Now comes the most depressing time of the year – when all your EQM totals roll back to zero!  So toast a glass to all the miles and points you accumulated during 2012 and get ready to do the ritual all over again.  To help you out, I have compiled a list of my top ten tips for achieving the status that you desire (or have thrust upon you if you are forced to travel the miles like I do).   These go in to some detail so I will list five now and the remaining five next week.  Feel free to ask for more details as I really could write a page on each one of these subjects.

1.  Plan your year.  Don’t be one of the many who are scrambling next December because they just realized that they need 2,500 miles to make Unobtainium Level on their favorite airline.  Make a simple spreadsheet which lists all your known or probable trips
by month.  If you fly on multiple alliances, total them in separate columns. Now see where you come out on your total for 2013 and decide what level of elite flyer is attainable for you. Now you can judge if you need to reroute a specific trip to get a few
more miles or need to fly a 10,000 mile mileage run to reach your desired level.

2.  Use your redeemable miles wisely.  Award tickets are one of the key benefits to being a FF and spending all those hours on a plane.  There are some that advocate using (burning) your miles as quickly as you earn them so they are not devalued by a future
increase in award redemption requirements in the future.  I say use them, but keep in mind that you are giving up earning EQM when taking an award flight.  A better use may be to pay for your own ticket, but use award miles for your spouse, child, or battle buddy when flying a trip together.

3.  Don’t forget the credit card benefits.  A lot of people focus on the initial bonus miles that CC companies dangle out there to get you to initially sign on, but there are many CC benefits that can help you in other ways.  For example, my Chase Mileage Plus Signature Card gives me 5,000 EQM once I have spent $35k in the year.  As far as I am concerned, the best CC deal out there is the BoA Alaska Airlines VISA Signature.  For a $75 annual fee, you get a companion ticket for $99 anywhere AS flies.  You don’t need AS miles?  No problem – get the card, fly AS with your spouse/ buddy, and credit all the miles to DL or AA.  Friends of mine team up every year to get cheap mileage runs by splitting the cost of flying back and forth a couple of times across the country for half price.  Not hard to get 15-20k EQM out of this.  You can even stop for a mini-vacation at a couple of locations.  Here is a link to Lucky’s One Mile at a Time Blog where he discusses a long list of credit card offers out there.

4.  Keep an emergency supply of miles.  While ticket prices go up the closer to the flying date, the miles required for an anytime award ticket remains constant.  We have all experienced a time, such as a death in the family, which we need to travel at the last minute.  BTW, good luck with “bereavement fares”, those are almost never a good deal.  So keeping 50-100k in miles in your account may save you a lot of money when something last-minute comes up.  This strategy also works well if you are flying Space-A and can’t get a hop back home.

5.  Shoot for early status.  Racking up a bunch of miles early in the year can get you a great start on your earning year and get you some status early to increase your earning amounts later in the year.  For example, let’s say you are starting as no
status at the beginning of the year, by getting Silver in Feb. will get you the 25% bonus RDM in most programs for the rest of your earnings that year and next.  Early status will also increase your chances of a free upgrade on the rest of your flights that year.

So digest those tips for now and I’ll have the rest next week.

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

How was the year 2012 for you?  It worked out well for me as my daughter graduated from Johns-Hopkins, I assumed Brigade Command and published an article in Parameters, the Army War College  Journal, and my readership increased from two to three (jk).  Perhaps more to the point of this blog, I acheived my goals for frequent flying this year.  Here is how I did this year:

United (Mileage Plus) – Goal: 100,000 miles, Actual: 134,292 EQM

Alaska (Mileage Plan) – Goal: 50,000 miles, Actual: 51,822 EQM (over half were on AA or DL)

So I requalified for 1K on United and reaped 6 GPUs(International Upgrades) and 6 RPUs (Domestic Upgrades).

On Alaska, I requalified for MVP Gold which gives me a good chance at upgrades, but more importantly lets me make changes to a reservation without charge.  I love this benefit because I can go ahead and book on Alaska whenever I see a good deal knowing that I can get a zero-cost refund whenever I want.

And of course, I continue to collect more miles than I have time to use…

Some questions that I would like my readers to respond to are:

So were what were your goals?

Did you make them or not?

Were the benefits worth it?

What are you going to try for in 2013?

Good luck with those goals and next time I will explain my strategies for acheiving those goals in my next post.



Posted by glenn | 5 Comments

Well as simple as anything in the military is…  As long as you know the rules, you can profit from them, but if you are not aware of them, you will certainly be disappointed in the results.

You may think it is sacreligious for a frequent flyer to advocate using Space A travel, but it does have its uses – such as being almost free to use.  It is a great service to use if you are young and don’t have much money or you are retired and have more time than money.  I remember using it on my honeymoon to travel all over Europe.  We flew from Travis AFB (I was stationed at Ft. Ord at the time) taking two days to finally reach Frankfurt. we spent a few days each at Frankfurt, Naples, and Mildenhall using them as bases to take day trips to various adventures along the Rhine or to Pompei.  We did run intl the main problem when you take Space A.  That being that we ended up only able to get a hop from Mildenhall to South Carolina and couldn’t get out of there back to California, so we ended up buying commercial tickets to get home befofre my leave was up.

For those of you who are adventurous, the official Space A site is here.  However, there is a great site that simplifies everything.  Created by and called John D.’s Military Space-A Travel Pages, this boils everything you need to know down to an easy to follow dialogue including typical routes and phone numbers to call.  Here are some common things John lists to increase your chances of success in getting the flight you want.


  • number of flights to your destination
  • number of Space-A seats on those flights
  • number of people ahead of you trying for the flight
  • number of seats you need (1 is better than 6!)
  • seniority of your signup date in your particular category
  • time of year (summer and non-school periods are the worst)
  • amount of time you’re prepared to tolerate (i.e. burning leave) waiting for a flight in the terminal (and not at Burger King!)
  • amount of legs (different flights) you’re willing to take to get from A to B
  • type of aircraft you’re willing to fly on
  • weight of your baggage (under 30lbs enables you to compete for more types of aircraft)
  • your willingness to take a flight to a less popular location e.g. McConnell versus Dover

Your chances will improve the more you know the rules, methods and timing of sign-up, perseverance, patience and timing or travel.

So good luck and good hunting to those of you out there who want to try this great military benefit.

Posted by glenn | 7 Comments

Last post I talked about finding and flying the dreaded end of year mileage runs.  These tend to be stressful as you are worried about not making status, there is little time along with everything else for the holidays, etc.  On the otehr hand are mileage runs done at the beginning of the year.  These are much more pleasant as you can pick and chose at a time when few people are traveling.  After the holiday rush, few people want to fly and that’s why all the airlines offer their best deals from about 5 Jan through mid-March before Spring Break starts.

Last year, the wife and I found a $390 fare from HNL-LAX-IAH-BZE (Belize) that started us with 10,000 EQM for the year.  This is not that hard to find.  As I related in my last post, you can go to Flyertalk or Milepoint Mileage Run pages.  However, something that I like to do is simply go to your favorite airlines reservation page and do a flexible time search for some exotic desitinations that interest you.  Here is a sample below from Alaska Airlines, but most airlines will have something similar.

I plugged in two random dates, but now we can see when all the low fares are to be had.  It’s unfortunate that the really low fares are during the week, but maybe we can use part of that.  Say you decide that a weekend in HNL sounds good in order to get away from all that rain in California.  Fly out on Sat., 26 Jan and back on Monday, 28 Jan. and you have a nice weekend in Hawaii for $300 and start the year off with 5,000 miles in your account.

Try out a few searches on your favorite airline or an affiliated one that will get you EQM credited to your favorite airline and try out a bunch of destinations.  Note you may find it a good idea to print screen on some of these searches so you can remember all the choices.  There are also other techniques for looking for some mileage runs.  One that I found recently thanks to Aadvantage Geek, is TheFlightDeal.  This subscription service will e-mail you various flight deals that they find that are all less than 6 cents/ mile.  Here is a shot of their typical e-mail.

I did not include the whole e-mail, but showed you a sample of the detail given for each deal that they find.  It helpfully gives you the parameters of the sale fare and how to find it on the ITA search engine.  I am kind of excited about htis service and hope to snag a great fare or two before they disappear.  Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a great mileage run on Flyertalk, only to find out you were a day late in grabbing it.

So get out there and start searching.  I find the first quarter of the year quite adventurous and end up going places that I never expected, like Belize!  A final note that is a little more advanced.  Once you find the end points of the mileage run that you want to take, go back and start to look for crooked routings that will give you even more miles.  The best way to do this is using the “Multi-City” choice on your airlines search function, instead of selecting “One Way” or “Round Trip”.  Then start trying some detours through cities that are common connection hubs.  So for example, if you want to travel from Newark (EWR) to Honolulu (HNL), try making it EWR to Hoouston (IAH) and then to HNL.  A lot of the time you can get this for the same ost, but add on several hundred miles to your total.

Good Luck and Good Hunting!

Posted by glenn | No Comments

There is an old Army saying that “If you find yourself in a fair fight, you’ve made a tactical error somewhere”.  I take this same philosophy towards maintaining my status as a 1K on United and a MVP Gold on Alaska for the last seven years running.  I carefully plan my year’s flights out and try to hit mileage runs throughout the year rather than cram them between the holidays at the end of the year.  This is especially true for the first quarter of the year, but more on that in a little bit.

Nevertheless, you may now find yourself staring at your FF account and going “I just need xx more EQM and then I can be a Silver/ Gold/ Platinum/ Unobtainium level and really get treated well.”  The good news is that there is still time and a few tricks that you can pull to make your goal.  The window of opportunity is narrow, but definitely there.  Lots of people fly during the Thanksgiving period and more travel during the Christmas/ New Year’s period, which means very few people want to travel during those first two weeks of December.  I have found this is a great period for the end of the year mileage run and reasonable, but not fantastic, fares are available.  Here are a few rules to follow:

1.  Rationalize your choice to make the next status level.  The best way to do this is monetizing the prize.  Let’s say you are a couple of thousand miles short of Silver which gives you free bags, 25% bonus on mile earning for next year, and a small chance at an upgrade.  Let’s monetize the benefits of making Silver.  Let’s say that you fly four times a year and the free bags will save you $35 in charges each flight and that you fly 20,000 miles normally so you’ll get 5,000 extra RDM with the bonus.  RDM are typically considered worth about 1.5 cents per mile, so 5,000 miles is worth $75 and four free bags worth 4x$35=$140.  Note that I am not putting any value on the potential upgrades and count that only as a bonus since you really can’t count on getting them.  So the total value of obtaining that status is $75 + $140 = $205.  If you can find a mileage run flight for less than this to get your remaining miles, then go for it.  Otherwise, save your pennies and get a better start on next year.

2.  Look for alternatives to flying to get those last few EQM.  If you just like doing things the hard way, sign up for Ranger School, but I figure most of you prefer to be smart about your mileage earning especially when under the gun at the end of the year.  The easiest way is to pay the airline for the EQM and be done with it.  This is almost always the worst way to do it, since they want an outrageous amount for those EQMs, like around 10 cents a mile.  Unless you just don’t have time to fly and will get great benefits from making the next level, such as international upgrade for making 100,000 EQM, I would find another way.  You used be able to sign up for certain credit cards like the United Chase Select Card that gave you 5000 EQM after the first spend and that was a great way to get end of the year EQM, but that is no longer offered although the current card does give you EQM for buying tickets at and an extra 5,ooo EQM when you exceed $35k annual spend so I recommend getting one.  Of course, you can also take advantage of special circumstances such as American’s current Double EQM promotion to make your mileage runs twice as productive.

3.  Finally, there is flying to earn the EQM.  The general rules (which you should not feel compelled to follow) are that a true mileage run means never spending a night at any of your locations and that it should be about 4 cents per EQM.  However, just like putting a value to miles, this is all entirely up to you as an individual.  So if you live in the Bay Area and decide to take a $450 UA flight to HNL to spend 24hrs. with an old buddy and get that last 5,000 EQM to make Gold, then that is your call.  Just do the valuation that I talked about in paragraph 1 and don’t go overboard to get that next status level.

So naturally, the question to most beginners, and even some intermediate level FF, is where to start?  Some people will spend hours browsing all the possible flights and I will call myself guilty of that when I have the time to spare.  The lazy (and recommended) way it to see what others with a similar problem are doing.  I always look at Flyertalk’s Mileage Run Deals  or Milepoint’s Mileage runs/ Mattress Runs/ Travel Hacking Forum.  Flyertalk typically has more mileage runs posted that you can copy, but Milepoint is a friendlier place where you can post the mileage run that you are looking for and others will come on to help you out.  Just remember to list the airline or alliance that you want to fly, the city that you want to fly out of, and include dates if you are restricted to flying on weekends or something like that.

One new way to construct a mileage run is coming to Milepoint soon.  I have been invited to a soft launch of this new product and I think it soulds really good.  Called FlightFox, it is a crowd sourcing solution where you post the mileage run (or simply a vacation) that you want to take with parameters similar to what I listed and post a reward for the most successful solution.  Then anyone who has qualified as a travel expert (meaning a lot of the regulars that you see on the to forums listed above) will research and get back to you prior to the clock expiring and you select the best deal that they have found.  I think this service is a great idea and will help everyone save lots of money while letting a bunch of others use their “search fu” to find everyone great flights.

More to follow in Part 2 on beginning of the year mileage runs.

Posted by glenn | One Comment

If you have been following my blog, you know that last spring I got the Veterans Advantage Card and I thought it worth a little update to see how my savings are going so far.  The card gives discounts on a wide range of items, including pharmaceuticals, Ford cars, Footlocker, etc. and best of all a %5 discount on all United tickets.  They just announced a new benefit of 10% off everything at CVS/ pharmacy (except ironically prescriptions – but they have a separate prescription benefit).  This CVS discount is great since it is above and beyond any normal veterans benefit that you could get with out the card.

So how am I doing so far this year?  I have saved:

$210 on United tickets for myself and my family members.

$48 on car rentals through Thrifty and Dollar

$ 350 on a Ford SUV ( this discount is new this year and came out only two weeks before I needed to buy a car for my graduating daughter)

Total:  $608.00  that’s a 935% ROI on my $65 investment.  And I probably could save more if I worked on all the discounts they have.  There are so many that I sometime forget to apply one.

Pretty good deal and you do not have to be a veteran yourself to get the card, only be related to one.  Eligibility and sign ups are on their home page listed here.  You can even sign up for a one month free trial.  Make sure you check out their Special Offers as they always have a discount or other extra benefits.

In the meantime, I plan to keep saving and see if I can break $1000 in savings for my one year investment


Posted by glenn | 8 Comments

Every year the list seems to grow of more and more businesses offering free or discounted stuff to honor those who have served our nation.  This year is no exception and I am offering a long list here for you to take advantage of.  If you are not a veteran, please spread the word to someone who is.

First up is free admission to all National Parks.  It might be a little chilly to enjoy that depending on where you live, but the weather is just fine here in Hawaii.  sorry to rub that one in!  Here is an article from the LA Times detailing the National Park freebie.  The pass is good all weekend, not just Veterans Day.

I have to give special thanks to my Chaplain, LTC Nicholas Camacho for providing the list below.  My longest post ever!




Veterans Eat Free.

Olive Garden Restaurants offer a free meal (with proof of service) from a list of several entrees on a special menu. This special is scheduled for Monday, November 12, 2012. Additionally, some Olive Garden restaurants will also give out a $10 gift card to veterans for a future visit.


Military Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members will be able to eat FREE at any Applebee’s across the U.S. on Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11, 2012. There will be six entrées available from the menu. Guests will be asked to show one ore more of the following as proof of Service: a U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card, a U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement, Veterans Organization Card, a photograph in uniform, or wearing a uniform in person. For more information about Veterans Day at Applebee’s, visit the Applebee’s website


Golden Corral’s 9th annual Military Appreciation Monday dinner will be held on

Monday, November 12, 2012, from 4 to 9 pm in all Golden Corral restaurants nationwide. The FREE dinner meal is a special “thank you tribute” to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to join us for Golden Corral’s Military Appreciation Monday dinner. To date, Golden Corral restaurants have provided over 2.2 million free meals and contributed over $3.3 million to the Disabled American Veterans organization.


FREE meal, Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov 11, 2012.

Chili’s is offering all Military Veterans past and present their choice of one of 6 meals. This offer is available during business hours at participating Chili’s in the U.S. only. Dine-in from limited menu only; beverages and gratuity not included. All Desserts priced $5.oo for Veterans and active duty military. Simply show proof of military service. See flier for more information.


In recognition of Service, ALL Veterans and Active Duty personnel are invited to EAT

FREE this Veterans Day, Monday, November 12, 2012. To get the free meal, service men and women will have to show proof of service. Proof of service includes: U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card, a U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement, Veterans Organization Card, a photograph in uniform, or wearing a uniform in person.

Valid only at: 3555 S. 2700 W., West Valley City.

130 W. 10600 S., Sandy.

4029 S. Riverdale Rd., Riverdale

**Don’t forget T.G.I. Friday’s offer a 10% Discount for all Service men and women with proof of service all day everyday.


FREE Meal, Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov 11, 2012.

Hooter’s is serving up 10 free boneless wings to military veterans all day on Veterans Day. Offer good for all veterans and active duty military personnel. Offer valid at participating Hooters, Dine-in only; open to all active duty and military veterans with valid military ID or proof of military service. Drink purchase required. For more information, visit,


FREE meal, Veterans Day, Monday, Nov 12, 2012.

Offer varies by location; our local Texas Roadhouse is offering a free meal from opening until 4pm. Other locations may vary in offer, hours, or availability. Call ahead to your local restaurant for more information. Visit the web site for locations and participation.


Subway will donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.  Details here.  Goal is to raise $111,112 for this worthy charity.


Free doughnut.

Available only at participating Krispy Kreme stores. Offer available to all active-duty, retirees & veterans on Veterans Day, Sunday November 11, 2012. Be sure to call ahead to verify your local Krispy Kreme is participating.

Denny’s Restaurants

All-you-can-eat Pancakes.

Participating Denny’s restaurants will be offering an all-you-can-eat pancakes meal on Monday, Nov 12, 2012. Remember to call ahead and verify that your local Denny’s is participating.



SKYRIDGE INN Bed & Breakfast

Free night stay.

The Sky Ridge Inn B&B in Torrey, Utah is offering a free night stay to a veteran and a single guest. This offer is limited by availability of rooms. Reserving ahead of time is recommended. For reservations call (435) 425-3222.



Veteran’s Day weekend, Cabela’s outdoor store is offering their employee discount to all veterans, active duty military and reserves, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel on Nov. 11 and 12. Dubbed a “Hometown Heroes” event, eligible shoppers will need to check in at a table at the store to receive a coupon for the discount. The discount varies from 5% to 50%, depending on item. Some items may be excluded.



The 10% military discount is available to:

Active-duty military members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, honorably discharged veterans and immediate family members of all those groups are eligible. Customers requesting a discount must be able to show a valid military ID card or other proof of military service (a DD Form 214 or VFW membership may qualify).



FREE haircut to active-duty military & veterans.

Offer only available at select locations on Veterans Day, Monday, November 12, 2012. Additionally, offers 20% discount on all services and products to Military and Veterans everyday. Sports Clips is currently participating in the Help-A-Hero program which provides free call time to deployed or hospitalized military personnel. Please call to verify local participation.



This year Sleep number is offering a couple of discounts. Among these are $600.00 off on all I8 or M7 beds, 30% off all bedding items, and 0% interest on 24 months financing. This is only available to military and veterans. This special is going on now through Nov. 18. Contact your local store for more details.


FREE car wash to Veterans on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, 2012.


**The following companies offer discounts, but you may find that NOT all locations participate: Restaurants Arby’s


Burger King

Carl’s Jr.

Chevy’s Fresh Mex




Dunkin’ Donuts



Long John Silver’s


Panda Express

Pizza Hut


Red Robin


Taco Bell





Best Western

Choice Hotels

Continental Airlines

Cruise lines (most)

Hyatt Hotels

Marriott HotelsWyndham Hotels and Resorts

Car CareAutoZoneChecker Auto Parts

General Motors

Jiffy Lube

Kragen Auto Parts


NAPA Auto Parts

Super Sonic Car Wash

Cell Phone Service Discounts






Clothing and Shoes


The Children’s Place

Dress Barn

Fanzz (10%)

The Finish Line

Foot Action (15%)

Foot Locker (20%)

Hot Topic

Jos. A. Bank




New York & Company

Pac Sun


Timberland Outlets (active duty only)

Wilson’s Leather

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

New York City Veterans Week is two weeks of activities and discounts running November 1-14.

Kickoff Week November 1-6 includes events from a career fair to tours to school visits.

Veterans Week November 7-14 continues with even more events highlighted by the Veterans Day parade on Sunday, November 11.

Some events are invitation only and some require advance reservations or ticket purchase, so plan ahead.

Veterans Advantage is offering a free VetRewards event cards valid for November:

The Veterans Advantage Card Benefits Program has been created to provide greater respect, recognition, & rewards for all those who serve our country’s military and their families:

  • U.S. Veterans
  • Active Duty military
  • National Guard & Reservists
  • All branches, all periods of service
  • Next of kin: Fathers, mothers, sons or daughters.

The discounts range from travel to retail in New York in addition to regular national discounts, helping to make a New York trip affordable.

Early November New York weather is cool but still pleasant, and is just ahead of the holiday shopping rush. The Veterans Week events and discounts are a great reason to book a last-minute trip to New York.

Thank you for your service and welcome to New York!

Rapid Travel Chai travels the world one weekend at a time from his base in New York, helping readers build their travel skills so that they too can have ‘trips of a lifetime’ without anyone knowing they were gone.

Posted by glenn | One Comment

I am not one to blog every special deal that comes along, but I couldn’t resist letting everyone know about this one.  The Hale Koa runs the Kilauea Military Camp on the island of Hawaii and is located in Volcanos National Park.  They are running a special to roll back their price to the ’90’s price for the entire month of November.  A one-bedroom place is going for only $65/ night.  Can’t beat that with a stick!  Here is the ad.

Have fun to those that go and be warned that it will be chilly (for Hawaii) up there.

Posted by glenn | One Comment

Yesterday, I took a common flight for me IAD-HNL.  Going through IAD and going towards the Premium Passenger security line, the guy standing saw my military ID and said I was in the wrong place and should go through the TSA Pre-Check line.  He told me that two months ago DoD signed all active duty up to use any TSA Pre-Check line not just the three for the test roll out.  I know he said active duty, but I think the real deal is anyone with a CAC card including the Reserve and National Guard.  I proceeded back up the escalator and another guy guided me to the TSA Pre-Check line in the middle of the terminal.  It was just me and one other guy, so I am not ssure that the Government is getting their money’s worth out of this.  I am finally getting used to the new rules for Pre-Check which are really the old rules prior to 9/11.  Keep your shoes, belt, and jacket on and don’t worry about taking your laptop out or liquids in your bag.

Here is a list of airports:





Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky




Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood

Houston – Bush International

New York’s LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport

St. Louis

Los Angeles

New Orleans


Minniapolis-St. Paul

Puerto Rico






Salt Lake City

San Francisco




Washington Dulles

Reagan/ National

As far as I am concerned this is a great turn and I am really glad that this priviledge has been applied to all our service members rather than just frequent flyers.  Pre-Check is currently offered at 27 airports with a goal of 35 airports by years end.  Try it out next time you can.

Posted by glenn | 11 Comments

Thanks to all who entered our contest.  The winner by random pick was post #9 Ari.  Thanks to everyone and wish Ari luck in the big drawing to be held soon for the two seats on StarMegaDo4.  I was really impressed with all the entries and hopefully everyone enjoyed reading all those war stories about travel.  To not make this my shortest post ever, I will relate to you, the best of my own war stories.

There we were in May 2008, sitting on Green Ramp at Ft. Bragg waiting to deploy, yet again, to Iraq.  My battalion had trained hard and were going nuts just to get over there and do our jobs.  Now taking MilAir (military contract aircraft) is usually really painful as they usually contract to the low bidders for charters such as World Airways and AirTran.  Now, I knew from being a FF junkie that AirTran had just filed for bankrupcy and was not operating and wondered what the implications would be.  I sure if was up to the bean counters, we would get a charter from Aeroflot on a biplane!

What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a United 777 decending from the clouds.  I thought “that can’t possibly be for us” as I watched it taxi right in front of our little terminal.  Sure enough, the AirTran collapse had forced the military to go to a real carrier to transport us.  And the best news was that United had not reconfigured the aircraft at all from its normal three class service!  My XO got the count of seats and we got with the other units (all separate companies) that were deploying and I divided the seats between the ranks and units.  We got everyone into first and business and even those stuck in economy had an empty seat in the middle.

The UA crew were great.  They were having a great time since this was not thier normal trip. and I found out later, they had all volunteered for this flight.  The crew was taking pictures of us and were laughing hard at the fact that our M-4s (carbine version of the M-16) couldn’t fit in the overhead compartments, and legally couldn’t go beneath our feet, so were lined up in the aisle.  We all rolled our eyes when the military guys made us take out our bolts and put them in our pockets as a counter-terrorism measure.  As if someone couldn’t reinsert that in five seconds.  Happy to be on our way we departed for Germany.

We landed and spent about four hours at some old airbase in Germany that had been converted over into a hub for Ryan Air and a couple of other carriers.  The troops got a kick out of being able to light up in the terminal.  I was not amused and made me glad that the U.S. prohibited that nastiness in our planes and terminals.  The trip got even better for me on the next leg.  I slept in first and awoke halfway through our flight to Kuwait.  I noticed that the cockpit door was open which never happens in my experience.  I got up to see what was going on and see if I could glimpse out the cockpit window.  The copilot spotted me and asked if I wanted to come on in.  Of course I said sure and he invited me to sit in the jumpseat.  “Regulation-oriented” as any commander is, I asked if this was allowed?  They said sure, they did not need to follow the FAA regulations about the cockpit since they were under military charter.  We chatted for a long time and I pointed out various cities as we passed over Iraq.  Ironically, we passed over Iraq to land in Kuwait and get a C-17 back to Baghdad.

A truly unforgettable war story and my first time ever in international first class!

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

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