2018 Year in Review and YWW Index

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Every year, I take a look back on my year of travel and take a look at the year ahead. You can check out prior years here: 2017, 201620152014201320122011.

It’s an interesting time to look at trends and also to compile all of the year’s posts in one place. 2018 was a relatively light travel year for me, with the least miles flown since 2010, which was the year I finished clerking and started as a young lawyer in New York. I did requalify for Delta Silver Medallion status, with about 30,000 MQMs, and did three separate trips to Europe and three to Mexico. But for the first time in several years, I didn’t go to Africa, Asia, or the Pacific, and I didn’t go to Southern South America.  Domestically, I didn’t go west of Houston!  I was still settling into a newish job and accruing vacation time, but I used it all up. The coming year will make up for it, as I already have more miles in the air planned in the first half of the year than all of 2018. Plus, I’m going to start accruing vacation at a higher rate come this summer. We’ll see. I’ve also slowed down blogging, and tried to focus on more on experiencing the moment when I’ve traveled, as discussed here.

Here’s the map:

My 2018 in Flight
  • Total continents: 3 (all repeats, which will be the case forever unless I go to Antarctica)
  • Total countries (excluding US and airport connections, and counting all of the UK as one country): 6
  • New countries: 2 – just Iceland and Colombia (unless you count Scotland)

The Year in the Air:
I only redeemed flights for two trips. My January trip to Colombia used Avianca miles: 35,000 miles one way from DC to Medellin in Avianca business class via San Salvador and 17,500 miles for a nonstop from Bogota to IAD on the return in Avianca coach.  I also redeemed 57,500 American miles to fly to Spain via Boston on Iberia, returning spending 56,500 British Airways  Avios to go back to New York via Dublin on Aer Lingus.  The rest of my flying was all revenue.

I only redeemed flights for two trips. My January trip to Colombia used Avianca miles: 35,000 miles one way from DC to Medellin in Avianca business class via San Salvador and 17,500 miles for a nonstop from Bogota to IAD on the return in Avianca coach.  I also redeemed 57,500 American miles to fly to Spain via Boston on Iberia, returning spending 56,500 British Airways  Avios to go back to New York via Dublin on Aer Lingus.  The rest of my flying was all revenue.

  • Total flights: 50
  • Different airlines: 10
  • New airlines: 1ish (Avianca – though I had flown Avianca Brazil)
  • Mileage: 50,930
  • Total airports: 28
  • Shortest flight: by mileage – Washington-National to Newark (199 mi); by time – Madrid-Barajas to Barcelona (57 min.)
  • Longest flight: Atlanta to Manchester (4,094 mi; 7 hrs. 45 min.) New airports: SAL, MDE, CTG, BOG, MAN, GLA
  • Most common airport (O/D): DCA – 24 arrivals or departures
  • New airports: SAL, MDE, CTG, BOG, MAN, GLA
  • Most common airport (O/D): DCA – 24 arrivals or departures
  • Most common airport (Connections): ATL – 14 arrivals or departures
  • Most common plane:  Airbus 320 – 10 flights (20%!)
  • Coach (including economy plus-type) = 78%
  • Premium cabin (business and domestic first) = 22%

In terms of worst flights, my United flights on Expressjet from DCA to Newark and Newark to Montreal were abysmal; and the Air France 787 Economy redeye DTW-CDG (blog to come) was awful. I only flew two lie-flat business class flights all year, and I’d say the Aer Lingus DUB-JFK flight was my favorite, at least in the air. The ground experience at Dublin sucked much.

As a Delta elite member, a full 50% of my flights were on Delta.  Another three were on joint venture partners Air France and Virgin Atlantic. I also had a decent amount on American preexisting bookings, and mileage redemptions from my previous several years as an AA elite – 6 flights or 12% of segments. AA’s IAG partners added in another four flights. Since I flew to and around Colombia on Avianca, I had five flights on the various Avianca subsidiaries. I also flew on JetBlue for work randomly for the first time in many years. Those Embraers that had seemed cool and state of the art a decade ago do not anymore.

By alliance – a big shift from my American Platinum days:

  • Skyteam: 27 (plus 1 Virgin Atlantic)
  • Star Alliance: 10
  • Oneworld: 8 (plus 2 Aer Lingus)

Where I laid my head:
On the accommodations front, I spent 46 nights in hotels and Airbnbs this year. These were spread over 32 different properties.  Where I’ve reviewed them, there’s a link in the names below below. If I didn’t, as always, feel free to reach out to me about my experience.  This was actually slightly higher than 2017 travel, but I had work and family that likely accounted for it. The properties I enjoyed the most for what they were were the Fairmont Mayakoba and two properties in Colombia – the Artisan, D.C., an Autograph Collection hotel in Bogota and the Hyatt Regency Cartagena.

Notably, none of those were Hilton properties, though I am a Hilton Diamond and stayed in nine different Hilton properties this year, representing nearly 30% of the hotels I stayed at.  But by the same token, none of the Hilton properties were terrible. The Waldorf Astoria Caledonian in Edinburgh was definitely disappointing, but it wasn’t a bad stay.  On the other hand, the Radisson Blu Saga Reykjavik was just a terrible experience.  Overpriced, outdated, poorly managed. To Radisson’s credit, they did send me a certificate for a free night after my review (which appears to be blacked out on every date/property I’ve tried).

In terms of loyalty, I was surprised to see more than 20% of my stays in 2018 were at independent hotels and Airbnbs. That’s partially a function of where I traveled, but also I’ve realized the price premium of loyalty given how meager benefits are. I only was upgraded to a suite twice all year, both times in Intercontinentals in Colombia.

Multiple stay brands:

  • Hilton: 11 nights, 9 stays  (24% of nights, up a lot from 6% last year)
  • IHG:  10 nights, 6 stays (22% of nights, exactly the same as last year)
  • Marriott (combined): 9 nights, 6 stays (20% of nights)
  • – Pre-merger Marriott: 8 nights, 5 stays (17.5%, about the same as last year)
  • – Pre-merger Starwood: 1 night, 1 stay (2%, same as last year)
  • Radisson/Carlson: 1 night, 1 stay (2% of nights huge drop from 16% last year

The Year Ahead:
Looking ahead, I already have planned most of my leisure travel through the summer. As noted above, I already have 53,000 miles in the air planned, just for January through July, not including any likely work travel.  I’m just back from London, and will be heading around the world to Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong later in January. Then in March I’ll be visiting L.A. and Palm Springs.  Memorial Day weekend will have me in Torremolinos, just outside of Malaga. And then my big summer trip is to Slovenia and Venice. Feel free to share any tips or suggestions you may have!

January to July 2019 So Far

2018 You Went Where Index:

Destination Reports and Trip Overviews:
Three Days in Mexico City (2017 trip)
Colombia Trip Overview and Preview
Exploring Medellin, La Piedra, and Guatape
Playa del Carmen Trip Preview
Exploring Cartagena
A Day Trip to Baru and the Rosario Islands (with bonus racists)
Playa del Carmen Trip Overview
Playa del Carmen
Sitges Trip Preview and Award Anatomy
Sitges on Memorial Day WeekendIceland Trip Overview
Reykjavik, I Mean Greykjavik: 2 Days in Iceland’s Capital
Trip Preview: Manchester Pride and Scotland

Reviewed Flights, Airports, and Lounges:
Aeromexico MEX-IAD (Economy Plus) and AmEx Centurion Lounge MEX (2017 flight)
Avianca IAD-SAL and SAL-MDE (Business); Turkish Airlines Lounge IAD Avianca Sala VIP Lounge SAL
Avianca MDE-CTG (Business) and Avianca Sala VIP Gold MDE
Avianca CTG-BOG (Business) and Avianca Sala VIP CTG
Avianca BOG-IAD (Economy)
Delta IAD-CUN (Business Class) and Turkish Airlines Lounge IAD
Delta CUN-ATL, ATL-DCA (Economy Comfort) and Mera Business Lounge CUN
AA Shuttle DCA-BOS (Economy), Iberia BOS-MAD (Business), British Airways Lounge BOS
Iberia Puente Aereo MAD-BCN (Business) and Iberia Dali Lounge MAD
Aer Lingus DUB-JFK (Business) and 51st and Green Lounge
United DCA-EWR and EWR-YUL (Economy) and Art & Lounge EWR
Air Canada YUL-KEF (Economy) and Banque Nationale Lounge YUL
Air Canada KEF-YUL, YUL-DCA (Economy)
Delta DCA-ATL and Virgin Atlantic ATL-MAN (Economy), DCA Skyclub, DCA Bracket Room, ATL Skyclub

Hotels:
Ibis Medellin
Intercontinental Medellin
Intercontinental Cartagena de Indias
Hyatt Regency Cartagena
The Artisan D.C. Hotel, Autograph Collection
Hilton Bogota
La Pasion Hotel Boutique by Bunik (Playa del Carmen)
Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya
Residence Inn Fort Lauderdale Plantation
Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park
Hotel Galeon – Galeon Pavillon (Sitges)
Crowne Plaza HY36 Midtown Manhattan
Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre
Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton
Ármót Guesthouse (Iceland)
Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik
Magnolia Hotel Houston, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Manchester – Piccadilly
Holiday Inn Manchester – City Centre
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian
The Ballachulish Hotel (Scotland)
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Glasgow Central
Residence Inn Mt. Olive at International Trade Center
Hilton Minneapolis
Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot
La Galeria by Bunik (Playa del Carmen)
Hilton Playa del Carmen
Almar Resort (Puerto Vallarta)
Intercontinental London Park Lane (Review forthcoming)
Conrad London St. James (Review forthcoming)
Hotel Indigo London – Paddington

Other posts:

Travel Blogger Malpractice and a Contracts Law School Exam Hypo
Exhibit #23 Why I Left AA and it is a Customer-Unfriendly Airline
Help me decide how to spend 4 days in Asia next January!
Changing up the Blog: Fewer Posts and More Enjoying Vacation
I Haven’t Forgot You, My Lovelies: I’m About to Go Travel Nuts

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