Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Delta Business Class Now 70,000 to Europe

I didn't receive an email about this change. No other members seemed to have a heads up on the 15,000 mile price increase for a round trip. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Delta.
15,000 More Miles to Sit Up Front

Monday, August 29, 2016

Busy Weekend

The 'purse puppy plague' was a topic of conversation from my parents after their flight from ATL. Thank's people for making the flying experience worse.
Can't We Try to Make Flight Peaceful?

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

Monday, August 15, 2016

Great Time to Fly

There are cheap fares to lands far away on United and Star Alliance partners. Enjoy playing around on ITA Matrix and happy hunting.
Star Alliance Heading South

Friday, August 12, 2016

British Airways A380 First Class

OR Tambo Airport (JNB) leaves much to be desired. As the main international gateway to southern Africa, the airport should at least provide some basic comforts. Things it’s missing include decent air conditioning, practical signage, genuine copies of Microsoft Windows, and basic queue management. It does have an observation room (good idea) upstairs (bad idea) and down a winding administrative hallway. The duty free shopping was spectacular because the booze prices were ridiculously low.
A380 Stairs Up To Business Class
My flight from Cape Town landed on time and I retrieved my checked bag (bags weren’t making connections due to a strike) and went for a 15 minute walk to the British Airways (UK) check in counter. It was closed. To kill time I took a stroll to the observation deck. There was little to see, so I went back to the check in desks and read a book while sitting in front of the first class check in counter. Check in starts 3 hours before the first departure, not a minute sooner despite staff being present.  
My Aircraft to London
Check in didn’t take long and the trip through security and customs wasn’t terrible (it’s a zoo in the evening). After my disappointing lunch on my flight to JNB, I went directly to the BA first class lounge for a proper meal. I was one of 5 people there and found a nice seat with an outlet and view of the terminal (only view offered). I grabbed a Scotch and some cold cuts.  The hot food buffet didn’t look appetizing. I wound up being hungry enough to not mind snacking and Castle Lager. As departure neared, the lounge filled up. Really, there were 28 first class seats on BA flights that day and there were easily 60+ people in the small space. There were 5 open seats and 0 open outlets when I left for a stroll. The business class lounge was standing room only and a mess. The customs line seemed more relaxing.
First Class Seat
This ground experience was not up to Lufthansa standards. My trip in 2013 on Lufthansa is my only time on a proper international first class. They set the bar very very high. From arrival at the airport through baggage claim, the experience is superb. BA could still win me over because I was booked on an 11 hour A380 flight with a connection at their new Heathrow terminal. 
Ample Space Up Front
Power Window Shades
BA’s A380 first class cabin is massive. Other airlines fit 52 economy seats it the lower deck between doors 1 and 2. British Airways only accommodates 14 first class seats in the same area. The personal space is wonderful and there is a strong sense of privacy. There is also ample storage space with a personal closet and overhead bins. I was offered Champagne after storing my stuff then presented with a pajama set and amenity kit. I settled in and started to familiarize myself with the gadgets. Power window shades, large tv, the seat adjustment knob (it was milled aluminum and felt great to touch), and on and on. I was in for a treat.
Seat Adjustment Knob
View From my Seat
The captain’s welcome about announcement mentioned that our aircraft was two months old. Soon after the lead flight attendant came by to welcome me, give an introduction to the service plan, and ask if there was anything special I might require on the journey. I was excited and ready to take it all in.
Evening Meal Service
Blue Cheese Pear
Main
The drink service started right after takeoff. I went with Johnnie Walker Blue. First class passengers can dine when they wish. I wanted to dine as soon after takeoff to maximize my sleep. The service and food were great. I also enjoyed listening to A History of English Speaking Peoples over dinner. My flight was oozing of British-ness. I easily slept for 7 hours after the meal service. I enjoyed the English breakfast before landing and was sad my flight was ending.  It was an outstanding flight with a great onboard product.
Beer For Breakfast - I Had a Long Connection

Monday, August 8, 2016

Boeing Sale

Now you can buy Boeing products for 30% off just like airlines buy jets at much less than list price.
New Current Generation 737-700's are a steal at ~$25M

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Milwaukee Airport Bar Inovation

You can pour your own beer at the Milwaukee airport.  The taps are prepaid for up to two pints. Cool feature, but go to the museum first. Also Miller has a free brewery tours less than 30 minutes from the airport.
No One Can Judge You Drinking in an Airport.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Heathrow Airport Needs to Advertise?

The Brits love their sappy commercials that are over a minute long.  Heathrow hopped on board the trend, but didn't do it well.




Here's a better example.



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Win Some Free United Airlines Miles

United is giving away 1,000,000,000 miles, but if you don't have a United Visa you'll need to do a lot of typing to enter. It's easier (a likely better odds) to win a firearm.  You can also win a firearm here.
United Isn't Worried About Miles Inflation

Monday, August 1, 2016

Power and Streaming Content

United's A320's are being converted to include power for seats in coach. This is great because they provided streaming content if you provided the device.
A320's Upgraded