Fall 2013: Mileage Run #2 to SFO

Introduction

This time, I booked BDL-LAX-SFO. There was a good deal (~5CPM, so not great) on direct flight from BDL-LAX and you can add on SFO or LAS for about 30 bucks. I knew I would need two of these, so I decided to go to SFO last weekend and LAX this weekend. BDL-LAX also has a double RDM offer and as I am short on AA miles, this will help.

BDL-LAX

As I live in Boston, it involves a 100 mile drive out to BDL, or about 90 minutes. The flight was at 9:30am so I left the house around 7am to get there by 8:30 to board around 9am. This was way too tight so this weekend I’ll leave around 6:30am. I parked in Lot B, which is pretty close to Terminal 2 that most domestic flights leave out of. It was no more than a 5 minute walk. Park near the exit of the lot as its closest to the terminal.

I got an email about 5am notifying me of my upgrade. Well thanks, I didn’t really need it but sure why not. I am still PLT so I had to use stickers for these. Its only 5 stickers, instead of 6 for BOS-LAX. Once I saw that it was a 6 hour flight, I was bit relieved that I was upgraded. Below are some empty pictures of BDL.

Arrivals area:

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At BDL, there was a Lego sculpture of Mark Twain’s house! I thought it was pretty cool and looked very close to the original building in the picture.

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Departure Area:

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There is also a Sheraton that is adjacent to Terminal 2. It is a bit steep as a Category 3. I would’ve thought it was a category 2, which may have been worth it for a mattress run. Not as a category 3.

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I meet another person on a MR sitting next to me in first class. He is from LA and was doing a quick turn on both Fri/Sat and Sat/Sun. It is possible from LAX as the plane turns around at BDL. There is a 12 hour layover at LAX. He would be taking a few more of these routes in the next month to re-qualify for EXP (no challenge).

I was surprised that the upgrade list was full of EXP. He thought that it was full of mileage runners and I would like to agree.

We got to discussing points and miles and he filled me in on Choice Privilege Hotels. Many hotels are in the 20k+ point category but there are some that are only <10k points, mostly foreign hotels. He has still to teach me about Citi Thank-You Points and the Citi Prestige card.

I luckily found some 8k point hotels in Dublin so I will be booking these hotels for my Dublin Marathon. I have been dragging my feet on booking it and the Choice Privilege Hotels are perfect for it. They are also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which is handy. It’s not the best use of the points but if you can find some 8000 point nights and can’t find any low level Hyatt nights, then its definitely worth it.

LAX-SFO

We got in a bit early and I had time to catch an earlier LAX-SFO at 1pm. This flight was being delayed by SFO ATC (Air Traffic Control). There was heavy rain in SFO that started around noon and this probably caused some delays for flights bound for SFO.

Another issue is that this flight was oversold. The standby list was 20 deep and I was #3; one person got off the list as someone cleared an upgrade. That was it. So I was stuck on my original flight at 3pm.

I had to search for some food in T4 and went to Sammy’s Woodfire Pizzeria. It was a whopping 17 dollars for a mini pizza and it was pretty small. Totally not worth it. It tasted good but I’m more about quantity over quality.

My flight was also delayed by about an hour as it was late getting in from LAS due to wind. The flight ended up landing at SFO about an hour late.

San Francisco

On the first late day/evening, I was attempting to get to Golden Gate bridge before the sunset. I took the Bart to Daly City and took the bus up to Golden Gate Bridge. The bus only accepts exact change and all I had was a $20. There was a change machine but only dispenses fives. I asked another person waiting for the bus for exact change and got a bunch of quarters. Perfect for the bus.

The bus was mostly on schedule but it got to Golden Gate just a few minutes after the sunset. I did get some nice shots but we were on the dark side of the bridge so pictures were probably too dark. I would get some better pictures of Golden Gate during sunrise.

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I used the bus transfer to get to my hostel, which was along the same bus route.

I booked a hostel through airbnb and ended up waiting for the person to show up for 40 minutes. He works at a restaurant so I expected him to be there. He was away making deliveries. Luckily, I decided to go to a nearby restaurant Chotto to try their ramen.

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I ended up getting an oyster appetizer, which was amazing. A bit pricey but definitely worth it. The ramen was good but not something I would go out of my way to have again.

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The hostel was the second floor of this building with a restaurant on the first floor. There were four or five rooms with bunk beds in each. I was in one with 4 bunk beds and it was a guys room. There’s not much space but everything fit on my top bunk bed.

Run #1

(I will be posting more on my runs in another post. Here is a short summary)

I finally checked in around 8:30pm but I still needed to run 5 miles. I decided to run along the coast from Marina District to Golden Gate Bridge. I don’t advise anyone do this as its mostly in the dark with very few people around. There were some people walking around and biking even in the dark.

Run #2

I had to run 20 miles as my last long run before the Chicago Marathon. I thought it was a good idea to run over the Golden Gate bridge and then up towards USS San Francisco Memorial and then back. It ended up not being a good idea as the path between Golden Gate and China Beach was washed away and there were too many hills for my long run. I headed back towards the city right by China Beach and did the rest of my run at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Afterwards:

I’ve been up since about 6am local time and it was about 12:30pm now. I usually take a nap after my long run but I still had a busy day so I stopped in to get some coffee right down the block from where I was staying. I was planning on walking from my hostel to North Beach. Bullevue Cafe serves Ethopian drip coffee, which was pretty good. I got their normal dark roast coffee.

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After my run, I met up with a fellow marathoner who ran the Great Wall Marathon with me. We caught up over lunch as we haven’t seen each other for about 15 months. It was great to chat with her as she told me about the Big Five Marathon in South Africa. We went to North Beach Restaurant, which was pretty nice.

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She lived near the stadium so we both walked towards that direction as I needed to catch the BART back to the airport. I was shocked to find that they have only just started the bike share program there. In a way, I think that it may not be a good idea in SF because there are some dangerous hills that people can get hurt or killed on. Well we’ll see how it goes.

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I caught the train at Powell Station, which was the first station my wife and I got out of when we first visited San Francisco 8 years ago. I also remember that was the only sunny day of our first trip.

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SFO-LAX

At check-in, I asked about standing by for an earlier flight to make sure I get on the only LAX-BDL flight. He asked if I wanted to be in First Class for that flight and I said yes. He then said I should apply for the upgrade for SFO-LAX. I told him I wasn’t interested in wasting a cert for such a short flight. He said that I would be higher on the list as I’ll be a connecting passenger. I had completely forgotten about this and I thanked him profusely for the change.

I got a quick meal at SFO as the food choices at LAX T4 is pretty limited. I went to the Japanese place for some Udon. It was decent and definitely a better deal than that $17 pizza at Sammy’s. This was more food for about half the price.

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I caught an earlier flight and ended up at LAX about two hours early. I went on twitter for about an hour until I saw Jamison from Points Summary was flying out of LAX about twenty minutes after me. He got me into Admirals Club and had a drink before our flight.

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As there was only one seat in first class, I didn’t get upgraded. I had a MCE seat and almost everyone had the middle seat open so it wasn’t so bad. I slept pretty well for about four hours until we landed. Landed and ran out to the car. Parking was somehow $17 for two days, not 16 as I had thought. I had to stop part way for gas before heading to work but made it there in time.

Next week I’ll be doing the same!

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