Trip Reports

Category Archives for Trip Reports.

Review: Santa Monica Proper Hotel (Design Hotels Marriott Redemption)

Dec 08 2019

My wife, daughter and I spent the night at the Santa Monica Proper hotel in late November. It was stylish, staff were friendly, and the location was fantastic for our needs.

For us it was an airport layover hotel without staying by the airport, a place that gave us a sense of place and allowed us to take advantage of a walkable neighborhood with our daughter.

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Trip Report: Introduction to Thanksgiving in Bora Bora on Miles and Points

Dec 07 2019

My wife and I were thinking of going back to the Maldives for Thanksgiving. We’ve cancelled stays at the St. Regis there several times. I’ve still only stayed (5 times) at the Park Hyatt. We even had a redemption stay booked at the St. Regis at the old 60,000 point level, and Etihad First Apartment awards – although at the time there was a problem booking infant tickets in conjunction with AAdvantage redemptions on Etihad that’s since been fixed.

The idea, though, of traveling all the way to the Maldives with our daughter was daunting. At three months we took her to Paris. At five months we took her to Sydney. She’s a great traveler but she’d be over a year old come Thanksgiving and wanted something a bit easier to manage. That’s when business class awards on Air Tahiti Nui popped up and I booked those to give us another option. We were meeting friends for Thanksgiving and had to coordinate those plans as well.

Here’s a brief synopsis of what to expect, with reports coming describing each leg of the journey from booking and cost to the actual experience.

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Review: Flying Air Tanzania’s Airbus A220 From Lusaka to Dar es Salaam

Sep 14 2019

Five years ago reader Doug Hess shared his experience flying African low cost carrier: Fly540. Since this was something I haven’t done, but I enjoyed hearing about it, I asked if he wouldn’t mind briefly writing up the experience so that I could pass it along.

Now Doug is back with his experience flying an Air Tanzania Airbus A220 from Lusaka, Zambia to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Oh yes, and he did redeem points for the flight.

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Review: Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class, Bangkok – Doha

Jul 07 2016

I was super excited for this flight because it’s an aircraft and a first class I hadn’t ever flown before. This would be the second of three Gulf carrier Airbus A380s I’d get to sample on this trip, which was exciting in itself for me. It wasn’t just one airline, it was all three of the Gulf carriers and sampling literally the best of what each had to offer over the course of about a week.

This would be the shortest of the flights, costing 45,000 miles and $22.35 in taxes apiece. Bangkok – Doha is less than seven hours. Qatar Airways only offers first class on their A380, and has only regularly scheduled the plane on medium-haul routes like London and Paris in the past. (There’s an A380 scheduled to Sydney starting in mid-September, but Melbourne and Auckland remain on Boeing 777s and US routes are either on 777s or Airbus A350s.)

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Review: The Other Thai Airways First Class Lounge in Bangkok

Jul 04 2016

The Thai Airways first class lounge that most people are familiar with is on the airport’s D concourse and it’s right across the corridor from the airline’s spa.

Qatar Airways arranges lounge access through Thai, but their flight departs from the E concourse. As a result they arrange first class lounge access in the E concourse first class lounge — which is basically a big deserted room inside the Royal Orchid (business class) lounge.

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Review: Emirates A380 First Class, Dubai – Bangkok and Premium Arrival Service Bangkok

Jun 26 2016

The flight was sort of a ‘freebie’ since I was already booking Houston – Dubai anyway under Alaska Airlines’ pre-devaluation pricing it was only 10,000 miles more to go to Bangkok. And I was getting that in first class. On an A380.

I decided to test booking planeside meet-and-greet through Bangkok Flight Services with a golf cart from the plane to immigration. Here’s what they offer:

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Review: Emirates First Class A380, Houston – Dubai

Jun 19 2016

I’ve been remiss in writing the details of my trip to the Mideast and Asia redeeming miles for first class on the Airbus A380s of all 3 of the big Gulf carriers: Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar.

It’s was a great quick trip to eat in Bangkok and see the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, and I’m determined to return to sharing it with you.

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A Quick Jaunt to Southern India: Etihad First Class Lounge, and Etihad First Class Abu Dhabi – Washington Dulles

Jan 15 2014

Previous Installments: Introduction and Trip Planning Etihad Lounge, Washington Dulles Etihad First Class, Washington Dulles – Abu Dhabi Etihad Business Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi Terminal 1, and Abu Dhabi – Chennai Business Class Park Hyatt Chennai Eating South Indian Food in Chennai Chennai – Abu Dhabi, Etihad Business Class Transit security entering terminal 3, just like the regular security queue after passport control for Abu Dhabi-originating passengers, drops you off right in front of Etihad’s business and first class lounges (which share a common entrance). The lounges are upstairs, so you can either take an elevator up or a stairway where you’re greeted by Etihad agents ready to check your credentials, guide you to the appropriate lounge, and encourage you to make a spa booking. I visited this Etihad First Class lounge earlier in the…

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A Quick Jaunt to Southern India: Etihad First Class, Washington Dulles – Abu Dhabi

Dec 31 2013

Previous Installments: Introduction and Trip Planning Etihad Lounge, Washington Dulles I flew Etihad first class earlier this year both New York JFK – Abu Dhabi and also Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf. In some ways this Etihad first class flight was better than either of those, though my return flight to DC would be better still. Etihad’s premium cabin award availability, certainly booking far in advance, is amazing. At times they’ve seemed to go through cycles where their entire first class cabin or at least the majority of it on both the New York and Washington DC routes has been open for awards. Most of the time there are 2 first class award seats. And from the US they partner only with American, which means the bulk of demand for the seats comes from American’s frequent…

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A Quick Jaunt to Southern India: Etihad First Class and a Park Hyatt Chennai Suite (Introduction)

Dec 28 2013

I recently spent four nights in Chennai, India flying Eithad first class (business for the regional flight) and staying in a suite at the Park Hyatt there. On the surface it may seem strange to fly to India for just four nights on leisure, as well as to choose to travel to Chennai as a tourist. But it made sense to me for several reasons. I have way too many miles. With large balances in both US Airways Dividend Miles and American AAdvantage, my points stash will become even more concentrated. Despite three international first class award trips in 2013, I end the year with more points than I began. So my willingness – and even eagerness – to spend points is high. Though I’ve been to India, I’ve never visited Southern India. Chennai is…

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