The wife and I took advantage of some of those super low fares to Asia that were advertised last fall.  I had always wanted to bring her to experience Songkran, the Thai New Years celebration, and got round trip IAD-BKK tickets on United for less than $600 each.  The main reason for these super cheap tickets was almost free flights on ANA out of NRT.  The PQD for the flight BKK-NRT was only $69!

We endured the 13 hour flight on UA IAD-NRT.  Fortunately, the flight was half empty so the wife and I each got a row of three seats to rack out on.  We then had a couple of hours in the United Club and went to get on our ANA flight to BKK.  We were surprised when they called our names at the boarding area.  Upgraded to Business Class!

I assume it was because the wife and I are both UA Golds due to my Million Miler status.  Pretty good to get an upgrade on  $69 fare just for being a Gold.

The seats were nice.  Not quite lie-flat, but pretty close.  Enough to get some rest on this 6.5 hour flight.

The seat came with its own instruction manual which was a first for me.  I liked the power ports since they had 110v and USB in spots where the plug wouldn’t fall out – a problem I have on UA planes.

Slippers were provided at the seat, but no amenity kit?  The FA then came by with a basket of stuff for you to pick from.

The food started out nice with a glass of wine and the world’s tiniest shrimp cocktail.

Then the first course came with a small sandwich and a weird green and white “pudding”.  I ate it, but not much flavor.  Not sure why the bread was served with this course, but I never turn down bread since I always know I can eat that if everything else turns our inedible.

Then the main course, I had chosen the beef.  It was advertised as a hamburger steak, but came as this weird ground beef heavily mixed with onion with cubes of something else all wrapped in some type of wrapper.  It came with a boiled onion in case you didn’t get enough onion taste with the beef.  At least I had the bread…

For comparison, my wife chose the Japanese meal and was really happy with it.  She is Asian so this was food she was used to

Dessert?  Well, whoever had a bad dessert?  It was a nice truffle.  I could have used two.

A short nap and then we are there in Bangkok.  Pretty good deal.  Didn’t get the upgrade on the return, but they did give us their version of Premium Economy which was pretty nice too, but I will take business anytime.

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

Courtesy of reader Pete, he is donating 4 GPUs and 2 RPUs.  However, they expire at the end of this month, so you need a ticketed reservation to fly by 31 Jan.  He would like them to go to veterans or currently serving members of the military.  I don’t have any way to verify that, so we are on the honor system here.  I’ll randomly select winners to whomever responds to this post today.

Posted by glenn | 11 Comments

Well, Random.org has selected 4 winners out of the 25 people who replied to the post.  Congratulations to all the winners.  I have given them 2 weeks to find an eligible fare.

If they can’t come up with one, I will redraw from the same list and give someone else the chance.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

I have four AS Gold Guest Upgrades that expire 12/31/17 and will give them away to people posting a reply to this post.  These upgrade certificates are actually more valuable than in the past because Alaska has reduced their F class from four rows to three on most flights.  They did this to install Premium Economy in the first few rows of Economy which have increased legroom along with drinks and snacks.  Kind of a poor man’s F.  My wife, who is a MVPGold75K and myself, merely MVP Gold, have had a harder time getting free upgraded due to the reduced F seating.  That means using one of these Gold Guest Upgrades is more valuable since you jump ahead of all of us waiting elites.  To be fair, when I say it is harder, that means my wife’s upgrade % went from 90% upgraded to only 75% upgraded so it is still really good to be an elite on Alaska!  As a mere Gold, I was upgraded 95% last year (got lucky), but only 75% this year.

I have had an issue in the past where people grabbed these because they were free, but then never used them (yes, I can tell if they are used).  So this year, the rules are that I will notify the winners on Sunday and then you have two weeks to book a flight, otherwise they go to another random person who posted a reply.  I just feel that is fair.  Remember that when you book the flight, you can’t use them on the cheapest fair.  You need to check the “Gold Guest Upgrade” box to see eligible fares.  This will bring up a separate column with the eligible fare class.  Also, note the “F” for each leg.  Colored in “F” boxes mean it is immediately available for an upgrade to F, but a non-colored in box means you are on the list for an upgrade.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them.

Posted by glenn | 28 Comments

I have flown my fair share of business class, but Emirates exceeded all my expectations – no surprise if you have ever flown Emirates.  My first flight ever with Emirates was in 2002 and I was on a full Y fare and then upgrade into Business.  Only they didn’t tell me that I had been upgraded so I thought this was their Coach and was extremely impressed!  Back then, Business was a reclining seat and nice food.  The flight I took with my wife showed just how far they have gone into making Business an unbelievably fantastic experience.

Taking two shots of the seat, you can see the nice seat right next to a mini-bar.

What looks like a TV in this photo is actually the tablet which controls everything in your cabin.  The papers in this photo are the menu for dinner and a sheet to fill out for what you want for breakfast.

The dinner arrived and was really something to enjoy.

Apologies for the darkness of the photos, but everything was spectacular.

I am showing you the amenity kits, the woman’s on the left and the men’s on the right.  Similar except for the compact vice the shaving gear.

Wandering around the cabin, I loved the circular bar and lounge area in Business Class.  Made me feel like I was on a 747 in the 1970’s!

When I returned, the FA had set up my bed.  Time to get some sleep.  I don’t think I have ever had 8 hours of great sleep on a plane before…

We spent a lot of Alaska miles to get this trip, but it was totally worth it in my opinion.

 

Posted by glenn | 5 Comments

I received an email from Mileage Plan Shopping yesterday with a great, no-brainer offer.  Earn 700 Alaska miles which are usually valued at 2.0 cents each if you subscribe to 2 months of the Wall Street Journal for only $1.

I personally think very highly of the WSJ, so the 700 miles seem like icing on the cake.  Did you get this offer?  Only a few days to act on this offer.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

Hi, I’m Chuck Brackett and this is my first ever blog post. I spent over 21 years in the Navy and I’ve spent the last 8 as a Navy spouse so I’ve seen a good bit of the world.  Much of it from the deck of a warship, but I’ve also been flying for a lot of years and I stumbled across/started following travel blogs several years ago.

 

I have found a lot of value in reading what folks such as Glenn (thanks for the guest blogger opportunity!), Rene, Lucky, Ed, and many others on Boarding Area too numerous to mention (but check HERE for a complete list of BA bloggers) have shared.  I think Glenn’s post from August 2013 was when my wife and I learned about AMEX waiving annual fees for military folks and that really got me paying attention.  What a great introduction – now if only Chase was so generous.  But I digress.

 

Sooo, after reading these folks for a few years I finally decided to stick my toe in the water and give it a try. I mean, how hard can it be, right?  Right???  We’ll see.

 

My first trip that I want to write about has gotten off to a really rocky start. Back a couple of months ago I saw a cheap, ~$760, flight from New York to Bali via Shanghai (JFK-DPS via PVG) on China Eastern (MU).  As you’ll see in a bit, I unfortunately caused myself a problem by buying that ticket directly with MU, then I took a Delta positioning flight from IAD.  If there’s a next time I’ll probably buy from Delta even if it costs a bit more.

 

I’d already made Delta Platinum for 2018 by May courtesy of some heavy work travel between the US and Africa, and I figured I might as well shoot for Diamond since I needed “only” another 40K MQM and I want those Global Upgrades. This trip today plus another one to Singapore coming up in Nov will put me over the top.  I wouldn’t need this trip for MQM – though I’d still be making the trip for other business purposes – except that I allowed my Flying Blue account number to get tagged on one of my flights to Africa and didn’t notice it until it was too late, so here I am sitting in the food court at JFK Terminal 1 on a Sunday afternoon.

 

And that’s the first problem. I’ve been in the food court since about 9AM and it looks like I’ll be here till 9PM or so waiting to check in for my 145AM flight tomorrow morning.  Turns out that you can’t get to JFK Terminal 1 from the other terminals inside security.  You have to exit, walk down the road, and then clear TSA again.  Except, you can’t clear TSA without a boarding pass, and you can’t get a boarding pass from China Eastern until 3 hours before your flight is due to board, as I learned when they opened their check in counter to begin servicing a flight departing at 1645.  And Delta can’t give me one because it’s not their ticket.

 

All that information is probably available online if you search for it, but I didn’t and I stupidly left the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 2 staffed by the nice lady at the front desk without asking, after spending less than 30 mins in there to have a cup of coffee and get a paper. Grrrr, rookie mistakes, but in my defense I’ve never split tickets between airlines before.  You can bet this fiasco won’t happen again.

 

So far I’d say I’m batting about .200 on this trip, and only because I got to IAD in plenty of time (thanks for the early morning shuttle, honey!) and didn’t have to rush through the airport, and my Delta Connection flight was smooth and uneventful.

 

Update, I went back to the MU check in counter after the crush of the flight they serviced when they first opened the counter and a very nice and friendly MU supervisor at the check in desk over ruled the ‘no boarding passes more than 3 hours before your flight’ rule, partially due to my Elite Plus status, so I only spent 6 hours in the food court. Nice!  But I won’t rely on it happening again.

 

I’ve read reports of MU flight crew smoking in flight HERE, HERE, and a response to a previous blog HERE promising to look into the issue.  I’m hoping they’ve successfully snuffed out this problem more than a year later. We’ll see how the China Southern flight works out in the back of the plane, and I’ll send that trip report out as soon as I hit Shanghai.

 

You’ll remember I need both of these flights to make Diamond because of my carelessness with Flying Blue, I’ll be happy and eternally grateful to hear if anyone has a trick for getting FB to push miles to Delta several months after a flight has completed. I like AF and look forward to flying them again but Skymiles is my program, at least for now.

 

Thanks for reading!

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

This was supposed to be a review about Swiss Air Business Class, but things turned out very different than planned.  The wife and I were going to Budapest on vacation for four days by using United miles to fly DCA-EWR-ZRH (with a six hour layover)-BUD.  Everything was all set until Tropical Storm Irma came rolling up the Eastern Seaboard.  Having it rain all day in D.C. is pretty unusual for August, but it didn’t rain that hard.

Arriving at DCA several hours early, things were already in a mess with United.  We were just supposed to take an RJ up to EWR and then get on our real flight, but that looked increasingly unlikely.  The United Club agents were watching things very carefully for when flights actually took off from other airports so they could be sure they would arrive at DCA and then presumably take off for other destinations.  The agent actually moved us up to an earlier flight since she knew it would arrive.  However, just before boarding time they announced it was cancelled “due to ATC”.  Well, the Government doesn’t cancel flights so that told me that United had decided that that plane needed to fly somewhere else and later flights to EWR could take the passengers there instead.  There were several other flights that  night, but that would cut it extremely close as we would theoretically be landing at 2115 for a connection departing at 2210.

The agent realized this and found an alternate flight leaving out of Dulles (IAD) on Lufthansa and going through MUC to BUD.  I hated to lose the six hour layover in ZRH, but did value making sure we got there and with our luggage, both of which would have been jeopardized on the original route.  She arranged for the flight and to have our bags retrieved.  I had asked her about seats and she said I would have to go on Lufthansa’s website to pick them out.  Lucky I did because I found out she had booked us in Economy!  I went back to her and she had to get on the line with Mileage Plus to get it straightened out.  Took her 30 minutes on the phone – you would think they have a more direct line than customers like me, but nope.  We have plenty of time to catch this new flight, but then she tells us that UA won’t pay for our cab to get to IAD because it was due to ATC!  I’m going to dispute that one, but this was not the time to do it with the clock ticking.

We got to IAD $80 later and had no problem except that I noticed they booked us in seats 1D and 1G.  Looking at SeatGuru.com for an A330-300 I saw that these were bulkhead seats which I am not a fan of.  After we arrived at the Lufthansa Lounge (after a side trip tot he outstanding Turkish Lounge),  I asked about changing the seats.  The agent there was great and explained that there had been an aircraft swap and our seats were actually First Class seats, but with Business Class service.  Cool!

We even had the First Class sign!  Compare this with Lufthansa Business Class seats.

If we had been back in regular business, it would have been fine, but only “fine”.  Really happy to have the chance at Lufthansa’s lie-flat First.

Champagne and nuts were led off with the menu.  While my wife went with the prosciutto-wrapped filet, I noticed they had crab cakes.  Can’t say that I have ever had crab cakes on a plane before, so I went with that.  Turned out to be a good choice.

My wife enjoyed her filet and I found my crab cakes were actually quite good.  Not the best I had ever had by a long shot, but pretty good for airplane food!

After getting not enough restful sleep on the lie-flat bed, I awoke to the breakfast.  It was good, but I am still not used to the German “cold cuts for breakfast” philosophy.

My wife is getting used to First Class a little too easily.  I can see the argument coming next time I book her in “only Business Class”.

Landing in MUC and then on to BUD was uneventful.  More to follow on Budapest in the next few days.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

Although it has been open since June 30th, I only just got a chance to visit the new Alaska Lounge in Terminal C of the Seattle Airport.  It was certainly worth the wait – I was very impressed by the modernity and thoughts on customer comfort and convenience.  Getting into an Alaska Lounge is a little unique, you can qualify one of five ways:

  • Have an Alaska Lounge membership
  • Have an American Airlines Lounge membership
  • Have a Priority Pass membership (warning: if the lounge is overcrowded, they will stop accepting this)
  • Fly First Class, either paid or as a mileage award, but not if you were upgrade to First due to status.
  • Buy a Day Pass for $45 (again, they will not allow this if the lounge is crowded)

Getting there is a little tricky if you don’t know where to look.  At the end of Terminal C are about a dozen gates making it a very crowded area.  You have to look over in the Western corner to spot the Alaska Lounge sign.

You can go through the door shown and take the stairs, but the elevator is a better bet.  We arrived from ANC at 0437 so had to wait until 0500 for them to open the doors.

The lounge fits in a narrow area above the gates, but it is well designed.

They have a variety of seating with power ports built-in for both 110v and USB.  The higher walled seats are similar to those found in AMEX Lounges and you can enjoy extra privacy from the noise or lean against the side to sleep.

For food, they have the usual good Alaska fare along one side of the lounge, including the famous pancake machine!  I like that someone finally figured out that they need a larger coffee cup.  Yeah, I’m talking about you United!

The bathroom was very modern and a break from the usual utilitarian Alaska style.

The area they selected was ideal for plane spotting and we sat and enjoyed the dawn with a good breakfast.  If you are there later, they have a full wall bar which I strangely forgot to take a picture of.  The 0500 arrival time must have had something to do with that.

I was very impressed at the utility and style such as power ports in each seat, three different style seats, a modern bathroom, and the general bright décor.  Hopefully, this is a model for the future permanent N Terminal Alaska Lounge coming next year.  Be good if they adopted this model and went back to renovate the D Terminal Lounge as well as the Anchorage Lounge just like this.

Posted by glenn | One Comment

So I get this promotion email from American.  Get EQM from hotel stays? – Cool!

Now I am all for a good promotion, but only 100 miles of EQM per stay?!  Really AA?  You are not even giving RDM so this costs you nothing.  You even cap it at 1,250 EQM.  What is the chance that I need 1250 EQM to get to the next status level?  Really weak.  If you are going to put something out there, why not make it worth going for?

Anyway, if you do happen to be a few hundred EQM short of your goal, take advantage of this promo.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

Courtesy of reader Audrey, Delta has increased the allowed weight per bag to a whopping 100 pounds per bag.

Effective for travel on or after June 21, 2017, Delta is updating its baggage policy for active U.S. military members traveling on military orders on or after June 21, 2017, regardless of their ticketing date.

Key Changes Summary
Any active U.S. military member traveling on orders, on Delta-marketed/Delta-operated flights, on or after June 21, 2017, is entitled to five free bags up to 100 lbs. each. This applies to travel worldwide in any cabin of service (subject to any applicable embargoes or regional weight restrictions).

Previously, U.S. military traveling on orders were entitled to four free bags up to 70 lbs. each in Delta Comfort+®, Main Cabin or Basic Economy and five free bags up to 70 lbs. each in First Class, Delta Premium Select and Delta One® (subject to any applicable embargoes or regional weight restrictions). The policy for active U.S. military traveling on personal travel remains unchanged.

Personally, I think you are asking for an aching back by loading a single bag to 100 lbs.  I have deployed to Iraq twice and know how much we have to pack, but they typically give you four duffle bags or a box and a couple of bags.  Never had to load one to 100 lbs.  I am guessing that this move is a result of the highly publicized incident where a National Guard Soldier packed everything he had into one bag that came out to over 70 pounds and he was charged.  He can claim this on his Travel Voucher so wouldn’t be out and money, but he made a big social media deal out of it.  We’ll see if the other airlines follow suit with this, although I wouldn’t expect it to come up a lot.  Frankly, Delta increased dimension allowance from 62″ to 80″ overall means a lot more to me, as I have run into that problem when deploying with my box.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

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