This column is a continuation of some thoughts and suggestions that might make your travel easier and more rewarding.
We start with our usual plea: Travel can excite and enhance your life if a few cautions are taken. Indeed, we have noted in the past 15 years of writing that the concourses seem to be a little longer and connections are somewhat tighter.
Could that be a factor of age? Never.
1 TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Our first note for harmonious travel is to give yourself more time before a flight — no more days of last-minute arrivals at the airport.
An extra 20 or 30 minutes relieves anxiety. Dash days are over.
Are your legs or knees or hips not quite as “fit” as they were?
Then take advantage of the electric carts that cruise most of the major airports. They can be requested at almost any of the counters. Unfortunately, Sarasota lags in this area, but, hopefully, it will have some soon. SRQ does provide platoons of wheelchairs for those in real need.
2 ELITE IS GOOD
We continue to be amazed at the number of people who think they do not fly enough to focus on one airline group for it to be worthwhile. Even the occasional flyer can gain awards, especially when combined with an airline credit card. Check out the routes of each of the three main international consortiums, which United, Delta and American Airlines lead. Find the one that most serves your destinations and try to use that group whenever possible. Awards will accumulate.
Having emphasized the value of piling up miles or points with one airline, we now must tell you about a remarkable “scam” some airlines practice to reduce the amount of miles awarded to you. To understand how this works, first think about the three basic types of flights: non-stop flights (pretty obvious); connection flights (two or more flights with different numbers that require changing planes); and direct flights. Most people are not as familiar with direct flights, which generally mean that the flight makes a stop and then continues to your destination.
Miles are awarded based on distance, and it’s pretty obvious how this works on a non-stop flight. Miles for connections are awarded by taking the distance of each of the two or more flights and adding them together. But miles on direct flights are awarded based on the distance between the first and last airport. Example: There is a flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco that flies to Chicago and then continues to San Francisco. You would think that the flyer would get miles for both segments. Not so. United gives miles based on the distance from Minneapolis to San Francisco, which is actually less than the distance from Chicago to San Francisco.
Therefore, a person who got on the plane in Minneapolis and flew through Chicago got less miles than I did by boarding in Chicago. Huh?
Our flight recently from Sarasota to Chicago actually continued to Orange County, Calif. Think about that on a map. Instead of awarding miles based on the two “legs,” United just measured the distance from Sarasota to Orange County and “cheated” flyers out of 637 miles. Now, to make matters much worse, some airlines are using the same flight number on two totally different flights. Passengers think they are on a direct flight, but they actually have to change gates and aircrafts. And, of course, they are subject to the scam of reduced miles.
The only way to avoid being cheated is to check your routing on anything but a non-stop flight. We have contacted United in the past, but, so far, it has not changed the numbering system.
Some of you have followed the exploits of our grandson, Jon Scheyer, and asked about the where and what of his career. Jon was captain of the Duke team that won the NCAA championship in 2010 and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He suffered a serious eye injury playing in the NBA Summer League that year, spent many months recuperating and then began his professional life as a world traveler, which is why we feel justified in mentioning him here.
He started his NBA career as a member of the Rio Grand Valley Vipers. Travel with that team took him from our furthest southern border to Maine and many towns in between.
The next year Jon played for Maccabi Electra in Israel, and the team traveled from the Baltic to the south of Europe and up to the northern borders. This last year, Jon played for Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, which plays in the well-respected Spanish League. While Jon was playing there, he got a call from Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke who said, “Pack your bags, you are coming home.” Jon is now an assistant coach at Duke and, once again, appreciates the finer travel style afforded by Duke.
So, what about the Canary Islands as a tourist destination you ask? Don’t! There is not much there compared to Florida, and it’s difficult to get to, requiring a flight to Madrid and then a three-hour regional jet flight to the Canaries.
Stuart and Lois Scheyer are in their early 80s and are residents of Longboat Key. They each log more than 100,000 air miles a year. They will be pleased to answer any travel questions and can be reached by email at [email protected]. Travel Easy — Travel Light — Travel Now