The Best Way To Book American’s A321 Transcon First Class


American offers a pretty solid product in first & business class on their transcon flights. At least the hard product is great, while the service and food are just okay. American is the only airline still offering three classes of service from New York to both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

These specially configured A321 have 10 reverse herringbone seats in first class. Having direct aisle access from every seat in a cabin on a domestic flight is pretty awesome, though do keep in mind these are the same seats that American uses in business class on their 777-300ERs.

Meanwhile in business class American has fully flat seats in a 2-2 configuration. So the product is more in line with the hard products offered by Delta and United.

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Here’s Why United Was (Probably) Right To Deny Boarding To A Girl In Leggings


There’s an interesting situation that’s getting a bit of attention on Twitter today about a lady who witnessed a few girls be denied boarding off a United flight because they were wearing leggings.

The Twitter user was flying from Denver to Mexico City, while she witnessed the situation unfold for a flight from Denver to Minneapolis (I’m not sure how exactly that happened, but…). Anyway, here are the Twitter posts about the situation:

Understandably this sounds horrible, given that leggings are a very common article of clothing for women to wear. I see women of all ages wear them all the time. This caused some people to ask about the race of the girls being denied boarding. Was this gate agent being sexist, racist, or something else?

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Join Alaska Mileage Plan And Earn 5,000 Bonus Miles After Your First Flight


Earlier in the year, Alaska offered 10,000 bonus miles to anyone who had both an Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate account, and then linked them. While Virgin America Elevate won’t cease to exist until early 2018, they already want as many people as possible to link their accounts.

Well, for those of you who aren’t members of Alaska Mileage Plan, they have a pretty great new member bonus at the moment. You can earn 5,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles if you enroll using this link between March 23 and April 30, 2017, and complete an Alaska or Virgin America flight by September 30, 2017.

To qualify, the member must book a ticket eligible for earning Mileage Plan miles, and must credit it to their Mileage Plan account. You can receive the bonus a maximum of one time, and it’s not valid with any other Mileage Plan enrollment bonus.

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Air Canada Will (Sort Of) Sell You A Day Pass To The United Polaris Lounge


The Polaris Lounge in Chicago is the first of a new network of lounges that United is building exclusively for their premium cabin travelers. These lounges feature daybeds, showers, and order-off-the-menu food service. My family recently had the chanced to sample everything on the lunch and dinner menu and we were highly impressed.

These lounges are all about exclusivity, however, so you need to be flying in business or first on a Polaris-marketed United long-haul flight, or in business or first on a Star Alliance carrier. That means your Star Alliance Gold status or United Club membership won’t help you. You also can’t ride your buddy’s coattails because there are no guesting privileges.

And United won’t sell you a day pass. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy one anyway.

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Introduction: Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait


For about a year now, Ford has expressed interest in visiting Bhutan. While I had heard of Bhutan, and could have probably roughly pointed to it on a map, at the time I didn’t know much about it at all. But the more research I did, the more interested I became. It’s supposedly this incredible shangri-la with the happiest people in the world (heck, Drukair’s frequent flyer program is called “My Happiness Rewards”). Is that actually the case, or…?

There are two things to understand about visiting Bhutan:

— It’s the most expensive place in the world to visit in terms of the entry fee (though I don’t think it’s as bad as it sounds) — they do this to preserve their country, to pay for many services for their citizens, etc.
— It’s a pain to get there, as only two airlines fly to Paro Airport, and both have limited destinations and high pricing

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Here’s How Airlines Handled The Electronics Ban On Day One


The electronics ban for US-bound flights officially went into effect for many airlines yesterday, March 25, 2017. Over the past several days we’ve learned how airlines will be dealing with the ban, including Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish.

Based on their policies, Emirates and Turkish seem to be doing the best job, as they’re allowing passengers to check their electronics at the gate for their US-bound flights, in order to minimize the disruption. This way people don’t have to check their electronics at their point of origin, and can also use electronics at the airport before boarding starts.

So while the policies of Emirates and Turkish sound good in theory (well, at least as good as something like this is going to get), how did it work in practice at the airport?

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Weekly Review: March 25, 2017


Last weekend I returned to the US after a two week trip to Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Kuwait, so have been spending the past week on the ground catching up on sleep, given that I typically don’t get all that much rest when traveling to Asia. I also plan on publishing the trip report from this trip very shortly. Fortunately I’m now all caught up on sleep, and am plotting my next adventure.

On the travel front, the biggest story of the week has been about the electronics ban, which will potentially have a huge impact on many peoples’ travel. Other than that we’ve seen increased sign-up bonuses introduced on the Amex Hilton, some great business class fares to Paris, and more.

With that out of the way, here’s a recap of this week on the blog:

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Should You Get The Amex Hilton Surpass Or Citi Hilton Reserve?


Earlier I wrote a post comparing the increased sign-up bonuses on the no annual fee Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express and the $75 annual fee Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express. The cards are offering increased sign-up bonuses of 80,000 Honors points and 100,000 Honors points, respectively.

However, one unique aspect of the Surpass Card is that it’s also offering a free weekend night certificate valid at just about any Hilton hotel on your card account’s first anniversary. This is a benefit I don’t ever recall seeing on one of the Amex Hilton co-brand cards before, but rather this is a benefit that might sound familiar with the Citi® Hilton Honors Reserve Card.

So in this post I wanted to address the differences between the two premium Hilton co-brand cards — the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express and the Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express.

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Etihad’s Puzzling Approach To The Electronics Ban

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With the US electronics ban about to be implemented, airlines are outlining their policies for how they’re going to deal with this. Both Emirates and Turkish have announced that they’ll let passengers take their electronics all the way to the gate, and will then allow passengers to check them there. They’ll be securely packaged, and upon arrival in the US they’ll separately be brought out to passengers.

I appreciate the effort they’re putting into the system. While it doesn’t totally solve the problems the electronics ban causes, at least I feel they’re doing what they can to minimize the risk of electronics being stolen or damaged, and are also minimizing how long passengers will be separated from them.

Well, now Etihad has announced their electronics ban policy, and it’s… confusing.

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Delta Is Cutting Complimentary Elite Upgrades On 2 Transcon Routes

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Delta has just announced that they’re cutting complimentary Medallion upgrades on their routes from Washington to Los Angeles and Boston to San Francisco. Actually, they didn’t announce that directly, but it can be inferred when reading between the lines. Delta will be launching two additional transcon routes over the coming months:

— Starting April 24, 2017, Delta will launch nonstop flights between Washington National and Los Angeles
— Starting June 8, 2017, Delta will launch nonstop flights between Boston and San Francisco

We already knew that these routes were coming, and that they’ll be operated by internationally configured 757 aircraft. These flights will feature fully flat seats up front, which we’ve also known.

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How Amex’s Plan To Reduce Lounge Crowding May Actually Make It Worse

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Earlier this month, American Express announced that the guest policy for their network of Centurion Lounges would be changing as of March 30th. Whereas Platinum members could previously bring in two guests or their immediate family, they’ll now only be allowed two guests, period. This is presumably being done to alleviate crowding, which can certainly be a problem at times.

Yet it’s hard for me to believe that restricting families is really going to fix the issue. And in fact, I’m going to argue this silly policy is actually going to make things worse.

I’ve had The Platinum Card® from American Express for a while now in part because my family gets pretty good value out of the lounges.

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How Turkish Airlines Is Handling The Electronics Ban


This week we’ve learned about electronics bans being instituted for flights from select countries to both the US and the UK. Airlines are having to institute these new policies this week, so it’s interesting to see the different approaches airlines take to coping with this situation.

Royal Jordanian has been putting effort into throwing shade at the situation, as they’ve been doing since Trump was elected president.

Meanwhile Emirates yesterday announced a new laptop and tablet handling service. Emirates is introducing a service that enables passengers to use their laptops and tablets until just before they board their US-bound flight. At the gate there will be security staff who will carefully package your electronics in boxes before boarding, and then you can collect them on arrival.

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Which Limited Time Hilton Honors Amex Bonus Is Best?


Yesterday American Express unveiled two fantastic, “best ever” sign-up bonuses on their co-branded Hilton cards.

The Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express is offering 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first three months, and has no annual fee.

Meanwhile the Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express is offering 100,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. You also get a free weekend night valid at any Hilton Honors hotel on your first cardmember anniversary. The card has a $75 annual fee.

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Emirates Is Introducing Free First Class Helicopter Transfers To Monaco


Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380, with a total of 140+ of these planes on order. So while other airlines operating the A380 are super selective about the routes on which they deploy the plane, Emirates can afford to send them just about anywhere.

Emirates has announced that they’ll be introducing daily A380 service between Dubai and Nice as of July 1, 2017. This is just in time for the busy summer season, and makes Nice the second A380 destination Emirates will serve in France, after Paris.

The route is currently flown by a Boeing 777-300ER, so the A380 represents a 44% increase in capacity on the route.

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