A few months ago, I calculated that I would fly 63,000 miles on United Airlines. For most people–especially for those who hate travelling–this number is far too high. For me, it was not enough. On United, there are four main tiers of status. 25,000 miles gets you Silver. 50,000 miles gets you Gold. 75,000 miles gets you Platinum. And 100,000 miles gets you 1K status. With each bump up in the hierarchy, you get more perks, the most coveted is higher placement on the upgrade list. In short, the more status you have, the more likely you will be upgraded to business, or first class. I fly about 50 flights a year as I barnstorm law schools across the country to preach the gospel of constitutional liberty. But virtually all of these flights are domestic. The way to hit status is to cross borders.
I decided that to reach the next status, 75,000 miles, I would select the cheapest destination in Asia for a quick trip. A few searches revealed that my target was Singapore, a country that I frankly knew very little about, other than I didn’t need a visa to get there, and a roundtrip ticket there would cost only $800. (I’ve paid more than that for flights from Houston to Washington D.C.). The itinerary would be Houston to Tokyo to Signapore, with a 36 hour stay in Singapore, followed by a flight from Singapore to Hong Kong to San Francisco, back to Houston. Combined, it would be about 20,000 miles, and put me well into Platinum status.
With crossing the international date line, my Tuesday lasted about 40 hours. I woke up on Tuesday at 3:30 a.m. in Singapore, left Hong Kong at 12:20 p.m, and landed in San Francisco at 8:15 a.m. I went back in time! On the flip side, I lost almost all of Saturday.
Here is a map illustrating the hops, which amounts to travelling around 80% of the Earth.
I was able to upgrade to Business First on the IAH-NRT and the NRT-HKG legs with a combination of points and miles. The other flights were far too expensive to upgrade, so I passed. The least comfortable of all was the 12-hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco on an old-fashioned 747. It didn’t even have media centers in seat backs. #FirstWorldProblems.
The United lounges in Tokyo and Hong Kong were fantastic. I took a shower in the former, and after a 14-hour flight, it was extremely refreshing. And, to prove that great minds think alike, I bumped into a fellow Federalist Society Law Professor at the Tokyo lounge, who was also flying to Singapore on a mileage run. We were quite shocked to see each other there. Seriously.
Although, I kept myself extremely well occupied during the time, writing several chapters of Unraveled.
I brought my second monitor, a 16″ AOC USB powered display, which I was able to use in several different configurations.
When I was eating–the meals in Business First are non-stop–I was able to put the monitor on top of the seat.
On the whole the trip was extremely enjoyable and productive. Plus, I got my status.