Matthewonlive and let's fly

Chinese Tourist Visas Now Valid for 10 Years

chinese-visa

President Obama is in Asia this week at APEC and the headline has been the climate change deal he announced with China...but wait, there's more! Of particular interest to travelers is another deal cut with China to extend visas for short-term business travelers, tourists, and students. The new agreement will make travel to China significantly easier.

Here are the details from the State Department, but below is the gist of the new rules--

Tourist and short-term business visa ...
8 Comments Read more

United Airlines' Veterans Day Video

Not exactly a day of celebration here in Germany, but yesterday was Veterans Day (or Armistice Day as I prefer to call it), marking the end of the World War I and a day in the USA to remember the sacrifice of all veterans living and dead. As I read with interest about the placing of 888,246 poppies around the Tower of London, signifying each British military death in WWI, it was a but a small reminder of the millions of lives lost over the centuries due to war.

Thankfully, most ...

1 Comment Read more

Great Deals with November 2014 Flying Blue Promo Awards

flying-blue-november-2014-promo-01

I have highlighted the value of Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards on many occasions, and after several months of rather mediocre sales, November offers a number of discounted awards worth considering. 

Air France/KLM tends to release a lot of saver space to its own Flying Blue members, not just on many dates, but multiple seats per flight. With diminished fuel surcharges in economy class (about $200 each way), traveling families wishing to ...

Photo Tour of American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO

american_express_centurion_lounge_sfo_64

I met my brother for dinner at the newest American Express Centurion Lounge last night at San Francisco International Airport. This fourth U.S. AMEX lounge is great - a welcome addition to Terminal 3 at SFO and a great alternative to the other lounge offerings in the terminal and connected International Terminal.

I arrived around 5:30p and saw two uniformed AMEX employees chatting outside the door. I thought they were there to welcome guests into the lounge, but they were apparently ...

4 Comments Read more

FAQs: American Express Centurion Lounge in SFO Now Open

American Express has opened its fourth U.S. Centurion Lounge today, this one at San Francisco International - I intend to visit it later today and post pictures tomorrow, but for now here is some helpful info on the new lounge--

Q: Who has access to the lounge?

A: All American Express cardholders can use the lounge. If you have a Platinum or Centurion (Black) card, access is free. All other cardmembers may purchase a one-day pass for $50.

Q: May I bring a ...

1 Comment Read more

A Trip After A Trip

I’m out of Africa – mission accomplished. That was more than a week ago.

 But rather than recovering at home from a 4-week trip to Africa, I never even got back to Germany: from Cape Town, Heidi and I flew to London together in Virgin Upper Class then she flew British Airways back to Basel and I flew United back to Los Angeles.

Divorce already? Not at all, instead a long work trip to gather content for this blog that I hope will fill it well into ...

7 Comments Read more

Another Costly Travel Screw-Up: Yellow Fever Vaccinations

I think my last big travel mistake was missing the bus by one minute and having to pay an outrageous taxi fee to travel 50km from central Reykjavik to Keflavik International Airport in Iceland. There have been small mistakes, of course, in the meantime, but nothing really costly…until I tried to fly from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia.

Yellow Fever is a problem in parts of Africa and a seasoned traveler like me should have known better….Here’s a word ...

6 Comments Read more

Bad News for Aeroplan with Stricter Routing Rules

aeroplan-new-routing-rules-01

The news just keeps getting worse for Aeroplan members. Lucky wrote a post entitled Aeroplan Improving Routing Rules — No More MPM! a couple days ago and my heart sank immediately when reading it -- I knew the news could not be good. And it isn't.

Most Routings from North America to Asia via Europe Prohibited

I am still sifting through the new rules, but routings we once enjoyed to Asia via Europe are no longer permitted. The official MPM may be gone, but Aeroplan ...

1 Comment Read more

Stopovers Still Permitted on Delta Skymiles Awards...For Now

When Delta's latest IT update eliminated the ability to include stopovers on award trips, most assumed the worst...Delta had stealthy devalued its program again with no notice. Turns out the news is not quite as bad after Delta clarified today that stopovers will still be be bookable over the phone by manually pricing awards, but do not kid yourself--Delta continues to act duplicitously and we can now reasonably speculate that stopovers will not be part of the 2015 Skymiles ...

The Hunt for a Competent American Airlines Agent

Earlier today I posted the following about booking Etihad Airways award space with American Airlines--

American Airlines Cannot Book Etihad Award Space...Again

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is a wonderful American Airlines AAdvantage partner, offering excellent premium cabin award space to top destinations around the world. AA ran into problems earlier this year confirming Etihad award space and it took several weeks for the problem to be resolved. ...

5 Comments Read more

United Reports Strong Q3 Profit

United Airlines reported a healthy third-quarter profit today of $1.1 billion, a record and also a 99% increase from last year. Here's some of the specifics:

United's consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) increased 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter of 2013. Third-quarter 2014 consolidated unit costs (CASM), excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, increased 1.0 percent ...

New United Airlines Premier Status Tracking Website

united-airlines-premier-status-tracker

United Airlines has introduced a nifty new website for tracking MileagePlus status: nothing revolutionary, but knowing how much you have to spend to attain or maintain elite status is now very transparent.

Here's the website and watch this one minute video United put out explaining it:

Here's a look at my details with the specifics removed-

Certainly a smooth interface, which also tracks spending ...

2 Comments Read more

United Airlines, Hertz Partnership Adds Elite Benefits to MileagePlus

united-mileageplus-awards-with-hertz-02

United Airlines and Hertz have announced a new partnership in which MileagePlus elite members will receive elite status in Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards program and more miles for Hertz rentals.

 

Discounts and  Bonus Miles with Hertz

Hertz is already discounted on united.com (up to 40%, though always shop around) and with this partnership, Hertz, including its Thrifty and Budget divisions, will become the exclusive rental ...

4 Comments Read more

5 Things to Know About the Latest Lufthansa Strike

lh-pilots-strike-01

Lufthansa pilots are striking again over proposed cuts to a lucrative early retirement program and will continue until 23:59 CET tonight. While the 35-hour strike was originally planned only to affect regional traffic within Europe, longhaul pilots have joined the work disruption in a show of solidarity, meaning most intra-Europe and many medium- and longhaul-flights have been canceled today. A list of cancelled flights can be found here. Here are five ...

LOT Polish Airlines Award Space Bookable on united.com

lot-polish-space-on-united-website-01

LOT Polish Airlines is back after a long hiatus on united.com. The Polish flag carrier operates a fleet of 787s to North American gateways including Chicago, New York JFK, and Toronto and award space in both business and economy class is excellent...or at least was.

I'll be honest - I am not happy about this space re-appearing on united.com because that means it will be booked up quickly. This is the recurring tension over award space - make it easy to search and book and ...

The Zimbabwe Haircut

Four years ago I wrote a post entitled, “Haircuts when traveling” and I really meant what I wrote…one of my favorite things to do while traveling internationally is to get a haircut and I have now patronized barber shops on every continent but Antarctica. But after my latest haircut in a village outside of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe yesterday, my days of getting haircuts outside of Los Angeles are over.

My wife Heidi and I struck up a conversation with Caleb, the cook ...

8 Comments Read more

Frequent Traveler University $250 Hyatt Gift Card Giveaway

ftu_logo

Frequent Traveler University (FTU) is coming 05-07 December 2014 to Washington, DC and I will be speaking on a variety of travel-related topics. This is going to be a huge event with a speaker list including some of the indstury's most-respected point and mile gurus. Though tickets have sold out for the Advanced portion of this event, there are still tickets available for FTU and now a giveaway contest courtesy of Hyatt for those buying tickets this week or next.

Everyone who ...

1 Comment Read more

Moving to South Africa

...for the next month anyway. Perhaps longer.

I'm already here, actually. You can blame my wife. Or the American government. Or striking South African postal workers.

You see, not that our U.S. government wins any blue ribbons for its efficiency, but things are a little rogue here in South Africa. The postal service has been illegally striking for eight weeks, so the documents we mailed ("oh do not vorry, za documents vill be deliwered owernight" the Germans assured us) ...

7 Comments Read more

Streaming Inflight Movies and TV on United Airlines

ua_united_airlines_streaming_ife_01

United Airlines has made economy class travel much more bearable by introducing streaming IFE to many of its aircraft. I had a chance to try it last week on a flight from Chicago to Frankfurt and was very pleasantly surprised.

First off, I find wi-fi on UA longhaul flights (mostly 747-400s) a bargain at $16.99, but United has lowered the price to only $12.99 - a total steal, even considering that there are no power outlets on most flights that have wi-fi (though that problem should be ...

6 Comments Read more

Ontario, CA Fights for Control of ONT Airport

ontario_la_international_airport

Southern California’s Inland Empire is a vast sprawl of affordable housing and big box stores east of Los Angeles that also is home to Ontario International Airport (ONT).  The once-bustling airport now looks like a ghost town at most times of day, with even further cutbacks under consideration. With a renewed emphasis on hubs, smaller regional airports like ONT find themselves fighting for survival.

 

ONT is run by the same airport ...

1 Comment Read more