Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
BLUF: 2020 has been quite a year! This year, I flew 54,664 miles which includes one international trip and quite a few US-domestic flights, almost all for work. This is fewest miles I’ve traveled in about a decade.
Today’s ALL HANDS focuses on my 2020 travel.
What a year! That’s definitely the understatement of the century. It’s been a while since I’ve posted for Glenn and TMFF. My apologies for going silent since April, but even with the quarantine and the days upon days of telework, finding the motivation to write about travel was still pretty difficult. Then, in late June, my work at the US Department of Veterans Affairs began to pick-up, and in early July, I was back on the road. Work travel has been almost non-stop since then with prepping for trips and closing out trips taking up a lot of my time and energy.
As Glenn and I have mentioned before, TMFF is NOT our primary job nor do we rely on it for income. It’s a labor of love, and sometimes more labor than love. Originally, I had plans to revisit some trips in a multitude of AARs, and while I has a streak of three posted, I completely ran out of steam. I’m sure many folks felt the same as quarantines and shelter-at-home orders continued throughout 2020.
Still, as telework days melted into each other and more time was spent in front of the TV binging all that precious and new streaming content, putting together a travel blog entry kept falling lower and lower on the priority list.
Enough whining, let’s get to some travel data.
In 2020, I flew only 54,664 miles. In 2019, I flew 163,951 miles. That’s only 33% of the miles flown this year compared to last year. That’s quite a drop: Thanks, COVID! LOL!
For leisure travel, back in Jan 2020 (when we were all fat, dumb, and happy about traveling) I made a trip out to the West Coast to enjoy some Alaska Airlines First Class comfort and visit Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle. Plus, I visited the new Paine Field airport (PAE) north of Seattle. The newly opened concourse building houses two main gate areas with mountain chalet décor. It was a fun stop on my coastal tour.
Also pre-COVID, I had leisure trips to Asheville, NC and Toronto, Canada. Both were great visits and worth going back too. Though, I would say Asheville is a pretty small town, so a return visit for me is probably not likely. However, the beer and the BBQ were excellent as was the visit to the famed Biltmore Estate. As for our February trip to Canada, it was pretty great. Any excuse to visit our friendly northern neighbors and inject some maple syrup into my veins is high on my list!
In March 2020, we took our first, and only, intercontinental trip of the year. Back in Spring 2019, Qatar Airways was having an awesome business class deal to announce their new Montreal to Doha route on a QSuites-installed Boeing 777-300ER. I picked up two roundtrip tickets for $2000 each on the Montreal-Doha-Bangkok route. Granted, I had no idea where we’d be in March 2020 (we were due to depart Germany during the summer of 2019), but I figured where ever we were in the US, getting to Montreal would be a pretty easy feat.
So on 29 Feb, we flew IAD-YUL and spent the night at the in Marriott Airport Montreal. It was a very nice stay. While COVID news was still limited to China, South Korea, and Italy at the end of February, we were pretty confident our visits to Ho Chi Minh City, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok would be uninterrupted or affected by COVID. Originally, I had planned this trip to included Seoul and Chengdu. As COVID restrictions were beginning to pop up in China and South Korea, I smartly altered these stops.
If you’ve read about how Qatar Airways’ QSuites are the “best business class” then you’ve only heard part of the rave. Qsuites, the actual seat, is amazing. So much room and with the closing door, you really have a tiny apartment. However, when you couple the comfortable suite with Qatar’s outstanding services (e.g., dine-on-demand, hefty meal and a snack menus, a full complement of wine and spirits) it is like riding in First Class. My international First Class experience have been on SWISS, Japan Airlines, and Thai Airways, and those were amazing experiences. Qatar’s QSuites equaled if not surpassed those given how new their 777 was.
That whole trip was amazing. Vietnam is an awesome destination; the people and the food are terrific. This was also our first visit to Chiang Mai which included that famed Thai hospitality and food. Plus, any chance to get to Bangkok is a good thing!
It was about in mid-March when the whole world began closing borders and flights started canceling. Luckily, we made it back to the US before the country closed down. As COVID raged on, I canceled our June 2020 trip to Australia and our Nov/Dec 2020 trip to Japan. Sad to have to cancel those, but we weren’t going anywhere due to COVID and certainly not on an international trip.
Work’s policy was to test us post-work trip, so I ended the year with a cool baker’s dozen (13!) of COVID tests. While I didn’t get used to the nasal swab, I at least knew what was coming. When work travel started back up in July, I saw very empty airports and airplanes. Though, by the time of my final trip in Nov, planes and airports were full again. When available, I would purchase the upgrade to domestic First Class to allow for more room and just being around fewer people. Since I had to travel, I tried to be as safe as possible.
I’ll save my 2021 leisure travel plans (yes! I actually some!) for another All Hands.
Many of our readers have PCS’d during this dynamic time and many continue to be stationed all over the world. On behalf of Glenn and me, we hope everyone in the TMFF family continues to remain safe and vigilant during the pandemic.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of The Military Frequent Flyer team!
Albert Guerrero, USAF, Ret.
“Let’s Travel Farther, Together!”
Follow my travels on Instagram: @albert_traveler