2-0-1-4 was another year which reshaped the aviation industry. We saw terrible tragedies which included the downing of three Malaysian jets, one still missing and another brought down by rebels/Russia in Eastern Ukraine. Political turmoil also nearly closed Israel’s main airport during the 50 day conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip, but the suspension of some political sanction allowed Iranian Air to receive Boeing and Airbus replacement parts for the first time in years and retake some of their ancient jets back to the sky, including a B747-200!. Despite the catastrophic losses and conflicts, the aviation industry has had a record year in profit in many parts of the world as synergies from mergers and lower fuel prices have soared profits to new levels. 2014, also brought many negative product enhancements as American Airlines downgraded their product offer to match that of US Airways and both Delta and United further hack away at frequent flyer benefits. Yet, if we put that all aside and we find some airlines, especially those in the Middle East, enhancing the flying experience with the delivery of new jets, including the A380, B787, and A350; and the opening of new airports and terminals throughout the world to make the flying experience better than ever!
For me, 2014 was another year of exploring new places, new planes, new airlines and traveling domestically almost weekly for work. This year I tracked my flights with openflights.org and through their tools learned some pretty interesting facts about my travel patterns in 2014. Either way, I was extremely fortunate to be able to travel as much as I did both domestically and internationally and am looking forward to 2015 and what it has in store for me.
In 2014 for the flights that I logged, I traveled 162,022 miles over 144 segments and spent 16 days, 11 hours and 31 minutes on airplanes – this equals a lot more flying than ever before! Last year in 2013 I traveled just 98,000 miles! Throughout the year, I flew on planes as small as a Cessna-172 and as large as an A380-800s, but spent the majority of time on domestic flights on American Eagle CRJ-200s flying to and from Sacramento and on domestic B737 on Alaska, American, or Southwest.
To recap the year in my top stories and my favorite trips I would have to place them in this order:
Around the World for 120,000 Miles in First Class: This trip included the final three-cabin flights operated by TAM. While most Aviation geeks are excited for inaugural service, this was a moment in history for South America, as when TAM’s last flight departed on October 31, 2014 it was the end of an era for South America. TAM was the only Latin American airline to offer three class cabin services with a dedicated first class cabin and I was able to experience their final flight in First. Furthermore, I was also able to fly Malaysia’s A380 in First Class on this trip and fly to experience Cathay Pacific’s long haul first class. This trip marked the first time in my life I flew in true first class and this was extremely memorable! More trip reports are still in the works, but I will say this, as much as I loved the flights, I have learned that I truly do not need a first class cabin. Business class with lay flat seats will do!
To Rome and Back: A last minute vacation to Europe when work gave me zero notice that I suddenly had a week and a half of PTO! Me being me, I couldn’t sit around at home, so away to Rome I went! I scrambled to find award space to Europe and once I found some, it presented the opportunity to explore the ancient city of Rome. Although I had been to Venice, Pisa, Naples, and Sicily, before this trip I had never visited the capital of the ancient Roman Empire. On this trip I was able to fly US Airways Envoy class for the first time and also experience AirBerlin’s fantastic business class service!
Europe in Winter: This trip was also planned somewhat last minute around work projects but it allowed me to fly to and from London on American’s new B77w. On the way to Europe I “roughed it” in Main Cabin Extra and on the way home I flew business class and experienced my first international trip ever on American Airlines.
BORNEO!!: In 2013 I went to Borneo for the first time and fell in love with the diving in and around Sipadan. In 2014 my good friend from Singapore invited me to join her on a trip to Mabul and after convincing my boss of the much needed vacation, I was able to secure award space to and from the Island on mixture of airlines; but more importantly was able to experience Cathay Pacific long haul business class along with JAL’s 787 and their outdated and already being replaced angle-flat seats.
Flagship First on Americans A321T: Flying the long way to Puerto Rico included flying American’s newest plane and newest product from coast-to-coast. The flight was a redeye so I did not get to enjoy the soft product as much as I did the hard product, but either way I had a wonderful trip to Puerto Rico and was spoiled by the flying first on the A321T there and first on the 767-200 on the return trip LAX-JFK! Flying the only three class plane on a coast-to-coast flight was whimsical!
Delta Coast-to-Coast BusinessElite: A battle field upgrade while only being a Delta Gold (which expired Feb 2014) was granted after being rerouted and delayed due to incremental weather. Delta’s IT prioritizes those affected by delays before all other Elites and this resulted in an instant upgrade to Business! After flying both BusinessElite on Delta and First on American, I would say Delta wins hands down on coast-to-coast travel!
The rest of my 2014 was fairly uneventful and included the typical headaches of domestic travel and lack of blogging material. After all, most people don’t want to read about 2 hour flights on tiny regional jets or a quick hop in domestic first class on a domestic airlines. There were plenty of headaches, but even more positive experiences to report and to share with you.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to all of you for reading my blogs and following me on Twitter and Instagram . Like all the other writers at Upgrd, blogging is just a hobby and not a full time job. I work 40+ hours a week at my day job and attempt to maintain my relationship status while blogging and traveling on the side. Blogging always comes second to my partner and my job, and sometimes finding time to sit down and write and edit unique content can be nearly impossible (hence why my around the world trip reports from November are still not completed!)!! Despite this, thank you for continually coming back to read the stories posted by myself and the other writers at Upgrd. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2015! And if I can give you any advice for the New Year; don’t be afraid to explore new places and blend in with the locals. Traveling isn’t about luxury hotels and plane rides, it’s about exploring new places and meeting new people! My best travel memories are from couchsurfing and backpacking, not staying in luxury hotels! HAPPY 2015!