Is This The Best Hotel Room TV Setup Ever?

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I don’t usually get too excited about hotel room TVs. In fact, it’s pretty rare for my family to ever turn them on. Maybe if we’re in a foreign country, we’ll watch a cartoon so the kids can have a cultural experience, but that’s about it.

I suppose some will say that the hotel room TV is going to go the way of the desk because millennials just don’t use them. Call me old school, but I still prefer to watch TV on a big screen. And I also like to listen to it. Like really listen with real speakers, not uncomfortable earbuds or tinny laptop speakers.

The problem is that flat screen TVs are notorious for having awful sound. There just isn’t space to fit a proper speaker. So you end up with undersized cones that are typically pointed to the side, or worse, out the back. I remember being at a Hyatt Place where my wife — who was trying to sleep in the bedroom area — could hear the TV better than I could even though I was sitting right in front of it.

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Creative Ways To Get More Than One “Free” IHG Night Per Year

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The single best perk of the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is that it offers an annual free night certificate valid at any IHG property. The card has a $49 annual fee (which is waived the first year), so even when you remove all the other benefits from the card, I think a vast majority of people would come out way ahead on the annual fee with the free night certificate alone.

One comment I’ve gotten from some readers is “well, that’s great, but it’s only useful if you’re staying in one night increments.” Fair enough. Personally that works great for me, as I have plenty of one night stays. For others, you can of course pay for an extra night (either in cash or points), or switch hotels. But I realize that’s not for everyone.

So in this post I wanted to look at two other ways to stretch the stays you can get out of the annual free night certificate on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card:

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New 40% Bonus On Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

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Through April 6, 2017, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles.

Sometimes Alaska offers several mystery targeted offers, where different accounts are targeted for different bonuses. This promo seems to be the same for everyone, and the more miles you purchase the higher your bonus percentage.

• Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
• Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 30% bonus
• Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus

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Introduction: Road-Trip Through Jordan

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Yay! It’s Jordan-trip-report time! I’m so far behind on trip reports (they take me forever), but I’m really excited to finally share this one with y’all. Jordan was a fantastic destination for us, and I know a lot of people have expressed interest in visiting as well, so this should be a fun series.

In addition to being full of great activities, this was also the first actual “vacation” trip where neither my husband or I had to work in over four years.

I still made lots of notes and took pictures so I could write this report, of course, but not having to carve out time to be online or in meetings was wonderful, and made the trip extra special.

So off we go!

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My First Time Flying In Business Class “Honeymoon Seats”

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We all have different seat preferences. Thank goodness we do, because it means more of us can select the seats we like. When it comes to staggered business class configurations, my preference is almost always to sit in a window seat, and specifically, in the window seat closest to the window. Those seats have quite a bit of privacy, so you really feel like you have your own little cocoon, not to mention you can easily look out the windows and enjoy the view.

For staggered configurations there are generally two types of setups in the center sections. In some configurations, seats in the center section are spaced equally far apart from one another in all rows.

Then other airlines have configurations with what I call “honeymoon” seats. The seats alternate between being right by the aisles, and then in the next row being very close together. In those situations, the center seats are often popular with couples traveling together, since you’re sitting right next to them, can easily talk, etc. That’s why I call them “honeymoon seats,” because they’re great if you want to be seated close to someone.

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Hainan’s Two New LAX Routes Are Now Bookable

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These routes have been rumored for quite a while, and now they’re finally confirmed. Hainan Airlines will be launching twice weekly flights from Los Angeles to both Chengdu and Chongqing starting in just a few weeks.

As of March 15, 2017, Hainan will be starting twice weekly flights between Chengdu and Los Angeles with the following schedule:

HU469 Chengdu to Los Angeles departing 9:15PM arriving 8:00PM
HU470 Los Angeles to Chengdu departing 12:45AM arriving 6:40AM (+1 day)

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Interesting: Qatar Airways Is Leasing A350s From LATAM

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Qatar Airways was the first ever airline to fly the A350. I was lucky enough to attend their A350 delivery ceremony in Toulouse a couple of years ago. Qatar Airways has had some delays with taking delivery of further A350s, and for that matter, has experienced delays with taking delivery of new planes in general.

This has caused them to push off some routes, and look for creative ways to get the planes they need. So far Qatar Airways has 13 A350-900s in their fleet, with a further 30 on order.

Well, it seems like they’re not getting those planes in the timeframe they were hoping for, and have a creative way of acquiring more A350s quickly. Qatar Airways will be leasing four A350s from LATAM, which have significantly different configurations.

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7 Reasons To Get An SPG Amex Business Card

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Through April 5, 2017, there’s an increased sign-up bonus on both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Both cards are offering a sign-up bonus of up to 35,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend, with the $95 annual fee waived for the first year.

I know a lot of people have just the personal version and not the business version of this card, so in this post I wanted to look at some reasons to also consider the SPG Business Amex.

In no particular order:

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Trump’s New Travel Ban Could Be Implemented Tuesday

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a draft of a new Executive Order on travel has been circulating through the State Department and other agencies, and notes that a “replacement order is expected to be issued as soon as Tuesday.”

For those that haven’t been following closely, the Trump Administration chose not to appeal a 9th Circuit Court decision to block enforcement of his original travel ban. Instead, the White House is starting from scratch with a new order entirely.

As opposed to the chaos of the original order, which was poorly implemented without any advance notice, stranding passengers in transit, and generally creating a mess, the revised version appears to be going through the proper channels and procedures.

This means that the order will likely be tighter legally, and somewhat less susceptible to legal challenges.

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Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago

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We arrived on our United “Polaris” flight from London and had a four hour layover in Chicago before our connecting flight. This gave us plenty of time to check out the brand new Polaris Lounge which we were rather excited about. Unfortunately, it was a few days before they began serving restaurant-style order-off-the-menu meals so those won’t be part of this review. A day late and a dollar short. Or something like that.

We cleared security and headed over to Terminal C through the psychedelic tunnel.

As you come up the escalator, the United customer service counter is straight ahead. And the Polaris Lounge is just to the left of it.

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My New Favorite Trip Planning Tool

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When it comes to trip planning, there are a variety of planning and organization apps out there. In my experience, most of them have some kind of major deal-breaker, so choosing a tool ends up being a very personal decision.

While I’ve tried an assortment of planning tools over the years, none really fit my needs. Most seem to be either too automated, or require too much manual sorting, so I’d sorta given up. I recently came across a new-to-me tool called Travefy which I really like.

I’ve used Travefy for two big trips now — my New Years trip to Jordan (trip report coming next I think), and a big European trip with my mom for her birthday (trip report coming maybe). It’s not perfect, but I’ve found it to be pretty useful, and think some of y’all might enjoy using it as well.

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The One Hotel In North America I REALLY Want To Visit…

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While not all of the world’s best hotels belong to the major hotel chains, there are some incredible hotel experiences you can have on points. For example, as far as city hotels go, it’s tough to beat the Park Hyatt in Sydney or St. Regis in New York.

Then there are some boutique hotels that unfortunately don’t belong to any of the major chains, or any group at all. There’s one hotel in North America that has long interested me, that unfortunately isn’t part of any loyalty program. It’s also quite pricey.

But I use this blog to talk about my travel dreams/goals, so I feel compelled to at least write about it here. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned that I far prefer nature vacations to city vacations. I’m usually connected to the internet constantly, and there’s something so relaxing to me about being able to enjoy nature.

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Man Sues Uber For Getting Caught Cheating On His Wife

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A Frenchman is suing Uber for up to $48 million because he believes a glitch in Uber’s app caused his wife to catch him cheating, and eventually lead to his divorce. Per BBC:

“The man says he once requested an Uber driver from his wife’s phone.

Despite logging off, the application continued to send notifications to her iPhone afterwards, revealing his travel history and arousing her suspicions.”

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Weekly Review: February 18, 2017

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This has been an absolutely insane travel week for me, as I’ve been in Bali, London, and Abu Dhabi so far this week, with more to come. I’ll have lots more details on that soon, though in the meantime it’s time to catch up on sleep. 😉

On the miles & points front it has been an exciting week. We’ve seen the return of the SPG Amex 35K sign-up bonus, LifeMiles introduce a bonus on purchased miles, Cathay Pacific introduce a credit card in the U.S., and much more.

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

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