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The 47,000 mile pre-christmas mileage run (report)

The 47,000 mile pre-christmas mileage run (report)

 
Old Dec 10, 10, 10:46 pm
  #76  
 
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Originally Posted by Lady Mim View Post
It is not so easy to explain, but I will give you an example of what 1K does for you sometimes. A couple of years ago the whole family went to Germany for a lengthy visit. On our way back one of the bottles in our luggage broke and we missed our connection SFO to YYJ because we had to repack everything right there at the airport. Instead of booking us on the late flight to YVR and leave us stranded there, they actually paid for a hotel and dinner/breakfast in SFO for all of us and put us on the direct flight to YYJ the next day.

If you followed the Colonius' story so far: the upgrade to SYD did only happen because he was 1K, otherwise he might get only a voucher for $100 for the non working seat. Not to mention the unlimited domestic upgrades he got for his trip.

We are not based in the US either. We have been in Canada only for the last three years and have been flying UA for five years or so. Before that we were true and loyal to AA for 15 years, until their frequent flyer program began to seriously suck.. and then we lost the BA connection from our then home base Cologne.

It has nothing to do with superiority - as someone else mentioned. It actually saves money in the long run - especially if you do not have the funds to fly business or first all the time.
I completely understand about the savings part because I have been *G before and have had numerous perks similar to some of the ones you mention.

I guess where I am based I really plays a role, I don't get the same perks as you do in terms of the cpm and because I am based more than 10 hrs from the US regional upgrades are not as big a wow for me, as I don't go to the US that often.

Originally Posted by mjo768 View Post
Wow...and everyone I know is laughing at me for my 2 NYC-SIN runs and NYC-GRU and NYC-NRT short trips.

Wow.
I think it is about the people you know, if they understand and accept your views then they won't laugh at you.

I do abit of short travels too. 2 day 1 night 7 hours flights, but personally I won't do what OP did though I take my hats off to him for doing it!
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Old Dec 10, 10, 11:32 pm
  #77  
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The next installment...

First off, my apologies that it took so long for me to report back – but either my connections were too short or the internet less than stellar (flaky at SYD Koru Lounge, non at MEL RCC).

I am now sitting in the HNL RCC, with a bit less than four hours to kill. I have just completed the LAX-SYD-MEL-SYD-SFO-LAX-HNL portion of my mileage run, with only minor mishaps to report.

LAX to SYD: seat 6J felt like supreme luxury (OK, as long as I don't compare to F-class on LH, CX, BA, ...). The service on board was very good and attentive and there is really nothing more to report than UA's culinary quirks. In the unlikely event that the powers at UA read this: V-A-R-I-E-T-Y is missing from C and F menus. The choices for the entree were exactly the same as on my last C class flight to Munich:

Pan-seared salmon with roasted fingerling potatoes, green beans and carrots
Braised Beef short-rib with red wine demi-glace, potato pancakes and roasted root vegetables
Spinach lasagna rolls with “Rosetta Sauce”

I had no real desire to try fish on an airliner since viewing the original Airport movie as a kid, solidly reaffirmed lately by the super-strong Mahi-Mahi that stank up the F-cabin on my last flight to SFO.

My pasta, I do like “al dente”, while United prefers to serve theirs somewhere between mushy and a texture that could be filled into little squeeze tubes and sold as astronaut food without further processing. Also, I really didn't want to know what “Rosetta Sauce” is. Crushed Rosetta stone in gravy?

That only left the beef for me. I prefer a solid steak over the “ready to fall apart” slow cooked roast served here, but in all honesty, it was quite tasty – as was the espresso ice-cream truffle.

The appetizer was not aptly named – at least I find the “Vegetarian Spring Roll” thoroughly unappetizing. If you haven't enjoyed one yourself: all kinds of raw veggies, mostly bean sprouts, get rolled into a big, tough leaf of cabbage, with no seasoning whatsoever. The menu claims that there were noodles in there, too. The whole unbelievable bland affair is served slightly above freezing with some soy sauce on the side. If you want to recreate taste and texture: dip some raw bean sprouts in soy sauce, chill, eat.

After having quite a number of glasses of an acceptable Cabernet Sauvignon (the Cote du Rhone was not so acceptable), I dozed off to almost nine hours of solid sleep – which is proving to be a life saver on this mileage run. I have no clue about the mid-flight snack, I slept through it. Breakfast was a variety of the “Standard Domestic First Class Breakfast” mentioned earlier. Since this is international business class, United throws in some chives into the egg-like object. Overall, a very pleasant flight.

In SYD, I had little time. A quick trip to the Koru Club with a bit of better breakfast was just about all I had time for. Re-boarded for MEL, another uneventful, if bumpy, flight – with a jokester for a captain. After a bumpy climb-out out of SYD, he came onto the PA with the following, more or less verbatim: “That wasn't me. After our first officer managed to find every pocket of turbulence out of Sidney, we are expecting a smooth ride now. More or less. Give or take. If we can find the railroad tracks to Melbourne, we should be there in about an hour”. That was just a small sample. Funny for the average Flyer Talker, probably not so much for a new and anxious flyer. I enjoyed it simply for being different!

In MEL, I proceeded to the international transfer door, as described in various postings here on Flyertalk. As expected, nobody was there. I rang the intercom. Somebody came one and I told him that I had an international transfer. He told me that the other 13 people in my party were already being processed and why I was so late? I had no clue what he was talking about (unless there was a secret FT mileage run party ahead of me) and just went ahead to tell him that I was there now and that they should be so nice to accommodate me. He finally agreed to send somebody down to “process” me.

I always shudder at that ill-conceived usage of the word “process”. You process cheese, meat and liverwurst. To process something means that it is fundamentally not the same as before processing. While I can see that we are getting closer to this with passengers getting irradiated by Nudo-Scopes and a loving massage by the TSA (with optional rectal exam) to top off the experience, it is still an abysmal word to use for the security-screening of people.

The RCC in MEL is interesting, once you manage to find it with all the constructions sites in that airport. Small, crowded and with probably the only Nespresso coffee machine in the whole system. Which is evidenced by all the cups of hot water standing around the machine, produced by buffoons that don't insert a capsule in the machine as per the instructions. Buffoons like me... No internet here and no help from the lovely lady at the front desk in obtaining boarding passes back to HNL. A variety of food that one would wish for back in the domestic RCCs.

To obtain my boarding cards, I had to go to the gate, where a mostly useless gate agent was stumped by the fact that I could be in front of her desk without having seen a check-in desk land-side. I explained that I was on an immediate turn-around mileage run, but I could as well have explained the Software Development Life Cycle to her. Or why there are crazy guys that do mileage run. Heck, I could have recited medieval German poetry and might not have met with a similar expression of blank incomprehension.

She finally managed to print the Lufthansa connection information for my connection in MUC (on a different itinerary) and nothing else! How on the planet did she manage to do that, especially considering the fact that the trip to Germany is on a different itinerary?

She then called for help – and now two agents were looking at the PNR and their computer screens with incomprehension. Finally, they managed to get boarding cards all the way to HNL. I boarded and checked my ongoing boarding cards. With some roar of disgust that shocked the passengers around me, I discovered that they had given away my exit row seat (45H, a nice one) and put me in a middle seat in row 49. I talked with the purser about that problem and he escorted me back outside to talk with the agents. They were “very sorry” but could do nothing but promise to call Sydney and ask them to straighten this out.

At least the purser took pity on me and reseated me in business class for SYD – MEL. That or because they really wanted to push back and the business seats were closer than economy. I could practically feel the aircraft door clanging shut behind me...

An uneventful, luxurious flight to SYD followed, with the same, slightly off-colour PA announcements by the captain.

More about the segments SYD-SFO, SFO-LAX and LAX-HNL to follow shortly, featuring the exit row seat from hell, “unobtrusive” service and the iSamaritan. “i” stands for idiot, in this case....
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Old Dec 10, 10, 11:47 pm
  #78  
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Glad to hear that you've surfaced!

I always enjoy the look on the face of the GA when you appear and ask them to print the return BPs for your trip! Also glad to hear that MEL transfer worked out alright. It will be interesting to hear about your return! I can't imagine what a 14 hour flight would be like in a middle seat. Any idea why the GA changed your seat?

Thanks for the report! ^
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Old Dec 11, 10, 12:17 am
  #79  
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Originally Posted by FriendlySkies View Post
Glad to hear that you've surfaced!

I always enjoy the look on the face of the GA when you appear and ask them to print the return BPs for your trip! Also glad to hear that MEL transfer worked out alright. It will be interesting to hear about your return! I can't imagine what a 14 hour flight would be like in a middle seat. Any idea why the GA changed your seat?
I have no idea, it never changed from 45H in my reservation, so it must have been a change under airport control. At this point I assume that the GA at MEL just cluelessly hit the wrong button.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 2:46 am
  #80  
 
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Originally Posted by colonius View Post
I have no idea, it never changed from 45H in my reservation, so it must have been a change under airport control. At this point I assume that the GA at MEL just cluelessly hit the wrong button.
I am guessing it happened when they changed your itinerary/ticket from LAX-SFO-SYD-MEL-SYD-SFO... to
LAX-SYD-MEL-SYD-SFO...

It happened to me once on a change (at the gate) from
SNA-SFO-ORD-PHL to
SNA-ORD-PHL
My seat assignment for the follow-on segment was modified for un-known reason. I was lucky as I immediately checked my seat assignments at the UA (chicken) as soon as I landed at ORD and corrected it.

Just curious if you also get a new seat assignment for the follow-on flights, namely, SFO-LAX and LAX-HNL?

Stay awake and continue to enjoy your airplane food. You are more than half way home, I think. BTW, it doesn't sound like you were as drunk as eightblack.

Last edited by lax2010; Dec 11, 10 at 2:53 am
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Old Dec 11, 10, 3:07 am
  #81  
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With all the "adjustments", it will be interesting to see how many segments end up with a 150% EQM bonus! This might be the mileage run of the year It'll definitely hit your cents/EQM ratio.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 5:09 am
  #82  
 
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Originally Posted by mjo768 View Post
Wow...and everyone I know is laughing at me for my 2 NYC-SIN runs and NYC-GRU and NYC-NRT short trips.
Try explaining to folks you're headed to LA today...for 45 minutes...but will be back in time for dinner, and you live in DC
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Old Dec 11, 10, 4:50 pm
  #83  
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SYD to SFO in purgatory, if not hell

When I arrived in SYD, I went to the SFO departure gate and checked if they were aware of my situation with the lost/stolen seat 45H and they promised to work on it, as soon as the flight to SFO would be out of the way. I went to the Koru Club.

At the club I had some lunch. Do you know the difference between penne pasta and a paint roller? If you ever dropped a single penne noodle, drenchend in sauce, on your shirt, you know that there really isn't one. That stupid piece of pasta rolled down my shirt just like a paint roller and left behind a lovely pattern of tomato sauce. A true accomplishment to cause that many stains with just one tiny noodle.

Anyway, after my lunch I truly felt ready for a shower and change of clothes. Got my towel from the service desk and found a shower room. Somebody claimed that cold showers are good for your circulation. Air New Zealand seems to be a firm believer in that theory. In any case, the hottest that shower got was about 20° (Celsius of course, in Fahrenheit that would be an ice cube dispenser!), even setting the contols to more than 50°C. Let us say that my shower was quick and VERY refreshing!

While I showered, I heard a page for me on the PA system. Feeling refreshed, I walked up to the service desk (I never saw the famous Annie) and got my new boarding pass. 33C on a full flight. Well, what could I do? I went to the gate zoo (a full 747 crowds just about any gate) and boarded my exit row aisle seat, that came with a few extra features:

Rapid Lavatory Access – I almost sat inside the freaking loo.
Unlimited tap water at your seat (the aisle is so narrow that you can reach the water dispenser on the outside of the lav unit without straining yourself)
free unlimited chances to get to know every fellow passenger in coach (they congregate in front of your seat)
chance to chat with a FA with a warm and comforting “you are low life coach cattle and I will not linger here more than 10 minutes before and after takeoff” attitude (there are 2 jump seats across from row 33, more later)

Unfortunately, United filled that row with three big & tall guys: me, the idiot “Good Samaritan”, lets call him Mr. 33B (I get to that later) in the middle seat and another guy in the cramped window seat. Mr. 33B is a “long torso” person (I prefer the German term “Sitzriese” which has no translation in English that I know of). So while his legs seemed to be shorter than mine, seated he was almost a head taller than I and actually shadowed out the reading light for my seat! He was also quite wide (and I am not exactly small either). Sufficient to say, it was miserable seating for all three.

During taxi and take-off, two flight attendants that seemed to work business class were seated in the jump seats opposite row 33. They left shortly after take-off, with one of them making a remark that at least he would be spared the back of the bus for the next 12+ hours. I felt so appreciated.

Shortly after take-off, the guy in the window seat decamps and goes for greener pastures. After Mr. 33B realizes that, he moves into that window seat. Great, I think. A free middle seat, this could be bearable after all! I even offer to switch aisle for window halfway during the flight, to share the disadvantage he took on himself in order to free up that middle seat.

About five minutes later, some seat poacher comes from the back and actually has the chutzpah to request that middle seat in order to have more legroom for himself. It actually took me a moment to react and to come up with my standard reply (“Only a flight attendant can re-seat you into an exit row, you cannot be seated here without being briefed by a flight attendant”), so Mr. 33C beat me to it. He said: “You know, this is actually my seat, you cannot have that”. Good, I thought, he has that under control. About two seconds later, Mr. 33C earns the title of “Idiot Samaritan” by actually getting up, reseating himself in the middle seat and telling the poacher: but you can have the window seat, the guy who had that moved. ...! I couldn't believe it. Mr. 33C had just made sure that he and me would be miserable, just to accommodate a seat poacher. And what a miserable that flight became.

33C is across from the lavatories and everybody congregates in front of you, bumping your shoulder, stepping onto your toes, knocking askew your laptop, etc. Also, the fine fragrance from those lavatories: a mixture of chemicals that must be illegal in several dozen countries, traces of aged manure not completely removed from the septic tanks, fresher human discharge products and the occasional open-door diaper change.

Also, the service was extremely “unobtrusive”. All the time from take-off to the beginning of the breakfast service, a period of about 11 hours, there was a total of three full beverage services (yes, you could get something from the galley if you didn't let the closed curtain discourage you). Also, after about the first four or five flight hours, flight attendants even stopped checking seat belts when the fasten seat belts sign came on. Isn't that a violation of FAA rules? The friendliest term I can find for the service on that day would be “unobtrusive”.

To round out the experience, United reached a new low on economy class food.

Dinner: the universal choice of chicken or pasta

The tray contained one small dish of salad, two tiny pots of dressing, a roll, some brownish cake, utensils and your entree.

The chicken consisted of tiny pieces of mystery meat, arguably chicken, with a generous portion of cartilage thrown in. Disgusting. United, please explain to your catering service in Sydney that you should remove more from a chicken than the feathers before shredding it! The sides were some beans, carrots and potatoes. Everything was completely bland and utterly flavourless. After adding the Italian dressing to the salad, the resulting flavour can only be described as mouldy. The dessert was sticky, sweet and flavourless.

The snack: a roll with cheap, flavourless bologna.

The breakfast: flavourless potatoes topped with a flavourless yellow mess (supposedly scrambled eggs) accompanied by flavourless potatoes and a bland sausage link. Everything served slightly above freezing (no kidding). While they finally managed to get me a luke-warm breakfast, it still remained disgusting.

United: you seem to have serious catering issues out of SYD, please do something about it

After 13 hours in purgatory, I finally arrived in SFO and proceeded to customs. It took a while to explain to the officer that I am a German living in Canada, travelling to Australia for no reason at all (at least as far as he could understand it), than travelling to Honolulu just to go on to Germany. After checking the 50+ US entry stamps in my passport, checking my UA reservation print-outs and his computer screen, he gave me a long, suffering look that said: insane, most definitely. Harmless, most probably. Stamp, Stamp - “Save Voyage. NEEEXT!”.

More to come soon. I am writing this from the ORD RCC club, one hour before the last long flight to MUC. The fatigue is finally getting to me. ORD is a zoo, btw – at least half the flights face some kind of weather-related delay.

Last edited by iluv2fly; Dec 11, 10 at 5:47 pm Reason: language
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Old Dec 11, 10, 4:51 pm
  #84  
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Originally Posted by gof View Post
With all the "adjustments", it will be interesting to see how many segments end up with a 150% EQM bonus! This might be the mileage run of the year It'll definitely hit your cents/EQM ratio.
So far, they rebooked everything into the original fare classes and appropriate upgrade classes, so no extra EQM at this point
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Old Dec 11, 10, 5:02 pm
  #85  
 
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Ohh man, you are totally mad! I love the story! (Just so you know I got back the other day after my final flight to qualify for 1K...)

Originally Posted by colonius View Post
I had no real desire to try fish on an airliner since viewing the original Airport movie as a kid...
You mean "Airplane!" right?

The life of everyone on board depends upon just one thing: finding someone back there who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner.



Originally Posted by colonius View Post
Mr. 33C earns the title of “Idiot Samaritan” by actually getting up, reseating himself in the middle seat and telling the poacher: but you can have the window seat, the guy who had that moved.
That is hilarious - what in the world was he thinking?

Last edited by jmanca; Dec 11, 10 at 5:23 pm
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Old Dec 11, 10, 5:15 pm
  #86  
 
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Originally Posted by colonius View Post
Am I nuts? Certainly. Warm nuts, in little ceramic bowls...
I would call this "epic".
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Old Dec 11, 10, 7:27 pm
  #87  
 
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Great Post,

I hate exit rows as they become "meeting places" for passangers who hate sitting down in their "cells" like they were told to.....

My plan is to sleep, sleep some more and then nap,
but some want to party all the way to Europe and when they arrive at 8am German time are zombies for a day or 2.

I love a flight where I am asleep by take-off

Rally
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Old Dec 11, 10, 8:30 pm
  #88  
 
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Originally Posted by rally View Post

I love a flight where I am asleep by take-off

Rally
I'm with you there. I also enjoy waking up to the bump of wheels on tarmac at landing.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 8:32 pm
  #89  
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Originally Posted by MojaveFlyer View Post
I'm with you there. I also enjoy waking up to the bump of wheels on tarmac at landing.
+1

A recent SFO-ORD redeye, I fell asleep on take-off with Channel 9 playing. Woke up right as we were on final for ORD Moments like that!
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Old Dec 11, 10, 9:23 pm
  #90  
 
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More to come soon. I am writing this from the ORD RCC club, one hour before the last long flight to MUC. The fatigue is finally getting to me. ORD is a zoo, btw – at least half the flights face some kind of weather-related delay.[/QUOTE]

"""""""""""""""""

One cannot expect ORD to have the same weather conditions as HNL- especially in December.

I love your writing style and enjoyed your explanation of "Flying the Friendly Skies". Safe journeys.
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