Despite belonging to the same state of California, Los Angeles and San Francisco can be found an approximate 380 miles away from each other. Transporting oneself from one to the other entails an approximate one-and-fifteen-minute-long journey through the skies or a journey of approximately 7 hours by car.
An engineer from LA, Bill, got accepted to a one-year master's program at Cal Berkeley but dreaded having to shell out the exorbitant rent prices in the Bay Area. Close to Berkeley in Oakland, the usual amount for renting a place is a whopping $3500 each month.
When his studies came to an end, Bill had arranged an inexpensive apartment and employment opportunities in L.A., inspiring him to take the extreme step of travelling between his place of residence and the educational institution every day.
I had been residing comfortably in LA when I got accepted to the one-year MEng program beginning in August of 2022 and ending in May 2023. I had my heart set on returning to my previous employer upon graduation, so I elected to commute by plane to Berkeley, as I am a keen flyer and have amassed several frequent flyer miles/points from bonus offers and the like. The cost of renting in the Bay area is no joke, and since my program duration is just ten months, this seemed to be the best solution.
Bill only had required classes to attend on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, yet he chose to book flights daily in order to be equipped to attend any business meetings or special events that might take place.
Bill mentioned that he had the privilege of elite status from Alaska and Southwest, qualifying him for the same-day change perk. Therefore, if he found he did not need to travel to campus Tu/Th, he could just cancel the tickets the previous night for a full refund.
At the start of the fall semester on Mondays and Wednesdays, he'd rise up early at 3:40 am in Los Angeles and head to LAX for a 6:00 departure with Alaska Airlines to the San Francisco International Airport. Subsequently, he took the BART light-rail to school. For his 8 am Friday class, he organized his trip with a 5:30 am Southwest Flight from LAX to Oakland International Airport.
Meeting up with buddies or collaborating on projects with my cohort for a little longer usually makes me grab the last plane up (905pm OAK-LAX on Southwest or 1030pm SFO-LAX on Alaska),” he continued. “But when I don't, I'd usually choose one of the 6pm or 7pm flies and arrive close to 930pm.”
Bill finished the degree program in 10 months and the transport price was lower than the costs of two months of living in Berkeley.
Incurred costs were $5592.66, comprising BART at $671.29, parking $520.00, gas $1948.27, inflight wifi services at $39.96, Alaska Airlines $1552.10 and 407500 Alaska miles, Southwest Airlines and 156945 Southwest points for $758.24, United Airlines $71.30 and 5500 United miles, Avianca flight at $15.60 and 6500 Avianca miles, and $15.90 for Spirit Airlines. This encompassed 114 trips and a total of 238 flights flown - 92089 miles in airtime - for 75955 minutes equivalent to 52.75 24-hour days.
According to Fox 5 San Diego, Bill has successfully attained his degree and is holding a full-time position as a transportation engineer. His ultimate goal is to be the Secretary of the U.S. Transportation Department, similar to Pete Buttigieg. He expressed that “This is undeniably one of the most daring things I’ve ever tried to do in my lifetime, and I'm so happy that I managed to pass without missing a single class. It's beyond incredible!”