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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Will The Dubai First Class Mistake Fare Be Honored Already?!


A couple of days ago I posted about the amazing first class fare which British Airways filed between Dubai and Austin.

British Airways essentially left off a zero on the cost of their full fare first class ticket price. Rather than charging $8,577+ one-way, they were charging $857+ one-way. The best part were the flexible routing rules, which allowed for quite a bit of backtracking.

As I explained in a follow up post, I even booked one of these fares, routing through Doha, London, Los Angeles, and New York.

The one question I’ve been asked about 462 times over the past 48 hours is whether or not this fare will be honored, given that a lot of people wanted to book hotels and positioning flights. My response has been “we’ll see, I’d give it 48 hours.”

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Traveling Through France? Check Your Flight Status!


It looks like it’s going to be a pretty rough week for travel to/from/within Europe, as the French air traffic controllers are on strike through tomorrow, Thursday, April 9, 2015. As a result, airlines have been asked to halve their flight schedules through tomorrow, to make things go as smoothly as possible.

The dispute involves plans to raise the retirement age for air traffic controllers from 57 to 59 (oh, the horror!), and for what it’s worth further strikes are planned for April 16 through April 18 and April 29 through May 2.

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Why You Should Take A Short Term Approach To The Points Hobby


Reader/professional dissenter/Hilton fanboy DCS left the following comment on a post yesterday, which I found interesting:

“The mentality in the travel blogosphere that emphasizes short-term gains over longer-term returns needs to be discouraged, in my view.”

One of the things I love about this hobby is how virtually everyone takes a different approach towards it. I know people that earn and burn their points, and I know people that view their points as a retirement account of sorts, and just hoard them for decades on end.

I don’t want to concretely say that one approach is better than the other, but I definitely fall more in the former category than the latter.

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Can Your Travel Companions Visit You In First Class?


In the past week I’ve had no fewer than a dozen readers ask me a question which ultimately boils down to:

“I’m flying in first class, and my friend/family is flying in business/economy class. Is it okay if they come visit me?”

Generally speaking, the rule is that you can visit guests in a “lower” cabin, but you can’t go up to a “higher” cabin to visit someone. The exact details of the policies vary by airline, but I don’t know of any airline that allows guests to visit someone in a higher cabin.

Why can’t you visit passengers in a higher cabin?

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What Are The Origins Of Airport Codes?


I’ve received several messages today from readers pointing out an awesome website —

Have you ever wondered the origin of airport codes? Well this website lists virtually all major airports, and where their airport codes originated.

Some are of course pretty straightforward. Like AKL is simply named after the city, AucKLand.

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Weird Pop-Ups On The Site? It’s Not (Necessarily) Just You


In the past few weeks, you might have noticed people commenting about getting served sketchy pop-ups when they access the site, or click on links in the newsletter. You might even be one of those people.

It’s inexcusable. And we’re really sorry. Especially Ben.

The blog is basically his baby, so having people hijack his site and ruining the experience for y’all is just maddening.

So we’d like to interrupt your regularly-scheduled miles and points party to talk about why this is happening, what is being done about it, and what you can do on your end in the meantime.

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How To Tell Airplanes Apart


In the trip report I wrote earlier about my flight from Frankfurt to Philadelphia, reader Francisco C asked the following:

“Lucky, I ‘m always impressed how you can distinguish all these airplane varieties (A330 vs 777 for example) when you’re in some cases hundreds of meters away. Any suggestions on how an interested novice like myself could train his/her eyes to tell planes apart. thanks!”

There are lots of different types of people in this hobby, from people who are just interested in travel, to hardcore aviation geeks. I know plenty of people who fly hundreds of thousands of miles per year and can barely tell the difference between a 747 and an A380. And that’s fine.

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Best Credit Card Category Bonuses


If you live in the US nowadays, the single best way to earn points is through credit cards. There are two components to maximizing the points you earn through credit card spend:

— You want to maximize the points you earn for acquiring a new card
— You want to maximize the points you earn for your everyday spend

While I often have rundowns of the best credit card sign-up bonuses, I figured I’d compile a list with the best bonuses you can earn on your credit card for everyday spend, based on the category in which you spend the most money.

Like all things in life, you have to crunch the numbers to see what makes sense for you. In other words, based on how much money you spend in each general “category” you have to decide how many cards it makes sense to acquire for the category bonuses they offer.

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Best Way To Redeem Miles To Greece?


I answer dozens of questions a week on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog, and sometimes I think it makes sense to expand on the questions by answering them here. While the questions might be specific, I think the thought process used in figuring out which award is best can be applicable to a lot of situations.

Reader David left the following comment a few days ago:

My fiancee and I live in Los Angeles. For our honeymoon, we were thinking of going to Greece. We’d like to fly first or business class (we’ve never done it before!) We figure since we’re saving for this special occasion, we want to go with a really great product.

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Does The Discover it Miles Card Make Sense For You?


A couple of weeks ago I first wrote about the Discover it Miles Card, which is a brand new no annual fee product from Discover.

The card offers unlimited 1.5x Miles for every net dollar you spend on purchases, with a few options for redemption.

— You can redeem for cash as an electronic deposit to your bank account or for a credit for travel purchases on your statement made within in last 180 days.
— Travel purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and commuter transportation.

What makes this card especially interesting is that you earn double miles for the first year. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, Discover will double all the miles you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the next billing cycle

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Is It Worth Going Out Of Your Way To Earn Hotel Status?


Reader Bob asked the following question on the blog yesterday:

“Excluding simply personal preferences, in your opinion, which hotel brand offers the best rewards based on status? For example, is SPG Platinum truly worth the effort if it wouldn’t be achieved due to actual travel/stays?

We are partial to SPG and have lifetime Gold Status. We’re wondering whether it might be beneficial to chase another hotel brand’s status for 2015.”

I think the thought process of deciding which status to go for is an interesting one. And I think before you even think about that, it’s worth thinking about whether it even makes sense to go for hotel status at all.

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