Family

Get Your Kids Star Gold Status For $150 Each

Star-Alliance-Lounge-LAX-28

SAS is running a really awesome promotion this spring where kids can fly for almost free from the US to Europe.

You just need to book by January 23 and travel between February 7 and April 9. The best part is that you can take up to 8 kids with each paying adult. You’ll literally end up paying less than $50 for each round-trip child (under 11) ticket.

Scandinavia is a wonderful place and totally worth a trip or two, even in winter. My family just got back from Oslo, was in Helsinki last fall, and did Stockholm and Bergen a couple years ago. Yes, we really like it over there, and it’s an incredibly kid-friendly part of the world.

But let’s forget about the destination and focus on the miles for a bit. Is it possible to mileage run on this deal?

Continue Reading »

Kids Can Fly To Europe For Nearly Free This Spring!

SAS seatback

Scandinavia is one of my favorite regions of the world. We’ve now been to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, and they are all fantastically beautiful places. It can be a bit expensive, but not nearly as much as it was a few years ago, at least for Americans, thanks to the strength of the dollar. It’s also a very kid friendly place so I highly recommending taking the family.

And now, SAS Airlines has an amazing deal going that will allow you to do just that. Kids can fly to Europe for about $50 all-in. That’s ridiculous.

For trips booked on SAS between the US and Scandinavia between February 7 and April 9, 2017, you can bring along all of your kids (12 and under) for just the taxes and fees. You will literally be paying less than $50 for each round-trip kid ticket, and you can book up to eight kids with each adult.

Continue Reading »

Why The Hottest Credit Card Bonus Might Not Be Right For You

japan-shinkansen-train-2

There’s a crazy amount of buzz right now about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, and has been for months. The 100,000 point bonus is changing soon, so people seem even more enthused about it than before.

And there’s no doubt — it’s a great offer, and a very good card. The card benefits outweigh the high annual fee, and if you’re able to use the points towards premium cabin awards you can really get a tremendous value.

In some cases, however, it really might not be the best option for you. This is on my mind due to an exchange with reader @LelaRenee3 on Twitter, who is planning a trip for her son and his classmates to Japan next year.

Continue Reading »

Can Kids Fly In First Class?

Singapore-Suites-Double-Bed

When it comes to traveling with kids, there are three things that matter — space, space, and more space. That’s true on the plane, in the hotel, and in the rental car. I don’t much care about the service or the food (assuming there is some!), I just want more space. That lets the kids sprawl out, lie down, and be kids.

Reader Rhebon recently asked a question in the Ask Lucky forum about traveling with kids.

“I have a very simple question and I think you never talked about that subject?!? What airline is best for travelling with kids on a longhaul flight? Is it OK to fly first class with younger kids (2&5)?”

Continue Reading »

Get 1,000+ Bonus Miles With Winter Shopping Promos

new-years-portal-bonus-005

One of my favorite ways to earn miles is by leveraging shopping portals. If I have to buy things anyway, why wouldn’t I want to earn bonus miles?

Right now a few of the major airline shopping portals are offering additional bonus miles as a “New Years” promotion. The opportunities to earn bonus points goes through early January, but there are more limited-time increases for certain merchants as well.

Given that there is approximately 0% chance of my going anywhere near any major retailer during the post-holiday madness, it’s nice to be able to take advantage of sales while earning miles from home (or an airplane, in my case).

Continue Reading »

Earn Thousands Of Bonus Miles With August Shopping Promos

Shopping-Portal-Promos-003

One of my favorite ways to earn miles is by leveraging shopping portals. If I have to buy things anyway, why wouldn’t I want to earn bonus miles?

Right now a few of the major airline shopping portals are offering additional bonus miles as a “Back to School” promotion. You don’t have to be buying school items to take advantage of these bonuses, though the bonus periods do end in the coming days (or today, in one case).

**What are the bonuses?**

Typically, you can always earn at least one extra point per dollar by using a shopping portal for select merchants. Sometimes a certain merchant will offer extra points (2x, 3x, 15x, etc.), but occasionally the portal itself will offer a promo, like is happening now.

Alaska, American, Southwest, and United are all offering tiered bonuses, making it possible to earn thousands of miles, as follows:

Continue Reading »

Review: Baby Boss City Taipei, Taiwan

IMG_3533

I’ve already covered most of the things we did with the kids in Taipei. But I thought our visit to Baby Boss City deserved its own review as it is a fairly unique attraction, at least for those of us in the US, and I would have liked to have had more information to help plan our visit.

Baby Boss City is a simulated city where children aged 3-12 get to role play various jobs and get paid (in funny money), sort of like the real world. The idea is that it gives kids the opportunity to explore a variety of different occupations, and learn a few things along the way.

Apparently these type of “edutainment” attractions are becoming a thing. By my understanding, Baby Boss City is basically a copycat of Kidzania, which debuted in Mexico in 1999 and has since spread to 16 locations around the world. But there still aren’t any Kidzanias in the US, nor anything similar, at least that I’m aware of (the Kidzania wikipedia page says that one is opening in Pensacola, Florida, later this year).

Baby Boss City is not just an indoor playground, children’s museum, or amusement park. In fact, it’s nothing of the sort. The activities — or role-playing jobs — are highly structured affairs that occur at scheduled times throughout the day. Each job is led by one or more staff members and lasts for 20-35 minutes.

Continue Reading »

6 Things To Do In Taipei With Kids

TaipeiWithKids00001

We really enjoyed our week in Taipei. Our trip coincided with Chinese New Year, and there were pluses and minuses to being there for the holiday. On one hand, traffic was very light around the Grand Hyatt, and some places had festive decorations. On the other hand, some attractions were very crowded, though I’m obviously not calibrated enough to know if it was any more crowded than usual.

The weather during our trip was fantastic. It was sunny and in the low 70s the entire time, which apparently isn’t necessarily the case for Taiwan in February. That really helped us enjoy being outside, which is probably one of the best ways to beat jet-lag.

I thought I’d share some of our favorite family activities for the week. For reference, my daughter and son were 3.5 and 5, respectively, at the time of the trip. Our youngest son was 5 months old.

Our family likes to hike and climb mountains, so a quick climb up Elephant Mountain was near the top of our list. The trail is very close to the Grand Hyatt, and would make an awesome early morning workout before a day of meetings.

Continue Reading »

Review: United Transpacific Flights In Economy

UnitedTPAC00015

We flew United economy to and from Taiwan. We actually fly United a lot, so I don’t really think about it much. It’s not glamorous by any means, but I maintain that long-haul economy can be quite tolerable under the right circumstances, like if you have a whole row of seats to yourself!

Instead of writing a traditional review of the flight, this is more of an amalgamation of both our transpacific flights, as well as a bit of my experience flying long-haul on United in general. Let’s just say that it’s hard for me to make notes of every nuance of the service — or lack thereof — while wrangling three little ones. And it’s United. In economy.

Our outbound San Francisco > Taipei flight was on a 777 while our return Tokyo > Denver flight was on a 787.

United has played with their boarding rules many times over the last few years in an effort to speed up the process. I guess it still takes awhile as United begins boarding very early.

Continue Reading »

Introduction: Chinese New Year In Taiwan

TaipeiWithKids00020

As I’ve explained briefly before, my family doesn’t pick our travel destinations as much as follow the cheap fares. Sure, we have ideas of places we’d like to go someday, but for the most part we just go where the low fares take us. If it’s to a new country, that’s even better, as I’d love to hit them all at some point.

I realize this somewhat random approach to trip planning isn’t for everyone, but it works perfectly for my wife and I — and our growing family.

The problem of late has been that there are just a ton of decent international fares. Whereas the oligopoly and strong economy in the US seems to keep fares high, the rest of the world is actually paying attention to the price at the pump and is pricing tickets accordingly.

When they’re forced to, US airlines will compete, which means it’s often possible to fly to the other side of the world for just a bit more than it costs to go coast-to-coast here (and often significantly less than it would cost to visit my in-laws).

Continue Reading »

OfficeMax And Office Depot Testing AWESOME Rewards Program

giftcards

Did you know that office supply stores have loyalty programs? I certainly never paid much attention to them. Even though I spend thousands of dollars each year between Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot, I’ve never bothered to setup a loyalty account. Blasphemy?

At Staples they call it Staples Rewards which is probably as creative of a name as you can expect from a store named after a lowly fastener. OfficeMax used to call it MaxPerks but then they married Office Depot and the combined entity became OfficeMax or Office Depot Rewards. Again, creative.

The point is that none of these programs were terribly exciting. I’m not an expert, but it seems that OfficeMax and Depot really only paid rewards on paper, toner, and ink purchases. Staples says they reward everything, but then they quickly disclaim that by excluding gift cards and postage.

Well, if you’re going to exclude gift cards, what’s the point? Apparently OfficeMax and Office Depot agreed….

Continue Reading »

Canceling Flights Due To Zika Virus

Sheraton-Maldives-44

If you’ve been following the news at all, you’ve probably seen stories about the spread of the Zika virus in Central and South America. While the disease itself seems to be relatively mild, the ramifications for pregnant women are potentially more complicated, which has led to the Centers for Disease Control issuing a Level 2 travel alert to the region.

This type of travel alert suggests “enhanced precautions” and doesn’t necessarily dissuade people from traveling generally. For context, there are also Level 2 alerts for MERS in the Arabian Peninsula, and Polio in the Ukraine.

Regardless, I know many people will want to avoid traveling to the most severely impacted areas, so I thought it would be helpful to go over the rules and policies for changing or canceling your flights.

As of this morning, United Airlines has issued a travel notification for all regions affected by the Zika outbreak, and is recommending travelers contact customer service.

Continue Reading »

Using Miles For A Family Over Peak Dates

ANA-Star-Wars-Planespotting

Being creative and flexible is pretty much the mantra when it comes to using frequent flyer miles. Especially when traveling over peak dates, and definitely when traveling as a group.

I know many people bemoan the difficulties of redeeming miles around the holidays, so I wanted to walk through the process I used to book award tickets for an entire family over New Years, which hopefully inspires some of y’all.

I knew we’d be using AAdvantage miles (because I had so freaking many), but to make this work, I knew we needed to decide what our priorities were. After some discussion, we came up with the following:

• Leaving anytime between the 19th and 23rd
• Returning anytime between the 31st and 3rd (depending on the outbound)
• Splitting into three groups, so we could take separate flights as needed

Continue Reading »

Introduction: Off The Beaten Track In Thailand

Thailand-using-miles-01

This trip report will be a bit different than the usual fodder for OMAAT, in part because this was a very different trip. It involved trail mix, bug spray, and a 10-passenger van, so just a little outside of the usual here. 😉

Last Christmas my cousin Heather confided that she did NOT want to spend another holiday season shoveling snow, and that we would be going somewhere warm. Ideally “somewhere exotic”, or at least with interesting food and hopefully a new culture.

We eventually settled on Thailand, and the various school and work schedules meant we were looking at a departure around December 20th, and a return before January 3rd.

Oh, and one more thing — there were seven of us all together.

Seven people. Using miles. To Asia. In Premium cabins. Over the literal worst dates for award travel on the calendar.

No pressure.

Continue Reading »