The MegaDO was a BLAST, and I loved meeting readers and other frequent flyer
addicts aficionados while talking in our shared language about all things miles and points! I’m back from the StarMegaDO3 and have been catching up on much needed sleep (and will soon get to all the blog comments).
I met folks who bought ~$2 million worth of $1 coins, folks who mileage run on mistake fares and get cheap elite status, folks who were among the first members of frequent flyer programs, and I even met an 18 year old who already has 5 credit cards!
Life was good!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011. I got in to Chicago at about 5:30 pm on an American Airlines award flight. Yes, I used 12,500 miles for the ~$120 flight, but I wanted to save as much cash as I could.
I hopped on the “L” and made my way downtown to the Park Hyatt where the opening reception with United was held. I arrived very late, so I wasn’t there for long, but I did get to meet many readers!
On the bus back to the Hyatt Regency, I sat next to Mommy Points, View From The Wing who later blogged about the opening night, and together with our seatmates Jini and Tanya and we chatted about…miles and points.
Thursday, September 8, 2011. During breakfast in the hotel, we received our Hyatt Diamond membership kit and a MilePoint swag bag. The O’Hare airport tour was cancelled, so we headed to the airport at 9:00 am for our charter flight to Montreal.
Our chartered Continental plane was painted in the old livery, and we eagerly boarded the plane like kids on a field trip.
I sat far back in row 35, since the seating was automatically assigned, and I couldn’t choose a better seat online!
Once in the air, Waterski proposed to Waterstrider after sneakily getting the organizers to request Waterstrider’s presence in the front of the cabin!
Soon it was time for drinks, and the flight attendants served everyone champagne – even those of us in coach!
At Montreal airport, the immigration line was huge, and we spent at least 1 hour in line. But we used that opportunity to, well, talk more about miles and points!
Later that evening, we headed to the Westin for the Air Canada and Aeroplan reception. There were close to a dozen executives at the event and some terrific prizes to be won. The giveaways included 2 business class tickets to anywhere in the world, and 3 pieces of luggage with 50,000 mile certificates in them. And everyone also got a model of an Air Canada Boeing 777 plane.
On display was the new business class seat display and I played and poked at it as best I could!
Friday, September 9, 2011. After an early breakfast we headed to the Bombardier factory. We watched a presentation on Bombardier’s history and then went for our factory tour. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, so this is all you’ll get to see!
I’ve toured lots of manufacturing plants, and was surprised at how clean the factory floor was. We learned that there are close to 250,000 parts on a regional jet, and that the wings are bolted on to the plane with only 8 bolts. Actually, you don’t need all 8 bolts, but building in redundancy is par for the course with airplanes.
At the end of the tour we learned just how safe passenger planes are, and how much margin of error is built into the planes.
The next stop was to a separate facility where we learned more about the C series – Bombardier’s 100 to 150 seat answer to the Boeing 737 and Airbus 319. Bombardier’s C series plane is really quiet (we heard samples of engine noise from the C series and regular planes), and got to play around inside a cabin mock-up.
Some of you will be glad to know that the overhead bins can fit a 27 inch suitcase, though getting it through security may be challenging since the current airline policies allow 20 to 22 inch bags.
Then it was time for a simulator ride. The flight instructor made us take off from Montreal airport and after circling around the airport we landed back at Montreal airport. The simulator was very realistic, and would make a lovely holiday present for the aviation nut in your life.
We headed back to the airport and got on our charter flight to Denver.
As we were getting ready to leave, we noticed a stray bag on the tarmac.
But the baggage handler noticed it too.
The bag was put back on the plane and we could get on our way to Denver!
We chatted and took pictures while waiting on the plane.
It was a 3 hour flight, and we were served dinner. I chose the beef entree, the size (and taste) of a TV dinner. Oh well. I was hungry so I ate it.
Unlike a regular flight, we hung out in the aisles and raided the back of the aircraft. We also threw paper airplanes and had a brief pillow flight.
And as we were landing we all pressed the flight attendant call buttons, and the overhead call indicator lit up like a Christmas tree. The flight attendants were good sports and announced “Hey, there are a couple missing, make sure they are all on!”
In Denver, we boarded buses to the Grand Hyatt and had an early night.
Saturday, September 10, 2011. We slept in (relatively) and left for a museum tour of the Wings Over The Rockies museum. Our tour guides were former Air Force and Navy pilots and mechanics who gave us one of the most passionate museum tours which I’ve been on.
We were so engrossed in our tour, that we almost missed our bus. We then went out for lunch, and had hotel tours planned in the afternoon. I requested a 6:00 pm checkout (the official time for Diamonds is 4:00 pm), which was granted. So I had a little nap in the afternoon.
The closing reception in the evening was sponsored by Hyatt and there was a silent auction benefiting the Dahl foundation.
The food was tasty, and I loved the Colorado lamb chops.
Jeff Ziddell the VP of Hyatt Gold Passport spoke at the closing event.
In addition to giving 25,000 Hyatt Points to the newly engaged couple, Jeff had a trivia contest where the prizes were points, and talked about Hyatt’s expansion plans. Hyatt is opening lots of new hotels, and many of those hotels will be in Asia.
Jeff also mentioned that a cash and points option may soon be coming to Hyatt. There was also a chance to ask Jeff questions, which he answered with remarkable candor. I was very impressed with Hyatt’s generosity and approachability.
At 9:45 pm the first of three buses headed to the airport Hyatt Place, where some of us had booked cheaper rooms closer to the airport. We checked in and hung out in the lobby past midnight, to do some last minute miles and points related chatting.
I was very impressed with all the events in the StarMegaDO3, and the hard work which the sponsors and organizers had put in.
I loved getting free Hyatt Diamond status, but the highlight for me was getting to chat excitedly with everyone over our hobby and getting to meet online friends in real life!