I'm not the kind of guy who likes to take credit for things I either didn't accomplish or that I didn't put forth much effort to accomplish. Cleaning a bathroom doesn't rank up there with curing cancer, right? Well, for me it sort of does. Cleaning a bathroom is nearly as far out of my reach as curing cancer is for a qualified researcher. But, in the grand scheme of things, they don't compare. When I finally break down and clean a bathroom, I don't post a photo on Instagram....despite being really pleased with myself.
So, I didn't expect a brass band to meet me at the gate area when I arrived in Atlanta from San Francisco on Friday. I wasn't looking for confetti, a thousand brightly colored balloons dropping from the ceiling or the launch of 100 doves. Nope, none of those things was expected.
Because I hadn't really done all that much other than make the effort to have the lion's share of my flights over the past 30 years booked on Delta, I don't count the miles I've racked up as an accomplishment. For the most part, it wasn't even my money buying the tickets. More often than not, even the effort to book Delta flights was well within the wheelhouse of slacker me. “Hey, you're invited on a trip, our travel agent will book you on your airline of choice.” “Delta,” I would reply. “Done!” they would confirm. Easy-peasy.
I knew I was close to rolling over 2 million miles with Delta and would achieve it this year. Delta, as I assume other lines do, keeps track of such things. I received a nice Tumi soft attache case when I crossed the 1 million mile mark. I didn't expect that; not even realizing I had reached that milestone until the gift arrived.
Reaching that first 1 million miles required about nine years. I was on the road with “Discover America” on the average of three trips per month and then sandwiched in some carmaker events, too. It was a wild ride. There are still a couple of Delta employees at Palm Beach International who remember me from those crazy days. We often speak as I pass through PBI on my Florida excursions. The second million miles, well, that required the balance of my 30 years flying Delta.
I didn't expect a lot of fanfare over turning 2 million miles. I'm sure it happens with some regularity. But, I must admit, I was surprised that either the captain, which happens sporadically, or one of the flight attendants, which is somewhat more common, didn't seek me out and thank me. They often take a few minutes, walk down the aisle, personally acknowledging million milers. I sat next to a Delta flier on a flight a few weeks ago who was about to cross the 5 million mark. A flight attendant thanked me for being a million miler, but handed him a personal thank-you note. He said he has received them before. I don't think a “Hi, Mr. Heaps thanks for being a loyal Delta customer to the tune of 2 million miles,” is much to ask.
Maybe my disappointment arises from the fact that to be on a Delta flight on this trip to put myself in a position to cross 2 million miles, I had to jump through some hoops. Nissan chose Santa Barbara as the host city to introduce the totally redesigned 2019 Altima to the media. Delta no longer supports Santa Barbara with flights. Unless someone is flying me first class, I don't cross time zones on any airline but Delta. If something goes sideways, it's tough enough to get things straightened out on Delta with which I have a 30-year relationship. On an airline on which I have no clout, I'm just another casual flier. Nope, I don't cross time zones on any carrier but Delta.
For Delta fliers, getting to Santa Barbara means either flying to LAX in Los Angeles and driving the 100 miles north to Santa Barbara, or flying into LAX or some other California airport on Delta then changing airlines to United for the final leg into Santa Barbara. I was on a Toyota event in Santa Barbara a year or so ago. Toyota provided the option of flying into LAX and then shuttling us to and from Santa Barbara. It's a two-hour shuttle ride each way, but that doesn't really add much extra time to the overall trip. Because Nissan didn't offer that option, Delta fliers were left with the changing-airlines option.
In Atlanta or most other airports this wouldn't be a big deal. You simply change terminals and you are good to go. Sadly, neither LAX, which I flew into, nor San Francisco, where I made the airline swap on the home-bound trip, have terminals fully connected to one another. Both require fliers to exit security and then reenter security to make the airline change. Although you can do that in San Francisco, remaining within the confines of the general airport, at LAX you must actually walk outside the airport, cross through two parking garages, reenter the airport and pass through security.
This isn't exactly slogging across Death Valley in a covered wagon, but it's a pain in the ass.
Normally I drag along video gear requiring me to travel with at least one bag too large to carry on the plane. Because United, with which we've already established I have no clout, made up two legs of this six-leg round trip, checking a bag would have cost a total of $50. My status with Delta is such that I can check three bags for free. I wasn't going to pony up 50 bucks to fly on damn United. Also because I have no clout on United, meaning I might wind up in the last boarding group, I had no confidence I could carry on a rollerboard and find overhead space to stow it. I chose instead to only carry what would fit in my backpack. Typically, I carry cameras and at least one laptop with me. Not so on this trip. I had a couple of changes of underwear and three clean shirts in my backpack. That was it.
Although I didn't expect a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding my rolling over the 2 million-mile mark, at least having it acknowledged would have been a welcomed atta boy for the extra effort I put forth to make that milestone happen on this particular trip.
I readily admit, this tale belongs in a tome of first-world problems. But, hey, I had to blog about something, right?