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United Jumps on the TopGuest Bandwagon: 50 points for Facebook / Foursquare Check-Ins

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2011 is definitely the year that loyalty programs have jumped on the social bandwagon. Like a company on facebook, check in on foursqure, etc. Today United joined the party (registration link: here). Now you "share your location at (or near) any United or Continental airport on Facebook or Foursquare and get 50 award miles plus instant offers from nearby merchants."

I would have thought that facebook / foursquare check-ins would have to correspond ...

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Review: Budapest Marriott

Let me spoil this for you right away. The Marriott in Budapest is one of the nicest Marriotts I have ever stayed at. This is a fantastic property that made our stay in Budapest extra special.

The Budapest Marriott is situated on the Pest side of Budapest. Pest is on flat terrain while Buda is rather hilly; The Danube River separates the two. Anyone staying here does not need to worry about requesting a river view room. Every room in the hotel faces ...

Booking Award Flights for an Ultimate Honeymoon: Part 1

I posted about my honeymoon a while ago, and I had people guess which islands we were planning to visit. None of the guesses were actually that close. The initial honeymoon plan was to go to Mauritius, Seychelles, and the Maldives. Those plans have changed a bit since the initial "imagination phase."

A large portion of the honeymoon is now booked, and I thought I'd use this post to report some lessons learned and observations in hopes that they help someone else out there plan their ...

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Air Canada's Aeroplan Announces Transfer Bonuses: 20 - 25%

air-canada

 

Just landed in my inbox... Air Canada's Aeroplan just announced a transfer bonus that is live for less than a month. From today, November 21, 2011 until December 12, 2011, Aeroplan members can get bonuses of 20% to 25% on points transferred into their program's miles. Here are the transfer bonuses:

Convert to 5,000 Aeroplan Miles ->  Get 1,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles (20%) Convert to 10,000 Aeroplan Miles -> Get 2,000 Bonus ...

A Quick Look At the Czech Airlines Lounge in Prague

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We finished our euro-trip in Prague, and while we had a 6AM flight to Frankfurt (followed by an A380 trip to SFO in business class - woot!), we made time to quickly stop in the Czech Airlines Lounge.

I'll spoil the surprise and tell you that this lounge was nothing amazing, but the thing I found most intriguing was the entry sign and the list of accepted carrier logos. Czech Airlines is part of the Sky Team. Thus, seeing all of those carriers was not surprising. Then they had a list ...

Expedia Rewards Just Got Way Less Valuable

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Well, this bummed me out. Not only is Expedia going to change their rewards chart (likely for the worse), we will now be earning points at 50% the rate we were earning before.

Here are some "highlights" from the e-mail:

All vacation package bookings will now earn double points (2 points per $1), so you can maximize your point earnings when you book your flight and hotel with Expedia. Flight bookings will now earn 1 Expedia® Point per $2 spent. Our reward chart ...

Check this Relic Out: My Dad's Eastern Airlines Frequent Flier Card

relic

I thought this was worthy of a post. My dad, who is already a Million Miler with United (and also Delta), started digging through his old frequent flier cards a few weeks ago, scrounging for a Continental card, so he could possibly merge his lifetime Continental miles with United as of the first of the year. Anyhow, we found his old Eastern / Continental Airlines card. What a relic! It was on a flimsy piece of paper, rather than on the plastic that "modern" frequent flier cards are on.

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Chicago to Brussels & London Heathrow to Los Angeles in United Economy Plus

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The life of a frequent business traveler isn't always glamorous. In fact, despite what family members and friends might think, it's usually NOT. Dealing with time changes, giving presentations, having to go out to dinner, not being able to see friends, etc - okay - I'm getting off topic here, but while I've had a great record with my United Systemwide Upgrades this year, a terrible thing happened: I ran out :-).

Thus, on my most recent trip to Brussels and London, I flew in United ...

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A NEW Kind of Elite Status for Me! YELP ELITE!

yelp-elite

Mike might be a Yelp h8er, but i'm a Yelp l0ver. There have been a few "firsts" for me in 2011 like SPG Platinum Status and being a half million miler with United, but I'm proud to now have a new status: Yelp Elite!

Yelp status is a bit elusive both in terms of qualification as well as benefits. There are no rigid requirements for qualification, but the program is invitation only. The main way to get the invitation is by writing lots of Yelp ...

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Have You Ever had a Better Hotel Room Balcony?

My dad and I both had reservations at the Marriott Budapest, and we are both Marriott Platinum members (he's actually a lifetime platinum member). It's a funny thing to be traveling with my parents… Normally I always hope for the best possible upgrade, but with my mother being a bit "picky," to say the least, when it comes to hotel rooms, I had another wish: I hoped for the best possible upgrade, as long as it wasn't better than my parents' room :-).

My flight was a couple ...

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Seen on my LHR-LAX Flight Today: A Woman "Jogging" Laps Up and Down the Aisles

I'm not sure what is more ridiculous: the fact that I saw this happening today or the fact that the flight attendants / passengers didn't try to stop her. I awoke from my 3 hour nap in my exit row seat, stood up to wait in the line for the restrooms, and I saw a woman going pretty quickly up the aisle. I thought something might be wrong. Then she hit the galley, turned around, and started jogging down the aisle in the other direction. Then when she hit the ...

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Frankfurt to San Francisco in Lufthansa's A380 Business Class

The grand finale of our two week trip to Europe included a trip on Lufthansa's A380 from FRA back to SFO. My fiancé and I were super excited for this last part, as neither of us had ever flown on a A380, and we were keen to experience a flight on the biggest commercial plane ever! I planned to use a United systemwide "paper" upgrade converted for use on Lufthansa, but I screwed up, booking a fare code that was ineligible. However, we got extremely ...

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Yawn: Starwood Preferred Guest Award Stays Now Count Toward Elite Status

Announced on Gary Leff's blog a bit earlier, it appears that SPG will now be crediting award stays toward elite qualification. The leaked internal e-mail reads as follows:

SPG® is excited to announce the launch of a new benefit that affects all SPG members. Starting October 1, 2011, and onward, all SPG Award stays and nights will count toward elite status qualification. This includes Free Night Awards, Cash & Points

Awards and Awards earned through promotions (e.g., ...

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Marriott Platinum Status After Only 19 Nights

In the past, I've made it a goal to keep top tier status on a single airline and a single hotel chain. Historically, that's been United and Marriott. This year I decided i would go for Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum status, in addition to Marriott Platinum, and I got the former a few months ago.

At 75 nights, Marriott Platinum status has the highest amount of required nights of any hotel chain. That has a tendency to scare people off, but there ...

Prague Marriott Tries to Screw Users of Gift Cheques

I've posted about the usefulness of Marriott Gift Cheques before. Marriott Platinum members can get $1000 in $50 increments for 135,000 Marriott Rewards points. It's a great value for hotels that have a high rewards category (i.e. require a large amount of points) but have relatively low paid rates. Good examples would be Caribbean resorts during low season or some Eastern European places.

We decided to use Gift Cheques at the Budapest Marriott and Prague Marriott. In Budapest, it was ...

Tylenol PM + 5 Hour Energy: My Travel Cocktail of Choice

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Don't let the title mislead you… I don't actually mix the two, and I don't even take them at the same time. However, If i'm flying across the Pacific or the Atlantic, it is usually for business, and thus it's important to acclimate myself to the timezone as quickly as possible. I have discovered that Tylenol PM and 5 Hour Energy can make my acclimation much quicker!

When it comes to 5 Hour Energy, my strategy is pretty simple. I don't take ...

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Seen on my FRA-SFO Flight: Name the Caption!

caught-red-handed

First off, apologies on the picture quality. I know it's blurry, but I was trying to take a picture of a sleeping passenger without getting caught :-).

I've got a couple for ya…

"I didn't know Al Bundy was on my flight…"

"I wonder what that guy is dreaming about!"

"Caught! Red HANDED!"

(and yes - his hand was in his pants, not his pockets)

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Review: Sheraton Stockholm Hotel

sheraton

As part of our euro-trip, my fiancé and I were meeting a cousin of mine in Stockholm before going to a wedding in Switzerland. The three of us had never been to Stockholm (or Scandinavia in general), and we thought it would be fun to check out Stockholm.

There is not a full-service Marriott in Stockholm so that left us to choose between the Hilton and the Sheraton as places where we could burn points for a "free" stay. The Hilton had no availability at the regular ...

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LOVING My Middle Seat Near the Bathroom...

our-bird

What could I possibly be talking about?

Maybe the back row isn't so bad if it's on the top floor of an A380 in Lufthansa Business Class on a 10+ hour flight from FRA-SFO. It's even better when traveling on a non-upgradable Economy Class fare, and all of a sudden, the gate agent angel forgets to look at your fare class, takes your soon-expiring UA paper SWUs, processes the upgrades for you and your fiancé, and puts you in Business Class five ...

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