2009 travel year in review

I’m finishing up my travels pretty early this year. Unless something comes up last minute, I doubt I’ll be flying anywhere till January. Nonetheless it has been one heck of a year. In terms of travel it has been my busiest yet. If my math is right I flew around 256,000 “butt in seat” miles and about 220 segments this year. With flying, credit cards, and promotions, I earned upwards of a million miles this year, which is by far the most yet. This was the first year where I really branched out beyond flying to earn miles and pursued credit/debit card sign-up bonuses, taking advantage of every promotion, etc.

I really don’t want to know how many redeyes I took this year (I’ll let the circles under my eyes speak for themselves), but I hated every last one of ’em, as “profitable” and time saving as they were. Every year I tell myself “there’s no way I’ll top last year’s total,” but every year I’m on the road more and more.

Anyway, there’s no better time to reflect on some of the travel highlights of 2009. If you’re a long time reader you probably remember many of them, but I figured I’d provide some links for those that are interested.

First the major trips with lengthy trip reports:

And some of my other travels with twists and turns:

So, what’s in the books for next year? Well, unfortunately nothing yet. Other than the normal mileage runs on United, it’s too early for me to plan too much as quite a bit is still up in the air (no pun intended). Realistically I’m hoping to visit Dubai, Buenos Aires, and Dublin next year (totally random, I know), and hopefully explore a bit more of Australia beyond Sydney. My schedule for next year should firm up a bit within the next few weeks so that I can start planning travel. I’m all for earning and burning, and I’ve just been doing lots more earning than burning lately!

Would love to hear about your travel and mileage year. Good thanks to all the promotions? Bad due to the economy and cutbacks at work?

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Reading this from the RCC in ORD on my way to TPA for a quick weekend (I’ll be on the ground there for 18 hours, so I don’t call it a MR).

    Year has been good as I got to renew 1K without too much hassle. I think next year I’ll aim for 1P and burn some of the miles that have been sitting around for a while. Of course, I said the same last year and then the DEQMs made it tempting to reach for more.

  2. Love your blog, I am also a recent college graduate too and I was just curious about how much you spent on flights to get your in seat miles? Thanks

  3. Looks like you’ve had a fantastic year, in terms of both earning and burning! Congratulations, Lucky — hope 2010 is even better! 🙂

    This year was particularly “special” for me, as it was the first time I had attained status with any airline. Yes, I used to be one of those n00bs, and would just book the cheapest flight, and credit miles incorrectly, etc. What a waste of flying, lol! But in 2009, I quickly reached Silver, Gold, and then Platinum on DL. I was certainly pleased to go from a plebe to top-tier! (Well,.. then DL announced Diamond,.. GAH ;-).

    I had a blast figuring out the best miles redemption opportunities, taking advantage of generous promos, and meeting other FF enthusiasts along the way. I am now looking forward to an even more “productive” year in 2010! 😀

  4. Lucky –

    I would LOVE to see a log of how you earned all your miles. Even something as simple as transcribing a spreadsheet with columns like:

    – EVENT (TPA>ORD>SFO>JFK>TPA or other), FARE (if applicable) MILES, DATE, RUNNING TOTAL.

    As long as it doesn’t give away any sensitive/private info, it would be fascinating.


  5. Lucky, and I’m sure your “day job” is going well too?

    At any rate, I will finish at 175KEQM on UA, that included three *A RTWs and two rides on SQ’s A380 in J. Since I swore off the US Shuttle some years ago, I’m again Select Plus on Amtrak. I surpassed Plat at Marriott a while back, and expect to roll over about 20 nights to next year. I have sent Hilton and PC packing. Tomorrow I’m doing my one round-trip on CO for the year, to keep my Infinite Elite Platinum from rusting. The strangest thing upcoming next year is that during January I expect to make Million Miler on both UA and AA — perhaps in the same week. UA will be the old-fashioned way (BIS). AA thanks to the fact that my old TW balance was figured in, and I’ve been using AA-branded credit cards the past two years (and only take one or two AA flights a year!).

    May the new year be safe, turbulent-free, and full of (s)miles for all!

  6. As I’m sitting in the ORD C-concourse RCC writing this, I’m at about 150K EQMs (maybe about 80K BIS … I stopped counting after I had it 1K). I would say all but about four trips were personal travel, since I worked from home from January through September and locally from September to now.

    I lost Hilton HHonors Gold this year (two stays total this year) and my Hertz #1 Club Gold President’s Club (40 rentals down to two this year), but I got comped to Starwood Gold through February 2011 thanks to an employer-sponsored SPG promotion. Needless to say, I won’t be getting upgrades to a Hummer or a Ford Land Yacht anytime soon. All the better. 😉

    In addition, I will have lost AA GLD status in February 2010 (down from PLT in 2008) since I had zero EQMs on AA this year.

    Who knows what next year will bring. Our demand is pretty high and we are short staffed; thus, there is a possibility of my doing weekly SFO-IAD-SFO flights. 21 weeks and I’m 1K and that’s without any DEQM promotions!

  7. Just got to 200 eqms on UA, and 135 eqms on DL, with some award travel, i’m guessing my total BIS is also around 250, but i think i’ve earn 700 miles are the most.

  8. I had an incredible travel year. I’ve been CO Silver for a couple years, but this year stuck with Mileage Plus and went from 0 to 1K (as of yesterday!!), roughly 45,000 on AC, 3,000 on BD, 25,000 on UA and 25,000 from double EQM, all on leisure travel. The highlights were Hong Kong and Moscow. A year ago, my target was to just make my usual 25,000 miles. I never, ever thought I could make it to 1K.

    The worst part is that I now have to admit the true extent of my addiction, as opposed to rationalizing based on the cost/benefit (i.e. it’s worth spending money to get to 1P because of mileage bonuses and *G lounge access and it’s worth spending money to get to 1K because of the upgrades). There’s not much more I can achieve this month, but I still really, really want/need to go to the airport and get on a plane and go somewhere. It’s hard because flying from Canada sucks as the fares are generally way too high to justify mileage running.

    I requalified for SPG Plat and HH Gold, but I’ve also discovered Hyatt thanks to this blog and had my first few stays in the past month. Hyatt’s UA bonuses are insanely good, not to mention the easy free nights.

    A heartfelt thanks, lucky, for all your effort in maintaining One Mile at a Time.

  9. Ben, I would had flown a lot more than 300k this year. My year in summary was 184k flown with easily re-qualifying for 1k and DL Platinum and earning about 600k miles in the process. I also branched into the hotel programs and got Hyatt Diamond and will have SPG Platinum after 1 more stay and earned 12free nights in the process.

    For 2010 I have 77k EQMs booked on United, however if we see DEQM again I’ll be at 123k EQM. I also have 34k carrying over on Delta and am planning 12 night Hyatt mattress run in January. With so much already paid for if AA decides to do DEQM, I just may have to shoot for EXP.

  10. well thanks to your blog getting me started I went from 0 (in May) to just over 254,000 EQM so far on United. I still have one more trip home before the end of the year for another 2,000 EQM. I also have some EQM on CO and took 1 round trip on WN. I earned HHonors Gold via fast-track and stayed enough to also have earned it “the hard way” before abandoning HHonors for Hyatt where I status matched to Diamond in October. Since the status match I have stayed enough at Hyatt to earn it outright. I’ve now got about 4 Chase checking accounts, 1 key bank, and a mileage plus visa credit card. My immediate family has only been flying in F since the summer. I did my first award redemption (p.s. first over thanksgiving) and had my first visit to the IFL.

    I also booked an INTL F trip on LH for April 2010 and did not encounter any starnet blocking! All in all a fun year.

    I have two work trips and 3 MR scheduled for January. I picked the double RDM in Sept 2010 as an elite choice option so I will fly the heck out of that month to maximize that benefit. Still debating whether or not to bother with CO plat this year as the relationship between UA and CO has changed. It’s been fun and I wish everyone happy holidays and a great new year!

  11. Nice to read all the stories! Have exams right now, but I promise to try and research my total spend along with a breakdown of mileage earning activities (although it might be vague) towards the end of the week.

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