2012: My Year in Review

This was a pretty successful year for me. I hit almost every one of my travel goals, even if I didn’t make it to South America, Australia, or Africa this year. But I did get to see Asia and the Middle East for the first time. Singapore and Hong Kong were great experiences. My trip reports are way behind, but I can’t wait to return to Hong Kong!

All my flights in 2012. Image from GCMap.com

All my flights in 2012. Image from GCMap.com

I also hit a new mileage record: over 127,000 flown miles. That includes over 30,000 miles that were either on award travel or outside my primary earning program, United’s MileagePlus, where I requalified for Premier 1K with 100,000 EQMs. I even managed to hold to my rule of no more than one mileage run to the same city. Good bye, Kansas City.

My upgrade percentage with United increased, especially toward the end of the year as I got smarter about how to work within the rules of United’s companion upgrade benefit. For the last several months we’ve always had adjacent seats in first class. Megan and I also made good use of our miles, earning and burning about 350,000 on one trip for ourselves and several for family members.

American Airlines’ match to Executive Platinum status was nice, but I never really found a way to make it work for me. I didn’t have the time to do much international travel this year, which really would have been the way to requalify for EXP and also make good use of the free systemwide upgrades. Domestically, my home in Seattle meant I was usually flying Alaska, where some benefits like complimentary upgrades aren’t honored.

Just the flights I couldn't credit to United. Image from GCMap.com

Just the flights I couldn’t credit to United. Image from GCMap.com

I’ll be aiming to requalify for Premier 1K again in 2013, but I will not be making an end run for Executive Platinum unless there are some very nice DEQM promotions as American Airlines exits bankruptcy. I expect we’ll see more of these.

More likely, I’ll try to earn MVP Gold with Alaska Airlines as my second elite status since the long drives between San Francisco Airport and my dad’s home near Santa Rosa have become too difficult. Alaska flies direct from Seattle both to Santa Rosa and to my mom’s new home in Medford, OR.

I’m sure I’ll have some fantasy route map for 2013 up soon. :D Check out the one I drafted for 2012 and how far off I am from what I really booked. At least I hit all the same continents.

This was also the first year I earned hotel status, and I could not have been happier with how it turned out. I am a life-long Hyatt fan, and I went from zero to Diamond this year with 25 stays and 36 nights. Although I had a smattering of stays with other brands, they didn’t amount to much.

Megan and I enjoyed a number of amazing suites thanks to my Hyatt status, including the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver and a two-floor Duplex Suite at the Grand Hyatt Singpaore. And I finally got to stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui, a childhood dream, with a beautiful oceanfront view.

picture of Maui beach

In my opinion, one of the best views in Maui.

Points-wise, I’ve come out much better with hotels. I earned over 150,000 Gold Passport points at Hyatt and redeemed only 40,000. Combining points from Megan’s and my personal and business SPG American Express cards, we have another 150,000 and haven’t spent any. We’ve been stockpiling these on purpose for what should be a fun honeymoon!

In addition to requalifying for Diamond with Hyatt, I plan to add Platinum status with SPG in 2013. I figure Platinum status should be pretty easy to obtain with 50 nights. I already get 10 nights toward status each year since I have both the personal and business SPG American Express cards. SPG also lets you get elite credit for up to three hotel rooms at once. My wedding next year will make it easy to book three rooms for at least four nights, putting me at 22 nights without even going anywhere.

So anyway, nowhere near as elaborate as some of Amol’s journeys, which he outlined at PointstoPointB. But I am impressed that I was able to get so much done while I was working on my dissertation for a good portion of the year. Next year, I hope I’ll be much more flexible, at least until I find a more conventional job. The honeymoon will be fun, and Megan even has a pro bono project in Kenya, which may be our best bet at getting her time off for a trip to Africa!

About 

Scott created Hack My Trip while traveling on a budget during graduate school and continues to share his thoughts on better travel. He maintains elite status with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hyatt, and Starwood.
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  • Jimmy Y. (EWR)

    Sounds like a fantastic year, Scott. Happy New Years and I look forward to your posts next year!

  • Diana Wu

    just wondering if there’s an upper limit for the rate you’re willing to pay at Hyatt properties?

    • Scottrick

      I would have a hard time paying more than $400 for any hotel, but there’s not really an upper limit. Most that I stay at are in the $80-120 range. I am willing to pay more for certain locations (e.g., Hawaii or New York) where I know it’s just going to cost more. And sometimes a nearby hotel might be a little cheaper, but at Hyatt I know I’ll get free breakfast and such that makes the premium worthwhile.

  • leslie

    Hello,
    I read your article about united booking for europe. If United only allows rt. How do I book eg sfo -ams (stopover) paris-sfo? Can I visit at least another city maybe in italy? venice? rome? etc. Thanks

    • Scottrick

      It sounds like your question is about award travel. United only allows one stopover AND one open jaw on round-trip awards, but one-way awards are still possible (just without the stopover). So you could book something like this:

      SFO-AMS // AMS-CDG // FCO-SFO

      There is a stopover at AMS and an open jaw between CDG and FCO. You would need to find your own transportation between CDG and FCO. If you want to visit more cities than that, you will have to fit them in with your own transportation out of AMS or somewhere along the way between CDG and FCO.