Matthew live and let's fly

Off to Doha for Qatar A350 Inaugural!

One upside to my job is that I am able to travel on a whim – my office, being a telephone and laptop computer, is portable so when the right opportunity arises, I can take it. I figured the first commercial flight of Airbus’ latest aircraft was worth a trip.

My journey to Doha is not exactly quick – I will fly first to the Kingdom of Bahrain via Kuwait City on United ...

1 Comment Read more

Terrorist Attacks and Travel Plans


A few thoughts on the events that took place in Paris last week.

As a lawyer whose favorite Constitutional law topic is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I take a very strong position in favor of freedom of expression.  Though each day brings news of more violence and more murder, most of which we do not hear about, the heinous ...

4 Comments Read more

Flying Blue Promo Awards for January 2015


Each month Air France / KLM Flying Blue offer Promo Awards and I have highlighted the value of these awards on many occasions. While the January 2015 promotion is modest, Canadian travelers have a great opportunity to save on business class travel to Europe.

Business class awards to/from Europe (and Tel Aviv) are 50% off from Montreal and Toronto and award ...

No Tourist Visas After All for Saudi Arabia

Well, when something seems too good be true, even if we are just talking about a visa to Saudi Arabia, it probably is...

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has now denied that it will issue tourist visas starting in June 2015. Instead, it will continue to focus on building infrastructure to better serve the needs of local tourists; the citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia.

Tourist visas for foreigners may still come one day -- the SCTA called it a "postponement" rather than a permanent policy -- but don't expect anything soon, especially when transit visas are no longer available.

Oh much for that!

7 Comments Read more

Saudi Arabia to Offer Tourist Visas Starting in June 2015


06 JAN 15 UPDATE: No Tourist Visas After All for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is not quite the hermit kingdom of North Korea, but it remains an elusive destination, difficult to enter and currently impossible to be an official tourist in outside of a narrow exception for Hajj or Umrah travelers. That changes this summer, as the Kingdom has announced that tourist visas will be ...

2 Comments Read more

Comprehensive Redemption Guide for 2015 Delta SkyMiles Program


2015 has brought new and exciting changes to the way your redeem your Delta SkyMiles including a new five-tiered award chart and one-way awards at half the price of a round-trip tickets. Read on for more about these changes and details on how to maximize your Delta miles:

Straightforward One-Way Award Redemptions

Delta has joined American and United in allowing ...

United Humiliates Family with Disabled Child or Family Shamefully Tries to Game System?

A story called United with Ivy has been gone viral over the last 48 hours. It goes something like this--

Large family (of 16) traveling from Dominican Republic to Newark together Husband and wife have four children Youngest child, daughter of 3, suffered a stroke in womb and is severely disabled, suffering from Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy As a consequence, she is unable ...
2 Comments Read more

A Roadmap for 2015

Happy New Year from Live and Let's Fly and I want to use this brief post to discuss my roadmap for this blog in 2015.

As I discussed yesterday, 2014 was not exactly a year of progress for this blog. Trip reports and hotel reviews were few and far between and for the first time in five years, days...multiple days...would pass without a post.

And that is not going to change. At ...

2 Comments Read more

2014 in Perspective: Travel and Life


As Father Time prepares to hand over the reigns to Baby New Year, allow me to offer a few reflections on 2014.This was not the year I imagined it to be, with the beauty of married life and unplanned travel to exotic lands consternating sincere plans to make it a year of trip reports.

On the first day of this year I wrote:

But for all my travel plans, this will not be a travel ...

Breaking: AirAsia Flight from Surabaya to Singapore Missing

In a year in which two Malaysian Airlines aircraft have tragically been lost, another airliner has sadly lost contact with air traffic control this evening. The AirAsia Indonesia A320 was (hopefully is) carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members.

An AirAsia flight travelling from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore has lost ...

I'll Be Home For Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all and may I just say that it is great to be home in Los Angeles! After a marathon visa process, including an unexpected month in South Africa, the visa finally arrived and Heidi and I are home for Christmas.

> Read More: Moving to South Africa

> Read More: Mission Accomplished in South Africa

After packing up and saying goodbye to family and ...

Woman Spends Weekend in Jail for Changing Seats on United

When I was thrown off a United Airlines flight for taking a picture of my seat, many were quick to attack -- blaming me for being over-entitled and concluding that I was wrong to even question the FA's confusion over in-flight photography. Such attacks were unfounded, but at the same time I could appreciate why they were made. A woman in New York was thrown off a flight before takeoff in ...

12 Comments Read more

United Airlines Fantasy Flights 2014 (Video)


I first wrote about United's Fantasy Flights five years ago and I am thankful that this wonderful Christmas tradition has not been one of the cutbacks of the post-merger United. In fact, the program has expanded to 12 airports across the country.

This year United put together a video showcasing a Fantasy Flight out of ...

1 Comment Read more

Personal Thoughts on Travel and a New Era of US-Cuban Relations


It was seven years ago that President George W. Bush announced his Administration was doubling down on its bid to isolate the communist Cuban regime. More travel restrictions and more money restrictions, all with the end goal of bringing about leadership change and democratic reform. The President made his remarks at the State Department then returned to the White House. I was a young aide in ...

2 Comments Read more

Air New Zealand to Start Auckland to Buenos Aires Route


For Star Alliance flyers trying to connect between Australia or New Zealand and South America, options are not just limited -- there are no flights at all. Connecting via North America or Africa is required, adding hours to an already-long journey. With new aircraft comes new opportunity and Air New Zealand has announced it will ...

5 Comments Read more

New Greeting for AA Phone Reps

This is totally an airline nerd thing, but I spend a chunk of my day each day (sometimes a huge chunk) on the phone with various airlines booking awards. The bulk of my clients are based in North America and lately, perhaps because of the 100,000 AA mile CITI sign-up bonus earlier this year, we have been booking a lot of AA tickets. American Airlines agents have always identified themselves in ...

Hyatt Updates 2015 Gold Passport Award Chart


Hyatt has announced its annual update to the Gold Passport award chart and thankfully changes are limited for 2015--here is what you need to know:

70 Hyatt properties are changing categories 22 hotels are moving up a category 48 hotels are moving down a category The new rates apply to all bookings made after 22 January 2015 For the 48 hotels ...
5 Comments Read more

FTU Dallas Tickets Now on Sale


Tickets to FTU and FTU Advanced in Dallas, from 17-19 April 2015, are now on sale at

I will be doing my usual talks on United Airlines, but will also be talking miles and exotic travel at this event.

Sessions at FTU include:

Gary Leff – View from the Wing
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re ...

United Airlines Now Processing Lufthansa GPU Upgrades Electronically

United Airlines and Lufthansa were both founding members of the Star Alliance and have maintained a close relationship as both codeshare and joint venture partners over years. United's top-status 1K flyers receive six GPUs (Global Premier Upgrades) each year and as part of that partnership, can use those GPUs to upgrade on Lufthansa as well as United flights. United introduced changes to the ...

1 Comment Read more

FTU Dallas Tickets Go On Sale Thursday!

Tickets to the next Frequent Traveler University go on sale Thursday at 11:00AM ET / 8:00AM PT at Tickets for the Advanced seminars at the last three events sold out very quickly, so be warned if you want to attend.

I enjoyed so much meeting many of you in Washington over the weekend (and will send out my slides to all who e-mailed me in the next few days) and am slated to speak at the Dallas event as well. More details as they come, but note the event will be held at the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport from 17-19 April 2015.

UPDATE: Due to a technical glitch, tickets will go on sale one day later.