Week in the Clouds: Introduction

Back in December American announced a double elite qualifying miles promotion through January 31, 2012, which was pretty surprising to many of us. Unfortunately for me, all of my travel was planned for February onwards (including two trips to Spain and one trip to Japan), so I wouldn’t benefit from it at all. I couldn’t not take advantage of the promotion, so I started looking for good deals to Asia. Sure enough, there were some reasonable fares to Shanghai, so after stretching out the routing a bit I managed to book the following for $1,129 including tax:

1/25 AA1786 Tampa to New York departing 10:15AM arriving 12:50PM
1/25 AA177 New York to San Francisco departing 5:40PM arriving 9:10PM
1/26 AA1929 San Francisco to Los Angeles departing 7:00AM arriving 8:20AM
1/26 AA183 Los Angeles to Shanghai departing 1:55PM arriving 7:45PM (+1 day)
1/31 AA182 Shanghai to Los Angeles departing 9:45PM arriving 5:25PM
1/31 AA1798 Los Angeles to San Francisco departing 7:15PM arriving 8:30PM
1/31 AA18 San Francisco to New York departing 11:00PM arriving 7:25AM (+1 day)
2/01 AA2035 New York to Miami departing 2:25PM arriving 5:55PM
2/01 AA1985 Miami to Tampa departing 7:05PM arriving 8:05PM

The trip would net net me 43,474 elite qualifying and redeemable miles, and I even managed to confirm upgrades using two systemwide upgrades. American only lets you upgrade three flights with one systemwide upgrade, so I upgraded the flights from New York to San Francisco to Los Angeles to Shanghai and back, and requested a complimentary domestic upgrade on the segments between Tampa and New York, which cleared at my Executive Platinum upgrade window 100 hours out.

Anyway, this won’t be the most exciting trip report ever, so I’m keeping it somewhat abbreviated since I still have lots of trip reports to catch up on. I doubt y’all are interested in reading about my flight between San Francisco and Los Angeles, my stay at the Westin San Francisco Airport, or the Miami Admirals Club, so we’ll stick to the international portion of the trip.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, just let me know. Thanks for reading!

Filed Under: Awards, Hotels
  1. @ Michael @ Justin — It’s a 37 part trip report so I’m waiting till I have a travel gap in a few weeks to post it. It’s a mess. Sorry!

  2. Will you discuss how you were able to book this amazing routing to BCN? I’d love to learn how this can be done. Thanks.

  3. am actually interested in the Westin SFO, as am staying there in July before my LAN trip to South America. Did you like it?

  4. @ Jason — I’ll discuss the BCN routing when I get around to that trip report. šŸ™‚

    @ Carl — Actually was a bit underwhelmed. They didn’t seem to have Heavenly Beds, and frankly the hotel didn’t in any way feel “Westin,” if that makes sense. Perhaps only marginally better than the Crowne Plaza, though not at nice as the Hyatt, in my opinion.

    @ Moesha — So far behind on trip reports that I have to prioritize somewhere. Will keep it in mind for future reports, though. Thanks!

  5. I actually would like to hear what you thought of the Admiral club in Miami. I was there 2 months ago and thought it was very dissapointing.

  6. When the mileage runs are at seriously minimal cost, I think the game can be fun. at $1,100+, it becomes an expensive hobby and one in support of otherwise unnecessary travel. I’m not sure where to draw the line, but I suspect that this trip was a serious waste of resources. What I missing? You gained 43+k EQM (not a huge haul) on an arline whose service sucks and is not likely to improve and at $1,100+ out of pocket, plus incidentals and some hotel expenses. You probably achieved some nice hotel discounts, but the real benefit of the trip was… [fill in]? The points & miles game was great fun at minimal expense for a few years. Most of the fun is now gone and it has become very expensive to chase the quickly vanishing benefits. Making a business out of assisting fussy pax is one thing – and I hope it works well for you, but the art and science of mileage runs to achieve genuine benefit is just about dead. Best wishes and Happy Landings.

  7. @ Zach — I tend to think both Admirals Clubs in Miami are pretty standard. As usual they have a limited snack selection (muffins in the morning, snack mix/cookies the rest of the day).

    @ Cook — Thanks for trying to be my financial advisor, though the benefit you’re missing is that I got to vacation in one of my favorite cities for four days. Perhaps you’d like to put a dollar value to that as well, and then tell me what a waste it was?

    But even purely from a mileage run perspective, this is a phenomenal deal. At this rate I would have earned EXP for $2,500, the benefits of which are well worth that amount. Furthermore, I earned over 50,000 redeemable miles for the trip (thanks to a further promotion). So actually a spectacular mileage run too, if you ask me.

  8. I’d love to learn how to schedule a routing through 3+ US cities and still keep the costs so low. Amazaing . . .

  9. Lucky, as a self-employed travel writer of sorts, can you deduct your out of pocket travel costs as unreimbursed business expenses? I believe a fair argument can be made that these costs are incurred as a consequence of running a blog and award booking service. If so (and depending on your tax bracket), a $1000 ticket paid to the airline may be a lot less in post-tax dollars.

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