Miles and more

The newest photo set in my Flickr stream is called “In Flight“. I have flown 32,773 miles since January 1st this year. I boarded a plane 25 times so far in 2006. (It is not even because I started the year with a flight back to Chicagoland from NYC.) Since you can fly direct almost anywhere I go from Chicago, there has only been one trip that required a layover, when I was going from NYC to Santa Barbara via San Francisco (there) and Los Angeles (back). So I’ve been on 11.5 trips that required flying in less than half a year. Yikes.


Conveniently, I already had Premier status in United’s frequent flyer program even before the year began so I get even more miles in my account than I actually fly. There are additional perks. For example, I just found out on Sunday right before boarding the plane from San Francisco to Chicago, that I now have several e-upgrades, which entitle me to upgrades for no cost. So I conveniently got to spend the redeye in business class. It was great.

I’ve always wanted to fly on the upper deck of a big plane and I got to do it this time. It’s not that special, but it was still fun looking down at everything from even higher up (I don’t mean in flight, but while on the ground).

It’s good to know that San Francisco is another United hub. This means that they have a separate Premier check-in and security area that always cuts down on the wait so this next academic year when that becomes my home base airport, I can still get through check-in quickly.

6 Responses to “Miles and more”

  1. Noor Says:

    Isn’t San Jose closer to Palo Alto than SFO?

    It’s a fairly tiny airport but United does fly out of there.

  2. Steph Says:

    I’m glad you’re getting some good treatment from United. I have a ton of miles on American, but found that they’re almost useless. Every time I try to use them, the trip takes too many (100k) or the dates/times are awful. When I complained I was told I should book one year in advance! So I’m thinking to get rid of my miles credit card–the miles seem to be worthless. Do you find your miles useful?

  3. eszter Says:

    Noor – I think San Jose had fewer options and perhaps the tix were more expensive. I definitely looked into it as an option, but opted for SFO in the end. (It also wasn’t clear from the map that it would be that much closer. Perhaps when I’m a local I can collect more data on this from folks in the area.)

    Steph – Why don’t you switch to United? From the Chicago area, both usually have flights and I’ve actually found United’s tix to be cheaper. (Initially, I started flying them because they always had the cheapest tickets to NYC and other destinations that were of interest.) I did just buy a ticket on miles a few months ago. Two weeks later they announced that you can now get those tix for 10K fewer miles (I had spent 25K), so that was a bit of a bummer, but it’s okay given how quickly I’m accruing them and given that I rarely need to fly when I’m paying.

    I looked into flying to Europe this summer. The route was more complicated than I had hoped (two layovers), but to be sure, I inquired less than two weeks before the suggested trip, so I was pretty amazed they would’ve been able to accomodate it at all.

    If you fly enough to reach Premier status (and from what I know about your schedule it sounds like you may well do so) then you can start using speedy check-in and security when you’re at O’Hare and I’ve found that to be a very nice perk. Plus now that computers instead of gate agents determine who gets off the stand-by list, etc, I think women are getting better perks overall (there’s a whole other blog post lurking in that comment.. I’ll leave it for now).

  4. Beth Says:

    Unless they’ve added more service since the last time I took public transport to SJC, it’s more complicated to get there via public transport. It’s a Caltrain-lightrail-bus vs. Caltrain-shuttle or Caltrain-BART affair for SFO.

    I ran both airports through Mapquest from the Olive Garden in Palo Alto since I was there today and had the street address for it. The restaurant is just a few blocks from the campus.

    Olive Garden, Palo Alto to SFO: 22.41 miles, about 26 minutes
    Olive Gardwn, Palo Alto to SJC: 15.36, about 19 minutes

  5. Beth Says:

    Just to add to my last: Palo Alto is basically right between the two airports depending on which side of the town you wind up living on. I imagine though that unless you’re getting some housing assistance, that Palo Alto won’t be terribly affordable so you may wind up further south in Mt. View for example or further north more towards San Mateo.

    If you’re further north, SFO will be that much closer and if you’re further south, SJC will be that much closer. I usually fly out of SFO even though Oakland is closer because it’s easier to get to SFO on BART. I’m also going to Philadelphia most often and US Airways’ hub is at SFO so the cheaper direct flights tend to be out of there anyway.

  6. eszter Says:

    Since SFO is a United hub and has priority check-in for Premier members, that’s one more reason I would want to fly from there.

    BTW, I will be living in Palo Alto. One of the few rules of this fellowship is that you have to live within a seven mile radius of the Center. So that doesn’t leave too many options. The Center’s housing coordinator connected me with someone and I got to check out the place when I was there ten days ago. It’s right off of campus, I’m excited about it.