As you can probably imagine, the HurleyGurrls fly to many places every year! That is one of the perks of being an Olympic athlete. We have literally competed in gymnasiums and stadiums on every continent. Sometimes, traveling to these (often remote) places can be tricky, time consuming, interesting, and scary! One thing is for sure, rarely is it easy and usually it takes all day (and sometimes 2 days). It is easier flying now that we live in Houston. San Antonio was very difficult as it always required an additional stop and in the flying business, anytime you stop to make a connection, there is always a chance of something throwing you off schedule. This was also true when we were in college and traveling out of the South Bend, Indiana airport (not to mention Chicago’s O’hare). The South Bend connection makes San Antonio connection seem easy! At least it doesn’t snow in San Antonio.
Each year, we travel to 3 North American Cups, 8 world cups, the National Championships, the Zonal Championships and the World Championships. On top of that, we frequently have to travel to international training camps periodically throughout the season. Because of all our travel, we have racked up enough miles to qualify for Platinum Status on United Airlines/Star Alliance.
This has some benefits that come in handy on long trips – most notably, we get to use the United/Star Alliance lounges internationally for free. Also, occasionally, we get upgraded to first class although this doesn’t usually happen, it is quite a nice surprise when it does! Now-a-days, and for the most part, USA Fencing pays for and arranges our international travel. Most of the time, we fly on United or Star Alliance to international destinations. Domestically, we will mostly fly either United or Southwest Airlines. For those of you who don’t fly a lot, Star Alliance is a world-wide group of 28 airlines who provide connecting flights and common frequent flyer miles. It is easy to transfer flights between Star Alliance carriers (such as United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air China, etc.). It often is not so easy to transfer from a Star Alliance carrier to a different airline group (such as American/OneWorld or Delta/SkyTeam Airlines). Although sometimes this must be done, there is no telling what will happen to your bags! Southwest Airlines, on the other hand is often easier on domestic flights as they allow our dad to board the plane early since he is old and needs to sit in an aisle seat (Southwest doesn’t have assigned seating — it is first come, first served so getting on the plane early allows him to have his pick of what seat to sit in).
In short, we have to travel a ton. After 15 years of traveling, you begin to rack up some interesting experiences. We definitely have our fair share of interesting stories we will tell, some good, some bad, some ugly, and some just funny!
Ok. So that is the setup for our travel blog series in February! We have a guest blogger next week (Feb 5), Kris Ekeren, the Executive Director of USA Fencing. We will pick up our travel series the following week and it will continue weekly throughout February.