Everyone needs a bit of excitement in their life. Sometimes it enters unexpectedly. But barring that good fortune, it must be self-created. That’s at least how I approached booking a connecting itinerary on separate tickets to cap off a tip to Europe.

Forty minutes will be enough to make it. Surely. I’m only landing in the U.S. and need to clear immigration, security, and make it back to the gate. Easy peasy, right?

The Method to My Madness

Let’s paint the picture. I booked United Polaris business class for my return from Europe last month, flying FRA-SFO. Rather than use 60,000 United miles, I opted for 45,000 Turkish Miles & Smiles, a regular move. What was irregular is that I booked online. Recent phone conversation with Turkish have proven painful. I was fresh off two of these and decided I didn’t want to stomach a third.

So with the long haul booked, I still needed a domestic ticket from SFO to my home airport (ACV). LifeMiles to the rescue. The hop is just 6,500 miles, an amazing deal for an expensive regional hop. I’ve booked it enough times to lose count.

A typical day on the route includes just three flights: late morning, midafternoon, mid-to-late evening. With a 3:30 PM scheduled arrival for my international flight, a 4:10 PM departure would be tight. Do I book it? Or do I “play it safe” and book the later one? Both options were available.

My gut choice was to book the tight connection. I’d rather make it home in time for supper than take the later one. Should I miss it, it is unlikely that the Tuesday evening flight would be full.

The other things in my corner included Global Entry membership and no plan to check luggage. It should take less than 10 minutes to clear immigration, then I can enter security in the international terminal, and run airside to Concourse F. On time, the plane door closes at 3:55. It’s doable.

Yes, I did this to save 8,500 miles off the whole itinerary. Actually, I did this since I didn’t have 60,000 United miles. But even if I did, I would prefer to save them for other uses.

a plane parked at an airport

Well, That Was Easy

United let me off without a scratch. Taking off on time from Frankfurt, we ended up making good time and landing at SFO ahead of schedule. As expected, I made in through immigration in less than ten minutes. I breezed through security as well, and even had time to grab a snack. Running? What’s that?

Ironically, United held the regional flight to allow a few others to connect. We ended up arriving slightly late. I was able to grab a quick dinner and meet up with friends that evening. They remained oblivious to the fact my day had started at 11:00 PM local time the night before. And I was able to avoid arriving home at 11:00 PM.

One of these days I’ll be badly bitten. And it’ll sting. But that was not this day. Anyway, I’m ready to roll with the punches, should the worst happen.