My 2017 Flights – 151 Flights And 410,221 Butt-in-Seat Miles

 

FlightMemory keeps track of my flights.  It is a website I came across a few years ago.  Enter the origin, destination, date, airline, flight number, class, and seat and the website records the data and calculates distance flown and flight time.  Unlike the mileage that airline frequent-flyer programs calculate, FlightMemory mileage is unaffected by the class of service flown.

The site also produces a map of the routes flown.

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My 2017 domestic routes
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And 2017 International routes.  Some domestic and international routes were flown multiple times.

FlightMemory calculated that my 2017 flights amounted to flight time of 1.13 months or  34 days or  815.19 hours.  That is obviously a lot of time in the air, and it excludes time at and travelling to/from airports.  My 2017 total is more than the 388,706 miles I flew in 2016 but less than my record of 445,235 miles flown in 2014.

Most Flown Airlines and Aircraft

I traveled the farthest on American Airlines (137,412 miles) and Delta Airlines (79,202  miles).  The next three were Cathay Pacific, KLM, and Japan Airlines.

The top five aircraft in descending order by total distance flown were 777-300ER, 747-400, 777-200, 787-9, and A321.  The A350-900 was in sixth place less than 200 miles behind the A321.  My favorite airplane was the 787-9 because of the 787’s high humidity, cabin pressurization, and especially the electronically dimmable windows.

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This ANA 787-9 even has one of these great windows in the bathroom. I like that.

The longest flights were on American Airlines, 8,119 miles between Dallas, TX and Hong Kong, SAR China.

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Delicious mid-flight snack on American Airlines 777-300ER business class HKG to DFW

The shortest flight was 83 miles on Aegean Airlines from Athens, to Mykonos, Greece.

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My lie-flat, economy exit-row seat on an Aegean A320-200.  It is amazing how often exit row seats go unclaimed on foreign airlines.

New Airlines, Aircraft and Products

In 2017, I flew several airlines for the first time, including Iberia Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, British Airways, South African Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Aegean.

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Iberia Airlines A340-600 flight from Madrid, Spain to Chicago,IL
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Singapore Airlines 777-200ER business class Bangkok, Thailand to Singapore

This seat is roomy and extremely comfortable and has tons of enclosed storage.  It felt like a first-class seat (review upcoming).

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Economy flight on a British Airways 747-400 from London, England to Bangalore, India.

I flew on South African Airways from Cape Town, South Africa to Hoedspruit, SA for an amazing safari in Kruger National Park and from Johannesburg, South Africa to Cape Town.

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South African Airways Express Dash 8 at Hoedspruit, South Africa
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South African Airways A320-200 on approach to Cape Town, South Africa
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Sausage and “baab” dinner in economy from JNB to CPT

I took advantage of an outstanding Hong Kong Airlines’ $311 round-trip, business-class fare from Hong Kong to Bangkok .  They were great flights at a great price.  I’d love to fly them again and also visit the new Club Bauhinia Lounge that opened later in 2017 at HKG.

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Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 business class

Aegean/Olympic Air was the shortest flight of the year, 83 miles, but still counts as a new airline flown.

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A320-200 from Athens to Mykonos, Greece

For a change of pace, I returned to Athens by ferry. 20180101_012631

New Products

Last year, I flew American Airlines Flagship first class on the 777-300 for the first time.

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The seat faces forward for takeoff and landing then swivels slightly to the ottoman or 90 degrees to the desk.  A desk and a seat that can face it directly is a great feature.

The service was very good although not as wonderful as service in first class on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Etihad, and Korean Air.  The seat is extremely comfortable.  It is not enclosed, but because there are only eight passengers in the cabin and very little aisle traffic, privacy was not an issue.

In 2017, Delta Airlines introduced one new aircraft and retired another.

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Delta’s new A350-900 at Tokyo, Japan (NRT)

The A350-900 replaced my beloved Delta 747-400s.

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A farewell to the 747 in the NRT Delta Sky Club

On October 30, 2017, Delta Airlines introduced its new A350-900 with Delta One suites and premium economy (Premium Select Delta calls it).  On October 31, I flew the first commercial flight of Delta A350-900 tail number N501DN.  The flight was from Detroit, MI to Tokyo, Japan.  The seat, service, amenities and even the color scheme in premium economy were impressive.  But I was a little disappointed that there was no discernable new-plane smell.

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Pre-departure sparkling wine, orange juice and water in Delta Premium Select.

Delta has led in configuring all of its wide-body aircraft with all-aisle-access, lie-flat seats in business class.  On the other hand, Delta has trailed many of its competitors in terms of installing state-of-the-art, business-class seats.  Seats in business class on Delta 777s and 767s and A330s lack storage, are tight fits, have boring cabin color schemes, and/or lack privacy.

With the A350-900, Delta addressed these issues with varying degrees of success.  Delta is the first U. S. carrier to offer a seat with a door in business class.  Delta calls it Delta One Suites.  I tried it.  Delta One Suites, A350-900 Tokyo, Japan to Detroit, MI.

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New Delta One Suite. The color scheme is a big improvement, and there is now some storage. The door adds little as far as privacy, and space for the feet in bed mode is still cramped.

A product that was new for me was the Japan Airlines Sky Suite. It was outstanding.  I flew it on a 787-9 from Tokyo, Japan to Boston, MA.

Last year was the first time I’d flown premium economy.  In addition to the Delta product, I flew premium economy on Air France from Houston, TX to Paris, France (CDG) and Cathay Pacific from New York, NY (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG).  (Both to be reviewed.)  The Delta premium economy experience was the best.

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Air France A330-200 premium economy seat
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Cathay Pacific 777-300ER premium economy seat

Farewell

As mentioned above, 2017 was the last year for the Delta 747s.  I was able to fly these birds last year from Seoul/Incheon, Republic of Korea (ICN) to Detroit and on a special mileage run with other 747 enthusiasts that Rene’s Points organized to Manila, Philippines (MNL)

Our group got a fantastic welcome and send off in Manila and at the delta Sky Club at NRT.  The only disappointment of the trip was wasting two Global Upgrade Certificates when the 767 flights to/from MNL cleared but the 747 flights to/from DTW did not.

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A late night welcome and escort for the group to the transit hotel at MNL.

The next morning MNL Delta reps gave us a nice send off with parting gifts.20171018_072347_resized

At Seoul/incheon (ICN), the pilots let me talk with them on the flight deck for a minute.

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747-400 at ICN

The upper deck on Delta’s 747-400 only had 14 business-class seats configured 1-1.  It was the best business-class cabin in the sky.  It’s sad to see them go.  Even worse, Delta cancelled its order for 787s.

Goals for 2018

In 2017, flying earned me top-tier status as an American Airlines Executive Platinum and a Delta Diamond thanks to Delta rollover Medallion Qualification Miles.  I also have Silver status on United Airlines by virtue of being Platinum in the Marriott Rewards frequent guest program.   In 2018, I want to again qualify for the same status spending as little as possible and use miles and points from credit cards and flying to experience premium cabin travel that I would never be able to afford to pay for.

U. S. carriers have made it harder to earn status by adding spend requirements.  To make Executive Platinum requires spending $12,000 (not counting taxes and government fees) in addition to flying 100,000 miles.  Delta Diamond requires $15,000 in similar spend in addition to flying 125,000 miles.  Delta waived the spend requirement for those who in a calendar year spent $25,000 on Delta American Express cards.  Making the $25K in spend was easy and .  For 2018, Delta upped the spend requirement to $250,000 per year!

Ain’t no way I’m going to spend $15,000 on Delta or put $250,000 in spend on a Delta credit card and spend $12,000 on American.  So for 2018 to qualify for Delta Diamond and American Executive Platinum I will rely on an opportunity in the fine print of the spend requirements.  When booking flights on partner airlines of American and Delta and crediting those flights to an American or Delta account, the amount of spend credited  is calculated as a percentage of the distance flown.  It is not the price paid for the ticket.

For example, I have booked a couple of long distance flights in business class on China Eastern Airlines, a Delta SkyTeam partner.  Each flight will cost just over $1,100 but will earn about $5,000 in Delta qualifying dollars.

2017 In a Nutshell 

2017 was a great year for flights, nights and sights.  I flew more than I expected to but experienced some new airlines and products and had great flights on familiar airlines, too.  Airlines, though, are making frequent flyer programs so complicated that I wonder if their appeal will diminish as customers are unable to get expected outcomes because of their lack of understanding of the best ways to earn and use miles and achieve elite status.

 

 

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