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Presidential Suite at the Sheraton San Diego Marina - Free Upgrade!


Everyone likes surprises.  On a recent trip to San Diego, when I walked up to my hotel room after checking in, I was certainly surprised to see this:

An upgrade to the Presidential Suite, for free!

I have been quite fortunate with free upgrades in my Starwood stays through the years, but this was the first time I've received a Presidential Suite.  Unfortunately, my stay at was quite brief.  I was just ...

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AC Palacio de Santa Paula, Autograph Collection in Granada - Star to Spain


Our next stop on our tour of Southern Spain was in Granada, home of the famous Alhambra. While here we would stay in another AC hotel.  


Fountains on the grounds of the Generalife

Granada is at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, only an hour or so from the Mediterraean coast, but also near Alpine skiing areas.  We visited in late October, and the temperatures were comfortable for ...

The AC Hotel Málaga Palacio - Star to Spain


We finally were in one of the main destinations of our trip, and other than my wife's delayed bag, we were well rested and ready to explore Andalusia for the first time.


 Málaga, Spain


When booking hotels for leisure travel, I generally start by looking at my preferred programs; Starwood and Hyatt Gold Passport.  For visiting this part of ...

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Our layover in Brussels and Zurich - Star to Spain


Despite United's delay getting us to Dulles, ultimately we made it to Brussels on schedule.  We now had approximately 2 hours until our onward flight to Zürich.


Brussels Airport A pier, photo via creative commons


Once at the Schengen gates where we would take our flight to Zürich, we looked for a lounge to relax.  There are a few options, but despite arriving on ...

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Brussels Airlines Business Class from Dulles to Brussels - Star to Spain


Our vacation to Europe was nearly derailed before we even left the US.  Yet again United's operational difficulties caused a lot of stress.  We sat on board at O'Hare ready for an on time departure but there were various issues that ultimately lead to a delay of over an hour. 

Brussels Airline staggered Business Class seating


Apparently there was another earlier flight to Dulles that ...

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The anatomy of trip planning, an introduction - Star to Spain


Next up on my list of trip reports is our recent journey to Spain in Star Alliance Business Class. Our longhaul flights were on new business class products on Brussels and Austrian Airlines.  

I mentioned my excitement about booking this trip, which was something a bit different for me; a trip to Europe which I haven't visited in a while as well as a Star Alliance Business Class redemption which I haven't done recently either.  I also did a brief preview post ...

2013 in review- a lot of Regionals, but some First too


It is nearly 2014, which means it is time to reflect on the past year, and look ahead to the what the new year may bring.  It also means the counters reset for elite status qualification (argh!)

Here is my flight map from 2013.  

Obviously much of my flying was domestic for business travel.  Most of my trip reports were from more interesting award travels.  This post will discuss some comments and statistics on my 2013 ...

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Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul to San Francisco SQ15 - Singapore Award


This would be the final leg of our trip in Singapore Airlines First Class to the Park Hyatt Maldives.  Both of these are difficult to access, so this was definitely a unique trip  We booked the Singapore Airlines space with Mileage Plus miles during a glitch while they were updating some systems.  The Park Hyatt was booked using Passport Escape award, which is no longer offered, and due to some devaluations, this property is even more ...

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Singapore Airlines First Class to Seoul SQ15 - Singapore Award


The final legs of my trip to the Maldives and in Singapore First Class would take us back to the US from Singapore with a stop in Seoul.  


We had already flown this route in the reverse direction on the outbound journey to Singapore.  Like most eastbound trans-Pacific flights, it was a daytime flight.  Our day began with a visit to the lovely Singapore Airlines Private Room, used for departing First and Suites Class passengers.  

As ...

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Why would anyone voluntarily fly United...


...well, besides me?  

Despite doing many things wrong, and being rather customer 'un-Friendly', for a few reasons which I will discuss; they will remain my airline of choice, at least for another year or so.


I discussed my recent travel difficulties when my trips were affected by weather.  This wasn't United's fault at all, but their customer service recovery is lacking is so many aspects.  I was switched to flights on Delta, which was my only ...

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Tales of Life on the Road: Flying Delta and Winter Snows


It's December in the upper midwest, and not surprisingly, we do actually get winter storms.  Not as often as some people think, but I tend to be flying on the days they hit.  Thus far in 2013 its been pretty mild, but the first storm of the season hit over the weekend.  Of course, this happens to be on the day when I was planning to fly a mileage run.  I'm close to re-qualifying for 1K, so I wanted to get a few more miles to lock it in.  Of course, I often don't let ...

United Club Pass Giveaway (expires 12/31/13)


Thanks for your interest: pass has been claimed

I have a United Club Pass that I'd like to give to Upgrd readers as a thanks for reading. Hopefully someone can take advantage of this for some upcoming December travel.  The clubs have been devalued a bit, but hopefully it still can be a nice respite from the busy terminals during holiday travel times.


A staple of many United Clubs, an ...

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Starwood Suite Night Awards expiry extended 4 more months


2013 has been the year of devaluations in loyalty programs.  I was pleased to learn of a positive change for once.  


Marvellous Suite at the W Hong Kong


Suite Night Awards from Starwood Preferred Guest that were scheduled to expire at the end of 2013 will be extended to April 30, 2014.  I reached out on Twitter to confirm this, and was pleased to get the following ...

My impressions as a United Frequent Flyer


Rohan's recent post with his thoughts on the current status of United Airlines and his ideas to solve some of the issues has certainly caused a reaction.  His points are valid, but I'm sure the United board of directors is a long ways from such a drastic change.  

I likely spend too much of my time thinking about my airline loyalty, but with the repeated poor experiences on United, I've really begun to reevaluate once again.  I'll share some of my ...

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The True Cost of Building the 777X Includes Cheap Labor

Boeing wants incentives from both its home state and its employees for its just announced 777X project.  Due to workers not agreeing to cuts in benefits, assembly will likely be done elsewhere, possibly even outside the US.  Everett, Renton, and the entire state of Washington have helped build Boeing into the mighty global corporation they are today. Now in order to save some money, Boeing is considering moving to other states or even other countries for 777X assembly.

I ...

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Visiting the Singapore Airlines Private Room - Singapore Award

Changi Airport

Singapore Airlines is highly regarded for their in flight service.  On the ground, their service is not nearly as over the top.  Their home base at Changi Airport makes layovers easy, it is one of the nicest airports I've ever experienced with movie theaters, butterfly gardens among many other available activities.  

Image courtesy of Flickr

Since we were departing in Singapore Airlines First ...

Preview of my recent trip to Spain


I'm starting to settle back into the normal routine, and I wanted to give a quick preview of my most recent trip. 


A preview of our seat on the train at Dulles airport.  Thanks to a delay we nearly missed it!

This trip had a few new experiences for me.  New airlines, new onboard configurations, and some new destinations.  Earlier I discussed some of my trip planning processes.  I'm ...

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Executive Suite at the Sheraton Towers Singapore - Singapore Award


After returning from the Maldives, our flight schedules required an overnight stay in Singapore.  I wanted to have something that was convenient.  There were certainly closer hotels to Changi, but I wanted a SPG night credit, plus the cash and points cost (before the 2013 devaluation) was more palatable than the prices hotels that were nearer the airport.  It was a step down to stay in a Sheraton after a week at the Park Hyatt Maldives, but it was perfectly fine for our needs. ...

Plaza Premium Lounge at Male Airport - Singapore Award


After checking out of the Park Hyatt, a boat ride, then an hour of flying on Maldivian (with one short stop), we were in Male ready for our departure back to Singapore and then towards home.  



We walked with the Park Hyatt representative from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, where we checked in with Singapore Airlines. 

We received boarding passes all the way to San Francisco, although we were ...

Park Water Villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives - Singapore Award


After six nights in a Park Pool Villa, we paid the up charge and moved to spend our last night in a Park Water Villa.  This was our wedding anniversary, and who knows when we'd return to a place like this, so we had to splurge on the quintessential Maldives experience: an over water villa.  While it was an awesome experience, I'm just too frugal to pay an additional $350 per night for an extended stay.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't very nice the day we stayed here, so ...

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