Doha Taxis: Pay What You Want?

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So I’ve spent the past couple of days in Doha (thanks for the condolences). The city is about as exciting as watching paint dry, and that’s being generous.

It’s somewhat rare that I take taxis nowadays. I always try to stick to public transportation or Uber when possible, as I find taxis to just be a pain. Either they rip you off or are so nice that it’s suspicious.

But I took three taxi rides in Doha, and all three of them left me confused. When I got in the taxis they didn’t turn on the meter. When I asked them to, they said “don’t worry about it, you just pay what you want.”

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Redeem Starpoints For Suites Or Premium Rooms

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It’s interesting to see the policies different hotel loyalty programs have towards redeeming points for premium rooms and suites.

For example, Hyatt Gold Passport is one of the more favorable loyalty programs for award redemptions in suites. They charge an extra ~50% points for suites over standard rooms, with the restriction that you have to redeem for at least three nights.

Given that on revenue rates suites can often be exponentially more expensive than standard rooms, that can be a great value.

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American AAdvantage Discount On Shared Miles

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Through September 30, 2014, American AAdvantage is offering up to a 35% bonus on shared miles. I’m writing about this simply to explain why in almost all cases it’s not worth taking advantage of.

Sharing miles is basically an opportunity to transfer miles from one account to another, which can be useful if you don’t quite have enough miles for an award ticket in one account, but have a second account with extra miles you could use to “top off” the account.

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ExpertFlyer Pulls All Delta Information

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As I explained a couple of weeks ago, ExpertFlyer is one of the travel tool subscription services I pay for, given that it saves me a ton of time and does display some information which isn’t otherwise readily available online.

Over the past couple of years they’ve certainly fought their fair share of battles with airlines over which space they can and can’t display. ExpertFlyer is a great service and makes life easier for the frequent traveler, but in many cases that’s not something the airlines like. For example, if you can set alerts whereby ExpertFlyer emails you when award or upgrade space opens up, the airlines aren’t a fan of that for obvious reasons. While they create the rewards systems, they don’t want to make them easy for us to use. For example, late last year they stopped displaying most Star Alliance award space, as well as British Airways award space.

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Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

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After a pleasant flight in Jet Airways business class from Newark to Brussels, I was excited to fly with Qatar Airways from Brussels to Doha, which was the last portion of my 67,500 AAdvantage mile business class award between the US and the Middle East.

I’ve only flown Qatar Airways on one trip previously, and that was several years ago in first class, which was long before they joined oneworld. At the time I thought the product was a bit dated and wasn’t really blown away by any aspect of the experience. So I was curious to see how business class on their new Dreamliner compared.

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How Delta Prices Award Tickets

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As much as I give the program a lot of crap, there are many great uses of Delta SkyMiles, and in many ways I think SkyMiles are more valuable than several years ago, at least comparatively.

Do I find SkyMiles to be the most valuable currency? Of course not.

Would I prefer to fly first class? Absolutely.

The reality though, is that for many of the places people like to travel, SkyMiles are an effective way of getting there. And while we’ve redeemed hundreds of millions of miles for clients over the years in just about every currency out there, over a quarter of those awards have been through Delta. SkyMiles are comparatively easy to accrue, so lots of people have large balances that they struggle to use, which is a large part of why the program gets so much (well-deserved) criticism.

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Lufthansa A380 Flights To India

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In late January of this year, India lifted their bans on A380. Given what a high capacity market India is, this was welcome news for several carriers, given that there’s probably not a more ideal market in the world for the aircraft.

From the beginning, Emirates, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines were the ones considering A380 service to India.

Singapore Airlines was the first to take advantage of the new rights to fly A380s to India, and in April announced daily A380 service between Singapore and Delhi and Mumbai.

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“I Just Need Your Paper Ticket, Please”

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Yesterday I flew from Toronto to Brussels in Jet Airways business class. Despite a few hiccups, it was a pleasant flight all around, and exceeded my expectations.

From there I had a three hour layover before my connecting flight to Doha in Qatar Airways business class.

When I checked in with Jet Airways at Toronto Airport I only received a boarding pass as far as Brussels, which is what I expected given that Jet Airways and Qatar Airways don’t partner.

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Weekly Review: August 30, 2014

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As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to try posting a weekly recap with all the blog posts from the week prior. I typically publish 50+ posts a week, which I realize is a lot to keep up with, so hopefully this is a good way to consolidate everything.

My thought was to highlight a couple of the stories I thought were most interesting, then I’ve broken everything else out into categories.

We’ll see how it goes, and I’d love any feedback on the format. Without further ado:

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Westin Diplomat Leaving Starwood October 30, 2014

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One of Starwood’s great South Florida hotel options has long been the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, located in Hollywood, Florida. With nearly 1,000 rooms it’s a massive hotel, and the great thing is that they have a ton of suites, which means that historically Platinum suite upgrades were plentiful.

It’s not the most luxurious hotel in the world — certainly not in the same league as the St. Regis Bal Harbour located down the road — but the prices are usually reasonable and it’s on a nice stretch of beach.

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