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A tour of Starwood brands, part 1

SPG_Four_Points_Darling_Harbour

Four Points Sheraton Darling Harbour, Sydney

I have considered Starwood as my preferred chain for several years now.  I used to stay at Marriott, then Hilton.  For the last 2 years or so I have focused on Starwood and and I  also enjoy Hyatt Diamond status.  SPG has enough properties for where I travel for business, and some great properties where to redeem my points for leisure travel. 

The Starwood group has 9 different brands.  I've ...

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Update on the progress of my Nexus application

Nexus kiosk

As I discussed in a past post, I was going through the application process for the Nexus program for my somewhat frequent business travel between the US and Canada.  

photo courtesy Calgary Sun

 

About a month after I submitted my application, I received conditional approval for Nexus and Global Entry, pending my interview.  I made an appointment at the Nexus center in Detroit since I had a trip there already.  The final part of the ...

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More details from the Hyatt Regency Montreal

Montreal_Hyatt_Regency_Club

As Matthew has discussed before, the Hyatt Regency Montreal is a nice option for those visiting Montreal.  The hotel is downtown, with easy walking distance to the restaurants and nightlife of St. Catherine street and to Vieux Montreal (the old City).  When I was there, there were preparations for an outdoor concert featuring hometown band Arcade Fire at the adjacent Place des Arts.

I recently had a short one night stay at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, and I just want to add a ...

Element: a member of the Starwood group, aka Westin-Lite

Element logo

I recently had a business trip to Omaha, which used to be a hotel ghost town for me, at least based on my preferred chains.   There used to be a Sheraton downtown, but it left Starwood several years ago.  There is a Hilton near the sports complexes, and a Doubletree right downtown.  There is a new-ish Sheraton on the west part of town, but its not at all convenient for me.  SPG recently opened a new property between downtown and the ...

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Quick review of the Aria Las Vegas

Aria_Map

I recently spent a long weekend with my wife and some friends in Las Vegas. Although I don't usually stay at properties that aren't in one of my preferred chains due to my ongoing points addiction, Vegas is an exception, since the various chains aren't well represented there.  I do however collect MGM's MLife points, although that program is more for gambling spend than to reward hotel loyalty, and I'm very much a low roller in their system.  I do still occasionaly get decent room ...

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NEXUS and Global Entry Application process

GE

For US residents traveling frequently from international destinations, Global Entry can be a big help upon returning to the US, as it allows for expedited entry for pre-approved travelers.  For US citizens and Canadians that travel between Canada and the US, NEXUS works in a similar manner, for arrival via airplane into Canada, and in pre-clearance for flights from Canada to the US.  In addition, NEXUS card holders can get expedited clearance at the border when crossing via ...

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Venice in January

Venice_Campanile

I haven't had a lot of noteworthy travel of late, so I figured I'd share some more photos from a past trip. 

Venice was always a place that intrigued me.  My wife and I made a trip there in January 2010.  It was cold and damp, but there is so much to see, we were always on the move and rarely cold. 

Trans-Atlantic flights were in Delta Business Elite.  Branded as such, but it was early in the Delta Northwest merger, so service was mostly ...

To New Zealand using Delta SkyMiles

Sydney_Harbour

 

I've already posted about my redemption of Delta SkyMiles for business on V Australia, and I have improved it significantly more by adding flights to our what was ultimate destination on this trip, New Zealand.  I also simplified the US domestic routing to get to/from LAX from what I originally had booked.

Sydney Harbour from a previous trip

 


While I was calling to inquire about some routing changes on the US domestic portion of ...

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My United Airlines history: Mileage Plus Purge Data Print

United_747_C

 

I recently requested a complete printout of all my flights credited to Mileage Plus.  It has been 20 years since my first credited flight on United, and with the uncertainity of the merger, I figured I should do this before its too late or this feature gets 'enhanced' away through the merger. 

I've had people tell me about this feature, and I finally decided to do it for myself.  The process is summarized in this Flyertalk ...

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What's next, Delta?

Delta_DTW

As Fozz recently outlined, Delta just made their much maligned SkyMiles program even less valuable by making all awards non-changable and non-refundable within 72 hours of flight.

 

Well, at least DTW is a nice airport to have a layover in...

 

This is a terrible change, except maybe for the bean counters in Atlanta.  I'm especially concerned about this, as I have a Delta award ticket on V Australia booked for later this year, and I've already ...

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Oshkosh EAA Airventure 2011 photos: part 4 - the 787 departs

Oshkosh_787_push3

As I mentioned in before, I have lots of photos from my visit to Oshkosh for EAA Airventure 2011.  This final post contains photos of the 787 Dreamliner which was on site just for a few hours on Friday.  Previous posts include photos of military aircraft Airventure. My first post contained photos of modern commercial aircraft and acrobatic planes from my visit to EAA.  My last post contained photos of the 787 while I explored it close up. 

There ...

Oshkosh EAA Airventure 2011 photos: part 3 - the 787

Oshkosh_787_tail

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have lots of photos from my visit to Oshkosh for EAA Airventure 2011.  This post contains photos of the 787 Dreamliner which was on site just for the day.  My last post had photos of  military aircraft mostly from the afternoon Airventure airshow. My first post contained photos of modern commercial aircraft and acrobatic planes from my visit to EAA in Oshkosh.  

Regrettably, I did not arrive in Oshkosh early enough to ...

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Oshkosh EAA Airventure 2011 photos: part 2

Oshkosh_biplane_trainers

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have lots of photos from my visit to Oshkosh for EAA Airventure 2011.  This post contains photos of some military aircraft mostly from the afternoon airshow. My previous post contained photos of modern commercial aircraft and acrobatic planes from my visit to EAA in Oshkosh.   My next post will include lots of photos of the 787 Dreamliner.

Onto the airshow:

Model 75 trainers

The theme of EAA Airventure ...

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Free Gogo wifi on Delta in August

It appears there are a few options for free onboard wifi this month.  Matthew previously reported about free wifi on Alaska.  According to a thread on Milepoint and a post by TPG, Diet Coke is sponsoring free Gogo for the month of August. 

 

Simply enter the code DIETCOKEGOGO on Delta flights, and Gogo charges will be waived, up to $12.95. 

 

Delta now offers Gogo wifi on 100% of their mainline domestic fleet, and are rolling it ...

Oshkosh EAA Airventure 2011 photos: part 1

Oshkosh_Cirrus_Jet

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have lots of photos from my visit to Oshkosh for EAA Airventure 2011.  This post contains photos of some modern planes for the private market and some custom aircraft in the airshow. Upcoming posts will include military aircraft, primarily WWII era, as well as a lot of photos of the 787 Dreamliner. 

 

Cirrus Vision SF50.  Personal jet can be yours for a cool $1 Million.

 

Cirrus ...

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My quick preview photos from Oshkosh-EAA Airventure 2011

Oshkosh_787_crowd

I managed to make the trek to Oshkosh on Friday, since I wanted to get up close and personal with the 787 Dreamliner which was there for about 8 hours.  I unfortunately didn't connect with Gabrielle, but with the madness surrounding the 787 and limited time, I didn't get to see nearly everything I wanted to.

 

Here are a few teaser photos for you, I'll post many more in coming days.

Kind of crowded.  Reports of 4+ hours wait to get inside, ...

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Hyatt private line agent fired for information posted online

As a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member, I have been able to take advantage of a somewhat unique perk of that status, a Private Line Concierge.  A Flyertalk thread that provides some more information on this benefit is here.  This service is offered to Diamond members upon request.  After signing up, I  was provided with an email address and phone numbers to reach my agent.  She has helped me with bookings, getting bonus points posted and securing upgrades using ...

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A review of the St. Regis Punta Mita thanks to the SPG free resorts promotion.

St_Regis_Punta_Mita_sunset

As I have mentioned before, I used nights earned via the Starwood Getaway Free promo for a stay at the SPG category 7 St. Regis Punta Mita.  It was a beautiful property, and certainly not one I would pay for out of pocket, or even necessarily with Starwood points.  Typical rates for a base room are $500 and up, and 30,000 points per night.  This seemed like the perfect sort of aspirational award that Gary talks about, a resort that is out of my price range both with ...

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Flights and Lounges on my Journey to Thailand and Hong Kong. Lufthansa and Turkish First Class

ORD_Tunnel

I've blogged a lot about my hotels and other parts of my trip to Thailand and Hong Kong, but I haven't covered how I got there or how I got home.

This was a Star Alliance First Class redemption from North America to Asia via Europe.  It was 145,000 miles per person (now this award is 140,000).  I made several changes after booking, usually trying to get the Manila call center theorizing that they would be more open to the exact changes wanted to make.  I did ...

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A photo review of a Marvellous Suite at the W Hong Kong

W_Hong_Kong_doorbell

This review is from our stay at the W Hong Kong.  It was a stopover on my trip to Thailand in late 2010.  We spent a few days in HK, using free nights from the (now expired) SPG Free Weekends promo, and decided on the W due to its easy access from the Airport Express line and to the other MTR (HK subway system) lines, plus very positive reviews for the property.  The fact that I was able to redeem free nights for a category 5 property (normally 12,000-16,000 points per ...