Be sure to check out the introduction if you’re interested in reading about my Around-The-World Journey visiting six countries, flying over 42,000 miles in first class (except for two very short segments) and having the opportunity to experience Singapore Airlines Suites Class and Emirates First Class.
Review: ANA Business Class Lounge- Narita
After a short layover at the Narita Hilton I headed back to the airport for my flight to Shanghai-Pudong Airport. Because of my Star Alliance Gold status with United Airlines I had the opportunity to visit the ANA Business Class lounge. In Terminal 1 they have two lounges satellite 4 and 5, 4 is only for First Class guests and 5 has two sections (Business Class and Suites Class). In this case I went to 5 since I was in Business Class.
As Business Class Lounges go ANA at Narita some of my favorites. They are open and expansive, offer copious amounts of food choices, an incredible beer machine, and a killer noodle bar.
The ANA Business Class Lounge
Categories: Airport, ANA, Around the world, Asia, Lounges, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report
Tags: Airlines, Airport, around the world, Asia, Travel
REVIEW: HILTON NARITA
Lobby water fountain
After a very very long day of traveling from Boston to Tokyo, via SFO and Seoul I finally arrived at Narita Airport. After a quick walk through customs and a jaunt through the arrivals hall I was finally outside. This was my first breath of non-airport air in over 1 ½ days. Ouch. I had booked one night at the Narita Hilton for two reasons it was close to the airport and was really cheap for some reason on the night I was there. I landed at 9:30 PM and had a 9:20 AM flight the next day and I wanted to be sort of close to the airport. Initially I was more interested in staying in a downtown hotel or one at Tokyo Bay, but after researching the many options to get to these properties, the time it would take and the cost I thought it best to stay closer to the airport. In fact a lot of the bus services seemed to end service for the night between 9-10 PM and the last thing I wanted to have to do was take a cab. I would gladly take a train but with most of the hotels I wanted to say at taking over an hour to get to via train, I was just not interested. Continue reading
Trip Report: Asiana Shorthaul Business Class Seoul-Tokyo
After a nice flight from SFO and a three hour visit to the Asiana First Class Lounge in Seoul. It was time for my final flight of the day to Tokyo’s Narita Airport on Asiana Airlines. Initially I was denied access to the Asiana Lounge, when I showed them my United boarding pass, but once I showed them I was in First and connecting to Asiana in Business the agent let me in. I’m not sure if I actually have access but I gladly accepted it. I’m not going to review my visit here, but you can read it about my December visit here.
Trip Report:United Airlines Global First SFO-Seoul
This was my first official trip on United in international First Class. I’ve flown them dozens of times in Business and had one partial trip from London to SFO back in the early 2000’s when my seat was inoperable and they moved me to First, some upgrade. I was really excited to try out the “new” first class, well it’s not really that new say seven years old or so, but hey First Class is First Class. Besides that, on my return home from Seoul I’m flying Singapore in Suites Class on the a380 and I needed something to compare that too. I mean it’s possible that United might be actually better right? Blasphemy. No never, but who knows. Anyhow on with the show.
I had a 1:15 hour connection at SFO and with boarding starting 55 minutes prior to departure, I figured I had a run ahead of me from the 60’s gates to 100 in the International Terminal. Low and behold my departure was delayed and we had no idea how long, so that gave me a chance to visit my favorite lounge, The American Express Centurion Lounge. I was only there long enough to get a drink and take a shower. Since there was no posted departure time I hightailed it to the United Global First Lounge since it was next to my gate and they would announce when boarding was starting. I was really not in the mood to run once boarding commenced. BTW I’m not a lounge whore but I do love them, and even though the AMEX one is far superior to any United Lounge I’ve ever been too I don’t get many chances to visit the First Class Lounge, so I had to go.
Signage at check in desk
Trip Report: United BOS-SFO First Class
My very long journey to nowhere started out very early at Boston Logan Airport. I had a 6 AM flight, and was at the airport close to 4 AM. Surprisingly security was already open at that ridiculous hour and so was PreCheck, that was a huge bonus for me. I really hate having to disrobe and unpack to get through “normal” security I was out in a flash and ready to take on the airport. I’ve been here before but it’s been a long time, and I frankly can’t remember what terminal United was in but they are now in Terminal B. It’s entirely possible that they were in B before but since this section was recently remodeled and the United Club was moved to the second floor I’m guessing it’s a new space for them.
Today’s departures from Terminal B
Booking An Award Redemption On Singapore Airlines
Once I had secured the dates for the trip to Seoul it was now time to find the most extravagant way to get back at the cheapest price. There are many airlines I want to try but at the top of my list for the past 7 years has been the Singapore Airlines a380 Suites Class. It’s one of those white whale redemptions that are really hard to come by. They pretty much block redemptions with partner’s mileage programs so getting a seat is really really tough in any premium cabin let alone on the a380. In my entire life I’ve been lucky enough to do one round trip in Business Class to Bali and two First Class redemptions to the Maldives on SQ. All were with United miles and were just lucky redemptions or computer glitches. But in all three cases none were on the a380, two were on the 747 and one on the 77W. These are still some of my favorite flights, and I still feel that way even after flying Lufthansa and Asiana in First Class last December.
Now you can get seats with miles from Avianca, Air Canada, Lufthansa and a few others, but for me not having miles in these accounts and not having much interest in buying miles to make a booking, the best way was a credit card transfer partner. In my case I have miles/points with Chase and American Express, both are transfer partners to Singapore Airlines direct and after getting an amazing sign up bonus a few years back with Amex of 100,000 points it was finally time to use them. Currently SQ only fly’s five routes to the US, two of which have this aircraft, LAX-NRT-SIN or JFK-FRA-SIN. So I went looking for space on those two routes. Now for me the easiest way to find space on SQ is on their site, yes you can use the ANA tool too and it works well, but I only wanted specific routes and a specific carrier the SQ site was tops for me.
Here’s what you do to check award space. First of all you need to create an account on their website. It’s free and valid for 18 months if you don’t have any activity in the account. If it expires before you credit miles to the account or transfer some in, then make a new account, they don’t care. Continue reading
Booking An Award Redemption On Singapore Airlines
How to book award travel on Emirates
BOS-SFO- United First Class Boeing 757
BOS-Seoul- United Global First Boeing 744
Seoul-Tokyo Narita –Asiana Business Class Airbus 320
Tokyo Narita- Shanghai PVG – ANA 787 Dreamliner Business
Shanghai PVG-Singapore – Singapore Airlines a380 Suites Class
Shearton Towers Singapore
Singapore-Tokyo NRT -Singapore Airlines a380 Suites Class
Tokyo NRT- Los Angeles – Singapore Airlines a380 Suites Class
San Francisco – Dubai – Emirates a380 First Class
Dubai – Seoul- Emirates a380 First Class
Seoul – Dubai -United Global First
Around the world and then some
In June of last year thanks to The Fight Deal and Flyertalk I was notified of an amazing First Class mistake fare to Korea. United Airlines had published a fare from Boston to Seoul through the end of schedule and had pretty liberal routing rules as long as you flew over the Pacific on United. This fare was not cheap at $1700 per person, but it was an A class fare. This meant that you could cancel at any time for no reason and get a 100% refund plus earn a ton of status and redeemable miles due to the fare class bonuses, and it was in First Class!! There are times of year where a coach ticket is more on this route then what I paid for First Class.
Of course my mantra is book or hold and then take 24 hours to decide if the trip is worth it or not. Even though it was 100% refundable spending 5K for three of us to fly to Korea was a little above my spending threshold, I knew if I was to go the whole family would come too. On these mistake fares you just have pull the trigger and then cancel in 24 hours to get a full refund (disclosure US based airlines are required to let you cancel but if you book though a third party beware of their cancelation rules, they might be different). In any event I found dates that worked, basically we were full up for vacation in 2014 so I just found a pair of dates in March that worked. I consulted the boss on any dates that may not work for her and away I went to book. I chose to book for two weeks, so as to actually maximize or time away from home and then went about deciding if we wanted to go anywhere else besides Korea in that time period. Continue reading
For a frequent traveler February 28/29 is the worst day of the year. It’s the last day of the previous year’s frequent flyer status. So if you have Gold for 2014 it will carry over to February 28th of 2015. At that point whatever final status you earned in 2014 will be your new status for 2015 and through February 29th 2016. American Airlines and US Airways are merging and part of this integration will be the frequent flyer programs. Sometime in the 2nd quarter of this year they’ll merge the American Advantage Program and the US Airways Dividend programs. What this means is that they’ll take your total miles/segments of the combined airlines provide your status accordingly. Continue reading
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!
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.
180 view of living room, bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom Continue reading