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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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United Flyers: We Have a New Jeff Smisek Video

For those of you who fly frequently on United, you surely have Jeff Smisek's pre-security speech ingrained in your head.  This is the video about the upcoming changes, and how he thinks we're going to like them. As of May 1, we now have a new video. Instead of there being a plane in the background with the new United livery, it's just the United / Continental logo. This video seems a bit shorter, and it's much the same, but in this video he mentions that United will be keeping Economy ...

Review: The Westin Beijing Chaoyang

My two weeks in China were spent mostly in Beijing, but I popped down to Shanghai for the weekend in between. My plan was to stay at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang for five nights, stay at the Renaissance Zhongshan Park when in Shanghai, and then return to Beijing for six more nights. I knew I wanted to stay at a Starwood property for my second stint in Beijing, but I wasn't sure which to pick. After my first stay at the Westin Chaoyang, there was no doubt ...

Home Sweet Home! And the Longest Day Ever…

After a long trip to Asia, I'm happy to be writing this post from the comfort of the United States of America. And to make the day even better, it looks like San Francisco decided to welcome me with a beautiful day! Check out that view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the rest of the city from my plane. Click the picture for a larger image. Although, I must say, this has been the single longest day of my life!

Let's go through ...

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Just Witnessed: Family Finagles Its Way Into Maple Leaf Lounge @ YVR

I thought this was a pretty unprofessional thing to witness. I'm currently sitting at the YVR Maple Leaf Lounge near the reception area, and a husband, wife, and their two kids came up to the reception and said, "Hi can we come in?" The receptionist said, "Perhaps - let me see your boarding pass." She then paused, and said, "I'm sorry, Sir. This lounge is reserved for Air Canada elite members and ...

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Does Anyone Else's Company Use American Express as a Corporate Travel Agency

I just got this rather disturbing e-mail from my company. It looks like we'll be switching to American Express as our Corporate Travel Agency. What does this mean for me? Well, I don't really know... I'm asking you! Does anyone else work for a company that forces you to use this? I wonder if this is as small of a change as just booking all the flights / hotels I want through a direct-bill service and not getting credit card points. Or is this more complicated? Am I no longer going to be able to pick my flight of choice? Does anyone else have something similar in place with their company? Regardless of how sweeping the change is, I can't imagine there being any actual benefit to me. It's humorous that a bolded benefit is "offline / online booking tools." Like... WOW! You mean.... I can book travel online!?!? Or by calling someone!??! What a huge benefit!

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Oh My! What Have I Been Eating!?

In regard to food, my motto on on this trip has been, "I'll try anything once." So just what have I been trying?!

I've had some pretty delicious food… and some pretty NOT delicious food.

Let's start with the Beijing classic, Peking Duck. Having already tried Da Dong Roast Duck last year, my Chinese colleagues suggested that we go to a more traditional place. They settled on Xi He Ya Yuan in Zhongguancun, and I was not disappointed!

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Review: Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park

Let me spoil the surprise for you. I love the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park. I thought it was a fantastic hotel that enhanced my weekend in Shanghai in every way. As the world's tallest Renaissance, it has only furthered my love of Marriott's Renaissnace brand, no matter what the naysayers say.

I took the Maglev train from Shanghai Pudong Airport to the 2 Subway line, and the 2 goes right to Zhongshan Park. As soon as you get out of the ...

The Thing That Annoys Me with SPG's New Promo...

Starwood has just announced a new promotion for the second quarter. Stay three nights at an SPG property and get a free night at a Starwood resort, with no cap to the amount you can earn (except the number of nights during the promo period).  A list of all the redeemable resorts can be found here. This is a great promotion, and I'll likely use it to snag a weekend at a St. Regis somewhere, hopefully the one in Princeville, Kauai or the Punta Mita ...

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16 Days in China: A Night at the Le Meridien Cyberport

My reason for going to China was to do business in Beijing for a couple weeks, but in my efforts to book the cheapest ticket, get the most miles, and have the best chances of my upgrades clearing, it made sense to do a stopover for a night in Hong Kong. There was a pretty good rate at the Le Meridien Cyberport, and I'm working on qualifying for SPG Platinum so I gave it a shot. I figured that I could use the opportunity to have a night in Hong Kong, a city ...

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American Airlines Sues Orbitz

Not even a week after American Airlines finished settling things with Expedia, the company is now suing Orbitz. This suit is due to the fact that Orbitz isn't playing nice with American and using their direct booking pipeline. This battle of online travel aggregators versus travel providers is nothing new. I can see how American would prefer Orbitz to use the direct booking engine, but is it suit-worthy if they don't? I'm not a lawyer, but this one doesn't add up to me. Apparently, it doesn't add up to Travelport, the owner of Orbitz, as they referred to the suit as a "ludicrous, meritless antitrust lawsuit.” Sigh... more frivolous lawsuits that do nothing but put money in lawyers' pockets.

16 Days in China: Vancouver to Hong Kong in Air Canada's Executive First Suite

While I have been flying over 100,000 miles a year on United for at least four years, it wasn't until last year that I had some trips abroad where I could use those systemwide upgrades. I had a trip to India / Thailand, and I went to China once. I was upgraded on three of the four legs, and I became quite fond of United's International Business Class product, but I had little to compare it to. This year when I found that I had to go to China for a fairly ...

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16 Days in China: The Vancouver International Maple Leaf Lounge

After an enjoyable trip from San Francisco to Vancouver, I had a few hours before heading off to Hong Kong. I went over to the International Maple Leaf Lounge to relax and get some work done. The woman who let me in was very friendly, and she took a look at my boarding pass, looked up my flight information, wrote the departure gate on the pass, and told me how to get there from the lounge.

I was surprised by two things when I came in. First, ...

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Expedia to Spin Off TripAdvisor as a Public Company in Q3 2011

I saw this on TechCrunch a couple days ago. Pending approval by the board of directors, TripAdvisor will be its own company soon. I was surprised by this for a multitude of reasons:

Am I the only person that didn't know Expedia owned Tripadvisor in the first place? Why hasn't Expedia tried to sell me more stuff on Tripadvisor? They own the site. When I was searching Roatan a few days ago on Tripadvisor, why didn't Expedia show me ...
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16 Days in China: SFO-YVR in Air Canada Executive Class

I wasn't originally going to write a post about this first, short leg of my trip, but I was so impressed with the segment that I decided otherwise. I flew from San Francisco to Vancouver in Air Canada's Executive Class on an EMB190. I was in seat 3F, and I was quite impressed with the seats. The EMB190 is, for all intents and purposes, a regional jet. Air Canada really does a great job of equipping these like mainline jets. All of the seats on the plane have in-flight entertainment with a ...

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United Promotion(s) for Bonus Miles

I saw on Flyertalk yesterday that United was sending out targeted promotions for bonus miles. I did not receive one of the e-mails. Here is what it says:

Move business forward. Fly with United.
Whether you fly on United®, United Express®, Continental® or Continental Express®, our expanded network offers you even more options to earn bonus miles.
Earn     When you fly    ...

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Our Day Trip to the Taj Mahal

Gosh... This post sure is overdue. It has been almost a year since my visit to the Taj Mahal and my epic trip to India / Thailand, and I can't believe I haven't taken the time to post about the experience earlier! The Taj Mahal is a tough place to visit. Getting to India is often difficult enough for Americans, but then once you're in India, Agra is not exactly convenient to most major cities. The closest city is Delhi, and it's about a two hour train ...

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