Mileage Plus Retirement
This past week, somewhere over Da Nang, Vietnam ("The Nang!"), I rolled my United Airlines odometer by flying past the 1,000,000th mile. No credit card points, chocolate pudding, or codeshares here: This is 1 million actual flight miles on actual United-operated equipment, rapidly-deteriorating travel experiences and all. (Around the FlyerTalk forums this is referred to as BIS, or Butt-In-Seat, miles.)
Since most of the miles were accrued SFO-NRT (5124 miles), that works out to about (1000000/5124 miles * 9.5 hours per flight / 24 hours per day =) 77.25 days spent inside an airplane, most of it in Economy, over the last 20 or so years I've been signed up with Mileage Plus. Numbing. Brings shudders. But you know, slightly more bearable than earning with, say, SFO-SEA hops.
While others have reported a lackluster passing of this milestone, mine went pretty well -- since none of their systems talk to each other, though, I had to self-identify the occasion to the flight crew. No one sang, but everyone thought it pretty cool in a bemused "Oh, you're one of *those* people" way:
Hats off to Captain Mayer for finding the exact spot on the flight chart, which I got to take home!
For all this I'll now receive:
* Premier Executive status for life (big plus being reciprocal privileges on Star Alliance)
* 2 regional upgrades at the end of every year
* 3 systemwide upgrades on a one-time basis
It's a pretty dubious achievement, sadly, since it appears quite clear that I will outlive the airline.
I also learned that Singapore and Bangkok crew bases are being closed in October 2008. Yup, union contracts stipulate that the least-paid, hardest-working cabin crews get terminated first. This is a really screwed-up business.
But in the meantime, I'm now officially a liability to the company! Everyone fly United! Pay those fees!
And now, excuse me while I join the apparent bank run now in progress over accrued miles.