Opening Statements

Up in the Air


Caryn Carson
Photo by American Airlines/Roland Ford

Caryn Carson admits that she tended to hoard airline frequent-flier miles. But a few months ago the Dallas lawyer won a million of them from American Airlines, and now she is happy to share.

A senior counsel with Tenet Healthcare Corp., Carson entered the airline’s annual Road Warrior contest, which this year revolved around weaving rock song titles into adventure essays.

Carson selected tunes from Aerosmith’s 1994 greatest hits album, Big Ones, and was the grand prize winner. “The dark circles under my eyes were just a clue that I was ‘Livin’ on the Edge’ of a nervous breakdown, and I desperately needed to get out of Dallas,” her essay reads. “The part of me with better judgment said I was ‘Crazy’ to have booked a trip to Paris for a long weekend.”

Carson, who already had racked up a million miles on American Airlines through business and personal travel, beat four finalists for the grand prize, which also included Hilton HHonors bonus points and a BlackBerry Storm from Verizon.

The finalists took part in a professional photo shoot and were featured in American Airlines’ in-flight magazine in March. They were dressed as the artists from their essays. Readers voted Carson—emulating Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler—their favorite.

“I’ll be clear, these are not my clothes,” says Carson, whose ensemble included black gloves, skintight pants and a snakeskin-print scarf.

Carson donated 200,000 miles from her winnings to the Stewpot, a Dallas resource center for homeless and at-risk individuals. She says the group plans to use the miles for staff and client travel. “Clients could be reunited with families in other states, and instead of putting them on the bus, there might be situations where a plane ticket would be appropriate,” Carson says.

She’s also planning a trip to London to celebrate the high school graduation of her boyfriend’s son. And this fall the couple plans to visit Spain.

“If you fly coach it’s only 20,000 (frequent-flier) miles each way,” Carson says. “You could really stretch this out.”

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