Lufthansa’s First Class Construction Duck!


Since I live in hotels full time I try to keep my material possessions to a minimum, since they weigh down my carry on, and that doesn’t help anyone.

There are two things I can’t help but collect (and then send to my parents’ home), though — Lufthansa first class ducks and Rimowa amenity kits.

The fun thing about Lufthansa’s first class ducks is that they often have “festive” ones — they had World Cup ducks, Oktoberfest ducks, Christmas ducks, etc. They have most of the ducks on display in a glass case at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.

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Starwood American Express US Open Cardmember Event


When we think of major travel credit cards, we’re usually pretty focused on the concrete benefits of the card — how many points you earn per dollar spent, how you can redeem those points, etc. And using those metrics the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is awesome. It’s the first “major” credit card I ever applied for, and I’ve held onto it since.

What makes the card so great is how flexible the points are. You can redeem them for any Starwood property worldwide with no blackout dates, with some great redemption opportunities. The card offers a fifth night free when redeeming points, and also offers Cash & Points, whereby you can redeem part cash and part points for a hotel stay, which is generally a very good deal.

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Why Does Seattle Have To Be So Captivating?


As long time readers may know, about two years ago I made the decision to move from Tampa to Seattle. I had lived in Tampa for far too long, and couldn’t stand it. The only nice thing about it was being close to my parents, who I care more about than anything. Still, I really…

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Las Vegas Taxi Excitement


I have a love/hate relationship with Las Vegas. It’s the worst place on earth… which is why I both love and hate it. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world more ridiculous, and less than 24 hours into my current trip I’m already reminded why.

I already wrote about my experience tipping at check-in, where I tipped the front desk associate $60 to get an upgrade to a room that would have cost me $40 more. Granted, it’s my own fault, but I wouldn’t even think to bribe my way into an upgrade anywhere else in world, which just shows how ridiculous this place is.

*Taxi driver scams*

The Vegas taxi mafia is among the most corrupt in the world. Uber isn’t allowed in the city, and even though they have a monorail, they elected not to build it to the airport so that the taxi drivers wouldn’t be impacted negatively.

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Check Out This Crazy JetBlue Emergency Landing Video!


As many of you may have heard, a JetBlue plane bound for Austin made an emergency landing in Long Beach yesterday after one of the engines overheated and there was some smoke in the cabin. Four people were injured, though that was due to the evacuation and not the incident itself.

When you hear about emergency landings that end well it’s easy to think “oh, I’m sure it was no big deal.” But one of the cool things about social media (or really ridiculous things, at times), is that there’s a video of almost everything.

Check out this video a passenger took as the JetBlue plane was on approach:

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How Many Miles Does It Take?


Last week I answered a reader question about collecting miles for a trip between the US and Southeast Asia. As part of that I included a chart giving a general “range” of the miles required by different mileage programs, and there were several requests for charts for other regions as well.

So I thought I’d go through how many miles you need for first class or business class, the flexible points transfer partners, and will try to highlight some of the best redemptions as well.

Probably the most common request for award help I receive is from people wanting to travel to Europe or Asia who have miles spread across multiple programs. Fortunately, many of the airline programs offer one-way awards, so if you can get by without a stopover, booking your trip as two one-ways can open up availability in different alliances, and make awards more approachable given you don’t have to accrue quite as much of a particular currency.

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Review: KLM Crown Lounge Amsterdam


I got to Schipol Airport at around 10AM for my 12:40PM departure to Chicago.

The check-in hall wasn’t especially grand compared to some other major airports, though it was perfectly functional.

I quickly found the Sky Priority check-in area, which was guarded by two agents. After confirming that I was in business class they let me through.

The check-in area was surprisingly crowded, so since no agent was available I decided to use one of the bright blue kiosks in the center of the check-in area, given that I didn’t have any bags to check.

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Redeem Miles For Flight Simulator


As an aviation geek there’s nothing cooler than a full motion airline flight simulator. Given that they cost millions of dollars, it’s kind of tough to get into them unless you have an “in” at an airline or training center.

There are a few airlines that actually let you redeem miles for flight simulator rides, though it’s usually prohibitively expensive. For example, you can redeem EVA Air InfinityMileage Land miles for a 1.5 hour flight simulator ride. The cost is 100,000 miles, and you have to be a Gold or Diamond member in order to qualify. You have to complete a form before the 15th of the month prior to the one where you want to schedule your session, and you can only do it Tuesdays or Thursdays between 2PM and 3:30PM.

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Review: Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam


After three nights at Hotel Des Indes in Den Haag, I took the train to Amsterdam for five nights at Hotel Putlizer.

As I explained in the introduction post, rates were crazy expensive, as you’d expect in Amsterdam in summer. As much as I struggle with redeeming Starpoints (since I value them so highly so tend to be a hoarder), this was an absolute no brainer.

The paid rate was 334EUR per night, so five nights would have cost me 1,670EUR. Instead I could redeem 12,000 Starpoints per night with the fifth night free, so it was like paying 9,600 Starpoints per night. At well over four cents per Starpoint, that was a redemption value I was quite happy with, especially since these are primarily points I accrued through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

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How I Screwed Up The Las Vegas $20 Trick


I’m sure almost everyone has heard of the “$20 trick.” It’s most common in Las Vegas, but I’m sure happens elsewhere as well. There’s even a website dedicated to it, which describes it as follows:

“The twenty dollar bill trick is sweeping the travel industry and becoming extremely popular, especially in Las Vegas. When you check into a hotel you simply slip the front desk clerk a $20 bill with your credit card, while asking “Do you have any complimentary upgrades available?” The general rule of thumb is that the front desk clerk will check for upgrades and if they cannot find anything they will return the $20 tip, making it risk free!”

Now before I explain how I’m a freaking idiot, let me start by saying two things:

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7,500 Bonus Aeroplan Miles With Club Carlson

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Yesterday I posted about a great promotion being run by Club Carlson, whereby they’re offering 7,500 bonus AAdvantage miles after two Radisson stays between now and December 15, 2014. The best part is that it seems to be stackable with the other promotions out there, including triple Club Carlson points on weekdays, as well as 3,000 bonus Club Carlson points for making reservations through the mobile app.

One other thing I should note is that there seem to be two versions of the promotion. There’s the promotion offering 7,500 bonus AAdvantage miles after two stays, but there’s also a version offering 7,500 bonus Aeroplan miles after two Radisson stays. The terms are virtually identical in that the promotion is valid for stays through December 15, 2014. The only difference is that registration is actually open through December 14, 2014, while it’s only available through October 15, 2014, on the American version of the promotion.

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TSA Screening Passenger AFTER Flight?!


While we all have our thoughts on the TSA, here’s something I haven’t seen before. There’s a video going around the internet of a 22 year old that flew from Minneapolis to Denver on Spirit Airlines, and upon landing was met by the TSA… because they wanted to do more screening on him. Check out the video:

Apparently he used to be on the “no fly” list, but was then downgraded to a list where he would just receive additional screening (with “SSSS” on his boarding pass). However, apparently the TSA failed to complete that screening in Minneapolis, and only realized that halfway through his flight.

So when he landed in Denver, the TSA boarded the plane to have him deplane before everyone else, and then they requested to do additional screening on him… even though he already flew and was done with his travels for the day!

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