My 2014 Mile and Point Earning and Burning

In the tradition of this blog, it’s time to summarize where I went and how I got there.

I flew about 261k miles this year, up from 2013′s 228k miles.  Unlike last year, where most of those (90% or so) were revenue, roughly 98k miles were on award tickets (~62% revenue).  All but 75k miles were in premium cabins, but with the marked uptick in travel, this was a better ratio (28.7%) than 2013 (32.1%).

This past year involved 4 trips to Europe, 2 trips to Hawaii, 2 trips to Asia, 3 trips to both Europe and Asia (but does Anatolia really count?).

My award redemptions were numerous:

  • I went to Prague, Berlin, and Poland.
  • I visited Turkey cheaply thanks to Avianca.
  • I went to Japan with some predevaluation United and American miles.
  • I visited Taipei and Paris over the summer.
  • I went to Oktoberfest and Bangkok in September.
  • I booked a last minute trip to Europe in December.

I earned points and miles throughout the year:

  • I had about 77k EQMs on United, as the new PQD requirements deterred me from shooting for 1K.  I picked up about 50k redeemable miles on my United credit card, mostly from a mix of “every day” spend and some United purchases.  I would have managed Premier Silver without the waiver.
  • American finished at just over 100k EQMs, thanks in part to the 10k EQM bonus from spend on my Citi AAdvantage card (which earned ~140k miles between spending and the signup bonus).

Airfare spending continued its rise to 5.6cpm, up from 5.22cpm last year.  Hotel spending dropped, even as nights stayed roughly constant (82, down from 83), to $68.55/night from last year’s $84/nt.  Rental car spending nosedived from $2.2k to about $1.3k.

Last year, I predicted a few things:

  • More award travel.  26k to 97k miles is quite a jump.
  • Requalification for Executive Platinum and Premier Platinum.  Check.
  • Fewer hotel nights.  This didn’t pan out, although I didn’t requalify for SPG 50.
  • More credit card spending.  Check.

In 2015, I expect:

  • Total travel to drop and the fraction of award travel to rise.
  • Requalification for Executive Platinum.   Based on pre-3/1 earnings change travel alone, I would not be completely shocked to make Premier Silver on United.
  • I’m evidently bad at making predictions about hotel stays.
Posted in Journeys | Leave a comment

Mistakes were Made: Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport

For my last night in Milan, I booked another night at the Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport hotel.  While my experience a few months prior was lackluster, the airport is really convenient for early morning flights.

This time around, I was upgraded to a deluxe room.

Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa

After checking in, I took a look at the club on the third floor, where a spread of snacks and beverages was available.Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan MalpensaThe next morning, I returned to the club for breakfast.  One of the TVs was playing news coverage that Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 bound for Milan had been hijacked.

Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan MalpensaI finished my breakfast and walked over to the airport terminal, ultimately thankful that the media coverage of the hijacked flight didn’t translate into pandemonium at the airport.

Posted in Hotels, Journeys | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mistakes were Made: Milan Revisited

Milan

 

Posted in Photos | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mistakes were Made: Four Points Milan

For my night in central Milan, I picked the Four Points, located near Milano Centrale.

Four Points Milan

Continue reading

Posted in Hotels | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mistakes were Made: United Airlines Business Class Newark to Milan

Thanks to a United travel waiver for the Northeast, Wideroe was willing to make changes to the otherwise non-changeable mistake bookings.  Rather than try to call Norway, I gave their online chat a try: Wideroe Online ChatA few minutes later, I had a new ticket in my email and was ready to go.  A quick call to United and one systemwide upgrade later, I had a seat in the business class cabin.  Online check-in didn’t go so smoothly, though:

Online Checkin EWR-MXPThat’s not the message you want to see 4 hours before your international flight while it’s after business hours in Norway…  One lengthy call to United (and some fingerpointing between United and Wideroe) later, I was able to check in and obtain a boarding pass.

Continue reading

Posted in Airlines, Journeys | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mistakes Were Made: An Introduction

Back in November, a small Norwegian regional carrier, Wideroe, stopped charging fuel surcharges on Star Alliance-operated tickets across the Atlantic.  Needless to say, the frequent flyer community pounced on the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars per round trip.

While I had previously visited Milan in October (thanks in part to Emirates’ fifth-freedom route between New York and Milan driving down fares), I found it hard to resist a $189 round trip, all-inclusive fare.

Itinerary

Originally, I had booked EWR-FRA-LIN/MXP-EWR, expecting to grin-and-bear two transatlantic flights in coach.

Thanks to some weather waivers in the northeast during the days leading up to my trip, I switched over to the nonstop to Milan Malpensa, rather than take a long layover in Frankfurt.

Posted in Journeys | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Europe for the Holidays: Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to New York

Having been escorted to a waiting car from the lounge, we quickly drove along the terminal past Lufthansa’s various widebodies waiting to depart to far-off lands.

 

Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to New York Continue reading

Posted in Airlines, Awards, Journeys | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Europe for the Holidays: Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

I found myself relaxing most of the night before my flight to New York. At about 1AM, I looked at my United reservation in dismay.  My flight from Zurich to Frankfurt was there, as was my onward flight from New York.  The Lufthansa First segment was missing in action. Fast forward an hour later and with the help of a United agent, I managed to get the segment restored.  Nevertheless, it seemed prudent to head over to over to the airport a bit early.  If everything was fine, I’d wind up enjoying more time in the First Class Terminal.  If things weren’t, I’d have more lead time to resolve everything.

After catching a few hours of sleep, I checked out of the Sheraton and walked along the arrivals level to the First Class Terminal.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

The main entrance to the building is on the second floor, with a driveway attached to it.  The first floor entrance, accessible from the sidewalk from the arrivals level, has an elevator up to the check-in desks.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

I quickly checked-in with the agent and then passed through the most courteous security screening before entering the lounge.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

The lounge had a small display case filled with some of the collectible-edition, Lufthansa rubber ducks.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Having put down my bags, I ventured over to look at my options for breakfast.  (On account of the precarious state my reservation was in, I opted to head straight to the terminal rather than visit the lounge at the Sheraton for food.)

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Shortly into my meal, the check-in agent returned with my boarding pass, my passport, and a New Years edition rubber duck.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Rather than list all of the day’s flights, the First Class Terminal’s departure screens are customized to the passengers actually in the lounge.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

The tables throughout the lounge had drink menus.  I think those are fairly understandable.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

…but water?  That seems a bit more far fetched.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

About 30 minutes before departure, I began packing up my laptop bag in anticipation of needing to depart.  Around then, one of the lounge attendants found me and escorted me to the lower level so I could exit the Schengen Area and be driven over to my flight.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Posted in Awards | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Changes You’re Going to Like

United finally announced that they’re shifting to a revenue-based earning scheme for 2015.  Given the announcement looks like a copy-and-paste (and a find-and-replace of “Delta” for “United”) from Delta’s announcements, it’s surprising it took them this long.

We knew this was coming.  Some are talking about the destruction of the program, but fortunately, credit card spending will save us.

This change might finally spur me to get on the Delta bandwagon, though.  At least with them, I can earn elite qualifying miles entirely from credit card spending with American Express.

Posted in Airlines | Tagged | Leave a comment

Europe for the Holidays: Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Since I had a morning flight out of Frankfurt Airport, I decided to stay at the Sheraton rather than try to stay in city center.  While Germany has terrific trains to most (I’m looking at you, Tegel) of its airports, it’s hard to compete with taking an escalator and walking across a skybridge to the airport terminal building in the morning.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

I was given a king room on the 8th floor with a not particularly exhilarating of a view of the airport terminal.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Having settled into my room, I ventured up to the club lounge.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Late in the evening, most of the food options had been picked up, but a few deserts remained.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Posted in Hotels | Tagged , | Leave a comment