Advice

Thought Process On Ordering Airplane Food?

Singapore-First-Class-8

Reader Oops asked an interesting question on a post I wrote yesterday comparing Cathay Pacific’s first & business class products:

“Do you have a sort of procedure or mental thought process for ordering airplane food? I know this depends on the airline and route, but you always mention how you don’t usually end up liking your American first class food, for example. Do you think that what you order is the best option given your knowledge of the airline? Or do you just hope for the best? Thanks.”

As someone who eats about half of their food on planes, I do indeed have a “process” for ordering meals. And it’s actually quite straightforward.

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How To Use American Airlines Systemwide Upgrades

American-Business-Class

One of my favorite perks of being an American Executive Platinum member is that I receive eight systemwide upgrades each year just for earning the status. I’d argue American has the single most lucrative upgrade policy of any airline for their top tier elites.

I know there are lots of new AAdvantage Executive Platinum members thanks to the US Airways Dividend Miles program being merged into AAdvantage, which has led to lots of questions.

I figured I’d answer some of the most common questions I receive about American systemwide upgrades.

Systemwide upgrades are deposited within a few days of when you qualify/requalify for Executive Platinum status. All eight of them will automatically show up in your AAdvantage account.

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Difference Between Cathay Pacific First & Business Class?

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-777-54

I’m a big fan of Cathay Pacific’s first class product, even though I recently had a less-than-stellar experience on them.

Flying Cathay Pacific first class is one of my favorite uses of American Advantage miles and Alaska Mileage Plan miles, though it looks like that opportunity might eventually be going away.

Nowadays it’s tough to snag Cathay Pacific first class awards in advance, though closer to departure the seats are generally pretty readily available with enough flexibility.

Meanwhile Cathay Pacific business class awards are quite readily available, even in advance. Cathay Pacific often releases five business class award seats per flight.

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Visit Denali National Park Like A Local During Road Lottery

Rule #1:  When you see Mt. McKinley, shoot it!  This is a very shy mountain.

A visit to Denali National Park is a bucket list trip for many. About the size of the state of Vermont, Denali is vast – the tundra just stretches for miles and miles. It is home to Mt. McKinley, a stunningly beautiful mountain that is also the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. The wildlife viewing is also incredible and is often referred to as the Great North American Safari since you are likely to see the Denali Big 5 of grizzly bears, moose, caribou, wolves, and Dall sheep.

During most of the season, visiting Denali entails riding on the park shuttle buses that ply the park’s single 92 mile long road as no private vehicles are allowed after the first 15 miles. It has been this way for decades and is done to minimize the environmental impact on this fragile region as well as ease congestion on what amounts to a narrow, windy, minimally improved road. Honestly, it makes sense. But still, we’re talking about seeing the greatest mountain our country has to offer while riding in coach (literally!) with 50 or so of your closest friends.

On a school bus. With no food service. And no bathrooms. (OK, it does make many stops along the route.) For as much as 184 miles. That sounds almost like flying Spirit!

Don’t get my wrong, I’m sure it’s still spectacular. But it turns out that there is an alternative that mostly only the locals (as in everyone who lives in Alaska) know about.

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Will Airlines Reimburse Hotel Stays Due To Canceled Flights?

American-777

Reader Daniel123 asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

“I missed one of two nights at the Peninsula Beijing due to American Airline’s maintenance delay. I did not incur an additional night elsewhere, just spend the additional time on planes and in airports.

If I miss a hotel night I paid for and it was American’s “Fault,” does anyone cover it for me? I realize I didn’t have additional costs, but I would have clearly picked a different hotel if I knew I would pay 2 nights for a 1 night stay.

Taking this to the logical extreme, say I’m staying at an inspirational property for $2k per night and an airline causes me to miss one or two nights – who pays then? Does the credit card every come into play here? Thanks!”

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Register For Chicago Seminars 2015: October 16-18

Chicago-Seminars-2015

One of the longest standing annual miles & points “events” is the Chicago Seminars, which has been held at the Holiday Inn in Elk Grove, Illinois (near Chicago O’Hare Airport) for the past four years.

The Chicago Seminars will be returning this year, October 16-18, 2015. Registration opened earlier today, and spots are going quickly, so be sure to register soon if you’d like to attend.

Registration costs $100 per person, and includes access to all sessions (based on space availability), lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and coffee breaks. Breakfast is not included with registration, but rather is included with a reservation at the host hotel at the group rate, which is $94 per night.

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How Do You Calculate The Value Of Cash Back Rewards?

American-Express-Pay-With-Points

I know that seems like a pretty straightforward question. For example, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is arguably the best cash back travel rewards card, as it accrues two miles per dollar spent, plus a 10% refund when you redeem miles. Each mile is worth a cent. So you’re getting a return of ~2.22% on spend… or are you?

This is a discussion I started having with reader Mike by email last week, after American Express announced that as of July 1, 2015, they’re adding a 30% rebate to their “Pay With Points” option on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN. Each point ordinarily gets you 1.0 cent per point towards the cost of airfare, so with a 30% rebate that’s the equivalent of ~1.43 cents per point towards the cost of airfare.

That’s not a horrible value, though ultimately I’d still rather convert miles to one of American Express’ airline transfer partners than redeem them for ~1.43 cents each.

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Las Vegas Makes Me Feel Stupid

Las-Vegas-101

And not for the obvious reasons.

Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Las Vegas. Actually, I mostly just hate it, but there’s a little part of me that likes it.

What do I like about Las Vegas? It has great food, cocktail lounges, entertainment, and people watching (the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly). Give Las Vegas to me in moderation — we’re talking like once or twice a year, tops — and I’m a happy camper.

But there’s one aspect of going to Las Vegas which drives me nuts. And that’s the fact that it makes me feel really stupid. I’m going this weekend, and as I prepare for my trip I’m reminded of just how stupid the city makes me feel. Let me explain.

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Is It Appropriate To Walk Around A Plane In Pajamas?

Qantas-A380-First-Class-15

Reader Andrew recently asked me the following question via email:

“Lucky, I will be flying first class for the first time next week (on Emirates). I’ve never worn pajamas on a plane before, so am wondering if it is appropriate to walk around the plane in them, given what a long flight it is?”

This is a fun one!

One of the things I love about premium cabin flying is that it sort of brings us back to our childhood. Like, flying domestic first class on American you get a warm chocolate chip cookie. Where else do a bunch of adults get served warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert?

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How To Decide Whether To Redeem Miles For A Ticket?

Blue-Lagoon-Iceland

Reader Alexis asked the following question on the “Need award help” page of the blog:

“Hi there- i have approximately 180,000 Chase Sapphire points saved up. I’m currently planning two trips for my boyfriend & myself:

1. Boston > Reyjkavik in July/August 2015 (approximate cost: $650 or 60,000 points/per ticket)
2. Boston > Bangkok in February/March 2016 (approximate cost: $1,000 or 75,000 points/per ticket)”

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Can You Convert Citi Executive Card Into Citi Prestige Card?

Citi-Executive

One of the hottest credit cards at the moment is the Citi Prestige Card, which is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months.

While the card has a $450 annual fee, it’s still a great value, given that it offers:

— A $250 annual airline credit
— Access to American Admirals Clubs
— A fourth night free hotel benefit
— The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
— A $100 Global Entry fee credit
— A great points earnings structure
— No foreign transaction fees

The timing of this offer couldn’t be better, given that I was looking for a replacement for my Citi Executive AAdvantage Card. Early last year the card offered a 100,000 mile sign-up bonus, which many people jumped on. The card comes with Admirals Club access, so is super-valuable for those of us who are loyal American flyers.

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Apartments Vs. Hotels in Madrid (And Elsewhere)

The Principal Madrid hotel

While Ben, and many of his readers, are preparing for (in some cases, multiple) trips to Beijing from Washington in American Airlines business class thanks to that now-famous mistake fare, I suspect I’m not the only one among you who purchased tickets from LAX (or other West Coast gateways) to Madrid as a result of the great SkyTeam Fare War Sale of 2014.

I’d never been to Madrid before, so I was excited to spend a few days in a city known for its food, culture and history. I was traveling with a friend of mine, and when we initially looked into our hotel options, we noticed that some of the best options out there lacked rooms with two beds, and those hotels that did have twin beds (and I mean twin beds — rooms with two queen beds in Europe are rarer than, say, taste and understatement are in Dubai) were disproportionately expensive.

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