Muslim Flight Attendant Suspended For Refusing To Serve Alcohol

Delta-Connection

Here’s an interesting story coming out of the US. An ExpressJet flight attendant has been placed on leave for 12 months, supposedly after refusing to serve alcohol on flights. She converted to Islam a month after starting to fly for ExpressJet, and apparently had an arrangement with her colleagues whereby they would serve the alcohol on flights she was on. But that seemed to end after another flight attendant filed “an Islamophobic complaint” against her.

Via CBS Detroit:

“A Muslim flight attendant has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO) claiming she was suspended from her job for not serving alcohol — which is against her religious beliefs.

However, Masri said, ExpressJet Airlines put Stanley on administrative leave after another attendant filed “an Islamophobic complaint” that referenced Stanley’s head scarf.”

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Win Free Points With Starwood’s Open The World Sweepstakes

open-world-SPG-3

Every so often Starwood Preferred Guest runs a sweepstakes to highlight the various hotels in the portfolio, or to promote a new benefit. The latest offering “Open the World of SPG®” is now open, and can be a fun way to rack up some extra Starpoints.

I can’t actually enter the sweepstakes, as apparently my SPG account is locked (more on that fun drama in a future post), but as I don’t think I’ve ever won anything in my entire life it’s probably not that big a loss.

For those of you who have a bit more luck, you can enter the Open the World sweepstakes twice a day through the online interface:

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Delta (Kinda) Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

Delta-Air-Lines-1

Per Bloomberg, Delta is convinced of its proven operational superiority — so much so that Delta is now offering to refund business customers if on-time performance ever lags behind United’s and American’s.

Now, let’s unpack this, because while it is the sort of gimmicky soundbite that will grab the attention of travelers and journalists, you’ve got to peel back the layers to get to the reality here.

Now, let’s unpack this, because while it is the sort of gimmicky soundbite that will grab the attention of travelers and journalists, you’ve got to peel back the layers to get to the reality here.

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Hilton & Uber Announce A Partnership… Sort Of

Hilton-Uber

In many ways, Starwood has been the industry leader when it comes to launching partnerships with other travel providers, for the purpose of benefitting frequent users of both companies. This sort of cross-loyalty marketing is brilliant, whereby you’re giving members an incentive to not just be loyal to your brand, but also your partners’ brands (hopefully that works both ways).

In early 2013 Crossover Rewards was launched, whereby SPG and Delta members began receiving reciprocal points and benefits. On the airline front that was later extended to Emirates with the introduction of Your World Rewards. Starwood also has a partnership with Caesars in Las Vegas (though really they were following Hyatt there, who first introduced a more impressive partnership with MGM). And most recently Starwood announced a partnership with Uber, which has been a huge hit with members.

I was a bit surprised this morning when I saw the headline indicating that Hilton and Uber are launching a new partnership. While I get that companies can have multiple partnerships, you’d think there would have been some sort of exclusivity agreement between Hilton and Uber.

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Broken WiFi And Broken People On American

American-tail-morning

Today was a travel day for me, as I’m on my way to an SPG event at the US Open (which I’m excited to share with y’all a bit later).

I tend to be a pretty easy passenger, and as long as I have water and space to work I’ll throw my headphones in and be happy for a flight of any length. Ideally, I like to have WiFi as well, and when booking domestically I’ll choose routes with GoGo on all segments over those with the highest upgrade potential.

That might seem counterintuitive to those who love the trappings of elite status, but ten times out of ten I would rather sit in economy with a stable internet connection than sit in domestic first without it.

You can likely guess where this is going.

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New App Helps You Join Mile High Club… On The Ground?!

Lounger

As I’ve explained before, in general I’m a big fan of location based social networking applications. In many ways they sum up the worst of technology/the era we live in (minimizing someone to the point that they’re nothing more than a swipe left or right), but at the same time some apps can also be great ways to meet people.

In July I wrote about the new MileHi App, which is intended to “socialise and network with your fellow flyers.” Basically the app allowed you to enter your flight details, and then match with other people on the same flights or who are traveling around the same time.

It’s a decent concept in theory, though my main issues were twofold:

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You’ll Never Believe This Hotel’s Drink Menu!

Sheraton-World-2

We’ve stayed at the Sheraton Stockholm for the past several days, which was an all around solid hotel. Despite the super crowded club lounge and lack of an upgrade, it was a great base from which to explore Stockholm. Service was great, and the location was impossible to beat.

The last night of our stay we had drinks at the hotel’s bar, as we were tired, wanted to be connected to wifi, and the drinks were reasonably priced.

They had a “Cocktails Of The World” menu, whereby each page was themed after a different continent. And each page had an image which I guess they thought represented the continent.

Here’s the one for North America:

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Alaska Airlines Fall Award Sale — Starting At 5K Miles One-Way

Alaska-737

Last week Tiffany wrote about how Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles through October 6, 2015.

That’s an exciting promotion, given that it’s a great way to buy miles for discounted premium cabin awards on Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qantas, etc. That’s especially true since there’s no cap on how many miles you can buy, so it’s a great way to build a mileage balance from “scratch.”

But that’s not the only promotion that Alaska Mileage Plan is offering at the moment. Alaska Mileage Plan is also offering a fall award sale, whereby awards start at just 5,000 miles one-way.

The promotion is valid for economy class travel on Alaska in select markets, so this isn’t valid on partner airlines. Admittedly those aren’t the most aspirational Alaska awards, though they sure can be practical.

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Arlanda Express: Speedy Transport For Dummies

Arlanda-Express

As a relatively long-time Angeleno, I am well aware of what it’s like not to have much in the way of reasonably accessible public transportation. I have lived in Chicago (for undergrad) and New York (briefly after undergrad), however, and thus am well aware of how convenient it is to be in cities with more practical modes of transportation. At the same time, like anyone, I’ve started to get used to just taking Uber and/or my own car when needing to get from point A to point B.

When Ben said we were going to take the Arlanda Express into Stockholm I was like: “Oh cool that’s great!” Then I was like, hmm, is this really a good idea? So I asked Ben if it was close to the hotel? Ben replied that it was “only a block.” Hmm, ok. Well that isn’t far. I can walk a block! Ahh, but maybe the train was slow. After all, ARN is about 25 miles from the heart of Stockholm. Ben had an answer for that too. It was “fast.” Whatever that means. I was defeated, though. Arlanda Express had won.

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Air France FlyingBlue Winter Promo Awards — Up To 50% Off

Air-France-Economy

One of the best uses of Air France/KLM FlyingBlue miles is booking their Promo Awards. FlyingBlue publishes these every month, and they offer 25-50% off select award tickets on Air France and KLM metal. Back in the day Promo Awards would consistently be for 50% off and would have a good number of options in business class, though unfortunately they’ve devalued the program somewhat since then, and the discounts now vary.

However, there are still some great values to be had. FlyingBlue just published their latest Promo Awards. These are valid for bookings made between September 1 and September 30, 2015, and for travel between November 1 and December 31, 2015. For the past several months the Promo Awards have been underwhelming, which I suppose isn’t surprising given that the busy summer travel season is just wrapping up. For context, here are some of the Promo Awards from earlier in the year:

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Oh MAN…

Manchester-2

Guten tag from Berlin. After an amazing stay in Stockholm we jumped on an airberlin flight to Berlin for a few days. But as far as my review goes, we’re still in Manchester! We stayed in the Hilton Manchester Deansgate, which is the tallest and most iconic building in the city. Ben will be reviewing it very shortly, so I won’t go into much detail on the hotel experience and instead will focus on Manchester itself and the MAN airport experience, which was a painful yet comedic experience, or something like that.

Manchester itself is a very cute city that has a somewhat “small town” feel. Given that Emirates has thrice daily service (two on an A380), and that Etihad and Qatar have two daily flights, I have to wonder where all the people go! One of the nicest aspects of Manchester was the weather! After Dubai, there was nothing I wanted more than to walk outside without feeling like I was three inches from the sun. You might think of the UK as being dreary, but the slight bit of rain and 65 degree weather was very very welcomed after the 110+ degree weather in Dubai. It’s also very easy to walk around the Deansgate area, which was also a pleasant change of pace after sprawling Dubai.

We had lounge access the second day at the Hilton, and the views were quite nice.

Manchester also has a number of scenic canals running through it. I tried to capture a few of them, but I’m not a very good photographer so you’ll have to forgive me and visit the city yourself to understand what I am really talking about.

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Should You Redeem Points For A Hotel Stay?

Le-Meridien-Amman

Reader duane asked the following in the “Ask Lucky” forum, regarding how to decide whether to pay for a hotel stay or redeem points:

“How do you decide when to pay and when to use SPG points? Case in point: Amman Jordan Le Meridien — 40,000 SPG points vs. US$1300 + earn even MORE points for premium cabin-long haul travel on Etihad/Cathay/Qatar?”

I know that to many this will probably seem like a “simple” question, but I think it’s a really fundamental topic which can be applied to many aspects of the hobby, which is why it’s worth covering here.

When trying to decide whether to pay for a hotel stay, here’s what you should factor in:

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