Thursday, August 25, 2016

Delta Award Search

The cheapest ticket was a business class fare halfway down the page. Not very sporting there Delta.
15,000 More Miles for Basic Coach

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

United Airlines Carry Over Carry Back

Well that didn't go to plan. I am trying to reach 1,000,000 mile status with United and booked a 20,000 trip (DEN-EWR-HKG-GUM-HNL-IAH-DEN) without a stop. There was little room for disruptions, but the weather was clear everywhere I was flying.
The Original Idea

I make it to EWR early, but saw my flight to HKG was an hour delayed for a mechanical issue. The aircraft had been on the ground since the previous evening, so I assumed it was being worked on. I went to the United Club to wait for my 777 to pull up. My gate was visible from the lounge, so I relaxed (as much as one can in such a chaotic and crowded place). I had a three hour connection in HKG that was just bumped down to 2 hours. Still time to shower.

While going through the bottom shelf (free) drink offerings at the United Club, I saw my flight was now delayed 2 hours. There goes my shower, but the trip will still work. I checked at the desk and there were no alternate options to transport me to Guam in time to rejoin my itinerary. She added me on the last flight to Denver that night (6:25 departure) as a standby, just in case. She wrote "carry over / carry back" on my new boarding pass and explained that if I needed it, I would get home and receive a full refund. It would be like the round trip to EWR never happened.

Then my aircraft was towed into the gate. The flight was estimated to arrive in HKG just in time for me to make my connection. This assumed it pushed back at 6:00. I boarded around 5:55 and was the last person on. I even was upgraded for operational reasons! This happened once before in my flying life on a 90 minute flight. This was huge and I was thrilled to have a flat bed. The flight attendant brought me an ice water and I started rummaging through the menu and amenity kit. I ordered the salmon entree. 
Seat 11A on a 777-200
The clock kept ticking and ticking. We missed the 6:00 push back and the door was open with EWR gate staff still on board. I tried to relax, but also decided that if the door was open at 6:15, I would leave and run to the Denver flight. I did not want a 23+ hour connection in HKG. 6:15 came, I grabbed my stuff (most of it actually) and left. I was taken off the flight and raced to the Denver gate. I had a boarding pass waiting. I traded a flat bed for Economy Plus. It hurt.
My Seat Went Empty
I made it back home and slept well. I check the flight status the next morning and saw that I would have landed in time to see my next flight depart. I was frustrated a mechanical issue cheated me out of an upgrade lamenting that I'll never be as lucky again. I also submitted a refund request that should take a week to process.
Departed Just in Time to Misconnect

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Grumble

I should be flying over Texas now, but am home instead. I'll explain more on Monday.
United Couldn't Find a Working 777 for Me

Thursday, August 18, 2016

British Airways First Class LHR Terminal 3 Lounge

I was excited to check out the new Heathrow Terminal 5. I read great things about the new terminal and was excited to dine in the Concorde Room, reserved for British Airways passengers only (unlike first class lounges that can be accessed by oneworld top level flyers).  The shopping looked great with seemingly every Scotch on the market available.  I ran (literally) through Terminal 5 last year after a flight delay and I was excited to explore the blur.
Best View from T3 BA Lounge
My flight from JNB landed early and I had about 5 hours to kill before boarding my flight to Denver. This was ample time for lounging, shopping, a few meals, and plane spotting. One problem, I couldn’t enter Terminal 5. My flight to Denver was departing Terminal 3 and those passengers can’t go anywhere except Terminal 3.  I was crushed.  Terminal 3 is the decrepit reject terminal that needs to be bulldozed. There is no dedicated first class space either. 

I took the shuttle van away from my dreams to meet my fate (disappointed there was no first class passenger car ala Lufthansa). A quick trip through security and I found the BA lounge.  I grabbed a shower (renovations needed) and scoped out the best window seat in the lounge so I’d have something to look at for four hours.
A Better Lounge View at DFW
The dining room has the views of the field in the lounge. I didn’t feel guilty planning to occupy a table for 4 hours because the lounge was sparsely populated in the morning. The service was poor. I had to grab my own beverages and it took over 10 minutes to get a waiter’s attention and place an order.  The food was OK when it arrived.  I just needed something to munch on as I watched planes land in the distance.

There were about 10 different whiskeys at the self-serve bar (Lufthansa has over 80 and they were poured and delivered for you). Blue Label and Glenfiddich 18 were available, so not bad.  Still the ground experience left much to be desired. Sadly it felt more like a US carrier than a European carrier.
I Like Airplanes
Terminal 3 shopping was limited and pedestrian. Only mass market brands were visible and the prices seemed exorbitant after coming from South Africa with the best priced alcohol on earth.  After a very long walk to the gate, I was ready to get in my seat and get home.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bing Rewards Devalues

Starbucks and Amazon gift cards for searching Bing will be more expensive soon. I liked Bing Rewards because I was rewarded for searching with Bing. Every 15 days I would earn a $5 gift card. The program is changing so the gift cards will take an extra two days to earn. Not the end of the world, but not what I wanted to see in my Hotmail inbox this morning.
Think Happy Thoughts

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

NEW BRITISH AIRWAYS PILOT PHOTO APP

This is a fun idea:
British Airways pilots have developed a new photo app for customers to take away a souvenir cockpit picture from their flight.  All British Airways’ 4,000 pilots will have the ‘View From The Flight Deck’ app loaded onto their iPads from the start of August to take photos of customers visiting the cockpit before take-off or after landing. 
The app automatically sends this special photo, which includes a graphic showing facts from their flight, to customers so they have an instant, unique memento of their trip. The information on the photo includes the Captain’s name, route traveled and distance flown, as well as the aircraft type and registration. There is also an image of the aircraft to help budding young future pilots to recognize individual plane types the next time they fly.
Me on Lufthansa's A380