StarMegaDO 3: Awesome or Bust?

A few months ago the next chapter of the StarMegaDO was announced.  The first StarMegaDO took us to Europe to visit Lufthansa, SAS and Airbus.  The second StarMegaDO found us visiting Lufthansa in Germany and then followed by Continental, US Airways and Boeing in the US.  At the kickoff party in New York, it was announced that the third destination would be Brazil with a trip to the Embraer factory which led to people warming up their mileage earning credit cards.

A few weeks ago the formal announcement was made and the excitement was spiking.  Then a few days in, an abrupt stall.  It turns out the initial pricing that was received by the charter operator (in this case United) was incorrect by a substantial amount.  Sales were suspended and the organizing team was back the drawing board to come up with a solution.  To help bring down the cost, the most recent change was going from a 757-200 to a 737-900.

A few days later a revised itinerary was introduced.  This time completely removing Brazil and substituting Canada, with a trip to Bombardier and finishing up in Denver.  Not quite as exciting.  As one Milepointer put it best "Why would I visit the factory of the planes that I go out of my way to avoid flying". 

There's been much confusion about the charter, but while the intinerary seems to be stabilizing, the excitement seems to be dwindling.   From the responses in the various threads, it would appear the charter is about 40% full, which still leaves a lot of room available.

Personally, I can't go as I am already committed to something else that weekend.  But even if I had the opportunity, I likely would pass.  You see, I learned something on StarMegaDO 2.  While the first was an amazing experience and led me to meet an amazing group of people, the second was a bit of a drain.  Since the second was much more affordable for a number of folks in the states, we found a number of folks who brought the party down and the overall experience not as much fun.  So, given this one is priced at about the same level and in the states, there's a high likelihood of attracting a similar group of folks.   So, between that and the Milepointer's quote, there is little incentive to partake in the adventure.


Colpuck June 23, 2011 at 03:38 pm

Lower price brought the party down??? Wow I didnt you were that classist.

Gene June 23, 2011 at 03:38 pm


"Since the second was much more affordable for a number of folks in the states, we found a number of folks who brought the party down and the overall experience not as much fun."

What exactly did these American commoners do to bring down the party?

744 June 23, 2011 at 03:42 pm

Thanks for not coming. sounds like we're not good enough for you. sounds like you'r suggesting that the price attracted the wrong kind of participant. IMHO, sounds a bit elitist. enjoy your blogging career.

744 June 23, 2011 at 03:45 pm

BTW, I question your statistic about the charter being 40% full. Registration has been closed until the revisions so no enrollments have been available. A little misleading there. People have not been able to enroll for nearly 2 weeks.

A. Flyer June 23, 2011 at 04:21 pm

Want more to be unenthused about? For about the same price one will now receive under 3000 miles vs. the 11000 or so touted as part of the original offering. No thanks!

Brian June 23, 2011 at 04:34 pm

What an insulting, elitist, blog entry.

Fozz M June 23, 2011 at 07:42 pm

Awesome, I've managed to piss of a slew of folks. That said, the it's obvious to me that my message has been misinterpreted. I am not going to clean up the original post because I don't believe in cover-ups, but I will comment on it.

The second event did include a different subset than the original event. Some of the folks had no interest in being social at all. One of my friends was scowled at by his seatmate for being up and talking to people during the charter. Sadly, this wasn't a one-off incident and I heard of other similar instances. So, yes, it was a bit less fun because of some of the people.

That said, it was still a generally amazing experience, but I still stand by that it wasn't as much fun as the original because of the certain individuals.

I will also add, while my post sparked a lot of outrage, i've also received plenty of supportive messages, so I am not alone in the perception of the overall event.

As for the number, I could be way off, but given the number of respondents and the number of folks disappointed by the new itinerary, that was my educated guess. Yes, registrations have been closed, but there seemed to be a lot less initial response as in past events.

DJ June 23, 2011 at 08:39 pm

Col puck you are a loser. The do's should raise prices so the 90% losers and cheap elites can not afford these experiences. Go back to fat wallet and slick deals!

David Balcon June 23, 2011 at 09:31 pm

So you mean you'd rather have people on the Charter who ring the call button incessantly and throw pillows about the cabin? The organizers have done the best they could under the circumstances. The number of participants who could afford the new fares to Brazil would not fill a 737 let alone a 757 as originally booked. Can't really see much difference between Embraer's current RJs and Bombardier's CRJ700s-1000s, and the original CRJ200 series wasn't any worse than the E145s. We'll be seeing the latest in regional jets, some rather interesting business jets, and a peak at the new C-series prototype/mock-ups. Sure Montreal is not Rio, but we were only going to be in Brazil for a couple of hours. (And for many of us there was going to be the hassle of costly visas.) Compared to last year's tour of Boeing (about the only real event for those of us who want to kick tires rather than do social events) the Airbus tour was a bit of a bust, overly controlled and underwhelming (our guide vanished half-way through and left us in a conference room for an hour!). I am looking forward to seeing the full program tomorrow, but am still committed. The price is right and maybe the ritzy party goers will be gone so the rest of us can enjoy going behind the scenes at a couple of airlines, airports and plane factories.

colpuck June 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Thanks DJ!!!!!

Fozz you're a good guy. I would just hesitate before linking price to people's social skills. SMD I was more EUR focused as opposed to SMD II, USA focused which might have more to do with it.

LIH Prem June 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I think you were quoting something I said after some of us were peeved about GRU falling apart.

I think I'm the one that you can attribute that quote to. (unfortunately).

However, what you didn't say is that after GRU fell apart, it opened the door (at least for me, financially) to join the European part in Z ($2400 for Z r/t across the pond?) and the kickoff events in NY along with the events in Europe, etc.

I'm attending SMD3 and I'm excited about it, because of all of the events that are part of it.

Does it sound as exciting as landing at PAE, and touring the 787, and factory from the floor? No, it does not, but that's only a part of it. (Plus, as Tommy777 pointed out, we were going to tour a similar factory in GRU as well.)

The other part of this is the social networks that are formed as part of these events. Probably the highlight of SMD2 for me was the new friendships that were formed as part of it. And as with any ohana, there's some new members you like and some you don't like quite as much. :) But for me, it really was forming a new ohana.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to attending SMD3. I'm looking forward to visiting Munich, and I'm looking forward to hearing from SMI/J in Chicago, I'm really looking forward to meeting Hyatt GP VP Jeff Z again (where are my *G bonuses Jeff?) and all the other sponsored events that are going to be part of this.

And then, we can all look ahead to next year.


Brian June 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Hmm. Think he should have been up in First Class/Business with the rest of us party animals. We had lots of interesting conversations and seatmates. I happened to luck out sitting next to Randy Peterson. As far as his "educated guess" goes -- wasn't so educated was it. The pretender to the elite throne has no credentials at all :->.

Fozz M June 24, 2011 at 03:47 pm

First, lets not go attacking each other, we are all entitled to our opinion.

The gist of my post was that in the original SMD, I walked away with absolutely no complaints. I had an amazing time, enjoyed all the events and met an amazing group of people.

The second SMD was good, but the Continental event was nothing as compared to the DOs Continental used to hold and the visit with US Airways was something that seemed to serve no purpose. The Boeing visit was amazing and I will never be able to say anything bad about that. But, in the end, the connections with people were mixed. There were enough negative experiences with folks to leave an impression. Was this due to the lower cost of entry? Possible. Was it due to it's locale? Possible. Or was it some other variable? We may never know.

@David: There is no way a CRJ-200 is on the same field as an EMB145. I don't get a kink in my neck trying to look out the window of an EMB. As for the larger CRJs, I still believe the larger EMBs blow them away from a comfort standpoint.

@colpuck: fair point. Though, I will say, the cost of something does serve as a filter. The lower the cost of entry, the larger the potential pool of participants, which inevitably, by sheer statistics include a much larger variety of people - good and bad.

@LIH Prem: Fair point as well. Your quote cracked my up so it stuck with me. The EU portion has historically been amazing and I'm sure you will have a great time on the trip.

Fozz, You are entitled to your opinion, let me address some of your concerns

First of all, lets look at the history. The first DO started with EXACTLY the same Lufthansa reception as SMD II. At SMD II we had our after party in the world's most exclusive airline lounge, the Lufthansa First Class terminal.

Continental/United had 2 hours allocated from us to put on a program, their previous DOs have been an entire weekend. You need to understand that time is critical. We need to get as much stuff in as possible as people can't take off work to do weeks of aviation fun. That 30+ of United/Continentals executives were available to chat 1 on 1 is a pretty big deal IMO.

In Phoenix, you got to meet US Airways CEO Doug Parker. Yes, a joke of an airline for most, but not something you can do every day.

The main event of the DO was of course Boeing. Our friends had the pleasure of being the FIRST group in the world to get a peek inside the 787. That's pretty cool.

As for your disappointing post about this years event, you have to come to terms with the fact is that an RJ is an RJ, but as last year, you have absolutely no clue what will happen in Montreal. Bombardier has a lot more products than the CRJ200. In fact, they don't even sell any of those anymore. The C series can hold up to 130 passengers and is a great product. Also, they are making some of the most advanced private jets in the world.

Again, you are entitled to your opinion, but the jury is in: We have 17 seats left in coach on a plane that has as many seats as the 757-200. The flight is pretty much sold out. It took months for the first two DO's to sell out.

To attend a brand new element in Munich, fly the 380, get free Hyatt Diamond, meet the senior Hyatt and United management at the Park Hyatt in Chicago, to get an extensive inside tour at O'Hare, to visit Montreal with Air Canada, Aeroplan and Bombardier and an extensive program in Denver has appeal to more people than last year as we struggled to fill that flight.

And I will make sure everyone has a wonderful time -- as usual.

I guess that's what counts