Weekly Review: February 6, 2016

Nobu-Malibu

Happy Saturday!

This was a fairly low-key week, with most of my time spent blogging and catching up on trip reports. I was able to meet up with my dad in Los Angeles for a few days, and it was fun showing him around the city.

This was really the calm before the storm for me, since the next few weeks will feature an insane amount of travel (even by my standards), including flights on Hainan Airlines, Oman Air, Iberia, LAN, and Air France. I’ll also be headed to Colombia for a week. Make sure you’re following along on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for live updates.

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Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Activities & Dining

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In the last installment I shared the details of the villa we had at the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman. In this installment I’ll talk about what we did during our time there, and my overall impressions of the resort.

The resort has a total of 82 villas, which are arranged in a few “rows” across the entire width of the resort. The restaurants and main pool are located in the center of the resort. Then a saltwater pool and other activities are located at one end of the resort, while the spa is located at the other end of the resort.

The main pool is gorgeous. We were at the resort in early October, when it was super hot, so there weren’t many people outside during the day, and for that matter the resort didn’t seem to be anywhere close to being at occupancy.

When looking at the pool from one side, the scenery almost felt like it was in Arizona.

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$1,100 New York To London Business Class Fares

La-Compagnie-Business-Class-16

It has been a while since I’ve written about La Compagnie, the all business class airline flying between New York and London/Paris.

Now that their operations seem to have stabilized quite a bit (unlike when they were flying chartered planes between New York and London, and offering a milk run to serve both of their routes with one plane), I do think it’s worth pointing out some of the great fares they have:

— New York to London for two roundtrip — $2,200
— New York to London for one roundtrip — $1,300
— New York to Paris for two roundtrip — $2,900
— New York to Paris for one roundtrip — $1,600

That New York to London fare in particular is a fantastic deal, at just ~$1,100 per person.

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Great Deal: LAN Business Class Awards From Los Angeles To Santiago

LAN-787-Business

Several days ago I wrote about LAN restarting 3x weekly nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Santiago. As of now the route has just been announced for the peak season, between October 16, 2016, and March 25, 2017, but I imagine it has the potential to be extended beyond that if it performs well.

The flight will be operated by a Boeing 787, featuring 30 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. They’re all fully flat.

This flight complements LAN’s existing service between Los Angeles and Santiago via Lima, which is still fairly direct but does prevent a good night of sleep, given that you have to make a stop before the last three hours of your journey.

While the flight was first available for booking a few days ago, I didn’t initially see any award availability. However, it looks like LAN has finally gotten around to loading award availability, and it’s excellent. LAN has seven business class award seats on many flights between Los Angeles and Santiago.

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I Learned Something New: Aircraft Swaps Qualify As Schedule Changes

American-Business-Class

Yesterday I wrote a post about an issue several readers are facing, where American is changing the equipment on the Los Angeles to Shanghai route as of June. The flight is being swapped from a 787 to an old configuration 777, meaning passengers are going from a flat bed business class product with direct aisle access, to an angled business class seat with seven seats per row.

Readers wanted to know if they could request to be rerouted via another city so they can keep the flat bed business class product they booked. My answer was basically that I thought the contract of carriage didn’t cover something like that, but in practice it’s something a good agent should be willing to help with if you explain the situation.

As is the norm with everything involving airline phone agents, experiences were greatly varied. For example, reader Duke reported the following positive resolution:

“This was my case (with SWU) and I was able to get my ticket changed from LAX->PVG to LAX->DFW->PVG at no cost which will take a longer flight time. Buy I get to keep 787 business seat.”

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2-For-1 Tickets To Hawaii On Virgin America

Virgin-America

Virgin America is presently offering a 2-for-1 sale for tickets to Hawaii. The available dates are somewhat limited, but I’m sure some people will find this to be valuable.

The promotion is valid for nonstop travel between San Francisco and Honolulu/Maui, for bookings made through Sunday, February 7, 2016, and for travel February 6 through March 6, 2016. To take advantage of the promotion, simply enter code MAHALO at booking. The promotion is valid for one-way or roundtrip travel in the main cabin only, and there are no blackout dates during the eligible period.

In looking at the calendar, it seems like one-way fares ordinarily start at ~$249 over the period:

When you get to the booking page, click “PROMO CODE” in the top right corner, where you can enter “MAHALO.”

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Alaska Introduces Elite Rollover Miles (Targeted)

Alaska-Rebrand

Usually I don’t write about targeted offers, since you’re not eligible if you didn’t receive this offer by email. I’m writing about a targeted offer in this instance because it represents an interesting development for a program as a whole.

Alaska Airlines sent out an email to select Mileage Plan members today offering them elite rollover miles. Here’s the webpage explaining the new feature:

“When you travel on Alaska Airlines flights in 2016, each elite-qualifying mile you earn on Alaska Airlines flights beyond the tier requirement for your highest elite status attained will roll over towards next year’s elite status requirement.”

And here are the terms of Alaska’s rollover miles promotion:

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A Jet Airways Crew Was Suspended Over WHAT?!

Jet-Airways-Singing

Well this is just plane plain ridiculous. Via The Times Of India, a Jet Airways crew has been suspended after a famous Bollywood star sang on a plane.

This happened on a January 4 flight from Jodhpur to Mumbai, when Sonu Nigam was asked to sing for passengers over the PA. Furthermore, this was a charter flight, and allegedly all passengers on board knew each other and wanted him to sing, so he obliged.

Here’s a video of him singing on the flight:

Unfortunately the relevant Indian authorities weren’t happy with this “misuse” of the in-flight announcement system, and demanded that the cabin crew on the flight be suspended:

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Say Hi To Pam, LAX’s Friendliest Employee!

Pam-at-LAX

One thing I love about the travel industry is how many passionate people work in it. It’s a very special industry with some of the best people I know. And as a frequent traveler there’s nothing better than running into the same familiar faces over and over.

That’s a principle which certainly extends beyond the travel industry. No matter what industry it is, there are people who approach their day-to-day life with happiness and trying to make others smile, and then there are those who approach their lives with frustration and unhappiness.

So today I wanted to write about one person I see at airports fairly frequently who always puts a huge smile on my face thanks to her awesome attitude.

As you may have noticed at security checkpoints, there are typically staff who admit you to the line, who don’t work for the TSA as such, but rather work for a contract company. Most of the time “friendly” isn’t the operative word I’d use to describe them.

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Does An Aircraft Swap Qualify As A Schedule Change?

American-787

While this question is generally applicable, let me frame it in the context of a specific situation many people are facing. In early January I wrote about American making a bunch of award & upgrade space available to Shanghai, which presented a great opportunity, given that some of American’s routes to Shanghai are operated by 787s with fully flat beds.

The fare was low enough to encourage me to book such a ticket, so for $715 I booked a ticket between Los Angeles and Shanghai, which I upgraded to business class. That’s a tough value to beat, especially since I’m flying in April, before American switches to a revenue based frequent flyer program.

Quite a few people took advantage of this deal & availability, though not everyone was as lucky. A few days ago, American announced that they’re changing the aircraft flying between Los Angeles and Shanghai as of June 2, 2016. The flight will be operated by a 777-200ER, featuring American’s old angled business class product.

So now people who booked a flat bed to Shanghai are stuck with angled seats instead, which is especially frustrating since American flies 787s to Shanghai from Dallas and Chicago.

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4 Reasons I Prefer The A350 To The 787

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-30

The two planes which are really revolutionizing air travel are the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. Don’t get me wrong, from a passenger comfort standpoint I don’t think they’re revolutionary, in the sense that I’d choose an A380 over either plane.

But what makes them revolutionary are the routes they’ve opened up which weren’t otherwise possible. Both of these planes are fairly low capacity (at least compared to planes like the A380 and 747), have low operating costs, and are long range. We’ve seen so many cool new routes introduced with these new planes, which is really exciting.

Look at ANA and JAL in the US alone. The two carriers fly 787s from Tokyo Narita to Boston, San Diego, and San Jose, routes which they couldn’t otherwise operate in an economically feasible fashion.

All that being said, I do have a preference between the two planes, and figured I’d share four reasons I prefer the A350 to the 787.

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Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Villa

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Early last year I visited Muscat, Oman, which I found to be my favorite major city in the Middle East.

Over the years I’ve heard nothing but great things about the natural beauty of Oman. Heck, the slogan for the country’s tourism board is “beauty has an address… Oman.” Admittedly you shouldn’t trust a tourism board, but I think this video supports the case for Oman’s natural beauty:

Point being, I had long heard about the Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman. What makes it unique is that it’s driving distance to Dubai, and it takes less than two hours to get from Dubai International Airport to the resort.

We were staying in early October, which is still slow season (which isn’t surprising, given that it was hot). The paid rates were ~$1,000 per night, and this hotel belongs to Virtuoso, so you can get extra perks by booking through them.

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