What year is it? 2021 is ending? Did 2021 seem much different than 2020? To me, yes, but sadly more similar that I expected or definitely hoped for, but in terms of travel, 2021 looked much better than 2020 did. For me, the return to some long haul flights, at least for fun trips was a big improvement on 2020 which had none. Below is a map of my 2021 flights thanks to OpenFlights:
This year I returned on my slow paced quest to visit more new countries. Adding 2 new destinations this year, with trips to Croatia and Belize bringing my country count to 66. I hadn’t been to Europe since 2018, so it was nice to return again. No Asia again in 2021 (other than transit in Qatar), mostly due to closed borders, but hopefully that will change next year. As I do, here is a summary of my year in travel, broken down into sections including flights, hotels, with some comments on destinations and the ongoing quest for elite status.
2021 in Travel: Flights
My work travel picked up from 2020, but not nearly as much as it had been in the past, mostly since there was zero trips outside of North America. I had one business trip to Canada once the borders opened, and covered some ground, but most of my travels were close to home. Plus a few trips to Los Angeles where my ‘home office’ is located. Mostly lots of shorter flights. American is still my primary carrier, and I managed to secure Executive Platinum again, but I spread things out as well, crediting to Air Canada for an elite status promotional offer, plus a few flights on United and Delta for the sake of convenience.
117 segments in 2021. Yikes, that’s a lot, especially in a year with limited travel periods. This is more than pandemic year 2020, but similar to 2019. This year has a bit of new travel pattern for my work travels, shorter, more regional trips. While I did have a few nonstops, but as always, more connections mean lots of segments. Many short flights, but my longest was a flight between Doha and Seattle, in Qatar Airways Qsuites. Very comfortable way to fly 7393 miles over the north pole, for nearly 15 hours.
This segment was part of an award ticket, but I did manage to credit just over 106,000 miles (and 101 segments!) to American Advantage, and requalify for Executive Platinum status again. About 125,000 EQM on the year across all airlines,. The shortest flight of my year was on a fun trip to Belize, a short hop on a Cessna to San Pedro, at only 32 miles.
Several memorable trips; the family journey to Spain and Croatia this summer, and a solo geek-out/mileage run this fall. Reviews to come with that, but centered on finally ticking off a goal of experiencing Qsuites.
2021 in Travel: Hotels
Thanks to various promotions, I managed earn more hotel nights in various programs than ever before. My first time earning Titanium status with Marriott, and 80 nights credited to Hyatt, securing Globalist status again. 91 actual nights in hotels in 2021, which is a lot, but less that some pre-pandemic years. Hyatt remains my focus, and much of my work travels allowed for stays in their brands. My travels of late have worked well for Hyatt’s expanding footprint. Marriott is a dinosaur, and my backup program. Somehow I don’t try too hard to seek out these properties, but they are everywhere. I have Marriott lifetime platinum status, but for 2022, I’ll have Titanium status, we’ll see what difference that makes, if any.
With a few Hyatt promotions during the year, especially early on, when double nights were offered. I basically did a few cheap local stays because I wasn’t sure if/when things would open up. Once they did, I realized I was going to end the year at 79 nights, so I added one more stay to get to 80. Mostly since Hyatt offers some nice sweeteners at 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights. This last stay was just a local Hyatt Place to break up the holiday break with pool time and a sleep over away from home with my daughter.
My most memorable hotel was probably at the Sheraton Riviera Dubrovnik. It really felt like vacation, just chilling by the beach/pool, and enjoying nice weather, mostly disconnected. All of that was needed after the madness that was 2020. We also enjoyed some other nice hotels on this trip, including the Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, and a return to an old favorite, the Westin Palace Madrid.
Elite Qualification in 2021
Mostly the same as in past years, sticking with American and Hyatt as my primary programs. High upgrade rates on American, over 75% of the flights that are eligible makes for a much more pleasant experience. I still value my United Million Miler status which grants me United Gold status for life. A nice backup airline when it works. But I also flew Delta a few times for nonstops. Mixing this up this year for my work trip to Canada, where I leveraged a promotion where they were doing status matches. I matched my American status to their 75K level, and with one round trip, that status would be valid for all of 2022. That worked out well for me, and I was able to use it for lounge access on domestic United flights. Not sure how much work in Canada there will be for me, but Air Canada is a nice airline, especially with status.
Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading. Hope I brought you some enjoyment. Travel is different than it used to be, but at least for me is still an escape that I really value. I enjoy sharing my experiences, and I hope to continue doing so. Thanks for being a part of this. Safe travels.