Review: US Grant Hotel San Diego

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Ford and I recently spent the weekend in San Diego visiting Tiffany and her husband. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in San Diego, including the Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Sheraton, and W (which is now a Renaissance). San Diego isn’t a terribly exciting hotel market. What I’ve noticed over the years is that there’s very little variability in rates across hotels.

While other cities will have 4-5 star hotels ranging in price from $150-1,000, the San Diego market just doesn’t seem to be able to command a premium for luxury hotels. So there’s not much variability in terms of cost or quality among those hotels.

One hotel I’ve stayed at probably five or so times over the years is the US Grant, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection property. I reviewed it eons ago, but haven’t reviewed it for my past several stays. However, the hotel recently underwent a renovation, and I was really impressed by the work they did, so figured an updated review would be helpful.

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Why You Should Make Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Bookings Before July 23, 2017


The fourth night free offered with the Citi Prestige Card is my single favorite benefit offered by any credit card. This benefit has saved me thousands of dollars. For example, in my first year of card membership, the benefit saved me over $2,000, and it has saved me even more since then.

What makes this benefit so great is that you it’s valid on a vast majority of publicly available rates, including pre-paid rates, AAA rates, promotional rates, etc. Also, the reimbursement by Citi happens on the back end, which means that you earn elite qualifying nights, hotel points, etc., based on the rate of all four nights, rather than only based on three nights.

As was first announced last year, the Citi Prestige Card is making two changes to this benefit later this year:

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6 Reasons To Get The Sapphire Preferred Over The Sapphire Reserve

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For years the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been one of the most popular rewards credit cards out there. The card is incredibly well rounded, as it offers double points on dining and travel, great travel protection, and the ability to transfer points to a bunch of valuable transfer partners.

However, there’s no denying that over the past several months the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card has been stealing the spotlight, given that it was just introduced last August. The card is fantastically rewarding, as it offers triple points on dining and travel, a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass membership, etc. The card has apparently outperformed Chase’s expectations by a long shot.

While most people lately seem to be signing up for the Sapphire Reserve, in this post I wanted to look at six reasons you might want to consider the Sapphire Preferred instead (again, I’m not suggesting one is better than the other, just encouraging some thought on the topic, given the recent popularity of the Sapphire Reserve):

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LifeMiles Adjusts Award Rates To Australia & New Zealand


Avianca’s LifeMiles program is one of my favorites for premium cabin Star Alliance redemptions, given that they frequently sell miles at a discount. LifeMiles had an award chart devaluation back in 2014, though hasn’t made many major changes to their Star Alliance partner chart since.

Frankly I think they’re at the sweet spot right now, and don’t see them making another big devaluation anytime soon. Following the last devaluation a few years ago we saw that they increased the percent bonus they offered on purchased miles, which suggests to me that demand dropped greatly following the devaluation, causing them to increase the bonuses offered.

However, some occasional minor adjustments in certain regions aren’t surprising, presumably based on data they have of peoples’ redemption patterns.

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Copa ConnectMiles Is Making Changes To Upgrades And Mileage Earning In 2018


In 2015, Panama-based Copa Airlines launched ConnectMiles, their own frequent flyer program. Prior to that, Copa used United MileagePlus as their frequent flyer program, a relationship that dates back to the Continental days. That’s because Continental used to own a stake in Copa, which is why Copa’s livery looks very similar to how Continental’s used to look.

ConnectMiles is perhaps most popular in our circles because they had a generous status match program when they first launched, which was a great way to get United Club access on domestic itineraries.

However, there are some other cool features to the program, especially since MileagePlus has started awarding miles based on dollars spent rather than miles flown, introduced a revenue requirement to earn status, etc. In many ways, the ConnectMiles program looks more like the MileagePlus program of three years ago than the current program.

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Video: Lady Goes On EPIC Rant, Gets Kicked Off Plane


Just under two weeks ago we saw Dr. Dao dragged off a United flight. He didn’t do anything wrong, other than refuse to get off a plane because they had more passengers than seats. He was calm throughout the situation, unlike how he was initially portrayed by the airline.

Well, on the end of the spectrum, some insane video footage has just emerged of a lady getting kicked off a Delta Connection flight in San Antonio. In this case she wasn’t physically dragged off, and sure enough seemed like she may have been misbehaving.

But my gosh, as inappropriate as this lady is, she’s hilarious. I don’t need to watch Real Housewives of Atlanta/Beverly Hills/New York this week, because this lady provides all the drama and humor I need.

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American Is Adding Flights To Cartagena, Colombia


Early last year I visited Colombia for the first time, and had an incredible time. I only visited Cartagena and Bogota — I loved Cartagena, while I wouldn’t return to Bogota. However, I’ve heard that there are lots of other beautiful parts of the country as well.

As an American Airlines loyalist (well, at least historically), the issue is that American only flies to Bogota, so we flew to Bogota, and then connected to Cartagena on Avianca. It was an easy enough process, though it was also sort of annoying to connect, given that Cartagena isn’t that from the US.

In fairness, Cartagena is already served by other US airlines — Delta flies from Atlanta, JetBlue flies from New York and Fort Lauderdale, and Spirit flies from Fort Lauderdale. I’m surprised American doesn’t fly there, given that they’re traditionally the strongest US carrier in Latin America.

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Big Changes Are Being Made To How Credit Scores Are Calculated


There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores are calculated. This causes a lot of people to believe that applying for or canceling credit cards is horrible for their credit score, when in reality that’s typically not the case.

I’ve written about this in the past, so in this post I’ll simply mention that you should have a good credit score as long as you keep some cards open for a long time (to build a good credit history), make your payments on time, and also don’t utilize too much of your credit (since it looks risky if you’re using too much of your credit). Compared to the above factors, the impact of new applications is minimal, and in many ways, applying for new cards can help your score (since it can increase your total available credit, and improve your payment history and credit history).

The Associated Press is reporting that huge changes are going to be made to how credit scores are calculated, and they could impact all of us.

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The World’s Most Frequent Flyer Is About To Pass 18 Million Miles With United


There are frequent flyers, there are very frequent flyers, and then there are OMG VERY VERY VERY FREQUENT FLYERS.

In 2011 I wrote about Tom Stuker, who at the time was earning 10 million miler status with United. That’s insane, given that United calculates million miler status based on your “butt in seat” revenue miles flown on United. That’s right, we’re not talking about 10 million award miles, or even 10 million miles taking into account elite bonuses for flying first or business class.

United held a huge celebration for Tom at the time, and even named a plane after him. Good for him, given how much he has flown.

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Hainan Is Introducing A New 787 Business Class Product


When it comes to aviation in China, all airlines are most definitely not created equal. I’ve flown longhaul business or first class on Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan, and Xiamen, and had very different experiences across all the airlines.

For example, while China Eastern has a top notch hard product (they have reverse herringbone seats), the soft product was abysmal.

Meanwhile I found that Hainan and Xiamen had by far the best soft product, with great food, professional service, and top notch amenities, while their hard product wasn’t great.

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Two Very Different Ways Of Recognizing Elite Status In Economy


Upgrades across the board are tougher than they used to be, which is probably because airlines are doing a better job of selling their first class cabins at discounted rates, and are also reducing the size of first class cabins on many planes. So airlines have been putting some effort into making the economy experience a bit better for elite members, in recognition of decreased upgrades.

For example, American offers Executive Platinum members in economy a free snack and drink. It’s a gesture that goes beyond the dollar savings — it’s nice to be recognized for your business and feel appreciated (especially since the loyalty program as such isn’t doing much nowadays to encourage people to feel that way). I’m spending more time in economy lately, and that’s perfectly fine.

At the moment I’m on an American A319 with a power outlet and an empty middle seat (which is exceedingly rare nowadays), so I’m every bit as happy as I’d be in first class.

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My Experience Applying For The British Airways Visa Card

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At the moment there’s an increased sign-up bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. The card is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000-100,000 Avios, depending on how much you want to spend. The breakdown of the bonus is as follows:

— 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
— 25,000 additional bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening
— 25,000 additional bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening

In other words, you can spend just $3,000 within three months and get 50,000 bonus Avios, or if you’re willing to spend an additional $7,000 or $17,000, you can get an additional 25,000 or 50,000 Avios, respectively. Even if you only plan on getting to the 50,000 Avios spend threshold, I think the bonus is still very much worthwhile. You don’t really see bigger bonuses on this card without bigger spend thresholds.

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15 Perfectly Reasonable Requests I Plan To Make For My Etihad Residence Flight


A couple of days ago I booked a ticket in the Etihad Residence from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, which I’m really excited about. Yesterday I wrote a post sharing the initial communication Etihad had with me after the booking was confirmed. I’ve heard of people making special requests when flying in The Residence, so I asked you guys for ideas about what to request.

A vast majority of readers don’t read the comments section, though the comments on the post are gold — I laughed out loud at many of them. So in this post I wanted to share a selection 15 requests I plan on making for my flight in The Residence, based on the comments from you guys. In no particular order, it seem perfectly reasonable to request:

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WOW: Emirates Is Drastically Cutting Service To The US Due To Decreased Demand


I guess this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but the Associated Press is reporting that Emirates is greatly cutting back their frequencies to the US starting next month due to decreased travel demand as of next month. The Associated Press is reporting that:

— Dubai to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, will be reduced from twice daily to once daily
— Dubai to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be reduced from daily to 5x weekly

As of now it doesn’t look like the actual route cuts have been updated in the schedule, but I imagine it will happen shortly.

This represents a net decrease of roughly 25 weekly flights between the UAE and US. However, do keep in mind that Emirates was already planning on decreasing frequencies on some routes prior to this announcement. For example, for the summer season they were already only going to operate once daily flights between Dubai and Los Angeles.

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