Finally Using my Miles on United

I finally was able to use my United miles for a trip and surprisingly it only cost me 150K for 3 round trip tickets. Although I have given up on United as an airline because of my travel schedule, that doesn’t mean I won’t use the status that I currently have to my family’s advantage. While doing all this traveling has its benefits, I have decided to do quite a bit of shifting of my loyalties just to make my life easier. For hotels I think I’ll try to maintain status at Starwood and at Hilton rather than solely concentrate on accumulating points at one brand. I’ve definitely found it useful to be Hilton Diamond and SPG Platinum this year. That calls for me to shift hotels mid week to get the necessary stays to maintain my status or at least get Gold in SPG since I still value Hilton more for their perks.

Car rentals basically stay the same since I like the rewards Hertz gives me but good lord are their cars pieces of crap. They definitely keep their cars much too long in their fleets (come on, over 50K?) and that forces me to waste time getting a newer one. While I would like to go to Avis, their rewards are only useful on the weekends an most of the time I need full week rentals. I wish the places I use would stop devaluing their programs. It’s taking more and more trips to get my rewards to mean something when I need to use them or to achieve the appropriate status so traveling doesn’t suck so bad. In the mean time, I need to start working on regaining SPG, Hilton, and American Airline status for 2015, I have another 2 months of no travel coming up in the summer which impacts my ability to make Platinum.

Let 2014 travel begin!

My 2014 travel has begun and so far it has been quite good to me. I’m continuing to take United Airlines for my flights because this is the only airline in which I have any status anymore. Not only did I get TSA PreCheck, I also got a first class upgrade this morning. Overall that makes my first Monday flying up to freezing Chicago a good one in my book. This is a personal plus for me but maybe not a good thing for work, my flight is now later in the morning which means I can sleep in a little longer on Monday mornings instead of getting up at 4am and being all bleary eyed when I walk into the office.

Another change for 2014 is that I’m going to start staying at the Hilton in Northbrook rather than continuing at the Westin. I have my platinum status with Starwood for the year so if I have to stay at one I won’t be starting at zero. I was looking at Starwood properties over the winter break that I had and there was nothing that stood out that screamed “you gotta stay here”. I have almost 800K in points with Hilton so that can go pretty far in terms of stays and what not. I also like that there are more choices in a given city with Hilton than Starwood overall so I have options if something is completely booked and I need to stay some place else.

I haven’t gotta to Chicago yet so we’ll see if my string of good luck passes on to rental cars. An upgrade would be nice from my normal Chevy but I’ve already had good luck with my flights so I’m not going to push things. The entire family was approved for Global Entry so in the next 5 years I hope to take advantage of that as well by being able to get through customs nice and fast as well as going through TSA PreCheck lines more often. That will definitely make the travel experience for my family way better.

Here’s to hoping that 2014 will be a good travel year!

Heading back to the Garden State

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Late last year I predicted that I wouldn’t be traveling to New Jersey for the rest of 2011and on that prediction I was pretty spot on. Oh how the travel and consulting gods love to tease me, it would appear that I will be spending a significant amount of time in New Jersey starting next week. Doing work for my client is fine but I really don’t like the location. I’ve spent a great deal of effort trying to avoid Jersey due to the numerous flight delays I’ve experienced in the past, the crazy traffic that always seems to meet my taxi when I need to get to the airport, or the general unpleasantness of the air quality because there seems to be a cloud of pestilence in the air near the airport at all times.

My travel schedule for the next month is going to be quite crazy due to the availability and cost of flights into Newark. In this month alone I have to fly United, American, and Delta. In addition to flying to Newark, for one week I have to fly out of LGA because there were no flights available into Newark. Due to my lack of travel last year, I’ve lost all status on all the airlines so you can bet that I’m going to be traveling in crappy seats and will most likely have to gate check something which will add even more travel time than I want. I have managed to find a Hilton property fairly close to my coworkers who all like to stay at Starwood and I registered for a challenge with Hilton so I can at least get back my Gold status with them in only 4 stays or 9 nights. Until I make Gold, no free Internet or breakfast for me.

I’m hoping it’s not all bad. I am fairly close to the path train that leads into Manhattan so I figure every once in a while I should be able to make it into the city for a meal or something. There are a few places that I want to go back to where I’ve eaten before just to try some new dish. I’ll also cruise food network to see if there is any place that I really need to try out. Maybe I can bring some food home for the family on the weekend. After all, my hotel room has a fridge and a microwave and it’s only a 3 hour ride back to lovely South Florida.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in Jersey, right now it’s slated for about 3 months which isn’t bad but it could go as far as 12. I’ll have to be careful not to pick up a weird accent, a spray on tan, or some gelled up hair during my time there. I know my wife’s friend is going to enjoy making fun of me because of all those times I teased her about constantly working in Jersey and she’s a proud New Yorker. I should probably try and invest in a rebreather mask to filter out the airborne pestilence that will consume me the moment I step foot off my plane in Newark……

I finally have Platinum status with Delta!

After three years of continuous travel, I finally have achieved Platinum status with Delta Airlines.  For a lot of people that travel for business, achieving Platinum isn’t such a big deal if you remain loyal to one carrier.  Over the three years that I have been traveling for work, I’ve had to deal with bouts of not traveling, traveling to areas where Delta was way too expensive, or where my trips were far too short (600 miles each way) for me to achieve Platinum status.  Delta has made changes to its SkyMiles program recently so that segments also count towards elite status, I wish they had this back in 2008/2009 when I was going to Atlanta, I would have made Platinum easily.

One of the perks of being Platinum is that I can give someone Silver status with Delta.  Since my wife is going to start traveling for work as well, I thought it would be nice to give her Silver status so she can pick premium seats and board early on the plane so she doesn’t risk not being able to find room for her bag in the overhead bins.  Unfortunately, I don’t know if my next project will allow me to use Delta.  Just as I achieve my goal of getting Platinum on Delta, now I might not even be able to take advantage of my status and will have to switch to using my United Mileage Plus account.  The one saving grace is that I was able to get a status match on United for my current Delta status but thats little consolation since I have next to no miles in that account and I know I won’t make 1K status which is the equivalent of Platinum with Delta.  Oh well, I guess we’ll see how things go.  Maybe Delta will miraculously give me a direct flight into DC in the month of June.