All of my readers know how crazy I am, exploiting loopholes in airlines award rules, flying via out-of-the-way places and optimizing stopovers to the most out of my award tickets. So when I had to make a trip this weekend from 103rd Street to 72nd Street, I wanted to make the most of the opportunities provided by the MTA’s generous subway stopover rules.
Sure, I could’ve just hopped on a nonstop train from 103rd Street and gotten off at 72nd Street, and turned around an hour or so later and taken the 1 Train back uptown, but that’s not why you read this blog. There are few subway lines I hadn’t tried yet (I’ve knocked off the 1,2,3,4,6,7,a,b,c,d,e,g,j,l,n,q,r,s (42nd Street), and W trains) but I thought this would be a great opportunity to try the service on the 5 Train.
So I turned to my readers and asked them where they wanted me to stop – Allerton Avenue? Bronx Park East? Freeman Street? Newkirk Avenue? But after sifting though the 172 Comments in that post of people dying to see what kind of soda they serve on the 5 Train, I decided I’d head to Bowling Green Station.
I got on the phone with the MTA and the first agent I called thought that Bowling Green was in Kentucky, so I hung up and tried again. The next agent thought I was referring to Bowling Green University near Toledo. I hung up. The third told me that Saudi Arabian Airlines wasn’t part of the MTA. Finally, the 4th agent asked me why I was calling because you can’t reserve a seat on the subway.
I headed down to the 103rd Street station to purchase my ticket. The $2.25 ticket allows for one transfer (to bus) and one stopover (if you head back on the bus) or unlimited transfers within the subway system. Those unlimited transfers will come in handy when I change trains at 42nd Street, spend some time in the first class lounge there, then take the Shuttle across to Grand Central and, after getting a massage in the lounge there, head downtown on the 5 Train.
I paid for the $2.25 ticket with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card because it looks cool. Also because it earns double miles for travel purchases, so I was 2 miles closer to getting to the Maldives, which I can do whenever I want because I have no children and my job gives me 13 weeks vacation. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, you may remember, was on my Top 10 List of Credit Cards in September 2012, October 2012, November 2012, December 2012, January 2013, February 2013, April 2013, May 2013, May Special Memorial Day Weekend Top Credit Cards for Your BBQ, June 2013, July 2013, August 2013, 10 Best Credit Cards for Back to School, September 2013, Top 10 Credit Cards for Simchas Torah, and, I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s probably on my October 2013 list. You’ll have to wait to find out.
Because I have status on the subway I breezed through the security line and I arrived at the station earlier than I needed to. Luckily because I have the American Express Business Platinum card I had access to the beautiful lounge at the station.
There were plenty of seats available, so I sat down to get some work done.
Soon enough, though, the train arrived. I was really disappointed when the conductor did not address me by name. Back in the 70s every passenger was addressed by name (formally! Good morning, Mr. Blank…) when they got on the train. Nothing like it is today!
Because I have status with the subway, I’m guaranteed an open seat next to me. Unfortunately this particular subway car had the old version of the seats and there was no way to really get comfortable. I settled in watching a movie and waiting for meal service.
Meal service came quickly and by the time we arrived one station later, they had passed out bananas to everyone on the train – I know that people complain about the bananas they give out on the subway, but this banana was as good as any banana I had ever had in any restaurant anywhere in the world ever in all my years going to restaurants around the world on miles.
We arrived at 42nd Street 17 minutes early, so I had plenty of time to take advantage of the stairs they provide to walk over to the Shuttle to Grand Central Station. If you’re going to spend $2.25 on a ticket using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to get double miles so you can get a first class trip with your wife for free, you should always take advantage of as many stopovers as possible.
The Shuttle service was quick and efficient and no food was passed out, but they did have Krug available for anyone who wanted it. Sorry – not Krug champagne, they had picture of Torey Krug the hockey player for the Boston Bruins.
I disembarked first from the Shuttle because I had first-car access as an elite, and I waited for the Porsche to drive me over to the platform for the 5 Train. Something must have happened to the car, because after 45 minutes I realized it was not coming and I walked over to the 5 Train platform myself. I had mis-connected at that point, but since trains come every 4 minutes I hopped aboard and arrived down at Bowling Green a bit jet-lagged, but otherwise fine.
I didn’t bother seeing anything in Lower Manhattan, so I just used my free subway-to-bus transfer and hopped on the M5 and 97 minutes later, arrived at my destination at 72nd and Broadway.
Tomorrow I have to go from 103rd Street down to 28th Street – What trains would my readers like me to take?