Reflecting On Six Longhaul Flights In Seven Days…

As many of you are probably aware, I’m presently shuttling back and forth between the US and Brazil. In the past seven days I’ve flown back and forth between the US and Brazil three times, meaning I’ve flown six longhaul flights. I’ve spent every single night on a plane with the exception of one.

In total so far my flying has looked as follows:


I’m now back in the US and have just one more roundtrip, so figured I’d take this chance to reflect on the past week:

Mileage runs always seem more glamorous/justifiable in theory

I’ll say it now — this will be my last crazy mileage run ever. At least I’m saying that now, in a state of exhaustion as I literally dream of a bed. Sadly there’s some aspect to this hobby that’s totally OCD/addicting, and my guess is that a day after I get home I’d do it all over again.

Hello immigration… is anyone home?

So I’ve entered Brazil three times now, and have still yet to be asked a question. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled about this because I figure if they do actually start looking at my entry patterns I’ll get some sort of (non-dental) cavity search in the back room of the airport.

But seriously, the immigration officers have been stamping my entries on the same page… how is this not suspicious?!?


As far as US immigration goes, Global Entry has saved me. At customs one time I handed the guy my Global Entry printout, he asked how long I was in Brazil for, and I said 12 hours. He asked what the purpose of my trip was, and I explained Delta had a cheap business class fare and I was doing it for a year end mileage run to earn miles. He waved me right through. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – at customs and immigration honesty is always the best policy, and if you don’t act like you’re doing anything wrong, you’ll rarely get pulled over for secondary screening.

That awkward moment when you get the same flight attendant…

You might assume I had the same crew in both directions on at least one of these trips, but Delta’s crews lay over in Sao Paulo for 36 hours, while I just had 12 hour layovers. So I didn’t have the same crew working the same trips.

However, upon boarding my flight from Sao Paulo to Detroit last night, I had exactly the same flight attendant I had on my Monday night flight from Sao Paulo to Detroit.

He asked “so, how did you enjoy Brazil?” “Well, it was nice for the 12 hours I was there, though I also enjoyed New York for the night I spent there.” The look on his face was priceless.

Fortunately he was awesome, and made the flight all the more entertaining.

Watching The Conjuring on an airplane…

Confession time – I’m terrified of scary movies. Terrified. I almost exclusively watch comedies since I figure there’s enough sad/scary/dramatic stuff in the world without the made up Hollywood stuff.


However, I have several friends that have watched The Conjuring and said it was terrifying/awesome, so I couldn’t help myself. My logic was that it would be less scary on a plane since:

  • The plane is unlikely to be haunted by spirits
  • I’m surrounded by people, and there’s comfort in numbers

Boy, was I wrong. The seat behind me was empty so I looked back every five minutes to make sure there were no spirits behind me. And the crew certainly didn’t help, as they were rather amused by my fear and played on it. When I waited for the lavatory one of the flight attendants said “be careful, there’s a closet behind you and a spirit could hop right out.”

The highlight of my trip has been the McCafe Sao Paulo Airport

I know this sounds odd, but two trips ago before the flight to Detroit I stopped by the McCafe Sao Paulo Airport, which is located in the departures hall, to get some coffee. There were three girls working the McCafe, maybe in their late teens or early 20s. The employees at every McCafe in the world I’ve been to have spoken at least a little bit of English, so I tried to order an iced skinny vanilla latte. I said the words slowly, though as soon as I said it they literally all started laughing to the point of tears. Like, I’m not kidding, they started crying. I tried to simplify it and instead asked for a vanilla latte (exactly as it was written on the menu). They started laughing even harder.

I didn’t know whether someone sharpied something on my face or if I did something else horrible, but I was borderline offended that I was being laughed at.

But it continued and continued and continued. They kept laughing to the point that one of the girls working there fell to the floor.

Eventually I managed to place my order by pointing to the menu, and when I left one of the girls blew me a kiss. I still don’t actually know what happened, I’m so damn confused.

But of course during my next layover I had to go back to McCafe, which was an equally exciting experience/celebration.

When ground crews start to recognize you…

At many outstations you have to go through some security questioning before you get to the check-in desk, as is the case in Sao Paulo. There’s a lovely Dutch Brazilian lady that works that desk, and she was super friendly the first time around (in part because I was using a German passport and she spoke a little bit of German). We had a friendly conversation, though the real kicker came the next time I passed through, when she only spotted me coming down the jet bridge. She had the most confused look on her face and said “wait a minute, what’s going on?”


Delta offers a solid product

I shared my initial thoughts of my first Sao Paulo to Detroit flight, though a dozen flights later (five of them being international), I have to say Delta impresses me. Except for one flight the crews have been really good, about as good as you’ll get at US airlines. The ground personnel have been great for the most part as well (minus one guy working the gate at JFK, but that’s a different story).


And to be clear, the fact that they run a solid operation doesn’t surprise me. Will this make me fly Delta more in the future? Nope. I’ve always admired Delta operationally (in terms of their reliability, route network, domestic fleet being wifi equipped, etc.), but their frequent flyer program continues to be what turns me off of them.

Bottom line


Filed Under: Delta, Mileage Runs
  1. Some writers need booze to do their best work. You apparently need a good sleep depriving mileage run marathon! Well done.

    Just wish I knew what those McCafe girls were laughing about…

  2. I’m just about to board a plane from Brisbane to Darwin, Aus, then jump back on the same plane back to Brisbane. Can’t wait for questions from the same crew! Ground time of 45mins…

  3. pretty insane. How about flying east to west coast RT once a month over a year? You’d get the same mileage together no?

  4. Can you explain why you did this? I wouldnt spend thousands of dollars and a week of my time for a few Alaska upgrades. I suppose you can leverage all of the redeemable miles into a few trips, plus you build page views for your business, but still a bit confused.

  5. Re: flight attendants recognizing you.

    I’ve had that happen to me twice this year on mileage runs where the outbound plane is doing a quick turnaround and is also the inbound plane. I just tell ’em that I’m topping up for status. Interesting how all 4 attendants who recognize me nod their head in understanding.

    On the other hand, I just spent ~18 hrs flying today, including 10 hrs FRA-YVR and have NO idea how you could do butts-in-seat travel 6 times in a little over a week. *bows down*

  6. Thank God not everyone else on earth shares your complete disregard for dumping greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the air.

  7. @ DiscoPapa — I did on one of them. There was definitely a bit more legroom, though it also felt a bit claustrophobic due to the proximity to the bulkhead. I think I prefer the non-bulkhead window seats.

  8. @ Tim — I was on a German passport so didn’t get fingerprinted, but my friend traveling on a US passport didn’t get fingerprinted either.

  9. Why is Alaska MVP Gold worth the time and money spent on this? Couldn’t you get the same perks elite status provides by simply spending some of your many RDMs on upgrades?

  10. Hey, how ’bout a giveaway for your Brazilian readers? You could send the prize while you were here for the last time.
    By the way, I hope you do come back to Brazil, though get to visit a couple of cities!
    Porto Alegre/Brazil

  11. I think you need to keep going back until you find out why the McCafe gals think you are so funny. Maybe they read your blog?

  12. @lucky Brazilian Inmigration usually don’t check the dates of the same stamps… and by the way the ink vanishes through the time so don’t worry I’ve overlapped stamp between Bogota and Brasil so many times that I have just 4 free pages left in my passport

    P.D 1: You’re crazy but I loved it. I know how it feels to end a mileage run. I did CCS BOG GRU SAO FRA MAD BER BCN FRA CCS last year and I ended sleeping one week and planning the next one

    P.D 2: Thanks for the pijama and the kit loved it!. Planning to use in my next trip BOG FLL in two weeks God Willing 😉

  13. @earth inhabitant – I’m sure Lucky buys carbon offsets, or at least that he (an the rest of the MR community) has given careful consideration to the environmental impacts of their hobby, given that flying is basically the most C-intensive activity we do as humans. For example, Lucky’s share of the CO2 emissions for the legs listed in this post would be about 55 metric tons, or about equal to the total annual emissions attributable to 3 “average” US residents or 10 Chinese citizens.

  14. Took a quick trip around the world, which some back and forth, last couple of weeks. 41k miles. Felt done after that. Fav moment was on an Indo local airline where the pilot came out of the cockpit for a cigarette before landing.

  15. @earth inhabitant Get off that computer immediately. It’s made from petroleum based plastic, and runs on fossil fuel based electricity. Get off the internet, and stay off, you earth killing climate changer. 😉

  16. @ogdiamond cooño! lo mejor de esa ruta es originar en CCS and you know.. Pagar 10 veces menos 😉 . Cuéntame como armaste esa ruta tan compleja? Nunca he logrado elaborarla así (lo máximo que hecho es CCS-IAH-ORD-FRA-MAD).

  17. I do what you do, but for business and it’s crazy. I’ve been on the road almost 200 days this year including nine or ten international trips (I lose count). Unfortunately I do fly Delta most of the time. They have some of the lowest fairs internationally, but their FF program absolutely stinks! I have flown 1M miles on Delta, I am a charter member of the Delta Diamond class – and their FF program has been on a spiral since about six months from the time they introduced the program. It was great for a few months – but now it’s continually deteriorated to the point it’s pretty useless on international flights. In fact, I have a stack of global upgrades I have never been able to use. You either have to buy a fare that costs the same as a business class ticket, or you they don’t have any upgrades available. The last person I spoke to at Delta said, “We hear this complaint all the time. We keep asking them to let us open up more seats for upgrades on long hauls but they limit it to just a few seats, regardless of how many business class seats are not take.”

    Actually, when I do get a chance to buy a full price business class seat, I will fly on anything but Delta – just because I hate them so much at this point. I would rather any other airline get my full fare business than Delta. Remember the slogan – DELTA -Dont Ever Leave The Airport!!

  18. I was in Rio and was ordering at a touristy juice stand. The teenage girls also couldn’t stop laughing, but it was just because they were teasing each other about talking to me. Seriously. It’s a good possibility they just liked you.

  19. @ Ed Crowley maybe you should consider crediting to Alaska as well. At least their mileage program is worth something

  20. Saw your post yesterday. Was seriously debating up until that point whether to issue a F/J ticket that would involve four overnight flights and about 25k miles in six days. In the end, I decided to go ahead since I couldn’t give up a chance to fly NH and TG F before the price shot up and moved out of reach. Foolishly one segment is LH short haul J when I could have booked a real plane instead.

  21. @lucy: I see that you are using your German passport for travel to Brazil. Do you have any general rules on to use which passport for which countries? (Other than presumably using your German passport in Europe and your US passport in North America?)

  22. @ abc — Generally speaking I use my German passport when entering the EU and any other country where German passports don’t require a visa but US ones do (many places in South America). Otherwise I’ll usually use my US passport.

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