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I just took my first flight in 453 days and it was amazing

May 27, 2021
5 min read
I just took my first flight in 453 days and it was amazing
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OK, nothing about my trip was amazing.

Yet, the fact that I was even taking it was.

After 453 days of being grounded, I was finally in the air again. It was just a two-night trip to Texas to meet with some folks at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. But it was so much more to me.

Back in 2019, I flew 49 flight segments totaling 61,580 miles in the air. My average stage length was just 1,257 miles. So, basically lots of flying around the U.S. and a few longer trips. Last year was shaping up to be an even busier year. Then the pandemic brought it all to an end. My final flight was on Feb. 25, 2020, flying home to New York, after visiting my in-laws in Florida.

Like many other travelers, I wasn’t comfortable stepping on a plane until I was fully vaccinated. And even then, I still wasn’t ready to travel for work. My daughter was only in school, in person, every other day. It wouldn’t be fair to leave my wife home alone with her, juggling her own job plus virtual kindergarten. Then, school reopened for daily, in-person lessons and I started booking flights.

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(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

The first thing I noticed was how limited flight schedules were. Airlines have revamped their route networks to cater to leisure travelers. That means plenty of new non-stop routes, especially to Florida, Mexico and airports near national parks.

Those new routes have come at the expense of frequent flights between business hubs. In the past, it felt like there was a flight every 45 minutes between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and New York’s three airports. For my Sunday afternoon departures, the only flights were every three hours apart.

I’ve currently got American Airlines Executive Platinum status (thanks to my Hyatt Globalist status) and Delta Air Lines Diamond Medallion status. So I decided to fly American to Texas and Delta — on the Airbus A220 — back.

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The first surprise on my Sunday-Tuesday trip: no upgrade to first class, either way. Even as a top-tier elite. I was near the top — but not at the top — of the upgrade list. That felt like the surest sign that travel was back.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Packing for the trip felt normal. My family has been taking lots of road trips and last week I took my first business trip, a train ride to Washington, D.C., and back. There were a few tweaks, like the addition of my noise-canceling headphones and preloading some movies onto my iPad.

My phone alerted me when it was time to check-in, 24 hours before departure. I loaded the boarding pass into my digital wallet, double-checked for TSA PreCheck. It wasn’t until I was on the way to the airport that I remembered to set alerts for my flight and my inbound aircraft.

There were little joys that I missed. The moving flight map. Watching luggage get loaded into the belly of the jet. The Airbus “barking dogs.” The views. Crossing the Mississippi River. Seeing another plane fly 10,000 feet directly below your jet.

And then there were the annoyances that might have pissed me off in the past but that I now just took in stride. They included not having a dedicated PreCheck lane at Newark’s aging Terminal A. Broken Wi-Fi on my American flight. (Luckily, it was a Sunday and I got to watch a preloaded movie on my iPad — one that I couldn’t seem to find three and a half uninterrupted hours to watch until that flight.)

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

The fight to board first still exists, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember it. Maybe we still want to be a bit distant. I didn’t like waiting until the last second to see if the empty seat next to me was filled. (It was, both times.) And I’ll never appreciate the strong credit card pitch from flight attendants. Then there is the questionable seat padding, $4.25 bottles of water in the terminal and the awkwardness of asking your neighbor to get up so you can walk to the bathroom.

I was even delayed by a Texas thunderstorm (and a long wait for Delta's phone agent to see if I could move flights.)

None of that mattered: I was back on a plane. Up in the air.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Being vaccinated has given me the freedom not to worry anymore. I trust science. I trust that the vaccine will protect me. I’m not worrying — as much — about wiping down every surface or about that fellow passenger who isn’t wearing their mask just right. Airports aren’t yet full but they are far from empty. And lots of people are eating and drinking, pulling down their masks to do so. I quickly accepted that and put my faith in those shots in my arm.

I have five more trips with flights planned for the next six weeks. It feels good to be flying again. It’s good to see the world. It’s great to see other people enjoying this trip (almost) as much as I am.

Now, I’m going to go and watch to ensure that my miles posted properly.

Featured image by (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023