Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - Year In Review

My travel in 2014 did not go as planned.  I only flew 41,274 paid miles and was able to grab United Gold status.  The downgrade from Platinum will be rough, upgrades are uncertain for all but 1K's, soon I'll be surprised to see any.  I did keep SPG Platinum and get closer to lifetime Platinum status (500 nights AND 10 years as Platinum) and Hertz likes me too.  I'm still hurting from the points inflation in 2014 and hesitant to burn miles at what I think are exorbitant rates.  
2014 Paid Travel -
2014 Total Travel -
Here's some highlights from 2014:
T-6 Texan
O'Hare Airport
I Love the 757
Sunset in Portland

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Leaving Las Vegas Seat Suggestion

Grab a window seat on the left side of the aircraft for afternoon and evening departures from Las Vegas (LAS).  You'll be treated to a great view of The Strip on the way up and then great mountain views; maybe a lovely sunset too.
The Strip
Mountains on the Climb Out
Sunset Over the Clouds

Friday, December 26, 2014

New Southwest Airlines Look

It doesn't look so bad at this angle.  I still think they should have stuck with the original tan paint scheme, but I lost that battle a long time ago.
New Southwest Look 737

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Holiday Travel

Remember to leave extra time and be patient with the amateur travelers.
Hope You Are Going Somewhere Fun

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IHG Pays $430M for Kimpton Hotels Brand

"Kimpton is a fully asset-light business that manages 62 hotels."  The $430M IHG paid for Kimpton is just for the brand and business process knowledge.  IHG said the Kimpton loyalty program will remain in place, but some of the brand prestige will be lost now that Kimpton is a fancy Holiday Inn (Aston Martin and Tata, Bugatti and VW, or Ferrari and Dodge all have similar problems).  My guess is IHG wants to mass produce boutique hotels and this is the best way to learn the process.  If they lose some Kimpton loyalists along the way, that's acceptable.
I Don't Have Many Ground Related Photos

Monday, December 15, 2014

Alaska Airlines Adds Streaming Entertainment

Alaska Airlines is jumping on the trend for airlines to provide streaming content over WiFi on board.  It's starting out free, but will cost something in the future. As a bonus over Southwest, Alaska is also adding power outlets. The bigger news story is Alaska adding larger overhead bins to speed boarding and reduce the risk of having a bag gate checked. Removing the stress of boarding is a larger benefit for me than having movies available for purchase.
Alaska Airlines 737's at LAX
It's great that airlines are adding to the in flight customer experience after removing so much in recent years. Off the top of my head, I still miss coach meals, leg room, seat padding, easy mileage earning, free checked bags, free seat assignment, United's channel 9, and pillows. Every little bit helps I suppose.

Friday, December 12, 2014

WestJet Partners With Delta

WestJet and Delta are now code share partners and will have reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.  I find it funny that any airline would enter into a partnership with Delta considering how poorly Delta treats their existing partners.  Delta is trying to turn Seattle into a hub and take business from Alaska Airlines, even though they were long time partners.  Delta also plays hardball with Sky Team alliance members. I hope WestJet is ready for Delta's poor partner treatment.  
Does Not Play Well With Others
CALGARY, Dec. 11, 2014 /CNW/ - WestJet today announced a reciprocal frequent flyer agreement with Delta Air Lines, a code-share partner with WestJet since 2012.

The agreement allows WestJet Rewards members to earn WestJet dollars on flights marketed and operated by Delta Air Lines, with access to Delta's extensive global network of more than 300 destinations on six continents.

"Our agreement with Delta Air Lines offers yet another great benefit to being a part of WestJet Rewards," said Marshall Wilmot, WestJet Vice-President, Product and Distribution. "The program is growing in scope and recognition with the recent introduction of Teal, Silver and Gold tiers and the success of the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, recently voted Canada's top airline travel rewards card by Canadian consumers and MoneySense magazine for the second consecutive year. We will continue to look for ways to further expand the program to offer members even more benefits in the future."

In addition to the new accrual agreement, WestJet now also offers WestJet Rewards members the ability to use WestJet dollars on all code-share flights marketed by WestJet and operated by Delta. The two airlines will continue to work together to expand their relationship even further, including the introduction of full reciprocal redemption in the coming year that will allow members to redeem for destinations beyond WestJet's current network.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

United 757-300

The Boeing 757-300 is an extended version of the (increasingly less) common 757-200 model.  It 23 feet longer than the standard model and looks silly in person, almost like it's too stretched out to work.  It also may be the 757 type to stay in airline service the longest because it seats up to 280 in an all coach design and has no planned replacement.  Airlines are trading in their 757-200 models for 737-900ER's that are much more fuel efficient, though seat 10 fewer and have shorter range.  There is no easy replacement for the 757-300, there isn't a 737 planned that can match the extra 31 or more seats.  Just be careful next time you fly a 757-300, Delta squeezes 11 more seats on their airplanes than United.
United Airlines 757-300

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Not Flying This Weekend

I booked a trip to Oslo, Norway for this weekend to top off mile elite miles balance before the end of the year.  I didn't need the miles after all and moved the trip to next month, but all my flight alerts are still configured, so my phone has been buzzing with flight status messages.  It's funny to track how my weekend might have been unfolding while on the ground.  I also was able to attend a fun presentation on aviation photography at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum (one key is to know someone at the airport who can drive you around the tarmac).
Not Today

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Airline Galley Cart As A Home Bar

Lufthansa’s inflight shopping magazine has some great items because they have airport shops in Frankfurt and Munich, so they can sell many interesting pieces that don’t fit in the onboard duty free cart. They even sell refurbished galley carts for use as bars at home.  I loved the idea, but I cringed at the price of €1,000 or more.
My Very own Galley Cart
I started to search for these on my own.  I looked at eBay and emailed used aircraft part suppliers.  Stewart Industries sells used American Airlines carts with drawers for $300 plus shipping from Oklahoma.  eBay was my best bet for choice, there are tons of carts in different conditions and from different carriers ranging from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.  Different ones pop up now and again, so wait a few weeks if one that fits your tastes isn’t available immediately.
Galley Cart as Bar
The galley cart I bought was made by Driessen (Zodiac Aerospace) in April 2012 and was used by Hawaiian Airlines on their 767’s.  The cart is in great shape, glides effortlessly, and the breaks and door closures function like new.  It just needed some light cleaning and it’s ready for action.  I also bought some lightly used British Midland drawers on eBay to hold a few bottles and glasses; accessories are varied and plentiful.
Large Volume for Storeage