2015 was a relatively strong year for me for business travel, with the first and last thirds of the year being particularly busy. Due to that, my total flights and hotel nights just edged above 2014’s numbers, for another record year.
My flights were much more spread out among airlines this year, so I ended up getting the lowest tier status on two airlines (Gold on American Airlines and Silver on United) rather than last year’s mid-tier status on one airline. For hotels, I was easily able to pick up the 60 nights required for Diamond status with Hilton, and I even managed to pick up enough Marriott nights to get Silver. (Last year, my United Gold status gave me Marriott Gold status as well, even though I barely stayed with them.)
In particular, the last four months of the year have had me traveling about three weeks a month; I’m on a high stakes program at work, and it’s been a particularly busy travel time for that program.
2014 Hotel Nights
Hotel nights are up this year, too. From 2011 through 2013, I was doing a respectable amount of travel, but the phase of my program combined with budget cuts (and the 2013 federal furloughs and shutdown) had a serious effect on the number of nights I spent on the road. However, I moved to a higher priority program in mid-2013, so while our budget still isn’t great, the priority of the program and the acquisition phase we’re in means that mission-critical travel has climbed back up. In addition, I’ve had far more personal hotel nights this year than usual, an effect of taking a good number of weekend trips when I got the chance, plus a true vacation in the summer.
I was able to reclaim Hilton HHonors Diamond this year – in fact, I hit the 60 nights required for Diamond in September, and ended the year with 96 elite-qualifying nights. In addition, I was able to hit United MileagePlus Gold for the first time (in fact, it’s the first time I’ve hit the second tier on any airline’s program).
5 – 6 Jul, Orlando (MCO): A mechanical issue led to a delay as the airline brought in a replacement aircraft; the replacement aircraft ingested a bird into the engine, leading us to wait for a second replacement aircraft. By that time it was after 22:00, so we accepted a flight change to the following afternoon.
American Airlines was the first airline I gained elite status on, and for a while, I was able to fly the majority of flights on American (particularly helped by having my most frequent work destination at the time be the Dallas/Fort Worth area). However, by early 2012, my work travel destinations had changed, and travel American Airlines was less feasible for a substantial portion of my trips. I was able to maintain my status for a while, but United became my new preferred airline, and my share of American flights began to diminish.
Because of the substantial lead I’d built up with American, it still took me until this month for AA to dip below 50% of my total flights. I’ve decided to commemorate the occasion with a graph.
Last year’s numbers were high due to a particularly busy July and August 2012, which were alone responsible for a third of that year’s travel. I didn’t end up having quite that busy of a travel season this year, so my number of flights dropped, but they were still higher than most years.
I visited 11 airports for the first time this year:
I’d actually diverted to GRK before for a DFW thunderstorm, but we didn’t get off the plane, so I didn’t get to count it then. Otherwise, I was able to pick up a few hubs I hadn’t been to before, and the rest were new destinations.
I had hoped to maintain at least American Airlines AAdvantage Gold and United Mileage Plus Silver this year, but I only ended up having two trips on American, so I’m back down to nothing there. I did maintain Silver on United, and Gold with Hilton HHonors.