Operation “Free Mandela”

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Hey ya’ll, a quick plug for my “meet up” schedule thingy in the sidebar in the bottom right. A couple weeks ago I put up my schedule in case fellow travelers are interested in meeting up.

Yesterday began a freaking ton of flying. Over 30,000 miles in less than 3 weeks.

Basically, AA has their challenge for top tier status (Executive Platinum) open to everyone for, like a day… And I didn’t delay on making sure I signed up.

After signing up I called AA 3 separate times to confirm that you get 8 system wide upgrades. Apparently the third confirmation was enough for me and that night I booked the first half of this two part madness.

There was a sale to Johannesburg, South Africa and since that’s some place new and really far away… why not?

But the entire thing is made more complicated by a few things.

  1. My sister’s wedding was Nov 22. So it had to be after that.
  2. We’re meeting friends in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week with at a mistake fare (at the Sheraton). Dec 7 – 15.
  3. Carrie was not going to budge on the fact that we must spend Christmas break (to New Years) with her family. And we’d spent Thanksgiving with mine.

So after thanksgiving and before Christmas. How was I going to fly 30,000 miles for cheapish? And it has to be around the Mexico trip.

South Africa right after Thanksgiving.

Actually, it’s: Houston to London, to Johannesburg for four days. Then back to London, then to Chicago, then to Dallas, then to Puerto Vallarta.

So after Mexico and before Christmas, we have this:

Puerto Vallarta to Dallas, to Boston, then turn around right back to Dallas (same flight :-p), then to San Fran. Then Back to Dallas, then to New York. And finally back to Columbus, Ohio.

I talked about “why?” in a newsletter recently… but basically, I don’t give a dern about the upgrades. I could have upgraded this flight but didn’t. In fact, the entire day before the airport, I was thinking about how economy is just fine. However, I didn’t sleep.

Random rant on being sleepless

It kind of reminds me of the Tokyo to New York flight we had a year and half ago. We flew from Rarotonga to Sydney, to Bangkok, to Tokyo. We spent the “night” in Tokyo (at the Radisson) but stayed awake all night.

This was my genius plan. I was awake all day, stayed awake all night, I would sleep on the plane and when I landed in New York, I would have slept 12 hours and woke up in the morning. I would confuse my body back into EST. No jet lag at all!

In reality, I stayed awake all day flying, stayed awake all night in Tokyo… and then I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane from Tokyo to NYC. A wink. No idea why, but I blame it on the lack of food that AA gave.

In fact, I was starving and the flight attendant came by with a tiny ham sandwich and I told him that I don’t eat pork and he said, “that sucks”. (I can still picture his face). So anyways…

Then the next day we had to do the JFK to La Guardia switcharoo and actually, we were flying to Houston with a layover in Dallas. So pretty much 48 hours with no sleep. My parents saw me like 24 hours later.

All that to say, I did not sleep at all on the Houston to London flight. I imagine I’ll sleep like a baby on the LHR to JNB flight. I’ll confuse my body out of jetlag or something like that.

So after today/last night or whatever… I had serious business class envy.

Edit: Apparently it was TMI.

How much would you pay for a tiny bed for 8 hours?

Now business class is great, don’t get me wrong. But how much would I normally pay to have a bed? They aren’t even hotel rooms, they are thin beds. 30 inch wide cushions. Again, I do love it but…

In our Europe trip, we ended up paying $900 in airfare. Which was pretty much double what we paid the two years before that trip. Honestly, I was low on miles and wanted to have enough to see more places.

So that’s my stance. If I have to chose between paying, seeing more places and business class… I will always chose to see more places.

However, once I get my stash up to the glory days… I’m upgrading that crap. Especially now that my friends are getting their own dang miles.


Thus, we haven’t flown business class since the Pacific Hopper early last year.

Like how I tout how much economy I fly as if 99.99% of people don’t also always fly economy?

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But if I do fly business class, I have a few standards:

  • It’s going to be a freaking good deal.Like the Pacific Hopper is a great example. We paid 40,000 United miles and flew all over the earth sipping champagne. I mean really, for 15,000 more miles we had a bed the entire 22,719 miles. Duh.
  • I want a bed.Business Class will always be better than economy, but the angled crap on Thai Airways is not the same. We were on the front row of our Thai flight, and every few hours I woke up on in the middle of the aisle, like right next to the freaking door. Just slipping onto the floor. Gravity folks.
    But they apparently took gravity into consideration and put a foot stand that comes out… so you can sleep standing up.It’s not bad. Just why would you choose that over Singapore? There’s no reason. So if that’s my only option, I lie on the floor in economy.
  • It’s a lot of flying and I need sleep.I’m working on a route that’s a lot of flying again. And business class is the difference between getting there feeling rested and getting there needing to get actual sleep.

Where is all this coming from?

Basically, I didn’t sleep well. And I wanted to give a really vague public explanation on why there will be no price next to this flight on the stats page. Basically, I’ll do anything for free miles.

Also, I dare say, I think AA has a better economy product than British Airways (and Air Berlin).

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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