Diary of a DYKWIA
Oh man's inhumanity to man, it seems that I am doomed to make seven trips to Blighty this year. To be fair one of those trips is actually to Spain, but will involve time in the broad sunlit uplands of the industrial West Midlands. It gets worse.......apparently my time is needed in Brazil again....twice, and China on multiple occasions.
The only glimmer of light on the horizon is avoiding Y and Y+. A relatively successful business year has left a few shekels in the kitty for my travel.
Those temptresses at DJ/VA have lured me into their cabins of iniquity with promises of status matches and complimentary upgrades so my blind devotion to QF is at an end. I feel a sense of relief that I am no longer tied to this cruel mistress of the air. I have seen a brave new world of customer service, friendly faces and positive attitudes. At last the golden handcuffs have been removed and I am a free man.
....mmmmm but what to do with this new found freedom? My flights to the UK and back are already booked for February, March, April and June, as is my trip to Brazil at the end of February, and that painted lady, QF, has one last cruel trick to play on me and taunts me with promises of Platinum One. I can see that it is next to worthless for me, but I am still lured into the trap like a moth towards the flame....the problems of being a DYKWIA.
This Platinum One malarkey seems a bit odd. Perhaps I am misunderstadning it, but it seems to me that there are few useful benefits in it for me. I hope I'm proven wrong, because if all goes as planned I will become a P1 in early March. I wonder if this new level might encourage customer service reps to keep their promises when they advise that they will call back. Oh well plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, which I think is French for "I surrender"...err...actually I do have a tendency to translate all French sentences as "I surrender" so perhpas it doesn't mean that.
March is not a straightforward trip and will be my first with VA....well EY in reality. My final destination is Spain. (I'm never sure what to make of Spain, I always bracket it in the not as bad as France category.) I do need to spend some time in the UK so opted for a return to LHR and book separate flights to Spain with BA and IB.
Thus I am left with return trips to the UK in August, October and December. these dates are confirmed, I will also have a couple or more trips to China and one to Brazil that will be confirmed nearer the travel dates. China is going to be damned tricky, very difficult to justify J.
I needed a strategy. Easier said than done when you are incompetent. Although I consider myself more a buffoon than incompetent.
It seemed to me that my devotion to all things QF and oneworld had left me exposed. I had no fallback position. I rented Avis cars and stayed at IHG hotels. (Not that the latter was specifically QF related.) The DJ/VA status match opened the door to a whole world of new possibilities. First up car rental.
Actually before I bore you with car rental I just need to illuminate you about my flight strategy. I have decided to use DJ for my domestic travel and VA + partners for one or two international trips. With the complimentary upgrades and points upgrades I think I'll be flying J pretty much all the time domestically. I'm not planning to accumulate DJ/VA points I'm going to use them as I get them.
OK car rental. I took the Europcar status option thanks to DJ/VA and lo and behold prices look better than Avis. The completion of the status match required a follow up email to Europcar but it was all sorted out quickly. I have been pretty dissatisfied with Avis of late, the frequency of the shuttle bus at LHR is 1 to every two Hertz, National, and Europcar buses, and on my last two trips I have waited more than 25 mins. I have also not been upgraded for three trips. (I'm an 80-100 rentals days per year sort of fellow!) So I await my first Europcar rental experience, will I get upgraded I am wondering to myself. (....and obviously you now.)
IHG has been my program of choice, quite why I have no idea. I guess the earn rate is not bad with all of the promotions etc, but I think I stuck with them out of laziness. I couldn't be bothered to try anything else. The Hilton Diamond match through DJ/VA was a very nice bonus. It took me about a day and a calculator with big buttons to work out that it was a better deal for me to stay at Hilton's, particularly with brekkie, exec lounge access and free wifi. I'll still maintain IHG Plat, it doesn't take much and might prove useful to keep. I do find myself alternating between the Hilton in Bromsgrove and the Hampton Inn in Coventry to secure individual stays.......28 stays is a tricky target to maintain Diamond Status.
With regular planned trips to the UK it seemed only logical to try and avoid the expensive flights from Australia. Task number one was to procure a positioning flight that would get me to LHR. (Preferably when I needed to be there.) A JASA to SIN, via BNE, and a FASA from SIN to LHR did the job perfectly. So stage one of my cunning plan was complete I had found a way to the UK in early August.
Whilst not ideal from a timing perspective (My VA/DJ year ends at the end of August and my QF year at the end of July.) the next part of my plan left me more than a little surprised. A LHR-MEL return with EY, in J, departing August and returning Oct was priced at GBP2817.86, coming in at AUS$4,423.77. (The commission charge of $128.85 was a bit of a shock too.......maybe the 28 deg Mastercard next time.) Gadzooks I exclaimed. This is cheaper than QF Y+ MEL-LHR-MEL.
I booked a JASA for my December trip MEL-LHR-MEL and am left to book a LHR-MEL return departing LHR in Oct returning in Feb. This will probably go to BA. The perfect plan for 2012/2013 will be to maintain PG with QF, to secure the loyalty bonuses and the 50,000 points, and then go for Partner Plat with VA/DJ. this will give me a year of waving round my P1 card with QF before dropping back to WP again, and give MrsH a shiny DJ Plat card.
So far this year I have completed a day trip to PER and managed to use the sublime J service on the DJ A330. I think I may be turning into a DJ fanboi. (Oh yes and I thoroughly enjoyed the priority boarding which worked wonderfully.)
I'm expecting another 200,000+ mile year so fully intend to make you suffer by writing about it!
*The author makes no apologies for the mangling of quotations and the excessive use of cliches...in fact he positively delights in it.