Wednesday, December 28, 2011

South American Adventure - DEN-IAD-ATL-MIA

  1. Booking
  3. Miami
  4. MIA-SCL
  5. SCL-IPC
  6. Easter Island
  7. IPC-SCL
  8. Santiago
  9. SCL-MVD
  10. Montevideo
I needed to get to Miami to start my award trip because the British Airways pricing was only cheap if you were flying on a single airline (this has since changed).  I purchased a round trip on United via IAD both ways.  The pricing worked out best if I left a few days earlier and I needed some SPG stays to make Platinum again, so I added a 2 night Miami vacation to my trip.

I wanted to arrive at least a day ahead of schedule anyway in case something unexpected happened and I missed my LAN flight.  Since these flights were different tickets and different alliances, if United made me miss my LAN flight, LAN or United wouldn’t have to do anything to help me out.  A similar rule applies to cruise ships, show up the night before just to be safe.  As it turned out, something did happen.

My DEN-IAD flight was uneventful.  My upgrade cleared and I had the basic United first class experience.  The breakfast was the standard mediocre fare, unlike Continental’s great offering, and I settled in for my flight.  We landed a few minutes early and I was off to the Lufthansa lounge by B gates train stop.
Lufthnsa Senator Lounge IAD

Star Alliance Gold members can access any Lufthansa lounge (or Singapore in SFO) with a same day ticket on a Star Alliance flight.  My boarding pass was all I needed to for access.  I only had about 20 minutes before I had to leave for my flight to Miami, but was able to grab a snack and relax a little.
Lufthnsa Senator Lounge IAD

I got to my Miami flight close to the end of boarding.  I saw on the monitor that they were looking for volunteers, so I added my name to the list and waited in the gate area to see if I would be needed.  After the last few people boarded, I was told to board and took my seat on the CRJ-700.  Four more people came on, but there was only one open seat.  The gate agent pulled me and another two off, the ground crew grabbed my bag out of the hold and I would soon be $400 in United vouchers richer.  I found some routing options as the agent was processing the other removed passengers and trying to find out why her count was so far off.  She called me up, handed me my vouchers and tickets for Delta to go to Miami that night.  I asked if there were other options, but she said no.  I went back to the Lufthansa lounge for a few more hours.  Decent German food and alcohol took the sting out of having to go through Atlanta.
Economy on Delta's MD-88

My flight to Atlanta was on a MD-88 and rather uneventful.  The flight was mostly empty and I had my own row.  We landed on time and I was only a mile away from my flight to Miami.  I got to the gate at the start of boarding and it was a zoo.  The flight was full and I was in the second to last row.  Luckily I had space for my bag and a window seat.  Unluckily, the guy next to me was huge and the guy behind me was yacking away on his phone.  We landed a few minutes late; I was just about the last person off and found the Sheraton Miami Airport shuttle to take me to my hotel for the night.

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