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An unexpected flight on Air New Zealand: Christchurch to Melbourne


After a nice brief stay in Christchurch and a wonderful trip in New Zealand, the return portion of our journey was about to begin.  Our Virgin Australia award ticket had us flying back from CHC to MEL. 

As I have discussed before, actually getting to Melbourne proved to be a bit of a challenge. My Pacific Blue/Virgin Australia flight was changed to Air New Zealand. From that post:

The problems started when flying from Christchurch to Melbourne on what was supposed ...

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United Mileage Plus stickers for extended status


The United/Continental merger is a hot topic for those that are frequent travelers on either of those airlines.  It has recently been announced that the 2012 Mileage Plus program will officially begin on March 3, 2012, once all systems are merged. Below is some of the United has released:

2012 Premier status levels and associated benefits will officially begin March 3rd. For those of you who have qualified for 2012 Premier status, you’ll receive a new credential card in ...

Touring earthquake-ravaged Christchurch and the Jetstar flight from Queenstown


After we checked out of the lovely Hilton Queenstown, it meant our New Zealand trip nearly at its end.  The final segment of the NZ trip was a flight to Christchurch.  There weren't a lot of options for this flight that would have had timing work well for our needs.  I saw flights both on Air New Zealand and Jetstar (low cost carrier that is a Qantas subsidiary).  I was able to book a nonstop flight on Jetstar for under NZ$50 per person including baggage fees.  I'm ...

Hilton Queenstown in a Deluxe Lake View King room


After our journey through much of the South Island, we had arrived in Queenstown.  I had heard many positive things about Queenstown, so I was excited to explore it for myself.  There is incredible natural beauty here and our stay at the Hilton Queenstown was great. 

After our stays at the Hilton Auckland, the Hilton Lake Taupo, now we were in Queenstown, the location of the 2 remaining Hilton properties in New Zealand.  We stayed at the Hilton ...

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South Island of New Zealand: Vineyards, beaches, glaciers and more


After our journey through the North Island to Wellington and the trip across the Cook Strait, we had lots of new territory to explore.  We spent a few days based in Blenheim, exploring the Marlborough region.  We had one day touring vineyards by bicycle.  This was a great way to get around the flat valley since many of the wineries were quite close to each other.  If interested in a bike tour I highly recommend you get in touch with Nigel and Helen at Wine Tours By ...

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Exploring Wellington then a ride on the Interislander Ferry to the South Island


After a nice stay at the Hilton Lake Taupo, we continued our journey further south, towards Wellington, the nation's capital. Although distances aren't great, its not like driving on the US interstate highway system.  Roads are typically narrow and often windy, with the occasional one lane bridge.  These features plus driving on the left made traveling the roadways an interesting challenge for this American.

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Deluxe King room in Heritage Wing at the Hilton Lake Taupo


After our stay at the Hilton Auckland, we drove south towards the central part of the north island of New Zealand.  We had another opportunity to use points for a stay, at another crisp new Hilton property.  We stayed 2 nights at the Hilton Lake Taupo. This is a category 5 property, so it cost 35,000 points per night.  This hotel opened as the Hilton in late 2009, built around the historic Terraces Hotel, originally constructed in 1889. It has already won some awards.  It ...

A review of my 2011 travel and status qualification


We are nearing the end of 2011, so I wanted to summarize my travel year primarily with regard to miles and points. I'm still working on sections of my trip report from Australia and New Zealand, but I wanted to get this out first since new years is coming soon.



up close and personal with a United 777 in SFO

I've been a United 1K since ...

Deluxe Harbour View King room at the Hilton Auckland



waterfront view of Hilton Auckland from the hotel's website

After our Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne, we only had one night in Auckland, and wanted to take advantage of some hotel points redemptions, since for many of our stays in New Zealand, we wouldn't be able to do so. We booked one night at the Hilton Auckland.  It was a category 7, so it cost a steep 50,000 points for one night in a standard room. 

Upon check ...

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Virgin Australia: Sydney to Melbourne to Auckland plus Virgin and Air New Zealand lounges

Virgin Australia Lounge entrance

After my nice, but brief stay in an Executive Suite at the Westin Sydney, we were now bound for Auckland.  Thanks to the availability via my Delta award ticket, we had to do this in a bit of a complicated manner.  Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have an alliance for flights across the Tasman Sea, but since I was using Delta Skymiles for my award ticket, only flights on Virgin metal would be redeemable.  Approximately 70% of the Tasman flights in this alliance are on Air ...

Free Executive Suite Upgrade at the Westin Sydney

Promotional exterior image of the Westin Sydney

After my flight on Virgin Australia to Cairns and great time scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, it was time for the main portion of our journey: New Zealand.  I flew back to Sydney where my wife and I met up for a short overnight stay at the Westin Sydney before we departed for New Zealand. 

Promotional image of the exterior of the Westin Sydney

I booked a ...

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Long Layover in Sydney: Virgin Australia Lounge then Virgin Australia Economy to Cairns


 A cloudy day at an architectural marvel

After my 15 hour flight in V Australia Business Class from LAX to Sydney, I decided to spend some time in the fresh air rather than hopping on another flight right away.  I was pretty well rested after my flight, but I wanted to spend some time enjoying a great city instead of spending that time in Cairns.  

After a quick immigration and customs experience with no lines, I ...

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My LAX Layover: a run before lounging in the Delta Skyclub and Alaska Airline Boardroom

LAX_Qantas parked

When I originally booked my V Australia Business Class ticket via Delta miles, I had a long layover at LAX that I was hoping to change as the date got closer.  Eventually I convinced myself that this was a good thing, I could get out of the airport a bit before a 15 hour flight.  That and I struggled with Delta's famous award availability.  So I embraced this and decided to make the most of the time I had.

I planned on going for a run in the nice warm LA air, as I try ...

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V Australia Business Class Meals


As someone who loves to eat and loves to fly, I usually have pretty high expectations when flying internationally in premium cabins.   My recent V Australia Business Class from LAX to Sydney provided great service and very good meals.  V Australia really seemed to do the little things well, particularly for a business class product.  One example of that is in the fact that all glassware used during the service was made by Reidel, a small thing but a nice touch.

The ...

Virgin Australia brand is expanding internationally


I recently returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand, and am currently in the process of posting trip reports from my journey.  Most recently, V Australia Business Class from LAX to Sydney. 

Until now, there have been various names for the airlines owned by the Australian version of Virgin, depending on their destination.  Domestic Australia flights used to be known as Virgin Blue, have been renamed Virgin Australia for a few months, and their planes are in the ...

V Australia Business Class LAX to Sydney: The cool way down under


After all the planning and waiting the day of my business class flight on V Australia was finally here. As you may remember, I had redeemed Delta SkyMiles for the V Australia ticket and flew Delta Airlines to Los Angeles prior to this flight.  One comment on the airline name, as it a bit confusing.  V Australia (VA) is part of the Virgin Australia group, but until 2012, it will maintain its distinct name, due to some rule regarding carrying the Virgin name on flights to the ...

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Introduction to my journey to Australia and New Zealand


I've talked a lot about about planning my trip down under on V Australia via a Delta Skymiles award, and I have posted a few preview photos during my trip.  I spent much of November on this journey.  It is the longest vacation I have ever taken, 3 weeks off work.   

This will be quite a large trip report with various separate posts, and it will likely take me a while to get it all out, so please bear with me.  I will attempt to focus on the frequent flyer ...

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Complete customer service breakdown by Virgin Australia

I'm writing this from the lovely Air New Zealand lounge before my V Australia flight to LAX.  Heading back home after what was a very nice trip to New Zealand and Australia.  I'm working on a full trip report, which will be coming out in parts as I am able to complete it. 

I had several flights on the various Virgin Australia brands on this trip, and some were perfectly fine, but the last few have left quite a sour taste in my mouth, and wanted to share ...

My Cathay Pacific First Class award: Best use of British Airways Miles

Note: I'm still very much enjoying my vacation in New Zealand.  Sorry for the lack of new content lately.  I will have an extensive trip report coming soon.


Due to the upcoming changes in the British Airways Executive Club, I wanted to redeem my British Airways miles while I can still maximize their value.  Not everyone is a anxious about this as I am, but this is the route I have gone down.  I'm a very infrequent OneWorld alliance traveler, and all ...

V Australia preview photos


I’m back to civilization, and wanted to post a few photos from my journey thus far, as well as one diving photo.  More to come.


The V Australia experience was good, but not great.  Apparently Janet Jackson was on my flight, but I didn't know that until afterwards.  She was in the private row 5 of Business Class.  Much more to come in the full trip report.  My wife flew out on a later flight, and she was delayed almost 12 hours.  I ...

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