When you are an "MVP Gold" member, Alaska Airlines allows you to change to an earlier/later flight with a confirmed seat at 10:00pm the day before your flight at no charge (subject to availability, of course). If you're not and MVP Gold member, you can still confirm an earlier/later flight but only six hours before and with a $25 fee...
Which means that even though I purchased a flight that got me home at midnight so I could save a chunk of money, I ended up switching to a flight that got me home at a much more decent 5:00pm instead... At no charge.
And my flights home were terrific too.
So happy Alaska Air is my local airline.
Sixteen years or so ago, when I really started traveling lots for work, I actually kind of enjoyed it. I was seeing new places... meeting new people... experiencing cool stuff... it was a whirlwind of wonderment that made life fresh and exciting.
After a few years the excitement wore off (as it was bound to do) and I had gone from "Yay! I get to go to Milwaukee!" to "Argh. Milwaukee AGAIN?" But I still enjoyed it. The more miles I traveled, the more perks I got as a frequent flier. Travel had become a chore, yes, but not a terrible one. I got bumped to first class most of the time. I had access to private airline lounges. I had premium support problems popped up. Free handjobs in the first class lavatory.* The list goes on and on. Unlike the horror story most people experience when traveling, mine was a fairytale.
For the most part.
I mean, yes, there were delays, lost luggage, missed connections, and spending hideous amounts of time away from family and friends, but it was mostly better than a poke in the eye.**
But then the perks started to fade away.
I can't pinpoint the exact time they began vanishing... I want to say five years ago... but I honestly don't know because it seems like forever.*** I can, however, tell you when they died out completely.
That would be today.*****
For me at least.
After Delta Airlines decided that the amount of time you spend in the air with them didn't mean shit compared to how much money you spend... my days were numbered. I always fly the cheapest fares I can find out of obligation (to my day job) or necessity (for my charity work) so my importance to Delta went from being huge to practically zero. It didn't help that Delta started screwing over their partner airlines by making it so that you earn way less miles (or nothing at all) for non-Delta flights.******
And that was just the beginning. It seemed like Delta was devaluing their frequent flier program more and more with each passing week. So I switched my mileage plan from Delta to Alaska Air at the beginning of the year. Meaning this is my final year as a Delta Platinum (and former Diamond) flyer. And given how expensive it is to fly Delta now... and how little I get in return... this will be my final trip with them as a willing participant. From now on I fly Delta only when it's my only option left.
Which means next time I need to go to Portland, Maine like today (a city that Alaska Airlines does not serve) I'll instead be flying to Boston, Massachusetts (a city they do serve) and taking a two hour drive up the coast. I may not have huge status with Alaska Air, but they seem to value the time I spend with them a bit more.
And so on.
Which will be fine... until Delta buys out their SkyTeam partner Alaska, which is obviously their goal. Delta is adding so many flights out of Seattle that pretty soon you'll be able to fly direct from Seattle to Peoria. It's their way of squeezing Alaska out of their very own hub city, and Delta is getting pretty ruthless about it.
Oh well. It will be good while it lasted.
Delta must think so too, because this was my upgrade status flying out of Seattle this morning...
Missed it by this much.
My thanks to the many, many, many Delta employees who took such excellent care of me all these years. You will be missed. Though I'll still see you from time to time. Alaska Airlines doesn't service Amsterdam, for example, so I'll probably see you again in the Spring.
When I'll be earning a pathetic 50% of miles flown now.
Damn. Shouldn't we have Star Trek transporters by now?
* I may be exaggerating about the free handjobs. But I did get warmed nuts and free alcohol, which is almost the same thing.
** Unless you're a person that likes getting poked in the eye, then it's better than a Justin Bieber CD.
*** Not literally forever. I'm trying to be illustrative here. More like the time it takes to get through the line at the DMV.****
**** Also forever.
***** Actually, it's probably more like next Thursday... I'm getting ahead of myself here.
****** Even when purchased through Delta! For my trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos last year, I flew Delta "SkyTeam" carrier Korean Air. At the time of my reservation, I was told I had to pay a higher fare in order to get any miles credited to my account. So I did. Then they changed their mind and said I'd be getting no miles at all. It took a month of arguing before they gave in, and even then they shamed me for making them do it... even though they made me pay extra for exactly this purpose.
Tuesday is the toughest day of the week for me. If anything is going to go wrong, today is the day.
In this case, it was having a pile of work left over from Monday while I'm having to reschedule three flights. Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the heinous change-fees that airlines like to charge now. I had to pay anywhere from $125 to $200... plus the change in airfare. Which always seems to increase, by the way. Kind of crazy how having your plans change can be so absurdly costly.
Just one more reason I frickin' loathe to fly any more. Even if you manage to get a decent fare, you still end up screwed if something comes up. And when you fly dozens of times a year, stuff is gonna come up.
It's not like I need to pay rent. Or eat. Or buy toilet paper.
Good thing I gave up taking a shit for Lent.
Every time there's a mishap, problem, disaster, or close-call with a flight, I'm inevitably asked something along the lines of "You fly a lot... don't you worry about this happening to you?"
To which I always answer "No. Not even a little bit."
And every time I say it, I realize that people must think I'm lying... or dismissing them... or saying whatever I have to say to convince myself that I'm invincible. But I'm really not. And this is why...
That's a FlightRadar24 map of all the commercial planes in the air right now. Thousands of them. And here's a close-up look at what's flying over the mainland US alone...
That's pretty much going on all day long, though things shift a bit as some parts of the world go to sleep and other parts wake up. With this kind of traffic in the air 24/7, it's easy to see how flying truly IS one of the safest activities you can do. My drive to the airport is a far, far more dangerous journey than my upcoming flight to Europe.
And so no, I don't worry about flying.
Not even a little bit.
If it happens, it happens. But the odds are so mind-bogglingly low that it's just not worth fretting over.
Getting trapped in a middle-seat between a smelly person and a crying baby however?
My deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370.
The flight home from Los Angeles yesterday was awful.
I know I say that a lot, but usually I'm exaggerating. A little. This time I am not exaggerating at all. The sights. The sounds. THE SMELLS! Not to mention the crazy-ass bitch next to me who did not comprehend the concept of "personal space." It all added up to an epic disaster in travel history that I'm trying to forget.
Until I realize that things could always have been worse.
Which is why I simply MUST get my new airline started. It's the only way I can guarantee that all my flight experiences will be pleasant ones...
Except starting up an airline would require billions of dollars.
I don't have billions of dollars.
Which means I've had to go this route instead...
It's almost as good.
Assuming I only want to travel from one side of my living room to the other.
Which means I've had to come up with alternate travel plans for my flight to Florida tomorrow.
Darn it anyway.