About Mike

Mike has a two year old, a four year old and an insatiable appetite for travel. Thankfully, miles and points help make family adventures much more affordable. When he’s not obsessing over his points balances, Mike is playing with his kids, enjoying the Arizona sunshine or watching hockey and football.

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Don’t Forget To Read The Comments

Internet-Troll

The comments section is an interesting place here at OMAAT because there is a little bit of everything.

Like anywhere else on the internet, there are people who seem to take pleasure in telling others how much they suck. If you ever feel a little full of yourself, just post something online. It’s a surefire way to give the trolls of the world a chance to try and knock you down a peg.

I think it was Gary at View from the Wing who said those comments are often more of a reflection of the person writing them than the person they’re directed at. I tend to agree.

Beyond the trolls, there is so much more to the comments sections in the miles and points community. There are smart, travel-savvy readers who are willing to share their knowledge. They add to the discussion and make the blogs better. And that’s definitely true here.

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Verizon Offering New International Cell Phone Service Option

iPad_Directions_DUB-Dingle

According to re/code, Verizon is offering a new option for international cell service:

“Verizon is announcing Wednesday a new option that lets cellphone customers traveling overseas access high-speed data for $10 per day.

Dubbed TravelPass, the program lets customers draw data, call minutes and texts from their home packages for $10 per 24-hour period in more than 65 countries. In Mexico and Canada, roaming is only $2 per day….”

As many of you know, T-Mobile and Sprint offer free roaming while abroad. But, they stick customers on extremely slow 2G networks.

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Is The Park Hyatt Maldives a Good Use of Points?

GiliLankanfushiMaldives

My wife and I have our tenth anniversary coming up next year so I’ve been working on a big trip to celebrate. The two of us decided the Maldives would be a great destination.

The Park Hyatt in the Maldives is clearly an aspirational property for many miles and points geeks. In fact, the three Boarding Area blogs I read most often (OMAAT, View from the Wing and Mommy Points) have all done at least one review of the property.

I obviously love using miles and points to make a trip more affordable. But the reviews I’ve read of the Park Hyatt have left me unconvinced this property is a wise use of points. As I see it, there are three major downsides to staying at the Park Hyatt.

As many of you might know, the Park Hyatt has bounced around Hyatt’s categories a few times lately. But, it’s currently a category 6 property requiring 25,000 points per night.

This gets you into the base Park Villa, which Ben did a thorough review of earlier this year.

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10 Things I’ve Learned Being Raised By A Miles and Points Geek

Dad_Miles_Points_Geek - 4

Ben’s boyfriend and Tiffany’s husband have done an excellent job explaining what it’s like being the significant other of a miles and points geek.

In fact, my wife read both posts and summed it up fairly well, “Yep, you’re all nuts. But, I sure do like flying in the front of the plane.”

I thought I’d offer a little twist on the discussion. So, here are some of the crazy travel related things my little ones have said as a result of being raised by a miles and points geek.

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Hotel Pet Peeves: Individual Air Conditioning Units

FourPoints_Rancho_AC_Noise

Last weekend I stayed at the Four Points in Rancho Cucamonga. Since this isn’t the most aspirational property and I was there for less than 6 hours, I didn’t plan any sort of review. Sorry that my pictures are very limited.

I think it was nearly 11pm by the time I made it to the hotel. I’d been up since 4:45am and was exhausted. I waited for the front desk agent to finish helping another guest check in. I couldn’t help but laugh when she asked him Ben’s favorite question.

After getting my keys, I took the remarkably slow elevator upstairs.

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Disabled United Passenger Forced To Crawl Off Plane

United-767

CNN featured a story today about a United passenger with cerebral palsy who was forced to crawl down the aisle to exit the plane because there was no aisle wheelchair available to get him to the jetway:

“A man returning from a meeting about disabled accessibility policies arrived home with a very personal example of the problem.

D’Arcee Neal, who has cerebral palsy, took a five-hour flight from San Francisco to Washington last week. A mix-up at the gate meant there was no wheelchair to help the 29-year-old off the plane, so he was told to wait for one to be found.”

This story hit home for me because my father in law is in a wheelchair and has been in this situation where the tools necessary to get him on and off the plane were not available.

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Getting Creative When Award Space Isn’t Available

Maui_Haleakala

If you haven’t had a chance to read Tiffany’s post about booking award flights to Hawaii, stop reading this and click the link.

It’s not only an excellent compilation of award options to Hawaii, it’s also an important lesson that is often overlooked when it comes to collecting miles and points.

Your points are only worth something if you’re able to redeem them. And being creative and flexible will help maximize the value you receive.

As Tiffany’s post shows, fixed dates, multiple tickets and traveling to a high demand destination all make life a lot harder when looking for award space.

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Are Timeshare Presentation Offers Worth The Hassle?

Hyatt_Kaanapali_Lanai

My wife recently received an offer from Hyatt Residence Club to stay at their property on Ka’anapali Beach in Maui.

The offer is for 5 nights in a two-bedroom suite for $149 per night. Plus in classic infomercial marketing style if we call now (or before October 28th), we’ll receive 10,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Bonus Points.

There is a catch, of course. And in this case we’re only able to book the offer if we commit to sitting through a 90-minute timeshare presentation. There are also a host of other eligibility requirements related to employment, income, etc.

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A Passenger’s Perspective On The Flight Where The Pilot Died

US-Airways-PHX

As I’m sure many of you have read by now, Sunday night’s AA550 flight from PHX-BOS was diverted to Syracuse after the pilot died in the cockpit during the flight.

I read the headline early Monday morning with some additional interest because I knew my best friend’s dad was on a redeye back home to Boston after visiting family here in Phoenix.

I didn’t think it would be his flight because he’s normally a pretty loyal Delta guy. But, my friend emailed a little later in the morning to tell me his dad was indeed onboard.

I had a chance to talk to him today about the flight and here’s what he told me.

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Details Matter: How I Nearly Made A 15,000 Mile Mistake

AA_barclays_15koffer

Late last year, I received an offer from Barclays for 15,000 bonus miles on my US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard (it’s since converted to the AAdvantage Aviator Red card) if I would spend $500 or more in November, December and January.

I set a reminder on my calendar each month to put a couple of recurring payments on the card and then moved it to the primary position in my money clip until I hit at least $500 for the month. With Christmas shopping, a trip planned over Thanksgiving and our normal expenses this didn’t seem like a heavy lift.

November and December went smoothly hitting the $500 promotional spend requirement. Then in early January, my girls needed some new clothes so I figured I’d use that as an excuse to be done with the promotion.

Since we were headed to the mall, I grabbed some jeans I needed to exchange for another size and figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. The shopping for the girls helped me finish the final spending required and I stopped thinking about the promo.

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Using Alaska’s Self-Tag Baggage System

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Ben shared the details of Alaska’s new baggage self-tag process back in April when it was first introduced.

I recently had a chance to try it out and can say I’m impressed by how seamless it was.

This YouTube video from Alaska accurately depicts how the whole thing is incorporated into the online check-in process.

If you aren’t traveling in the next 5 business days, you can order the self-tag sleeves in advance. We didn’t plan that far ahead, so we just picked the sleeves up from the Alaska agent at the bag drop.

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Awkward Travel Moments: Asking Friends Their Weight

float plane arriving

As I mentioned in my previous post about our stay at the Hyatt Olive 8, our family recently enjoyed a cruise to Alaska.

Before our trip, I was researching excursion options in Ketchikan and a floatplane trip to see bears stood out as a great idea. I really enjoy seeing and photographing wildlife and have never been on a floatplane. That’s a pretty solid twofer for me. So, we went ahead and booked the excursion.

A few months later, my friend’s wife decided she also wanted to do a flightseeing tour from the same company and since I was already in touch with them, she asked if I could get a quote.

I was happy to follow through with the tour operator until the booking agent came back with an important but incredibly awkward question for me: “how much does she weigh?”

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Never Take Another “Once In A Lifetime” Trip

View from the helicopter. Landing on a barge was unreal.

As part of an email exchange with Ben the other day, he mentioned “once in a lifetime” tourists while explaining his perspective on whether there is a market for £16 tours of the Concorde. I suspect he is correct, but don’t think I’d ever pay that much to walk through a plane.

I was amused by his choice of words because I have a pet peeve about people describing a trip I’m planning as “once in a lifetime.” I think it is such a depressing idea and it’s one of the reasons I spend so much time collecting, managing and maximizing my miles and points.

I know this has the potential to sound elitist and that’s definitely not my intention. Instead, I hope this is more of a lesson in how having healthy miles and points balances can allow you to enjoy your travel even more.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling travel is transformational. It’s why my wife and I go through the considerable effort of packing up our kids and taking them to new places.

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Little Touches Make The Hotel Experience

cookies and milk

Ben has done really thorough reviews of the Hyatt Olive 8 in the past since it is his go-to hotel in Seattle. So, I’ll try not to dwell on stuff he’s covered in the past if it was similar to my experience.

The real reason I wanted to write up this stay was the exceptional customer service provided by the hotel staff. Our stay was a prime example of how small gestures and thoughtful customer service can generate customer loyalty.

After booking a weeklong cruise to Alaska from Seattle with our kids, my wife and I decided it was best to stay in Seattle for a night on each end of the trip to make sure we didn’t run into any issues with our flights from Phoenix and back.

I had to be in Seattle for work about 2 months before the cruise and figured it was good excuse to check out the property. At check-in, I got my first taste of their great customer service when the assistant manager Teresa proactively asked about my upcoming stays and whether I needed anything for that trip since my family would be with me.

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