Saturday, September 08, 2012

Returning to the Air

For more than 20 years I spent a lot of time in one of these.    United Airlines has classes of flyers and I was what was called a 1K - meaning I flew at least 100,000 miles a year with them - not counting the time I spent on Southwest and other assorted airlines.

For all that time I gained some skills - I can still pack in a relatively small bag.   (I prefer carry on and no roller bags - they slow down experienced travelers down in airports.) When I achieved my 2 millionth mile with United they commemorated it with three gifts.   I got an iPod, a lifetime membership in the United Club (then called the Red Carpet Room - now called simply the Club) and I got to be Premier Executive Status for life(which is the second level on their Mileage Plus program).  I also developed a habit of leaving for very early flights - so developed a set of mechanisms (including being able to often wake myself without an alarm clock and being able to pack almost from memory) to cope.

But when I retired from my prior position, I began to scale back my flying.   This year, I am about 30,000 miles with United and will probably end up something under 50,000 miles.   Indeed, for a period of about 240 months there was not a period where I went more than 28 days where I did not fly on United.   My last flight with the airline, until the last couple of days, was in April.  (Although that will pick up in the fall.)

So I approached a trip to Aguascalientes with some trepidation.  I no longer get the absolute first choice on meals when flying first class.   Not a big deal, I often said I will take what is left - because many people grump about not getting their first choice.    I also wondered if I would be able to stand the pace I had done for so many years (YES!).   I still like the challenge of working my way through crowds of people - and I am still pretty good at it.

I found during my regular career that I would often travel to meet people in distant places because a face to face meeting was much better than a phone conversation.   And I believe that is still true.  The meeting I was going to was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a university in Mexico where I was present at the creation.  And as part of the celebration (which I will describe in another post) they had a series of symposiums using video conferencing.   Two of the sessions involved minor glitches which made them a bit hard to understand.   But the technology is advancing very fast.

So do I miss all those miles in the air?  No.  But did I enjoy getting back to a wonderful city in Mexico? Absolutely!

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