dsc01817

Election Fatigue? Fares to 3 European Cities for Under $500

Fares frequently change so this post will likely be outdated by 11/11/16 We’re entering an era where we’ve seen unprecedented and consistently-offered low fares on international flights.  With a little planning, you can typically fly to Europe for under $600, Asia for under $700, and South America for under $600.  While you can typically find these fares on budget carriers (WOW, Norwegian, etc.), they’re also available on the legacy carriers (Delta, United, and American) which offer frequent flier miles and free beverages (on international flights).  I used Google Flights to find the flights listed below.  I recommend that you use…


dsc02697

Review of American’s 777-200 (Business Class)

American Airlines 777-200 at Sunrise I previously wrote about my trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that was amazing!  The beach was huge, the cable cars up to Sugarloaf Mountain were intense, and the airplane landings were epic.  Overall it was a great trip considering American Airlines was offering $550 round-trip flights, likely as a result of the Zika virus (FYI I did not even see any mosquitoes during my trip). Another highlight of the trip was my flight to Brazil which was upgraded to business class at the gate.  A teenager was also upgraded at the gate–best day ever.  You can…


IMG_20150924_033007299

United’s Award Flight Changes: Worse Than Expected for 4 Reasons

Sunrise in Iceland I previously wrote about changes that United planned to make to its award flight booking policy, but the actual changes are even worse than anticipated.  Just to summarize, United planned to eliminate its free stopover on one-way flights–replacing it with a stopover on round-trip flights in either the origin or destination zone–but United ended up eliminating so much more.  These additional devaluations may not be readily apparent, but they’re nonetheless significant: 1. Hard to Book the Excursionist Perk There is no easy way to book the Excursionist Perk, you must book a multi-city award ticket that meets all…


20160415_103313

SPG and Marriott Merger Complete: 3 Things You Need to Do

My favorite hotel breakfast so far!  mmmmm mango juice Big news in the hotel industry happened today:  the Marriott and SPG merger completed following Chinese regulatory approval.  The merger is significant because of the uncertainty it brings for folks who are loyal to either SPG or SPG Starpoints.  Starpoints are often viewed as one of the most valuable point currencies because you can transfer them to a large number of airline programs for favorable rates (1:1 with a 5,000 bonus for transferring 20,000).  Marriott is valuable because it offers Hotel + Air Package where you can redeem, for example, 200,000 Marriott points…


2011-10-01_12-07-40_163

Can NCAA D1 Football Players Earn Frequent Flier Miles?

University of Michigan — The Big House You may have heard that the Hawaii men’s football team will fly over 50,000 miles miles this season, which has already featured travel from Hawaii to Australia to Ann Arbor, Michigan for its first two football games.  50,000 miles is enough to earn a mid-tier elite status on the major airlines–Hawaiian Airlines only requires 40,000 miles for its top-tier Pualani Platinum status–but are NCAA athletes PERMITTED to earn frequent flier miles?  If so, do the universities PERMIT the students to earn miles?  One of these answers is easy and other is nuanced. NCAA Rules Despite a ban on…


Sonoma - Benzinger

3 Must-See Vineyards in Sonoma, California!!

I visited Sonoma, California with several friends around the end of August and the weather was amazing!  It was 60 and foggy in the morning, and 70’s and sunny around noon.  We rented an AirBNB located in downtown Sonoma and walked downtown each evening.  Although we sampled wine from ten different wineries, I would recommend that everyone who visits Sonoma should visit at lease one of these three: 1. Benzinger Family Winery Benzinger by far offered the coolest tour which was complemented by some of the best wine, but the price was hefty.  They charged $20 for a tasting or $50 for a tour…


20160417_103621

Changes to United’s Award Flight Rules Are Coming–Not Good

United recently accounted that it is changing the rules for booking award flights to “streamline” the process.  Given that United already has a fairly good website for booking award flights, it is not clear if the changes will improve booking award flights for the average flier.  For the advanced flier, the new rules will eliminate some pretty cool quirks of the program.  Let me explain (IAD=Washington DC, CDG=Paris, FRA=Frankfurt, Germany, BKK=Bangkok, Thailand, ATH=Athens, Greece, SJU=Puerto Rico). Current State of Affairs Unlike American and Delta, United offers one stopover (extended layover) and two open jaws on a round-trip award flight.  An…


DSC02645

Copacabana Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Copacabana at sunset Earlier this year, I traveled to Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a vacation over a long weekend.  What a trip!  The city and the beach are both beautiful and there is plenty of half-day excursions for folks who do not want to lay by the beach the entire day (although there is certainly nothing wrong with that).  Round-trip flights into GIG were under $540 from Washington DC.  What makes this flight even more desirable is that it was a red-eye flight that departed after work on a Thursday (or any day of the week)…


DSC02735

Qatar’s First Class Lounge in Doha, Qatar

I previously wrote about how American Airlines stranded me in Doha, Qatar by booking a second flight in anticipation that my first segment’s late arrival would cause me to miss my second segment.  Thankfully, I made the PHL-DOH flight which was operated by Qatar’s new A350, but my third segment was canceled before I arrived in Doha.  While the Qatar customer service representatives tried to figure out why my third segment was canceled, I was given complimentary access to Qatar’s new First Class Lounge.  Score. Entrance The entrance to the lounge is stunning.  You walk into a very large, open…


20160408_231755[1]

Which Airline Left Me Stranded In Doha, Qatar? It wasn’t Qatar Airlines…

Notice the desert sand blowing in the background?  Last month I traveled to Dubai (not for leisure) and I booked the ticket less than a week out.  As a result, one of the cheapest tickets left was a DCA-PHL-DOH-DWC flight which gave me an opportunity to review Qatar’s new A350 in business class.  I was pretty excited but the trip did not start off well.  Ultimately, Qatar Airlines was not responsible for stranding me in DOH. DCA-PHL I arrived at DCA before dawn because my international itinerary meant that I had to check in with an American Airlines agent instead of…