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The next weekend after my New York City trip, I decided to book one final mileage run in order to re-qualify for Star Alliance Gold. After the flights to NYC and back, I was left with ~90k status miles which meant I needed an additional ~10k to push me over the limit for Senator in Miles & More which requires 100k status miles in one year.
I figured the best way to earn those 10k miles would be to fly to a United hub city and back.. San Francisco was way too short from Seattle and wouldn’t have earned me enough miles, so I decided to check Houston… but the prices were astronomical and way too expensive for mileage run material… However ITA Matrix is super smart and when I typed in Houston and checked for cheap First Class fares, it actually routed me back to Seattle through San Antonio which saved me more than half of the cost of the mileage run. So United thought that my ‘destination’ was San Antonio and therefore the flight was much cheaper. So in the end the itinerary was SEA-IAH-SAT-IAH-SEA which earned me around ~16k status miles after you factor in the Class of Service bonus and Elite bonus. As you can see, the actual miles flown was much less than what I earned.
While the IAH-SAT-IAH flights were each just 191 miles, I actually earned 1.500 for each flight (the minimum miles credited) + 375 elite bonus… for a 191 mile flight!
I was scheduled to depart Seattle Saturday night and return Sunday afternoon. I made it to the airport around 19:00 and decided to have supper in the Alaska Airlines Board Room which (as of now) has much better food than the United Club. Other lounges that I had access to, The Club at SEA Concourse A and South Satellite were already closed so I was left with just two lounge choices.
After eating a nice warm soup and a salad, I thought I might have some salsa and a cookie afterwards. Along with that, the Alaska lounge has a Starbucks coffee machine and therefore I was able to enjoy some nice coffee… for free. I accessed the lounge using my Priority Pass card which came with my American Express Platinum Card.
I briefly chatted with the bartender as she made me a (non-alcoholic) drink about Alaska in general and she commented on how everyone at Alaska hates what Delta is doing in Seattle. She also informed me that even the Delta flyers do not like what Delta is doing in Seattle since they’ve lost some major benefits while travelling on Alaska. She also mentioned she goes to the MVP Gold 75K (Alaska’s top tier status) meetings and Alaska’s top members frequently request that Alaska drop partnership completely with Delta and that Alaska should join an alliance.
I would love to see Alaska join a major alliance as that would tremendously boost their traffic and then with the reciprocal alliance-wide elite benefits, I might actually fly with Alaska.. after all I do live in Seattle. My prediction is that within the next couple of years Alaska will drop Delta completely and join oneworld. Of course I would love for them to join Star Alliance but I highly doubt that will happen, Delta is in SkyTeam so that isn’t going to happen either, and oneworld is the only option for them.
After spending about an hour in the lounge, I figured it would be best if I showed up at my usual United Club and as usual, the staff recognised me right away and welcomed me back. Around 23:20 boarding began for the 23:45 flight to Houston, which was operated by a Sky Interior B737-900.
The First Class seats are comfortable enough to sleep in, just make sure you don’t get stuck in the last row as the seats don’t recline much. There was a blanket waiting for me at my seat.
I was surprised that many of the passengers in First Class didn’t board until the very last minute, presumably they were finishing up their drinks at the United Club.
I opted for some water as my pre-departure beverage and later had some tea and a snack.
I slept for most of the flight given that it was past midnight and woke up just as we touched down in Houston, I didn’t have a long connection therefore just went right to my gate for the flight to San Antonio which was operated by another 737, I’m kind of surprised they would even fly a 737 on such a short route.. There were 20 seats in First Class and about 8 were occupied and Economy wasn’t full at all.
The 737 that took me to San Antonio made a direct turn back to Houston. I happen to be on the next flight after that to Houston which was operated by a United Express CRJ700. I spent a few hours in the United Club at San Antonio and later flew back to Houston where I sampled the new United Club food.. which left me a bit disappointed. I mean overall it’s a great improvement.. just that the food isn’t that great as in other domestic lounges. But it is a step-up from other US airlines and I’m happy that United has finally refreshed the food.
I spent about two hours in the lounge in Houston before my final flight to Seattle which would push me over the edge for Star Alliance Gold. I was back in Seattle about 17 hours after I left my house the day before… oh mileage runs, I love them!
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