Monday, January 20, 2014

United Miles To Fly To Australia - It Isn't Simple

My brother wants to fly to Sydney and Melbourne this summer and I volunteered to help him search for award flights.  Space is abysmal with United, Air Canada, and Air New Zealand flights.  Luckily, if you book online, you can route through Asia for the same price as going direct from North America to Australia.  No, you can't go via Europe and Asia for the same rate; I tried.  On the way out, I was able to book USA to Tokyo to Inchon to Sydney.  It's a lot of extra flying, but it works.  Still trying to find a good return option.
Yes, Tokyo Is On The Way to Sydney

Thursday, January 16, 2014

500 Free Hilton HHonors Points

Grab 500 Hilton points for listening to a pitch from Hilton Grand Vacations.  Not the most generous offer for 6 minutes of your life, but a productive way to kill time.
Promotion Details

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Frontier Airlines Discount Coupon Code

Frontier can't say "Broncos" because United is the team sponsor, so Frontier's coupon code is HURRYHURRY.  It's good for 18% flights.  I would have preferred an Omaha joke or maybe any advertising from United (I'm a MileagePlus member in Colorado).
Frontier Has Team Spirit, But Can't Name The Team Name

Saturday, January 11, 2014

How Is Norway?

I don't know how Norway is because I never left the secure part of the airport.  To top off my status miles in 2013, I flew to Oslo for an hour and left on the same 757 that brought me. I was upgraded the whole way, so it was a pleasant experience. I did enjoy the small bit of Norway I experienced, but I didn't leave the airport, so I won't add it to my country list.
757 Seat DEN-EWR
My flight from Denver to Newark went quickly and uneventfully.  I went with the chicken salad because the other option was the gross Continental cheese burger.  I slept most of the flight and read the rest away. I didn't pick up Hemispheres magazine because I wanted to save it in case I ran out of other things to do on later flights.
Chicken Salad Lunch - Never Pick the Burger
The flight to Oslo left a half hour late and eliminated a third of my time in Norway.  Once boarding began, I was excited to grab my seat and give it a test drive.  The BusinessFirst seats on international 757's are fully flat and have a 15in-ish tv.  The seat is comfortable and easy to sleep in.   The tv was a let down because the movie offerings were not very good.  Luckily I was distracted by food and felt tired.
United 757 Business First Seat
Outstanding and Tender Steak
I slept most of the way and suffered through the first few minutes of a few films after dinner.  Once we started landing, I packed up all my stuff (it didn't take long, I only had a backpack) and was ready to sprint off the plane. I only had an hour to make my flight and I still needed to clear customs and security. 
SAS Star Alliance Gold Lounge - OSL
Seating in OSL
Customs was a breeze thanks to my EU passport.  I then took the door for international connections, so I didn't have to leave the airport and endure more security screening. I printed off all my boarding passes before leaving Denver, an important action because the security staff wanted to see my boarding pass before allowing me to the international wing.  With less than an hour on the ground I attempted duty free shopping (bad selection and astronomical prices) and relaxed at the SAS lounge.  Before I could finish my beer at the lounge, I had to leave for the gate.  There is a customs check before boarding so build in some extra time for that and other delays. 
Snack Before Landing
Once on board I found my new seat and got comfortable.  We left on time and I enjoyed the meal service before sleeping the rest of the way.  I flew through US customs (thanks Global Entry) and was able to catch an earlier flight to Denver too.  A great trip, though I only saw airports.  A few tips for flights like this:

  • Print all your boarding passes out before leaving your first airport.
  • Pack a change of clothes, pack light.
  • Bring enough to keep you busy if the tv breaks or has nothing worth watching.
  • Stretch out and go for a stroll now and again.
  • Stay hydrated.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Below Freezing Business Trip

I'm on a business trip in Chicago and it will never get above freezing, though it is 30 degrees warmer than Monday (yes, you notice).  I've been day dreaming of trips to warmer destinations, like Tahiti or Iceland.
Air Tahiti Nui A340 at LAX

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I Flew Airbus #7000

I flew the 7,000th Airbus aircraft, an A321 delivered with some fanfare in December 2011.  I remember reading about this milestone and was excited to fly on a famous aircraft.  Inside the plane looked a little tired and well used.  My previous aircraft that day was a newer A321, both better than an American MD-80 or 757 (my other options for this business trip). US Airways will continue to take new Airbus jets into 2015.  I like Airbus A320 series jets more than Boeing 737's, so while I'm excited to fly new US Airways planes, United's new 737's seem almost obsolete.  
7000th Airbus - US Airways A321

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - The Year of Points Inflation

2014 will be the year of points inflation.  The points game won't die, but all the fun will be sucked out of it.  Award prices will be going up, up, and way up, while earning opportunities will be curtailed. United award prices are increasing Feb 1, 2014, 40% for United flights and 80% for partner flights in premium cabins (Lufthansa flights can be booked, but it won't be worth while). United is also borrowing a page from Delta and requiring a minimum spend requirement for status qualification, in addition to the miles requirement. 
From 135,000 Miles in First to Over 200,000
Delta will be increasing prices on their award chart, though it will go little noticed because there is so little discount award space, I haven't redeemed a Delta award in ages. When US Airways and American become a single carrier, March 31, I expect the US Airways award chart to vanish, taking with it the 90,000 mile around the world in business class award. Southwest is changing the Wanna Get Away fare from 60 points per dollar to 70 points as well.
Delta Lost Its Luster
Hotels and other programs are increasing prices too.  Hertz applied about a 10% inflation rate to their chart.  It didn't sting too badly because they announced it well in advance and 10% isn't too bad every few years.  Hyatt is adding a new award tier so the extreme values at 22,000 points will be ok values at 30,000 points.  A free bottle of Coke is 25% more today than yesterday too.  As usual, every year more hotels move up in reward tier category than move down too; a less noticed form of inflation.  
25% More Points in 2014