I just returned home from a "mileage run" on Delta. I flew 8,014 miles from Boston to Alaska: BOS-ATL-MSP-ANC-MSP-BOS. I left on Saturday 10/12 and returned this morning (Monday 10/14). I was in Anchorage for about 20 hours before I turned around and came home. I fly frequently for leisure (mostly to visit my husband, who lives in Houston) and occasionally for business, but I took this trip solely to put me over the threshold for Platinum Medallion status on Delta this year (75,000 miles). My ticket was US$380, or an average cost of 4.7 cents per mile.

In addition to the 8,014 elite qualification miles (MQMs on Delta) I earned, I was upgraded to first class on two flights (BOS-ATL and MSP-ANC), and I earned $160 worth of "redeemable" bonus miles that can be spent to purchase award tickets in the future. I also got to spend a day in Anchorage, a city to which I have been several times with my family and of which I have many fond memories.

I used hotel points to book a free night's stay at the Sheraton in Anchorage so I could shower and get some real sleep before exploring on Sunday. I also have SPG Gold status with Sheraton, so I was able to access the club facilities at the hotel and have free wi-fi and a free hot breakfast with lots of espresso. (Delta and Starwood have a crossover rewards program that allows frequent travelers to earn points with both companies when using either one for travel.)

This was my second mileage run ever. Last year, I flew BOS-DTW-SLC-OAK-LAX-DTW-BOS: $265 for 5,812 elite qualification miles, or about 4.5 cents per mile. The typical price range for a mileage run is 3-5 cents per mile, or better if you can find it. Many of these runs are done toward the end of the year, as elite qualification runs through the end of the calendar year, and frequent flyers have a good idea of where they will fall next year as their annual travel winds down.

I spoke with /u/brownboy13 before I left, and he said that for verification, I could submit images of my boarding passes and my current Delta Gold Medallion card for review and let you guys decide. So, I have included links here and here for my boarding passes from my trip (plus all of my boarding passes from the trip the previous weekend) and my current SkyMiles Gold Medallion card, respectively. (I am posting an image of my Gold card because I will not have Platinum status until after my travel during the first weekend in November.)

Please ask any questions you might have! I understand that many of you non-mileage-runners (my husband included!) think I am nuts, but if anyone wants to know more, or just needs helpful travel advice in general, ask away. :)

ETA: I have dinner place at a little restaurant up in Saugus that is closing soon (Hilltop Steakhouse). :( I will be back later tonight to check in! Thanks for the questions - I hope I was able to at least entertain you for a bit!

Comments: 248 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

Sachio22095 karma

I mean the obvious... why? Do you spend alot of money to get these miles? in relatable terms I mean. You must be saving money, so how much would it be if you were to buy the ticket rather than use miles.

turowski60 karma

I have to travel a lot anyway (usually about once per month to see my husband and/or the rest of my family), so even without my annual mileage run, I would still have Silver or Gold Medallion status. However, the extra little "bump" to Platinum means that I earn even more bonus miles on each trip, my chances of an upgrade are better each flight, I get a valuable "welcome" gift from Delta, and I receive better treatment in the case of schedule interruptions (along with a slew of other benefits). This one optional mileage run ensures that my necessary travel next year will be noticeably more enjoyable.

As for money, I do spend a significant amount of personal money on air travel, about $300-400 per month on average, and I'm just a grad student. It's manageable, though - I am frugal with my money in other areas, and the travel is necessary so I get to see my husband every few weeks. I like to travel anyway, so I fit it into my budget. Most major carriers are instituting minimum spend requirements next year, so in order to earn Gold Medallion status, you have to spend at least $5,000 annually exclusive of taxes and fees. I am not sure yet how that will affect my status - we will see.

walter_jenkem59 karma

Sorry, but I still don't understand why. You get perks like being bumped up to first class and staying in a free hotel, but you wouldn't need these perks if you weren't doing the unnecessary travel in the first place.

OK, you get $200 to use at Tiffany's and another $200 toward flights, but at best this just balances out the $300-400 you're spending monthly on air travel anyway.

Maybe you just enjoy flying a lot more than I do, but this Anchorage trip you describe sounds like a LOT of work for very little payoff. Am I misunderstanding something?

EDIT Thanks for the upvotes, but I was mistaken here. OP is making this trip once annually in exchange for lots of perks when traveling throughout the year. Still probably not something I would go to the trouble of doing but not totally batshit crazy like I thought.

turowski8 karma

Yeah, it's not for everyone. Like I said, my husband thinks I'm a bit crazy for doing it. But I'm not the only one, and if you like to fly, it's not a bad way to spend a weekend.

djtothemoney13 karma

What does this "welcome gift" include?

turowski19 karma

The Choice Benefits are explained verbatim here.

Specifically, Platinum Medallions can choose one of the following:

-four systemwide upgrade certificates (good for upgrades to first or business class from certain economy fares)

-four day passes to Sky Club lounges

-20,000 ($200) in bonus miles

-a $200 Tiffany gift card

-a $200 Delta travel credit

-gifting one year of Silver Medallion status to a companion

Diamond Medallions (over 125,000 miles flown) can choose two of the selections. Some of the options are slightly better (i.e., six upgrade certificates instead of four, six Sky Club passes instead of four, 25,000 bonus miles instead of 20,000, or gifting Gold instead of Silver status).

djtothemoney5 karma

Thank you stranger. Seems worth it to hit that next level to me.

turowski8 karma

You're welcome! Thank you for not thinking I'm completely crazy for doing it. :)

diplomatic_gunboat2 karma

Which one did you go for and why? I'd personally go for the first, but also feel that they dangle the free upgrades to make sure you don't go for the others.

turowski3 karma

I haven't selected one yet - I won't be eligible until after I hit Platinum next month. The free upgrades can only be used on rather expensive economy class tickets, so I am less likely to choose those. I will probably take the bonus miles because I am saving up for business class award tickets to Asia.

thedjotaku1 karma

So you don't automatically get to use the Sky Club even at Platinum?

turowski3 karma

No, complimentary Sky Club access is only granted to Diamond members. Platinums get a discount on the membership fee. I have the Platinum American Express card (not the Delta one, the AmEx original one) because it gives me lounge access the day of flying either a DL, AA, or US flight plus a Priority Pass card that gives access to third-party lounges.

thedjotaku1 karma

wow, so like 1% of 1% of people get to use that club.

turowski3 karma

Anyone can use the Sky Clubs, you just have to buy a $50 day pass (or $25 if you have one of the Delta American Express cards). I believe if you are Gold Medallion or higher (or have SkyTeam Elite+ status) you can use the lounge when you are flying internationally. You can also use it if you are flying 1) internationally in first or business class, or 2) BusinessElite on one of Delta's high demand domestic transcontinental routes (like LAX-JFK). Neither of those last two options require any sort of ongoing elite status.

Depending on the time and day (and any weather delays), you might find more peace and quiet in an airport bar or restaurant than in an airline lounge, unfortunately. They are usually quite busy, especially during peak business travel times or during storms.

lawrnk8 karma


turowski18 karma

Unfortunately, yes. :( We met when we both lived in Boston, but my degree program requires me to stay here, whereas his career required him to move somewhere else for work. Fortunately, it's only temporary - I should be done next year.

Professor_Dumbass1 karma

That makes sense, if you have to travel anyway. How do you keep track of everything?

turowski2 karma

Google Calendar and double- and triple-checking everything on Delta's website.

FuckingQuestions15 karma

  • why do you live across the country from your husband
  • how often do you see him and for how long
  • how long has this been going on and for how much longer?
  • does your husband ever visit you? If not, why not?

  • what's your worst turbulence story. How ba: was it, how long did it last?

  • do you have any flying nerves of any kind during bad turbulence? If not, why are you so sure of your safety?

  • what perks do you get on flights with no first class?

  • why delta and not another airliner?

  • what do you do for a living that forces you to travel so often?

  • best bar airport is what and where? Why is it the best?

  • how many countries have you visited? Favorite?

turowski34 karma

why do you live across the country from your husband I am in grad school at MIT. He used to work in Boston, but he had to relocate to Houston two years ago. He works in a specialized part of the financial sector, so good job opportunities are hard to find.

how often do you see him and for how long We usually see each other once per month, for a weekend. Holidays and vacations are usually a week or so at a time. Some months are better, and some are worse. The distance isn't fun or convenient, but the time we spend together is always worth the wait.

how long has this been going on and for how much longer? I have one year of grad school left. He moved from Boston in January 2012, after we had been dating for one year. We decided to keep it going and got engaged. We married in June of this year.

does your husband ever visit you? If not, why not? He does, and he has Silver status on United, but he does not like to fly, so I usually travel more to visit him than he does to visit me. It doesn't take much to get me on a plane. :)

what's your worst turbulence story. How ba: was it, how long did it last? Oh, God, our descent into Anchorage on Saturday night was absolutely gut-wrenching. That may have taken the cake for me. Usually, it's only for 5-10 minutes or so, so you white-knuckle through it, and it's fine.

do you have any flying nerves of any kind during bad turbulence? If not, why are you so sure of your safety? Not really. Immediately, it can be a bit scary, but plane crashes are so infrequent compared to car crashes, it really doesn't make any sense to worry about safety. The National Safety Council says that your risk of dying in a plane crash is 1 in 7,229, whereas your risk of dying in a car crash is 1 in 108. Pilots and auto-pilot systems historically do very well to maintain a safe environment in the air. A cocktail is a nice way to take the edge off...

what perks do you get on flights with no first class? I get two free checked bags, I get free upgrades to Economy Comfort seating at time of ticket purchase, I get early boarding (right after First Class boards), I get expedited security and check-in counter lines, and I get access to a high-priority phone line in case of schedule mishaps. If I remember to print my boarding passes at home, and I'm not upgraded on any of the segments, I get a coupon for a free alcoholic beverage or a free non-perishable snack item.

why delta and not another airliner? I started flying Delta because they offered a reasonably priced nonstop flight from Boston to Columbus, Ohio, and it made it easy to visit my family often. Once I started flying them enough, I realized that if I consolidated my flying, I could easily earn frequent flyer status every year.

what do you do for a living that forces you to travel so often? I honestly don't travel much for work/school - maybe one or two US conferences per year. I'm still in grad school, so it's not like I'm flying across the country 'round the clock giving keynote addresses or consulting like some of my academic mentors.

best bar airport is what and where? Why is it the best? Not sure I understand this question - are you asking about my favorite airport bar? Or the airport with the best bars in general? I tend to avoid airport bars because I have lounge access through my American Express Platinum card, and the booze is usually free in airline lounges. International lounges, when you can find one, are usually far superior to American lounges, but most of the airports I fly do not allow me access to international lounges (ATL and LAX being the most frequent exceptions).

how many countries have you visited? Favorite? Not a ton. France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Mexico/Canada, the Bahamas, Bermuda, some of the US Virgin Islands. I have also been to Alaska six times. We went to Tahiti and Bora Bora for our honeymoon this past July, though, and that was really awesome. It was so pristine, so beautiful. We are putting aside money to be able to go back someday.

KoNy_BoLoGnA7 karma

MIT? What do you study?

turowski14 karma

Course XX. Biological engineering.

KoNy_BoLoGnA8 karma

Damn, you're pretty smart.

turowski7 karma

Thank you. :) I am a glutton for intellectual punishment.

nappy_zap1 karma


turowski2 karma

I couldn't afford it if I had to pay for it. Fortunately, PhD programs at most high-level research institutions are funded, so students don't have to pay tuition and usually get a modest stipend.

nappy_zap1 karma


turowski1 karma

It's says a lot that you were able to find a job in BME with an undergrad degree. IIRC, one of the reasons my undergrad institution (Ohio State) was waffling against starting a BME BS program was because the admins felt the entry-level degree in that field is basically a MS.

Scrotizzle2 karma

Do you or have you in the past had issues with trust in your long distance relationship?

Do you think that not living with your "SO" make the relationship less real and easier as opposed to dealing with eachother's BS non-stop, day in, day out?

When you finish with school, are you going to attempt to live with your husband and find a job in his location or is he going to you?

If you will be working in 2 different locations and not going to school, what are you going to do with the even more limited time?

turowski2 karma

Well, this is an interesting line of questions...

Do you or have you in the past had issues with trust in your long distance relationship? No. Not ever.

Do you think that not living with your "SO" make the relationship less real and easier as opposed to dealing with eachother's BS non-stop, day in, day out? No. I think the distance and reduced opportunities for verbal communication complicate EVERYTHING.

When you finish with school, are you going to attempt to live with your husband and find a job in his location or is he going to you? We have accepted that we will probably have to move somewhere new and get a fresh start together. Neither of us are strongly attached to our current locations.

If you will be working in 2 different locations and not going to school, what are you going to do with the even more limited time? Not applicable. At this time, the plan is to move in together as soon as I graduate.

PenPenGuin1 karma

Just saw this AMA - were you at MIT during the bombing and subsequent manhunt? What was that like?

turowski1 karma

Ha, nice thread hijack.

It was terrifying, and I felt awful that it was causing my family and friends in other cities to worry about me for a week straight. Nobody should have to call his or her family to assure them of his or her own safety twice in one week.

iltl329 karma

I guess I don't really understand... how can you get miles worth more than what the trip costs? Do you need some kind of rewards card or something first to make this worthwhile?

turowski12 karma

It's not really feasible to actually earn more miles than a trip is worth, unless you find a fare that was a pricing mistake. However, you can still earn a good portion of your money back in miles with frequent flyer status.

For example, Delta gives a 100% mileage bonus to Gold and Platinum Medallions and a 125% bonus to Diamond Medallions. Conservatively, each mile is worth about a penny. I have flown BOS-ATL-MCO-ATL-BOS for under $200 before. That is 2,892 miles, or 5,784 bonus miles with the elite bonus. Those miles are worth about $57.84 if I use them to pay for part of a future ticket, valued at a penny per mile. If I use them to pay for international business travel, though, I can get a ticket worth $5,000-$7,000 for maybe $1,300 worth of miles if I can find low-level award availability.

iltl329 karma

But it says you flew solely for the purpose of accumulating miles. Why do you want the miles if it's still more expensive than not doing it? Just for the perks?

turowski11 karma

Taking an occasional optional flight (i.e., for miles/status) means that my necessary travel is much less of a hassle for me. It's an investment. I also like to fly and travel, period. If I didn't like it as much as I do, I probably wouldn't be able to justify the expense of the investment.

So, yes, for the perks.

Javinhoward7 karma

This seems kind of weird to me. Maybe I just don't mind hassle and sitting with the regular chaps as much as you do.

Do most people who know about this think its weird?

turowski11 karma

I think I have met about as many people who think it's nuts as I have who think it makes sense. I think people tend to be very polarized about air travel.

titanmach6 karma

Can I give you my 8,000 miles? I don't want them.

turowski1 karma

I can show you how to earn 17,000 more and earn Silver status... :)

very_gloom4 karma

Do you have reservations about the environmental impact of your travel? (especially the non-essential trips taken to achieve further mileage status?)

I have a job that involves lots of airtravel (sometimes 20-25 flights a month) and am curious to hear your thoughts.

thedecline1910 karma

Just a thought, but wouldn't her impact be negligible? I mean, the flight is going to occur if she's on it or not.

turowski1 karma

True. And I travel light - if I am mileage running, I'm only bring a carry-on, not two giant steamer trunks. :)

very_gloom-8 karma

Actually being on the flight is the act-in-question here. Taking slightly less luggage on an 800,000 lb hunk of metal hurtling through the sky makes essentially zero difference.

Also, like all transport industries, the air travel industry is driven by demand, so yes it would make a difference if you decide not to take these flights.

turowski8 karma

I think you're applying a double standard.

You're telling me that the weight of someone's baggage on an 800,000-pound plane is negligible, but the weight of a person makes all the difference in the world? Have you SEEN how much stuff people check at the baggage counter or smash into overhead bins? Do you realize that US airlines also carry up to 5300 cubic feet of cargo, including commercial freight shipments (the equivalent of two semi truck trailers)? They're not just carrying people and their vacation clothes, they're carrying USPS shipments, Amazon orders, livestock (!) and god knows what else.

And the definition of a "mileage run" is that it is a cheap, (usually) advance-purchase fare, by definition not a high-demand, premium, walk-up fare for which the airlines clamor. Trust me, if an airline could fill a 757 with people flying to Alaska on $380 fares, it would not make them want to book as many of these flights as they could! It doesn't matter how many items you sell, if you lose a hundred bucks each time, you're going to go bankrupt eventually. The in-demand fares are premium tickets and full-fare economy tickets, and those are what pay the bills for the cheaper economy fares. THOSE are the tickets the airlines want to sell, and THOSE are the ones for which they will overbook planes and schedule extra flights.

very_gloom-14 karma


tehbored1 karma

Well isn't it? That's the only reason the ticket was so cheap. And the weight of her and one day's worth of stuff can't be much.

turowski3 karma

I promise, I have seen people that, with their luggage, easily weigh twice as much as myself and my carry-on combined. To save the earth, maybe those people shouldn't fly!

EDIT: That was sarcasm. "To save the earth," "for the children," etc.

turowski4 karma

...no. Not really. I don't drive a car, and I take the subway to work every day, and I walk a TON (sometimes miles per day), so my carbon footprint is probably pretty small compared to someone who commutes two hours in a car by himself or herself every day.

VTCifer15 karma

my carbon footprint is probably pretty small compared to someone who commutes two hours in a car by himself or herself every day.

Just FYI, probably not.

Just to get to Platinum, you have a carbon footprint of an extra 13,875 kg of CO2. (note this is using the best possible figures).

Assuming a 23 mpg car(2013 average), a person generates 0.387 kg/mile. Your subway ride generates 0.163 kg/mile. Assuming all other things equal (daily driver commute vs walker + subway), this is a difference of 0.224 kg/mile. With your extra 13,875 kg, this means that in order to break even, you'd both need to be traveling ~62,000 miles year in your commutes. This is a 248 mile daily commute (124 mi one way).

tl;dr Use Skype more.

(Source for figures)

turowski5 karma

Some people are more amenable to long-distance relationships and sacrificing personal time together than others. I am not one of those people - I thrive on tactile contact and spending body-to-body time together (as opposed to face-to-face).

It might not be the best for the environment. I acquiesce. But you do what you gotta go.

ETA: If, as you stated below, your job requires you to fly "sometimes 2x a month cross-country, sometimes out of country," and you are also truly opposed to sacrificing the environment for travel for personal gain, then couldn't you just find another job or "use Skype more?"

VTCifer5 karma

That's a value judgement. I should have said:

tl;dr: Use Skype more if you are really concerned about your carbon footprint.

edit: I'm well aware of the impact my travel has. I try to do my work remotely as often as I can (else I would literally be flying every week, or more) I just don't like the assumption that "Oh, I take the bus and walk, this cancels out my flying", without actually looking into it. People make judgments like this all the time, without anything to back them up.

Know the numbers.

turowski3 karma

Thank you for letting me know (and doing it rationally and WITHOUT YOUR CAPS LOCK, too).

Given the choice, I would rather just live with my husband! The travel is a necessary evil, and a temporary one at that.

very_gloom-8 karma

Well you might want to read up on this, airplanes create a lot more pollution than cars. E.g. one return flight from the United Kingdom to Florida produces as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as a year's driving by the average British motorist. So your carbon footprint is actually probably very big. By my math, your single flight this weekend creates a larger carbon footprint than a year of driving a car.

Personally I try to buy carbon offset credits as often as possible and just generally feel guilty about it.

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/732004.stm

turowski0 karma

I'm going to nitpick here - do you have any more credible sources than environmental lobbying groups?

The lead author in a recent peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science and Technology specifically said that traveling alone in a large car can be as bad for the climate as flying.

very_gloom2 karma

I dont think you understand the study you've posted - its comparing the weight of pollution generated per/km by an single-passenger car to a commercial plane. Remember how fast planes travel and that they generally go much greater distances than a typical car ride.

turowski0 karma

Fair enough, I don't have access to the full article, just the abstract, which does not mention anything specific about units or correcting for distance.


Of course not she "has" to see family once a month

turowski8 karma

Different people, different priorities.

CidBronwen3 karma

How do you go about finding these flights for on the cheap?

turowski5 karma

I read the message boards at FlyerTalk.com (yes, I'm one of "them," as some people say). There is a forum devoted entirely to mileage running and great value airfares. I also use Google Flights and Matrix, especially if my arrival airports are flexible, and Milecalc.com to maximize the mileage per trip.

joelikesmusic2 karma

thanks for the links. I'm an infrequent flyertalker and try to follow along with mileage runs but they seem so hard to put together using normal tools (airline booking site, etc).

turowski0 karma

Nine times out of ten, your best bet is to find a small airport far away, find a cheap fare, and maximize connections.

UpvotesAllWhoReply2 karma

This isn't really a question, but I hope you remembered to leave your miles to someone in your will, or they'll vanish upon your untimely death.

turowski13 karma

Funny you should mention that. Delta has gone "above and beyond" with this - when you die, you can't leave your SkyMiles to anyone else. The miles all vanish into thin air. We call this the "Delta DieMiles" campaign.

The solution is that when you die, simply advise your loved ones not to inform the airline of your passing. Leave them with your login information, and they can pose as you to use your miles to book tickets for themselves.

UpvotesAllWhoReply7 karma

Well that's kind of morbid but it makes sense. I didn't know it was ever a thing to inform airlines of a loved one's death in the first place.

turowski10 karma

I think it's more that people inform the airline of their loved one's passing in order to transfer the miles, not knowing of the recent policy change, and Delta now has an excuse to be able to say, "Sorry, you can't really have those miles, because they expired when Mr. Jones did."

eddieboomstick2 karma

can you tell me about your first class experiences . how do the people treat you what kind of food and drink do they offer you and just in general tel me about it please =)

turowski5 karma

First class on a domestic flight isn't nearly all it's hyped to be. There are a few exceptions - some of the major carriers have implemented lie-flat seats and fine dining on some of the heavily marketed transcons (JFK-SFO/LAX come to mind). For the most part, though, first class means a roomy seat, a snack basket, not having to fight for overhead bin space, and a dedicated flight attendant to assist a much smaller cabin. If you're lucky, you'll get a meal, but it usually has to be a longer flight (over 900 miles) during a specified meal time.

That said, if it's a free upgrade, it still beats the hell out of coach. Would I pay significantly more for it on a short flight? Probably not.

Dancemanleo2 karma

How do you get comfy for a long flight. What do you do to pass the time?

turowski4 karma

I knit. A lot. I also have a tablet with several e-books. Sometimes, I'll sit next to someone with whom I really click (always bring business cards when you travel!), and we will talk for a few hours, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

My major rule of thumb for comfort in the air is seclusion. If I want to sleep, I pick a window seat, and I bring an eye mask and very tight-fitting ear buds to block ambient noise. I prefer bulkhead seats or the second exit row, because for some reason, people reclining into "my" space really annoys me (and, no, I don't recline my seat, either, out of principle). I find that the more I can tune out the people (especially babies!) around me, the better off I am. Don't expect people around you to make it easy for you to relax - be proactive. Really. EYE MASK AND EAR BUDS.

ETA: I forgot something. Most people automatically hear "exit row" and think "very comfortable," but that's not always the case. In aircraft that have two sequential rows of exit row seating, the forward row is unable to recline due to FAA regulations about accessing the window exit. The window seat may or may not have an actual armrest - sometimes, the "armrest" is a stubby chunk of plastic and metal stuck on to the exit panel at a slightly lower height than where your elbow actually rests. Also, the cushions in exit row seats tend to be overused, squished, and quite hard. If comfort really matters to you, know your exit rows! Try SeatExpert or SeatGuru for help.

bernardmickeywrangle2 karma

I just hit Silver status on delta last week. I have 35000 miles. I don't think I have enough travel coming up to hit gold before 2014. What should be my plan for the end of this year and next?? Thanks

turowski2 karma

If you are within a few thousand miles of Gold, you may be able to buy the last few miles from Delta directly without having to sit in a plane. This has been offered for the past two years; there has not been word of whether or not it will be offered again this year, but it is possible.

If you are not close enough to Gold or don't want to spend the extra money, you will roll over the extra miles for next year. However, the rollover probably won't do much now that Delta has instituted minimum spend requirements that don't carry over from year to year.

you_are_temporary2 karma

So why do you do this? How much money does it save you?

turowski6 karma

It's not that it saves money directly, it's that the benefits gained make future travel much less of a hassle (upgrades, free checked bags, earlier boarding, better customer service, etc.).

harleyxj1 karma

any tips for someone who is afirad of plane that could help get me on one?

turowski3 karma

Better living through chemistry. Ethanol or alprazolam. Pick one. :)

DebatableAwesome1 karma

Worst flight ever?

turowski3 karma

Oooooh, I can copy/paste this one. I have ranted it elsewhere before...

A couple of years ago, I flew SMF to ATL, left SMF at 10:50 p.m. PST. I can normally sleep decently on a plane, so I was not concerned about being able to get some shuteye. I had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner to ease the transition.

Apparently, however, I cannot fall asleep under the following combination of outside factors:


1.) I was the smallest person in my row by at least 100 pounds. Luckily, I had a window seat (I was flying on a 757), but the large woman next to me kept grazing me with various overhanging body parts.

2.) The passenger in the aisle seat was reading a book with the overhead light for the first two hours of the flight. I donned a pair of sunglasses, which probably looked ridiculous, but they did help.

3.) The passenger in front of me reclined his seat (nitpicky, I know, but relevant).

4.) The plane was ice cold, even at SMF, and there were no blankets to be found. My light jacket was woefully inadequate, even with the window shade down.

5.) There was a family of four seated in the three seats behind me. One member was an infant-in-arms, and another was a toddler-in-carseat. The infant screamed for fifteen minutes during takeoff but was otherwise quiet.

6.) The toddler sitting behind me was a holy terror. He kept yelling and pounding on the window (which in turn shook the window I was leaning against), and his car seat put him just close enough to the back of my seat to enable both kicking and putting both feet flat against the seat back and pushing the whole thing forward with me sitting against it.

So, basically, my personal space was being impinged on from front, back, and both sides, and there was noise and light pollution to boot. (And I was cold!)

This continued for almost an hour, with no attempt from the father to discourage his son's actions, until the beverage service cart approached. Now, this was a full flight, mind you, and I overheard the father saying this to the FA:

"You know, it's pretty cramped in here with his car seat. I'm worried that if the girl in front of my son puts her seat back, she will crush his legs. [I don't recline my seat in any case on a plane, because I think it is inconsiderate, and I certainly hadn't made any attempts to do so on this flight.] Our travel agent was supposed to seat us in an exit row. [Bravo Sierra, you have an infant and a toddler.] Is there any way we could get moved up to first class if there is room?"

Well, I will be d*mned if this schmuck and his hellion are moved to first class before I am on this flight, even if there were room. So at this point, I turned around and said to him,

"Look, I am not going to put my seat back into your son's space, but in return for that courtesy, it would be really nice if you would at least try to keep him from kicking the back of my seat. It is keeping me awake."

ElephantLauncher1 karma

Have you ever seen Up In The Air as an in flight movie? Do they even do those anymore?

turowski1 karma

I have seen Up in the Air, but not in flight. I think it's an interesting movie. I don't think I would let travel rule my life to that extent.

They do play in-flight movies, yes - I just watched The Internship Saturday night. Most Delta planes don't have in-flight entertainment, though; it's one of their weak points. If you fly JetBlue, though, I believe all of their planes are equipped with personal TVs.

netpoints1 karma

Is it possible to just buy the tickets - then speak with Delta about just keeping the miles and not actually going on the flight? Obviously if you want to spend the time in the air thats a different story.

turowski3 karma

No. No butt in seat, no miles. No chance.

MacorgaZ1 karma


turowski2 karma

They're all kind of the same product, they're just in different wrappers. You might get lucky and find one of them on sale occasionally.

HerMyOwnKnee1 karma

Why Delta? Of all the airlines, why chose the one that leaves you in Atlanta SO SO SO OFTEN?

turowski2 karma

I started flying Delta because they offer a nonstop flight between BOS and CMH, my hometown.

Atlanta's not a bad airport, its geometry combined with the Plane Train actually make it quite easy to navigate. And the Club at ATL lounge (in the F terminal) is a lot nicer than any of the Sky Clubs. ATL also has One Flew South, which is a great place to spend a few bucks (well, a lot of bucks) on food during a long layover.

HerMyOwnKnee1 karma

I guess my experience with my flights almost always being delayed/ late to the point that I miss connections and end up being stuck in atlanta overnight are not the same experience you have had.

turowski1 karma

I allow an hour for connections in ATL. I try to avoid checking a bag on tight connections (although, sometimes your bag is more likely to make the connection than you are). I also try to pick a seat near the front of the plane to ensure I can RUN off of the plane and RUN to my gate (yes, run!) if we are running late. If you don't have frequent flyer status and need to pay an extra few bucks to secure a seat at the front, it may be worth the money if it saves you a lot of hassle due to a missed flight.

And, if the inevitable missed connection occurs, it is much better to be proactive about re-booking. If you are sitting on the tarmac for an hour waiting to take off, and you know you are going to miss your connection, then get out your smartphone, find a suitable flight that will get you to your destination, and either use Delta.com to rebook, call an agent (beware long hold times, especially if there is a problem in ATL), or try Delta's Twitter customer service line, @DeltaAssist. You are exponentially more likely to get where you need to go if you take the initiative to find replacement flights yourself, rather than wait for the gate agent or the auto-rebook system to find something for you.

leb_1 karma

I am flying in May and my son will be a year and a half old. What are some things that I can do for other passengers around us that might make it more bearable as far as putting up with a possible nut job toddler?

turowski1 karma

I have never flown with kids, but I have heard that if you schedule a flight during his regular nap time, he will be more likely to just sleep through it.

leb_1 karma

That is part of our plan. I was just wondering if anyone has ever given you a "goodie" bag or anything. I think I've seen it posted on reddit before. Anyways, haven't read any of the questions yet but it sounds interesting! Maybe I'll think of a better question...

turowski1 karma

I know who you're talking about - you mean that lady who handed out the bags of candy and earplugs to the people sitting around her family.


It's an interesting idea. I'm not sure what I would think of it in person. It might jade me from the beginning, like, "Hey, I know my baby is fussy, so get ready!"

jeversol1 karma

For the love of all that is holy, make sure they don't touch the seat in front of them. I tend to think that most non-assholes will tolerate the occasional crying baby or loud toddler. But, some parents let the kid kick and mess with the seat in front of them, constantly playing with the tray, etc. The seat tray is attached to the seat back in front of you. If you're banging your fists on the tray, you're banging on their seat.

But, be aware there are assholes. You have not seen assholes until you've been in an airport for a length of time. Flight delays turn people into angry children having fits. The worst I've experienced personally are US Airways customers at Philadelphia. Never seen so many people being rude and mean to other people (and airline employees).

Just remember: You'll (probably) never see any of these fuckers again. Don't be a dick and you'll be fine.

turowski2 karma

Yes, please be as polite as possible when you fly! You will definitely encounter some bad eggs. If there are schedule interruptions, then you will probably have to deal with some front line staff (ticket agents and gate agents). Be nice to them, too! It's (usually) not their fault you're delayed, and a little courtesy will get you a long way with them. They get tired of dealing with the assholes, too!

shawncplus1 karma

I spoke recently at an Ignite event in Buffalo and one of the other speakers talked about this, that isn't you is it?

turowski1 karma

Nope. :)

Mbay91 karma

I flew from Boston to Singapore in January. BOS-IAD-HKG-SIN-HKG-IAD-BOS with only a 5 hour layover in Singapore airport. It was quite the trek but I had my whole year traveled planned out and I took this flight in order to reach 1K on United this year =)

Edit: proof http://i.imgur.com/UGp4COE.jpg http://i.imgur.com/3bTcbos.jpg http://i.imgur.com/dJRfJLc.jpg http://i.imgur.com/luwVfcD.jpg Missing HKG-IAD =( http://i.imgur.com/iC4WB9q.jpg

turowski1 karma

That's a pretty good run! I am a little reluctant to try something international (or at least to another country that I haven't visited before) because I am paranoid that there might be a visa/customs issue. I'm sure it's an unwarranted fear, but I see so many easy domestic mileage runs that I really don't feel the need to do an international one (yet).

zen_monkey1 karma

How tall are you?

(I bet not very tall. Tall people hate airplanes more.)

turowski1 karma

I am 5'8". I probably wouldn't enjoy flying as much if I were taller.

jeversol1 karma

What is Delta's revenue requirement going to do to your status level for 2014? United is adding identical requirements. I travel for business, and often have to book travel on little notice, so it's not an issue for me. But, as someone who does mileage runs often, it's going to kneecap your status.

Source: Gold on United, earned by segments.

turowski1 karma

I'm not sure yet. My travel habits will be heavily impacted by when I finish my PhD; I expect my travel to plummet once I move in with my husband and get a job. Fortunately, for as often as I fly to the Midwest, my average spend per mile is right around where Delta wants it to be to make minimum spend levels (about $.10 per mile before taxes).

jessruss1 karma

Which airline was the worst/best? I'm going to be traveling in the states soon (I'm in Canada) and I'm trying to find the cheapest flight with a better airline (from Seattle to Oklahoma) :).

turowski3 karma

I'm a bad person to ask. I'm biased toward Delta and probably JetBlue, because I am the most familiar with their procedures. It's always tough for me when I travel another airline because I am so familiar with everything on Delta. Favorite airlines are a matter of personal preference, for sure, but really, the legacy carriers (DL, AA, UA, US) are practically similar from an infrequent flyer's point of view.

Air fares are volatile, too - sometimes carriers will align their sales and fare-match; other times, it's better to shop around in case you find a great deal.

NapTownJake1 karma

Is it better to fly with more segments then miles? I've been told that in the past when I was trying to get status on Delta. I gave up on that because my travel department hates me, and plays some sort of roulette when it comes to airline booking.

Also, the always fun question, favorite/least favorite airport?

turowski4 karma

Segment travel is tricky. You still have to invest the time to get to the airport, get through security, board the plane, and leave, but you usually get a much smaller mileage earning. Delta is nice because they give you a minimum of 500 miles per segment, whereas (I think?) United only starts the 500-mile minimum when you reach Silver status. A nice perk of traveling with Delta is that they allow you to roll-over excess elite miles into the next year (i.e., if you fly 27,000 miles, then you qualify for Silver status, 25,000 miles, and roll over 2,000 miles for next year), but if you make the segment minimum but only fly 23,000 miles, then you can't roll over the extra segments (30 segments, I believe, for Silver status on Delta).

If you have trouble trying to convince your travel department, you can always kindly remind them that once you make status, they will be paying an extra $50 for you to check a bag on each trip on an airline on which you do not have status, so that may give you some wiggle room with airfares. :)

My favorite airport is probably JFK. The new Terminal 4 is awesome - they have really put a lot of time into shops and restaurants, and the Delta lounge has a nice outdoor deck. It's a hike, though. The Boston airport is a close second, if maybe not first for familiarity to me. The Delta Lounge in Boston is huge and staffed with wonderful people, and they pour a mean Bloody Mary. :) Detroit is also nice because it's easy to navigate, and the bars in the clubs are all self-serve. Apparently, frequent flying enables mild alcoholism...

My least favorite airport, without a doubt, is LaGuardia. That place is a dump. And LAX is always a zoo, especially if you have to go through customs. Ugh.

VTCifer1 karma

I've started having to travel more for work (sometimes 2x a month cross-country, sometimes out of country.) Any suggestions for getting started in this process? It seems interesting to me.

turowski3 karma

Pick an airline early on. If you are flying that frequently, it should be easy for you to earn status, and if your butt is going to be in a metal tube that often, you want status as soon as you can get it to make the travel more bearable. Research what routes you will be flying the most often and which airlines serve those destinations. I found FlyerTalk to be a great resource, although some of the forums are a bit... cattier... than others. They have separate forums for each airline and most for most major hotel and car rental loyalty programs, as well as travel tips in general.

amurrikan1 karma

Do you use the Delta rewards credit card as well, or do you rack up miles purely through travel?

turowski1 karma

I have the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card, too, but I really only have it because it gets you a free companion flight every year. If you have any kind of frequent flyer status, the benefits of the credit card (free checked bag, "second priority" boarding) are pretty inconsequential. There are much better rewards cards out there for travelers, and although they don't give you SkyMiles, the points can be even more valuable. I think Starwood points (SPG) are considered some of the more valuable rewards points available.

dolter1 karma

What did you think of Anchorage?

turowski2 karma

It was beautiful. I'm used to being there in the peak of tourist season (June/July), so it was pretty quiet, but the Cook Inlet and the mountains were as breathtaking as ever. It was cold, gray, and rainy in the morning, but later in the day, the sun came out, and it just made the mountains and the water sparkle. :)

dolter2 karma

Hopefully you got to go here

turowski3 karma

I did not - but I will put it on the list for next time! It looks like my kind of joint. Thanks for the recommendation.

Aarontj731 karma

...Why do you actually go on the flight? Don't you still get the miles regardless of whether you use the ticket or not? You could have saved time and money by just paying for the flights and never going.

turowski2 karma

The airline will cancel your ticket if you fail to show up. It allows them to re-sell your seat for a higher last-minute fare, or to cover their butt in case of an overbooked flight.

tenpager1 karma

Piecing together all the information that you have left on this thread, I think I know who you are :)

turowski1 karma

Interesting. DYKWIA? :)

How might I know you?

Tog_the_destroyer1 karma

What is your total amount of miles you have under your belt to date?

turowski1 karma

I have over 71,000 MQM (SkyMiles Medallion Qualification Miles) and over 150,000 RDM (redeemable miles that can be used to purchase tickets).

Om3ga731 karma

So, I have to start flying from the western area of the US to the east coast (and back) four times a year. Should I look at frequent flyer programs, and which airlines/alliances should I look at?

jeversol1 karma

What airport will you be flying out of and into? If your home airport is the hub for an airline, it makes sense to use that airline (knowing that your upgrade chances are lower because of the higher population of elites). For example, if you're flying from Silicon Valley to New York, United is a good option because both San Francisco and Newark, NJ are United hubs and United offers a premium product between LAX/SFO and JFK.

Are you flying for work? If so, find out if your employer has any requirements or preferred airlines. My employer prefers United and Delta, and gets better rates with them, no so much with American. When I started, Newark was my home airport. It's a United hub, so it was no brainer for me.

The legacy airliners (American, Delta, United, and US Airways) all are pretty equal in their requirements, benefits, and perks. Delta platinum gets you free access to their airport lounges, whereas United doesn't give free club access to any tier. United tends to have the best award seat availability and best mile-per-dollar. Delta is notorious for having poor award seat availability and high cost (google the term SkyPesos). US Airways and United are in the same partner alliance (Star Alliance) and so flights on US Airways can be credited to United and vice versa (for now. If the US Air and American merge goes through, the new American will leave Star Alliance and just be in Oneworld). Generally speaking, United's ticket prices are higher than the others for some routes. For example, my flight this week was $1,500 for economy round trip. You'll have to shop a bit and see.

Airline alliances are important if you're going to be flying internationally. There are three primary alliances: Star Alliance (US and United), SkyTeam (Delta), and Oneworld (American). Star Alliance is the largest and gets you perks and reward access on (just a few) Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian and ANA. Skyteam gets you KLM, Air France, and Alitalia. Oneworld gets you British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Quantas.

If you don't plan international travel and the places you're looking to fly are serviced by JetBlue or Virgin America, I'd give them a serious look. They have great in-flight amenities. I don't know about their FF programs, but their normal product is better than the legacy carriers.

Low-cost carriers like AirTran and Southwest are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to FF perks. Yeah, you might get a free ticket now and then, but you're going to miss out on upgrades, abilities to buy upgrades into business class on international flights, etc.

Good luck!

Om3ga731 karma

I'll be going between Salt Lake City and the PA/NJ/NU region (JFK, Philly, or Newark would work). It isn't for work.

turowski1 karma

SLC is a Delta hub, so it's safe to say that you will probably be flying DL frequently. If you are price conscious, you might not fly them as much (hub cities tend to be expensive), but if you are schedule conscious, it's a safe bet to say that the most convenient flight will usually be on Delta.

benjimusprime1 karma

I am just starting a new job where lots of travel is required. If you were starting from scratch, which mileage program would you choose and how would you book trips to maximize your miles to a specific program. I will be flying alot to the UK.

turowski1 karma

I think it depends on your home airport. If your employer will pay for premium seats, American arguably has the best domestic first class service, at least if you need to fly a domestic leg before connecting to the UK. /u/jeversol's advice seems solid.

exitheone0 karma

Only thing that comes to my mind:

People like you are the reason for climate change, your carbon footprint is probably that of a few hundred people commuting to work each day.

I would love to hear your opinion on that topic.

turowski2 karma

You should read through the rest of this thread.

tennis19870 karma

Do you ever sit back and just think, "I have X years left in this brief life, relationships to build, experiences to have... Is my time best spent aggregating imaginary flight points, class upgrades to places I don't really care to see, welcome packs of material goods that I don't need, etc?". It appears this building up of flyer points takes up a significant portion of your life, and I can't help but wonder whether when you're old you'll look back and regret not making the most of your free time.

turowski1 karma

Well, no, because I only do it once a year. A couple of days of my time is worth it to make the rest of the flying more bearable. Your opinions may vary, naturally.

turowski0 karma

Odds are, I WILL get cancer. It may or not be from flying. Who knows?

6roybatty6-3 karma

Have you considered the likely health effects of the (comparatively) massive doses of cosmic radiation you're receiving?

turowski2 karma

I've heard this bantered back and forth (mostly as a refute to the TSA nude-o-scopes argument), but I really don't let it ruin my day. I won't argue that frequent flyers are exposed to higher doses of ionizing radiation than infrequent flyers, but I just don't know how biologically and epidemiologically relevant they are.

DVM100-7 karma


turowski3 karma

Enough people are asking questions...