SFO777 The First Class Travel Blog

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46 hr AA EXP mileage run

46 hr AA EXP mileage run
via American Airlines First Class
SFO-ORD-SFO, again & again & again
December 2011

While I reached DL Diamond status in early September, high summer AA fares and crowded F cabins kept me away from AA for a while and left me about 25K EQMs short for EXP re-qualification. By early November, I had resigned myself to year end mileage running. I had booked a couple of SFO-ORD-FLL RTs and was just about to book SFO-JFK/ORD-SJU when the CA-IL-TX DEQM promotion was announced. Thank you AA! That made life a whole lot easier and required only 46 hours of continuous SFO-ORD RTs.

I figured this should be easy compared to the LAX/SFO-BOS slAAveship hell many of us went thru a two and half years ago. At $198 RT and exit rows wide open, I should be able to handle 8 consecutive 4 hour First Class flights. Upgrades for six flights cleared at T-100 and for a seventh at T-70. I used a SWU on the last flight (1561, flight #8) after it went from F7 A5 to F3 A1 overnight this past weekend.

Monday
SFO-ORD AA 1522 11:55p-5:50a
Tuesday
ORD-SFO AA 1341 6:50a-9:30a
SFO-ORD AA 556 10:35a-4:55p
ORD-SFO AA 1561 7:15p-9:55p
SFO-ORD AA 1522 11.55p-5:50a
Wednesday
ORD-SFO AA 1341 6:50a-9:30a
SFO-ORD AA 556 10:35a-4:55p
ORD-SFO AA 1561 7:15p-9:55p

Monday, December 5, 2011
Dropped off at a deserted T-2 at around 10:45p.

There was only one person ahead of me in security and I was in the beautiful new T-2 AC two minutes later.

AA 1522
SFO-ORD
11:55p-5:50a (sked)
11:50p-6:30a (actual)
Refurbished 737-800
PDB
Wifi
December 5, 2011
Refreshments

At about T-40, I headed over to 57A to board to discover that AA's IT department was having fun tonight teasing us with Dinner on a SFO-ORD redeye.

Dinner wound up being the typical late night mid-con warm nuts and drink service.

Despite an early pushback and wheels up at midnight, unusual head winds on an eastbound flight turned this into a 4:30 flight. We pulled into K-10 at 6:32a, only 18 minutes before 1341 was scheduled to depart. I quick walked over to H-10 and boarded at 6:38a. Whew!

AA 1341
ORD-SFO
6:50a-9:25a (sked)
6:50a-8:40a (actual)
Old 737-800
PDB
Wifi Equipped but not working
December 6, 2011
Breakfast

2nd straight AA PDB (pre departure beverage) flight!
Choice of cheese omelet or one of my AA faves, the steel cut oatmeal.
Not sure how many are loaded but everyone in row 6 went for the oatmeal.

The same headwind that fought us eastbound was our friend on the return as we logged an amazingly fast westbound flight of only 3:35p, arriving 45 minutes early at 8:40a.
Back to the AC which I left only 9 hours earlier.

Meanwhile over at Gate 57:

AA 556
SFO-ORD
10:35a-4:55p (sked)
10:30a-4:50p (actual)
Older 737-800 (same metal as inbound 1341)
PDB
Wifi Equipped but not working
December 6, 2011
Snack

OMG, 3 PDBs flights in one day. This can't be AA.

Choice of the 4 Cheese Enchilada or the chicken Cobb Salad. The chicken tasted a little too processed for me.
The southwest chicken salad is much better.

And a coconut caramel cookie.

As this was the same aircraft as my inbound 1341, no Wifi. Although the crew weren't aware until I told one of the FAs that it was a Wifi mechanical issue that was not fixed overnight at ORD. "You were on the inbound and now you're flying back?"

With an on time arrival at ORD, I was looking forward to working in the AC for a couple of hours, until I turned on my phone after landing to discover the ominous "Voice Mail 800-433-7300" message. "...Mr. SFO777, this is American Airlines calling to advise you that we are unable to honor your upgrade tonight on flight 1561. We have confirmed a seat for you in coach..." Say what?? Jeez, my upgrade cleared at around T-70 into a cabin that was F7 A5, I'm checked in and have my BP for 6F.

Called the EXP line while taxiing. EXP agent doesn't understand what happen, claimed that in 25 years, she'd only seen this twice. Both 6E and 6F were showing open, the flight was 14/16 but she couldn't reinstate me. Her attempts to contact the department that pulled the upgrade were in vain as they had "gone home for the day". 20 minutes at the H/K AC and the amazing AAngel Monica finally was able to override the system and reinstate me back into 6F, calling three different departments including tracking down the CSM in charge of tonight's 1561 who OK'd me back into 6F. The company line was that an earlier SFO flight cancellation caused 1561 to be oversold in First so I was bumped. The oversold status disappeared as the day progressed leaving 1561 only 14/16 by 5PM but, absent an apparent act of God, the system would not return my upgrade once space was available.

AA 1561
ORD-SFO
7:15p-9:55p (sked)
7:10p-9:07p (actual)
Older 737-800
PDB
Wifi
December 6, 2011

Special thanks to ORD AC AAngel Monica for getting 6F back for me!

Great BOS/ORD crew making 4 for 4 on PDBs. Let me check... is this really AA?
Shrimp cocktail, mixed green salad with caesar dressing and parmesan.
Choice of tortellini or herb chicken with what tasted like beurre blanc sauce (but advertised as bearnaise tomorrow), rice and beans.
The chicken was excellent, perfectly moist and great flavor!

Pre-made sundae or cheese plate.

More favorable winds tonight and we arrived 45 minutes early. Next stop, you guessed it:

Next up: The same four flights all over again starting in a couple of hours.

Round 2:
Different day, same routine.
After a couple pleasant hours at the AC, I head out to Gate 58A to see if 1522 is another Dinner flight.

AA 1522
SFO-ORD
11:55p-5:50a (sked)
11:55p-5:50a (actual)
Old 737-800
PDB
Wifi
December 6, 2011
Refreshments

Hey they got it correct tonight.

Another crap sleep night, with maybe 45 minutes tops of real sleep. This is going to be a long day. The headwinds had died down from last night and we arrived exactly on time at 5:50a and pulled up to K10 about 3 minutes later. Ever notice that when you a tight connection, it is always in the next concourse or time zone. This morning with plenty of time, naturally the connecting gate is nearby K16.

AA 1341
ORD-SFO
6:50a-9:25a (sked)
6:50a-9:07a (actual)
Old 737-800
No PDB
No Wifi
December 7, 2011
Breakfast

Lots of unhappy PLTs and GLDs sitting in the back of the bus today.

No PDB but efficient service initially with Colleen taking orders back to front and then serving off the cart from the front. Although her "Good morning, my I have your name please?" seemed a little strange. Did we lose the manifest?

Same choice as yesterday, steel-cut oatmeal or cheese omelet. Maybe I was hungry this morning, but the velveeta omelet with hollandaise-like sauce was better than last time I had it. Yo, AA. How about some MEAT with the omelet like DL or UA?? Please.

Lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me, as I go from small bouts of work energy to leaning back and trying to nap.
I've never seen a movie in green and yellow, apparently a staple on this old 738.

By now, I'm starting to get bored.
Too tired to work and my book isn't doing anything for me.
No Wifi so I guess it's picture time...

And finally back at SFO for the fourth time in 36 hours.

And back "home"...

OK, six flights down, only two to go. I'm coming home tonight. In spite of the fact that I'm only 12 miles from home, it seems like a normal "going home" day... a connection to ORD or DFW and a flight home.

AA 556
SFO-ORD
10:35a-4:55p (sked)
10:30a-4:10p (actual)
Older 737-800 (same metal as inbound 1341)
No PDB
No Wifi
December 7, 2011
Snack

More disappointed PLTs and GLDs missing upgrades.

What a gorgeous day in San Francisco. See you tonight!

Choice of the 4 Cheese Enchilada or the Cobb Salad. Even though I'm on the Atkins Diet, I'd rather starve than have that Cobb again. Did Michelle Bernstein sneak over from DL? The enchilada, or at least the no carb cheesy part was really pretty good.

For whatever reason, our FA decided that she didn't want to wait to serve cookies and handed them out as most pax were still eating their main.

OK, I'm getting really sleepy. I want to go home. In the meantime, let's go to the video for pics of Chicago.

OMG, an LH 744. Less that 4 weeks until our next LH First flight.

And back at my home away from home...

Back at the AC, I headed upstairs for a much needed shower, shave and change of clothes. Afterwards, I stopped at the AAngel desk to drop off some thank you Ghirardelli chocolates. The entire staff got a great laugh when I told Monica that "I just wanted to thank you for last night"

At about T-45 I headed off to K-15 for the final leg home.

AA 1561
ORD-SFO
7:15p-9:55p (sked)
7:25p-10:05p (delayed)
7:18p-9:50p (actual)
Older 737-800
No PDB
Wifi
December 7, 2011

No PDB tonight but terrific inflight service from ORD-based Karen, one of AA's senior and best FAs. FEBO taken to a new level tonight with drink orders taken back to front. Meal orders taken one row at a time and brought one tray at a time from the galley. Meal choices the same as last night, the tortellini or herb chicken with bearnaise sauce.

One of our classy cabin mates...

Although my seat-mate (with EXP tags) on an earlier flight takes the prize for the worst dressed and smelliest pax of the week. Yo dude, it's 28 degrees in ORD. But please, take a shower or clean your clothes. Oy.

After a perfect on time landing, I am back home 46 hours after my marathon saga began. Amazingly, other than the late arrival of that first flight, every AA flight was either on time or early. Sure AA has its flaws and warts, but after all these years, AA remains my favorite domestic carrier.

And a post mortem update:

I was at home in bed by 11PM, asleep by 11:02 and slept like a rock until 6:30a. Must have been a good sleep since Mrs. SFO complained about my snoring and told me she punched me at least four times during the night. I don't recall a thing.  And although I faded about 3pm this afternoon and power napped for an hour, I feel totally back to normal tonight.

MRs are not for everyone but if you can do it in F, even domestic F, they are reasonably painless and can be addicting. I will definitely do another one of these, possibly in January with Short hair Francis who called me this PM from the MLL in YUL waiting to board his YUL-ZRH LX First flight. Yeah, rub it in man.