Kevinoncloud commuting

The United Club at Sao Paulo (GRU) is a Disaster

Let me repeat that. The United Club at Sao Paulo (GRU) is a disaster. It officially earns the title of "Worst United Club I Have Visited." There are a few that I haven't seen, but this is by far the worst of the ones I have. Instead of escaping to a "Club Away from the Hubbub" as United once put it, you're really stepping into a pit of disorder and chaos. This report is based on multiple separate experiences at the club.

 

Due to the fact that ...

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Booking My Ultimate Honeymoon with Points: Flights from the Maldives Back to San Francisco

Introduction

Flights from San Francisco to Mauritius

Lodging in Mauritius

Flights from Mauritius to Luxor

Egypt Lodging

Flights from Cairo to the Maldives

Maldives Lodging

Flights from the Maldives back to San Francisco

Our trip home from our honeymoon will surely be a bit sad… we will have spent time in Mauritus, Egypt, and the Maldives. However, we have some cool flights to get us back home so the trip home should be ...

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If Your Suitcase is Too Pretty to Check, Get a New Suitcase

I literally just witnessed this the other day. Because we were boarding a regional jet, most of us had to gate check our baggage. This guy thought his suitcase was so pretty that he felt he needed to put it in a separate protective cover before checking it. Photo sequence below.

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TAM Airlines Economy Class Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo

While frequent fliers are typically most interested in premium cabin trip reports, I think it's always interesting to read about carriers that we're not exposed to quite as often and the experiences they offer, even when in economy class. Recently, I flew from Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo in TAM Airlines in Economy.

We boarded out of Gate 19 at the Buenos Aires airport, and before boarding, I gave the Buenos Aires United Club a visit. We boarded from ...

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Booking My Ultimate Honeymoon with Points: Maldives Lodging

Introduction

Flights from San Francisco to Mauritius

Lodging in Mauritius

Flights from Mauritius to Luxor

Egypt Lodging

Flights from Cairo to the Maldives

Maldives Lodging

Flights from the Maldives back to San Francisco

With every aspect of the trip I've outlined thus far, there were choices involved. We had to choose an airline, choose a hotel, etc. There were different alliances and loyalty programs to choose where we wanted ...

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Experiencing My First Aborted Takeoff

Today I was flying on UA 143 from IAD to LAX, and while it turned out to be a great flight, it didn't start off smoothly. We got out to the runway, and the plane started to accelerate for takeoff. It got going pretty fast, and then all of a sudden, BRAKES. The pilots hit the brakes hard. Considering how much these planes weigh, it took a good amount of time for us to grind to a stop, and as we were slowing down, I was bracing myself, thinking that something was on the runway and that we were ...

I am Sick of Arguing for Starwood Upgrades

As a whole, I love Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). Their points are incredibly valuable, and I generally find their properties to be quite nice. However, one of the biggest benefits of being a Platinum member is also one of the biggest annoyances. Starwood is generally considered to have the best upgrade policy of the major hotel chains (Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, etc). If you're a Platinum guest, you're entitled to the following:

Upgrades to best available room at check-in, including ...

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Review: Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel

After spending a few nights at the Sheraton in Sao Paulo, I was ready for a change. I had two nights booked for the weekend at the Renaissance Sao Paulo, and I was excited to check it out. Renaissance might be my favorite hotel chain, especially internationally. In the USA, most Renaissance properties are pretty nice, but abroad I typically find them to be outstanding. I really like both the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park and the one in Mumbai. The ...

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A Quick Look at the United Club in Buenos Aires

A few weeks ago, I had a great business trip to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. My flight to Buenos Aires was quite nice, even if my the Sheraton Sao Paulo left me disappointed. I had a TAM flight (report coming soon) from Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo, and before the flight, I was able to spend some time in the Buenos Aires United Club. Here is a quick photo tour!

First, we have the entryway. The check-in agents were quite friendly. 

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Another Example of When Marriott Gift Cheques Make More Sense Than Points

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I've blogged about Marriott Gift Cheques before. I used them at the Renaissance Eden Roc a couple years ago, and I also found that you should be wary using them at international destinations. What are these gift cheques? In a nut shell, they are a special award avaialble for Marriott Platinum Elite members. For 135,000 points, you get 20 $50 gift cheques, totalling $1,000. These can be used same-as-cash to pay for reservations. There are couple rules and regulations. For example, you must use ...

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No Suite for Me! Sheraton Libertador Buenos Aires + Sheraton WTC Sao Paulo

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As much as I enjoy being a Platinum Member of Starwood Preferred Guest, I do find the properties to be incredibly inconsistent in honoring benefits. I thought I might share my experience a couple weeks ago at two SPG properties on the South American continent.

I flew into Buenos Aires via Houston, and I had quite an excellent flight on the way down. I had a two-night stay at the Sheraton Libertador in Buenos Aires. The check-in agent was friendly, and she told me my king bed room was ...

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Booking My Ultimate Honeymoon with Points: Egypt Lodging

hilton-luxor

Introduction

Flights from San Francisco to Mauritius

Lodging in Mauritius

Flights from Mauritius to Luxor

Egypt Lodging

Flights from Cairo to the Maldives

Maldives Lodging

Flights from the Maldives back to San Francisco

While seeing the pyramids has been quite high on the list of must-see sites for my wife and I for quite some time, it was really just by chance discovery of award tickets that we decided to weave Egypt into our ...

Virgin America Announces Elite Status

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I'm a huge fan of Virgin America. I think the airline makes a lot of sense for infrequent travelers. You're not competing with status-holding members, and you get Wi-Fi, in-seat entertainment, and some of the best food / drink options in coach. I blogged about a flight I had in Main Cabin Select some time ago. So... how does it work?

Elite qualification is based on "status points," and the qualification levels are as follows:

Silver: 20,000 ...

Review: The Carlton Hotel in New York City

I stumbled upon The Carlton Hotel by accident. I spent a week in New York for business, and my company had a rate at the Sheraton Tribeca for $299/night. Despite Starwood definitely being my favorite chain, there was a Marriott promotion going on so I needed some Marriott nights. I looked around, and there was only one Marriott property in Manhattan for the dates I needed for under $299. It was the Carlton Hotel, part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. ...

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United Award Ticket Glitch: HKG to SFO in First Class for Two Passengers: 8 Miles + $66.60 in fees

award-glitch

Apparently United's site has a glitch on it right now (thanks to Gary @ View from the Wing for the link). I just bought an "alternate" flight home for my honeymoon for only 8 miles and $66.60 in fees. It has been ticketed. Think they'll honor it?

Give it a shot - apparently this glitch affects awards starting in China.

UPDATE: Okay... nothing to see here... the ticket deducated the proper amount of miles from my account. Apparently this has worked for a couple people, but it isn't working anymore.

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United Airlines Flight 53: BusinessFirst Houston (IAH) to Buenos Aires (EZE)

I was quite excited for my first trip south of the equator! Business had me headed to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. Before talking about my flight, a couple words of caution for those visiting Argentina or Brazil:

1) You don't need a VISA for Argentina, but you do need to pay a "reciprocity fee" as soon as you land. Because Argentinians require a VISA to go to the USA, Argentina charges us this fee to make things even. The fee has gone up in recent ...

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Booking My Ultimate Honeymoon with Points: Flying from Mauritius to Luxor

Introduction

Flights from San Francisco to Mauritius

Lodging in Mauritius

Flights from Mauritius to Luxor

Egypt Lodging

Flights from Cairo to the Maldives

Maldives Lodging

Flights from the Maldives back to San Francisco

After four days of sun bathing on an island in the Indian Ocean, it will be time to switch locales and marvel at the pyramids in Egypt. We decided to spend the bulk of our ...

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Kevin's Photography v. Bing.com: Part 3!

While I still don't use it much for searching, I love Bing.com for the daily picture. Every now and then the Bing.com photo is a place that I've been before / photographed. I like to rate myself against their professional photography skills and see how I stack up.

Bing.com won the first time. Their photograph of the bridge on the Anhinga Trail was significantly better than mine. Part 2 was a closer call. I think Bing.com edged me out, but their photo of Trunk Bay in St. John was only ...

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