2016 Year in Travel

Overall, my travel increased slightly this year. Unlike in 2015, my travel was relatively evenly spread throughout the year.

Flights

2016-flights
Map created with Great Circle Mapper

I took 94 flights in 2016, which beat my 2015 record by five flights.

2016-flights

This year, I had 56 flights on business-only trips (my employer paid for all hotel nights), 4 flights on personal-only trips (I paid for all hotel nights), and 34 flights on trips that were mixed business and personal (my employer and I each paid for at least one hotel night).

At my job, we have contracted rates with the airlines, so the flights between two cities have the same cost no matter what day they take place. As a result, we’re allowed to extend business trips by flying there earlier or flying home later, as long as we’re responsible for any expenses incurred on the additional days. I was able to use that benefit a good deal this year, as the chart above indicates.

However, the plurality of those mixed trip flights came from a single trip: my two-week vacation across Europe, from which I ended up having to go straight to a business trip in Tulsa without stopping home first. Thus, I paid for all of the European flights, my employer paid for the flights that took place after I returned to the US, and we each paid for hotel rooms on the appropriate parts of the trip. This led to a trip with 9 flights being considered a mixed trip, which on its own already exceeds the number of mixed trip flights I’ve had in any prior year.

Hotel Nights

2016-hotels

I spent 113 nights in hotels in 2016, up four from the prior year. 71 were business (my employer paid for the hotel) and 42 were personal (I paid for the hotel).

My business travel nights were slightly down this year, but I made up for it with more personal nights. Again, the Europe trip contributed substantially to my personal hotel nights.

New Airports

I visited 13 new airports in 2016:

2016-new-airports
#61AMAAmarillo, Texas, United States
#62SATSan Antonio, Texas, United States
#63MUCMunich, Germany
#64NUENuremberg, Germany
#65TXLBerlin–Tegel, Germany
#66LHRLondon–Heathrow, United Kingdom
#67CDGParis–Charles de Gaulle, France
#68KEFReykjavík–Keflavík, Iceland
#69ONTOntario, California, United States
#70PWMPortland, Maine, United States
#71DSMDes Moines, Iowa, United States
#72BURBurbank, California, United States
#73RDURaleigh/Durham, North Carolina, United States

Elite Status

2016-status

This year, my travel was weighted more heavily toward American Airlines (61 out of 94 flights), so I was able to get AAdvantage Platinum for the first time.

United renewed my MileagePlus Gold status at the end of 2015 even though I didn’t earn it, which meant that I still had Gold benefits through the end of 2016. I didn’t even earn United Silver this year. However, due to United’s partnership with Marriott, because I was still considered United Gold at the end of this year, Marriott renewed my Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status.

I easily earned Hilton HHonors Diamond again this year – I got the required 60 nights by July, and ended the year with 95 nights spent in Hilton properties.

Trivia

No, I’m Not Flying from Honolulu

Next spring, I’m planning to go on a two-week European vacation with Amy.

I had a number of United miles saved up – not quite enough for two round trips to Europe, but enough to get us each a one way itinerary to Munich (our first destination). Airlines like to make it difficult to redeem miles at the advertised rates unless you book well in advance, so we cashed in the miles this week and got a pair of one-way tickets from Chicago to Munich, operated by United’s Star Alliance partner Air Canada with a layover in Toronto.

Map showing flights from ORD to YYZ to MUC
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

On a ticket like that, I have to select my seats on Air Canada’s website, since they’re the ones actually operating the flight. United provided me record locator for our Air Canada itinerary – one of those six-letter-and-number identifiers that you use to look up your flight.

I went to Air Canada’s website to pick my seats, plugged in that record locator… and was a bit surprised by the itinerary I saw:

Booking

In addition to the two 2016 flights that I’d bought, there were two additional flights booked in 2015, showing a trip from Honolulu to San Francisco to Toronto. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting!

This was a bit concerning to me, as I had no intention to go to Hawaii this month – and I was worried that if I didn’t show up for the first flight, my whole itinerary would be cancelled. I called Air Canada, but they told me I’d have to check with United, since United sold me the ticket.

Fortunately, the United agent I spoke to was very helpful. After looking into it with me, she was able to figure out that I’d been issued a record locator that was already in use.

Well, I understood that – with six digits that each have 36 possibilities (A-Z and 0-9), there are 366 = 2,176,782,336 possible combinations. That’s a lot of records, but it’s not infinite, and I can understand that eventually some numbers would have to be reused. The agent let me know that usually they try to wait a while before reusing a booking number, and it’s usually not a problem because they normally look up reservations by booking number and last name.

So it appears that of two billion booking number possibilities, I was assigned one that was not just in use, but also in use by someone else who also has the last name Bogard.

What’re the odds of that?

Anyway, once we figured out that their computer was seeing four flights with the same record locator and last name and assuming they were one itinerary, the United agent was able to cancel my half of the flights off of that existing reservations and rebooked my tickets on Air Canada, giving me a new record locator that (thankfully) appears to be unused by any other Bogards!