We are nearing the end of 2011, so I wanted to summarize my travel year primarily with regard to miles and points. I’m still working on sections of my trip report from Australia and New Zealand, but I wanted to get this out first since new years is coming soon.
up close and personal with a United 777 in SFO
I’ve been a United 1K since 2008, and this year was by far the latest that I qualified (mid-December). Also, I qualified by segments rather than miles. This year, my travel patterns have changed quite a bit compared with past years; less travel overall, more short haul flights, and no travel outside North America. In fact my longest United flight of the year was my several hops between ORD and SFO. At least some of those were in the flat bed business class product. I did have some luck securing bumps, and one day where United bumped me twice was probably my most memorable United trip of the year.
Technically, my Mileage plus status still doesn’t show as renewed, but by combining my flights posted to both United and Continental, I have flown 122.5 segments and 93k elite qualifying miles. 8 flights and about 10,000 EQM of those were credited to Continental. My accounts are linked, and my SWU’s and CR-1 (I’m old school and am not used to the new names) just posted. I was hoping they didn’t post until after the new year, but it looks like United got their act together with a few days to spare.
Awesome McNamara Terminal at DTW
I’ve been a Northwest Delta Platinum since 2006, but due to my company’s travel policy and reduced travel overall, my Delta travel has decreased significantly. I had to be creative to renew Platinum in 2010, and this year I only flew a few revenue tickets. I had several United trips that went awry and I asked to be rebooked on Delta to get to my destination sooner without dealing with additional mess at ORD and of course to double dip. So thanks to this and some rollover miles, I qualified for Skymiles Silver. Its not worth much, but its better than nothing. I of course used many of my pile of Delta Skymiles for my V Australia business class trip to Australia and New Zealand.
I also flew 2 round trips on Frontier, quick leisure trips booked for the convenience of a non-stop from MKE and cheap fares.
W Minneapolis-The Foshay
I had a lot of Starwood stays in 2011, at least in part due to being motivated by their various promotions. Getaway Free was probably my favorite, but I also liked the foursquare promo as well. I redeemed free nights for a great stay at the St. Regis Punta Mita thanks to the Getaway Free promotion. Other memorable stays in 2011 include the W Minneapolis and the Westin Sydney. I have been a SPG platinum for a few years and requalified pretty easily in 2011. In some ways, I wish for rollover, as I’d be well on my way for 2012. But with the mid-year change to allow award stays to count towards status requalification, it shouldn’t be too difficult to qualify in the future.
St Regis Punta Mita
I also managed to maintain my Hyatt Diamond status this year. I first earned this status in 2009 thanks to a generous challenge to earn Diamond. This year qualification was a bit more difficult for me than Starwood. The Hyatt portfolio is small, and the full-service properties they have are often centrally located in business destinations, which sometimes prices them out of my budget. In 2011, Hyatt had some decent promotions, but didn’t bring back its awesome Faster Free Nights. There were some changes to the Gold Passport program mostly a positive for diamonds. Unfortunately, this information was leaked before release, which led to the termination of the personal line concierge who divulged this information. I had a nice stay at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, and I also stayed in a suite in the Park Hyatt Melbourne, which was wonderful.
I also had a few stays at Hilton, but I did much more redeeming than earning this year. I was a HH diamond in the past, am Gold currently, and I didn’t stay enough to maintain that next year. Matthew posted about a work around for this if Hilton Gold status is desired, and there always seem to be easy ways to get this based on airline or other status. This year I had some great stays at the various Hiltons in New Zealand. I visited all of them, and stayed in 3 of the 4. The Hilton Auckland was lovely, as were the others.
View from our balcony at the Hilton Queenstown
That day is coming soon: elite qualifying balance in travel programs are about to be zeroed out. I hate that. The nature of much of my business travel is relatively short notice. I have some potential interesting trips in the works, but nothing is booked yet for the new year, which is a little scary.
In terms of leisure travel, my wife and I have a vacation to Bali planned in April. Cathay Pacific First Class, and hotels TBD. I’m certainly open to suggestions for where to stay. We are hoping to visit Europe later in the year, but that’s just in the conversation stage at this point.
What about you? How was your 2011 in terms of travel? Where are you going in the new year?