2014 has been a record travel year.
I have flown on 86 flights this year, which has been my best year yet.
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.
These stays ended up being:
- 97 nights in Hilton brands
- 2 nights in Marriott brands (a stay at the Gaylord Opryland)
- 1 night in Wyndham brands (American Airlines put me up at a Baymont at the Charlotte airport)
- 6 nights in a VRBO vacation home in Flagstaff I rented with some friends this summer
- 1 night in military base lodging
I’ve visited six new airports this year:
This put me at 54 total airports visited out of my 100 airport goal. I’m over halfway there!
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).
- Longest Flight: MCO – SEA (2554 miles)
- Shortest Flight: FLG – PHX (119 miles)
- Least Direct Layover: ORD – DEN – ICT, 122.5% (720 miles) longer than ORD – ICT
I had six unexpected overnight stays this year:
- 14 – 15 Apr, Newark (EWR): High winds cancelled my connecting flight.
- 27 – 28 May, Chicago-O’Hare (ORD): Thunderstorm cancelled my connecting flight. Also had to take an extra layover in Denver the next day.
- 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.
- 25 – 26 Aug, Chicago-O’Hare (ORD): Air Force Two closed the ramp at Chicago, followed by a thunderstorm. This one was quite a trip.
- 10 – 11 Oct, Charlotte (CLT): A stuck cargo door at Lawton led to a chain of delays that ended up with me being stuck overnight at Charlotte.
- 11 – 12 Dec, Chicago-O’Hare (ORD): I was delayed leaving Orlando by a late incoming aircraft, causing me to miss my connection in Chicago.
Flight Log: http://www.flighthistorian.com/airports/SEA
SeaTac holds the distinction for me of being the only airport involved in every Northwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines flight I’ve flown, though it’s not terribly surprising given Alaska’s hub and Northwest’s former presence.
SeaTac is also one of the airports I’ve been to that’s only been used for personal trips (to date) – I’ve never had a work trip through the airport. Beyond the trip described in last week’s post, my remaining four trips were to attend PAX Prime — one time on the way back from a Hawaiian vacation.
Flight Log: http://www.flighthistorian.com/airports/IND
At two hours’ drive away from me, IND is an infrequent but feasible alternate airport for me. Generally, I’ll only bother to go that far if I can get a particularly good or cheap flight, or if I’m already planning to be in the area.
My first trip through Indianapolis was a visit to Seattle with some Columbus friends; IND had a direct flight to SEA on Northwest at the time. My friends got a ride out to Dayton to meet me and we all drove together to Indianapolis. The plan for the return trip was to land at IND at about 7:30 PM, drive my friends from Indy to Columbus (about a 3 hour drive east on I-70) and then double back to return to the Dayton area (an hour and 15 minutes west). In retrospect, a direct flight probably wasn’t worth that drive…
…especially when the flight is six hours late. We didn’t land until 1:30 AM, and hadn’t had dinner yet. A hotel wasn’t an option, according to one of the friends, as he had to be at work the next day, so we stopped at a Steak-n-Shake for a 2:00 AM dinner, and (with several gas station coffee breaks along the way) proceeded to drive to Columbus. The sun was rising by the time I dropped them off, and I turned around, getting back home just before 8.
By the time I had my next couple trips through the airport, IND had opened its new midfield terminal. Both of these trips were for work, where I was planning to be in Indianapolis the weekend before or after anyway; even with the extra mileage, flying out of IND was in each case far cheaper than flying out of DAY.
Indianapolis was one of the first airports which allowed for TSA PreCheck interviews, and thus was where I conducted my interview.