2019 is nearing its end, and along with it an entire decade. As I have done in past years, here is a review of my 2019 in travel. This year was somewhat unusual, with zero trips to Europe, the Middle East or Africa. That makes for quite a gap in my travel map. See below for my 2019 travel map via OpenFlights.
This year, I had the opportunity to visit several new countries, and one of my most memorable trips was a few weeks with my best friend trekking in Nepal and Bhutan. My family didn’t travel as far as we do sometimes, but we had some fun trips including a visit to the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica. After that trip, my country total is up to 64.
2019 in travel: Flights
As usual, much of my travel is for work, and within North America. I did visit some new places for work, including somewhere I’ve wanted to go for some time, Argentina. I also had some long haul trips for work, with Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore the furthest by a long shot. Statistically, my flight mileage in 2019 is less than in past years, but still a lot of distance. Almost all of my earned miles were credited to American, and I was definitely loyal. I only had a few flights that weren’t on AA or partners.
I flew 123 segments in 2019, which is painful, but less than in recent past years. Part of that is due to being based in MKE, and connecting on most trips. My mileage total is lower than in past year too, just over 166,000, with over 150,000 credited to AA again this year. My longest flight was 8106 miles between DFW and HKG. Thankfully, I was able to be upgraded into business class. Next longest 7776 miles between Chicago and Hong Kong, on my trip to Nepal, and this award ticket was one way in First Class, and the return in Business. My longest economy flight is between HKG and LAX on American, which I flew 5 times this year. Twice in economy, twice in business, and once in Premium Economy.
Additional travel statistics
Despite less flights than in past years, my time on board was more than last year, more than 17 days, which I find kind of depressing. Not to mention all the nights away from home, but I’ll get to that later. No new aircraft types this year. I’d like to try out a Airbus 220 at some point, but no plans to work too hard to get on that one. A positive note about planes flown in 2019 is my flights on my least favorite CRJ-200 dropped, to only 6 times all year. My most common plane was the A319, with 19 legs, and the most common wide body is the Boeing 777-300ER with 9 flights.
As mentioned earlier, I visited a few new countries this year, and unlike some past trips, I spent significant time in all 4 of them. Work trip to Argentina, vacation stops in Bhutan, Nepal, and Jamaica.
I finally had the displeasure of experiencing a flight in the Oasis configuration on American. This is where 172 seats are jammed into Boeing 737-800s. There were 150 seats on these planes a few years back. Unfortunately, this is the future for the entire narrow body fleet. Yuck. Thankfully for me, my first experience was a relatively short flight. Not sure I’ll be so fortunate in the future as these plans are becoming more common and therefore more difficult to avoid.
2019 in Travel: Hotels
Even with somewhat less travel than in past years, I still spent 125 nights in hotels. Too many, since much of that is business travel by myself. I’ll end the year with 62 nights in Hyatt properties, and 64 with Marriott. The Marriott total includes 15 mights thanks to my credit card. I have 15 nights in non chain properties, or in tea houses etc on my trekking trip. Marriott had countless issues post merger in 2018. I found 2019 to be much more smooth, and I didn’t actively avoid them. Thanks to the huge footprint, it would be difficult to do that anyway. Much of this is Marriott as my second choice if Hyatt is not available or if traveling with a work colleague.
No mattress running this year as I’d done in the past. I’d have needed 11 nights for Marriott Titanium, and that is just too much to justify the negligible additional benefit beyond my Lifetime Platinum status. Of course with that many nights, I would have earned Platinum status anyway.
My favorite hotel this year is probably the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. Its a really excellent hotel and even though I was alone, got good value from my Hyatt suite upgrade. The excellent suite at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall was pretty excellent too, even with some other issues with our stay, mostly since it was above and beyond a normal upgrade.
Elite Qualification in 2019
No changes this year compared with the recent past. Still focusing on American Airlines for my flights and Hyatt for hotels. I requalified pretty easily for both, and again earned 150,000 EQM with AA. I didn’t convert that to 2 more SWUs, but I have until late 2020 to decide on that. Had mixed success using my SWUs during the year, but managed to use everything up for 2019. I have 4 for 2020, and can get 2 more right away if needed with a few clicks. 114 segments on American, but thankfully around 80% of eligible flights were upgraded. This is a primary reason I remain loyal. It still works for my travel patterns.
I also flew 5 segments on United, and miraculously was upgraded 3 times, with is a 100% success rate on eligible flights. One was on a one cabin flight, and another was our flight home from Jamaica, where I didn’t even try to get upgraded since we had 3 decent seats together. United seems to be improving, but I’m still not ready to jump ship from AA as of yet. I had 3 Southwest flights, which is the most I’ve ever done in a year, mostly for the convenience of nonstops. Other flights include award trips and Druk Air to/from Bhutan.
Discussed hotels already to some extent. More of the same as past years. I focus on Hyatt, and Marriott fills in gaps where needed. Another year as a Globalist. Don’t like the name, but the program is really good. Looking ahead to 2020, 60 nights will be required. Hopefully that shouldn’t prove too difficult.
I was happy to get to South America again, and somewhere other than Brazil. A pretty busy week of work in Buenos Aires, but tasty food and getting to practice my mediocre Spanish made for an enjoyable time. The trip to India, Bhutan and Nepal was great fun as well. I also spent a little time in an old favorite, Hong Kong, both connecting, and as a destination, where I tried something new, taking a hike on Lantau Island during a long layover. A big gap on my travel map in 2019 is Europe. I definitely miss it, but already have several fun trips booked for 2020 which I’ll talk about soon enough. With colleagues based there, I just don’t have the opportunities for work travel to that region. I hope it isn’t zero as in 2019, but I doubt it will be common or frequent either.
Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading again this year. My holidays have mostly been spent at home, enjoying unseasonably warm weather for this part of the world. One short trip with the family coming up before the end of the year. My next post will likely be in the new year, and discuss some upcoming travel and plans for the new decade. Safe travels!