United Airlines

Put Up Your Dukes American vs United Transcontinental Service To Boston

As part of my larger epic around the world trip spanning 6 countries and over 42,000 miles ,I had the opportunity to fly United in domestic first class from Boston to San Francisco and American Los Angeles to Boston. Since both carriers for the moment offer similar airplanes on the routes narrow body Boeings and Airbuses, I thought I’d do a comparison of the two airlines.

Now to be fair United will be utilizing their PS Transcon 757’s for a few months later this year on the BOS-LAX route which will definitely be a leg up on AA or anyone else for that matter, but for now they offer the same product, here’s a good write up on what UA will be doing if you’re interested (thanks to Rocky on Doublewides fly for the review).

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Ok so this is not the best picture of the seat, but it is a GREAT picture of my beautiful daughter in an AA 737 first class seat.

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Categories: American Airlines, Travel, Travel Blog, Travel Tips, United Airlines | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Trip Report:United Airlines Global First SFO-Seoul

Trip Report:United Airlines Global First SFO-Seoul

Intorduction

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.

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Signage at check in desk

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Categories: Around the world, Food, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, United Airlines | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

United Airlines Nine Months Later

Well it’s been almost nine months since I’ve flown United Airlines. Wow it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. The last time I flew them in March was for my third mileage run to Dubai in a six week period. Yes I know I’m nuts.

No I’ve not stopped traveling, are you crazy, and In fact another banner year with over 160k paid miles flown. Plus my wife and I are about to embark on an epic trip around the world.

Why no love for the former world’s largest airline? Well they just aren’t what they used to be. Tomorrow I’m taking a short haul up to Seattle in connection with a much larger trip from the Bay Area and it just feels weird to fly on UA. I’m hoping that the crew and flight experience are back to the good old days before the merger with Continental, but I don’t have high hopes. But you never know things can change, right? The crazy part, is I don’t miss them. I do miss my 1k status and better shot at free upgrades, and the friendly staff from years gone by, but all of that disappeared years ago. Plus I get way better treatment on American, Alaska and even Delta. What’s there to really miss?

I guess I’ll find out. Maybe.

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Persistence, the name of the game

 

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 a380 Seoul to Los Angeles

Visiting Thailand and the island of Koh Samui
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Yes, booking an airline award reservation is a game. There are so many hoops to have to jump through, but I find that if I stick with it, have all my ducks in a row and do all the research up front, I’m usually successful.

In this particular case I was booking a very special trip, aren’t they all special? No really this one was and is. Later this year it’ll be my 10th wedding anniversary, and I wanted to plan something unique for the two of us. We’ve been very very lucky over the years to have done some amazing things, and I’m very thankful for that, but since our child was born three years ago, going on vacation without her has not happened. In fact I think only twice have we both been away from home together without our little munchkin. Now don’t get me wrong, we love love love traveling with her, and as she gets older it keeps getting better and better. Plus as a tiny world traveler she’s already seen more and been to more places than some will in a lifetime. If nothing else, I want to make sure that our daughter gets the amazing opportunities my wife and I had as children to travel the world with our parents. I firmly believe that those experiences made us who we are today. But I digress, I’ll save that for another post. This trip was about the two of us having an extended amount of alone time. Continue reading

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Dubai or Bust

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Sometimes you just gotta do it. In this case it was going to Dubai for half a day. Yup that’s right I said it, I went to Dubai for half a day. Sure call me crazy I have flown this far (to some other amazing places) before but only to turn back and get on the same plane and head home. But this time I decided to stay a while and enjoy the sights. Last October, there was an amazing mistake fare posted by a very small airline/website, in Norway, that allowed you to purchase tickets for travel on United Airlines or codeshare partner. The “deal” was only alive for 24 hours tops but, the website/airline http://www.Wideroe.no was selling flights all over the world originating from the US to points unknown without the fuel surcharges. That translated to fares from the East coast to Europe under $150 US roundtrip, or from the West Coast to Europe or the Middle East and Africa under $300. In anyone’s book that’s a good deal, you just had to find the right dates and viola all was set. There have been many stories posted about the “mistake fare” and I’ll refrain from rehashing it here, but if you’re curious juts google the website name and “United mistake fare” or check out this amazing deal post on Flyertalk to get more info.

So in my case I picked the furthest place I could fly on United at the cheapest price and booked it. For me that translated to Dubai, UAE. This was and has been someplace I’ve always wanted to visit but have not had time and or opportunity, until now. But since I could get a fare under $300, I signed myself up. In fact I did that three times, yes I am that loony. For me the prospect of getting 60,000 miles in the span of three quick trips that will get me 60% of the miles I need to keep my status for next year was just that hard to pass up. Plus I’d get a chance to do what I love fly, sleep, eat and sightsee. How bad can it be.

On this trip I HAD “got” to fly United, as some of you have noticed over the past year I’ve been having a hate hate relationship with them. They used to be my go to carrier of choice for domestic travel, and the airlines that has allowed me to experience some amazing trips on other carriers, with the miles I’ve earned from traveling them, they used to have the best premium reward redemption but not anymore. And with all of the shenanigans they have gone through with their merger with Continental, I’ve just gotten more bitter with age, quite the opposite of a fine wine. In any event the flights were actually pretty good, it just goes to show you how a good crew and decent seat can sure make a HUGE difference. This was a very simple routing to boot, San Francisco>LA>DC>Dubai and the exact return. Since I think I’ve covered many domestic trips on this blog, I’ll only talk about the flight from DC to Dubai. In fact on the trip home I think I slept 11 of the 13 hours between Dubai and DC, so there’s really not much to talk about anyway.

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United flies a Boeing 777-200 between DXB and DC in a three cabin configuration. I was booked in coach all the way, YIPPEE and although on the free upgrade list for the domestic portions, with my new status (read that as downgrade), I had a snowballs chance in hell of being upgraded. Consider that I was number 25 on the upgrade list from LAX to DC after they upgraded 12 customers into a cabin that seats 24, that’s how low I have fallen. Ouch. But upon arriving in DC I went to the kiosk to look at possibly changing my seat on the long 13 hour flight, I was hoping I could get a row with an open middle seat or better a whole open row. But to my surprise they were selling upgrades to business class. UA like many other carriers will try and sell upgrades at time of check in, and in this case I lucked out and was able to secure one. Sure it cost me a few miles, but hey to be able to enjoy a 13 hour flight in Business instead of Coach is always enjoyable. So I bit and took the offer. Not a bad middle to my trip.

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The super cool limited edition amenity kit with various covers featuring the United hubs. I got Cleveland…rocks…sadly come April it’ll no longer be a hub for UA. As for the fun stuff inside, they contain the usual hand of hope lotions and lip balm, socks, eye mask, pen and a few other goodies.

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The food was really great. I started with super jumbo shrimp and a spicy cocktail sauce, followed by a fresh green salad with creamy garlic dressing. My dinner was supposed to be Chicken Tikka Masala, but wasn’t. It was Beef curry rice lentils and spinach. Although not what I ordered it was super delicious. Somehow catering just swapped out the chicken for beef, but still an amazing dish, although not very appealing to look at. Somehow United does Indian food really really well.

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One dead soldier

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Oh and for desert yup an ice cream sunday with all the fixings. Sure it’s not Fentons, but for some reason getting ice cream on an airplane is just so darn decadent. It was just a fitting end to a nice meal, and to top it off with a little Baily’s on the side.

As I mentioned service was actually really good, and the food was also very good too. Food at 35,000 feet is always a crapshoot, and in this case I rolled the point so I was happy. Besides that I got to watch a couple of really good movies and enjoy about five hours of sleep so I was very happy when I landed at 3:00 PM an hour earlier then expected.

Categories: Dubai, Food, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, United Airlines | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

My Last Day as a 1k

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It’s a sad sad day. Since 2007 I have been a United Airlines 100,000 mile flyer, or for short a 1k. It has been a pretty good ride all these years, I’ve become pretty familiar with the United Mileage Plus Program and also the Star Alliance program in general.  You spend 1,000,000 miles flying an airline you learn a thing or two. I even enjoyed flying them. They offered oodles of free upgrades in various forms some confirmable at time of booking others that would clear as early as 100 hours out, and even ones you could use on international flights on UA. Plus I had used their miles for some incredible trips, like First Class on Singapore Airlines to the Maldives twice here’s one of the trip reports and here’s another , Business class to Bali also on SQ, and even a couple of trips to Germany also in Business  but on UA.

Of course like many other good things, sometimes they come to an end, and in this case about mid 2013 UA made a drastic change to their Mileage Plus program. Granted since the merger with Continental, things had slowly gone from bad to worse. Like with any big company there are some bad apples, but after the merger it just got worse and worse. But I trudged on and kept flying UA, because I believed in them and thought they treated me well. In my job I don’t have the luxury of always flying the same airlines, between the budgets set and the carriers that fly where I might need to go and convenience, I fly a lot of airlines. So I thought UA was the best of the worst. Yet I digress, there are tons of other blogs that have delineated United’s race to the bottom, and it pains me to rehash it here and frankly it’s not the point of this entry.

What IS the point, I had to make a change. UA announced, that there would be a spend requirement attached to the mileage or segment requirement they already required. UA Silver 25,000 miles $2500, Gold 50,000 miles $5000, Platinum 75,000 miles and $7,500 and 1k 100,000 miles and $10,000 spend. Ouch $10,000 is a lot and frankly I have no idea if I spend that much per year on flights I might, but most likely not just on United and its partners. So with this new requirement I had to make a choice, and although not an easy one I had to say goodbye. In 2012 I had done a status match to American Airlines and had really enjoyed flying them. They treated me well, also provided lots of upgrades, and made me not feel like a number. In 2012/13 I kept top tier on both but rolling into 2014, I knew I could just not keep up flying two major carriers at the tune of 100,000 miles each and the 10k spend. You can only do so many Mileage Runs on top of my work and vacation travel. So I made the sad choice to drop a carrier, and it had to be UA. I was just not happy with their direction, and they just made it harder and harder to fly them. Besides that just take one small metric between the airlines, in 2013 I flew over 40 domestic segments on American and in that time only three times did I miss a complimentary upgrade, take on the other hand United about 40 segments too, and I cleared only 1/3, of which after June of 2013 I didn’t clear even one. Look a first class upgrade is NOT why I fly but it sure does make air travel nice and when you have two choices and one pulls through what would you do?

Sure I’ll get over it and sure I’ll still fly United when they offer the best price and routing, but I know that if they are one of many options they will not be my first choice. At least with Million Miler Status on UA, I at least keep some perks and lifetime Gold Status, that at least keeps some of the perks I’ve worked so hard to attain. Let’s just hope my decision to fly the NEW American pans out.

So as of 12:01 AM on January 31st, 2014 I will drop from 1k to lowly Gold, since I only flew 65,000 this year and kept my status on merit. Sad Sad Sad Sad day indeed.

Categories: Airlines, Travel, Travel Blog, United Airlines | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Status…Status…Status

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Well I made it. And no I don’t mean I lived another year (was there a doubt), but I got my statuses, or at least most of them. Well barley that is. As I’ve discussed before I’ve had United 1k status since 2007 and Hilton Honors Diamond since 2004 or 5. Then in 2013 I decided to expand my horizons and picked up American Airlines Executive Platinum Status and Starwood Platinum as well. In the case of AA and UA for 2014 qualification I would need to fly 100,000 miles or 100 segments on AA to keep it for 2014 and with UA 100,000 miles or 125 segments. On the hotel side Hilton upped their qualifications to 30 stays or 60 nights, and with Starwood 25 stays of 50 nights. As you can see that’s a TALL order, but I was going to do my best to keep all four, I had found greats benefits for all of them and wanted to strive to keep them all if I could. Well that dream lasted all of six months into 2013, I thought I could get the hotels but two airlines was really going to be thought. Sure I travel a ton for work and I do a lot of personal travel but there was just going to be no way I could do 200,000 miles this year. Unless I didn’t want to see my family ever, and I DO want to see them.

How could you not see this face every day?

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Ironically enough in three of the four programs I made it but by the skin of my teeth. With all of my extra  personal travel I only qualified for American by 233 miles, and it took till December 20th for that to happen. I many years past I would qualify on UA by mid-September or October, but not this year. It was so bad that on my last trip home I had to add a connection just to make sure I made it. Sure I’ve done that before, but with no other travel planned between December 20th and December 31st I didn’t want to have to fly on my free time.

With United sadly my run of 1k 100,000 flier and also a million miler had come to an end. I ended the year with just over 64,000 and there was just no way I was going to sit on a tin can for 30,000 plus more miles. As it was I ended up flying 50k miles on American and its partners from November 1st to December 20th. Ouch. As it is I really had relegated UA to my second option since they have really revamped the program for 2015 qualification that you must attain in 2014. They added a spend requirement and I would not only have to fly the 100k but also spend 10k dollars on UA marketed, flown or purchased on their website. Since that was not going to happen I made the tough decision to not push for 1k. At least with Million Miler status I’ll keep some of the perks but the ones I really enjoyed will disappear. Let’s see how I feel come mid 2014 if my decision was a wise one. The sad part is, with so many people jumping ship UA might actually be a good carrier to fly as a top elite, but I just couldn’t risk that.

As for my hotels I again just got by. I hit 25 stays with Starwood on December 20th and 30 stays with Hilton on December 7th. In both cases I would not have qualified on nights, but by occasionally doing a little hotel hopping I was able to make this work. As for both programs, they seem just fine, I enjoy them both and although except for the occasional upgrade (thanks to my wife for calling a couple the week of my birthday to secure me a few really great free ones), they don’t seem much different. I think the main thing is, between the two brands there are close to 20 different hotel chains to stay at. So it’s really tough to not find one in the cities I go to. Plus with all these “New” Starwood properties I’ve never been too, I now have a whole bunch more aspirational properties to visit on vacation.

Sheraton Tucson I got the hook up to the presidential suite. Thanks to a call from my wife to the hotel explaining it was my birthday.

 

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So let’s see what happened this year, I’m again hoping to get both hotels chains and AA, and for UA we’ll see I have lifetime mid-tier status due to Million Miler status, and I’ll just have to see how it goes. Wish me luck.

Categories: Airlines, American Airlines, Hilton Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Travel, Travel Blog, United Airlines | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Flying the not so friendly skies of United Airlines

UUGH what a day, we just landed in the US after our awesome 13 day Transatlantic cruise. This was a risky trip for us, since we would be taking “S” on such a long ocean journey not knowing if she would get seasick or even enjoy the trip. Plus we brought along my mom yes voluntarily. I’ll save the vacation posts, pictures and details for another time, but as I sit at 37,000 feet in my not so awesome middle seat, I reflect on the not so friendly service that United Airlines provided our family of four.

I bought these tickets about 6 months ago mainly for two reasons, a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale to SFO and for the fact that I could upgrade us at time of booking to first class from coach with miles or coupons. I thought that this would be a nice ending to our trip, and for a 6 hours flight, would make the ride a little bit more comfortable. In this case I rolled the dice and only upgraded the other three and hoped I’d get a freebie, but if I didn’t I’d gladly sit in the back in my extra legroom seat, or sit with the munchkin upfront if my wife wanted peace and quiet.

As usual I checked in about 23 hours in advance, I wanted to make sure that we had our seats and all was good, I’m also OCD to a point that I checked our seats weekly. UA as many frequent travelers know loves to bump your seats it’s just one of the many enhancements that CEO Jeff Smisek has added to this once great airline. Well, at the gate we hear an announcement looking for volunteers to give up their first class seat for $250, and my wife and I just laughed. Not for a 2500 mile journey. So sure enough we get to the gate to board and my mom and daughters tickets chime and they spit out new seats for them. They were in row 1 and 2 respectively with mom supposed to sit next to “S”, but “S” was moved to row 34 and mom to 24 booth middles. This was no joke. WTF. So for the next ½ hour the agent and I were trying to sort this out. She said we were on free tickets and it was the luck of the draw and that everyone else 13 passengers in first all paid for their tickets, this I find very hard to believe. Forget the fact that a computer takes a 2 ½ year old and moves them to the back, really. United you really sucked the big one today. Then the brilliant gate agent, and I use that term ever ever so loosely , tried to give my mom and daughter the same seat. I tried to explain to her that this would not work. I kept telling her we had four seats, and she thought my daughter was a lap child, forget the fact that the FAA requires all children over two too have their own seat. So again we were scrambling to get seats. The agent finally gave us two seats together in first for whomever wanted them, and the other two were seated in coach, mind you in the mean time they had moved my seat 2x and my mom’s about 4. She just could not get that we were all family members with the same last name but different first names, so she kept reissuing tickets and seats for the same person in one of our already occupied seats. OY are you keeping score at home.

Then she said for our troubles, read that our troubles we would get $250 bucks, what are you kidding me. Sure $250 is $250, but I paid for my upgrades fare and square, and that was NOT enough, she even had the audacity to tell me that another passenger would get $500, because they paid for their ticket and mine was free. Oh I was boiling, and it took all of my strength to not jump over the counter and yell at this lady. So with everyone on the plane except for mom and I, she finally issues us two seats in the back, and the ladies two seats up front, bad then started to process my compensation, which she said would be $500. All this while I have the diaper bag and child entertainment in our carryon suitcase, and I’m freaking out that they will make me check the bag, since they had to gate check about 10 bags. I calmly told them this must be one the plane. Because they were worried about space they had me sign the compensation form, and board sans my receipt. With the assurance she would come on board and give it to me. Well three hours onto my flight I’m still waiting. I want to hope that when I get off the plane, the SFO agent will have it for me, because w/out the receipt as far as I know I can’t claim the credit. But right now all I can think is that the agent will delete the paperwork and move one to her next task. Why do I think that, because the whole process was shady, there’s no reason we should have been downgraded. My wife is also a 100,000 mile flier and they were on the same reservation, I was the only one that was on a different reservation. Plus the fact that others got upgraded within the 100 hour window, which is when they pass out the freebies, and we had confirmed ours 6 months ago. So needless to say I currently have a very bad taste in my mouth.

Now between this incident, and all the other crap UA is pulling with the frequent flier program, I’m really starting to move away from them, but they have been my carrier of choice if I have an option and their price is reasonable. But I will no longer go out of my way to fly them. Which in years past meant if they were the same price as say US Air or Southwest, but their times were worse or forced a connection or flying from SJC or SFO instead of Oakland, I would still fly UA. But now between today’s seriously poor customer service incident and the aforementioned ones, I will avoid when possible.

Categories: Airlines, Travel, Travel Blog, Traveling with kids, United Airlines, United Airlines | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oktoberfest or Bust

Oktoberfest it’s finally here!!! I’ve been anticipating this trip for almost 10 months, although I’ve had a visit there on my bucket list forever. I mean something about the celebration of beer, that brings a whole country together is just cool. I know that Oktoberfest is not only about the celebration of beer but also a celebration of a marriage King Ludwig and Princess Therese, but man when 7 million people come together to have a 16 day party they don’t mess around.

We’ll there was a little business about actually getting to Munich to celebrate, and travelling from the West Coast to Munich offers a lot of options, but on my carrier of choice United Airlines, there aren’t any non-stops to Munich. Although their partner Lufthansa has one daily flight direct, but since I was hoping to use my upgrades coupons to fly in business instead of coach who doesn’t like that. In my case I needed two tickets so that “G” and I could both travel in style, I could not let him sit back in steerage while I live it up with Kanye and Kim up in business (yes they were on our flight sans baby). Anyhow the only option that allowed immediate confirmation to business was San Francisco to Charles De Gaulle (Paris, France) and then onto Munich on Lufthansa. The configuration of this plane was a 767-400 two class with lie flat seats and a large individual personal TV, with a pretty decent selection of entertainment. I believe that this configuration was a holdover from the Continental days. Needless to say I was looking forward to the flight almost as much as the beerfest that was about to happen.

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Upon arriving at SFO we quickly checked our bags at the counter and went off to security which at noon on a Friday was a zoo. There’s a large bank of international flights between 12-4 so lines were the pits, even the premium line was out the door. Thankfully we had time and by some miracle a TSA agent walked up to us and a few people in from of ours and ushered us to the other side of the security section. Not really sure why but it easily saved us about 30 minutes in line, yes that’s really how bad the premium security line was. I’m not exactly sure how we got where we were but out wait was no more than 10 minutes, it was great.

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Now we had a dilemma get food or get a drink in the lounge. Well cooler heads prevailed and we chose the latter, and quickly headed to the Untied Club, we quickly made our way to the bar and started our journey off proper with cocktails. I was on vacation!!! We had about one hour in the lounge to imbibe in many adult beverages, and snack on “lunch”, and enjoy the cool tarmac views of a very busy International Terminal. Finally it was time to head off to the gate and ensconce myself in my chair for the next 10 hours.

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The flight itself was just great, I know I was on a euphoric high, but the crew was just top notch, and really did a great job. We were really well taken care of from the moment we took off to the moment we landed in Paris, sure the crew was all over the celebrities, but really they made everyone feel special. Besides that though the food was outstanding, I know I only took pictures of the Sunday and the entrée, but overall it was an amazing meal. All totaled it was a five course meal, and by the time it was over I was stuffed to the gills, even passed on breakfast because of it. I know the horror of it all.

Just as quickly as we boarded our flight was over. I was able to catch up on almost all of the summer blockbusters, that I had missed such as Superman, Star Trek, GI Joe, and Iron Man three. Sadly they all sucked except Star Trek which kicked ass. Not sure what made me watch GI Joe, but I just had too, I must have had one too many gin and tonics.

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Once in CDG, we had a quick layover and onto a quick 1 hour flight on Lufthansa to Munich. Although a very very tight squeeze it was a quick and enjoyable flight, with a meal and a beer. Yes they serve glass bottles, in coach. US based airlines, take note. Here’s a few picks from the flight, and stay tuned for a few postings on Oktoberfest.

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Categories: Airlines, Airport, Europe, Lounges, Lufthansa, Oktoberfest, Photography, Review, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, United Airlines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Chilly in Chile

My bucket list includes hitting all seven continents, to date I have been to four. Asia on many occasions as early in my life as 1974 and as recently as March of this year. Europe in 2000 and as recently as 2009 with a trip coming up this September too. Australia last year and also this past March, and of course North America, I was born and still call it my home. So all that’s left is South America, Africa and Antarctica.

Well that is until a few months ago when I went to Santiago Chile for a quick 12 hour trip. Ok I’m sure many of you just ready the last sentence and then reread it and then read it again. Yes I said 12 hours in Santiago. I can go round and round with you about if that’s really considered a visit or a trip, and sure I could not see much more than the Central Business District, but I saw enough to know that the family and I MUST make a visit to Chile again and points beyond there.
Sure 12 hours is not much more than a night’s sleep, and yes I am certifiably crazy and I think my wife thinks I am too, but hey sometimes you just need to do what you need to do. First off there was a great airfare deal on American Airlines to Santiago from New York in Business Class to boot. I had an expiring coupon that I needed to use so I had a way to get to NYC on the cheap. Couple that with the deal and all I had to do was pack a bag, with a few warm clothes, since its winter in the Southern Hemisphere. I could leave on a red eye from SFO and be home two nights later after 12 hours in SCL (airport code for Santiago Chile).
After a few amazing flights on a combo of United to NYC and then American Airlines to SCL I was there. In downloading my pictures I realized I failed in taking any pictures of the inside of the planes. What I can say is that it sure can be great to get a really comfortable plane. I was lucky to fly the internationally configured United 757-200 to New York’s JFK, it had a lie flat bed and a 15” TV with movies and shows on demand. I managed to watch a movie or two and even get a few winks of sleep too. It’s not that hard to sleep on a plane when you’re comfortable that’s for sure. The balance of the trip was actually all on the same plane an AA 767-200 international two class plane. The funny part I think about that was that the flight was four segments JFK to Miami to SCL and return. They were all different flight numbers and there was not indicator except that the Miami SCL return would be on the same plane. Go figure. Again very very nice comfortable flight, with all entertainment provided on Galaxy 10.1 tabs. It was pretty cool. Anyhow enough about the flights since I don’t have any pictures. Flying in comfort made the LONG but fun journey worth it. I would never have done this kind of trip if I was sitting in the back. I know that makes me sound like a snob, but hey when it’s cheap or you can use free coupons to upgrade, why not.

On my way to Chile

On my way to Chile

Chile bound

Chile bound

Those are mountains not clowds

Those are mountains not clowds

Fountain near Plaza De Armas

Fountain near Plaza De Armas

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My cat Jack made his way to SCL

My cat Jack made his way to SCL

Artwork by the river

Artwork by the river

Open air market

Open air market

Three bucks for 2.2 pounds what a deal

Three bucks for 2.2 pounds what a deal

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A church door

A church door

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Plaza De Armas subway stop

Plaza De Armas subway stop

Building on plaza

Building on plaza

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The Plaza

The Plaza

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Well let’s get to the good part Santiago. As soon as we started out descent into SCL I knew I needed to come back. This picture out the window of the plane doesn’t do it justice, the “clouds” in the distance were not “clouds” they were mountains. All I could see in the distance were these amazing snowcapped mountains on descent and it was beautiful. Santiago sits at 1700 feet in the heart of the Andes Mountains, so all you see around the city are a bowl of mountains. The second part that made me fall in love was the European Old World charm with a Latin flair that city had. The buildings, streets and feel of the city made me think of Spain, France or Germany. It was way cool.
I spent 6 hours just wandering the Plaza de Armas area and the Cerro Santa Lucia a large hill in central SCL that had sweeping 360 degree views of the city and environs. Besides that I spent a lot of time sitting and people watching too, not a bad way to spend the day for sure. Before you know it though it was time to head back to the airport and get back to the family.
Surly 12 hours is barley a cup of coffee, but hey that’s all the time I had and I got to knock one more continent off the list and also another item off the buck list. Now I just need to get back there and take the family so we can all enjoy it.

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The had that has been to four continents

The had that has been to four continents

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Walking up to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia

Walking up to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia

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The view from Cerro Santa Lucia  230 feet above the city floor

The view from Cerro Santa Lucia 230 feet above the city floor

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Categories: Airlines, American Airlines, Food, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report, United Airlines, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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