For those of you who have been following my posts on Upgrd, you may have noticed that I typically do not write about the same content as Matt, Rocky, James, Sriram and Brad pertaining to in-flight experiences, recommendations/tips, mileage runs, deals and offers. Those guys do such an excellent job in covering that material, each providing an individual and unique perspective that contribute to the richness of this site.
Rather, I post about the economics of the airline industry, particularly news and events pertaining to route and network changes (and of course, I am partial to stories affecting my hometown Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, or Chicago and Minneapolis, cities in which I have lived.
However, there is another reason for this: back when I first joined UPGRD, my domestic and global travels were much more frequent and interesting. I traveled anywhere between 75,000 and 100,00 miles annually, and had the fortune of trying out exotic airlines and enjoying the perks of elite status and what have you. Lately, however, I have been more of a homebody and scaled back my travel significantly, especially in 2014.
That being said, I have still been pretty mobile this year, and as we near the beginning of 2015, I have to say that despite reducing my travel in 2014 by over 50% since last year, overall, I am a much happier flier than I was last year. Much of that is attributed to simply spending less time in airports and airplanes (as much as we are addicted to it, we cannot deny that it can be exhausting).
When it comes to loyalty, I’ve become slightly more carrier-agnostic this year compared to years past. In 2013, exactly 70% of my travel was on United Airlines, and an additional 10.6% was on Star Alliance carriers. This year, roughly 34% of my travel has occured on US Airways, and 26.3% on American. The rest have been split among Delta (17.5%), Southwest (16%), and Spirit (6%). I will likely re-qualify for American Gold status this year, which will be nice to get me basic benefits, but indeed, this is a big difference from years past.
Overall, I’ve been fairly satisfied with American/US Airways’ program. For the most part, the flights run on time, I’m entitled to Main Cabin Extra as OneWorld Sapphire, and the fares are competitive. One feature I love about American is their free 24-hour hold feature in their reservations system, as well as the speed and efficiency of boarding. The employees genuinely seem to care and the mobile tools and technology are satisfactory.
I will say, that giving up same-day confirmed change benefits on United has been tough. It certainly is one of the best benefits of Gold status, but I’ve been able to move past it. As long as the flights have decent operational performance, I can deal.
The craziest thing, I’ve realized is that this is the first year since 2005 that has not included a trip across the border (sans for a flight to Puerto Rico back in April). I will likely not be traveling to any transborder places before year end, but I do have some exciting news to share to launch off 2015:
Thanks to the assistance of Matthew and Rocky, I am using my United miles to travel around-the-world on Star Alliance carriers in premium class, just as a treat to myself for making it through the year. I am flying in Asiana First class from New York JFK to Seoul on January 1, then after a few days in Korea, I will be flying Thai in Business Class, via Bangkok, from Seoul to Paris. My Bangkok to Paris sector will be on the upper deck of the Airbus A380, an aircraft I have never flown. From Paris, I will be flying US Airways in Envoy class back to Minneapolis, via Philadelphia, which again will be exciting since the US Airways Envoy product will be phased out when the carrier merges with American.
In summary, even though it has been a slow(er) year with regards to flying, there are adventures ahead and I continue to look forward to flights and being in airports. Thanks for the continued support of my blog, and for all of the feedback, positive and constructive, to help me become a better writer and blogger.