The Very Frequent Business Traveler: Around the World in 40 Days

By Jonathan Spira on 27 November 2012
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Jonathan Spira Hits Ten Airports, Nine Hotels, and 35,000 Miles in Six Weeks

In the rarefied world of the frequent flyer, there are those who aspire merely to acquire all kinds of metals and gems, such as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum, or perhaps emerald, sapphire, or ruby, and there are those who are simply very frequent flyers, routinely flying several thousand miles each week.

Although it was only temporary, I joined their ranks this past September.

In a period of slightly less than six weeks, I flew 35,408 miles (56,984 kilometers).

To put this distance into perspective, keep in mind that the circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometers), so I effectively flew around the earth 1.4 times during my travel period.

In doing so, I traveled on three airlines: ANA, American, and Delta, which meant that I also flew on at least one airline from each of the major alliance partners.  I visited a total of ten different airports including those at which I made connecting flights, one I was just visiting but didn’t fly into or out of (Haneda), and one I had never been to before (Santa Fe, or SAF).

Terminal 3 at JFK

If you were to annualize my flying, the total would be over 306,000 miles per year.  I was away from home 25 out of 42 days, which is 60% of the period covered.  This is roughly three times my norm, and it was a very different experience for me.

In terms of hotels, I stayed at nine, and in terms of aircraft, I was aboard seven different types. Most of the planes were Boeing, including 767-300s, 757s, 777s, and the new 787 Dreamliner, although there was also an Airbus (A319) and an Embraer (ERJ 145) thrown in for good measure.


All of this flying consisted of one long trip and three somewhat shorter trips.

The MegaTrip

Delta flight crew preparing for departure from JFK

My first trip started with Delta flight 184 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris-Roissy aboard a Boeing 767-300.  Departure was a few minutes early and arrival in Paris was more than half an hour early. The flight was full and this particular 767 had the much older recliner-style seats, as it hadn’t yet been upgraded to Delta’s new lie-flat seats.  The service was excellent and the flight attendant was kind enough to bring me a small meal at the start of the service so I could go to sleep quickly and bypass the larger meal service.

After a few days in Paris, I was back at Roissy boarding a non-stop Delta flight to Seattle. Again, this was in an older-style 767-300 but it was a daytime flight and the recliners were reasonably comfortable for reading, dining, and doing work  We left the gate a few minutes later than scheduled and arrived a few minutes late as well, but the overall flying time was 10 hours and 33 minutes, far less than the scheduled 11 hours and 16 minutes.  This was my first transatlantic flight directly to the west coast of the United States (I typically fly into JFK) but I was glad that I had found a non-stop option, as any other choice would have involved being in transit for 15 or more hours.

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