I haven’t stayed out all night in forever. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I stayed out all night. This says a lot about my social life. I like to have fun, but I get really tired by the end of the day and just want to crash. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I am out.
As I was making my List of 50 Things to Do Before I Turn 50, I thought it would be a great idea to add “Stay out all night.” I’m not sure why I added this to the List. Maybe I wanted to pretend I was young again. I envisioned doing something amazing and memorable. Well, as each month came and went, I began to think I wouldn’t get to cross this one off my List. But then December arrived, and the perfect opportunity presented itself.
“To stay awake all night adds a day to your life” — Frank Herbert
Devising a plan
I’ve been a Frequent Flyer with Delta since 1989. However, the highest medallion level I’ve ever achieved is Silver status. Admittedly, I don’t travel a lot, but I’ve always wanted to enjoy the perks that the other medallion levels have. So, in December, when I learned I was only 2,000 miles away from Gold Medallion status, I knew I had to do something about it. The problem was, the year was almost up. I only had a few weeks until the deadline for accruing mileage for the next status.
I began looking on Google Flights to see what flight I could take for the cheapest amount of money. After 15 minutes of searching, I found it—a round-trip flight to New York City for less than $150 (including taxes). The only problem? I would have to return to Salt Lake City the same day. And, the flight would be a red eye to New York.
Anyone who knows me also knows how practical I am. I hate to waste time, gas, food, or money. This flight seemed to be a waste of time AND money (even though it was only a $150 ticket). Could I really pull the trigger just to get to Gold medallion status on Delta?
Turns out, I could. In a burst of spontaneity, I booked the flight to New York. I was actually going to travel 1,989 miles and back in less than 24 hours.
Forgetting my pillow
When the day of my flight arrived, I was so excited about flying without any luggage that I forgot to pack the most essential travel item—my inflatable Klymit pillow. I didn’t even realize this until I had boarded, and the plane was taking off. In my backpack, I had packed my laptop, a contact case, solution, toothbrush, etc. However, I had failed to plan for the sleeping part of the flight, and the overnight layover I would have in the JFK Airport.
I can sleep pretty much anywhere—as long as I have a pillow. If I don’t have a pillow, I’m hopeless. As much as I’d hoped this time would be different, I arrived to JFK tired and a little grumpy. No matter. This was nothing that a little food couldn’t fix. After getting off the plane, I headed to the restroom and then made my way through the terminal to find a restaurant.
Funny thing about traveling after midnight is that the airport restaurants don’t stay open all night. Since I’m not normally a frequent traveler (and even less during COVID), I had no idea that my food options would be so limited. After walking for what felt like ages, I finally saw a line of people ahead of me. Was there actually an open restaurant?
McDonalds to the rescue
Thank goodness for McDonalds. While I stood in line, it suddenly dawned on me that this might be the only chance I’d have to accomplish #22 on my List “Stay out all night.” Yes, indeed, I would be staying out all night in the JFK Airport.
With my McDonald’s chicken nuggets in hand, I made my way back through the terminal to find a place to sit. As I walked, I could see a handful of other weary travelers sprawled out along the carpet or resting up against walls.
Walking past them, I resolved that I would embrace the idea of “Staying out all night.” Since the airport was mostly empty and quiet, there were many areas where I could set up home base.
As I sat there in the terminal, I decided to get some work done. However, I was so tired that I soon found my head bobbing up and down as I tried to fight off sleep.
I don’t know how much work I got done that night, but I was relieved when others started to trickle into the terminal. I began to pack my laptop back into my backpack and prepared to board the flight to return home.
1,989 miles later, I was back in Utah and proud of myself. I had stayed out all night AND achieved Gold Medallion status on Delta. Since it’s now been a few months, you might be wondering if it was worth it. Well, I’ve flown five times since and been upgraded to Comfort Plus (nicer seating) every time. I also love hearing the gate attendant recognize me for my gold medallion status and thank me as I board the plane. Staying out all night was totally worth it.