Kevinoncloud commuting

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

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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

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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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Grumpy Flight Attendants & No Blankets: My Redeye from LAS to EWR Last Night

I was originally scheduled to be on a 2PM United P.S. flight from LAX to JFK last night. My upgrade was confirmed, and I was looking forward to peace & quiet, wifi, and a good meal. Instead, my plans changed. I had an awesome day of golf with my dad and brothers, but I had to take a redeye to New York.

If I need to work after a redeye, I refuse to fly into JFK. There isn't a shower there, and I don't feel like going to my meetings stinky with sleepy eyes. Alternatively, if I take ...

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Booking My Ultimate Honeymoon with Points: Lodging in Mauritius

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

So we've made it to Mauritius. Now… where to stay? The goal of this honeymoon is to be as extravagant as possible, while also trying to get pretty much everything for "free" :-). That limits our lodging ...

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Business Trip to Buenos Aires and São Paulo ~ South America, Here I Come!

Despite having traveled pretty extensively for the past ten years of my life, I have never yet been south of the equator! Taking a look at the map, it looks like the closest I've gotten is Krabi, Thailand and Chennai, India. That will all change in July. I'm off to South America for a business trip that will take me to Buenos Aires, Argentina and São Paulo, Brazil.

I'm really excited to visit both places. I have heard that Argentina is ...

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A Rebuttal to Matthew: Why I'm Staying with United

Matthew wrote a great post a couple days ago about how he'll be making the jump to American Airlines for the rest of the year.

His primary reason for switching includes the following:

Frustration with United's IT System Integration More (8 on AA v. 2 on UA) Systemwide Upgrades with the Ability to be Used on Any Fare (United requires at least a W fare) Better Likelihood of Clearing with Domestic Upgrades Being Overall Slighty Disgrgruntled ...
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Booking My Ultimate Honeymoon with Points: San Francisco to Mauritius

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

Getting to Mauritius on Star Alliance is not as easy as I initially thought. First of all, there is only one Star Alliance carrier that flies to Mauritius, and that's South African Airlines, and they only fly ...

I've Earned 4000+ Miles on United Airlines via the Foursquare Promotion - And I'm Still Going!

I mentioned a couple months ago that United was still running their promotion with Foursquare where you get 50 miles per airport check-in, limited to one per day.

Well, here we are a couple months later, and they're still running it! If you haven't signed up, please do. You can be over a mile away from the airport and the check-in still works. Also, while it's supposed to only work once per day, I have gotten it give me 100 miles for a day, when I ...

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Exploring the Value of the British Airways "Travel Together Ticket"

The frequent flier world has been abuzz recently with the announcement of another 100,000 British Airways points sign-up bonus credit card. Many people, including myself, decided to pick this card up. This card requires $20K of spend in order to get the full 100,000 point bonus. One of the less reported on perks is the "travel together ticket" (essentially a companion pass for a single award ticket) after $30K of spend. Normally, I wouldn't say this is even close to worth it, but if I'm ...

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