Monday, April 29, 2013

Updated United Club in Denver

The United Club (nee Red Carpet Club) in Denver got new furniture last week and it is very comfortable.  I like the color palate too, it creates a relaxing environment.  The downside is there are still very few outlets and I think there are fewer total seats than before.  An improvement, but still not as good as it should be (see the new United Clubs at ORD for an example).
New United Club Look at DEN

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ultimate Rewards' Exceptional Hotel Points Transfer Values

Chase's Ultimate Rewards program is their in house rewards program that lets you redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, travel, cash back, and transfer into Chase partner points programs.  Point transfers are 1:1 to most programs.  Since points can also be cash back at 1 to $0.01, points transfers are like buying points at a penny each.  This is cheaper than airlines sell them and a great value when needing to top off an account for an award, except for Priority Club.  On the flip side of that coin, Hyatt is an outstanding value.
Unrelated United Airlines Picture
Exceptionally Good Value:  Hyatt
Top level hotels, like the Park Hyatt Tokyo, are only 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.  That's $220 of Ultimate Rewards points (tax is included in points reservations) for rooms that are normally over $600.  This is one of the best deals available today.
Unrelated Blue1 717
Exceptionally Bad Value:  Priority Club
A mid-range Holiday Inn is 25,000 priority club points. That's $250 of Ultimate Rewards points for a room that is less than $200.  
Better Off Just Spending Cash

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fun Photo

I like this picture of an Allegiant Air jet taking off from LAS.  Quick tip too, when boarding CRJ's, board last.  There's no overhead bin space to fight over, so no reason to be cramped longer than needed.
Allegiant Air Take Off

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Burned Up My Priority Club Points Rather Quickly

I started this year with 166,000 Priority Club points.  I haven't earned points from a stay in about two years (just a few thousand here and there for opting into emails), but was feeling comfortable with my balance   The last time I used Priority Club points was for my trip to Santiago, Chile and a stay at the pathetic Intercontinental Santiago.  I booked it with a Points Break award, so it only cost 5,000 points a night.  I was planning on using my balance on Points Break hotels or cheap roadside Holiday Inn Expresses.  The math in my head worked out that my balance would buy 33 Points Break nights or 15 or so HIE nights.  Two to four weeks of hotel stays is a comfortable balance.  
SWISS Avro RJ100
It turns out my balance only buys five nights.  I'm taking a trip to Geneva next month for the EBACE aviation trade show and need five nights in the area (the trade show is three days, but a short notice miles booking required a slightly longer stay).  Three nights at the Intercontinental Geneva, one at the airport Holiday Inn, and one at a TBD hotel (all IHG hotels are booked on one night, so I'm waiting for a late cancellation).  After those reservations, I have only 11,000 points left.
Waiting For The Next Adventure
I'm fine with a small balance.  Priority Club points exist for when you travel somewhere without a Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Fairmont, or Startwood hotel.  Priority Club also does not require hotels to recognize elite benefits on award stays (contact the hotel in advance to see if they will honor your benefits, the Crowne Plaza Helsinki did), so points stays can make for a disappointing vacation.  I see it as a last resort currency only preferential to spending money and went two years without needing any points. You can also buy points from them at a rate of $60 per 10,000. It might be a while before I need to acquire more points.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Airline Club Etiquette: Cell Phone Use

I was in the United Club at PHX today and an older man was talking very loudly into his cell phone while seated in the general seating area.  It was so loud, and he was being rude to a United call center rep too, that I asked him to keep it down.  He didn't.  I later told him his 2.5 hour delay last week due to an equipment change was an operations decision and that was it.  At one point he said "hijacked my plane."  Don't say that in an airport!  
United Airlines 737
The lesson today is to talk softly or excuse yourself to an empty area and to watch what you say.  Everyone was uncomfortable because of one person too wrapped up in his moot problems to care about those around him.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

American Airlines' Reservation System Fails, Grounds Airline

American Airlines grounded their fleet today because of a computer system failure.  This happens to United every two or three years, so I won't make any jokes.  Re-booking and cancellation fees are waived, so it is a positive for a very small number of passengers. 
AA MD-80

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Every Airport Code United Airlines and United Express Serves

I spent some time with the United Airlines timetable and pulled a list of all the airport codes for United and United Express (current as of March 30, 2013).  These are especially useful for finding mileage runs with ITA Matrix.  My goal is to make 1 million United miles soon, so I am spending a little more to fly United rather than US Airways (upgrades help too).  
United Airlines 737 and 777
ABE, ABI, ABQ, ABR, ABX, ABY, ACA, ACK, ACT, ACV, AEX, AGS, AGU, ALB, AMA, AMS, ANC, ANU, AOO, APN, ARN, ASE, ATL, ATW, AUA, AUS, AVL, AVP, AZO, BAH, BCN, BDA, BDL, BFL, BFS, BGM, BGR, BHM, BHX, BIL, BIS, BJI, BJX, BKK, BKW, BMI, BNA, BNE, BOG, BOI, BOM, BON, BOS, BPT, BQK, BQN, BRD, BRO, BRU, BTM, BTR, BTV, BUF, BUR, BWI, BZE, BZN, CAE, CAK, CBR, CCS, CDC, CDG, CHA, CHO, CHS, CIC, CID, CKB, CLD, CLE, CLL, CLT, CME, CMH, CMX, CNS, COD, COS, CPR, CRP, CRW, CSG, CTS, CUN, CUU, CVG, CWA, CZM, DAB, DAL, DAY, DCA, DEL, DEN, DFW, DGO, DHN, DLH, DNA, DOH, DRO, DRT, DSM, DTW, DUB, DUJ, DXB, EAU, EDI, EGE, EKO, ELH, ELM, ELP, EMD, ERI, EUG, EVV, EWN, EWR, EYW, EZE, FAI, FAR, FAT, FAY, FCA, FCO, FKL, FLL, FNT, FPO, FRA, FSD, FSM, FUK, FWA, GDL, GDV, GEG, GFK, GGT, GGW, GHB, GIG, GLA, GLH, GLT, GNV, GPT, GRB, GRK, GRR, GRU, GSO, GSP, GTF, GTR, GUA, GUC, GUM, GVA, HAM, HDN, HIB, HIJ, HKG, HLN, HNL, HOB, HOU, HPN, HRL, HSV, HUX, HVR, IAD, ICT, IDA, IMT, IND, INL, IPL, IST, ITH, ITO, IYK, JAC, JAN, JAX, JFK, KIJ, KIX, KOA, KWA, KWI, LAN, LAS, LAW, LAX, LBB, LCH, LEX, LFT, LGA, LHR, LIH, LIM, LIR, LIS, LIT, LMT, LNK, LOS, LRD, LSE, LWS, LWT, MAD, MAF, MAJ, MAN, MBJ, MBS, MCI, MCO, MDT, MEI, MEL, MEM, MEX, MFE, MFR, MGA, MGM, MHT, MIA, MID, MKC, MKE, MKG, MLB, MLI, MLM, MLS, MLU, MNL, MOB, MOD, MOT, MRY, MSL, MSN, MSO, MSP, MSY, MTJ, MTY, MUC, MXP, MYR, NAS, NBW, NGO, NRT, OAK, OAX, OGG, OKC, OKJ, OLF, OMA, ONT, ORD, ORF, OSL, OTH, PAH, PAP, PBC, PBI, PDX, PHL, PHX, PIA, PIB, PIH, PIT, PKB, PLN, PNS, PQQ, PSC, PSP, PTY, PVD, PVR, PWM, QRO, RAP, RDD, RDM, RDU, RHI, RIC, RNO, ROA, ROC, ROK, ROR, RST, RSW, RTB, SAL, SAN, SAP, SAT, SAV, SBA, SBN, SBP, SCE, SDF, SDJ, SDY, SEA, SFO, SGF, SGU, SHV, SIN, SJC, SJD, SJO, SJT, SJU, SLC, SLP, SLW, SMF, SMX, SNA, SNN, SPI, SRQ, STL, STR, SWO, SYD, SYR, TAM, TCB, TCL, TGU, TLH, TLV, TPA, TPE, TRC, TRI, TUL, TUP, TUS, TVC, TXK, TXL, TYR, TYS, UIO, UOX, VER, VLD, VPS, VSA, XNA, YAP, YEG, YHZ, YLW, YMM, YOW, YQB, YQM, YQR, YQT, YUL, YUM, YVR, YWG, YXE, YXU, YYC, YYJ, YYT, YYZ, ZIH, ZLO, ZRH

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Here's A Picture I Like

It's snowing in Denver, but this picture has me dreaming of a trip on Singapore Airlines.  
Rear View of Singapore 777

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Spring

Bike riders are clogging the roads, Home Depot has a full parking lot, and the de-icing trucks are stowed at DEN.  Spring has arrived and delays shouldn't be very bad for a while.  It's time to fly.
No More Pictures Like This For a Few Months
Update 4/8:  Maybe not.  Denver could get 6-12 inches tomorrow.  http://denver.cbslocal.com/guide/colorado-denver-weather-forecast-rain-snow-storm/

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Lufthansa 747 Looks Outstanding

The Lufthansa 747 looks majestic, it has to be the best looking airplane / livery combination in service.  Also the new American is much better in person, it actually looks good. The United Continental colors are also growing on me.
Lufthansa, American, and United at Denver

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Flying to Iceland on Frequent Flyer Miles

The Euro crisis is starting to impact my travel plans.  Air service to Iceland (KEF) has been reduced dramatically since the Icelanders started having currency problems (they have since been made to look responsible thanks to Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus).  Despite not being in the news, air service to the Continent has shrunk to EasyJet, airberlin (oneworld), SAS (Star Alliance), and Iceland Air.  I'm not 100% certain, but SAS and airberlin are my most likely options.
Iceland Air 757 Having an Overnight Stay at DEN
Yes, I know I can fly direct from New York on Delta, but where is the fun in that?  Delta charges twice as many miles to go JKF-KEF than JFK-SFO and KEF is just 7 miles farther away.  If I'm not completely crossing the Atlantic, I refuse to pay full price.  Same complaint for Iceland Air's Saga miles, the rates are atrocious (Alaska is an Iceland Air partner until June 1, 2013 and their rates are also high).  SAS is the best option for me because I can fly from anywhere in Europe to Oslo and then to Iceland.  This will cost 25,000 United or US Airways miles round trip (or 40,000 miles in business class) from another European city.  I can also use American Airlines or British Airways miles to fly airberlin (both would cost 20,000 miles round trip in coach).  Iceland can also be a destination for my United or US Airways ticket and then I can stop at a Star Alliance hub for my free stopover (AA and BA don't have free stopovers).  
I Won't Be Flying Delta