Sunday, December 17, 2000

Frequent Flier

I have achieved my goal -- I am now a frequent flier. The results won't be official, I suppose, until the United Airlines version of the Electoral College convenes at year's end. But with the flight to San Diego, I will have accumulated in excess of 21,000 flying miles for the year 2000. I actually have flown more than that -- the real total probably exceeds 35K. But some of those miles were on other airlines or went uncredited due to various incompetences.

After a flying lifetime of spreading my flights across many different airlines -- I currently maintain memberships in four different frequent flier programs, I decided it was time to settle down with one airline. When I found myself flying to Belgium this past May on United, I had my airline.

My original goal was to hit 25K -- the level needed for Premier status. Unfortunately, even with the return flight from San Diego, I will only find myself with 24,551 credited flight miles. Fortunately, United has had much labor strife this year. Fortunately, because the strife has caused UAL to kiss some serious passenger behind in order to keep its customers. For example, by lowering the Premier thershhold to 21K. Victory!

So to what can I look forward as a certified member of the jet set next year? I get to skip the long check-in lines and use the Premier check-in. I get to "pre-board" the aircraft and put all my stuff in the overhead compartment before the rest of you unfortunates get on. I get to sit in "Economy Plus" with its 5 extra inches of legroom. (This alone makes all my struggles worthwhile.) And I get upgrade coupons, which will work out to an upgrade to Business or First Class on roughly every fifth flight.

I can't complain too much about my penultimate flight as a non-privileged traveler. The flight was less than 2/3 full (pre-Christmas doldrums?), and I got a row of three seats to myself. (Talk about legroom.)

Still, I can't help but think it would have been just a teensy bit better as a Premier member. I'll let you know next year.

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