Weekly Review: January 21, 2017

Mexico

I’m spending a few days in Mexico, and perhaps shockingly, it’s my first time visiting here as an adult (other than connecting through Mexico City Airport). This has made me reflect on my travels in a surprising way, so I’ll have a separate post about that. In the past I’ve always traveled halfway around the world to relax, so this has been an interesting contrast to that.

On the travel and points front, we’ve seen quite a few updates this week, including more information on American’s basic economy fares, Starwood and Uber devaluing their partnership, as well as some great promos.

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

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Review: St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

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I had a quick one night layover in Kuala Lumpur. My flight from Amman was arriving at around 4:30PM, while I was departing the next day at around 12PM. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in Kuala Lumpur over the years, including the Mandarin Oriental, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and InterContinental.

In this case there wasn’t even a question about which hotel I wanted to stay at. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur opened recently, and since I’m a huge fan of the St. Regis brand, I wanted to check it out. Best of all, the St. Regis is near the KLIA Express station, which is the best way to get between the airport and the city (it only takes 30 minutes).

The hotel contacted me before my stay to send me the shuttle schedule between the station and the hotel. This confused me a bit, since it looked like the St. Regis was just a short walk from the station, and I always prefer walking rather than taking a shuttle. However, it quickly became apparent what the problem was. While the St. Regis is close to the station, the roads are quite tough to cross. So with carry-ons you probably could walk there if you’re willing to jaywalk across five lane streets, but I can certainly see the merit to taking the shuttle.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class 787 Amman To Kuala Lumpur

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Before I get into the actual report, I should note that I checked the seatmap just a couple of hours before the flight, and it showed just two seats taken in business class (including mine). However, economy was oversold, so there were 22 upgrades from economy to business class.

I boarded through door L2, located right behind the business class cabin. There was a very cool-looking display with the Royal Jordanian crown logo on it, though I don’t think they ever did anything with it during the flight.

While most airlines have proper bulkheads between the main entry door and the cabins, that’s not the case on Royal Jordanian’s 787. Instead the second set of doors opens up immediately to the back of the business class cabin.

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Get Your Kids Star Gold Status For $150 Each

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SAS is running a really awesome promotion this spring where kids can fly for almost free from the US to Europe.

You just need to book by January 23 and travel between February 7 and April 9. The best part is that you can take up to 8 kids with each paying adult. You’ll literally end up paying less than $50 for each round-trip child (under 11) ticket.

Scandinavia is a wonderful place and totally worth a trip or two, even in winter. My family just got back from Oslo, was in Helsinki last fall, and did Stockholm and Bergen a couple years ago. Yes, we really like it over there, and it’s an incredibly kid-friendly part of the world.

But let’s forget about the destination and focus on the miles for a bit. Is it possible to mileage run on this deal?

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Chase Ink Cash & Chase Ink Preferred — Which Is Better?

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Chase has recently switched up their business card portfolio, and right now they have two primary business credit cards — the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

The cards are both fantastic, though are quite different in terms of benefits, return on spend, etc. Therefore in this post I figured I’d do a side-by-side comparison of the two cards.

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Grrrr: I Must Be On Some Sort Of A Government Watchlist

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For the most part, my airport experience is easier than ever before. Between TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, the two most frustrating aspects of the airport experience — security and immigration — are a breeze.

Well, at least that’s the case most of the time. If you’re a frequent flyer you’ve no doubt at some point received an “SSSS” on your boarding pass. That stands for “secondary security screening selection.” As the name suggests, when you see that on your boarding pass, it means you’re subjected to additional security screening.

This has actually become a pretty intense process in the U.S. Your bags are screened as usual, then you have to go through the metal detector, then you have to go through the body scanner, then you get a full body pat down, and then they search every inch of your belongings.

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Why I’m Sort Of Obsessed With Azores Airlines

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I have the tendency to get a bit obsessed with random airlines. For example, last year I took an interest in Air Astana, and then a few weeks later I flew them.

Well, my newest airline obsession is a transatlantic airline, and they operate what I perceive to be the most random transatlantic route. They’re also one of the only airlines to operate Airbus A310 passenger planes on transatlantic(ish) routes.

I’m talking about Azores Airlines, formerly known as SATA. As the name suggests, they’re based in the Azores (an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic that belongs to Portugal), and operate flights to both North America and mainland Europe from there. Here’s their routemap:

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Kids Can Fly To Europe For Nearly Free This Spring!

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Scandinavia is one of my favorite regions of the world. We’ve now been to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, and they are all fantastically beautiful places. It can be a bit expensive, but not nearly as much as it was a few years ago, at least for Americans, thanks to the strength of the dollar. It’s also a very kid friendly place so I highly recommending taking the family.

And now, SAS Airlines has an amazing deal going that will allow you to do just that. Kids can fly to Europe for about $50 all-in. That’s ridiculous.

For trips booked on SAS between the US and Scandinavia between February 7 and April 9, 2017, you can bring along all of your kids (12 and under) for just the taxes and fees. You will literally be paying less than $50 for each round-trip kid ticket, and you can book up to eight kids with each adult.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Lounge Amman Airport

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I took a taxi from the Grand Hyatt to the airport at around 9:30PM, plenty early for my 1:30AM flight to Kuala Lumpur. About a mile before we got to the actual terminal, there was a security check. They searched some cars, while others they let through after looking into the cars. In my case they asked to see my passport, and when they saw it was German, they waved us through.

Before entering the terminal, I had a bit of an odd exchange with the taxi driver. We agreed the price should be 25JOD before the ride, and I gave him 30JOD (since that’s the leftover currency I had).

“No tip?”

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Earn Bonus Miles For Transatlantic Travel On American

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American AAdvantage has just announced a promotion for earning bonus miles on transatlantic travel. The promotion is similar to ones we’ve seen in the past. Through this promotion you can earn up to 40,000 bonus miles for transatlantic travel this winter, as follows:

— 5,000 bonus miles per roundtrip in economy (fare classes Y, H, K, M, L, W, V, G, Q, N, O or S)
— 10,000 bonus miles per roundtrip in business class (fare classes J, R, D or I)
— 20,000 bonus miles per roundtrip in first class (fare classes F or A)

Registration is required using promotion code NAS17. Furthermore, booking and travel is required between January 19 and March 31, 2017. In the past American counted previously purchased tickets towards the promotion, though they’re not doing so this time.

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My Favorite Website For Tracking A Plane’s History

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While I of course love miles and points and travel, I’m also obsessed with aviation. Oddly my fascination is limited to commercial aviation, and to some extent, private aviation. Talk to me about military planes and I’ll start falling asleep. However, I could spend hours on end learning every little detail of the history of an airliner.

People often ask me about my favorite airline/travel apps and websites, and the truth is that I don’t have that many. Even though I work primarily online, I’m bizarrely low tech. Probably my two favorite aviation geek related websites and apps are FlightStats and Flightradar24, which I’ve written about before.

However, I have another site that I have an unhealthy obsession with — airfleets.net.

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Today Only: Earn 15 Alaska Miles Per Dollar Spent At Select Retailers

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Online shopping portals can be a great way to pick up additional miles & points for purchases you’d make anyway. Just for following a specific link you can earn bonus points in addition to the ones you’d earn anyway for credit card spend.

Sometimes it gets even better than that, as shopping portals have promotions with even better bonuses than usual. Well, there’s one such promotion now.

Through 11:59PM ET today, Friday, January 20, 2017, you can earn 15 bonus Alaska miles per dollar spent at select retailers.

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Review: Grand Hyatt Amman

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I arrived in Amman at around 1:30PM, and my flight out of Amman was the following night/morning at 1:30AM, meaning I had about 36 hours on the ground.

Amman has a few options for Hyatt and Starwood loyalists. There’s the Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and Sheraton. While not yet open, there’s also supposed to be a W Amman opening on October 1, 2017, and a St. Regis Amman opening on December 1, 2017.

All the Hyatt and Starwood options were roughly comparably priced, so I ended up booking the Grand Hyatt, given that Tiffany was staying there, as my visit to Amman was overlapping with the tail end of her trip to Jordan.

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Wide Open Peak Season American Business Class Awards To Australia!

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Finding premium cabin award seats between the U.S. and Australia can be extremely difficult, in particular in the high season. While we sometimes see a decent amount of space in the off season, it’s very rare to see saver level premium cabin space in December, etc.

Well, at the moment American has a lot of business class award availability between Los Angeles and Sydney.

The space seems to be available starting in November through the end of the schedule, which as of now runs through December 13, 2017. Many dates have up to five business class award seats available. For example, here’s what availability looks like for two business class award seats for the last month of the schedule:

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