Looking back: 2018 by the numbers

My 2018 routes flown

Another year is done and I have another collection of random stats that explain a little about my crazy. I moved in 2018. It was incredibly annoying and stressful and also means I have a new home airport (really a few to choose from). It also mean more new routes for me to start flying than I previously would have considered. It also meant fewer total trips and miles than I’ve flown in prior years. Here’s how it breaks down.

My 2018 routes flown

The full map shows 165,367 miles across 76 segments. My average trip is long, it turns out. Those numbers were helped by DFW-SYD and PER-LHR, two of the ten longest flights currently operating. Add in a couple trips to Asia and the average skews pretty long in a hurry.

Lots of new routes around the world, and some amazing experiences to go with them.
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
As always, the TATL portion of my map is a mess. And these are just the new routes I flew!
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Fortunately a decent chunk of the time was in a big, comfy seat. But half of it was not. I spend a lot of time in economy class, even crossing oceans. But I did manage to spend more than 95% of my trips in a window seat. That’s a big win for me, regardless of class of service.

Breaking down the numbers for my 2018 travels
Breaking down the numbers for my 2018 travels

Of the 76 segments some 40 were on routes new to me at the time. Every year I think getting new routes will be harder and harder. Every year I manage to stay right around half my segments being new. Sure, I go out of my way to grab them when I can. But it is also a testament to the number of new routes airlines are constantly adding. This year was the first time in history more than 20,000 city pairs are served on a daily basis according to IATA.[new long routes tatl]

Some new short hops in Europe
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
New routes to me in the Americas, including an inaugural!
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
Even a few new ones for me in Asia
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

I flew to or from nine new to me airports through the year. One was an inaugural departure from Portsmouth, NH on Frontier. That’s the only inaugural I scored during the year. I had to pass on a couple others owing to schedule conflicts, a typhoon, or general lack of motivation to make it happen.

A handful of new-to-me airports in 2018
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Elite Status

With all that flying I must have a ton of points, right? Truth is I use points for a decent amount of my travels, but I still managed to earn elite status on three programs this year. One was United where my Million Miler lifetime status still holds. I also qualified as Executive Platinum on AA for the first time ever, mostly by accident. A few long-haul premium cabin fares on partners can do wonders for those earning rates. I also qualified for TrueBlue Mosaic again, this time thanks to the credit card spend method. I may have done better with some of that $50k in spend on other cards but the benefits of Mosaic are very real for me and the points generally work where I need them.


Like most years I pretty much ignored hotel status. Even with 119 nights away from home I didn’t bother to focus on a single brand for earning. And it worked out pretty well for me. That United Million Miler status gets me Marriott Gold (or Platinum, I guess, depending on the year) so I have something should I show up at one of their properties. And for the rest of my stays I generally just book the right priced room that gets me the benefits I need. My overall spend is generally lower that way than focusing on status, though I also really don’t care about room upgrades. I still use AirBnB a decent amount, 22 nights in 2018. I also managed to return to a property I’d stayed at previously. And I’m going back again in 2019. Finding the “right” place to stay can make any trip better.

What’s Next?

Looking ahead to 2019 I see a lot more of the same. And that’s a good thing. Running a consulting business in the travel industry means spending a lot of time in the travel industry and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I did 89,941 miles on 59 legs, so my average flight length was a lot shorter than yours. I only went to Asia once and still haven’t been in the southern hemisphere, so that rules out most of the long flights. I got MVP on Alaska because of business trips, which is kind of unfortunate because I have no current plans to fly Alaska at all this year.

    I log the lines but don’t look specifically for new ones. That said, I did AnchorageKodiak six times on two different carriers (don’t fly Ravn if there’s weather, but it’s interesting to fly out of a major airport without going through security); and LAX-Merced-Oakland was definitely an experience, there’s no cockpit door so you can look out the windshield and have a nice view of the runways. LCA-BEG is the most unexpected direct flight I took, and I got reamed by a large unspecified fee to check in at the airport.

    I did three <20h layover microtrips: in Iceland on the day they were playing in the world cup, which was an expensive and massively sleep depriving layover, in Helsinki where I failed to do anything at all other than sleep and ride the train, and El Salvador where I ubered from the airport about a third of the way across the country to visit their one UNESCO site and eat pupusas.

    How do you keep track of your flights, unique legs, etc? I have a google spreadsheet that I started as a forward-looking way of keeping track of travel plans on elaborate trips, but has become more of a backwards-looking record keeping.

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