By the time you read this I’ll be somewhere in Tokyo, having arrived after an almost 14 hour long flight from Houston. But right now I’m somewhere over Denver having a ridiculously good time on my flight. I’ve been on the road since 11:30am EST on Friday, inside security since 6:45pm PST on Saturday and will arrive at around 3:45pm JST on Wednesday, approximately 76 hours after I entered the Seattle airport TSA screening on Saturday, having flown about 25,000 miles in that time. Naturally the question that arises from such a schedule is “Why?” or, possibly, “Why!?!?!”
There is one easy answer to the question: I’m crazy. Really, I am.
There are several more complicated answers that all come back to the above analysis. For starters, the trip was pretty cheap. Much like my week-long trip to Hong Kong last year for Chinese New Year, this one is being done very much on a budget. Thanks to a mistake by someone at Continental the airfare to Tokyo was ridiculously cheap. But that is only part of the equation.
Another part is that there are many miles to be had for such a crazy trip. I’m flying approximately 35,000 miles in a seven day span. Thanks to the nuance of the OnePass frequent flyer program, I’ll earn many more miles than that for this trip. At the end of the day I’ll accrue enough points for a trip to Europe, or half the points necessary for a trip to Europe in the big comfy seat up front. So a trip to Tokyo and a trip to Europe for less than a typical summer fare to Europe and way less than a typical fare to Japan. Not too shabby. But there’s more.
The fare to Tokyo wasn’t only underpriced; it was underpriced in a fare class that earns extra elite miles and that is cheap to upgrade. Continental was very early in the cash + miles approach to upgrades for their premium product, and that was enough to convince me that I would almost never actually upgrade a long-haul flight that I purchased with them. “Almost never” may actually be an understatement. This is only the second time I’ve even tried for such an upgrade. The last time was on a last minute work trip to London; this time it was only because the cash component was zero for the outbound (thanks, orphaned Delta SkyMiles) and only $100 for the return. At those prices, plus the miles, of course, it seemed very reasonable to try for the upgrades. And thanks to that “special” aspect of the mistake, I’m sitting in a BusinessFirst, enjoying the finest that Continetal has to offer. There’s one other guy on the flight who I know is on the same deal I’m on (I met up with him in Seattle last night). Other than us, my guess is that the average fare for folks sitting in this cabin is about a zero more. I love finding such deals.
It isn’t just about the seat. The meal service is really at least half of what I love about the BusinessFirst product. I know that it isn’t the best meal I’ve ever had (not even close). It isn’t even the best meal I’ve had in the air (I think that Air France beats Continental on food, hands down). But the overall experience, particularly for the price I’m paying, certainly is top notch. Sure, the flight attendant mistaking my request for a Grand Marnier for a Cognac was a mistake, but ending up with both of them on my tray to accompany the ice cream sundae certainly wasn’t that horrible a situation to find myself in.
None of this really answers the question “Why?” any better than my initial thought, that I’m crazy. But I’m having a great time doing it so far.
And now, off to nap time. After all, it is a very long flight, and the next meal is only a couple hours away.
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