I was thisclose to reaching elite status with Continental for 2007 (you need a total of 25,000 miles flown). All I needed was one more plane ride before December 31, 2006 and I would be at 25,000. Would it be worth a quick trip somewhere? The main benefits, for me anyway, was getting my luggage first and being able to board the plane whenever I wanted. The newest perk I discovered, and what turned out to be the deciding factor, was being able to bypass the normal security lines and use the “Elite” Security line. Security lines at SeaTac can be horrible and with the ability to avoid the mian security line for another year just a plane ride away I decided to go for it!
The next question was where should I go? This wouldn’t be a long trip at all, in fact it might just be going somewhere only to turn around and come back. I also had to keep in mind how many miles I needed to fly to get the Elite status. Continental doesn’t fly to many places direct out of Seattle so I really had a choice of Houston or New York. Neither was quite enough miles by itself, however if I flew Seattle to Houston to New York to Seattle it would be enough. So I was going to New York by way of Houston. I had never been to New York and here I was going for just a couple of hours. Would I have enough time to go into the city before coming home? Which is how the trip evolved into an overnight trip. When my brother heard I was going to be in New York for a half a day he decided it would be fun to go as well. So this quick trip was quickly gaining a life of its own. We would arrive in New York right around noon and we would fly out the next morning which gave us several hours to explore.
The flight to Houston was a red-eye, leaving just after midnight. When I got the airport I discovered I had been upgraded (thanks to my Elite status in 2006), which validated my decision to go on this crazy journey. And most people who know me can tell you I need validation on most decisions so this was a good thing. I boarded the flight and sat back to wait for takeoff. I heard a voice of one of the passengers and I realized I knew that voice! It was Kathy, one of my very good friends – not only was she on my flight but she had also been upgraded to first class and was sitting right behind me!! What are the chances?! This trip was definitely off to a good start.
I did not get upgraded on the Houston to New York leg, and was stuck back in economy (sardine) class. It was about this time when I really started question my sanity to do this. I was able to get some sleep which did help. We caught a bus into the city which let us off at Grand Central Station. My brother really wanted to go the Empire State Building so we set off. The line to go up to the top was huge so we decided to keep going. We passed by Macy’s and headed towards Times Square. I have to say I wasn’t as impressed with Times Square as I thought I would be. I was expecting more of a square rather than a street with lots of advertising. But we did get to see the New Year’s Eve countdown and ball which was really cool.
We continued on to Rockefeller Center. The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was the one thing I really wanted to see and it did not disappoint! The tree was huge and all lit up – it was beautiful! We bought our tickets to go up to the Top of the Rock. We had about an hour until we could go up so we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was still decorated for Chritmas. The nativity scene was beautiful. After visiting the cathedral we walked back towards Rockefeller Center stopping to see the ice skating rink. It’s really small!! There was just a mass of people crowded around the rink.
The line to get up to the Top of the Rock was deceptively long. It didn’t seem long at all until you got past security. But they did have videos playing to entertain you while you waited. We finally made it up to the top and the view was incredible!! We got a great view of the Empire State Building all lit up. After admiring the view, the lack of sleep started to catch up with us and we decided to make our way to Penn Station to catch a train out to Newark Airport. Our flight left out of Newark and so I had gotten us a hotel near the airport. I do have to admit walking back through Times Square at night made it a little more appealing with all the lights.
We made it to Penn Station and caught the train out to Newark before catching the hotel shuttle. The next morning came very early and we caught the shuttle back to the airport. I was again upgraded to first class (yay!) while my brother was still stuck in sardine class.
All in all it was a very exhausting trip, but it was fun! And now I can say I’ve been to New York. I will be making a return journey sometime as this visit whetted my appetite to explore this city.