First of all, my apologies — I’ve been M.I.A. for the last couple weeks. Frankly, life has gotten into the way, as I’ve been busy with work, finding a new place for when my lease expires next month, and of course spending time with my family over Thanksgiving. Once everything settles down, I will start posting a little more, as I still have trip reports and how-to guides and all sorts of stuff I want to write about!
In the meantime, I’ll briefly touch on a few things going on in the World of travel, points and miles — a weekly roundup of sorts. It’s been a relatively slow week, but there’s still stuff happening!
Me in Lufthansa B744 First Class, sans falcon
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Throwback Thursday Series!
This is the first in a series of “Throwback Thursday” #TBT posts that I will release. These will feature flights and other elements of trip reports from the past. For now, these will all be flights, hotels or cities that I’ve taken, stayed at, or been to over the last few years. For all of these trips, I took notes and/or wrote a review, took pictures, but never published the entry on my blog… until now.
I arrived at Dulles airport with my buddy about three hours before the flight. He’d be flying in economy on this flight, while I was in Business class. This was our flight over to Germany for Oktoberfest 2013. We planned to fly into Frankfurt before heading to Munich for a few days for Oktoberfest, and then on to London and Edinburgh.
After clearing security, we first headed to Terminal B to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge. As a Star Alliance Gold member, I am able to access the Lufthansa Senator Lounge prior to my flight on a Star Alliance carrier — even though it wasn’t Lufthansa! This is great, because the Senator Lounge at Dulles easily bests the United Clubs at the airport, and is one of my favorite lounges in the United States. We spent about an hour in the lounge where we relaxed, ate some dinner, and had several drinks.
Our United B777-200 being prepped for the flight to FRA
As boarding time drew closer, we made the trek over to the C/D concourse at Dulles and to seek refuge in one of the United Clubs right by our gate. After another drink, it was time to head to the gate for boarding.
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Snip, snip, snip….
This is apparently the week for US-based airlines to make all sorts of passenger un-friendly changes and cuts. While ultimately screwing over the passengers, the cuts are largely going to please investors on Wall Street.
Just this week, Delta, United and JetBlue have announced some cuts that hurt the consumer, and in many cases, they’ve prettied-up their press releases to make it look consumer-friendly. Tsk, tsk…
Some of the changes this week include:
- JetBlue announces “refresh” of A320 cabins (read – less leg room)
- JetBlue announces that free checked bags are no more!
- United makes a number of “enhancements”
- Delta announces new 2015 award chart
- Delta eliminates stopovers and open jaws on award tickets
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Updated January 29, 2015: This particular award will no longer be available once the new British Airways award chart goes into effect for bookings made after April 28, 2015. This award in business class will increase to 37,500 Avios, each way.
Last summer, I wrote a very popular post on how to book a Transatlantic flight on Aer Lingus with British Airways Avios. I’m re-visiting that today since I have a bigger audience, and since it’s still relevant.
Additionally, Aer Linugs recently announced an all-new business class product that it will be installing on its A330 fleet. This new product will be very competitive in the Transatlantic market, and would make the below type of redemption even more valuable…
I recently reported on my experience flying Aer Lingus business class from Shannon to Boston last month to conclude my European vacation. I did so with the use of one of the best valued awards that currently exist to get across the Atlantic — British Airways Avios for travel on Aer Lingus. In the rest of this post, I will detail how one can easily fly from Boston to Ireland in business class for fewer miles than most airlines charge for a one-way in economy. I’ll hit the following points in this post:
- The Sweet Spot on British Airways’ Award Chart
- Checking Award Availability
- Calling British Airways to Book
- Fly in Style for Cheap
- How to get British Airways Avios…. if you don’t fly British Airways
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After our time in Shanghai, I wanted to get down to my favorite city in the World — Hong Kong! This little jaunt south was not part of my award ticket, so I had to hop on the Interwebs to find a decent deal for a round trip from Shanghai to Hong Kong. I heavily preferred flying Cathay Pacific, but they were pretty prohibitively priced. The best deal with the best times for a weekend round trip to Hong Kong was with China Eastern. I knew that China Eastern was certainly considered a major airline in China with a varied fleet. At the end of the day, the price was right, so China Eastern would be our ticket down to the Kong!
Since these were simply economy flights, I won’t get into as much detail as I normally do with my flight reviews, but I do want to highlight the flights, since it was a new experience for me. I’m also combining both of these flights since they don’t warrant separate posts, in my opinion.
We made our way from the Park Hyatt Shanghai to Pudong International Airport via cab, which cost about RMB 160. After a brief check-in process, we filed through security and immigration before setting up shop in one of the business class lounges that we accessed with my buddy’s AMEX Platinum Card. It was pretty bare bones, and I didn’t even bother taking a picture. After about 45 minutes, we went to our downstairs gate and hopped a bus that took us to our A321, parked at a remote stand. Continue Reading →
And the winner is Suril from DC! The winner was selected randomly from the 64 entries into this contest who either subscribed to my blog, followed me on Twitter, and/or re-tweeted the contest. Suril plans on enjoying the United Club prior to a flight over the holidays out of DCA or IAD!
Congrats, Suril, and thank you to all who participated!
As always, please feel free to subscribe to my blog by entering your info in the right-side column of this site, or follow me on the Twitters by clicking the Twitter Icon, or following me at @seanau4882.
Due to a ton of comments, questions and general interest on my last few posts about my First Class award flights around the World, I’m going to re-post the below post from a couple months ago where I detailed how to book one of these de-fact around the World tickets using US Airways miles ( it’s really an award ticket from North America to North Asia with a stopover in Europe). My round-the-world flight reviews from that ONE TICKET are here:
A couple of notes regarding this post:
- US Airways miles can no longer be redeemed for flights on Star Alliance carriers like THAI, ANA and Air China.
- US Airways miles can NOW be redeemed for flights on oneworld carriers like JAL, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways and American.
- The US Airways award chart will go away during the 2nd Quarter of 2015 when the Dividend Miles program will be folded into the American Airlines AAdvantage program. At that point, all US Airways miles will be converted into American miles, and the American Award Chart and Award rules will supersede that of US Airways. It will be a sad day.
US Airways Dividend Miles are some of the easiest miles out there to accrue, and at least for now, the airline has a very rewarding award chart with several awesome hot spots that one can exploit to derive maximum value from their miles.
Perhaps no award on the US Airways chart has more value than the business or first class award from North America to North Asia for 110,000 miles in business class or 120,000 miles in first class. US Airways defines “North Asia” as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. US Airways’ liberal routing rules allow one to really exploit this award and turn it into a de-facto around the world ticket.
In this post, I will demonstrate:
- The mechanics and details of a US Airways award ticket
- How to book a US Airways Award ticket on oneworld partner airlines using American’s website
- How to book a US Airways Award ticket on oneworld partner airlines using British Airways’ website
- How to book a US Airways Award ticket on oneworld partner airlines using Qantas’s website
- The proper way to call a US Airways and book this award
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Just wanted to post a reminder about the two United Club passes that I’m giving away! See the post below for more information…..
After going through my things, I’ve come up on a pair of one-time United Club Passes (expiration 2/28/15). They’re each valid for a one-time entry for one person at any United Club. I’ll be giving BOTH passes away to ONE winner.
United’s 787-8 Dreamliner
How to Enter
For this giveaway, there are THREE ways to enter:
- Subscribe to my blog posts on the side column of the blog
- Follow me on Twitter (@seanAU4882)
- Re-tweet my post with contest link on Twitter (include the #PPPUCPass hash-tag)
- Enter up to three (3) times with the method(s) above
- Enter at any time between the time of this post and Monday (17 Nov 2014) at 3am EDT / 12am PDT
- The winner will be selected using random.org
- I’ll contact the winner via e-mail or Twitter DM
- The winner should have a valid US or Canada mailing address (so I can mail the passes!)
After an extremely early morning bus ride from the Hyatt Regency Tokyo out to Narita, I proceeded to the very exclusive feeling ANA Suite Check-in facility. Here, I was quickly checked in and whisked away to a private security line before I went on to clear immigration. I relaxed for about an hour in the ANA Suite Lounge (review forthcoming) before making the short trip over to gate 42 to board my flight back home to Washington. After about five minutes, a slew of gate agents finished swarming about and welcomed aboard First Class passengers.
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We arrived at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport a couple of hours before our scheduled departure for Toyko-Narita. Check-in was quick and simple, and I was pointed towards the security line where I was able to skip the line since I was flying First. I ended up clearing security and immigration only minimally quicker than my friend who was on the flight with me in economy.
After about a half an hour in the Air China First Class Lounge (review forthcoming), we made our way to the gate where we discovered that we would be boarding buses to take us to a remote stand.
Yup, we seriously were going to use a remote stand to board a B747-400. This was a tad strange to say the least. I was able to take the private van for first and business class passengers, and after about a ten minute ride, we arrived to our plane — which happened to be the furthest plane away from the terminal.
Boarding our Air China B747-400 from the ramp
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