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Epic commute: I go to school by plane (Aug 2022-May 2023)

Epic commute: I go to school by plane (Aug 2022-May 2023)

Old Sep 4, 2022, 11:47 pm
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: LAX
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Posts: 821
Epic commute: I go to school by plane (Aug 2022-May 2023)

Mar 17th, 2022.
I was packing for my trip to London, when I received a notification from UC Berkeley. "I am delighted to inform you that I am recommending to the Dean of the Graduate Division to admit you to the MEng program in Transportation Engineering at UC Berkeley for the 2022-23 academic year." A week prior to that, I was rejected by MIT (which was expected cuz I applied for yolo purposes), and now I got admitted to the best Civil Engineering program in US. I smiled, finished packing, drove to LAX, and boarded my LX flight to LCY via ZRH.

I fell in love with transportation since I was young. After I finished undergrad, I became a full-time transportation engineer and took advantage of those low fares in 2020 and 2021, and did some mileage runs on AS, which got me 850K miles over the past two years of flying. In 2021 I was flying almost every weekend, all for leisure purposes. Sometimes I would fly LAX-MIA-LAX same day return just for fun, because I always got UG on the 6am LAX-MIA AA 772/77W even with a $49 one-way fare. Before I quit my job, I joked to coworkers, "since it's just an one-year program, and technically only 8 months long, maybe I should consider commuting by air just to save money and avoid paying bay area rent!" My coworkers knew I was "unique" (a better way of saying psycho), but such an idea still caught them off-guard. They all thought I was joking.

I love my job and our team at work, we all support each other and are rather friends than corporate coworkers, so I decided I would come back once I graduate. I checked Berkeley student housing near campus, it costs around $1600 minimum per month for a single (excluding utilities), and the contract is 12 months, although my program only runs from August to May (8 months after deducting winter break). LAX-SFO is one of the busiest corridors in U.S., with 100+ daily nonstop flights across multiple airlines departing from LA5 (LAX, LGB, SNA, ONT, BUR) and SF3 (SFO, OAK, SJC). I have a lot of AS miles, so it would make sense booking award tickets on AS to save money, although everyone kept telling me not to do it, and even if I attempt to do it, WN to OAK would be the only practical solution. (See Suggestions for Using AS for 3X Weekly Super Commute?)

So I started my research after I accepted offer from Berkeley. I found out if I book early enough, AS usually has saver level awards (5k miles one-way) for M-F everyday, with the exception of Monday LA to SF and Friday SF to LA. I decided not to go with their flight pass because the flight pass costs $64 one-way and I can simply book $49 LAX-SJC and same-day change (SDC) to LAX-SFO using elite perks for MVP100K. In early April, costco in socal area had a promotion for AS gift cards, $400 for $500 value, so I bought 8 of those to save money, because those would be deposited into your wallet and can be used even when paying for the $5.60 tax (AS metal award flights only).

I created a google sheet to keep track of all my bookings, including columns such as month, date, day, carrier, ticket cost (miles), ticket cost (tax/cash), booking PNR, checkbox for confirmed booking, checkbox for SDC, BART payment, and parking payment. Based on preliminary estimation, I could save at least $12k in total if I commute to school by plane. I guess the money saving part is just me convincing myself, in fact the real incentive is the cool story and amazing trip. I even applied Guinness world record for the longest distance of school commute within an academic year. Unfortunately after 3 months of waiting, they denied my application due to "this is more like a personal achievement and doesn't encourage competition". Either way, I'm doing this epic commute regardless.

In late April, I booked most of tickets for fall semester (Aug-Dec 2022) using AS miles. For Monday LA-SF and Friday SF-LA, AS wants 10k miles for direct flight. But if I threw in some littler trick, I could book LAX-GEG(overnight)-SEA-SFO for 5k miles, or SJC-PDX-STS-LAX, or SFO-LAS-LAX for 5k miles. Then I would wait for schedule changes, as long as one of the segments has schedule change greater than an hour, AS allows me to rebook to +-1 day for free, with any reasonable routing that shows up in their search engine. That's how I managed to book all my AS tickets at the lowest saver award of 5k miles one-way.

By the time I finished booking those tickets, I was uncertain about my class schedule since it's not finalized and published yet, but upon checking the class schedule for 2021 academic year, I could get a sense of whether those courses will be offered M/W/F or Tu/Th. It's a gamble, because if I would have classes every weekday, this commute would be nearly impossible. Every Saturday night, AS would hit me with 30-40 schedule changes, and it was such a PITA calling AS to rebook them (although most of them worked in my favor). That's when I realized why everyone suggested me flying WN in the AS forum. SFO to Berkeley is a long way, and AS schedule for August was a disASter. Tuesdays the last SFO-LAX flight departs at 5pm, and Wednesdays the last SFO-LAX flight departs at 210pm, unless I do the 735pm SJC-LAX. That's when I decided not to put all the eggs in one basket. So I requested status match to A list on WN (of course they didn't give me A list preferred) since they operate 89 daily nonstop flights between LA5 and SF3 (I counted all of them!), and I booked 6 revenue tickets on WN to complete the challenge. Later on I even applied for WN credit card just to get the signup bonus to make my commute even more affordable.

Similar to AS, WN allows their elite members to SDC for free. That's the flexibility I value most. Because sometimes I might have to stay on campus a bit later due to group projects or office hours, so I need a carrier which allows me to SDC flights without fare difference, so WN and AS would be a perfect fit. Now airlines have waived cancellation fees, so as a precautionary measure, I booked tickets for all weekdays throughout the semester, even though I don't have any classes on some of those days. If I don't have to show up on campus on days which I don't have classes, I can always cancel tickets for free and get wallet funds/miles redeposited into my account. If there are project meetings/office hours/seminars/social events that I have to show up on campus, I always have tickets ready to get me going, so I would never have to pay for those last-minute fares because they can be very expensive, which undermines the purpose of "saving money".

When the class schedule was gradually released, I kept refreshing the class schedule website to make sure my preferred sections/timeslots are available for enrollment, because if I can't enroll that specific section, I would have to come to campus 4-5 days a week instead of 2-3 days a week. To be honest, it was exhausting because I had to monitor those class availability manually. I don't have experflyer equivalent of course enrollment tool which tells me when the availability opens up.

Here is the preliminary course schedule:
Fall 2022 (Aug 8th-Dec 16th, including orientation and finals):
270A: M/Tu/W/Th/W 1100am-1230pm (Aug 10th-Aug 19th only), 1 unit [COMPLETED]
270B: M/Tu/W/Th/W 145pm-315pm (Aug 10th-Aug 19th only), 1 unit [COMPLETED]

270C: F 800am-930am (Sept 23rd-Nov 18th only), 1 unit [COMPLETED]
255: M/W/F 1000am-1100am (Aug 24th-Dec 2nd), 3 units [COMPLETED]
295: W 1100am-1200pm (Aug 24th-Nov 30th), 1 unit [COMPLETED]
251: M/W/F 1200pm-100pm (Aug 24th-Dec 9th), 3 units [COMPLETED]
252: M/W/F 100pm-200pm (Aug 24th-Dec 9th), 3 units [COMPLETED]
296A: Tu Sept 13th only, W 500pm-600pm (Sept 21st-Nov 30th), 2 units [COMPLETED]

Spring 2023 (Jan 4th-May 17th, including spring recess, finals, and commencement):
270L: M/Tu/W/Th/W 945am-1145am (Jan 4th-Jan 13th only, ONLINE), 1 unit [COMPLETED]
270M: M/Tu/W/Th/W 730pm-930pm (Jan 4th-Jan 13th only, ONLINE), 1 unit [COMPLETED]

260: Tu/Th 1100am-1230pm (Jan 17th-Apr 27th), 3 units [COMPLETED]
270K: Tu 530pm-600pm (Jan 31st, Feb 28th, Apr 4th, Apr 18th only, ONLINE), 1 unit [COMPLETED]
295: M 1100am-1200pm (Jan 23th-Apr 24th), 1 unit [COMPLETED]
259: M/W/F 1200pm-100pm (Jan 18th-Apr 28th), 3 units [COMPLETED]
296B: M 400pm-500pm (Jan 23th-May 1st), 3 units [COMPLETED]

So I booked all the tickets on weekdays between Aug 8th, 2022 and May 18th, 2023, except campus holidays. To avoid spamming the forum, I will only post monthly trip reports for my commute in this thread, so there will be 10 updates in total (monthly between Aug 2022 and May 2023). In each monthly update, I will provide flight info (of course with a lot of pictures since I enjoy flying), commute time tracking, and cost for each flight, as well as monthly summary of gas/parking/BART/flight cost. Stay tuned!

August 2022:

September 2022:

October 2022:

November 2022:

December 2022:

Fall Semester Overview:

January 2023:

February 2023:

March 2023:

April 2023:

May 2023:


Spring Semester Overview:

Total Commute Overview:

Last edited by 985X; Jun 25, 2023 at 2:42 pm
985X is offline  
Old Sep 5, 2022, 9:45 am
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: On a plane or a beach
Programs: Yes
Posts: 3,190
On behalf of AS, thank you for your service. Also, please stop cheating on us with WN.


Note: I dont have the authority to speak for AS.
Hoyaheel, catmndu, wrp96 and 6 others like this.
anteater is offline  
Old Sep 5, 2022, 8:52 pm
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August 2022

August 2022
8/8/2022 Monday LAX-SFO-LAX
AS307 LAX-SFO B739 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3435 SFO-LAX E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 512am
Car Parked 540am
Reach Airport 606am
Flight Departs 800am
Flight Arrives 952am
BART Departs 1014am
BART Arrives 1124am
Arrive Class 1136am
Leave Class 358pm
BART Departs 409pm
BART Arrives 522pm
Flight Departs 620pm
Flight Arrives 746pm
Airport Landside 758pm
Reach Parking Lot 822pm
Arrive Home 855pm

First day of school, so I left home a bit extra early because I had no idea how long it would take me to reach airport during morning peak hour. Since I had extra time, I visited admirals club at T5 instead of alaska lounge at T6.

I bought a new kick-scooter to make my commute "faster", and it took me only 1 day to realize how terrible that idea was..

At least it fits under the seat in front of me so I didn't have to check it at the gate.

Lovely B739 cabin, still excited that I'm actually flying to school!

Apple headquarters and SJC

Riding BART to school with my scooter

Although today is orientation only, the classroom is literally on the top of a hill, too steep to push my scooter uphill, and too steep to ride my scooter downhill because the brake doesn't work for such topography. Oh well, guess I just wasted $120 not expecting the hilly campus, rookie mistake..

After orientation ended, I took BART to SFO, checked my scooter since I didn't want to risk it with the E175 bins. AS3435 back to LA!

Downtown SF after take off

Snack service, with ginger beer "stolen" from AS lounge

Arriving LAX

Surprisingly, my scooter came out of oversized baggage. I waited at the regular baggage claim for almost 20min until most passengers left with their baggage and I still didn't see mine, so I walked over to the oversized baggage and found it there.

I met up with my friend at SFO earlier that day, and he made this shirt for me, totally love it!

8/9/2022 Tuesday SNA-SFO-SNA
AS3324 SNA-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3319 SFO-SNA E175 $21.73

Leave home 457am
Car Parked 536am
Reach Airport 541am
Flight Departs 658am
Flight Arrives 809am
BART Departs 1140am
BART Arrives 1236pm
Arrive Class 1250pm
Leave Class 535pm
BART Departs 546pm
BART Arrives 644pm
Flight Departs 907pm
Flight Arrives 1033pm
Airport Landside 1035pm
Reach Parking Lot 1037pm
Arrive Home 1115pm

Today is a bit more tiring, still orientation events but that ends at 6pm. Because of AS schedule change, I can only fly the 9pm SFO-SNA back, it's been a while since I flew out from SNA but anyways, I will just leave home a bit earlier..

At least they have admirals club, so I can grab quick breakfast before boarding.

Newport Beach after take off

Since I had some extra time, I had some quick bites in SFO AS lounge before heading to campus. Notice all plastic utensils here? I heard their dishwasher is broken.

Riding BART to campus

Flying AS3319 back

SFO AS lounge has barbacoa at night! What a surprise! The chicken noodle soup was a bit greasy, almost looked like a candle.

Reached SNA around 1030pm. Took me only 4 mins from jetbridge to my car, impressive. (Also you can imagine I was tired so I walked a bit faster)

8/10/2022 Wednesday LAX-OAK-LAX
WN2485 LAX-OAK B737 $48.98
WN2821 OAK-LAX B737 $48.98

Leave home 537am
Car Parked 611am
Reach Airport 624am
Flight Departs 740am
Flight Arrives 858am
BART Departs 911am
BART Arrives 956am
Arrive Class 1010am
Leave Class 318pm
BART Departs 332pm
BART Arrives 432pm
Flight Departs 513pm
Flight Arrives 630pm
Airport Landside 650pm
Reach Parking Lot 722pm
Arrive Home 910pm

I didn't expect morning traffic on the 105 to be like this at 6am.. oh well..

LAX T1, flying WN just feels.. different..

Got bulkhead window thanks to A-list status, but it bothers me so much that WN bulkhead doesn't have tray table inside the armrest. What design is this?

I finally understand why everyone suggested me flying WN if I want to make it sure, because flying into OAK saves a lot of time comparing with flying into SFO.

BART cancelling trains? Never heard of it! /s

Flying WN from OAK back to LA, OAK security was a bit hectic, since my gate was in T1, I should've passed TSA from T1 to save time. At least I got exit row.

Downtown Oakland after take off

And unsurprisingly, I hit LA pm peak hour traffic leaving LAX, even in a carpool lane..

I went to costco to buy some snacks in case I'm hungry during my commute, and the line was long even for self-checkout..

Vietnamese bbq beef rice plate for dinner!

8/11/2022 Thursday LAX-SFO-LAX
AS3342 LAX-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3435 SFO-LAX E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 410am
Car Parked 436am
Reach Airport 456am
Flight Departs 600am
Flight Arrives 745am
BART Departs 935am
BART Arrives 1047am
Arrive Class 1100am
Leave Class 320pm
BART Departs 333pm
BART Arrives 448pm
Flight Departs 623pm
Flight Arrives 757pm
Airport Landside 804pm
Reach Parking Lot 822pm
Arrive Home 858pm

That's when I started questioning myself: 6am flight everyday, is it really worth it? Especially given that I only slept 4.5hrs the night before. But anyways, once I boarded, I slept like a baby until we reached SFO.

Watching airplanes always brings a smile on my face

We reached SFO early, so I visited AS SFO lounge after arrival.. Poor guy next to me spilled his coffee, and I felt bad for him and the staff who had to clean up the mess..

Got a tequila sunrise to calm myself down, although I don't think it's a good idea drinking before school but anyways!

BART to Berkeley

On the way back, I was surprised SFO T2 security was completely empty at 5pm. Literally only me, myself, and I passing the TSA line.

Of course SFO AS lounge visit is not complete without ginger beer. By this time some staff at SFO lounge already recognized me because I was literally here everyday, so one of them gave me the nickname of "ginger beer" because that's what I order at the bar all the time.

Flying AS3435 back to LA

I heard VP is in town?!

Peatos. Always peatos.

Sunset time. I love taking this flight because it reaches LA at the best time of the day.

Well I don't like dealing with LA traffic after landing, that for sure..

8/12/2022 Friday SNA-SFO-SNA
AS3324 SNA-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3492 SFO-SNA E175 $73.60

Leave home 510am
Car Parked 549am
Reach Airport 551am
Flight Departs 653am
Flight Arrives 829am
BART Departs 930am
BART Arrives 1037am
Arrive Class 1059am
Leave Class 320pm
BART Departs 333pm
BART Arrives 448pm
Flight Departs 601pm
Flight Arrives 743pm
Airport Landside 746pm
Reach Parking Lot 748pm
Arrive Home 940pm

Last day of week 1. Today I'm flying out of SNA because the 6am LAX-SFO I want to SDC to was completely full, and I'm glad I chose SNA because that LAX-SFO 6am flight ended up delaying by 2hrs.

Admirals club at SNA

After we reached SFO, due to insufficient D gates, we parked at C gates instead and walked over to D gates to exit.

BART to school

DO NOT use a single bowl for chicken noodle soup! Because the paper quality doesn't feel so nice so I was worried it would collapse anytime.

Class ended at 315pm, since the 515pm SFO-SNA flight was delayed by half an hour, now I'm able to make it! I like how I turn those unfortunate situations to work in my favor so I can reach home earlier rather than waiting for the 9pm flight.

Departing SFO

Final approach into SNA, that's where I spent 4 years for undergrad, still felt like yesterday, but time flies..

22-57-5 interchange in Orange County

Urban plates for dinner! Week 1 of commute done!

8/15/2022 Monday LAX-SFO-LAX
AS3342 LAX-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3435 SFO-LAX E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 408am
Car Parked 433am
Reach Airport 459am
Flight Departs 555am
Flight Arrives 733am
BART Departs 904am
BART Arrives 1008am
Arrive Class 1027am
Leave Class 321pm
BART Departs 331pm
BART Arrives 437pm
Flight Departs 615pm
Flight Arrives 744pm
Airport Landside 747pm
Reach Parking Lot 827pm
Arrive Home 858pm

Week 2.. 530am LAX AS lounge is rather empty

Monday 6am flight, full of commuters, but I guess most of them commute once weekly instead of my (almost) daily commute..

SFO 8am TSA line

Chicken wild rice soup. Again, the paper bowl felt like it would collapse any moment.

Sunset at DTLA.

8/16/2022 Tuesday LAX-OAK/SFO-LAX
WN1492 LAX-OAK B737 $5.60+2269 WN points
UA1200 SFO-LAX A319 $5.60+5500 UA miles

Leave home 423am
Car Parked 449am
Reach Airport 512am
Flight Departs 555am
Flight Arrives 725am
BART Departs 741am
BART Arrives 1010am
Arrive Class 1018am
Leave Class 318pm
BART Departs 327pm
BART Arrives 430pm
Flight Departs 636pm
Flight Arrives 757pm
Airport Landside 803pm
Reach Parking Lot 827pm
Arrive Home 856pm

I love WN. Flying into SFO and requested a SDC at the ticket counter, so now I'm flying to OAK to save some time.

Empty flight on a Tuesday, so I got exit row even as "A61".

I mean AS is good, but I would rather flying WN in coach for extra half an hour sleep than flying AS first class on such a short hop..

Homeless camps in Oakland. Even crazier than LA.

Since I had extra time, time for brunch before my 11am class.

Riding BART to SFO

I booked the 817pm UA1978 since it had saver level award, but I reached SFO early and requested standby on the 630pm UA1200.

AS lounge membership allows me to use their lounges even when flying other airlines, which is a huge plus for me.

Don't you hate it when your friend jinx your trip? At least he jinxed my original flight not the actual one I planned to take..

Cleared UA1200, middle seat but at least economy plus!

8/17/2022 Wednesday LAX-OAK/SJC-LAX
WN1492 LAX-OAK B737 $5.60+2269 WN points
AS3463 SJC-LAX E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 423am
Car Parked 449am
Reach Airport 508am
Flight Departs 552am
Flight Arrives 727am
BART Departs 758am
BART Arrives 1020am
Arrive Class 1025am
Leave Class 317pm
BART Departs 330pm
BART Arrives 438pm
Flight Departs 725pm
Flight Arrives 854pm
Airport Landside 858pm
Reach Parking Lot 921pm
Arrive Home 950pm

Today I pulled the same trick, booked LAX-SFO and SDC to LAX-OAK at the ticket counter. Got bulkhead aisle as "A61", quite unbelievable!

Riding buses to school..


Dinner at H-mart San Jose Milpitas

15min bus ride to SJC

You might wonder when did I choose to fly out of SJC? Well, because of AS schedule change, that's the only flight I can take to get back to LA.

SJC terminal

Taking off from SJC

This is more like a sightseeing flight, watching west coast sunset before it goes completely dark.

Snack service, still grumpy AS hasn't brought apply juice back.

Approaching LAX

8/18/2022 Thursday LAX-SFO-LAX
AS3342 LAX-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS points
UA1200 SFO-LAX A319 $5.60+5000 AS miles (rebooked from AS3435 due to delay)

Leave home 425am
Car Parked 449am
Reach Airport 515am
Flight Departs 554am
Flight Arrives 720am
BART Departs 901am
BART Arrives 1016am
Arrive Class 1041am
Leave Class 318pm
BART Departs 328pm
BART Arrives 430pm
Flight Departs 623pm
Flight Arrives 755pm
Airport Landside 800pm
Reach Parking Lot 815pm
Arrive Home 920pm

Breakfast at AS LAX lounge, empty as usual


What is UA doing at SFO D gates??

Shortly after I exited BART at Downtown Berkeley, I received a notification that my AS3435 has been delayed by 52min. Although it's an award ticket, I decided to try my luck calling AS, and the agent was so nice and rebooked me on UA1200 as I requested. Y class. When I reached SFO on the way back, I noticed the 445pm SFO-LAX flight has been delayed to 605pm due to earlier security threat at SAN (the plane was coming from SAN), so I asked agent to add me on the standby list since I am holding a Y class ticket and will have higher priority. But unfortunately since it was a 027 Alaska ticket not 016 UA ticket, agent couldn't get the control even within T-24. Later on I realized AS3435 has been further delayed by almost 3hrs, so I'm glad I called AS beforehand.

So I boarded UA1200, Economy minus this time..

UA still offers sanitizing wipes, and it gives me alcohol overdose everytime!

I never get tired of watching LA sunset

If pineapple on a pizza is a crime, what about strawberry on a pizza? A felony? Sorry I have to try it just for the sake of curiosity. Spoiler: it's awful!
985X is offline  
Old Sep 5, 2022, 8:53 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: LAX
Programs: MVP100K, A-list, Marriott/IHG Plat, CHP525 Ticket Plat, CHP Solo Carpool 100K, Costco EXP, Tinder 1K
Posts: 821
August 2022

(August 2022 cont.)

8/19/2022 Friday LAX-SFO-LAX
WN2675 LAX-SFO B737 $32.22
WN2641 SFO-LAX B737 $41.22

Leave home 420am
Car Parked 446am
Reach Airport 501am
Flight Departs 556am
Flight Arrives 720am
BART Departs 743am
BART Arrives 1017am
Arrive Class 1032am
Leave Class 329pm
BART Departs 344pm
BART Arrives 430pm
Flight Departs 923pm
Flight Arrives 1040pm
Airport Landside 1049pm
Reach Parking Lot 1127pm
Arrive Home 1201am

This morning I tried to pull the same trick, but ticket counter told me co-terminal changes are not allowed, so I'm stuck on my original 6am LAX-SFO flight.

I like how LCCs make air travel more affordable..

Riding bus to school since I had some extra time, except that the bus stop is so hard to find, almost made you feel they designed it that way to discourage people from riding buses..

Yeah that's the bus stop..

Brunch in downtown SF

Shrimp and grits, very tasty

Dinner with friend in Union City to celebrate the end of my 2 week bootcamp classes which I commuted everyday. I was on the 935pm OAK-LAX flight, since there was minor delay, I called WN and made a SDC for the 905pm SFO-LAX flight, agent helped me grab the last seat.

San Mateo-Hayward Bridge

Why did I SDC to SFO-LAX? Well, the answer is obvious: salt&straw ice-cream!

Rushed to the gate moments before boarding, completely full flight today.

Luckily as "A61" I got exit row window.

Traffic on the 105 at 11pm on a Friday night? Who would've expected that!

Did I mention that friend made another shirt for me? This time it's WN. Love it!

8/22/2022 Monday LAX-SFO-LAX
WN2675 LAX-SFO B737 $35.22
UA1978 SFO-LAX B739 $18.60

Leave home 404am
Car Parked 428am
Reach Airport 441am
Flight Departs 554am
Flight Arrives 703am
BART Departs 727am
BART Arrives 837am
Arrive Class 900am
Leave Class 554pm
BART Departs 614pm
BART Arrives 732pm
Flight Departs 813pm
Flight Arrives 942pm
Airport Landside 949pm
Reach Parking Lot 1013pm
Arrive Home 1041pm

Still flying WN today, actually I was on the 745am LAX-OAK but I need to reach campus by 9am for our department orientation, the 5am and 6am LAX-OAK were both full, which was insane. Luckily a helpful agent rebooked me on the 6am LAX-SFO, taking the last seat.

Exit row again!


two AS jets with special livery at SFO

BART cancelled my train again.. What a surprise!

Back to school, back to school..

Reached campus right when the event started!

Never say no to feel lunch since I'm a broke college student again

Booked UA basic economy on the 1035pm flight to use my two $25 UA credit as IHG card holder, cleared standby for the 817pm UA1978.

No PTV but no complaints! And I got E+ for free!

Landing LAX, I always keep an eye on the traffic conditions on 110/710/105 and decide which one to use on the way back..

8/23/2022 Tuesday SNA-SFO-SNA
AS3450 SNA-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3319 SFO-SNA E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 850am
Car Parked 959am
Reach Airport 1002am
Flight Departs 1110am
Flight Arrives 1242pm
BART Departs 132pm
BART Arrives 240pm
Arrive Class 253pm
Leave Class 332pm
BART Departs 347pm
BART Arrives 636pm
Flight Departs 852pm
Flight Arrives 1015pm
Airport Landside 1018pm
Reach Parking Lot 1020pm
Arrive Home 1057pm

Today was rather a mistake, I decided to go to campus because of an 1hr orientation session which I thought would be useful.. What a disappointment.
Flying out of SNA, so I visited admirals club shortly before boarding.

I didn't get UG since this was a very last minute decision to go to campus, but I'm happy enough to enjoy premium class legroom.

Flying over Palo Alto

Photo shooting in SFO lounge?

Ginger beer as always!

You know school starts when the bus is full.

I didn't realize they have double decker in bay area too.

Since my return flight doesn't depart until 9pm and this event ended like 330pm, I decided to visit Japantown and have some ramen.


Riding 4X daily bus 398 to SFO to save money instead of taking BART..

Barbacoa at SFO lounge again!

AS3319 SFO-SNA back home

8/24/2022 Wednesday LAX-SFO/OAK-LAX
UA581 LAX-SFO A320 $18.60
WN651 OAK-LAX B737 $5.60+1361 WN points

Leave home 416am
Car Parked 441am
Reach Airport 500am
Flight Departs 551am
Flight Arrives 714am
BART Departs 814am
BART Arrives 935am
Arrive Class 950am
Leave Class 157pm
BART Departs 211pm
BART Arrives 307pm
Flight Departs 405pm
Flight Arrives 518pm
Airport Landside 521pm
Reach Parking Lot 557pm
Arrive Home 726pm

I decided to weigh myself before boarding, and let's see how much weight I would gain/lose by the time I graduate as the result of this crazy commute..

Flying UA feels like cheating on AS, but I need to use my $25 travel credit so..


Arriving SFO

Riding BART to school

First day of official instruction begins, the bus was packed, and it even skipped stops, leaving frustrated students stranded..

None of them got on the bus

Coming back, I made a SDC trying to catch the 355pm OAK-LAX flight since my class ended at 2pm.

Empty flight

Bulkhead aisle again. I love WN.

I don't like the traffic on 105 and costco gas line though..

8/26/2022 Friday LAX-SFO-LAX
AS3342 LAX-SFO E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles
AS3308 SFO-LAX E175 $48.60

Leave home 423am
Car Parked 449am
Reach Airport 514am
Flight Departs 555am
Flight Arrives 726am
BART Departs 817am
BART Arrives 929am
Arrive Class 939am
Leave Class 101pm
BART Departs 107pm
BART Arrives 328pm
Flight Departs 508pm
Flight Arrives 639pm
Airport Landside 645pm
Reach Parking Lot 705pm
Arrive Home 753pm

The renovated gate 64B at LAX T6 is almost ready

Some new chairs and tables at LAX AS lounge to increase capacity

Ginger beer at SFO as always

Friday 8am SFO traffic, so glad I don't have to deal with this

BART going full force on fare enforcement..

They even held the train for 5 minutes to check everyone's ticket, thankfully I wasn't late for class because of that.

Taking transbay bus on the way back when I heard there was a shooting in BART at Lake Merritt.

Honestly I am a bit tired of those offerings since I eat them around 3 times a week, but free food right

a busy Friday afternoon at SFO


New packaging for Peatos?!

LA wished me a happy weekend with this crazy Friday night traffic..

8/29/2022 Monday LAX-SFO-LAX
AS3342 LAX-SFO E175 $19.85
AS3435 SFO-LAX E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 422am
Car Parked 446am
Reach Airport 507am
Flight Departs 557am
Flight Arrives 739am
BART Departs 820am
BART Arrives 923am
Arrive Class 936am
Leave Class 330pm
BART Departs 344pm
BART Arrives 554pm
Flight Departs 614pm
Flight Arrives 740pm
Airport Landside 753pm
Reach Parking Lot 804pm
Arrive Home 904pm

LAX Shuttle G has some new buses, yet the frequency is still unreliable.

I'm a bit surprised the terminal was this empty, maybe summer peak travel has come to an end?

LAX departure board

Some quick breakfast at LAX AS lounge

I boarded a bit late and this happened, hello is anyone there?

I fell asleep right after seated. When I woke up during final approach into SFO, a chocolate bar was placed on my armrest. What a nice touch!

Flying back home on AS3435

U$C and DTLA

Accident on freeway, so it took me an hour driving back home.

8/31/2022 Wednesday LAX-OAK/SJC-LAX
WN1492 LAX-OAK B737 $5.60+1361 WN points
AS3463 SJC-LAX E175 $5.60+5000 AS miles

Leave home 420am
Car Parked 445am
Reach Airport 455am
Flight Departs 555am
Flight Arrives 716am
BART Departs 739am
BART Arrives 920am
Arrive Class 936am
Leave Class 407pm
BART Departs 423pm
BART Arrives 651pm
Flight Departs 720pm
Flight Arrives 845pm
Airport Landside 847pm
Reach Parking Lot 858pm
Arrive Home 929pm

Last commute of August, at this point I already get used to this lifestyle and it forced me to be more productive and efficient for coursework.
Flying WN to SFO, and made a SDC to OAK by calling reservation agent.

See! Even UA 1K flies WN since OAK is faster! But hey where is my AS 100K brag tag? It's almost like we exist undercover, DYKWIA?! /s

Exit row extra legroom

Watching sunrise on the ground reminds me of those redeye flights to Asia which we land around 5am in ICN/HND/TPE/HKG, who knows when I can fly to Asia and visit those places again..

Vietnamese pork with rice noodle, a quick dinner before going to SJC. This might be the last time flying out from SJC due to AS schedule. In September, AS will restore frequencies on the SFO-LAX route, so I will have 445pm, 7pm, 820pm, and 1030pm four flights to choose from.

A very cool bus stop

First class back home!

August 2022
16 trips to school, 32 flights (19 AS, 9 WN, 4 UA), used SDC 27 times.
BART: $138.80
Airport Parking: $102.00
Gas: $186.64
AS Wifi: $39.96
AS: $202.70 (after 20% off from gift cards) PLUS 80000 miles
WN: $229.02 PLUS 7260 points
UA: $42.80 PLUS 5500 miles

Excluding mileage value, cash total: $941.92
This is higher than expected due to WN A list challenge which require 6 revenue tickets and gas price remained high. In Sept, with 50% off on BART, most tickets booked using miles instead of revenue cash tickets, and only 3X weekly commute, the commute cost should drop significantly.

At this point I'm not sure if I am actually a full-time grad student or a full-time frequent flyer that goes to school as a part-time commitment, but so far I'm doing quite well and already made some new friends because everyone was intrigued by my epic commute story. With problem sets, group projects, and midterms approaching, I am confident that I will be able to handle them efficiently. Everyone thought I would've collapsed by the end of week 1 and started looking for housing near campus, but it's been a month and I am still kicking! Thank you for reading this long story for August and see you next month!
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Last edited by 985X; Oct 8, 2022 at 3:02 pm
985X is offline  
Old Sep 5, 2022, 9:53 pm
Join Date: Apr 2010
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I love this!
chica likes this.
theshaun is online now  
Old Sep 5, 2022, 10:39 pm
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Epic, really amazing!
chica likes this.
brandie is online now  
Old Sep 5, 2022, 10:43 pm
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Repooc17 is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 12:58 am
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Not sure whether you are crazy, brave or stupid flying to/from your Uni! LOL

I am surprised the folk in the lounge don't have a proper bowl for your soup given how regular you are!
nequine is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 6:40 am
Join Date: May 2018
Location: SJC
Posts: 64
Wonder if you could add SMF to your quiver, using the Capital Corridor train to connect between Sacto and Berkeley?
Velocipediste is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 7:25 am
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: BOS
Programs: DL, B6
Posts: 259
Outstanding. Two questions:

1. How do you keep the parking cost so low?
2. Assuming you already looked or the cost exceeded your use, but does BART have a commuter pass? I see you mentioned the 50% off rate for September which I assume factors in.

Good luck. I think you're the envy of many of us here.
GoBob is online now  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 8:41 am
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 1,321
Good luck. As much as you, and I, love flying, I think this is going to get old really fast.
RetiredATLATC is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by Velocipediste
Wonder if you could add SMF to your quiver, using the Capital Corridor train to connect between Sacto and Berkeley?
That's not practical. The train ride is over 1:30 plus transit time and cost to/from the train stations on both end, which is not insubstantial on the SMF end and while only a couple of miles on the Berkeley end, still requires a slow bus ride or a $$ Uber ride.

Originally Posted by GoBob
Outstanding. Two questions:

1. How do you keep the parking cost so low?
2. Assuming you already looked or the cost exceeded your use, but does BART have a commuter pass? I see you mentioned the 50% off rate for September which I assume factors in.

Good luck. I think you're the envy of many of us here.
BART has a limited discount for a $45 pass ($48 worth of rides, or something like that).

The OP isn't an envy of me I was one of the "you'll be flying WN" crowd!
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Eastbay1K is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 9:54 am
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This is generating some long dormant PTSD in me. Way back before you were born (maybe when your parents were still kids) for several months I commuted four days a week from my apartment in the San Francisco Mission District to downtown LA. At the time I worked for the federal government, and some genius determined it was cheaper to the government to have me (and a couple of others who I worked with) fly down to LAX in the mornings, use GSA motor pool cars (there was a depot out by Aviation Blvd.) to drive to downtown LA, then reverse the schlep after work, fly home, repeat, repeat. Evidently this was cheaper than the per diem for hotels, although it baffles me how this was the case, but at the time you could fly from SFO to LAX for something like $25, so maybe therein lay the math.

Trust me, the novelty wore off very quickly.

But bravo for the 21st century version of this weird lifestyle.
Gardyloo is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 11:29 am
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All I can say is I hope the OP's name isn't Mary, because I have no idea how that little lamb would follow Mary to school each day, being it against the rules and all.
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Eastbay1K is offline  
Old Sep 6, 2022, 2:20 pm
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: YYJ
Posts: 4,161
Basically five hours each way door to door. I imagine at least 2 of those hours can be used as productive time for studying.
Looks like you're taking advantage of the lounges for most of your daily meals. That saves some $$ that you may not have factored into your calculations.
Luckily no delays yet that have caused you to be late for class.
cedric is offline  

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