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Old Jul 2, 12, 12:58 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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What's my MR cover story?

I grabbed a super-cheap fare LAS-JAX leaving tonight and returning tomorrow, with only 40 minutes in JAX. To get to LAS I booked a 10K saver award. Yesterday SFO was fogged in all day and ground holds were 3+ hours, and I'm concerned that the same could happen today. I'm confident that UA will reaccommodate me in case of irrops, but I'm not sure what I should be asking for. Some possibilities:
- I'm making a delivery to someone in JAX so I need to be there by 10.30 am tomorrow?
- I'm accompanying a family member to/from JAX? (Probably not wise since they could call my bluff and try to look up the other pax.)
- I just need to get somewhere in Florida by tomorrow am?

Or if it looks like I'm not going to make it to JAX, should I just declare trip in vain and try to get my money back? This is my first cross-country MR so I'd like some tips from the pros!
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Old Jul 2, 12, 1:02 pm   #2
 
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The truth? You're under no obligation to have a more "legitimate" reason for the trip. You should have no problem declaring it a trip in vain if you don't want to take the trip anymore if there are major delays. Or you could look at other routings, etc. and proactively suggest them.
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Old Jul 2, 12, 1:05 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
The truth? You're under no obligation to have a more "legitimate" reason for the trip. You should have no problem declaring it a trip in vain if you don't want to take the trip anymore if there are major delays. Or you could look at other routings, etc. and proactively suggest them.
+1. You paid for your flights and as such owe no explanation to anyone as to why you're traveling, or why you're traveling the routing you are.
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Old Jul 2, 12, 1:08 pm   #4
 
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How do you respond when people think you're insane doing a mileage run?
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Old Jul 2, 12, 1:51 pm   #5
 
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I agree that I don't have to justify why I'm flying to JAX. I guess the question is what can I do if I can't get to JAX. Usually UA is willing to do what I want if I can give a plausible reason. If I find a routing to MCO for example, is there anything I can say that would increase the chances of them putting me on those flights?
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Old Jul 2, 12, 1:57 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfreeman02 View Post
I agree that I don't have to justify why I'm flying to JAX. I guess the question is what can I do if I can't get to JAX. Usually UA is willing to do what I want if I can give a plausible reason. If I find a routing to MCO for example, is there anything I can say that would increase the chances of them putting me on those flights?
Just explain that the purpose of the trip is to get mileage credit, so you're willing to just stay home if they'll give you original routing credit. Might work!
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Old Jul 2, 12, 2:02 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfreeman02 View Post
I agree that I don't have to justify why I'm flying to JAX. I guess the question is what can I do if I can't get to JAX. Usually UA is willing to do what I want if I can give a plausible reason. If I find a routing to MCO for example, is there anything I can say that would increase the chances of them putting me on those flights?
Just be honest and say you're in it for the miles.

Oh, and please if it does come to that, the main thing is to be considerate of the fact that a whole lot of people will need to be rebooked and that most of them really *do* need to get to specific places. I'm not saying you have to declare trip in vain, but if there's a hundred people behind you in line and you're busy badgering a gate agent to get routed to MCO via DEN, IAH, CLE, KMZ and BOG then... uhh, don't.
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Old Jul 2, 12, 2:09 pm   #8
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Bad news first: booking a 40-minute turnaround in JAX is dangerous. Having chosen to do it, you're gonna be responsible for the consequences. (I'm not saying you shouldn't have done it! I've done equally risky things. But it's like mountain climbing; I admit up front that I'm taking a risk).

Now, as others have pointed out, your goal in traveling is your business. However, in case of irrops a good agent will try to rebook you as conveniently as possible, for both you and UA (and the agent). So it's good to have handy a straightforward explanation that motivates the outcome that you want. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting a rebooking that screws up your plans (and at that point, if you already lied about your plans, it's hard to fix it).

I've done this before when I booked an indirect routing (through IAD) to maximize mileage. Flights got canceled, and a very helpful agent offered to rebook me on direct flights. I explained that I had booked those particular flights in order to have a very brief professional meeting at IAD, so I needed the original connection. No problem.

If I were in your shoes, I'd use that excuse for JAX. Business meeting at the airport, won't take but a couple of minutes, but you need face time. If you get hit with massive irrops before leaving LAX (24+ hour delay), you can claim trip in vain, although you'll probably have to eat the award ticket unless you're really persuasive. On the other hand, if you get minor irrops, you'll miss your flight back from JAX -- but it will be UA's fault and you should get rebooked reasonably.

The "brief face-to-face business meeting" gives you a coherent story for all of that. I wouldn't bet on anything getting you a reliable rebook to MCO, except in case of massive irrops, in which case you can still say "Hey, if you can't get me to JAX, my colleague might be able to drive to MCO..." I wouldn't bet on it, but I've done weirder things in irrops situations.
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Old Jul 2, 12, 2:49 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
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When I started MRing I always "was delivering a file" but than i just started saying MR.

Last year (on an MR) I got into SFO for a connection and the GA cam up to me and said "Mr, Madone59? We've been waiting for you, we know you are on an MR, and need your seat. Here is your $400 cert, and new ticket......don't worry sweetie I booked you in full 'Y' on the reroute."

Last edited by Madone59; Jul 2, 12 at 2:49 pm.. Reason: Tpyo :)
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Old Jul 2, 12, 8:17 pm   #10
 
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When doing MRs domestically, you don't have to explain a thing. You have the constitutional right to travel anywhere you want inside the borders of the USA and its territorial possessions, and nobody can question why you are traveling.


When doing MRs to/from overseas locations, you might have to answer questions from immigration and/or customs officials, or from CBP officers upon returning to the USA. The best advice I can give is to:
A) tell the truth (NEVER lie)
B) answer using as few words as possible (and do not volunteer information)


If you can say "personal" in response to the question "What was the purpose of your trip?" then just leave it at "personal." Don't elaborate unless the officer decides to probe you for details. If he or she does, be honest and say it was for the miles. Trust me....they have seen it before.

Or, better yet, become a GlobalEntry member if you are eligible. That way, you can avoid this questioning in the first place!
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Old Jul 3, 12, 3:39 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QBK View Post
Bad news first: booking a 40-minute turnaround in JAX is dangerous. Having chosen to do it, you're gonna be responsible for the consequences.
Untrue if it was booked as a round trip ticket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorgen View Post
Just be honest and say you're in it for the miles.
Agreed. Sometimes I refer to it as a 'quick turn itinerary' but when I use the words 'mileage run' the reply I normally get is "say no more..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfreeman02 View Post
Or if it looks like I'm not going to make it to JAX, should I just declare trip in vain and try to get my money back? This is my first cross-country MR so I'd like some tips from the pros!
Look at any potential schedule disruption as an OPPORTUNITY to receive e-certs, increased miles routings, better flight times, ect.

Have alternate plans worked out. Write down the options in advance on a cheat sheet so you don't forget them, and can quickly propose them to airline personnel. They will appreciate you having worked thru some options for them. And yes trip in vain is one of the options you have available.

Most of all - don't sweat it. It is part of the hobby.


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Old Jul 3, 12, 10:54 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ESpen36 View Post
When doing MRs to/from overseas locations, you might have to answer questions from immigration and/or customs officials, or from CBP officers upon returning to the USA. The best advice I can give is to:
A) tell the truth (NEVER lie)
B) answer using as few words as possible (and do not volunteer information)
Absolutely the best advice.

Some of the funniest exchanges I have tend to be at the US-Canada border. I just transited via Montreal and the exchange went like this:

"Where do you live?" Chicago.
"What brings you here?" Flight connection.
"Where did you travel to?" India.
"What was the purpose of the visit?" Seeing family.
"Did you bring any food?" No.
"None?" None.
"How much cash are you carrying?" About $50.

At this he was satisfied that the United States will survive my entry.

Last time, at the Seattle land crossing, the guy asked, "Did you come all the way to Canada for two days?" I was tempted to point out that the next door neighbor is hardly an "all the way" place like Hong Kong or Australia. But I just replied "Yes".
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Old Jul 3, 12, 12:28 pm   #13
 
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Update from ORD: I got to the LAS gate at SFO (big to T1) 30 minutes before departure, and at T-20 they posted a 1 hour delay due to late inbound crew. (They were coming from ORD -- you'd think they could have figured it out a little sooner.) I was going to misconnect, but as SunLover suggested, I saw an opportunity.

I talked to a gate agent and tried to explain my situation (misconnect in LAS on separate PNRs) and requested to be put on a nonstop SFO-IAD. The agent seemed willing, but both redeyes were F1 Y0 so she couldn't confirm me. She claimed to put me on the standby list and told me to go to the T3 ticketing desk where they could help me.

While taking the shuttle to T3, I got on the 1K line to explore other options. I had done some ExpertFlyer research, but every redeye from SFO to anywhere was sold out, so they couldn't help me. I got the phone agent to refund my SFO-LAS award ticket and cancel out the LAS-IAD flight, so the system wouldn't cancel my itinerary for missing that flight. At this point my plan was to try for standby on both SFO-IAD redeyes, and if both fail call a trip-in-vain and go home.

At the IAD gate the screen showed 5 pax on standby, none of which were me. The gate agent looked up my record, seemed confused, typed a while, printed out a BP-like slip which he kept, and told me he'd call me if a seat opened up. Apparently I was waitlisted for the flight, which is somehow different from standby -- neither the gate agent nor the 1K desk were able to explain the distinction to me.

Boarding starts and I stand near the podium to see what happens. There is one F seat open, and they upgrade SEA/S to 1A. Since Y is exactly at capacity, this should leave one seat -- except I now learn that seat 30A is broken, so the Y cabin is full.

More waiting. 10 minutes to go and one pax to board: it's SEA/S in 1A. The gate agent remarks, "He's a 1K, you'd think he'd know what he's doing." I smile. They page him on the plane, and when he doesn't answer they offload him, upgrade the next pax on the list, and hand me a BP for 21B.

(I don't know what happened to the other 5 on the standby list -- I'm guessing they were employees who found other flights.)

So in the end I was able to get the routing I wanted, refund my positioning flight, and get rebooked in full Y on a transcon. Not a bad haul!

Oh, and Mr. SEA/S: whatever shenanigans you were pulling, thank you.

A final note: I felt safe with a 40-minute turn in JAX because (a) it was on one itinerary, and (b) I had looked at UA's schedule in JAX and concluded that the inbound and outbound were extremely likely to be the same aircraft; this was in fact the case.
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Old Jul 3, 12, 1:28 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfreeman02 View Post
Update from ORD: I got to the LAS gate at SFO (big to T1) 30 minutes before departure, and at T-20 they posted a 1 hour delay due to late inbound crew. (They were coming from ORD -- you'd think they could have figured it out a little sooner.) I was going to misconnect, but as SunLover suggested, I saw an opportunity.

I talked to a gate agent and tried to explain my situation (misconnect in LAS on separate PNRs) and requested to be put on a nonstop SFO-IAD. The agent seemed willing, but both redeyes were F1 Y0 so she couldn't confirm me. She claimed to put me on the standby list and told me to go to the T3 ticketing desk where they could help me.

While taking the shuttle to T3, I got on the 1K line to explore other options. I had done some ExpertFlyer research, but every redeye from SFO to anywhere was sold out, so they couldn't help me. I got the phone agent to refund my SFO-LAS award ticket and cancel out the LAS-IAD flight, so the system wouldn't cancel my itinerary for missing that flight. At this point my plan was to try for standby on both SFO-IAD redeyes, and if both fail call a trip-in-vain and go home.

At the IAD gate the screen showed 5 pax on standby, none of which were me. The gate agent looked up my record, seemed confused, typed a while, printed out a BP-like slip which he kept, and told me he'd call me if a seat opened up. Apparently I was waitlisted for the flight, which is somehow different from standby -- neither the gate agent nor the 1K desk were able to explain the distinction to me.

Boarding starts and I stand near the podium to see what happens. There is one F seat open, and they upgrade SEA/S to 1A. Since Y is exactly at capacity, this should leave one seat -- except I now learn that seat 30A is broken, so the Y cabin is full.

More waiting. 10 minutes to go and one pax to board: it's SEA/S in 1A. The gate agent remarks, "He's a 1K, you'd think he'd know what he's doing." I smile. They page him on the plane, and when he doesn't answer they offload him, upgrade the next pax on the list, and hand me a BP for 21B.

(I don't know what happened to the other 5 on the standby list -- I'm guessing they were employees who found other flights.)

So in the end I was able to get the routing I wanted, refund my positioning flight, and get rebooked in full Y on a transcon. Not a bad haul!

Oh, and Mr. SEA/S: whatever shenanigans you were pulling, thank you.

A final note: I felt safe with a 40-minute turn in JAX because (a) it was on one itinerary, and (b) I had looked at UA's schedule in JAX and concluded that the inbound and outbound were extremely likely to be the same aircraft; this was in fact the case.
I'm confused...how did you get back to SFO if you cancelled your award flight?

Last edited by lsumegan; Jul 3, 12 at 2:02 pm..
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Old Jul 3, 12, 1:46 pm   #15
 
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If you need a MR cover story in future, just say that you work for CIA's Sigma Epsilon unit, and this MR is vital for national security.
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