Two Million Miler

Mtrainier2014I received a letter in the mail yesterday from an airline frequent flier program advising me that I have achieved “two million mile” status, or permanent Gold status, with that airline’s frequent flier program.

Hmmm… wasn’t expecting that. Nice perk, especially considering…

… all the wear and tear all of that travel did on my ol’ body.

Back in the day when I used to work for an large organization that had international reach, I would travel some 50,000 to 75,000 actual air miles each year. The vast majority of my travel was domestically within the United States, its territories and commonwealths. I was traveling some 35 to 40 weeks each year on an average of 70 trips. It was common to fly to California for an afternoon meeting, leave that evening to arrive in Washington (state) to conduct a two-day training, then fly from there to Kansas to speak at a conference, then fly home for the weekend.

That kind of travel was commonplace but also quite exhausting. Thankfully most of that travel occurred before September 11, 2001, when the U.S. (and world) airline and airport systems changed dramatically after the U.S. was attacked by hateful cowards. When I was traveling between 2002 and 2004, each experience was different; mostly annoying and always grueling.

These days, 13 years after the travel world changed, airline travel is mostly down to routine, but remains a tremendous hassle. Tight(er) security, fewer flights, cramped seating, no food (not even peanuts), fees for just breathing, baggage ransoms, higher fares… all of these things add up to making airline travel a challenge that I would really rather not have to do.

After I left that job with all the travel, I was relieved. I moved on to other positions where travel was not nearly as frequent — like one or two trips per year.

All the while, my preferred airline was counting up the actual air miles that I flew.

Yeah, I used several airlines in my travels, depending on which one would get me where I needed to be the quickest, most logically routed, economically, and with the least silliness. (For example, I won’t fly a certain low-cost airline due to its stupid boarding policy of having to contact them 24 hours in advance to request a certain boarding zone. That’s just dumb.)

In mid-November, I used my preferred airline to fly to Texas for a meeting. Apparently that trip was just enough to tip the “actual airline miles flown” meter over the 2,000,000 mark.

Does this new permanent Gold status do anything for me? Well, I can have reliable earlier boarding and also more often than not get “TSA Pre” on my ticket so I don’t have to go through the worst of the security screening where you almost have to strip naked and unpack your carry-on.

Do I miss traveling as much as I did?

No.

Sure, I miss seeing the sights and the people I met. I miss learning new things and appreciating what other communities have to offer. But I absolutely do not miss living out of a suitcase, or waking in the middle of the night in some strange hotel room wondering “where am I?”

My current job involves some travel, and the travel will be picking up more in 2015 than before. I already have four trips scheduled (NC, CA, OR, HI) between January and March. But I’m not looking to do more frequent travel. My January – March schedule is unusual. I look forward to remaining mostly at home, minding the store while The Boss does most of the travel. That’s fine; he can have it.

Life is short: appreciate what travel offers, but value your home more.