The two millionth mile…

Aircraft - Reduced

So for some reason, September 11 to flying is what some people think of as the 13th floor in hotels. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as changing the number on the elevator button and pretending that it doesn’t exist. Dates that live in infamy definitely do LIVE in infamy. You can’t just take them off the calendar because eventually, it will screw up the seasons. Heck, that’s why we have Leap Year.

Fortunately, I’m not superstitious and so while perusing ways to keep my elite card a couple of months back, I noticed that I could do a trip to Fort Lauderdale and back in the same day for $240. Netting out the value of the miles, that’s really only around $172, which would put me over the top for another year, giving me access to better seat selection, first crack at the overhead bins and no bag fees until at least March 2011. Free is nice, but really cheap is the next best thing – especially if it helps keep other free things coming.

Sure, all of this might seem a little goofy to people who don’t play the game, but I do. Completing the trip also meant bagging my two millionth frequent flyer mile from Northwest since 1997 and I’ve had a lot of fun with all of those. The other thing about it is that when I became a travel maggot some years back, I learned that there is a parallel universe in which experienced road warriors travel. There is a reason you don’t see them in the gate area until shortly before the flight or paying for high-priced, mediocre drinks in the bar. They are in comfy lounges with snacks, bars, free Wi-Fi and oversized televisions with cushy chairs. The road warriors also get shorter security lines and often get upgraded to first class.  While I don’t really travel enough to justify the club membership rates anymore, I still have a card that is good for another year from the time when I did.

So I hopped on board at CWA for my first leg to Detroit, snoozing through the SAAB flight and comfortable in the knowledge that the Detroit-Fort Lauderdale leg would be in first class, which would mean a bigger seat, free lunch and cocktails. This is not hard duty. The weather was nice in Florida – about the same as it was here in Wausau this weekend. With the upgrade gods smiling on me, I picked up seat 1A for the flight back to Minneapolis. A moment of silence was marked in the Fort Lauderdale airport to mark the eighth anniversary of 9-11. Thai chicken salad, some Chardonnay and another nap later, we were landing in the Twin Cities. It was a quick connection there and I was home in Wausau before 9 p.m.

If all of this seems nuts to you, then I’m guessing you stopped reading by now. If it sounds mildly interesting, you are not alone. There is a website dedicated to travel spiff lunatics: www.flyertalk.com. There, you will learn all you need to know about frequent flyer miles, hotel points, elite status and anything else related to getting more for less with travel. It may not make sense to anyone else, but it will be abundantly clear to you when you’re flying home from Europe on another trip that you got by knowing the game.

JR

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