No Fly Nöel 2018

December 27, 2018

2018 was an interesting year for travel. We stayed close to our 20 trip goal (miraculous), but still managed to hit Argentina, Africa, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and Australia, not to mention a bunch of domestic travel. From the highest winery on the planet, to walking on the Serengeti. Pretty not bad.

Here is the trip-o-meter for 2018.

Because of all of the international flying, we racked up lots of United frequent flyer miles. It will be interesting to see how this goes in 2019 now that we are finished with the silicon valley corporation (whose travel policies, frankly, sucked). Our best bet is less Germany and more Europe this year, but we shall see. We may miss Nuremberg, but we won’t miss the reason for going there!

2018 was our first trip in international First class. Here is our report.

The United lifetime ticker stands at 1,736,206 miles. Yowza. Hopefully our 146,879 miles will keep us in Global Services next year.

Sadly, our love affair with Kimpton is over. Kimpton just became too IHG too fast to retain any loyalty. Oh well, we will miss our great industry friends who I am sure we’ll see from time to time.

Just remember the rule! NO PLASTIC SHOWERS!

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.

Back at The Donovan D.C.

December 9, 2015

No fly nöel is not all it’s cracked up to be this year. No airplanes is nice, but local meetings fill the agenda. After one whole week, we’re back in DC, this time at the Donovan. The Donovan is a Kimpton property run by GM Steph Vogel.

1010 at Night

1010 at Night

View from the Donovan

View from the Donovan

No time this trip meant showing up at midnight. Dang. After dinner at Tabard Inn and a nightcap of Japanese Hirsch 16 bourbon at Jack Rose, the water was pretty much essential.

Thank goodness for sparkling water

Thank goodness for sparkling water



Some of our favorite Kimpton things (thanks Steph): a glass shower, water, and power by the bed.



Five showerheads for the Donovan and a wish that this trip to DC were not quite so rushed.

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.

December Non-travel

December 11, 2013

I get to stay home! I’m not in NY today. Yippee.

It is cold outside. The animals are all in.

The red shed is ready for the solstice.  So is the moon.

The red shed is ready for the solstice. So is the moon.

And I am warming my bones beside the fire.

Home, home again. I like to be there when I can.
When I come in cold and tired, it’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.
Far away across the field, the tolling of the iron bell
calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spells.

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.

My latest United airlines experience leads me to believe that air travel has finally degenerated to bus service. I don’t do bus. Two long-ish hub to hub flights on United (IAD—ORD) were crowded, cramped, and involved mandatory ads displayed on a device you can’t turn off.

United DirecTV CRAP shows mandatory ads.

United DirecTV CRAP shows mandatory ads.

Oh I know all about getting the screen to sleep with the volume control button. But there are several ads that you are forced to watch. They have nothing to do with safety. That is just unacceptable.

How is it that United airlines can get DirecTV to work but can’t get Wifi installed? I guess unlike most Americans, I don’t like plastic showers or TV. Go figure. Maybe I am from the wrong social class.

Did you know that United pays Jeff Smisek almost $10 million per year? Imagine if United spent that money installing wifi on their planes instead.

And how is it that I can no longer be comfortable in economy plus on a United flight? Air travel used to be a bother. Now it is just like riding a bus. An overcrowded South American bus. What’s next, livestock? Worse actually. What’s next is cell phone yabber from sales droids.

Jeff Smisek has absolutely ruined United airlines. I think the time has come for me to drastically cut back on travel and to use another airline when I do fly. Any other airline.

After 1,524,754 miles on United, I am done.

All is not lost in 2013, however. This year I started using Uber. Uber is great. I’ve used it in NY, Boston, Washington, Amsterdam and Paris so far. There is no Uber in Des Moines.

Uber has a name that fits.

Uber has a name that fits.

Try it, you’ll love it. No more broken down crappy taxis driven by clueless drivers lacking communications skills.

Thank the gods that no fly noel is almost here.

No Fly Noel 2012

December 2, 2012

It’s December, and that’s a good thing. No fly noel begins on December 1st. A break from relentless travel is just what the doctor ordered. Well kinda. I am flying to New Orleans next weekend for a leukemia cup event since Team Tartan won the cup this year. It’s not work though, so it doesn’t count!

Travel was up one notch from last year, and that’s bad. I’m looking for another 10% reduction somehow. The Coal Stove Sink hack seems to have played up to its max (17 guests again this year) and no fly July and no fly Noel hold firm.

2012 Tripometer.  The data show that trips are up.  That is bad.

2012 Tripometer. The data show that trips are up. That is bad.

During 2012, I flew 100,323 miles (so far…one trip still to go, and two segments not yet recorded by United whose computer system is blazingly slow). Speaking of United, did I mention that UNITED AIRLINES SUCKS?! I meant to say that. 2012 was even worse that 2011. Astoundingly awful. Lets review:

  1. United off to a Pedantic 2012
  2. United Express Random Number Generation
  3. No Upgrade for You -or- United Sucks in 2012 Too
  4. United: Small Patch of Light Replaced by Darkness
  5. United Express: Mesa vs Shuttle America, Mesa Loses
  6. United Airlines Sucks in Advance
  7. How Does United Suck? Let us Count the Ways
  8. Frequent Travel is for the Birds: United Still Sucks
  9. United International Travel Not What it Used to Be
  10. A, O, Way to Go United
  11. United Sucks: One Third the Airline for the Same Full Price -or- All Your Regional Upgrade Certs Are Belong to Us
  12. United Regional Travel Woes
  13. How United Airlines Deals with Sandy
  14. United Airlines Still Sucks: Global Premiere Upgrade Useless Again
  15. United Airlines New Low: 2012 Service Sucks

Holy cow, 15 entries about why United blows chunks?! I guess 2012 was worse than I remembered. I really need to fly a different airline.

It should be very clear why no fly Noel is important. Must retain sanity and rest my weary bones beside the fire. Then I can do it all over again in 2013.

I love No Fly Noel almost as much as No Fly July. Solstice parties, sitting by the fire and guests in the guesthouse. It’s important to stop and think from time to time.

So, I must admit that it was with some reluctance that I got back on an airplane again yesterday for my first trip of 2012. I flew to SFO. In the good years, this was a route that United used 777s on. Now they fly mostly airbuses. With only 8 seats in First Class and no business class at all, the chances of an upgrade are definitely not so good. Being number one on the upgrade list is of no importance if the upgrade list is not accessed.

United A319 configuration. Good luck with that upgrade, bub.

Chances are much better on a 777-200 with three classes of service.

Anyway, economy plus on an airbus to SFO is like riding on a greyhound bus in the sky. I had a meal out of a box. We did arrive early, so that was good. But United is doing nothing to make me enjoy flying. Will 2012 be any better than 2011? We’ll have to wait and see…but so far the tea leaves are not aligning.

Why park your better planes in Arizona?