Mikeonbehind the curtain

Air Berlin New Business Class Amenity Kits

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With Air Berlin's launch of their new fully flat business class seat they are also changing their amenity kits. Two of the kits available are from Institut Karité and from Tumi.

The Karité kit include: socks, eye mask, ear plugs, collapsible travel toothbrush with GUM toothpaste, Institut Karite Lip Balm with 6% shea butter and Institut Karité Extra Gentle Body Milk. The bag itself is pretty light weight with a clam shell design. It opens wide making it easy to ...

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Honolulu to New York Mileage Run

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After arriving into Honolulu on my American Airlines mileage run, I wandered aimlessly through the open plan terminal looking for my next gate and club lounge. Along the way there is some great plane spotting as there are no windows clouding your view. I just wish I had brought my camera with me instead of just my phone!

After a long walk, and missing the sign twice, I finally found the lounge near the Kona Brewing Company Restaurant and up the stairs. Unfortunately this is ...

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Mileage Run from New York to Honolulu

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I needed about 20,000 elite qualifying miles at the end of last year to re-qualify for Executive Platinum. Luckily the end of year double elite qualifying promotion along with $460 fares to Hawaii from New York made qualification much easier. I booked a flight departing Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon: LGA-DFW-HNL-OGG-LAX-JFK.

Since no one was on the road early on Saturday morning in New York, the car service got me to Laguardia in just 20 minutes. The ...

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A Tour of Old City Hall Station in New York, Closed since 1945

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The MTA Transit Museum in New York City offers tours throughout the year of old stations, artwork in the stations and nostalgia rides. Generally tours sell out to museum members before being opened to the public, and some tours are for members only. Membership starts at $50 for an individual and $80 for a family of two adults and two children. Once a member, be ready on the day the tickets go on sale to purchase immediately. Some tours, like this Old City Hall Station tour, sell out in ...

National Train Day at Grand Central

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National Train Day at Grand Central was well attended. In fact, it was packed on Saturday. I was surprised at the long line of people inside Grand Central waiting to go to the exhibit. I almost decided not to wait, but the line was moving quickly enough.

 

What I didn't realize was this is the first of many lines before entering the exhibit. Many, many, many lines. 

At one point, they boarded us onto parked commuter trains for 20 minutes so we could ...

Improved Search Results on UPGRD.com

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The search box, at the far right of the menu above, finds old posts on this site. Today I've replaced the old search feature with a Google custom search widget that displays better results directly from Google. 

With this change you will find more results on the search result page along with better matches for long queries.

While setting this up, I looked through the history of old searches on the site. Most we're to be expected: "united", "american airlines" and ...

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jetBlue E-190

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Like many other airlines, jetBlue sells extra legroom seats on all of their flights. In addition to bulkhead and exit row seats, their planes have additional legroom in other rows as well. On their regional E190 jets, they've been reconfigured such that row 12, the exit row, along with row 13 and 14 offer 39" of pitch. The rest of the E-190 has a seat pitch of 32" - still slightly more than other carriers standard of 31". Due to this reconfiguration, the extra legroom is removed from the rest ...

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It's National Train Day!

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Grab your camera, check the website, and head to your closest National Train Day exhibit. I'll be headed to Grand Central Station at noon today for the Parade of Trains to view more than 20 classic trains including:

FL-9 Locamotive

20th Century Limited Hickory Creek Observation Car

Montana lounge car

...and more. There are a number of exhibits ...

Laguardia (LGA) Admirals Club

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With the impending merger of US Airways and American, I'd speculate that the new combined airline will move to US' larger terminal and abandon American's older terminal. That means the recently renovated Admirals Club probably has only one more year of service.

Along the windows are the typical club seats that you'd find at any Admirals Club. The unique part of the renovation added a larger open space in the middle of the lounge along with a revamped bar ...

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Boulder AB Bus from Denver DIA

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Visiting friends in Boulder? There's an easy way to get there from Denver Airport. The RTD's AB SkyRide bus. I found the RTD's website a little confusing so I thought I'd document the trip here. 

The AB bus is $13 each way which can be paid with exact change to the driver. There is also a round trip option for $24 that can be paid by credit or debit card from the RTD desk inside the terminal. For some reason, you cannot buy paper one-way tickets with your card - round trip ...

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American Airlines Breakfast Showdown

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It's airline food rumble time! Which egg breakfast is the best?

Our first contestant hails from MCO-LAX. Scrambled eggs with corned beef hash. The eggs were actually tasty, light and fluffy, the corned beef and potatoes were dry and stiff. It was accompanied by fruit and either a bagel or biscuit. 

Fighting off the Scramble is Omelette. Being New York eggs (LGA-DFW), they were ready for a fight! After departure the flight attendant took orders from the last row ...

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Sigma 10-20mm Camera Lens for Airline Photography

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All of the bloggers on UPGRD.com take a lot of photos. Some more successfully than others. ;)

Getting good first class and business class cabin photos is tough due to the tight space and proximity of other passengers and crew.  Typically aviation photographers choose a wide angle lens, often a fisheye lens. I dislike the look of fisheye photos as they are very distorted. I want to feel like I'm sitting in the in the seat shown and not at some mirror fun house at a carnival. So, ...

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Pan Am Timetable October 1989

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With today's travel websites, apps and electronic overload sometimes it's nice to just thumb through an old paper timetable for a little nostalgia. Take a trip back to October 1989 with me, almost 25 years ago, as we plan a trip on Pan Am.

Now remember, by 1989 Pan Am was a shell of what it once was. It has sold its Pacific routes to United in 1985 and failed to merge with Northwest that very summer. So some routes are missing from this time table, but there is still a lot of ...

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AirNews: Seeing Red

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This week's airline news from around the web:

A new policy at Turkish Airlines bans their flight attendants from wearing red lipstick, a move some Turks see as an Islamic move. While the airline states that this is a move to keep their appearance "artless and well-groomed with makeup in pastel tones", some think otherwise. Read more Passengers were seeing red two weeks ago when American Airlines' computer glitch caused hundreds of flights to be grounded. No word on the cause of ...

ITB Berlin

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The reason for this award redemption was a last minute decision to attend ITB Berlin one of the largest travel shows in the world. For those of you that haven't attended, ITB is spread out over more than 20 buildings across the large Messe Berlin conference center campus. If you ever go, bring some comfortable shoes.

In attendance were most country and city tourism boards, airlines, hotels, travel operators, and every other company connected to travel. I visited a few of the airline ...

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Finnair A330 Business Class

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After a pleasant but short stay in the Finnair Lounge in Helsinki I proceeded to the boarding area for my flight to New York. 

Boarding began 45 minutes before departure. There were four flight attendants in the business class cabin. They immediately took my coat and allowed me to take photos. They then passed pre-departure beverages (PDB) of either sparkling wine, orange juice or water. The crew quickly identified the passengers language and always spoke to each passenger in ...

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Finnair Lounge - Helsinki

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After finishing at ITB I departed on Air Berlin for Helsinki. The all coach flight was on time and uneventful. I then proceeded through passport control and headed to the FinnAir lounge. 

The lounge for Non-Schengen flights is located near Gate 36 in Terminal 2. The lounge is contemporary and nicely appointed with comfortable chairs, dining tables and showers. The chairs by the windows (not shown) tilt back and feature an ottoman. I think you could easily ...

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Hyatt Place

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In completing the Hyatt Diamond challenge, I've spent my share of nights at several different Hyatt Place properties. Hyatt Place, for those that haven't stayed there, is Hyatt's inexpensive franchise that feature the same building layout at each location. Almost all rooms feature a split studio design, with a large L-shaped couch, desk and wet bar with a fridge for your use. The other half of the room features one king size bed or two queen beds and a small bathroom. In some  markets ...

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Hyatt Crystal City (DCA) Review and Photos

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In order to complete my Hyatt Diamond Challenge last year, I booked three nights at the Hyatt Crystal City near Washington DCA Airport.

If you are mileage running and trying to keep your costs down there are two cheap options available to get to the hotel. Firstly the hotel runs a free shuttle to the airport every 20 minutes. If you are already downtown or have taken the train or bus to Union Station, you can take the Metro service to Crystal City station. The hotel runs ...

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Air Berlin A330 New Business Class Seat

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Air Berlin is rolling out lie flat business class seats similar to Etihad. I was invited to a press conference in March to highlight the new seat and get a first hand look.

The seats are comfortable and have plenty of length for tall travelers. While I'm average height I spoke with a few other attendees that were at least 6' 2" and they said the seat was very comfortable for them. The specs for the seat mention the length at 182cm (approximately 6') but both people reported ...

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