Part of my Asia life involves the accumulation of miles. Not just counting up miles ticked off across the air but miles in the bank.
Today I’m in Australia for a company meeting, here a day early. The meeting is at a beautiful seaside resort in Brisbane. I have a balcony and view of the marina. Exotic birds land on my patio and cry in the distance. The rooms are fashioned after the colonial style: burnished wood floors, sleigh beds, charming wooden desk, sitting area with rattan chairs, tiled walls in the bath. You should be jealous.
I’m experiencing it all in a fog, exhausted and slightly queasy.
It was such a good plan: miles AND a whole free day! But my calculus was faulty. To “get miles” I took a connection through Singapore, arriving in Brisbane at 8am (30 minutes delayed) for 14 hours of travel. At the start of the 2nd leg, an 8 hour flight, I wasn’t even remotely tired when we took to the air at 9:30PM. Add meal service, 1 movie to wind down to, 2 hours of turbulence near the end, and the final 60 minutes when the crew turn lights on to wake you. That does not equal a good night’s sleep.
The direct flight is 9 hours. It’s a day flight. But it’s not on my carrier. That’s OK, the Miles Junkies would cry, you earned 1,000’s of miles!
What is it all for?
Last year the quest for miles was supposed to get me a business class seat back home for the holidays, but I missed that by less than 500 and spent the 14+ hours to Chicago in my usual Premium Economy: 4″ extra leg room! Miles did pay for a Chicago-Rochester trip. Was all of last year’s travel worth $300?
Ryan Bingham, George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air,” would shake his head at me looking for the payoff or worse, planning for fun on a business trip. “It’s not like that,” he’d say, “The miles are the goal.”
I’m not convinced. And in the end, neither was he.