Joshonsteak and sundae

The Dilemma of Getting Off the Road

My life as a road warrior is about to end.

I'm an educator by training, and for the past few years I've worked for a small company that publishes textbooks. A big part of that job has been training teachers at school around the country, which is what has me on the road. (Last year I did about 100,000 butt-in-seat miles, but double EQM had be at around 140k when all was said and done.)

I recently accepted a job running a school. It's a good career move for me in pretty much ...

The Full Southwest Comparison

On this week's UPGRD podcast, Matt contributed to one of the more popular myths about Southwest Airlines.

He said, "If you're a consultant who travels between LA and San Francisco each week, it [Southwest] is pretty much your only good option."

Matt's point (and the seeming consensus of the great unwashed masses) is that Southwest is good for frequent short trips. I think he might be wrong. A couple weeks ago I offered up thoughts on why Southwest's ...

6 Comments Read more

American: We're Not Matching USAir's Double EQMs.

A lot of us have been speculating (praying?) that the other big airlines will match US Air's current double EQM promotion. UA and AA ran similar promotions for the past couple of years, and a lot of us (especially those of us who are unsure we'll be able to re-acquire top tier status) were hoping it might happen again.

Well, at least for those of us in the AA camp, it appears that a double EQM promotion isn't happening this quarter. Of course, there are all the common-sense reasons: ...

An Open Letter to People Who Like Southwest's Rapid Rewards Program

[Note: I realize that if you read this blog, you probably know better than to think highly of Southwest's frequent flyer program. But USA Today and TripAdvisor.com readers seem to think differently, so clearly there are a lot of ignorant people in the world who need to be set straight. Our work here at UPGRD.com is never ending.]

Dear people who think that Southwest Airlines has a quality frequent flyer program,

I read recently that many people think Southwest Airlines' Rapid ...

27 Comments Read more

A Response to Mike's Post on Admirals Club Snack Mix

[This is a response to Mike's post, which you can find by clicking here.]

First of all, the only good things in that snack mix are the sesame sticks.

Second, the snack mix is so loaded with sodium that if you eat a cupful or two before your flight, you'll arrive at your destination with ankles the size of tree trunks.   Third, I eat at least seven cupfuls of snack mix every time I visit an Admirals Club.   Fourth, if you are lucky enough to be in an Admirals Club ...

My Guide for Using TripIt to Compile Travel Plans

The bulk of my travel is for business, and of that travel, a lot of it is on complicated itineraries. Sometimes I'll do a swing of the East Coast and visit three or four cities, I'm frequently jumping between hotels, and I often have rental cars to deal with, too.

All these reservations are a pain in the butt to manage, which is why I've become an avid user of TripIt.

TripIt is an online trip planner that basically takes all your reservations and automatically (and with very ...

American goes the extra mile. But why?

My wife spent the past few days in Florida visiting family, and was scheduled to return to LAX today, FLL-DFW-LAX. Her itinerary had her on flight 697 from FLL to DFW.

When she got to the airport today, she found that flight 697 had a pretty long mechanical delay. At the Priority AAccess check-in counter, the AAgent immediately rebooked her on a non-stop MIA-LAX flight and arranged to get her on a shuttle (paid for by AA) to MIA. My wife didn't ask for this to happen. She did indeed ...

2 Comments Read more

The Real Reason the RAF Scrambles Their Jets...

Today, a DFW-LHR flight was met by Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets and received permission for a priority approach at Heathrow. Was there some VIP aboard the flight? Nope. From the Telegraph:

The Typhoons, from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, went to assist an American Airlines Boeing 767 heading for London from Dallas/Forth Worth in Texas following reports of a woman passenger trying to get on to the flight deck. 
The Typhoons returned to base when it was realised ...

HHilton Continues to Give Away Free Gold Status... And I'm Ready to Move On

This past week, Hilton sent letters (with both Hilton HHonors and American AAdvantage logos in the letterhead) to certain AA frequent flyers. The letters say, in part,

Congratulations. As a valued member of the American Airlines AAdvantage program, you’ve been selected to receive two great offers from Hilton HHonors.

Enjoy Gold VIP status. You’ll be treated to an elite level of perks reserved for our favorite guests. These benefits may include HHonors bonus ...

8 Comments Read more

Report: The New AeroTrain at Washington-Dulles IAD

On Thursday evening, I flew home to LAX from IAD. This was an eventful trip because (1) my upgrade didn't clear, the first time that's happened in several months, and (2) I rode Dulles' new "Aerotrain" for the first time.

A bit of background: Washington Dulles International Airport has three terminal buildings. When you pull up to the airport, you enter the main "Z" terminal. That's where all the ticketing/check-in counters are, where TSA security is, and it's ...

How to Not Get Upgraded on an AA Flight

I'm sitting in the (very lovely) IAD Admirals Club right now as I await my flight to LAX. Unless something crazy happens, I'll be sitting in economy for the first time in six months or so.

Here's the math, according the AAngel at the front desk:

AA only flies 757s on the IAD-LAX route, which has "only" 22 seats in first. There are only three flights a day to LAX. And its not like there's many other options out of IAD. You can fly IAD-MIA-LAX, or ...
2 Comments Read more

Random Musings from 40,000 ft.

I'm on AA flt. 185 right now, cruising at 40,000 ft. somewhere over Arizona. I'e watched six episodes of The League on my laptop, and now I'm sitting here with another 40 minutes or so to kill. Some thoughts:

1. I'm on an empty 767-200 right now. When we boarded, the gate agent first asked for first, business, and Priority AAccess. Then she started to announce groups, but just gave up and said, "If you're breathing and you have a ticket on this flight, hop on." (I'm not ...

Japanese newspaper: JAL-Delta Tie the Knot

After weeks of back-and-forth haggling and the like, the Daily Yomiuri newspaper announced today (tomorrow?) that Japan Airlines (JAL) is leaving the Oneworld Alliance and entering into a relationship with Delta.

I'm trying to pack and get ready for a flight tomorrow, and I'm not someone who knows much about the dollars-and-cents side of the airline business. (My expertise is fast becoming airline food, not the intiricacies of route networks and code-sharing agreements.) So those ...

4 Comments Read more

One of Our Own is Famous

First it was Fozz on CNN CBS. Now another UPGRDer is getting famous.

I hope I'm not stealing anyone's thunder here, but I just got a very cool email that I'd like to share.

Last month, we posted on the main UPGRD blog about public radio doing a story on frequent fliers, mileage, and mileage running. American Public Media was looking for people who they might be able to interview. I filled out their survey, and today they sent me back an email telling me that the story ...

2 Comments Read more

Trip Report: A Quick Hop on Virgin America

Last week, I had a day of meetings in San Francisco. I'm well over the 125,000 elite qualifying miles I set out to earn this year on American Airlines, so I thought I'd try a different airline for the quick flights from LAX.

A number of my friends have been recommending Virgin America to me, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

This, then, is the recorded experiences on Virgin America of someone who flies almost exclusively ...

10 Comments Read more

Say Something, American!

The "Helen the flight attendant flips out over OJ" story has been hanging around the interwebs for several days now. (If you haven't heard the story, Matthew has a nice post on it.)

As an AA frequent flier and fanboy, I don't have any particularly enlightening comments on the incident itself, except to say that it contrasts pretty starkly from my experiences on AA. More often than not, I'm fairly impressed with the level of service and professionalism on my airline of ...

2 Comments Read more

47 Passengers Get Screwed Again

The Department of Transportation seems to have taken some action over the incident in August when 47 passengers were stranded on a tarmac in Rochester, Minn. after their aircraft diverted there due to thunderstorms.

The Associated Press is reporting:

Federal officials are fining three airlines a total of $175,000 for their role in the stranding of passengers overnight on an airport tarmac in Rochester, Minn., this summer. The Department of Transportation says it ...

6 Comments Read more

Will My American Airlines Flight Have WiFi?

I'm consistently underwhelmed by AA's usage of technological tools to engage with customers. Their twitter and blogosphere presence is virtually nonexistent (with the exception of @AdmiralsClub). Though I find it extremely useful, their website isn't all that eye-popping or user-friendly. And they don't offer a ton of online tools for, well, anything.

So American Airlines bucked their own trend yesterday when they launched a new widget that allows you to find out if your upcoming ...

2 Comments Read more

OK... I made it to HHonors Gold. Now what?

A few weeks ago, I got serious about my hotel status and did a "fast track to Gold" challenge with Hilton Honors. (You can find my post about it here.)

Basically, I called up HHonors customer service, and they offered me a deal whereby I could get myself quickly to HHonors Gold VIP status by with four stays or nine nights in the next 90 days. This was a great deal for me since I was already booked to stay at a Hilton property for seven days for a ...

2 Comments Read more

The Ultimate Guide to American Airlines Laptop Power

You're on an airplane. You whip out your laptop to catch up on some work, to watch a movie, or to try out some of that new inflight WiFi. Of course, the second you pull out your computer, you begin doing some math in your head...

"This is a five-hour flight. My laptop battery is at 85%. That means I have about two-and-a-half hours of juice. So if I start using it now, I'll be out of power somewhere over Omaha, at which point I'll be stuck watching the last third of The Time ...

20 Comments Read more