With the start of a new year many of us like to look back on the previous year's flying and visualize our exploits on a map. Other than airline crews, few people are likely to match Jason Mayfield, who logged 236,549 miles (380,689 km) over the course of 103 flights from his home in Washington, DC. Here is what he had to say about his year aboard (many) airplanes:
Having traveled to every country in the world, and finally flown more than a dozen round-the-world trips, I decided in 2017 that my next goal would be to fly 200,000 miles in a year. Having flown over 150,000 miles for each of the previous ten years this seemed like a pretty simple goal, but it turned out to be rather striking how big the difference between 150,000 and 200,000 miles just is. In both 2017 and 2018 I fell short by around 30,000 miles so I more or less abandoned that goal.
I took a new job in mid-2017 managing a global capacity building program in international development and in early 2019 it was confirmed that we would scale up the program in a major way. This required many meetings with donors and implementation counterparts who are spread all over the globe. Even without planning, it looked like in the middle of 2019 that I was on track for a record year and might actually break the 200,000 without even trying—which of course made me interested in trying!
Sensing I was going to get there, I woke up on my birthday in September with a crazy idea: would it be possible to actually piece together a trip around the world in first class over the span of a long weekend? Luck was on my side and I found Lufthansa first-class award availability for that evening, and a devious plan was hatched that would take me from DC to Frankfurt to Shanghai to Tokyo to LA and finally back to DC again in just under 86 hours!
After that, the work travel was really piling up: Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Ghana, Brazil. All in under two months. When November came around and my two-week hard-earned vacation was around the corner, I really wasn't feeling like flying all the way around the world—but I also didn't want to pass up flying Manila to Toronto (a flight I had looked forward to for a couple of years) and a trip around the Canadian Arctic through the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
I was home a grand total of six nights in November and December, but the goal was met: 236,549 miles without even trying—breaking my previous record by nearly 65,000 miles.
Highlights definitely included:
- The Canadian Arctic, including a wild drive from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk
- Visiting the Norwegian and Russian arctic, and overland from Kirkenes to Murmansk
- MNL-YYZ on the Philippine Airlines A350
- A surprise operational upgrade from business to first on Swiss from Zurich to Johannesburg
- 11 segments in international first class, including Lufthansa, SWISS, ANA, Emirates, and Qantas
The lowlights? Well there weren't really any except for the toll the heavy travel took physically. I definitely learned this year that the danger of flying so many miles up front and enjoying copious amounts of food and beverage is that your body tells you it's not 21 anymore. If I keep flying at this rate, it's going to be a bit less enjoying of the catering and a bit more enjoying of the hotel gym!
What's next in 2020? Hopefully a bit less travel, but with 50,000 miles already booked through March we'll see!
For those who like data, Jason's travels spanned 58 airports on 34 airlines. Living in Washington, DC, it's not surprising that hubs of United Airlines and Star Alliance partners Lufthansa and Air Canada top the list of airports:
With so much long-distance international travel, double-aisle (widebody) aircraft made up over 56% of Jason's travel, with the Boeing 777 being the most freqently flown type:
Today's Featured Map shows Jason's 2019 odyssey.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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