It seems like I had a bit of a mid-summer travel slump this year but things are starting to perk up and look promising for the rest of 2012.
After enduring a week of temperatures readily in the 100-105 range (a rarity for us in West Michigan and this New Yorker) I’m beginning to look forward to my travel calendar for the fall and winter and I’m liking what I see.
This weekend it’s off to New York City for an overdue visit with family (Mom’s guilt trips finally taking their toll: “You go to Europe 3 times and Hong Kong once already this year, and you can’t visit your parents?”). Yes Mom, point made 🙂 , see you Saturday. Hopefully she’ll make her famous stuffed cabbage to mark the occasion….
Then later next week it’s a visit to my wife’s family so we’ll be off to Southern California for a few days to cool off. My wife will fly the typical GRR-ORD-SNA run while I decided to get more creative (thanks to HIPMUNK!) and am taking the far more “practical” route of Grand Rapids-Newark-Orlando-Los Angeles and returning via Los Angeles-Cleveland-Grand Rapids. The irony with my booking is that I will earn approximately 50% more Premier QUalifying Miles (United Mileage Plus) than my wife will for her flights, but yet I spent $20 less for my ticket.
Once that trip is over, August will be full of tee times and then some of the big trips start to appear on the horizon as we head into Fall.
Thanks to intervention from not of this world this past weekend, Singapore Airlines (SQ) had released (inadvertently I suspect) most of their First Class seats to a handful of Star Alliance frequent flyer programs including United’s Mileage Plus, Air Canada’s Aeroplan and US Airways Dividend Miles. SQ was undergoing a technology migration last weekend similar to what United and Continental had undergone earlier this year which is what led the opportunity for these redemptions. Typically SQ does not release any First Class inventory to Star Alliance carriers so this was certainly Christmas in July for those of us who were in the right place at the right time! The Flyertalk.com and Milepoint.com threads for these frequent flyer programs lit up last weekend and resembled feeding time at the zoo as we all hunted for our opportunities. One FlyerTalk member claimed to have spent approximately 1.4 million miles on First Class tickets on Singapore flights (that’s could be 10-14 bookings!). I felt like I was “cheating” on Lufthansa when I was booking the trip, but I couldn’t resist booking a ticket for a seat that is otherwise not possible to book.
Long story short, I took modest advantage of the opportunity and booked a great trip to Singapore in early September. I’ll fly from home to Houston and connect to my flight to Singapore. Along the way I’ll have a 1 1/2 hour stop in Moscow. After all is said and done with that flight, I will have had the good fortune of being in a First Class seat for 22.5 out of 24 hours. After 2 1/2 days in Singapore (calendar constraints kept me from staying longer), I’ll fly back via Hong Kong and San Francisco spending another 19 hours in Singapore’s lap of luxury. While in Singapore, I’ll stay at the Grand Hyatt, and will take advantage of my Gold Passport Diamond status and use one of my Suite upgrades to experience their hospitality. The last time I did this, I was blown away by the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong.
October will most likely have a trip to Europe on my favorite airline (do you need a hint? 😉 ) to visit family in Slovakia and perhaps a couple of days in Frankfurt. Hopefully the new terminal (Terminal A+) at Frankfurt will be open by then and I can get a good look at it.
Late in November, I’m part a small group of frequent flyer friends who are planning on visiting Vienna and Frankfurt to take in the Christmas Markets that last through the Holiday season. As a part of this trip, we’re planning an informal gathering at Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt on our departure date so that we can take home the best souvenir of the trip, the 2012 Lufthansa First Class Services “Christmas Duck”.
My plans for that trip are to arrive in Zurich on a SWISS flight, then take the train from Zurich to Innsbruck, spend a day or two, then continue via train to Vienna. IF the weather holds up, I should get some fantastic views of the Alps. From Vienna it’ll be a short Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt where I’ll spend a day or two and then home from there. (hopefully on the 747-8i again!).
And if that isn’t enough, there will be my 2nd annual mileage run to Hong Kong in late December to top off the mileage account and lock in “1K” status with United for 2013.
Granted it’s only July, but I’m excited about the 2nd half of 2012. Up until only 3-4 years ago travel was just a minor interest but since then that interest turned into a hobby, which proceeded to morph into an obsession and is now a full-blown addiction. I suspect there are worse vices one could have!
2012 will go down as one of my busier travel years, and the plan for 2013 will be to be busier yet! What about you, what does the rest of the year hold in store for your travels?