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Amazon's targeted 20% off promotion

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The blogs have been abuzz about a targeted 20% promo from Amazon and American Express. I set my Amex as my default credit card in Amazon and then checked my Amazon account with this linkto see if I was targeted, and I was!
I'm not a huge fan of Amazon because I find the whole experience so baffling unless you're a hardcore Amazon user. You can't even buy some things unless you're Prime, and still others you can't because they're Prime Pantry, or "this is only available as an add-on product". Furthermore, I hate how confusing it is to tell who's actually shipping your order to you and I've had terrible luck getting Amazon to fix purchases that go wrong from outside vendors on their site. End rant
Because this promo ONLY applies if you spend some number of Amex points on your purchase AND if the product is "Sold By Amazon", I was dreading scouring their site trying to find something I needed that met the criteria. I decided instead …

YASSS! Philippine Airlines announces nonstop JFK to Manila service!

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RoutesOnline just announced that Philippine Airlines is launching nonstop service between Manila and New York's JFK using an Airbus A350. (Their existing service has a stopover in Vancouver, which is poorly-timed for a 5th freedom flight between the East and West Coasts). We love the Philippines (trip links here) and will definitely be back at some point in the near future, so this is great news.

This new flight should be available starting 4 November 2018.

Flight 126 MNL 21:00 – 23:15JFK
Flight 127 JFK 01:45 – 07:15 (+1 day) MNL

It looks like their A350s will get VantageXL seats, so your 16 hour flight will be fully flat, rather than the angle flat seats they've been keeping around their fleet way longer than everybody else. Sadly the only real points opportunity here is with their one-off partnership with Etihad. Cash fares will likely be $1000-ish in Economy and $4000-ish in Business Class.




I still wish they could team up with Brussels Airlines and Airbus to create some kin…

Be careful renting cars from Enterprise overseas

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I use Enterprise quite a bit here in New York mostly because they have cars right in the Albany Amtrak station parking lot. We can hop on a train at Grand Central, skip all of the NYC traffic, get off at Albany, and then quickly drive onward to Vermont or other upstate getaways.

When I booked our recent trip to the Middle East, we needed to make two separate car renal bookings – one in Israel and one in Jordan. Booking the cars on Enterprise's website was straightforward and I received email confirmations like I usually do when I book in the USA. Once I arrived, however, I realized that there are no Enterprise offices in the Middle East. There are signs in the Tel Aviv airport for all kinds of rental car companies but no Enterprise. Luckily I got on the Wi-Fi and found out that Eldan is a subcontractor for Enterprise and I needed to go to their counter. Nowhere on their website or the confirmation email does it tell you this.

Part two of this problem happened after we walked thro…

TRIP REPORT: Royal Jordanian A320 Amman to Frankfurt (AMM-FRA) in Business Class

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A great flight from a beautiful airport – 4 hours and 40 minutes in a leather recliner seat with 46" of pitch. Full lunch and beverage service. 
ProsReal Business Class seats, not the European "Economy + blocked middle seat" nonsenseGood food, Arabic coffeeAmazing service Good award availability through British Airways Great loungeAmman airport is beautifulRental car return is right in front of the main terminal buildingBone yard right next door for some aviation geek plane-spotting ConsCheck-in 3 hours before flight TipsThere is no overhead bin storage for rows 1 or 2 on the starboard side (seats A and B), this isn't shown on SeatguruIf you're continuing on to other parts of Germany via train, the German Rail app lets you buy tickets directly from your smartphone, bypassing the often-long lines at machines and staffed counters.Use the dedicated Business Class check-in entrance How I did it  Initially I redeemed 29,000 British Airways Avios points plus $181 for…

AirBnB pulls 80% of their Japan listings, leaving thousands of vacationers in the lurch

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As I wrote in my popular "20 Things I Learned Being An AirBnB Host" post:
AirBnB very carefully dances around the legality of their service and puts the onus on YOU to be in compliance with the law. In their quest to "disrupt" the hotel industry, you're the front line infantry  In anticipation (and protest?) of a new Japanese law requiring hosts to obtain a permit from their local authorities, AirBnB pulled all non-compliant listings almost no warning. Thousands of travelers are now scrambling to find new accommodations. This is what being their "front line infantry" looks like.

They've very much played the victim in the press, but they had plenty of time (over a year!) to provide hosts with tools and assistance to obtain the necessary permits.

Luckily, Japan has its own homegrown AirBnB alternative that only lists hosts with the proper permits – StayJapan.com

If you're looking for a hotel or ryokan, I'm also a big fan of Japan I Can – they…

Trip Report: Singapore Airlines A380 Frankfurt to New York in Business Class (FRA - JFK)

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An early-departing daytime flight to the East Coast from Europe – 8 hours in an exceptionally wide, leather seat with 81" of pitch and a lie-flat mode. Breakfast and lunch services.
ProsGreat foodAmazing serviceStaff are super vigilant about cleaning the lavatories A380 feels very spacious and quietEspresso machine onboard (and staff willing to use it) 30MB of free Wi-Fi included with a Business Class ticket3 door boarding is very calm and orderly ConsThe flight is very early (8:30am departure, meaning a 6:00am check in)The flip-over bed is extra inconvenient on a daytime flight where you might want more fluidity between the sleep and sit positions  TipsBack of the plane (row 96) feels very private, despite the proximity to the galley and lavsThe middle two seats are great for couples, but you won't have window accessThe back of Business Class is known for being much colder than the front "Book the Cook" feature lets you choose your meals from a huge menuThe Frank…