Monthly Archives: October 2013

Air China to Launch Honolulu-Beijing; Free Stop in Hawaii on Award Tickets, If You’d Like

Air China announced that it will begin new nonstop service between Honolulu and Beijing beginning January 21, 2014. Flights will operate Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

This could be interesting for this reason: If you’re using United miles to fly from the US mainland to Asia, you can get a free stopover in Hawaii. In other words, you could route a ticket Newark – Honolulu (stopover) – Beijing – Newark for the same number of miles (65,000 in coach, 120,000 in business roundtrip) as a regular round trip to Asia (this works for any destination in Asia, though with the nonstop to Beijing from Honolulu it adds a nice stopover option).

The flight isn’t uploaded to United’s system yet, so I can’t see award availability. If flights from LA on Air China are any indication, there will be plenty of coach availability and some business class options.

And Today’s Randomness: No, Jennifer Aniston Is Not Building a Runway at Her House..Plus Other Stuff

– Despite what this article says, there is no way Jennifer Aniston is building a runway at her house IN BEL AIR.

– 7-month-old Norwegian low-cost carrier Flynonstop, which offered, um, nonstop service between Kristiansand and London-City, has filed for bankruptcy.

– Airbus tells airlines they should widen their coach seats from 17 inches to 18 inches. Says someone at Airbus, “If the aviation industry doesn’t take a stand right now then we risk jeopardising passenger comfort into 2045 and beyond.” Won’t somebody think of the great-great-great-great grandchildren????

– American Airlines drops service to Ottawa (screw you, Canada!) and Veracruz, Mexico (screw you, Mexico!)

– Dish TV is lending free iPads to Southwest Airlines passengers on wifi enabled flights from Chicago-Midway, Denver and Oakland.

Austrian Airlines to Launch Newark-Vienna

Star Alliance member Austrian Airlines will launch 5x weekly nonstop service between Newark and Vienna beginning July 2nd, 2014. Boeing 767 flights will operate each day except Tuesday and Thursdays.

Wondering about award travel? Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays are wide open in coach to Vienna. There’s no availability in business class right now (you’ll have to look to Lufthansa for that). Returns are available in coach Mondays and Saturdays.

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Ryanair: We’ll Continue to Treat Passengers Like Crap, But Now Slightly Less So

After its CEO pledged to stop pooping all over its passengers (metaphorically, though if they could get people to pay for that, they would), Ryanair announced its first set of passenger-friendly changes:

– Passengers will have 24 hours after they have made a booking to fix “minor errors (i.e. spelling, names, routings)” without being charged for it.

– On flights before 8am and after 9pm flight they will operate so-called “quiet flights,” as flight attendants will not make any announcements other than required safety announcements (for example, they will not hawk duty free). I know a number oF US airlines that could learn from this.

– Passengers can carry on a very small 2nd carry-on for free (a duty free bag, for example).

– If you have checked in online and need your boarding pass reprinted at the airport, they will no longer charge you €70/£70. The fee will now be a reduced, but still outrageous, €15/£15.

– Airport checked bag fees will be lowered from €60/£60 to €30/£30 at the bag drop desk, and from €60/£60 to €50/£50 at the boarding gate.

Bravo.

Great Deal: $4/Day Parking at Newark Airport (via Groupon)

Groupon is offering a voucher for $4/day parking at Newark Liberty Parking (right outside the airport). You can get 1 day for $4; 3 days for $12; 5 days for $20; or 14 days for $55.

It’s park yourself, but there are vans to drop you off at the airport and pick you up when you arrive.

The fine print:
There’s a $4 Port Authority fee on top of the voucher price.
The vouchers aren’t valid 11/23-11/30 and 12/23-1/2/2014.
Must purchase by Sunday, October 27th.
Expires April 23, 2014

BUY THE VOUCHER NOW>>

Great deals brought to you by Classbuxx – earn cash back for your school when you shop!

Somewhat Targeted: United Business Club Card Offers First Year Free ($395 Value – Comes with Lounge Access)

In the past, United has offered their Club card (the $395 card that includes lounge access and 1.5 miles per dollar spent) with the first year fee waived. I haven’t seen this offer in a while – I’ve more typically seen a $100 statement credit as the enticement.

However, I just logged into my wife’s United account and saw a first year free offer that I’m pretty sure many of you can get. Here’s how:

Log in to your United account, then go to this LINK).

1) Click on the United MileagePlus Business Club card (This only seems to work with the BUSINESS version).

2) When you’re taken to that page, click on the United MileagePlus Explorer BUSINESS Card tab at the top (you’ll likely see an offer for 50,000 miles after $2,000 spend).

3) Then click on MILEAGEPLUS CLUB BUSINESS CARD. You’ll now see an offer to get the Business Club card with the first year fee waived.

Enjoy the free lounge access!

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Wednesday Roundup: Caesars; US Airways; Qatar and More

I haven’t posted in a couple of days – I’ve been tied up with Classbuxx. But I knew you’d all be in good hands with the other 17,000 blogs writing about the same things.

– This is an odd one: Caesars Entertainment (owner of Caesars Palace, among other things) had partnered with the Gansevoort Hotel Group (owners of the Gansevoort hotels in NYC and Turks & Caicos) to re-develop what is now Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall (apostrophe in Gamblin’ is theirs, not mine) on the Las Vegas Strip. So far so good. Until last week Caesars was leading $1 billion casino development project at Suffolk Downs in Boston. During a check of Caesars’ other business partners, Massachusetts casino regulators said that an investor in Gansevoort had ties to Russian organized crime. The Russian was not involved with either the Boston project or the Gamblin’ project, but as casino regulators tend to frown nowadays on any ties to organized crime, Caesars dropped the project in Boston and soon after dropped Gansevoort on the Gamblin’ project. To sum up: Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall will not stand for anyone with ties to organized crime. Way to take a stand, Bill.

– Qatar Airways will launch Doha-Miami service next June.

– US Airways will expand its Charlotte operations when it launches service to Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon and Manchester this spring. All of those cities were previously served (and will continue to be served) from Philadelphia.

– A Mokulele flight from Kahalui (Maui) to Waimea (Big Island) made an emergency landing on the Piʻilani Highway near Kihei on Maui. If you’re familiar with the area, it’s just about 1 mile north of the Grand Wailea. Nobody was hurt and the single engine Cessna sustained only minor damage.

– Biman Bangladesh’s last DC-10 flight (which, in turn, is the last commercial DC-10 flight anywhere) will now be in February 2014 from Dhaka to London. Previously they had said the last flight will be Abu Dhabi – Dhaka on December 1st. But they’re going to sell tickets Dhaka – London in February as the aircraft makes its way back to the US for retirement.

– Hawaiian Airlines has applied to serve Kona – Tokyo Haneda now that AA has dropped its flights from JFK.

Barclays Lufthansa Mastercard Back to 50,000 Mile Bonus for a Limited Time

You may remember a few months back that you were hearing incessantly about the Lufthansa Mastercard offering a 50,000 mile bonus? It’s back. The highlights:

– 20,000 miles after first purchase

– 30,000 more miles after spending $5,000 in 3 months.

– $79 annual fee is not waived.

– Among the better uses of those miles are on United domestically (or to South America) or anywhere US Airways flies, as there are no fuel surcharges on those. If you redeem on United to anywhere else they’re going to kill you with fuel surcharges.

– It’s a Barclays card, so if you’ve applied for one of their other cards (hello, Barclays Arrival or US Airways card) in the past 6 months, you may be rejected initially. They look kindly on people actually using the cards they issue so I always put some spend on my US Airways card specifically for this reason.

– Although I haven’t churned this card, the Barclays US Airways card IS certainly churnable. I’d still make sure there was 6 months since a Barclays application….

– Is it a good deal? It’s basically 2 domestic round trip tickets on United or US Airways for $79. Hard to argue with that (unless, of course, you’ve recently gotten a Barclays card…

Thursday Roundup: Ireland Tax, Harleys at Las Vegas, and AA to Hong Kong

– Your trip to Ireland just got $4 cheaper: they’re eliminating their departure tax.

– Enterprise is now renting Harley Davidson motorcycles at their Las Vegas location on Flamingo Road.

– Don’t you hate it when you fly an Alaska Airlines Q400 in the middle of winter to Fairbanks and they make you disembark on the freezing tarmac? Me neither. But apparently that’s an issue, because they’ve built a jetbridge so travelers coming off the prop planes can disembark directly into the terminal beginning in March.

– American Airlines is launching nonstop daily 777-300ER service between Dallas & Hong Kong and Dallas & Shanghai beginning next summer.

– Someone put a not-very-nice message on a guy’s luggage using luggage tags.

– Norwegian will launch nonstop London-Gatwick (Gatwick??) – Ft. Lauderdale, JFK and LAX service beginning next summer. (Gatwick?). Fares start at $239 each way (tax included!). Absurdly good for summer months.

– Allegiant will introduce twice weekly nonstops from Cincinnati (king of the expensive airports) to Orlando/Sanford and Punta Gorda.

– American Airlines cancels JFK – Tokyo Haneda with the last flight there on November 29th.

Trip Report: 103rd Street to 72nd Street (Free Stopover at Bowling Green!)

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.

Security line was short

Security line was short

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.

Business Class Lounge

Business Class Lounge

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.

Elites get an empty seat

Elites get an empty seat

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.

Yes, that is a banana in my pocket.

Yes, that is a banana in my pocket.

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.

My wife's feet on vacation - Look how happy we are!

My wife’s feet in the Maldives – Look how happy we are!

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?