It all started when there was a mistake loaded in the routing rules for Continental flights between the two cities. Most fares are limited to non-stop flights only or just a couple connections in a specific sequence. This particular fare, however, had pretty much no rules. If you could dream it – and if you could get a booking engine to process it – then you could connect pretty much anywhere in the Americas en route between the two cities. It was, in Mileage Run terms, a gold mine, particularly given that multi-stop routings are harder and harder to find.
Connections in Bogota, Panama City, Panama and Florida worked. So did connections in Hawaii. And that is how I find myself passing over the Golden Gate Bridge, headed westbound to Honolulu, on my way to Seattle. Some folks managed to be even more creative than I was, with multiple trips between the mainland and Hawaii on the same ticket. Me? I’m settling for a six-segment routing that covers Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Illinois.
The look on the ticket agent’s face when I asked her to print my boarding passes was fantastic. As she traced my itinerary segment-by-segment and counted off the connecting cities, each more the wrong direction than the next, the confusion changed to shock and then disbelief. The part where she called me crazy was pretty entertaining, too. And the fact that she’s not wrong doesn’t hurt the situation.
All told, I’m flying somewhere around 12,000 miles instead of the normal ~2,400 miles to get there. Definitely not normal, but for the price it is hard to beat. Most the segments got upgraded and I’ve got power at my seat so I’m getting some work done and relaxing. A friendly group of flight attendants, one of whom recently celebrated her 40th anniversary with the company and who is still hustling up and down the aisles, certainly helps the time pass quickly as well.
Six hours down, thirty to go, and the trip is great so far. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow after a few more hours inside the aluminum tube.
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