After a pretty miserable experience with United this year, after over 150,000 premier qualifying miles, I really didn’t see the need to continue getting frustrated with their operational and many other issues. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have decided to explore my options for domestic travel. I’m not sure if this will stick long term, but after a few trips, I wanted to report back.
I booked a trip with flights on both Delta and American. Admittedly, I didn’t give Delta a fair shot at this trial. But I have flown Delta domestically in the past on a pretty regular basis, so I know what the experience is like. I’m such a geek about miles/points, I just couldn’t justify crediting into SkyPesos. I have enough international travel for work, and I try to maximize award travel redemptions that I figured AAdvantage was my best alternative. The US Airways Preferred trial that now includes AA flights and reciprocity once programs merge in 2015 made the decision easy for me.
A New American
I had several business trips to the west coast planned before the end of the year, so I knew I would make a dent in requalification for the Preferred trial. Thanks to Mike’s encouragement, and my own desire to really explore my options, I am trying to credit 30,000 miles to get US Airways Chairman’s Preferred status through 2015 as well as AA Executive Platinum status in Q2 2015.
Enjoying some new (to me anyway) terminals while flying American
With lots of business travel and a new baby at home, I don’t really have time to mileage run, but somehow, some way I’ll really make an effort to get over the hump and get the miles to maximize this trial.
I’ve had all my flights on AA so far, and the experience has been mostly positive. I like the mainline flights from my home airport (Milwaukee). I also avoid O’Hare in most cases. The one trip where I used ORD, it was a Skywest flight which both left late, then had a tarmac delay. I know that dance from my many trips on United. I misconnected, which was annoying, but I had no issues getting a hotel and rebooked. I even managed to clear standby for an earlier flight the next day, so I had no issues getting to work on time. The only minor complaint about the service was the ticket agent told me the hotel he arranged for me was on O’Hare airport property. I knew that wasn’t the case, since it wasn’t the Hilton O’Hare…oh well.
As part of the Preferred trial, I instantly got US Silver status (Oneworld Ruby) for my $200 plus $15 in taxes. Basically I get Priority Access boarding, and access to Preferred seats at booking and Main Cabin Extra seats inside 24 hours. Without AA stickers, I won’t get upgraded. This is a little bit of an odd experience for me. I rarely haven’t flown without even a chance of an upgrade for a long time domestically. I’ve had a few relatively lightly loaded flights, especially on MD80s between Dallas and Milwaukee. I’ve even seen a few flights with open seats in First Class. As a United flyer, I’m used to full flights and long upgrade lists.
Assuming I get to Chairman’s Preferred status and then Executive Platinum, I’ll really have options next year. I’ll have 8 United GPUs to use, along with 10 upgrades on US/AA. It will be interesting, that’s for sure.
I guess I’m still evaluating my options. With Lifetime Gold status on United thanks to my Million Miler status, I am somewhat tempted to totally drop United, since I’ll at least have Gold status, but I’m not sure I can do it. With 8 GPUs to use in 2015, I definitely plan to use United for at least some flights, and even with my poor upgrade rate this year, I am frightened of the possibility to have 0 GPUs in 2016.
I never planned to totally abandon United in 2015, and I likely wont, but so far, American seems like a viable option. There have been issues, I’ve had irregular operations on 2/3 trips so far, but even as a low status passenger on an alliance partner, service recovery has been pretty good. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but even as a United 1K, getting rebooked could be difficult, and often meant middle seats. That is likely just the luck of the draw, but on my flights there have been at least a few open seats that have allowed for some flexibility.
We’ll see how it goes. But as much as I love travel, I’m not too upset that this week is my last business trip to the year. How about you? Planning any changes in 2015? Want to make some New Year’s resolutions a little early?