I’ve spent the last week in Dublin for a work trip. My employer is going through some transitions following a merger. The merger has led to much uncertainty, but maybe things are becoming more clear at least for me personally. It looks like my business travel patterns will be changing a bit, with likely much more international travel. This is something that I used to do, but for the last several years, most of my work travel has been in North America.
It was pretty neat to arrive in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day
Something I’ve discussed here and one of my short term goals is to get to Million Miler status in United Mileage Plus. I started 2014 at about 910,000 lifetime miles, and I hoped to cross over both the Million Miler and 1K thresholds by the end of 2014. My travel up to this point in 2014 has been rather slow, so I was starting to get nervous about reaching either goal. It hasn’t been easy to stick with United for the last few years, and I have told myself that once I hit MM, I would re-evaluate.
Things can quickly change. As recently as a week ago, I was looking for mileage run deals, and in fact a few weeks ago flew a Transcon mileage run. Now that it looks like I should easily have enough flying this year to easily reach these goals. This arbitrary goal seems kind of strange, but after all these years, it will be nice to have status without the stress of requalifying. That is until Mileage Plus and even more the Million Miler program is devaluated again.
Sunset in the Dublin Docklands
Having just returned from this trip to Ireland flown in Economy, it certainly contributed to a new perspective that I have on travel. Many of my trip reports on this site are about my award travel, which is usually in premium cabins. It is getting more difficult to do this all the time with award devaluations, but it still something that I hope to be able to continue to enjoy. I flew both Trans-Atlantic legs on this flight in economy even though fare classes were high enough that I could have used a Global Premier Upgrade (SWU). I haven’t used a SWU for my own travel for several years because all of my paid travel was domestic or not on United. One longhaul United trip I took last year was too cheap to be upgrade eligible My company does not pay for business class travel in most cases, so with what appears to be a lot of long flights coming, I need to be pretty selective about when to use these upgrades.
I used to be of the mindset that any longhaul flight that I took, I would strive to be in a premium cabin. Since I typically have a lot of miles to use, most long haul travel was award tickets, it wasn’t terribly difficult to do. Last year, I took a mileage run to Hong Kong to bump me over the 1K threshold which was the first transcontinental flight I took in economy in some time. Last week I flew from Newark to Dublin then Frankfurt to Chicago in United Economy Plus. I have another longhaul trip in a few weeks (personal trip on the 787) where I confirmed upgrades both ways at booking, so I only have 4 GPUs remaining, at least until I requalify.
This is me after a longhaul flight in economy. Maybe I should reconsider using GPUs…yikes
While flying Economy on longhaul flights isn’t particularly comfortable, it is not too bad. Most passengers do it. Europe flights are the most difficult for me due to the relatively short flight and the early morning arrival, meaning a whole day to stay awake and adjust to the new time zones. I expect more longhaul economy flights in my future, but certainly I’ll do my best to maximize the remaining United GPUs that I have. I’ll certainly report here on my experiences.
I’m pretty tall, so Economy Plus is certainly a saving grace, and I’ve been lucky to have open middle seats on several recent longhaul flights, which is a huge help. I’m also blessed/cursed with the ability to sleep most anywhere, which helps me sleep even in an airplane seat and to beat jet lag pretty quickly. How do you cope with longhaul flights in economy?