The year 2018 is nearly past us, and as I often do, here is a summary of my travels in the past year. I find travel these days a mixed bag. Time away from family while traveling for business is difficult, but seeing the world, especially when it is with them is a great thing. I still put great value in loyalty programs, even though rewards earned for loyalty seem to decline, at least compared to the “good old days”. I’m still flying American for most of my flights, and despite lots of issues, I was able to use all of my System wide Upgrades on long-haul flights, and only had one such flight where I attempted to upgrade where I did not clear. My domestic upgrade percentage was solid. It isn’t the best airline out there but remains the best option for my flight patterns.
Flight highlights in 2018
After a slight decline last year, my flights picked up again this year. I flew 149 segments and around 203,000 miles. Over 150,000 miles credited to American Airlines in 2018. More than I’d like on both tallies, but there were some nice fun flights mixed in with the monotony of most of my business travel. My business travel this year had a lot of domestic flights, as well as a fair amount of international trips. Work travel to South Africa, Singapore and Australia means some long trips and lots of miles. But thankfully I was mostly in premium cabins on those trips. The longest flight I took this year was the A380 on my fun trip down under in Qantas First Class between Dallas and Sydney. As always, my shortest flight of the year is the 67 mile jaunt between my home airport in Milwaukee and Chicago O’Hare, which I flew 17 times.
In total, I had more than 20 days and 16 hours in planes. I love flying, but that’s just too many. Even though all of my business travel is booked in economy, 53% of my flights this year were in premium cabins. I can’t complain too much about that. Airline status still works for me. We redeemed miles for 3 of us on a trip to Europe using Lufthansa and Swiss, which made for a great family adventure.
I also enjoyed visiting the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago on that trip. Other memorable lounges this year include the always great Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney, and Cathay Pacific’s The Pier in Hong Kong. Those two never get old. I also enjoy visiting the Cathay lounge at Heathrow, a great respite when in Terminal 3.
Firsts and some more statistics.
This year there weren’t any new aircraft for me, other than one flight on a Cathay Pacific A350-1000. Nice and modern, but just a stretched version of a plane I’ve been on before. Sadly, my most commonly flown plane was the CRJ-200, which is my least favorite. The 8575 miles between Dallas and Sydney made up the longest flight of the year, and the longest I’ve ever taken. It was a treat to be in first class on Qantas, especially on such a long flight.
Early in the year I made some short visits to a few new countries. Not the best way to explore a new place, but a short trip is better than nothing. I enjoyed weekend layovers in Warsaw and Vilnius, and in doing so made it to 60 countries visited. My new country count didn’t grow much more this year, but I did return to some old favorites. I flew to Australia once for work, and once for fun while in transit to New Zealand.
Thankfully after reporting on earning Lifetime Platinum status with Starwood, that rolled into Marriott Lifetime Platinum Elite status. Unfortunately, after things started out very smoothly, the transition between programs remains a logistical nightmare with seemingly unending IT issues. Thanks to this lifetime status, I have been able to avoid some of this simply by booking elsewhere when I can. In total, I spent 130 nights in hotels this year. That’s really a lot, and most of it is business travel, but a fair amount was for leisure. I still stuck with my preferred loyalty programs for many of my hotel stays, but, there was some variety on occasion. I again requalified for Hyatt Globalist and got to 50 nights with Marriott. In past years, that would yield me 10 Suite night awards, but this year it means only 5. Unlike last year, there was no mattress running to get this hotel status. Just a lot of travel.
Favorite hotels this year include the Park Hyatt Mallorca. This was a great place, and a decent value for redeeming Hyatt points, especially since we were given a great suite without using one of the Suite Upgrades I earn as a Globalist in the Hyatt loyalty program. Hyatt remains my preferred hotel program, and while a small footprint, they continue to add properties, and benefits are mostly improving. While Marriott is going through a rough patch post-integration, they have a lot of hotels, and most of my on-property experiences were good and sometimes great.
Elite Qualification in 2018
Not too many changes this year compared to last. I maintained my status with Hyatt and American for next year. Yes, I’m still on the status hamster wheel, but feel less stress on this front since I now have lifetime status with United and Marriott. I flew just over 160,000 miles on American with (ouch) 114 segments. Almost all on American, but a few flights on Qantas and BA to mix it up a bit. Those totals mean another year of Executive Platinum status with some extra SWUs.
I used United occasionally domestically, and Lufthansa in Europe when it was easier than other options. That meant over 20 segments with Star Alliance, about half with United, the rest with partners. Utilizing Lifetime Star Alliance gold status works great when needed. I also flew 4 flights with Cathay, but thanks to American not crediting flights in economy, I credited these to an otherwise mostly dormant Alaska account. I flew once on Delta, just for the ease of a nonstop, and once on Vueling for the same reason.
This year saw the return to some old favorite places. We had our family trip to Spain, which was a first for our daughter, but a fun return visit for my wife and I. Plus, I made it back to New Zealand, although that was only a relatively short trip, and it was alone. I also visited Istanbul again, plus spent some time in Australia and Hong Kong. A few new places in 2018, but later I’ll talk about some resolutions for the new year, and I hope to get to even more new destinations in 2019
Happy New Year and Thank you!
On that note, I wanted to wish you a happy and healthy new year. Thanks for following along in 2018, and I look forward to seeing you in 2019. Thanks for reading, and your comments.