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This California in December thing seems to be a trend now that NPS works for a silicon valley company. What that means is a week-long delay in the start of our annual no fly nöel thing.

So how did 2018 stack up? Well the tripometer was up year over year after many years. And most of the travel was international. This year we visited:

  • London (twice)
  • Inverness
  • Stuttgart
  • Neuremberg
  • Tokyo
  • Kyoto
  • Oslo
  • Sardegna
  • Malta

Lots of time outside the confines of the broken United States and its Orange Caligula of a “President.”

Here’s the graph.

The annual tripometer. Trips are up for NPS.

Because of all of the international travel, we had some interesting impact on loyalty programs. It’s not even clear we’ll make inner circle this year at Kimpton (horrors)!

Other than the “not really Virgin America” we have no loyalty anymore for any airlines. Treat them all the same and let the chips fall where they will. Use money to “upgrade” by starting out upgraded. My my how things have changed.

A direct comparison of international business class shows United has the best service. Here are two examples.
Delta
United

Anyway, time to stay home by the fire for a while.

No Fly Noël 2016: Kinda

December 3, 2016

Regular NPS readers and lurkers know all about “no fly July” and “no fly Noël.” The idea is simple. Stop. Rest. Think. Read. Get out of the hubbub of everyday modern life, sit by the fire, and exist.

This year’s No Fly Noël is much needed as 2016 was about the most stressful year on record for NPS in 17 years. It was a great year in the end, but boy are we glad it is over.

So, how did the year look? Kinda like this (according to the tripometer).

The 2016 NPS tripometer

The 2016 NPS tripometer

Travel according to the new regimen is trending nicely low. The goal for 2016 was 20 trips and we came in 15% high at 23. Well, almost. Looks like we have to throw off the chains of No Fly Noël and hit the road one more time in December to strategize with the corporate overlords. Or maybe that is overlord with the corporate strategists? Something like that anyway. Stay tuned for those data. (And make that 24 trips and a 20% overrun.)

In other news this year, the Elevate Gold status on Virgin America is a good thing. We switched the firehose from United to Virgin America in 2014 and there is no looking back. NPS likes main cabin select. NPS also likes using points to upgrade to Europe. How that will work going forward is a good question!

Fly too much?  Try Virgin America.

Fly too much? Try Virgin America.

Of course since NPS is based at Dulles, there is no avoiding United. Honestly, they did better this year. Flying United was not great, but it did not completely suck. So maybe the Smisek effect is finally washing out.

And then there is Kimpton which remains the NPS go to hotel chain of choice even after the disaster that is the San Francisco Kimpton property crater. Years ago we helped to start the Kimpton Intouch program (which is now the Kimpton Karma program). We do what we can to stay qualified without calling in air support from Mike Defrino. You go Kimpton!

Inner Circle?  Why yes, we'll have some

Inner Circle? Why yes, we’ll have some

And Now No Fly Nöel

December 18, 2015

True. We have not been on an airplane since November. But all these trips to Washington and Philly in cars are encroaching on our no travel respite.

Now it’s time to rest our bones beside the fire. Even if it is a really big fire and we’re dancing.

Solstice Fire 2014

Solstice Fire 2014

This year was the lightest travel year on record since 2002 with only 21 trips (not counting the last three!). Travel is becoming manageable, and that’s good.

Tripometer 2015

Tripometer 2015

Thanks for reading NPS! Salubrious solstice to all.

storm_mini1

After a salubrious summer respite from travel, it’s back on the road in a serious way come mid-September. This is good and it’s bad. Let me explain:

1. Washington, DC = GOOD because Kimpton (The Donovan)

2. Boston = BAD because United; GOOD because Kimpton (Hotel Marlowe)

3. Bloomington, Indiana = BAD because United; GOOD because Grant Street Inn

4. NY = BAD because United; GOOD because Kimpton (The Muse)

5. Chicago = BAD because United; GOOD because Kimpton (Palomar)

6. Palo Alto = GOOD because Virgin America; ??? because new hotel

7. Seattle = GOOD because Virgin America; GOOD because Kimpton (Alexis)

8. Pittsburgh = BAD because United; GOOD because Kimpton (Monaco)

9. Denver = BAD because United; ??? because new hotel

10. Las Vegas = BAD because United; BAD because Las Vegas just sucks

11. Hartford = BAD because United; ??? because new hotel

Anyway, we can conclude that flying United is unavoidable when you are stuck flying out of Dulles. Too bad United just sucks. At least the cross country flights are mostly with Virgin America!

We can further conclude that Kimpton is a fantastic hotel chain.

And finally we can conclude that Las Vegas is a living hell, equal parts Disney, porn, and Walmart shoppers.

At each destination, we’ll seek out great cocktails and fantastic food.

Follow along as we blog up the 11 trips. Should be fun.

Travel was thankfully almost reasonable this year, down to thirty trips off last year’s forty-two. (FWIW, we’ll shoot for 25 in 2015.) But we did do an out of character trip in December, delaying the start of no fly noël by a few days. We’ll make up for it somehow.

tripometer for 2014

tripometer for 2014

In 2014 we finally gave up completely on United airlines which topped its awful 2013 behavior with an even worse 2014. Bye bye United. You are too broken to pay money.

So lets sit by the fire and regain our sanity. Maybe with a Liberal or two. Then we’ll do it all again.

United Gold->Platinum Ripoff

February 10, 2014

This week, United sent me some dead tree mail “offering” a “limited-time opportunity to ensure Platinum status for 2014.” Seems that I only flew 68K miles on United, so I need 7000 more to make Platinum this year (what used to be 100K).

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 3.34.51 PM

Guess how much United wants to charge me for that? $1449.00

Wrong.

United, after 1.5M miles and ten years of 100K status, you have sealed your fate with this nonsense. I’m flying any other airline I can find this year. Too bad IAD is a United hub.

Jeff Smisek somehow managed to break the United loyalty program.

No fly Noel 2013

December 1, 2013

No question about it, 2013 was a rough year of travel. My plan to do around 30 trips turned into a complete FAIL with a 40% higher than planned 42 trips. Ouch.

In 2014 I am getting serious about travel reduction. My plan for next week is to create a centralized travel plan for 2014 WAY ahead of time and stick to it. You heard it here first—I am shooting for 20 trips max next year. Truncated air travel will be accompanied by revitalized business-related guest house usage at Coal Stove Sink. It’s better to have guests here at my house than it is to fly around too much. I guess that will mean fewer talks as well.

The 2014 Tripometer does not lie: TOO MUCH TRAVEL

The 2014 Tripometer does not lie: TOO MUCH TRAVEL

To add insult in injury in the too much travel department, United airlines continued to suck throughout 2013. I am not a fan of busses, and airplanes have become busses somehow. Just awful.

Even with all of those trips, I managed to accumulate only 68,691 miles on United which means my status is going to drop to Gold (where because of my lifetime 1,527,990 miles it will bottom out forever). United, I am done with you. (Hey Jeff Smisek, you suck so much you just lost a loyal customer.)

Fortunately I had much better luck with hotels. Kimpton rocks my little travel world. Hopefully I can keep that going in 2014.

For now, I look forward to resting my weary bones beside the fire during December. Much needed battery recharging begins now.