Initial thoughts on my first trip to Africa

As I mentioned previously, last week returned from my first trip to the African continent.  I am planning a complete trip report, but I'll try to finish a few other reports first. Here are a few comments and some photos from my trip.
My first view of Africa from the ...
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Swiss Air Lines Business Class to Luxembourg

After Liverpool, another leg on my trip was to Belgium for some touring and tasty beers.  I also was able to and get the somewhat elusive passport stamp in Luxembourg.

Early morning in Manchester UK 
My trip began early in the morning in Manchester Airport.  The ...
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A trip of Firsts: United 787 Business Class to Africa

My next trip is one I've been anticipating for quite a while and for a few reasons.  It is my first trip to the African continent, my first trip in a premium cabin on a 787, and the first time on a intercontinental flight in United's current (subsidiary Continental) BusinessFirst ...
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Exploring Liverpool

The main reason for my trip to Europe was to attend a English Premier League match at Anfield, the home of Liverpool Football Club.  I've visited Liverpool before, but never attended a football match there.  I'm a fan of most sports, and love attending live events, but I've really started ...
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New Destinations and New Perspectives

I’ve spent the last week in Dublin for a work trip.  My employer is going through some transitions following a merger.  The merger has led to much uncertainty, but maybe things are becoming more clear at least for me personally.  It looks like my business travel patterns will be ...
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Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Houston to Istanbul

The first leg that I will review from my winter trip to Europe is the flight from Houston to Istanbul in Business Class on the Turkish Airlines 777.  The eastbound flight is typically about 11 hours, which is an ideal length for my preferences; with enough time to enjoy a meal, work or watch ...
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Booking an award trip Europe in Turkish Business Class with United Miles

With all of the devaluations of travel loyalty programs in the past year or so, I've tried to do a better job of burning miles, and not just growing my balances.  It was a change in my mindset, but I think the right choice.  I recently returned from another Star Alliance Business Class ...
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Easy surveys for free magazine subscriptions - RewardSurvey

How would you like free subscription to The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, or Forbes? RewardSurvey allows you to do just that.

Now that electronic devices can be used throughout flight, maybe travelers will read magazines and newspapers on airplanes less frequently, but I guess I'm ...

Maintaining United lounge access in 2014 and beyond

I seeking advice on how to renew lounge access for my routine travels, primarily on United.  

United Club in Austin, photo thanks to Kevin

 

I have never directly paid for a United Club membership.  For the last 2 years, I had access thanks to my United ...
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Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago - Star to Spain

After a great trip to Spain, as an AvGeek, the last leg of the trip was one of my most anticipated segments, our ride home in Austrian Airlines Business Class.  

 In case you forget which airline you are flying, just check the bulkhead.  
 
Austrian recently ...
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NEXUS kiosks to be updated, plus additional member benefits

I haven't flown to Canada in several months, and I haven't noticed any technical issues with NEXUS kiosks, but I am not surprised that this excellent program is popular.  I have a trip across the border next week, but hopefully there won't be any delays.  I never had to wait more than a ...
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The Le Meridien Vienna - Star to Spain

This trip was primarily intended to go Spain, but I was happy to explore some new places even for a short stay.  We ended up book ending this trip with some short overnights in some major capitals, Zurich, Madrid and now Vienna.

The sitting room in our Executive Suite at Le Meridien ...

Bad data in United app, operational delays and expired beer

 
Yes, another blog post on United's poor operational performance.  As always, the experience flying with United is a mixed bag.  Being a United regular and 1K, I generally know how to handle these issues, but I always feel for the less frequent travelers who get such a poor ...
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Skip the hotel reception desk - Aloft Hotels offer Smart Check-In

Starwood Preferred Guest continues to be innovative in their promotions and programs.  Recently, they offered a special program to allow guests to bypass the check in desk, by providing a reusable RFID card that could be used as a guest key at certain properties.  

My Smart ...
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AVE high speed train for a day in Madrid - Star to Spain

Most of my trip reports are about airplane and hotel experiences, but for some variety, here is a quick review of the AVE high speed train that we took from Seville to Madrid.  Plus, a little bit from our brief time in Madrid.

AVE train at Seville Santa Justa ...
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Lessening the sting of the Hyatt devaluation

Now that the global economy is improving, it seems the most travel loyalty programs are going through devaluations.  United's major devaluation took effect in early February.  This is almost an annual process at some hotel chains.
 

The Park Hyatt Maldives, now 25,000 ...

The Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville- Star to Spain

After our time in Málaga and Granada, our last stop on our trip in Andalusia was in Seville.  Here we let a hotel promotion help guide our destination planning to some extent.  I had some free SPG nights to use, so we tried to maximize this redemption. ...

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, ...
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