Kevinoncloud commuting

Finding a Better Award Seat: It Pays to Keep Checking

I'm off to Europe this September for a couple weeks. I'll post the full details of the trip later, but I just finished booking a significantly better award ticket than the one I had before, and I thought it was worth a post. My girlfriend and I are actually flying to and from Europe on paid tickets, but I wanted to use my miles to get my parents a great premium cabin experience. They'll be flying into Zurich and leaving from Prague. I first started the search for award tickets a few months ...

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Platinum Status and 3 Nights at the St. Regis Punta Mita: So Long for Now, SPG!

May and June were ROUGH travel months for me. Not only were my weeks packed with business trips, but my weekends were littered with things like trips to Vegas, a bachelor party, a wedding, and more. Before this last weekend, I had only slept in my bed two nights in the past five weeks. YUCK.

As I was bouncing around the country, I stayed primarily at Starwood properties, and if I was in a place for three nights, I made sure that I stayed at three different properties, in order to ...

The Pee Pad at the JFK Red Carpet Club Really Grosses Me Out

Sure... males have been known to miss the urinal from time to time. We're all guilty of that one. How does such a problem get solved? Someone comes in and mops the bathroom. At the JFK Red Carpet Club, they have a different solution. There is a cylindrical padding that is pushed against the wall, designed to absorb urine. If this is not the intent of padding, then it is surely what actually happens. This padding often has stains on it, and it grosses me out to think that someone is supposed to theoretically swap this out for a new one regularly. I have always found one of the perks of a lounge to be nicer bathrooms, but the JFK RCC pee pad really detracts from the niceness of that one. United, can we please get rid of that thing?

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A Nice Weekend at the Westin Mission Hills Villas

My girlfriend and I had to do two nights (Thurs - Sat) in Vegas for an obligation, and we wanted to extend the weekend, but given how much we both love the craps tables, we figured it best to leave Nevada in order to preserve our wallets. We wanted to find a spot with a great pool and easy access to an airport so we could fly to San Francisco in the morning. We settled on Palm Springs, always a favorite destination of ours.

I know Palm Springs isn't ...

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Woot! SFO Gets Another A380!

I have been out of town for about three weeks so I haven't had time to notice any changes at my local airport. However, this morning after I landed, and while I waited for my Fast Track parking bus, I noticed these new flags in the area. Looks like Air France has brought the A380 to SFO.

Great! I've enjoyed watching the big Lufthansa drive around the tarmac, and I'll actually be flying it this Fall (more on that in a future post). Now we have another option for those who want to fly in the newest and largest plane around.

I didn't see the plane at SFO this morning, but according to press material, this bird has already started flying as of June 6. Looks like this plane will stop flying to SFO as of September 4, though. So it's only here for the summer season.

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UA Flight Not Available for Check-In? Use the Cargo Site for Plane Swap Info

United.com online check-in is usually pretty reliable. It always "just works," except when it doesn't. Now is one of those times for me. When I tried to check in, I got the dreaded message below:

This is a pretty ambiguous message, and it often means there's a plane swap happening. As you can see, this flight is supposed to be a 767. How do we find out if a plane swap is the issue? Oddly enough, we have to go to United's cargo website, ...

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How Many Vegas Buffets Can You Handle in One Day?

I know my answer: somewhere between zero and one.

Harrah's Total Rewards is hoping you might be interested in two, three, four, or seven! I just saw this ad in the Vegas airport. Now I SUPPOSE I could see the value in paying $45 for a breakfast buffet and a dinner buffet, but I mean, in the spirit of the promotion, that's pretty boring. If you're going to go ahead and grab this sweet deal, don't be a sissy - eat at all seven!

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Have Any Old VISA Signature Card? How About Some HHonors Gold For Ya!?

Random promo that was pointed out to me earlier today... If you have a Signature VISA Card, you can get temporary HHonors Gold status through August. After getting the temporary status, if you stay three nights between now and the end of August, then your status is extended until March 2013. This Signature card does NOT need to be a Hilton card. I just tried it with my Marriott card, and it worked like a charm.

It's a pretty sweet deal. And while it doesn't say anything about this in the promotion, my friend (a HHonors Diamond) tried to do the promo, and boom - 5000 HHonors points magically showed up in his account. So it looks like if you already have HHonors Gold or better, they'll hook you up with some points as a consolation prize. Give it a shot and report back!

The Lounge Loophole: Getting There Without a Plane Ticket

Interesting situations call for interesting solutions. I'm doing a weekend in Vegas / Palm Springs with my girlfriend, and we're meeting here at the Las Vegas airport. We're flying in from different locations, and while I was able to snag a $49 Southwest LAX-LAS fare at 8:30AM, she was not able to fly out until after work. That gives me a long wait for her at the airport. I really like the Las Vegas Presidents Club lounge so I don't mind spending the day working in there. The issue, however, ...

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Slumming it with Starwood in NYC: A Rough Week of Maximizing the Promo

I was in Denver and Washington DC for business last week, and I was able to stay 3 nights in 3 different SPG properties. Doing this not only allowed me to get one free night toward SPG's great promotion that I hate, but it also let me get the Foursquare Check-in Bonus three different times, for 750 (3x250) additional points. Nice! Everything went smoothly last week. While I didn't get any upgrades as a Gold member, I really had no issues, and I was quite pleased with the hotels I stayed at. I ...

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Grossed out by the Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea Shower Drain

Let me start off by saying I really hate the Four Points by Sheraton brand. In fact, as a rule, I really don't like Sheratons in general (yes, there are exceptions to the rule). In fact, I wouldn't even be staying at this crappy property if it weren't for the ridiculous $129 rate (In NYC!?!?) and SPG's awesome, yet completely annoying, promo. However, putting my personal preferences aside, I expect all Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriot, etc chains ...

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Have You Seen "The Hangover 2?" Then You've Seen the Krabi Ritz!

The Ritz Carlton Reserve at Phulay Bay is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at in my entire life. I wrote a review with my thoughts a while back. Well, if you have seen the "Hangover 2," which I saw earlier today, then you have seen some of the Ritz!

The wedding rehearsal dinner takes place in the welcome pavilion, the first picture of my post linked above. The pool is the Ritz pool, and when they're out on the beach, that's the same place that we would get picked up in our longtail boats to go snorkeling and explore the nearby islands!

I won't spoil anything about the movie, but I saw it today and thought it was worth mentioning!

Note: not all of the hotel is the same. For example, when they arrive at a white lobby at the hotel, that's not the Ritz. It doesn't have a lobby or a standard entrance.

16 Days in China: A Mediocre Night at the Beijing Marriott Hotel Northeast

While the bulk of my time in Beijing was spent at the Westin Chaoyang, I did one night at the Beijing Marriott Northeast. I chose to spend my last night in Beijing here. There were a couple of reasons that it made sense to do so.  First off, I needed one more night for Marriott's megabonus promo (yes - i am a fan of Marriott Rewards!). Second, the rate was about $50 US cheaper than the Westin I was staying at, and it even included a 300RMB hotel ...

UA976 DEN-IAD: Bummer of a Flight - And Are Breadsticks the New Bread?

I typically don't write about my day to day domestic travel, unless something interesting happens. Yesterday, for example, I had great service on a short flight to Denver so I was happy to write a few words about it. I was looking forward to my IAD-DEN flight in First Class today, but it ended up being a drag.

To get things started, I was never offered a pre-departure beverage. I was not one of the first to board, but I was in my seat for a solid 20 minutes before they ...

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Triple Mileage Plus Dining Miles Starting on May 30

Just hit my inbox. Triple Mileage Plus Dining Miles from May 30 - June 30. You must register for the promo, but I think anyone who has MP Dining can register.

Mileage Plus Dining, or more specifically, Rewards Network (the company that hosts MP Dining), offers up to 5 miles per dollar at a restaurant. You have to be a VIP in order to get that many, however, and to become a VIP, you need to dine at 12 or more of the Rewards Network ...

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UA 862 SFO-DEN: Free WiFi, Good Food, and Great Service!

Blogging at 35,000 feet sure is fun. I'm currently on UA 862 SFO-DEN, and I must say that this has been one of the more enjoyable flights I've had in a while. I was a bit late to board, and once I made it, I made my way up to 1A, the bulkhead. Before I ever asked, Linda, the friendly flight attendant, offered to put my bag in the closet and pull it out for me after takeoff. Thanks, Linda!

Due to a late incoming flight and general disarray at SFO, the flight was 90 minutes late. ...

16 Days in China: Air China's Economy Class

I was able to score some sweet suite upgrades that made my long-haul journey to and from much more pleasurable, but while in China, I had a few segments on Air China in the economy class. I snapped a few pictures, and here's a smattering of them.

My Air China itinerary segments included HKG-PEK, PEK-PVG, and PVG-PEK. Below are some pictures from HKG-PEK. I don't remember what kind of plane we were on, but it definitely did not have any sort of new or interesting configuration ...

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QANTAS to SFO: See Ya Later Alligator

I have never flown SFO-SYD on Qantas before (heck, i've never even been to Australia!), but I sure did enjoy seeing that big red kangaroo tail on my commutes from San Francisco down the peninsula. As of yesterday, QANTAS is all done serving SFO. SFGate reports that QANTAS is moving this plane to serve SYD-DFW, which is a much larger American Airlines (OneWorld partner) hub. With the absence of QANTAS, United is left as the only carrier flying non-stop to Sydney. I doubt this will help everyone's upgrade chances / award availability. If you're desperate to fly Qantas to Australia from San Francisco, you can pop down to LAX and take a ride on their Airbus A380 that leaves from there to Sydney.

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Banana Split! Just Noticed Some New Enhancements to United's P.S. Service

I end up flying P.S. about two or three times a month, and thus I notice whenever they make a tweak or change. United seems to constantly tweak the service. Sometimes it gets better - sometimes worse. I noticed a few changes on my business class flight a couple days ago, and I think these are all for the better.

United has traditionally served ice cream for dessert on P.S. flights, but this time they had more options for the sundae. As the flight ...

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