Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Year in Travel

As much as I talk about travel on here, I might as well look back at the year that was in that sense...

First, let's look at the raw numbers of miles flown and flights:

  • US Airways - 58,872 (55 flights)*
  • Delta - 3,444 (6 flights)
  • AirTran - About 700 (2 flights)
  • Continental - 406 (2 flights)
  • Southwest About 500 (1 flight)
The star goes next to US Air because by the end of this month, I'll have been on 62 flights and well over 60,000 miles. And the crazy thing... more than 30,000 of them will have been since October 1, which means (if my math is right), due to US Air's fourth quarter promotion, I will vault from Gold status on US Air, to Chairman's. Which, frequent fliers will hear me here, is bad-ass.

I should note here this wasn't all for business, though the vast bulk was. That said, a few vacation flights in there for sure.

So, where was Jay? Here were some of my travel destinations:

  • Atlanta
  • New York
  • Seattle
  • Portland, OR
  • San Francisco/Oakland
  • Southern California
  • Phoenix
  • Philadelphia
  • New Haven
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Baltimore
  • Chattanooga
  • London, UK
  • Tampa
  • Orlando
  • Ft. Lauderdale/Miami
  • Jacksonville
  • Portland, ME
  • Las Vegas
  • New Jersey
  • Boston
  • Austin
  • Durango, Colorado
And those are just places that I got on airplane to. Belle Glade, FL; Aztec, NM; Sacramento, CA... all kinds of places that I drove to once on the ground.

In fact, I made it to five new states this year, bringing my total state count to 31.

Now, remarkably, I managed to not once get stranded anywhere (that has only happened once and that was in 2008). Plus, I got a lot of flight upgrades. Generally, my travel hasn't been all that bad.

But it hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies either. Aside from things like missing my wife, jet-lag and other stuff, here are some strictly travel-related items that made travel a bit harder than it might have been:

  • Philadelphia International Airport - It really says something about how bad an airport you've got when I will schedule business trips to end in Delaware or New Jersey so I can use BWI or Newark, respectively instead of this trapped-in-1977 atrocity of an airport. And the crazy thing is that there is such a case of NIMBYism in some Philly suburbs that the chance of turning Willow Grove NAS or Trenton-Mercer Airport into a desperately-needed overflow airport are nil.
  • People that think overhead compartments are for their purses/laptop bags. Those, see, go under the seat. I had a guy tell me if he put his laptop under the seat in front of him he wouldn't have any legroom. I am usually very cordial, but I must have been having a bad day. Because I handed him his laptop bag and said "If you wanted leg room, you shouldn't have boarded a plane."
  • Clouds - I'm a little kid on a plane. When I finish work on my laptop, I want to be able to look out the window. Clouds mess this up. Go be cloudy some other day. Or after I land. :-)
And then, there are the things that travel has taught me:

  • Being nice helps, more often than not - I am only a frequent flier on one airline, but man, even being nice to the check in people at other airlines can get you stuff. The people who work behind a counter at an airport - and flight attendants - are used to people just yelling at them non-stop. I have no idea how they handle it. But being nice to them, or at least letting them know that you understand that it is not their personal fault that it is raining and therefore you will miss your connection, can go a long way. In January, I was flying to Austin to visit a friend and the flight was terribly delayed. Mechanical problem. And people were generally calm, but some were freaking out. I got on the plane and the flight attendant was doing his mandated apology as every passenger got on. I simply said something to the effect of "eh, nothing a free beer can't forgive." A guy sitting across from me gave the guy some lip. We each got a beer on the flight. Guess whose beer was free.
  • Look at your rental car. Carefully. - Last month, I got a notice from Avis saying I owed them $400 for unspecified damage to a car. I was fortunate to have enough evidence to show that any damage was not incurred under my watch. Still... if the light so much as hits the car funny in a spot, report it.
  • Be careful of closing doors on the London Tube - If you don't, you might leave your jet-lagged wife behind at Victoria Station and have to hope you can reconnect at the next stop. Not that, uh, this happened to, you know, me and Sarah...
  • Mix business with pleasure - On a trip to Portland Oregon, I was in my hotel room, post-dinner, caught up on work and ironing... at 7:30 p.m. I could've stayed in my room all night. Or... I could've scalped a ticket to see Modest Mouse. I did the latter. Similarly, after a long trip to Colorado and California, I could've ordered room service in my Oakland hotel room. Instead, I hopped the BART to go into San Fran's Mission District. Seriously, if you are fortunate enough to be traveling to cool places, do something cool. I have a trip to LA in January that involves an 11:45 a.m. flight home. I could hang out in the Westin all morning. Or, I could wake up early, drive up to the Valley to have a very early appointment for work, but then... when it's done at 8:30, drive through Topanga Canyon and down the Pacific Coast Highway to LAX (which, at that hour, will be faster than 405). So, instead of a sterile morning in a hotel room, I can put forth a bit of early morning effort and be rewarded with one of the best drives in the country. Like anything else, travel is what you make of it.
Still, though, the best part of all my travels has been coming home to Sarah, who has been amazingly understanding, tolerant and patient with all my running around. The truth is, I'm at home more than I am away. But some weeks, it doesn't feel that way. She has been an amazing support to me all year. And she's the best travel companion I could ask for when she gets to tag along or we go together. :-)


Cheryl said...

The Philadelphia airport is indeed the pit of despair. I've willingly chosen to connect through DETROIT in the past just to avoid it.

I'm also with you on the proper usage of the overhead compartment. Don't stuff your coat up there, jackass. Sit on it like the rest of us.

Phil24 said...

Are you already doing shopping for Christmas? Gifts?