It's A Bird, It's A Plane! No, It's MegaDo!
By Mel Webster, Special to AccessFares
April 11, 2012, Dallas Texas -What do you get when you put 160 mileage runners and passionate flyers in a room? A MegaDo, brought to you by Oneworld.
Well, not just in a room, participants went on a five day jaunt visiting New York, London, Dallas, Seattle and Los Angeles with airline big wigs tagging along to answer questions. MegaDo definitely qualifies as the time and the place to trot out your very best war stories from up in the air. MegaDo derives its name from the British expression "do"-meaning a get together or a party or a soiree. For instance: "I'm having a do this weekend, will you be joining us?" Except this particular party is a Mega Do: big, huge, marathon, you get the idea, with participants calling themselves "MegaDoers". Think big travelers, there is nothing modest or small about MegaDo.
You might recall that old George Clooney movie, where Clooney played essentially what is known as a mileage runner. A mileage runner is person who will travel specifically to top up his/her mileage account to retain or achieve top tier frequent flyer status. So, MegaDo, sponsored by American Airlines and the Oneworld alliance brings together a bunch of George Clooney type characters (three out of four participants were male; lucky FA's if they really were Clooney like!) to experience special events centered around traveling well and getting an insider's peek behind usually tightly drawn curtains.
And I don't mean the curtains separating the front of the plane from cattle class. MegaDoers, with a serious passion for flying, are well used to sitting up front when traveling and perhaps know frequent flyer program ins and outs better than the carriers.
Highlights of MegaDo 2012 were varied and unique. Where else can you get hands on training for a carrier's reservation system and look yourself up to see your entire travel history? How about running through a smoke filled cabin and then jumping down an emergency chute to give you some insights about flight attendant training? One could take a VIP behind the scenes stroll through Boeing's top secret facilities, win points to attend American Airlines' pilot flight simulator training or a visit to the special ops room for American, where every flight in the world, in the air and on the ground is monitored and controlled.
Not to be outdone, Oneworld partners Qantas and Cathay Pacific, parked jets in a private area of LAX so attendees could enjoy a private tour of the planes. Qantas invited participants onto their Airbus A380 and Cathay Pacific welcomed MegaDoers on board to test sit their swanky new business class on a Boeing 777.
Another treat was a private tour of the very first 747 aircraft. Participants boarded the prototype at the Seattle Museum of Space, with one MegaDoer noting, "Stepping into the first 747 was truly an emotional experience, it was like visiting a hallowed cathedral or religious site."
Right there you get a glimpse of the level of passion for flying that propels this group to get together and for the carriers to create the MegaDo event. These are not your downtrodden, weary travelling masses. 'Up front' are two simple words to live and fly by.
According to an AP reporter who went along for the ride of a lifetime, MegaDo tickets at $1699 a pop sold out in 17 minutes flat. All participants flew on a chartered American Airlines 757 which was stocked with four times the amount of liquor than usual for similar routes. Clearly, no one was being left high and dry on those flight segments!
One pressing question to my mind was how did American assign the crew? Did they call for volunteers or simply draft by seniority, which doesn't always mean the best crew is onboard. I hope there was a queue of flight attendant volunteers wishing to share the camaraderie of this very special segment of frequent flyers who know how to travel well and often. Fingers crossed the carrier honchos who participated took notes from this elite crowd on how to run an airline. My money would be on this group to do a better job at it than traditional airline executive hires.
Speaking of which, next month we go behind the scenes with a veteran of the airline industry and former trainer for a major US carrier who will share a few stories about the golden age of air travel. Do you have an airline story to share? Please do tell us! You can reach me at NewsDesk@AccessFares.com