A few months ago I received an email from my friend Delta Points. He laid out the case for taking part in a pretty amazing deal. For $139, we would fly from LAS to MSP to JAX to MSP to LAS. Somewhere along the way there was a schedule change, and we wound up actually flying LAS-LAX-ATL-JAX-ATL-LAS. I repositioned out there on a one-way purchased fare on Delta which cost me $115 after using a $50 off coupon I had lying around. Being miles rich, and cash poor around the holidays, I elected to fly back to Atlanta on a one-way AAdvantage award that I ultimately did not need to use (more on that later).
I took one of the later Delta nonstops to Vegas on Wednesday night. That way I could put in a full day at the office and still get to Vegas in time to lose 20 bucks, get some sleep, and make it to the airport early on Thursday. My Platinum Medallion upgrade cleared at the 5-day window for this flight, which made me happy as it is blocked around 4-hours. I had a big seat and GoGo so I could get a little work done, but sadly, no power on this particular 757. Another novelty of this trip was that dinner was served. Seems that nearly all my flights are either breakfast, lunch, or no meal. I present you chicken with some kind of red sauce.
It tasted better than it looks, but this is another fine example of why I don’t take many food pictures on flights. Two choices of bread were available, and red wine refills were frequent. Like most Delta flight attendants, ours were great on this flight.
The Amex Centurion Lounge
I have to admit that the thing I was most pleased about during this trip was the opportunity to visit the American Express Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas. After a short cab ride and a quick transit through TSA PreCheck, DP and I arrived at the lounge, which is near gate D4.
We arrived at the lounge prior to the hot breakfast offerings, but even the continental breakfast tops any offering I’ve seen in a domestic carrier’s lounge. Furnishings were very comfortable, and there were power outlets just about everywhere, including the bar. Platinum and Centurion Cardmembers are afforded complimentary entry for themselves and up to 2 guests. Other Amex Cardmembers (affiliate link) can enter for a $50 fee, which I’d seriously consider paying if I were stuck in the airport with no other lounge access. Believe me, the Centurion Lounge tops the domestic legacy lounge offerings by far.
Running for Something
After a little morning coffee, it was time for the day of flying to begin. Our day would go something like this:
Leg 1 – LAS-LAX, A319, First Class
Leg 2 -LAX-ATL, B777, Economy Comfort
Leg 3 – ATL-JAX, B757, Economy Comfort
Leg 4 – JAX-ATL, B757, First Class
Leg 5 – ATL-LAS, B757, First Class (cleared at gate)
We made our way to the Delta gates, and soon enough, we were on board and on our way to our first connection in Los Angeles.
Soon enough, we were on the ground at LAX. Our chariot to Atlanta, a 777-200LR, already waiting for us.
The rest of the day went like clock work. On time. I highly recommend seat 31F in the Economy Comfort section of Delta’s 777. Would I have preferred to be in F? Sure! But really, I found the seat to be very comfortable for coach, especially considering I’m a bit of a widebody and the seat was a bit narrower thanks to having the video monitor in the arm of the seat as well as the tray table. It is a bulkhead, and my seatmates had graciously occupied all the nearby overhead space by the time I got on board, but the last small bin in the Biz Elite cabin was empty, all the F customers were already settled, and the bin was perfect for my backpack and jacket, and would have fit a normal sized roller bag very well too. My seat had both 110 power as well as a USB port. The only downside to this international 777, no GoGo. Low and behold, I finished a book during the flight! (MJ Note – I’ve actually finished two books since gate to gate PEDs started.)
We landed in Atlanta basically on time in concourse E and had plenty of time to saunter over to the Sky Deck in concourse F. Met some of DP’s readers, and relaxed a bit, then it was off to Jacksonville. The flight to JAX was packed, and both DP and I had tech issues. Somehow Delta’s system had managed to “uncheck” us in. No difference for me, but I think it might have kept DP from clearing into the F cabin. Quick turn in Jacksonville with just enough time for sandwiches at Shula’s ( very nice airport restaurant/bar by the way) and we were on our way back to Atlanta….thankfully in F. Aside from the Valley Girl (like…oh my gawd) reunion going on in row 3, a pleasant and relatively quick flight.
Not too long after our second touchdown in Atlanta, our upgrades cleared into F for the flight to Las Vegas. In the week before the flights, a couple of things happened that required a vet visit for the senior member of the MJ on Travel herd family, and more appointments were on the books for Friday. My MQM needs were met for the year, and my return trip had me landing after midnight Friday. I decided to bail on the last leg, and went home, only missing blog material with the Alaska Air/American Airlines adventure I had booked with miles for the return, and of course the miles for the flight to Vegas.
Really enjoyed the mileage run, visiting with Delta Points, and finally checking out the Amex Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas. Hopefully, I’ll be able to plan my next run a bit better in 2014, and not need to bail at the end. One of the more interesting data points for the trip was that DP’s and my upgrade rates were the same with he as a Diamond Medallion, and me as Platinum Medallion. For the upgrades that cleared at the window, we both cleared, but of course, he was a good bit further up the list than me for the gate dances. We are both Delta Reserve Card holders, and I am convinced that being so has helped my upgrade success rate on this trip and others.
As the year winds down, I’m sure I’ll have a business flight or two to take, and our vacation flights to San Juan are coming up very soon. I’ve elected to stop short of Diamond Medallion, even though I could have easily made it to 125,000 MQMs this year. After some personal debate, I decided that the metal bag tags, better phone support, and possibility of a Porsche ride just weren’t worth the extra effort for me this year. I’m sure I’d like the Diamond experience better than Platinum, much like I’ve found the Platinum experience to be better than Gold and so forth. That said, my status goals are met for this year, and now it’s time to start thinking about next year. More soon.
MJ, November 25, 2013