So now fast forward about 6 months since my 1st Vegas trip and I’m starting a position which entails travelling to the US for half of the time – mainly New York & LA. But I’ve worked out a way to keep expenses down as well as getting a healthy dose of poker thrown in for good measure. When I have a week or so in LA I really only need to be there for a couple of days during the week and it’s pretty easy to work from anywhere else on the proviso that I’m only a short travelling time away when I do need to be in town. So that place would be Vegas – the hotels are generally cheaper and I’m only an hour or so away so I can quite easily head to LA in the morning then head back to Vegas in the evening.
When I realised that I was going to spend the best part of a few years flying here, there and everywhere I knew I needed to achieve frequent flyer status. It has benefits such as extra luggage allowance (albeit I rarely check bags), the ability to select better seats at the time of booking rather than when checking in for a flight and lounge access (read free booze!!). I credit my miles to BA’s programme and they have agreements through One World that means my status is recognised on American Airlines. That’s important because I knew that I would be flying a lot internally in the US. I already had mid level status (BA Silver / One World Sapphire) but as my year was coming to an end I was only a few points short of top level status (BA Gold / One World Emerald) so I decided to use a day to mileage run to get over the line - I would be achieving top level within 4 months anyway but this run would give me top level benefits during that time. I found a really good fare LAS-LAX-SFO-LAX-LAS for under $250 which would get me over the line and all it took was a day out of my schedule.
The first flight was mid morning and pretty forgettable – I normally have a weekday policy of no hard liquor before 12pm but the next flight from LAX was scheduled for 12.30 so I could get myself a G&T. I can usually tell how good a crew is on AA by their pre flight service – company policy dictates they should offer a pre flight drink in domestic 1st class. This should mean an open bar but some crews will offer water or OJ only and any attempt to order something different is met by either rolled eyes and served grudgingly or flatly refused. This crew were good in that they offered a full open bar and offered refills before take off. Once in the air the drinks service was good and they were still offering refills up until our final descent. So by the time we arrived at SFO I’d had 3 double G&Ts and it was barely 2pm. The return flight from SFO-LAX was only 50 minutes after I’d arrived and it was operated by the same plane and same crew that had come up from LAX so the crew did a double take as I reboarded the plane and took the same seat that I’d vacated 30 minutes earlier. Drinks service was good again and I ordered my usual G&T before and during the flight. Upon arriving at LAX I had about 75 mins before the flight back to LAS so I headed to the admirals club to use the facilities and grab another drink. I headed over to the gate at 25 minutes to departure time only to find that it was the same gate that I’d just arrived at. I walked onto the plane and was met by exactly the same crew again for the 3rd flight in a row. Again the crew say hello and asked me if I was doing a mileage run – I tell them what I’m doing and they said they see it all the time. I take my seat (again the same seat) and order another G&T which I’ve nearly finished before the last passenger arrives and takes the seat next to me. Usually when this happens it’s a Federal Air Marshall as they nearly always board last and take an aisle seat at the front of the plane but I can usually recognise them by being burly guys with a badly concealed weapon, in this case it’s quite a petite lady in her mid 40s so I’m pretty sure she was just running late rather than being a FAM.
Just to add colour to the story later on I’ll let you know that I’m wearing jeans & a T-shirt and I’ve got fairly scruffy trainers on (I rarely dress smart when flying unless heading to a meeting and am usually one of the scruffiest people on the plane). My only hand luggage is a copy of The Economist magazine which I’ve been reading all day.
As soon as we’re in the air the drinks service begins – without me even needing to ask for a drink one of the flight attendants brings me a G&T and states “I presume you want your usual Mr AC?” Now it’s obvious that I’m drinking alcohol as I’m handed a ½ full single serving gin bottle so I couldn’t be mistaken for dead heading crew or an off duty pilot for instance. The lady next to me then orders a drink (so I’ve been served before the other passengers have even been asked if they want a drink) then turns to me and looks at me very quizzically. She can see how scruffily dressed I am and is obviously a bit taken back that the crew seem to know me. She then asks me “Are you someone important?” I laugh a bit and she continues “you’re drinking booze so you’re presumably not crew but they seem to know who you are – are you famous or important?”
Now I’d usually make something up along the lines of I’m in the Colorado coastguard (more on that story later) but on this occasion I was halfway through my ninth or 10th double G&T of the day and not quick witted enough to actually think something up that was either intelligent or amusing so I just said no but told her that the crew had been following me around all day.