I won’t belabor the point, but 2016 was pretty terrible. My travels were pretty good,though. I still owe you all a few posts from my November New Zealand adventure, but as we say goodbye to the dumpster-fire of 2016, here’s a look back at my year in travel. For previous years’ retrospectives, check out 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
I’ve kept the blog as a travelogue, continuing to blog less and less about things other than my personal travel given how crowded the space is for “hacking” and “free” points. Going into 2017, I’ve requalified for American elite status (Platinum), and let my hotel status’ drop down to be those I have via credit card (Hyatt Platinum/Discoverist, Marriott/SPG Gold, Hilton Gold, IHG Platinum) and Intercontinental Ambassador.
So, what were my travel patterns and accomplishments of 2016? I’ve put indices of the places, planes, and hotels I’ve reviewed at the bottom of this post, and have some statistics as well. It was a pretty well-rounded travel year, with travel on 4 continents, a mix of revenue and mileage journeys, and business and coach class. Thanks again to FlightMemory.com for helping me keep track easily.
Total continents visited: 4
Total countries (excluding U.S. or airport connections): 7
New countries: 1 (New Zealand)
- Not so impressive, as I ended up going back to some places I hadn’t been in a long time (Barcelona, Copenhagen) and explored parts of countries I had only scratched in the past (Spain, Brazil).
New airlines: 5 (Vueling, Aer Lingus, Gol, Avianca Brazil, Finnair) (plus my first Southwest flight in 10+ years)
Total airlines: 13
Total flights: 58
Total airports: 31
Total mileage: 77,940
Shortest flight: DCA to Philadelphia (119 mi)
Longest flight: Sydney to Los Angeles (7,502 mi)
- I had more segments than last year, but significantly fewer miles traveled, but last year was an outlier given separate trips to East Asia, Australia, and Abu Dhabi.
Best flight: Nothing really stands out. I did zero international first class flights, and a bunch of AA business flights which were mostly interchangeable. I will say that AA Los Angeles to Auckland was a surprisingly pleasant experience in coach.
Worst flight: Airberlin Business Class Berlin to Chicago – not due to the flight, due to traveling with food poisoning; Southwest Little Rock to St. Louis – due to a lack of communication from the airline with delays and a general circus atmosphere
Almost all of my flights were on Oneworld carriers again (44 of 58), and I also had two flights on non-Oneworld IAG-owned carriers Vueling and Aerlingus. This year also saw me start to fly Delta a bit more – mostly due to work – but it was such a pleasant reminder how good their operation is, and inspires me to think about shifting more travel to Delta as AA’s frequent flyer program goes poof. I had a whopping one flight on United, and my only other Star Alliance flying was one flight on Avianca Brazil and my intra-New Zealand flights on Air New Zealand.
I spent 8 nights on planes, a bunch of nights with family and friends, and 55 nights at hotels – the most since 2013. Those 55 nights were split between 35 properties. As a Hilton Diamond, I had a lot of Hilton stays, but finding that status level utterly disappointing, I ended up spreading my stays out.
As I say every year, best and worst stays tie to expectations. My best stays were at the Sheraton da Bahia in Salvador, which was just a lovely stay despite any real bells and whistles, and the Avenida Sofia Hotel in Sitges, which I hope to stay at again. I had two extraordinarily disappointing stays: the Doubletree in Queenstown, which was an abysmal service failure and didn’t have hard products to support its insane rates and claims of being a resort experience, and the Villa dos Corais in Morro de Sao Paulo, which was probably more disappointment in Morro de Sao Paulo as a whole than in the specific property.
Hilton: 13 nights (23.6%), 9 properties (25.7%) – Byebye Hilton
IHG: 10 nights (18%); 5 properties (14.3%) – I love Intercontinentals. I wish there were more.
Starwood: 7 nights (12.7%), 4 properties (11.4%) – I like Starwood, I just find their mid-market hotels overpriced and meh.
Carlson: 4 nights (7.3%), 3 properties (8.6%) – A big drop-off from last year, probably due to a lot less Europe travel.
Melia: 4 nights (7.3%), 3 properties (8.6%) – Now this is a really random one, but I had a lot of travel to Spain and Latin America.
Hyatt: 3 nights (5.5%), 2 properties (5.7%) –Randomness – consistent with Hyatt’s random footprint
Marriott: 1 night (1.8%), 1 property (2.8%) – No coincidence – my annual free night stay. But now that I have Marriott Gold status from SPG reciprocity, perhaps this will go up? (Spoiler alert: I have 8 nights booked at Protea family properties already booked in South Africa.)
I had random stays at Accor, Choice, Best Western, Rydges, and independent hotels.
The Year Ahead
I’m not quite sure what 2017 holds for me professionally or geographically, but I have some tentative travel planned – four main trips: Puerto Vallarta in January, Orlando in February, South Africa and Namibia in March, Norway and the Netherlands in June/July, Manchester, Scotland, and Sitges in August/September. I have mileage awards booked on Air France from Dulles to Cape Town via Paris, which will allow me to try Air France’s new business class for the first time. On the return, I have a mileage award on South African with their brand-new business class from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, then United “Polaris” from Sao Paulo to Washington. For Norway/Netherlands, I have flights on Austrian business. I may try Airbnb for the first time and I hope to use up my remaining Hilton points.
2016 Youwentwhere Index:
Reviewed Flights, Airports, and Lounges:
Air New Zealand Queenstown to Auckland Economy
Wellington Airport and Air New Zealand Wellington to Christchurch Economy
Auckland Airport and Air New Zealand Auckland to Wellington Economy
American Los Angeles to Auckland Main Cabin Extra, Oneworld Business Lounge LAX
American Washington-National to Los Angeles Main Cabin Extra
Airberlin Berlin to Chicago Business Class, American ORD-MSP-DCA, The Escape Lounge MSP, and Air France Lounge TXL
Airberlin Copenhagen to Berlin Economy and CPH Lounges
Finnair Schengen Lounge HEL and Finnair Business Class HEL-CPH
DCA-JFK on AA and JFK-HEL on Finnair Business Class
51st and Green Lounge Dublin and AA Business Class DUB-ORD, ORD-DCA
Aer Lingus Bilbao to Dublin
Vueling Barcelona to Bilbao and Sala VIP Pau Casals
American Airlines Business Class DCA-PHL-BCN
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra GIG-MIA-DCA and Centurion Lounge MIA
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra DCA-JFK-GIG
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra BSB-MIA, MIA-JFK-DCA First, Centurion Lounge MIA, VIP Club Brasilia
TAM Sao Paulo to Brasilia, CGH Lounges
Avianca Brazil Salvador to Sao Paulo
Helpless and AbAAndoned at GRU and Gol GRU-SSA
DCA-MIA in AA First, MIA-GRU in AA Business, MIA Centurion Lounge
Hotels: (hyperlinked to reviews, email me if you want more info about the others at youwentwhereblog at gmail dot com)
Melia Vacation Club Puerto Vallarta
Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort
Sheraton da Bahia, Salvador
Villa dos Corais, Morro de Sao Paulo
Intercontinental Sao Paulo
Melia Brasil 21, Brasilia
Quality Inn Convention Center (New York)
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock
Caesar Park Rio de Janeiro Ipanema by Sofitel
Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort
Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown
Courtyard by Marriott Minneapolis Downtown
Hampton Inn Manhattan – Times Square North
Hyatt Place Lubbock
Avenida Sofia Hotel & Spa, Sitges
Melia Barcelona Sarria
Astoria7, San Sebastian
Holiday Inn Bilbao
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Copenhagen
Best Western Hotel Hebron, Copenhagen
Grand Hyatt Berlin
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Libertyville-Mundelein
Rydges Latimer Christchurch
Aoraki Court Motel, Mt. Cook Village
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Queenstown
Crowne Plaza Auckland
Element New York Times Square West
W Chicago – Lakeshore
Hampton Inn Manhattan – Seaport/Financial District
Wanaka, Queenstown, and Doubtful Sound
Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook
Rio de Janeiro: Part 1, Part 2
Brasilia: Part 1, Part 2
Morro de Sao Paulo: Part 1, Part 2
Salvador da Bahia