The new year often brings optimism, and planning for the future ahead. I have already reviewed my 2017 in Travel, here are some of my travel related resolutions for 2018.
But first, how did I do on my 2017 Resolutions?
I completed 50 nights with Starwood, so I soon will have Starwood Lifetime Platinum status. I’m kind of excited about this, but I really hope Marriott doesn’t take it away or change it too drastically when the programs finally merge in 2019.
My upgrade percentage improved in 2017 vs 2016, at least on flights I care about. My domestic upgrade percentage on American might be slightly lower than in the past, but still solid, around 90%. For international flights using SWUs, I cleared 7 of the 9 flights I attempted to upgrade. I’ll take it. Of course only earning 4 SWUs per year (6 since I had 150K miles), requires being selective with when to try to upgrade.
For hotels, I am pleased with my upgrades in 2017. I used 9/10 of my Starwood Suite Night Awards. While I let one expire, since I was mattress running at the end of the year, I didn’t have a way to use it easily. No big deal. We used most of the 10 SNA’s on our trip to Greece, especially the pool suite at the Blue Palace in Crete. For Hyatt, I had 4 Tier Suite Upgrades, but my main compliment as a Globalist with World of Hyatt is the complimentary upgrades where I did well. I used 3 TSUs so far, some for family, and some for longer business trips, and have 1 more to use in before then end of February, plus 4 more that I earned late in 2017.
Another goal was for more stamps in my passport. I didn’t make as much progress as I hoped. New countries include Slovenia, Slovakia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Greece. The latter forms a special place in my heart since that is where my grandfather (and many more relatives) were born.
I didn’t make it back to New Zealand as I hoped, but that should change in 2018.
I did burn a lot of points as I hoped to. My United Mileage Plus balance zeroed out a few times. I burned points for our family trip on Austrian Airlines, and I contributed miles for a trip my parents are taking in 2018. I also spent down much of my Starwood points balance for a few trips this year.
Hotel plans for 2018
I don’t foresee any major changes to my hotel preferences in 2018. I look forward to an easier journey towards status this year for both Starwood and Hyatt. Thanks to completing a few extra stays locally, I have completed 10 years and more than 500 nights with Starwood. Therefore, with lifetime status I don’t have to worry about requalifying again. For Hyatt, 55 nights to reach Globalist again will likely take some effort, but thanks to free nights now counting towards status, it will be less painful.
Besides the free upgrades I often receive as a top-tier member of Starwood and Hyatt, I do have confirmable suite upgrades at both. I plan to maximize those as much as i can in 2018. I have less time to use them with Hyatt, since they now expire 1 year from when they are earned.
I’m (probably too) loyal to various programs, especially in 2017. Loyalty programs are still important to me, but hopefully this year I can spread things around a bit more and use the best option rather than just the best option among my preferred chains.
Flights in 2018
Business trips continue to make up the bulk of my travels. Travel policy still mandates booking the lowest available fare in economy. Status allows me to do pretty well in terms of upgrades and benefits when I travel, and that will continue. I don’t have too much on the books yet this year, but a lot of potential travel picking up very soon. I’m not sure if my overall travel will decline as it did last year, but it seems like there will be at least as much long haul travel as in 2017.
As for leisure travel, I have a few fun things on the books. I managed to snag some space in Qantas First Class on their longest flight between Sydney and Dallas. That should be fun, and I’m planning to hop over to New Zealand for a few days which I’ve been really wanting to get back to. I also booked a flight in Swiss First Class for a wedding anniversary trip. I don’t think this is likely to happen, but I have several months to sort things out between Swiss and the DOT. In any case, I’m very much looking forward to international first class travel again. It has been a while, my last time was also down under, in Etihad First Class Apartments.
More of the same, but some new places too
I’m sure I’ll be returning to some familiar places, but I’m always trying to get to new destinations too. Last year I visited several new countries, and I hope to continue that this year. A few areas of interest to me include Central Asia and the Balkan countries. I’d also like to get back to Africa, and explore more. Work may take me to South Africa, but if I go that far, I’d also love to visit Namibia and those are only a few possibilities. No plans yet, but I’m hoping to add some of these places to my list this year.
What about you? What are your travel resolutions for the new year?