At the last minute my day job required me to be in Minneapolis the final week of 2016. Sine I was home for Christmas I had to book from St. Louis. Although Delta clearly has non-stop options from STL to MSP; I had already qualified for Delta Gold Medallion Status and had no reason to fly Delta again in 2016. Also, I was just a few segments short of qualifying for American AAdvantage Gold Status so I decided to fly on American since since prices were nearly identical. The only downside is the trip required a short stop in Dallas instead of flying non-stop.
STL – DFW (503 miles)
Yes, I am not 100% sure if this has always been the case, but STL to DFW is 503 miles according to American Airlines. As an American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Elite I receive unlimited auto-requested complimentary upgrades on flights under 500 miles. Since this route is 503 miles, I would be required to use 2 certificate to get upgraded and since the flight is so short I decided it would not even be worth requesting the upgrade.
Before the flight I stopped by the STL Admirals Club for a few minutes to see what my upgrade picture looked liked from DFW to MSP. Luckily there were 9 unsold first class seats on my flight and zero passengers on the upgrade list. I put my name in for the upgrade which seemed as though it would definitely clear.
The flight was on an American ERJ175, my favorite aircraft for short haul flights. I was able to choose seat 8F at the time of booking which is technically a bulkhead seat, but there is no physical divider between the two cabin classes so legroom in this seat is nearly unlimited. I also love the ERJ175 because the windows are much larger than traditional airplane windows (not as large as the 787 or A350) which makes flying a little less claustrophobic.
Overall the flight was smooth, but two things really interested me about this flight. The first was the lack of beverage carts in the aisle. Flight attendants carried beverages from the galleys directly to passenger seats without the use of a cart. I am really curious if this is due to the recent mishap with “GodSaveThePoints.”
Secondly, deplaneing was not nearly as smooth as it could have been because of my seat mate traveling with a lot of carry on bags and two young children.
DFW – MSP (852 miles)
Sure enough my upgrade cleared during my flight from STL. I was hoping to sleep throughout the flight, but since the cabin was so empty the flight attendants were extra attentive. I am definitely not complaining because I really enjoyed the complimentary beers, warm nuts, and several warm cookies. This was the first flight I had ever been offered snickerdoodle cookies on American and am happy to report they are delicious.
Once in Minneapolis I quickly grabbed my rental card and drove straight to the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel The Depot. I rebooked this hotel because I was blown away by the hotel during my previous one night stay and was excited to spend a few nights at the hotel. Sadly this stay did not live up to my expectations. I am not sure if I was in a bad mood because I wasn’t feeling well or if it was just one of those bad stays, but I did not enjoy my stay nearly as much as I had previously. More on that to come.
MSP – ORD (333 miles)
My final flight of 2016 helped me qualify for AAdvantage Gold for 2017. The American app did not let me checkin to the flight before I arrived at the airport which is always a little frustrating and worrying. Once I got to the airport I was relived to find there were not issues with my reservation and that I had been upgraded! The flight offered great views of snow covered farmland and an incredible sunset. It was a fantastic flight to end 2016.
Although cutting my time at home with family short due to work wasn’t ideal, this trip helped me qualify for AAdvantage Gold status for 2017. I was also a little disappointed with my hotel stay due to construction and miscommunication among hotel staff.