related excitement that happened last week. The spend bonus posted for the British Airways Visa for both my wife and I, so now with more than 200K BA miles in what will be a BA household account, I’m looking forward to my first One World award redemption. I’m hoping to try out Cathay Pacific First Class, both for its great reputation, and to avoid the big fees on BA redemptions. I think we are most likely looking to do a one way award on Cathay, paired with a one way Star Alliance award, but possibly will transfer some SPG points to top up the BA accounts to get enough miles for a roundtrip in F. I’m thinking of a trip to Bali which would make my wife happy, but I’d also like to visit Japan or Korea again, as my trips to those places were way too short and/or mostly for work with little time for sightseeing. If I use Star Alliance for one way, I’ll certainly try to route via BKK and possibly via FRA for the excellent ground experience. (My Thai Royal First Lounge review is now here…)
Any other suggestions for how to best use my newfound BA riches? Should I do a round trip or just a one way? Any other destinations I should consider?