Stealing your candy - and eating it too!

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by NM, Jul 3, 2006.

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  1. NM

    NM
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    #1 NM, Jul 3, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2006
    According to the now famous 10 star Dave Noble, completing the AA Platinum (lack of) Challenge is like stealing candy from a baby. Well, having experienced 4 babies in our family, I can assure you that stealing candy from a baby is not quite as easy as the expression implies. But stealing candy from AA is indeed a simple task if one approaches it in a well-planned manner.

    So having attained Qantas Lifetime Gold status (14,000 lifetime status credits), it was time to steal come candy from AA and enjoy the spoils of a more generous frequent flyer program.

    I had a need to visit the USA for business, and was able to tie in several other business visits into one Around The World trip, with visits to Melbourne, Frankfurt, Fort Worth, Phoenix (added later), Boca Raton, Miami, Kuala Lumpur and again to Melbourne. So a DONE4 business class OneWorld Explorer was the fare of choice. Having undertaken many of these trips in the past, I knew the fare rules well and how to get maximum value for both my business needs and my FF program.

    I already has an AA FF account with 8050 miles in it, none of them earned from flying. My AA FF card was printed on a piece of cardboard - hence I referred to my AA status as Cardboard when I commenced the trip. That did not last long.

    My Travel Agent automatically added my Qantas Platinum FF number to the reservation. This was a good thing initially as I contacted Qantas to have my preferred seats allocated for the Qantas international segments. I also used the BA Manage My Bookings web site to select the bulkhead row on my LHR-FRA flight (the bulkhead row is only available to OneWorld elite FF members to pre-allocate).

    I then request it be changed to my AA number and checked on both CheckMyTrip.com (QF's Amadeus booking system) and VirtuallyThere.com (AA's Sabre booking system) that it was showing correctly.

    Once the ticket was issued, I called Qantas and requested I be added to the upgrade waitlist for my QF29 MEL-LHR and QF30 HKG-MEL flights using points and upgrade credits respectively from my own Platinum FF account and hence obtaining the upgrade waitlist priority based on my Platinum FF status.

    BNE-MEL QF613
    Scheduled departure: 8:50
    Scheduled arrival: 11:10
    Seat 3C

    Since at this stage of my trip I had no AA status, and my QF Platinum FF number was not shown in my booking, the QF domestic seat allocation system did not recognise my forward aisle preference, but I was quite happy to seated in 3C for the 2 hour flight to the southern winter.

    My bags were checked through to FRA as I had connecting flights from MEL-LHR-FRA. I was handed my boarding pass for 4K on the evening flight to London. The LHR-FRA flight was not yet open for checkin so my boarding pass could not yet be printed. That would need to be collected at LHR Flight Connections.

    I spent the day visiting our Melbourne office, including dinner with a colleague at Southbank before getting a taxi back to the airport and a shower in the F lounge.

    QF29 MEL-(hkg)-LHR
    Departure: 23:00
    Arrival: 13:20
    Seat: 4K

    This is my favourite seat on the QF 747-400. Not only do you get to turn left as you enter (always a good feeling on a 744), but this seat has a large shelf between the seat and the window (there is a baby bassinet inside) which is great for keeping things during the flight. I also prefer the right hand side of the cabin as they always seem to fill the A/E seats before filling the F/K seats. Consequently all 7 seats on the A/E side were filled, and only 3 seats on my F/K side were taken. That means very little roaming traffic past me to get to the galley/lavs.

    After take-off I always change immediately into my QF Pyjamas when travelling in F, and this trip was not exception. My clothes were hung and the FA kindly took them to the front locker where they would remain fresh for my HKG transit and LHR arrival.

    As this was a late night departure and I had eaten several hours earlier, I settled for the famous Steak Sandwich, a glass or three of Noble One, and then as much sleep as I could. I was planning on enjoying the QF F service and moves on the longer day-time segment from HKG to LHR. I had a very basic breakfast (juice, croissant and Vegemite, coffee), maximising my sleep opportunity.

    HKG - The Wing

    On arrival into HKG, I bypassed the Qantas Club lounge and headed to The Wing (CX lounge). The CX agent at the door was happy to accept my QF F boarding pass as entrance to the First Class lounge section. There I partook of the excellent Chinese Dim Sum (a must for any breakfast time visit to the CX F lounges at HGK). Then time for a shower in the Cabanas.

    I then went for a wander over to the QF lounge just to remind myself of what it is like. The obvious difference is the food on offer!

    HKG-LHR

    On this segment I enjoyed the QF F service, meals, champagne, scotch etc while watching a few movies and reading my book. This aircraft was not AVOD equipped, so I selected a few movies from the F library of tapes.

    As this flight was my AA Platinum Qualifying flight, mid way over Ukraine I wandered back to the F galley and found a tray containing fruit and some chocolate bars available for the F passengers. I slipped a Mars Bar into my pocket thinking to myself that this was a very appropriate time to be "stealing candy" as my AA account would be ticking over from Cardboard to Platinum status after just one flight!

    On arrival into LHR I had to take the bus from Terminal 4 to Flight Connections for my Terminal 1 departure to FRA. There was not queue and a bus waiting when I arrived at the transfer area. No problems using the FastTrack security at Flight Connections. The traffic cop at the queue asked if I was travelling Club class to which I nodded and kept walking. No waiting at the FastTrack security point. I had once before been denied FastTrack security since I did not yet have my boarding pass, but that was not a problem this time. Boarding pass was collected at the transfer desk behind the security checkpoint.

    The LHR Terminal 1 F Lounge is also very nice and almost on a par with the CX lounges at HKG. One of the best aspects of this lounge is the JW Blue in the self-serve bar :) .

    BA910 LHR-FRA
    Scheduled Departure: 15:35, Actual Departure 17:50
    Scheduled Arrival: 16:10, Actual Arrival 18:30
    Seat 3A

    This flight was delayed as were all flights in and out of LHR that day, apparently due to high winds restricting which runways could be used. A cold chicken salad meal was provided, along with several minis of The Glenlivit 15yo (originally handed JW Black and asked if the had a malt :) ).

    FRA arrivals is always quick. No waiting at all at the passport control, and baggage delivery was fast. Then I found the shuttle bus for the Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport North picked up from the other terminal, so I hopped on the free bus over to that terminal. Then a 5 min wait for the airport shuttle bus.
     

  2. NM

    NM
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    Frankfurt - Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport North

    I had booked an Exec room in this hotel (their top level room) since the price was so low for this weekend stay. I had joined Priority Club before leaving home and faxed off to them a copy of my Hilton Honors Diamond Card and they had kindly comped me to PC Platinum status. I don't think I got much in the way of Platinum benefits at this hotel but as I had booked the Exec level room there was no scope for a room upgrade. There was some bottle of water and chockies in the room for me.

    As the inbound flight was delayed I called my European colleague whom I had planned to meet for dinner and we decided to just catch up the next day (Saturday). He picked me up from the hotel and we spent the day walking around downtown Frankfurt and discussing business.

    Next time I go to Frankfurt I will stay at the Intercontinental hotel (since I now have IC Ambassador status thanks to this trip) and we get a very good corporate rate there.

    Sunday morning I checked out and planned on having breakfast at the AA lounge at FRA airport.

    AA71 FRA-DFW
    Departure: 10:55
    Arrival: 14:30
    seat: 10J

    I chose this flight flight as it was a nice day-time flight trans-Atlantic. AA's business class seats are very comfortable for sitting, offer better recline than QF's old Dreamtime seats, and 10 inches more space (60" vs 50" pitch) than QF's dreamtime seats.

    The points from my two QF flights had already posted and so I now have more than 25,000 AA miles in my now Platinum AA account. I called AA to see if I could upgrade this flight to First Class, and was told I could but it would cost me 25,000 miles plus US$125 since it was less than 7 days before departure. So I decided to keep the miles and the money since it was a daytime flight and I planned on reading and working anyway.

    I arrived at the airport 3 hours before the scheduled departure time, and was second in line for F check-in when it opened (just after I arrived). The check-in process involved undergoing the third degree questioning at a desk before being allowed to approach the actual check-in desk. The interrogator wanted to know where I had been in Germany (wanted to see the hotel receipt), what I was doing in the USA (wanted to see the conference agenda), and who I worked for (wanted to see a business card). He was not satisfied with verbal answers but wanted printed evidence of my answers. Anyway, I must have passed the inquisition and was allowed to check-in.

    The AA lounge at FRA was very disappointing. Virtually no food (small bread rolls and jam), coffee and that was about it.

    Its a good thing some very kind person sold me a Targus universal power adapter before this trip so I could use my laptop on the AA flights since they don't have the 110V AC in-seat power that QF has in J and F cabins.

    I chose a seat in the middle of the cabin and was able to have my first meal choice for both meal services (FEBO for the first meal service and the reverse for the second).

    Arrival at DFW's new Terminal D was efficient except for the long queue to exit customs. That took about 25 mins to get through.
     
  3. NM

    NM
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    The day before departing on my journey, I was asked to visit a customer in Phoenix. As I had remaining segments available on my DONE4 ticket, there was not going to be any additional cost for my airfare to make this extra side-trip from DFW to PHX. And since I had not yet commenced the journey, there was no charge to re-issue the ticket either. So DFW-PHX-DFW was duly added before I started.

    In Ft Worth I generally stay at the Hilton Garden Inn (North Freeway) and this was no exception. However, next time I think I will try the Holiday Inn Express (Cherry Lane) as its much closer to our office. I also have read a report that a new Embassy Suits will be opening at the end of the year in down town Ft Worth, so that may also be a good option.

    As a HH Diamond member I get breakfast vouchers at the HGI. In the past these had always been good for the full breakfast, but this time they were charging an extra $2 if I chose the hot food over the continental buffet.

    AA1849 DFW-PHX
    Departure: 20:20
    Arrival: 20:50
    Seat 6B (MD80)

    I was travelling with a US-based colleague who is also AA Platinum status (earned the hard way). He was not able to upgrade this flight segment so had to sit down with the great unwashed in coach.

    We stayed at the Embassy Suits in Tempe, not far from where our customer is located. It was very hot even at 9pm when we arrived. And it hit 110 the next day!

    AA1500 PHX-DFW
    Departure: 19:10
    Arrival: 23:15
    Seat 3B (MD80)

    This time my colleague's upgrade request was successful and we sat together in row 3 for the trip back to Ft Worth. There is no Admirals Club in PHX, so we had a few beers in the terminal before boarding.

    The timezone change made for a very late arrival, and of course it was into a different terminal that our departure. So we had take the Skylink train back to where the car was parked. And this meant a very late arrival back at the Hilton Garden Inn. But I was greeted by name as I walked into the foyer, which is always nice.

    AA1614 DFW-MIA
    Departure: 11:15
    Arrival: 14:56
    Seat 3A (777 - Coffins)

    Again my colleague was unable to secure an upgrade. However, on my prompting I had him select a seat in the business class section of this 777 on a domestic flight. He was very pleased I had pointed this out to him.

    Since I was on a 3 week ATW trip, and this time not returning via DFW, I had to check my 20kg suitcase for the flight. So my US colleague decided he might as well check his as well since we would have to wait for mine anyway. On arrival at MIA, we had to walk about 2km to the baggage delivery belt, and then wait almost an hour for the bags to arrive. This was one of the longest waits I have ever experiences and makes it very clear why passengers in the USA do not like to check in baggage.

    Anyway, after the bags arrived and we collected the hire car we were off for the 40 mile drive north to Boca Raton where we spent the night at the Embassy Suites. We had a meeting the following day with a vendor and had dinner with them this evening.

    The next day after our business meeting we drove back down to Miami to the Intercontinental Hotel, where we would be spending 4 nights for a conference. This IC stay would qualify me for Ambassador status with IC hotels thanks to a three night stay promotion. My Priority Club Platinum status gained me an upgrade to a high-level room with water views which was very nice indeed.
     
  4. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    great report so far
     
  5. NM

    NM
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    My next destination was Kuala Lumpur. But getting from MIA to KUL is always going to be a long trip, and with 12 hour time change, its can be difficult on the body clock. So I was booked onto the CX885 daytime trans-Pacific flight with the intention of staying awake most of the journey and spending the night in a hotel near HKG airport before connecting the next morning to KUL.

    To make the CX daytime flight out of LAX (their only daytime flight option from USA to HKG) I had to leave MIA early in the morning. For weeks there had been no availability on the non-stop MIA-LAX morning flight in A class, so I was booked on a 6:10am departure from MIA and transiting in DFW. A few days before I left Australia the waitlist for the non-stop flight was successfully cleared and I was very happy to have an extra 2 hours to sleep in MIA and 2 hours less travelling time.

    However, this all came unstuck when my MIA-LAX flight became a MIA-MIA-LAX flight.

    AA283 MIA-MIA-LAX
    Scheduled Departure: 8:00
    First departure: 7:58
    MIA arrival: 8:30
    Second departure: 11:00
    Scheduled LAX arrival: 10:36
    Actual LAX arrival: 13:30
    Seat 5J (763)

    Soon after takeoff, the captain announced there was a technical problem with the aircraft and we would be returning to MIA. Just before we landed, he announced the problem was and indication of heat in the engine where there should not be heat, and as such we would be met by the airport fire services as soon as we had cleared the runway. At this point many passengers did their sums and realised they were in trouble with connecting flights. The person next to me was connected to an AA flight to NRT and then a JAL flight to SIN. Others around us had connections to QF8 to SYD.

    Soon after all the flashing lights and men in fluorescent jump suits decided it was safe for the aircraft to taxi to the terminal, we sat and waited for the engineers to determine if they could repair the aircraft. After about 45 mins waiting they decided it was going to take a long time to repair and they made arrangements to use another aircraft to get us to LAX. We were told the ground staff at the other gate would handle questions about connections at LAX.

    Using my normal style of fast walking through airports, I was first to arrive at the new departure gate and I started the queue behind the unmanned service counter. By the time the cabin crew and pilots arrived from the other gate, quite a queue had formed behind me, but there was no ground agent to assist. When one finally arrived (and she was on her own), she first had to prepare the system for boarding the flight, and the she started working out AA domestic connections at LAX. Before she could even hope to start to look at international connections it was time to board. It was more important to get us all on board and in the air on our way to LAX rather than wait around while they addressed connection issues.

    We arrived at LAX about 10 mins after my CX flight to HKG was due to depart. I also say Wunala Dreaming (VH-OJE) pushing back from T4, which will have been the QF8 flight departing for SYD which may other passengers had obviously missed.

    Knowing I had missed my CX flight, and knowing the next CX departure to HKG was 10 hours later, I went straight to the Admirals Club lounge at Terminal 4. If I had to wait out 10 hours, I was going to do it in the FLounge at T4 and not in a shoebox at TBIT.

    The agent at the service desk at the T4 lounge was brilliant. I was pleased to be the first from our flight to arrive at the lounge as I saw a long queue of people forming behind me, including my seatmate on his way to NRT and SIN.

    The 11:55pm departure to HKG was fully booked and Precilla tried everything she could to get me onto it. She even found the AA codeshare for that flight was showing F1 and she booked me into that F seat only to be told by CX that there were no seats even in F and I would not get on.

    So she eventually got me a J seat on the 1:55am departure of CX881, which would get me into HKG in time to make my connection to KUL. But my bags were only tagged to HKG since I was supposed to be overnighting in a hotel there before my HKG-KUL flight the following morning. Precilla called CX and had them locate my bags and re-tag them to KUL instead of HKG - 10 out of 10 for effort and customer service. She even scored me an exit row seat on the upper deck.

    So I made myself comfortable in the Terminal 4 FLounge for a few hours, including taking a shower and a guiness or three. I also fired up the laptop and made use of the T-Mobile hotspot to get some work done and to check out what was happening on AFF and FT of course.

    Around 9pm I headed over to TBIT as I knew CX checkin would be opening and I had to check that the bag tagging had been completed and get my new boarding pass. I walked up to the F check-in desk (I was entitled to use the F desk as a OneWorld Emerald due to my QF Platinum status). It took the check-in agent a long time and several visits to the ticketing counter to sort it all out. But she eventually came back with my boarding pass for CX881 early morning departure.

    I showed her my QF Platinum card and asked for an invitation to the F lounge which she did. But she also thought she would do me a favour and change my AA FF number to my QF number! Ahh. Anyway, I just figured I would fix that in the lounge as this check-in agent didn't understand my request to leave it with my AA number.

    So up to the CX lounge on level 6. But only the Business Class lounge was open at that time, so the door agent took my F lounge invitation and asked me to make my self comfortable until the FLounge opened in about 10 mins. 10 mins later, Rose came up to me invited me to follow her to the FLounge. It was quite a walk around the rabbit warren and similar in furnishings to the J lounge, but a little better food on offer (same beverages as far as I could tell).

    After the lounge emptied when CX883 (11:55pm departure) boarded, I asked Rosie if she could change my FF number to my AA account and re-print my boarding pass. We chatted about my MIA experience and 12 hour delay that meant instead of taking the planned daytime flight and sleeping in a hotel, I had spent 12 hours at LAX and now had to sleep on the plane. She explained there must have been several people in the same boat as the flight was 30 people oversold now!

    About 10 mins before boarding time, Rose came and found me and asked to see my boarding pass. She exchanged it for a new one for seat 1K. So my CX trans-Pacific F experience continues (3 out of 3). Thanks Rosie. Not sure exactly why I was selected, but guess a combination of Precilla from the AA T4 lounge adding a comment along the lines of "please consider for upgrade", and Rosie knowing my saga and also knowing I was a OneWorld Emerald even though my AA status was only Sapphire.

    CX881
    Departure 1:55
    Arrival: 6:50
    Seat 1K (744)

    As always, the CX service was exemplary. The Balic Smoke Salmon and Caviar appetiser was well received after a 12 hour airport experience. And I think I must have managed a good 8 hours sleep after several glasses of Krug and JW Blues.

    Breakfast into HKG was the usual CX F arrangement, and the Chinese Assorted Dim Sum was again my choice. Excellent indeed.

    HKG The Pier.

    We arrived at gate 73 and my departure to HKG was from gate 71, so The Pier was the lounge of choice. Plenty of time for a shower and then another helping or two of Dim Sum for breakfast.

    I did a quick check of some duty-free prices of things I had on my shopping list to pick up on my next visit through HKG in a few days.

    CX723 HKG-KUL
    Departure: 8:50
    Arrival: 12:30
    Seat 12G (A330-300)

    This flight was originally to be operated by a 2-class A330 but must have been exchanged in the last few days with a 3-class aircraft. I had not noticed the change and my 12G pre-allocated seat remained unchanged, and so I missed out on an F seat for the trip to KUL. But at least I had a long-haul flat (though not horizontal) seat instead of the planned regional business class seat.

    I had my third breakfast for the day, holding onto the much touted fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day :D .

    Arrival into KUL was on schedule and there was no queue at the premium immigration lane. A quick visit to the ATM and the KLIA Ekspress training ticket counter filled in some time while waiting for my bags to arrive.

    The train trip into KL Sentral was spot on 28 mins as advertised, and there was a HL Hilton porter waiting at the top of the escalator to help their customers to the shuttle bus to the adjacent hotel.

    When I went to check-in, they did not have an exec floor room available yet, so I was escorted to the exec lounge where I fired up the laptop to start work for the day. I then called my local staff member and he came into the hotel for our meeting which we held in the exec lounge. Once my room was ready and my bags delivered, we left the hotel and he dropped me off at Bukit Bintang for a bit of shop browsing.
     
  6. NM

    NM
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    Next was the long trip home. Again I wanted to avoid the killer overnight flights from Asia to Australia, so planned on the QF30 daytime HKG-MEL flight. And having 4 lonely QF Upgrade Credits that would likely go unused, I decided 3 of them would make a nice way to continue my F experience on this trip. About 24 hours before the QF30 flight was due to depart, I noticed my QF FF account had been reduced by 3 UCs, so that was confirmation to me that the upgrade had come through even through the on-line system was still showing as "requested".

    So I called QF to get my seat assignment. The system had given me 2A. Now there is no such thing as a bad F seat, but 2A is at the bottom of my list of desired seats. I had been watching the flight closely and knew that the previous day the only seats allocated were 1A, 1K, 1A and 4K. So any other allocated now much be last minute sales or upgrades. And I know that 4A and 4K are generally held back for airport allocation due to being bassinet positions. The best the QF agent could do was offer 3K, which I happily accepted. She said 4A and 4K were already allocated and nothing she could do. I suspect if my QF Platinum number had been in the booking she may have been able to get me one of them at that time.

    After a morning meeting with my boss, and a lunchtime meeting with a customer, I headed back to the Hilton to collect my bags and to check-in at the KL Sentral station.

    This time I knew the CX 724 KUL-HKG flight was being operated by a 3-class aircraft and that the F seats were all showing as reserved. I called CX reservations and asked for seat allocation in the first 2 rows, but since it was the same day as the flight, all seat allocations were under airport control and she could not move me from 12G. At check-in, the MAS agent did not understand (or played dumb) and tried to tell me that row 12 was the second row of the aircraft. That is the case for a 2-class aircraft, but not for the operating 3-class aircraft. She saw the comment added by the CX telephone res agent about the passenger being One-World Emerald and requesting seating in the first 2 rows. But it took a phone call to the airport and step-by-step instructions for her to actually print me a boarding pass for seat 1A.

    CX724 KUL-HKG
    Departure: 17:55
    Arrival: 21:45
    Seat 1A (A333)

    The flight was very pleasant and the usual CX quality service for business class. JW Gold was the beverage of choice in this flight.

    Procedures at HKG were as efficient (yet labour-intensive) as usual. My bags had been checked through to MEL, so I didn't have to collect them at HKG. This was a great benefit of a <12 hour connection.

    I was booked at the new Novotel Citigate hotel near HKG. Having never stayed there before, I did not know the procedure for getting the free shuttle bus to the hotel. So after exiting the customs hall, stopped at the tourist info desk and asked. They looked up their booklet and told me go to the B desk in the terminal outside. At the B desk there was a sign for Novotel hotel. The man there told me the shuttle bus would be about 5 mins and to take a seat adjacent to the desk, and he placed a yellow sticker on my shirt. There were about 8 people with yellow stickers by the time we were collected to be escorted to the bus about 5 mins later.

    The Novotel Citigate is very handy for a short overnight transit in HKG when there is no time or point into taking the high-speed train into HK Island or Kowloon. Its new and fresh. But it is the only major brand hotel I have ever found that does not take Diners Club cards! They were happy with my personal Amex card.

    I booked for the 6am shuttle bus back to the airport the following morning. It was good thing I booked as it was full.

    QF30 HKG-MEL
    Departure: 9:10
    Arrival: 19:55
    Seat 4A

    At check-in I asked if seat 4A or 4K was available and was told I could have 4A if I wanted it. So boarding pass was printed and checked baggage info added to the system. I then headed to The Wing for breakfast (yes, the Dim Sum again :mrgreen: ).

    Then a visit to the duty-free shop to collect my full allowance (3 x 750ml bottle of Islay Whisky - two Bowmore and one Laphroaig) before heading to the boarding gate.

    Having had a good night's sleep at the hotel, I planned on enjoying the daytime flight to MEL. So the welcome Champaign was received and refilled. The PJs were accepted, but this time the slipped into my carryon bag, earmarked for Mini NM#1. I was comfortable enough in my normal travel attire for this flight.

    The meal service is available as anytime dining. I liked this approach and started with pancakes as a nice sweet morning tea following my Dim Sum in The Wing. About half way through the flight I asked lunch, and then 2 hours before landing I asked for the veal schnitzel for dinner.

    This flight was AVOD equipped and it worked perfectly for the whole flight for me, except they had loaded the May programming guides but had the June programs installed. So one of the movies I wanted to watch was showing in the guide but not in the system. Oh well, at least the system was working!

    On arrival into MEL, I had marked my arrivals customs declaration to indicate I was carry some food items. I knew they were ok to bring it (Vegemite and M&Ms) but did the right thing and ticked the Yes box. When entering into BNE, the quarantine officer at the start of the queue asks you have and sends you to the appropriate queue. In MEL, no such question was asked and the officer just saw the yes tick and sent me to the "food" queue. It took me ages to get to the head of the queue!

    The officer at the head of the queue asked what I had and when I told he, she said next time write "Vegemite and M&Ms" on the card next to the question and I will not have to wait in this queue. Oh well, you learn these things the hard way. When arriving into MEL, write it onto the card.

    Crowne Plaza Melbourne

    I was offered an upgraded room (with Casino Views :rolleyes:). It was not the largest room of my trip, but perfectly adequate for my overnight stay. I had a meeting in our Melbourne office the next morning which is a 10 min walk from this hotel.

    Next morning I checked out and had my bags held until I returned following my meeting. Then headed back to the airport. Since I was in MEL for less than 24 hours, this was considered a transit as far as the DONE4 fare rules are concerned. So I still have my two stopovers in the continent of origin to go! One being my stop at home in BNE, and the another trip to MEL sometime in the next 11 months.

    QF620 MEL-BNE
    Departure: 14:05
    Arrival: 16:05

    This flight was selected as it allowed my children to come to the airport for my arrival (after they finished their school day) and so I could get to a musical production dress rehearsal for which I was the sound engineer that evening).

    I used MEL QuickCheck for check-in, swiping my Diners Club card that had been used to purchase the ticket. It found my booking. I had previously only ever used my QF Platinum card for this purpose.

    I flashed my QF Plat card for access to the lounge as my AA Plat card was still in the mail to me.

    The flight home was quite normal, and the excitement of my kids seeing daddy arrive home after 3 weeks away was wonderful to experience again.
     
  7. NM

    NM
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    So what about all the candy?

    During this trip, I earned the following candy from AA:

    AA Miles Earned: 96,522
    AA Elite Qualifying Points Earned: 56,738
    AA Elite Qualifying Miles Earned: 37,823
    AA 500 mile Upgrade Credits: 12

    6000 of those AA miles came in the form of a customer service bonus offered without prompting after my MIA-MIA-LAX delays. And add to that my 8offered50 that I started with before the trip, and I had 104,572 miles to spend on candy.

    Mrs NM was wanting to take Minis#2 and #4 to AKL during the Christmas school holidays. So a quick check on ExpertFlyer showed there was availability BNE-MEL-AKL and AKL-MEL-BNE on suitable dates in January for 3 passengers in either economy (X) or business (U) class. So with Mrs NM being the extra special person she is, it was a no-brainer to book the business class option. I just have to see the photos of a 2 year old sleeping in a Skybed between MEL and AKL :mrgreen: .

    But 3 x business class awards on Aus/NZ region cost 105,000 miles. So I phoned AA Platinum Desk in the USA and asked if they could convert some of my upgrade credits to miles so I make the booking. The AAgent told me that because I was within 500 miles of the total miles needed, there was no problem and she could book it for me.

    I could hear the surprise in her voice when asked for 3 business class reward seats in January on specific flight numbers and dates, and when she looked it up there were actually available on those days and flights! Well, it pays to do your own research first ;) .

    The only problem was that she could not process the tax payment on my Australian credit card. So we agree that she would hold the reservation for up to two weeks (something QF would not do on an award booking) and I would call AA's Sydney reservation centre to pay using my Australian credit card.

    The next day I called AA in Sydney and was told the taxes were going to be $74.81 per person. I queried that since two of the passengers are under 12 years old so the $38 AU Passenger Movement Charge would not apply. She said AA award flights just have a tax component and no difference for adult or children, but I insisted she check, which she did. She came back and apologised and revised the total taxes to $148.43 for all three return tickets.

    So this is what I call stealing my candy (AA miles and status) and eating it too (redeeming flights).

    If this same journey had been credits to QF FF program, I would have earned 1510 Status Credits and hence renewed Platinum (OneWorld Emerald) status for another year. I would also have earned 80,300 QF FF points for the trip. Those points would not have even earned me one return business class award BNE-MEL-AKL (there was no availability on the non-stop BNE-AKL route, let alone for my desired 3 seats in any class).

    The QF FF program cost for 3 award seats in business class BNE-MEL-AKL and AKL-MEL-BNE would have been 300,000 points plus $710 in taxes!

    So not only did I enough AA miles to redeem 3 business class seat, but I also saved $562 in cash for the same award seats had I used QF FF points! That is a lot of candy.

    Oh yes, and I ate the mars bar I "stole" from the F galley on my AA Platinum (lack of) Challenge flight.

    My thanks to the 10-star Dave Noble for his assistance in planning my candy theft.
     
  8. G*

    G* Junior Member

    Feb 20, 2006
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    Great travelogue NM! After much enlightenment (from reading your frequent contributions), I am considering the AA candy eating option for my RTW in *pant pant* 18 days. Any snags I should be aware of re: registering with AA (Oz address OK?). My J sectors with OW are: MEL - SYD - SFO - LAX (AC - *Alliance) YUL - LHR - IST - LHR - HEL - HKG - MEL
    Thoughts and suggestions from all would be very welcome. Thanks to everyone for the brilliant advice shared:p !
     
  9. Dave Noble

    Dave Noble Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2005
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    SYD-SFO will complete your candy stealing quest and so you will be earning the 100% miles on all flights other than MEL-SYD.

    Do remember to ensure that you register for the challenge through the AAdvantage desk in USA ; other than that, no snags

    Dave
     
  10. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    Is this a OneWorld Explorer DONE4 fare? If so, note that since you have not yet commenced the trip there is no fee to re-issue the ticket. So its not too late to add 3 domestic flights to the end of the trip to be taken any time in the 12 months from the date of the first flight. You could add a MEL-PER-ADL-MEL return trip with a stopover in PER or ADL if you like, just for the cost of the extra taxes.

    You can also add lots of USA flights, and since there is no fuel surcharge on AA domestic flights, there will be no change to the ticket price. Just have to add them before you leave.

    As Dave says, register through the USA phone number and ensure the AA FF number is in the reservation (and that QF FF number has been properly removed). Othersie no snags.
     
  11. duffshot

    duffshot Member

    Apr 27, 2005
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    Great report NM (As usual). Having stuck with QFF for my last DONE4 completed on the weekend it is great to have your experience to compare.

    Due to time constraints mine was a BNE - LAX - SAT - DFW - YUL - LHR - SIN - SYD - BNE and did not really maximise the DONE4 SC earning power but compared to your trip I am miles behind in earn. Goes to show what some knowledge and planning can achieve, and the AA Challenge really is a vastly different experience than the QF slog.

    As an aside - I had an upgrade to F on the LHR -SIN - SYD leg and had the pleasure of experiencing first with a stomach bug and spending a good portion of the flight in the first class bathroom... Apart from the 1st meal out of LHR which was fantastic, I had a total of 4 ginger ales and no food.... The staff on both legs were fantastic, and whilst I felt like crap and just slept when I wasn't in the bathroom, it really was as pleasurable experience as it could be in the circumstances. Nothing like a set of PJs and a doona to help cope! As I see it, if you are going to be sick on an aircraft, do it in first.
     
  12. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    NM, finally I have got around to reading your thread - playing nurse today to Mrs QF WP.

    Waiver no more everybody, the trickle is becoming a steady stream. I'm glad that I've done it as well. In fact it was meeting Flyertalker alect at LAX and hearing how he jumped that made me interested and Dave Noble who eventually convinced me to jump the fence.

    I should get my AA Platinum Challenge finished next week with back to back BNE/SYD/BNE and BNE/MEL/BNE (in J). Then I'll be crediting everything for the rest of 2006 to AA (to try and re-qual at least Gold for 2007).

    I'll only credit flights to QF in order to gain my LTS in early 2007 (130 SC's), so that I should have LTS by my next QF anniversary (28 Feb). Thereafter, everything will then be credited to AA, to maximise my earn/burn ratio. Lifetime Gold and Platinum, for all of us "jumpers", here we come.
     
  13. NM

    NM
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    See what she gets for not joining us on the weekend :mrgreen: . Seriously though, I hope all is well and that success is imminent.
    Its a shame you could not delay the start of your challenge until June 16th or later in order to retain status until Feb 2008. At least I was able to requalify until that date with my one DONE4 fare.

    Now, be sure to steal a mAArs bAAr or similar on you challenge completion flight!
     
  14. vt01

    vt01 Member

    Jan 6, 2006
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    I've been waivering for a couple of months now.. I've almost finished my DONE4 all to QF so far.. Got a couple of domestic US flights and then an LAX-SYD. I was going to get LTG first but realised I've still got 6000 SC's to go which will take me about 5 years! So I'm joining the stream to AA! Plus I noticed QF have comped me early at 1135 SC's so I'll keep my WP status until Aug 07.

    So just to make sure I've got this right, D class SYD-LAX (7491 miles x 1.5 = 11236) is sufficient EQP to meet the platinum challenge.

    Because this is my qualifying flight, I get the double miles bonus?
    Is the bonus double 7491 miles or double 11236?

    I currently have an upgrade request in with QF on the LAX-SYD flight. Will it affect my chances if I change my FF number to my AA number? Or should I wait until I get to LAX and change it to the AA number just before my flight?
    Why lifetime Gold and Platinum? Is that because its easier to qualify under AA?
     
  15. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    I think the AA PLT bonus is on flown miles, not including the cabin bonus so an extra 7491 (I assume this number is correct).

    Wait until your upgrade comes through then change your FF number to AA. This can safely be done at check in - there is no advantage to switching it earlier (other than risk of forgetting to do so later) but there are advantages of keeping your QFF number in (eg preferred seat, upgrade paid or op-up).

    AA lifetime status is 1 million miles for gold and 2 million miles for platinum. All miles count for this - even non-flying activity. So lifetime status on AA is currently easier for most people than lifetime status on QF.
     
  16. Dave Noble

    Dave Noble Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2005
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    SYD-LAX in D will happily complete the challenge and you will get 7491 bonus miles.

    Once the upgrade request has been made , then there is no need for the QF number in the booking since the priority for the upgrade is based on the status of the account the miles are coming from rather than the status of the passenger. Just get the upgrade requested and get a seat assigned and then remove the QF number and insert the AA number.

    Dave
     
  17. NM

    NM
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    Yes, you will complete the challenge with that flight. Pretty easy, hey?
    You will earn 7491 base miles, plus 7491 Plat Bonus plus 1872 class bonus (or possibly 3745 class bonus if your QF upgrade is successful and they post it as P class as they did with my two upgrades).

    You also earn 11,236 EQP for the flight, meeting the 10,000 needed for the challenge.
    Will not affect your upgrade priority. The upgrade waitlist priority is based on the QF FF status of the member's account that is paying for the upgrade. And since that account is QF Platinum, that is what sets the waitlist priority.
     
  18. vt01

    vt01 Member

    Jan 6, 2006
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    Thanks Dave.. how do I get a seat assigned? I thought these weren't assigned until the day of the flight...

    Sure is.. I was quite surprised...
     
  19. NM

    NM
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    Dave was suggested to make sure you have a preferred J seat assigned now. You cannot have an F seat assigned until the waitlist has been successfully concluded.
     
  20. vt01

    vt01 Member

    Jan 6, 2006
    374
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    Sydney
    Thanks NM and Dave
     
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