2014 was a year where the only constant was change, thankfully for me, most of them have been positive. Most importantly, I became a father in August. I’m the proud father of a beautiful healthy daughter. It is amazing how it changes your life. Of course this blog is about my travels, so that is where I will focus. Due to some changes at my employer, my travel increased significantly; with international travel for business picking up again.
Here is my travel map for 2014:
My 2014 travel map thanks to Great Circle Mapper.
One of my goals for 2014 was to cross over 1,000,000 miles on United. I hit that milestone much earlier in the year than expected, and ultimately flew more than 150,000 miles with United. After countless frustrations with United, I decided to take part in the US Airways Preferred Trial. So I completed the year with new experiences, flying US Airways and American Airlines.
I’m still ongoing on the trial for the next month or so into the new year. Based on a lot of travel in late 2014 and early 2015, I should make it to US Chairman’s Preferred, which in May will become AA Executive Platinum. In that case, I will have some hard decisions to make as to where to focus my travel. I have United Gold status for life (or at least until the Million Miler program changes). I doubt I’ll have enough travel to get 100,000 miles with both United and American and enough spend to get 1K and EXP respectively. What should I prioritize?
Here are some stats from my 2014 travels:
There were countless highlights (and lowlights), in all I flew about 200,000 miles including award travel. I had 150 flight segments. My 2 longest flights; Newark to Delhi at 7305 miles, and Houston to Tokyo at 6625 were both in economy (plus), after failing to clear the upgrade list with United Global Premier Upgrades. I did have a few long haul flights in First Class; on my award trip to Cambodia, including the Thai Airways First Class experience, plus Lufthansa and Asiana First Class and I did clear a few upgrade attempts on my United trips, including the long flights between Houston and Lagos.
For much of the year I focused on reaching Million Miler with United. Once I hit that threshold, I continued to focus on United travel since I had multiple international trips, I was hoping to get upgraded on long haul flights with my GPUs. I eventually stopped at about 150,000 miles on United. With a little bit more travel in the remainder of the year but not enough to get another 25/50 thousand for more upgrades, I looked at other options.
And some changes
I finally took the plunge with the US Airways Preferred Trial. The timing worked out well, especially now that offer has since been discontinued. I have business trips booked in early 2015 that will put me over the threshold to get me to the mileage required to get top tier status with US Airways through 2015 with this promotion.
Plus some new airlines and routes, including likely my first and only flight on Africa World Airways to Accra. I also flew on IndiGo and Air India within India, and Jet Airways to Dubai, for my first visit to the Middle East which was only a brief overnight layover. Maybe someday I’ll get caught up on my trip reports…
Almost 25% of my flights were on CRJ-200s, being 6’3″, I find that particularly miserable. 110 segments were on United or United Express aircraft, primarily between February and mid-November. Besides my home airport of Milwaukee, and most common connection point of O’Hare, LAX was my next most common airport. I also flew through Houston and Frankfurt 10 or more times each.
As for delays, I’ve had seemingly an endless supply of them: (bad data in app, delays and expired beer, United’s Operational Difficulties, and a nightmarish experience on United). I have finally compiled some data on my many delays on United in 2014. Its not a perfect data set, and this doesn’t cover all of the issues. Sometimes I changed flights to avoid further delays. But to analyze this, I made a list of flights with arrival delays based on information that I saved while traveling. Of the 110 United segments, 48 had some sort of delay. I had one forced overnight on United (and one on American), and I had 2 single flight delays over 3 hours. In all, 1993 minutes delayed, or over 33 hours. Ouch!
Delays aren’t the only reason I’m exploring my options, but it is a factor. To be fair, so far, my experiences on American haven’t been that much better, at least operationally, although with more mainline flights, the issues seem to be less frequent and less problematic. Stay tuned as I figure out what I do with my travel plans in 2015 and beyond.
Again this year there were many nights in hotels, mostly for business travel. With my wife’s pregnancy, we didn’t take as many exotic trips together as we have in past years. I focused my loyalty on Starwood and Hyatt when I was able (106 nights combined between the two), but I had some nice stays elsewhere as well. Most memorable was probably my time in Africa, and in particular at the Ko-Sa Beach Resort in Ghana.
My favorite stay and ‘best redemption’ was probably at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, where we got a lovely suite using the Gold Passport Diamond Suite Upgrade. I requalified for Hyatt Diamond and Starwood Platinum again, and even had over 50 nights at SPG to get more Suite Night Awards. That’s good, but I’ve continued to have a hard time using them, and in fact, 5 expired unused in 2014. My year with Starwood was pretty boring for the most part. I spent a lot of nights at a rather uninspiring Sheraton near a work site where I spent a lot of time this year. I did enjoy a bunch of new (to me) Le Meridien hotels on my award trip during the summer including the Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, Le Meridien Angkor, Le Meridien Parkhotel Frankfurt (review coming).
With a busy year with changes at work, and even more in my home life, I haven’t kept up with the blog as much as I would like. This is very much a hobby for me. The fact that I’m still working on a trip report from the summer of 2014 is evidence of that. My goal is to post weekly, and I’ve mostly been able to maintain that pace. A lot of what I write is trip reports, and despite writing them for multiple years now, I still haven’t managed a way to write them more quickly.
I really enjoy sharing my travel experiences, but I don’t have any credit card affiliate links. The only money I’ve generated from this site is from a few clicks on my Amazon affiliate links. Whether you click there or not, I greatly appreciate you coming here and reading my posts. I hope my posts have helped your own travel. Better yet inspire you to get out there and see the big world we all live in. I’ve been fortunate to see so much of the world in my travels, and I still am passionate about continuing that journey. I also appreciate my fellow bloggers and friends here. We all have our own style and areas of interest, but I really appreciate the diversity of the travel experience we all bring to this site.
Thanks again, here’s to a new year filled with new destinations and happy landings.
Photo from my travels in 2014. Bonus points if you can name where it was taken.