2019 Year in Travel

(updated )

2019 wasn’t quite a record-setting travel year for me, but it was still among my busiest. Internationally, I got to visit Japan in the winter, and Sweden and Iceland in the summer. Domestically, I spent a lot of time on the east coast and in the Midwest, but somehow managed not to ever make it out to the Pacific time zone.

Hotels

A chart of my hotel nights by year. 2019 shows 110 total nights (78 business, 32 personal).

Travel was down slightly this year, but I still ended up spending 110 nights away from home—78 for work, and 32 for myself. The plurality of my personal nights were for my summer trip to Sweden and Iceland; most of the rest consisted of a lot of short weekend trips or visits to friends and family.

Flights

A chart of my flights by year. 2019 shows 106 total flights (80 business, 12 mixed, 14 personal).

I ended the year with 106 flights, totaling 74 110 miles (119 268 km).

A map of all my flights in 2019.

Flight map generated using the Great Circle Mapper—copyright © Karl L. Swartz

This was my first year with two separate international trips. I had a work trip to Tokyo in February, and a vacation to Stockholm and Reykjavík in August.

The Tokyo trip was my first time trying out American Airlines’ 777 premium economy class; my job only pays for economy flights, but I was able to purchase a same-day upgrade with my own money for a reasonable price on my Dallas to Tokyo flight. For a 13-hour flight, it was pretty much exactly what I needed; lots of extra legroom, a little extra width, and a nice side pocket to keep devices while they’re charging.

I also upgraded to premium cabins for some of the flights on our vacation; we upgraded to business class at check-in on the Finnair Chicago to Helsinki flight, and won a bid on business class upgrades on the Icelandair Reykjavík to Chicago flight.

The Icelandair 757 business class was closer to a domestic first class flight—lots more room, better service, but no lay-flat bed. Since it was a daytime flight, beds weren’t necessary.

The Finnair A330-300 business class had lay-flat beds, which was nice for the overnight flight. However, at 6′5″ (196 cm), I’m too tall for the bed, so I didn’t really sleep any better in the bed than in my AA premium economy seat. I don’t believe that flight had a premium economy option, but for my future long-haul flights, I’ll probably just upgrade to premium economy rather than business since the beds don’t provide me enough extra benefit for the enormous cost difference.

A map of my flights in 2019 within North America.

Flight map generated using the Great Circle Mapper—copyright © Karl L. Swartz

Domestically, I spent a lot of time in the Great Plains (particularly Oklahoma) and the east coast.

A directed graph with airports as nodes and flights as edges. Airport nodes are sized proportional to the number of visits, and flight edges are color coded by airline.

I decided to try a new visualization of how I flew using a directed graph. I wrote a small module for Flight Historian that could convert flights from my database into a GraphML file, then used yEd Graph Editor to convert it to a radial arrangement.

On this graph, each circle is an airport I visited at least once this year, and each arrow is a flight I took this year. (The circular arrow by Oklahoma City [OKC] shows my flight where we took off from OKC, and had to return to OKC due to a mechanical issue.)

My busiest routes were between Dayton (DAY) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) or DAY and Chicago–O’Hare (ORD), with strong showings for DAY ⇄ Charlotte (CLT) and DAY ⇄ Philadelphia (PHL) as well. This makes sense, as Dayton is my home airport, these other airports are all American hubs that serve DAY, and American was my most flown airline this year.

In the last few months of the year, I flew a number of trips on Delta, which brought me a decent number of flights between Dayton and Atlanta (ATL).

New Airports

Terminal silhouettes of NRT, FLL, FAY, PIT, BHM, MCI, HEL, ARN, MIA, AND ILM.

I visited 10 new airports this year.

# Code Airport First Visit
87 NRT Tokyo–Narita
Japan
10 Feb 2019
88 FLL Fort Lauderdale
Florida, United States
16 Mar 2019
89 FAY Fayetteville
North Carolina, United States
11 Jun 2019
90 PIT Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania, United States
24 Jun 2019
91 BHM Birmingham
Alabama, United States
18 Jul 2019
92 MCI Kansas City
Missouri, United States
29 Jul 2019
93 HEL Helsinki
Finland
19 Aug 2019
94 ARN Stockholm–Arlanda
Sweden
19 Aug 2019
95 MIA Miami
Florida, United States
18 Oct 2019
96 ILM Wilmington
North Carolina, United States
30 Dec 2019

By picking up Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Miami (MIA) this year, I finally visited all of the large hubs in the United States.

New Airlines

Finnair was my only new airline in 2019. As they are a Oneworld alliance member, I was able to use my American Airlines miles to book them for my trip to Stockholm (via a layover in Helsinki).

New Aircraft

I did not fly any new aircraft families in 2019.

Driving

A chart of my driving mileage by year. 2019 shows 24765 total miles (15418 personal vehicle, 9347 rental car).

I drove approximately 24 765 miles (39 855 km) in 2019.

2019 Driving
Personal car 15 418 mi 24 813 km
Rental cars 9 347 mi 15 043 km
Total 24 765 mi 39 855 km
A map showing 2019 driving and passenger routes in the United States, Japan, Sweden, and Iceland.

© OpenStreetMap contributors

Altus (in southwestern Oklahoma) contributed to a lot of my rental driving—it’s not possible to drive directly into Altus, so I’ve flown into a variety of airports in the region (largely Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Amarillo). I also had one trip where I flew into Kansas City to drive to Wichita, rather than flying into Wichita directly.

Similarly, I didn’t have the option to fly directly into Portsmouth, New Hampshire on several trips there this year, which lead to some driving to other New England airports.

I visited Key West and drove the Overseas Highway (the southern terminus of U.S. Highway 1) for the first time this year.

States and Countries

A map of the United States. New Mexico, Delaware, Alabama, Minnesota, and Vermont were first visited in 2019. Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine were visited in 2019. Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and DC have been visited.

I visited 24 states this year, five for the first time: New Mexico, Delaware, Alabama, Minnesota, and Vermont.

A map of the world. Japan and Sweden were first visited in 2019. Iceland and United States were visited in 2019. Canada, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Australia, and New Zealand have been visited.

I visited four countries this year, two for the first time: Japan and Sweden. (I also had a layover in Finland, but since I did not leave the airport, I don’t count it as a visited country for the purposes of this map.)

Frequent Traveler Status

A chart of my frequent traveler status in various programs by year. For 2019, I earned American AAdvantage Platinum, Hilton Honors Diamond, and IHG Rewards Club Gold.

For the first time, I earned status with IHG (from a number of Holiday Inn stays), reaching their gold tier. I also maintained my Diamond status with Hilton, and my Platinum status with American.

Superlatives

A map showing a route between Dallas/Fort Worth and Tokyo, a route between Charlotte and Fayetteville, and a marker for Oklahoma City.

Flight map generated using the Great Circle Mapper—copyright © Karl L. Swartz

A windshield-mounted GPS on top of Mount Evans, Colorado, showing an elevation of 14132 feet.
Charts comparing distance (x-axis) vs. elevation (y-axis) for my OKC to OKC flight and my drive through Loveland Pass and Mt. Evans. Both driving peaks have a higher elevation than the highest altitude of the flight.

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