Now that we're sitting in the midst of December 2011, with no more trips planned between now and the end of the month, it seems safe to update this year's travel statistics.
We've flown about 130,000 miles this year, 120,000 of them on United Airlines. We reached Million Mile status with UA before the year was half over, but UA has pulled the rug out from under its Million Mile Flyers by reducing the benefits, and a lot of loyal customers aren't happy.
UA is introducing a new Platinum tier and making honorary elites of anybody who so much as signs up for the right credit card, so there'll be more people to compete with for exit rows and it turns out that just about everybody is elite when it comes to boarding. Furthermore, UA has announced that it will no longer award us with a regional upgrade at the end of every year, as it's still promising as of today here on its website.
On the new UA, the phrase "lifetime benefits" has become meaningless. The merger with Continental seems in reality to represent with few exceptions a Continental takeover in terms of the experience for customers. It appears we're moving toward a more revenue-based model of perks for flyers and we'll just have to see what develops, especially with American Airlines in bankruptcy and probably eager to lure some new customers away from the other remaining legacy carriers.
We spent 29 nights aboard two of the ships of Oceania Cruises, sailing from Buenos Aires to Barcelona on Insignia in March, and our more recent November Caribbean cruise on Regatta.
We added more countries to our list, working from the Century Travelers' Club list of 321 entities, giving us a total of 84 countries to date.
French Polynesia (Tahiti,Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier)
Belize (British Honduras)
Antigua & Deps. (Barbuda, Redonda)
Leeward Islands, French (St. Martin)
St. Maarten (formerly Netherlands Antilles)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands, U.S. (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas)
Virgin Islands, British (Tortola, etc.)
Cape Verde Islands
Europe and Mediterranean
Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca)
Ireland, Northern (Ulster)
Turkey in Europe (Istanbul)
Senegal (plane refueling)
China, People's Rep.
Korea, North (DMZ)
Turkey in Asia
All in all, it's been a good year for travel, along with renovating a kitchen and spending quality time with grandchildren. Here's to more in 2012!