OneWorld MegaDO Charter Update

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I’ll cut to the chase – it’s not good news for those who were hoping that additional seats on the OneWorld MegaDO would open up.  As was explained on the official OWMD update page, both the attempt to acquire a second plane and the attempt to secure a larger plane have failed.  The main roadblocks to either of those options seems to have been that American has had a very large number of pilots retire in the last two months, and thus there is extreme difficulty in getting flights such as charters scheduled.  Additionally, acquiring a 777 (larger plane) also proved to be impossible as that type of plane is in short supply and needed for their international operations.

I have no doubt that the organizers left no stones unturned in looking for a way to accommodate the extremely high demand for this event.  I feel extremely grateful to be able to go on this trip, and promise to not only share as much as I can while on the trip, but will bring back some goodies passed out to give away to those of you who can’t make the journey.  I know it is a very small consolation for those who wanted to be on the plane, but we all do what is within our control.  🙂

Enough with the bad news – there is actually some good news!  The first bit of good news is that the first three people on the wait list have cleared and are now on the charter.  So far the wait list consists only of those who have paid for a seat, but due to some issues with the booking system/Paypal, didn’t actually end up with an assigned seat.  There will undoubtedly be more people on the wait list moved into a seat as the event approaches.  There will be people who can no longer make the trip whose seats will be assigned to an eagerly waiting wait list member.  If it is like last time, there may also be some seats that are currently reserved for sponsors/media that open up as the event nears.  If or when I hear of the wait list opening up to additional interested people, I promise to let you know.

Additionally, American Airlines has four seats that will be given away – two via a social media campaign and two via an AAdvantage mileage auction.  Normally mileage auctions are not a very good use of miles, but this may be a unique time when it may be a great use of your miles.  Using miles to obtain a seat that can’t be bought with cash – sounds like something to consider!  The Points Guy will also be doing a “seatmate” contest.  The winner of that contest will be sitting next to him in “Tommy Class”.  He is a very nice and entertaining guy, so not only would you win a seat on the sold-out trip, but you would have a fun traveling partner as well.  So, there are at least five seats up for grabs to people who don’t yet know they get to go on this trip.  Don’t give up hope quite yet!

It’s never fun to share “bad news”, but since I have shared my excitement about this trip, I also wanted to be sure and share this “not-as-exciting” update.  I think we all now have a pretty clear idea of the level of interest for these types of trips and I bet everyone will be better equipped for the high demand on the next DO.

If you want the longer version of why a larger and/or second plane wasn’t a possibility, here is the full update reposted:

Attempt to acquire larger plane to accommodate demand fails.
We’ve worked extremely hard with American Airlines the last few days to see if we can find a good solution to accommodate more people (bigger plane/second plane) on the OWMD.  As you probably have read in the news, American has had a very large number of pilots retire the last two months causing problems for additional scheduling for such things as Charters which will be extremely tight in January.  Information here.
Upgrading to a 777 for more seats was a long shot as it’s an important plane for international operations but we certainly tried our best. American has tried very hard within all its departments but unfortunately, there will not be a larger plane available or even a second plane as it will jeopardize American’s operational performance. There just isn’t enough crew available the month we are going.

 

So what happens next? We’ll be in touch with everyone on the wait list and apprize them of the current status of their waitlisted seats. Also, we have engaged a new thread format on milepoint with a Master Q/A and formal announcement thread now that we know for certainty that the MegaDo fly forward in much the same manner as the previous 3 MegaDo’s.

There is some good news: AAdvantage will have two seats for a social media campaign and two seats they will be auctioning off in an AAdvantage mileage auction—so there is still a chance for others to join the OWMD.
It is certain that both American, AAdvantage, and the organizers of the OWMD as well as other partners and sponsors tried as hard as possible to make this extraordinary experience available to more people. It does set up a positive scenario for future MegaDo’s that oneworld is a very popular airline Alliance and there are many who want to hear more about the oneworld Alliance and its partners and leaders.

Comments

  1. Three points:

    1) I’m almost 100% sure that if the organizers polled those in “Tommy Class” they’d find that none of them would mind giving up that useless empty middle seat for a fellow enthusiast in return for a refund of the price difference (between “Tommy” and coach). They can generate plenty of seats that way.

    2) The organizers were incredibly short-sighted. For starters of course the Star do had less interest, because it was marketed for the “international” crowd, of which there are less people able to partake. This domestic affair was obviously going to be easier to attend for the vast majority. Ironically, I was going to come for abroad for it, but couldn’t get a seat. Besides, they should have put out “feelers” before just announcing it and keeping only the “inner circle” part of the plan. It was all so hush hush, which is why they were detached from the outside world.

    3) Randy said that questions should be sent to him via MilePoint “conversation,” which is exactly what I did on the day of the whole booking fiasco and I never heard back from him. He’s a good guy who’s done plenty for the “industry,” but he botched this one.

  2. What AS said
    +1
    this whole thing was so dissappointing. It was unmercifully plugged and then everyone was surprised when it sold out? I understand that the star megado didn’t sell out for awhile, and everyone was trying to be helpful re making sure noNe of the organizers were left holding the bag, but as one who was shut out, it left a very poor taste in my mouth. I will get over it, but while the intent was good the execution was poor on many levels. 🙁

  3. @carwag25, so glad to hear you cleared the waitlist! Hopefully you were the first of many!

    @WilCo, ha ha. 🙂

    @A.S., I totally understand the frustration. I agree with you about Tommy Class – I know their are additional miles earned for TC that they would have to figure out how to manage, but I do agree. There were domestic portions of both, so I don’t know if that can totally explain this increased level of interest. I know I talked about it a lot because I thought the SMD3 was such an awesome experience and wanted to share that with others who might consider going on the next DO.

    I think that information does sometimes come out slowly or in pieces for these sorts of things as there are many unknowns for a while, but I think the main pieces of information were released to everyone as soon as possible (dates/launch party/locations/prices/registration dates).

    All that being said, it is very unfortunate that there are many people who want to come on this trip that aren’t actually going to be able to go. I’m in no way an organizer, sponsor, or anything else on this trip, but I even feel bad that there aren’t enough seats. I can’t even imagine how the organizers feel. I’m sure that particular day was an insane one for Randy and the organizers, but if you wanted to communicate with him, I would encourage you to reach out again.

    @Jiml, I do think a lot of people were talking about it since they were very excited about it (at least I know that is true in my case). I understand how that can leave a bad taste in your mouth given the end result. I do hope you consider coming on a future DO. Hopefully everyone will be more prepared for the level of demand.

  4. @mommypoints: I’m a huge fan of yours and of the different (and very lighthearted) angle with which your blog presents the frequent flyer subject. Which is why I cringe every time you defend the organizers. I mean, you said yourself that you aren’t an organizer and you don’t know what they were thinking and yet you speak of their fantastic intentions and how they kept everybody informed and how the planning was meant to be different? Come on, mommypoints, I know you’re trying to be positive — it’s who you are and I love it! 🙂 — but you’re just encouraging them to repeat their mistakes. The fact is that you do not know enough of the planning to say these things. Unless you do and are lying, which I don’t believe for a second!! I truly believe that there’s nothing “in it for you” — I just do. You have a big responsibility here, because now EVERYBODY (literally ALL of the key bloggers) follows your blog, so you can’t be inaccurate. If you want to be positive you can follow the mantra “if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all,” but don’t make up stuff. I don’t have my own blog, which means I have that much more time to follow everyone else’s and I assure you that despite your claims, the organizers made no effort to “feel” the demand before springing the entire trip on everyone. It was a big state secret and it came back to bite them in the butt. And I won’t write again to Randy. My message is sitting there on his desk and he can reply if he wants to.

  5. Am I missing something? My understanding is they have people who paid for seats already but didn’t actually get seats. Shouldn’t they be giving seats to those people instead of via a points auction and social media giveaways? I mean, I’m sure people get their money back who don’t get seats, but I’d be pretty upset if I was someone who already booked and didn’t get to go but they just gave away extra seats to others.

  6. Thank you, @Jody! I’m sick of hearing hip-hip-hurrahs for the organizers when they are clearly not doing a fantastic job at being fair or even thinking outside the box, for that matter. They’re worried about how to calculate the Tommy Class EQM’s????? My one-year old could tell them that they just give regular coach EQMs if they scrap that class entirely! They quite obviously want to give themselves the extra miles rather than give others their seats.

  7. @Jody, my guess is that the sponsors (like American Airlines) have a certain number of seats on the charter allotted to them to do with as they wish since they are a sponsor. My guess is that arrangement was made far before the sell-out.

    @A.S., I agree sharing accurate information is very important. Clearly not everything has gone smoothly with this charter so far, but the organizers are all doing this on an volunteer arrangement, so I do still applaud the efforts they are making to make this trip possible. I do not know the status or reasons behind preserving TC, but I do not personally believe that there are malicious motives behind the decisions they are making – that is my opinion based on meeting the organizers on SMD3 and on the information that has been released. I can’t even imagine how much work this is for those who donate their time to make these sorts of trips happen, so despite the negatives I am still grateful since without the organizers this trip wouldn’t be happening for anyone. Again, I really am very sorry this has been such a frustrating and negative experience for you and others.

  8. Update on contest winners of SMDos. The SMD1 Karla just won a Chevrolet Sonic car! I won the SMD2 on a Lufthansa twitter contest (also won the Kindle in the Chicago DO & 25k UA miles in a United shopping mall contest). The SMD3 contest was won by Susan, the T shirt lady at the Chicago DO.

    You bet we are all gunning for these contests for the OWM DO:-)

    • @gpapadop, holy moly y’all are some lucky guys and gals!! I think I will die an old lady before I ever win anything – doesn’t stop me from trying though! 🙂

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