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Friday, August 14, 2009

Frequent Flyer Friday #3

Celebrating Friday with a short interview with a frequent flyer.


Megan


Megan chronicles her frequent travels through photos instead of words. She discovered the online frequent flyer community Flyertalk by clicking through a Smart Travel e-newsletter back in 2005 and her life hasn't been the same since.


First, some questions to see what kind of frequent flyer Megan is.


What is your home airport?
Megan - Monterey is the most convenient but often too expensive. San Francisco has lots of flight options, lower fares and is a nice airport. Sometimes I use San Jose.


What is the airline you usually fly?
Megan - Now it is most often on United. Until 1 January 2009 I also flew frequently on Northwest, but I've stopped cold turkey flying on Sky Team. This was because the merger with Delta means the valuable WorldPerks frequent flyer program has been devalued.


Which of the following best describes your flying pattern?
- infrequent (eg annual) leisure trip
- jetsetting for pleasure
- frequent (eg monthly) business travel
- road warrior
- mileage runner
× I live on planes


Megan's full answer was "I sometimes live on planes, mileage running, in order to jetset for pleasure". I figure the bottom choice fits best. What do you think?


How do you mostly earn your frequent flyer miles?
- promos
- credit card spend
- business and leisure travel
- taking extra flights on trips I need to take
× mileage running


Please describe how you travel in 4 words
Megan - More passport pages, please


How original! What is the story behind that?
Megan - Last year I had pages added to my then 2.5 year old passport at the US embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia.


Good move - it is much quicker and simpler to add pages to a US passport at an embassy abroad than at home. Now for some advice from Megan.


What is inside your carry-on bag right now?
Megan - Since I am home for the next two weeks, my carry-on backpack is near-empty at the moment. It usually contains: a plastic baggie of toiletries; a book or two; an amenity kit filled with batteries, chargers & SD cards; and hopefully destination-appropriate clothing. (Every once in a while, I pack something silly like a cashmere sweater for New Orleans in July.)


I also need to add my basic handheld GPS into my travel essentials and start geocaching again.


Please give a tip on travel.
Megan - I would suggest people who always travel with companions try going solo every once in a while. Single travelers can experience things differently especially if open and receptive to their surroundings.


What is your preferred airline for regular travel?
Megan - Before this year it used to be Northwest. Service onboard and on the ground was top-notch. As a Platinum member, my domestic complimentary upgrade success rate was 90-something percent, and it was processed automatically, usually 5 days out. Connecting through Detroit was always a treat too - a big, beautiful glassy terminal with the red Northwest train, the fountain, the WorldClub lounge.

A few years ago, on a trip to Europe, my luggage went missing for 2 days. By the time it was located, I had shopped for essentials and was ready to board a ship for 3 weeks. Bag & I were reunited in Reykjavik, Iceland a week later. When I returned home, I submitted my receipts and was promptly reimbursed almost US$700. Hardly a question asked. No hassles. It was terrific. That trip was also especially memorable because of a friend I made on the transatlantic flight - the captain.

Since I no longer fly Northwest, my preferred airline is now United. As a California resident, it makes sense. I've really enjoyed having 1K elite status and twice this year flying their new Business Class lie-flat seats. My San Francisco to Sydney flight on the upper deck in May was by far the most comfortable & restful flight I've had so far.


What is your preferred airline for a special trip?
Megan - My special trips are almost always award itineraries. I have no favorites, but look forward to flying carriers I haven't traveled. I flew Sydney to Vancouver in Air Canada's Executive First this year with the herringbone configuration and blue lighting. The meals were okay but I found myself quickly bored with the inflight entertainment system. Not a comfortable trip. Maybe it was me or maybe my expectations were misplaced. No regrets though.


What is your preferred frequent flyer program?
Megan - It used to be Northwest WorldPerks. United Mileage Plus perks are good as well, but the inability to access & book partner awards through starnet filtering is unfortunate.


You've used a lot of great fare bargains. Can you please give a couple of examples and explain how you found them?
Megan - Yes, I have been fortunate in the travel bargains department. The key is being vigilant in monitoring fares & rates and having a circle of like-minded fellow travelers to alert me, by email or phone, to things I may have missed.


The most bang-for-buck airfare I've used was a business class fare to Larnaca, Cyprus flying Alitalia for US$180. I did two roundtrips in two weeks on an airline I wouldn't normally fly and to a destination I surely wouldn't have chosen. It was great.


My favorite hotel deal has to be the Conrad Bangkok Deluxe Executive 1 Bedroom Suite for THB635 (US$18) per night. It was my first trip to Thailand and I did it in style! Never have I had a hotel room with six interior doors.


Thank you for sharing, Megan. You sure have a varied and interesting travel tale to tell (and show - see her pics from all over the world).


For other frequent flyer friday posts please check out the index. If you have any questions you'd like answered, or wish to nominate someone for an interview, please drop me a line using the please use the contact me link. For all sorts of reasons I can't make any guarantees, but if you're interested chances are others are too and so we'll get some good interviews.

1 comment:

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