Last night about 100 miles and points junkies converged on the Hyatt Crystal City outside of Washington DC to eat, talk, drink, mingle, and learn the top-secret details related to the Star MegaDo 4. As luck (or really lack of luck) would have it, Milepoint, BoardingArea, and MegaDo.com were all off-line for most of yesterday. I had my laptop at the event (like a complete nerd) so I could share info as quickly as possible to anyone interested who couldn’t make it to the event, but the only website I could really access was Twitter. Yay Twitter! So, anyone who was following my many tweets (@Mommy_Points) should already know the highlights of the announcements. For anyone else, here you go………
First, let me define MegaDo – a “do” means a meet-up and a MegaDo is just that, a big and very organized meet-up. This will be the fourth MegaDo for the Star Alliance network, and on these trips a plane is chartered for the domestic portion of the trip, we get to do behind-the-scenes things at every stop, and there are usually some pretty lucrative promos from the airline and hotel sponsors. In this case, Hyatt and United.
Last night the first official speaker was Todd from Hyatt. He is always a fun and engaging guy, and I think he did a good job at getting the crowd excited to hear about the Hyatt promo. For SMD3, all participants received Hyatt Diamond status just by attending. However, for the OneWorld MegaDo that was in January, the Hyatt promo to get Diamond status was pretty unrealistic for many folks. This time, instead of announcing a specific promo today, he announced that until June 15th he would like to hear ideas from those who want to attend. Do we want to earn status, points, etc. Do we want to do it by meeting a stay requirement, or trying out different brands of Hyatts, or something else. I wish we had all the details now, but I am glad that Hyatt will hopefully tailor a promo to suit the needs of the group.
Then Mr. Tommy Danielson (Tommy777) took the mic, and we learned that some of the initially proposed ideas like a trip though Asia or a charter through Europe turned out to be impossible to pull-off due to the economy and some of the airlines in play being more motivated to have some planes sit unused than to have them chartered. However, that news was quickly followed by a pretty great itinerary.
Optional European Portion:
Sunday November 11th: Kick-off party at Lufthansa lounge at Washington Dulles then on to Europe on 747-8.
Monday November 12th: Park Hyatt Hotel in Zurich and program by Swiss and Lufthansa. The Park Hyatt Zurich is the host hotel for this stop, but it is the only Hyatt that is optional due to price. Though many of us booked on points last night – just in case!
Domestic Portion of the MegaDo:
Tuesday November 13th: Fly from Zurich to San Francisco and meet with EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, and more. This is the official start of the MegaDo.
Wednesday November 14th: The charter on a 767-400 leaves SFO at 1PM and goes to Houston for a BBQ party!
Thursday November 15th: The charter goes to Chicago early that morning to meet with United executives. There is a reception that night hosted by United. There will also be some special insider tours that day.
Friday November 16th: There is a reception to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the Star Alliance Network.
Saturday November 17th: There is a optional “Cowboy Day” in Chicago hosted by Randy Peterson. Horses and drag racing were mentioned??!!
This time, they are holding some of their cards close in terms of specific events and activities as some things are subject to change, and they want there to be some great surprises. We now have dates, locations, and a general idea of some activities, and that is enough for me.
There will be four classes of service on the domestic portion of the trip.
BusinessFirst: $1999 (15,000 EQM/RDM)
Tommy Class Plus: $1599 (7,500 EQM/RDM)
E Plus: $1249 (7,500 EQM/RDM)
Economy: $999 (5,000 EQM/RDM)
Elite mileage bonuses will apply, and the miles will count as lifetime miles. For those unfamiliar with what Tommy Class Plus means – it is a no one in a middle seat, and it will be located in the Economy Plus section of the plane. These costs are for the domestic portion only, and include the charter and official events on the charter. It does not include your hotels or positioning flights. The domestic hotel prices were not announced, but it was said that the would be quite reasonably priced. The prices for the international portion have not yet been announced.
United will be giving away status to many on the trip. I’m not entirely clear how this will work, but Tommy said you had to wear a cowboy hat to be eligible for status. I don’t think he was kidding. Booking is expected to open on July 9th, but that date is subject to change……..in other words, it may happen sooner than that. One week’s notice will be given before the booking window opens. This is going to be a very hot ticket to get, so read this post for some tips on how to get a ticket yourself.
I would be remiss to not acknowledge that this is expensive. This is not something that all families can do. For one, it is not a children’s activity, but additionally it is not cheap. As I have said in a previous post, when I went on my first MegaDo last year I thought it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for me. I have been lucky enough that I have now attended two, and hope to attend a third. However, if you are an aviation geek (and I say that lovingly), this is a trip that is really worth it if you can do it once. I know it isn’t cheap, but you will walk away with some priceless experiences and memories…..or at least I have. You also may be lucky enough to make some life-long friends. I’ve been lucky in that regard as well.
With that said, in the words of Tommy777, “Giddy Up”! To follow the discussion or learn more about last night, head on over to Milepoint. You can also get a play by play of last night over at MegaDo.com.