Have Bag Will Travel

So this travel gig has its pluses and minuses for sure. On the plus side I’ve gotten to see some amazing places over the last 12 years and have had an opportunity to enjoy most of the air travel too. On the minus side of things is the time away from home. Missing my family and not being able to be there on many days and nights.

So when it comes to travel you get use to some little things that’s make a huge difference in your travel experience. For example having Precheck to zip through security, w/out taking off shoes, belts or unloading your liquids and computers. Or getting an email with your rental car stall and just walking up to it, hopping in and driving off. Things like this save hours cumulatively if you travel 100 plus thousand miles a year.

This means for me that checking a bag is so foreign to me on a work trip. Sure I get free checked bags on most airlines but that’s the last thing I want to do ever. Time its waits for no one. I mean if you even figure conservatively it takes 20 minutes for bags and we all know it takes longer if I take 4 trips a month that’s 160 minutes, multiply that by 12 months and you’ve got 32 hours a year just waiting for bags

Why this rant about checked baggage? Last week I worked in DC. I fly from SFO to the East Coast via JFK. I arrived at JFK on time and had about 2 hours to sit and wait in the lounge. With one hour to go, I get the dreaded text. Your flight is cancelled. Hey but I’m at an American Airlines hub so I should have no problem with getting to DCA right? Well wrong. There was only one other flight to DCA that night and it was way oversold. I had also missed all remaining flights to BWI or Washington Dulles too. They would gladly put me on a flight the next day. Not a fat chance, I had to work at 8 am. At this point the AA Angel, found me a flight in 2 hours out of LaGuardia. This is where not checking a bag came in handy, there was no way that they could have retrieved my bag gotten it to me and transported it and myself to LGA with enough time to make the flight.

Sure this is slightly extreme, but I can count on all my fingers and toes and then some the times I’ve had to be rebooked, either by choice or necessity, and having my bag just makes it easier for the airline and for me. Having to rely on the airline to get your bag prior to moving me to a different flight etc… In fact there are many times, they won’t even consider moving you if you have a checked bag, too complicated for them and no guarantee they can get/find your bag.

In my case, having my bag let me travel and get to DC later then expected but not a whole day!

Categories: American Airlines, Rant, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Sheraton Red Deer

Over the past month I’ve stayed here twice. For a full service hotel not in Calgary or Edmonton, this is a pretty good spot.

They offer a 13 story tower wing and a two story section called the west wing. Apparently it was the original part of the hotel and over the years the original owners added on to it. According to the staff Sheraton purchased it from the family 4-5 years ago, and during that time they are bringing it up to Starwood and Sheraton standards.

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180 view of living room, bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom Continue reading

Categories: Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Rant On

Just another week in paradise I suppose. After my amazing stay at the Sheraton Red Deer, well not really. It must have been a precursor to the week ahead.

Now to be fair the hotel is perfectly fine. I’ve stayed here two times and the rooms are fine at least in the tower section that is. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting three rooms. Well not sure if call that a pleasure when you’ve only stayed there twice.

To recap the hotel had a planned power outage that was to last only four hours from 2-6 pm. I got there just a shade after 2 and they explained the deal sure no problem, except they didn’t inform anyone who had a reservation.  Oops. Anyhow I hoofed it nine floors dumped my stuff and left the hotel to find something to do. They texted me at 5 letting me know lights would be back on at 6. Cool deal.

Fast forward I’m still sitting in the lobby and at 7:15 pm finally, the power goes on but not the elevators. Again I do the stair master mind you there are no lights in the stairwell so they have glow sticks and have a staff member walk me up. Anyhow, at 8 the power goes out again. Holy crap. Seriously. So they move me to a different wing that has power. If I had only known I would have moved there initially. Anyhow read my rant here if you’re interested.

But as I said earlier this crappy day was the tone setter for the week. My trip to the client’s office is an hour about 60 miles on two lane snow covered roads. At the 30 mile mark a sign states the bridge was out. WTF. This is the only way I know how to get to their office in rural Alberta. GPS was no help, so I found my way to a gas station 20 miles away, and got some okay directions. 11/2 hours later I made it to the office. A total of 2 1/2 hours, damn I was pissed. GPS was no help and I had no data due to being international so I limped along. Mental note when in Canada, have maps and alternate directions.

The kicker, I had the same commute back that night and also snow to contend with about 6-8 inches that fell all through the day. Oh the joy. Ultimately, this was my commute for two days, it sucked. I don’t mind the one hour commute, it’s a beautiful drive in the valley, but 2 1/2 each way, that’s ridiculous.

Uugh what a week.

Categories: Hotels, Rant, Starwood Hotels, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

We Don’t Have The Power Captain

So I’m out of town again what a surprise. I get to my hotel around 2 pm and find it unusual that the parking lot is super empty. Then the staff are opening the front door for me. This too is unusual when they have automatic doors and no bellman.

Finally I realize there’s no power. Thankfully it’s not due to weather like they’re having on the east coast. This is a planned power outage. Apparently they are adding a pool and other amenities and today they needed to shut down power for some part of the install.

I wouldn’t care too much about this except that I had no idea it was happening. I made a comment about that at check in and said an email for a warning would have been nice, and they said they informed some guests, I guess I’m not one of those guests.

After hoofing it 9 floors to drop off luggage and to take care of business I had no choice but to leave. There was nothing open in the hotel and I was hungry after a 12 hour travel day.   At least they carried my bags for me. Otherwise I’d still be climbing the stairs, I’m just not that fit.

I was told the outage should only be 4 hours longer. Under normal circumstances, this would not be a big deal, but after leaving the house at 3:30 am and arriving at 2:30 pm I was ready to relax. I had no choice but to go for a Starbucks and a very early dinner.

So here I am four hours later and the power is still not on. They said power was planned to be back on at 6 pm I was even texted that and hour prior by the hotel. I had asked them to let me know so I knew when to come back.  But alas at 6 pm I’m sitting in the lobby waiting. It’s dark outside and they have emergency lights on in the lobby. The staff is excellent.  They have offered me a drink and dinner at the restaurant and even a different room in a part of the hotel that has power. I’d be glad to take it but I’d have to go up to my room and repack my stuff. They’ve even offered to get it for me, but since I need to go up and make sure all my stuff got packed, I’d rather wait. I know if I hike up 9 flights, pack my stuff and hike back down the power will come back on.

First world problems I guess.

Categories: Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: | Leave a comment

It’s A Miracle Of Epic Proportions- Good On You United

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The welcome package has arrived

It’s a miracle of epic proportions. Did hell freeze over? Or did United Airlines actually do something right for a change?

For the first time in many years United actually sent out their new frequent flier credentials before the old ones expire. In UA’s case, as of a couple years ago, your previous year’s status carries over to January 31st of the following year.

There have been many years where I’ve gone w/out new credentials for many months. Frankly getting credentials is really not that big of a deal, especially when for me I only flew them three times after March or last year. But the crux really comes down to their partner airlines and access to their lounges. There are airlines that will not let you access their lounges w/out the hard plastic card. Over the years I’ve had to sweat it out on occasion and beg to get access because my ticket had my 1k or Star gold Status.

What’s the big deal here? Well, when on an international trip regardless of class of service, if you’re flying any Star Alliance carrier and have Gold Status or better you can visit them for free. Some lounges are great and others are not worth writing home about, but hey when you get access and can take a shower or get a drink in a quiet place on a delay why wouldn’t you want too?

Really for me at this point the surprise was that I got the card with weeks to spare. I can count on less than one foot the amount of times in the past 12 years the card has come on time. Let’s just say it’s only happened 3 times.

Good on you United.

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My new Gold card, with 1 Million Mile Status (nice touch)

and a luggage tag

Categories: Airlines, Humor, Travel, United Airlines | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Eating My Way Through Kansas City…MMMM

What a great food trip to KC. I was there for work but these three places came highy regarderd and I had to try them out. All three were good, but the first two Jack Stack and KC Joe’s (formerly Okloahoma Joe’s were outstanding). Sadly Arthur Bryant’s was not, I have to imagine it had to do with going to the strip mall location not the original. Big mistake!! Next time check out the address and info first, darn you Yelp.

In any event the burnt ends at Jack Stack were flipping Amazing, and the pulled pork and fries at KC Joe’s were over the top g-oo-d.

Next time your in Kansas City, check ‘em out.

IMG_9343 Continue reading

Categories: Americana, Food, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Review: Aloft Calgary University

My love affair with Starwood’s Aloft brand continues. This time I’ve visited their outlet in Calgary which opened about 8 months ago. I had a one night stay here and I found this hotel to be as unique as their other properties in the public spaces, and almost exactly the same in the rooms as any other location I’ve visited over the past few years. Which is kind of comforting if you ask me.

This particular location (they only have one in Calgary) is located near the University and the Calgary Stampede Football Stadium. It’s near a ton of low budget hotels, so its modern façade and the fact that it’s a new build make it really stand out.

I’ve stayed next door half a dozen times at the Hampton Inn, and its fine nothing special, but when I need to be on this since of town I will for sure stay here again. The location is perfectly fine, it’s close to the University as I mentioned, also a couple malls and tons of restaurant, and is only about 10 minutes drive from Deerfoot Trail (Highway 2). So it’s pretty convenient to a lot.

 

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360 view of the lobby from the pool fireplace
Continue reading

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Review: Asiana First Class ICN-LAX a380

Review: Asiana First Class ICN-LAX a380

The culmination of our trip was flying Asiana’s new Airbus a380. The plane was delivered in August or September and they started using it for the Seoul-LAX sector in October. We had initially booked our flight on the three class 777 that Asiana used to fly this route, but during the summer they announced the switch over to the a380. I was over the moon, this meant two a380’ s in First on this trip and a brand new plane to boot. At the time of our trip Asiana only had two a380’ s so it really was a treat to be able to fly one of the grand birds.

We were very well rested for our 10 ½ hour flight from Seoul to LAX. We had an 8 hour layover in Seoul and just lounged around the lounge, getting back into non-vacation mode. About 45 minutes prior to our flight and agent for Asiana met us at the lounge and escorted us to the gate. This was a nice touch. They were in the mix of boarding, but he just walked right up to the ticket reader scanned our tickets and escorted us to the plane, and handed us over to the cabin crew. Pretty damn cool. I tried not to look at the people starring at us wondering why we were getting special treatment.

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On board signage at door 1L. The only people that get to see this are the 12 First Class guests and Asiana crew. everyone else boards via a different door

Introduction

Cashing in my last 300,000 United miles

American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco

Flying First Class on Lufthansa Seattle-Frankfurt

Rubber Ducks, Cured Meats and VOSS – Lufthansa First Class Lounge Frankfurt

Flying First Class on Thai Airways also on the a380

Thai Airways Domestic Business Class -Bangkok to Koh Samui

Conrad Koh Samui Amazing Hotel, Less Then Amazing Service

The Cutest Airport in the world – Koh Samui

Asiana Regional Business Class- Bangkok to Seoul

Asiana First Class Lounge- Seoul Inchon

Asiana a380 Seoul to Los Angeles

Continue reading

Categories: a380, Airlines, Around the world, Asiana, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Asiana First Class Lounge-Seoul Inchon

Asiana First Class Lounge-Seoul Inchon

Introduction

Cashing in my last 300,000 United miles

American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco

Flying First Class on Lufthansa Seattle-Frankfurt

Rubber Ducks, Cured Meats and VOSS – Lufthansa First Class Lounge Frankfurt

Flying First Class on Thai Airways also on the a380

Thai Airways Domestic Business Class -Bangkok to Koh Samui

Conrad Koh Samui Amazing Hotel, Less Then Amazing Service

The Cutest Airport in the world – Koh Samui

Asiana Regional Business Class- Bangkok to Seoul

Asiana First Class Lounge- Seoul Inchon

Asiana a380 Seoul to Los Angeles

Visiting Thailand and the island of Koh Samui

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The lounge view from the dining area

After a sleep filled flight from Bangkok to Seoul, we had eight hours to kill  at the airport We decided that the best place to do that would be in the Asiana First Class lounge. We arrived at 6 AM and our departure was around 2 PM. Upon arrival in the lounge we found many open sections. Although there were a few people in the lounge maybe 8, it was so large that it felt incredibly empty. In fact there was not one time that I ever felt crowded. It was an incredible departure from the Thai business class lounge we were at in Bangkok and most lounges in the US. Then again it’s a first class lounge, and you have to be flying on one of the Star Alliance first class flights to have access. Continue reading

Categories: Airport, Around the world, Asiana, Lounges, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: | 1 Comment

Glutton For Punishment…Again

 

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Delay #1

Yes it is well documented, that I’m glutton for punishment. And this week is no exception. I worked in Portland and Medford Oregon. No that’s not why.

Today I get to fly home to the Bay Area from Medford and there’s exactly one airline with nonstop service and it’s United to San Francisco. Now I’ve had a love hate with them the last few years and will not specifically avoid flying them, but when I have a choice I won’t fly them. Continue reading

Categories: Airlines, Airport, Alaska Airlines, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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