Anatomy of a Mileage Run: Why Our Editor Flew 8,300 Miles in 25 Hours on a Trip to Nowhere

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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is easy to traverse but it’s big. We arrived at the International terminal and, thanks to Global Entry, customs clearance took seconds. I opted to exit the in-transit area as it had no PreCheck facility and I was not in the mood to take my shoes off and liquids and laptop out.

Clearing the PreCheck line took seconds and I was off to Concourse T, which was the last stop on the Plane Train. Boarding hadn’t started when I got there so I was one of the first onboard.

Flight 843 from Atlanta to New York has a 100% on-time rating and we not only left the gate four minute early but we also arrived 11 minutes early. I hadn’t had breakfast on the flight from Lima to Atlanta so I was looking forward to the meal, which was lunch, served at 10:45 in the morning. The chipotle chicken and rice wasn’t bad but it wasn’t that hot either.

I recognized the flight attendant working in first from previous flights and she once again provided stellar service. She was constantly in the aisle offering to refresh drinks, pour coffee, or provide a snack. The one hour and 38 minutes passed very quickly and exactly 24 hours and 46 minutes after leaving JFK the previous day, I was back in New York, having flown a total of 8,560 miles (13,775 kilometers) and earning 12,841 Delta Medallion Qualification Miles.

STAYING ONLINE

All of my flights – from the small regional jet I flew in to Boston, to the substantial Boeing 767-400s – had Gogo in-flight Internet service installed. Since my trip was going to be around 25 hours, it made sense for me to purchase a 24-hour pass.

Unfortunately, Gogo does not offer international 24-hour “day” passes when on a domestic flight. I had checked with customer service prior to my flight and was told just to purchase the domestic one and it would be fine, but that turned out not to be the case. Once I was aloft en route to Lima, I found myself having a lengthy chat with Gogo customer service, which at first offered me a 50% discount on a second 24-hour pass but eventually provided a complimentary international pass.

The service worked quite well on the JFK-BOS and BOS-ATL legs. I’m certain that the 757 I flew on to Atlanta had Gogo’s newer air-to-ground technology, which explained the faster download speeds. I knew from experience that the system would be faster on the international flight because it is satellite based.

What I didn’t know is that it would stop working south of Cuba. Gogo later told me the plane had a “known issue” but did not get any more specific. We had no Internet for the remainder of the flight (roughly three hours) nor did we have Internet for much of the return trip. By the time I woke up, we were near Florida and service was back on.

If this had been during the workday, I would have been far more stressed out but it was during overnight hours and all I really would have done would have been to chat with friends.

The problem in the 767 notwithstanding, I applaud Gogo for having introduced a system that, while slow, is reasonably reliable. I clearly recall how many times I had to fly to Frankfurt with Lufthansa 12 or so years ago just to experience Connexion by Boeing – the world’s first in-flight Internet system – in operation. (As the purser put it on the first two flights, “Es ist kaputt.”)

BOTTOM LINE

Mileage runs take many different forms. Some people seek out the cheapest possible flight and are happy in coach (with the hope of an upgrade if it’s a domestic trip) while others want the creature comforts that the world’s leading airlines offer. I’ll happily admit I am in the latter camp but I’m proud that I was able to not only get almost 13,000 MQMs in a 25-hour mileage run, but sit in 1A on all legs and only have to pay $100.50 for the privilege.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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