Showing posts from February, 2015

Well, I got it!

Post-trip UPDATE: Seoul to JFK trip report!JFK to Narita trip report!
JFK – Tokyo in ANA Business Class for 75,000 Amex points + $100 via AeroplanSeoul – JFK in Korean Air First for 80,000 Sapphire points + $75 via Korean Air

My brother ended up canceling his plans for a party in Tokyo but doing Hanami in Japan is on the bucket list so we figured we should go anyway. This freed us to pick whatever dates we wanted/could find award seats for. For starters, we had about 200,000 miles each in United, British, Amex, and Chase Sapphire points. 
I followed my own rule and priced out the ticket on Kayak and the cheapest non-stop in Business was $5000 per person on ANA. That's well above my pain point :) If we were willing to do a 1-stop itinerary we could get the price down to a much-more-manageable $3700, but that would have meant flying on a North American legacy carrier. Their surly service, mediocre food/beverage options, and generally un-special experience makes it really not worth th…

Adding my same-sex partner to my family account in Korean Airlines SkyPass

Several Asian airlines (Korean, Singapore, ANA, others?) only let you redeem miles for tickets for yourself and for certain family members. Until now, I've never had to actually attempt a family redemption. I'd seen a few online guides with scary tales of "you MUST fax this form to..." and "please allow 4-6 weeks for processing" and so I'd sorta steered clear of it. But I'm booking a trip to Korea right now and so it was time to bite the bullet. I was especially nervous about doing it because I'm in a same-sex marriage and I wasn't sure if Korean Air's policies/IT infrastructure would let me designate another man as my spouse. I've talked to a lot of other LGBT travelers who end up with concerns like this and I thought I'd put this out there for anyone who might be wondering the same thing I was.

LONG STORY SHORT: It worked just fine, and it took less than 48 hours

I was completely new to Korean air, so my husband and I both had t…

Point transfer reference

I use my Amex Premier Rewards and Chase Sapphire cards fairly frequently for transferring points to airline frequent flier programs. They both have different transfer partners -- for example Chase can transfer to United, Amex can't; Amex has a long list of transfer partners, Chase has only a few.

Transferring points is often instant, but other times it's not. I have a general rule that I only transfer points right before I'm about to book a reward flight, but if there's a lag in the point transfer, it can disrupt the best-laid plans.

I found this chart that shows the transfer times for some of the more popular cards. It might be helpful in planning your next trip.

Singapore Airlines reducing fuel surcharges!

Hooray! Another airline is lowering their fuel surcharges! Starting at the end of February Singapore Airlines is lowering theirs. ANA, JAL, and British Airways have all made similar announcements. With all of the recent point devaluations, it's nice to get some good news for a change.

JetBlue accepting ApplePay

I'm a big fan of ApplePay. Aside from the obvious cool factor, I love that it's a whole lot more difficult to skim my credit cards when I use them via ApplePay. We've both had our cards skimmed several times in the past decade and we're usually super cautious and know what to look for. The USA is also changing credit card liability laws in October, so lots of places are switching their equipment over to add NFC/ApplePay and EMV chip credit cards.

JetBlue just announced that they're going to start supporting ApplePay for in-flight transactions. I'm heading to LAX from JFK next week so I'll have to give it a try and see how it goes.

jet blue coat check

I just got back from Mexico and while I was at JFK I found out about a new coat check service for people getting the heck out of the snow and heading someplace warm.

Right now it's only available in JetBlue's Terminal 5 at JFK. More info over on JetBlue's blog. Their website is here.

UPDATE Feb 2016: sadly this service has been discontinued. I thought it was really useful, maybe it can come back in a different form someday...

The kiosk is right after you clear security. It opens at 5am and closes around midnight, but the staff let me know that they monitor inbound flights and will stay open later in the event of delayed flights.

It's all run from a tablet – just put in your phone number, it takes your picture, you swipe your card, tell them when you'll be back, and you're off. When you get back, you punch in your phone number, your face appears onscreen, and the attendant gives you back your coat. All receipts are automatically sent to your phone as a text messa…

La Compagnie launches all-Business Class service to London Luton

I've mentioned La Compagnie before. They've been offering all-Business Class service between Newark and Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport since summer of 2014 and they're now launching Newark to London Luton service 5x per week. The flight times are nice: leave Newark at 10:20PM and arrive London 10:30am, leave London 5:45pm and arrive Newark at 9:00PM

They've been consistently offering amazing deals ($1000 round trip to London right now!), so I'm still very interested in trying them out. The big thing is trying to avoid all of the potential downsides:
If anything goes wrong with the plane, they don't have any other planes to put you on, so no booking them when I'm on a tight schedule. You don't earn any miles (which is fine by me since I'm not chasing status) I hate Newark. Maybe once the PATH train is done it won't be so bad, but until then, ugh.The seats are the last-generation angled-flat seats, but lots of fancy airlines (hello, Lufthansa…

Aeromexico transfer bonus

I just now noticed while logged in to American Express' website that AeroMexico has a 20% transfer bonus running until March. I've used the Amex transfer twice now to fly from NYC to Mexico City on their new 787. It's one of the few intra-North American routes that has long-haul international seating and service. 
In my experience, Business Class award availability on this flight is wide-open (there's no First Class on this flight). You need 48,000 AeroKilometros for a one-way flight in Business. What's odd to me about the Amex transfer is that the points transfer at a 1:1.6 ratio (the same as miles-to-kilometers) – meaning that I transfer in 30,000 Amex points and 48,000 AeroKilometros show up in my account. With a 20% bonus, I should only need to 25,000 Amex points for that same flight. Sadly I just got back from Mexico so I won't have the chance to take advantage of this. (As I've mentioned before, I never transfer points until right before I'm abou…

New way to get to Vancouver from NYC

Foreign carriers are forbidden from selling flights between two US cities. Before I go on, can you imagine how awesome it would be if Emirates, Cathay, Lufthansa, and ANA could compete with domestics on the JFK-LAX run!? We do, though, permit "5th freedom" flights between the USA and foreign countries by any carrier. (There's some background information about the various freedoms here, and a list of fifth freedom routes here).

I took a fifth freedom flight earlier this year when I went from NYC to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific. Starting in March, Philippine Airlines is adding a competing flight: NYC-Vancouver (YVR)-Manila. According to their press release, it'll be an A340 with 36 lie-flat Business Class seats
While I'm fairly certain that Cathay Pacific has a more refined experience, I'm pretty excited about eating some SkyLumpia :) I don't even know if that's a thing that exists but if it doesn't then it should! In addition to (hopefully?) tasty…

Why I passed on the American Express - British Airways transfer bonus

The past couple of years British Airways Avios points have been pretty useful for me. We used them to fly to London on their signature A318 London City service and back on their 747 First Class, and we've used them countless times for short-haul flights (gotta love 9000 miles for NYC-Montreal round trip). I also have a decent amount of Amex points, which I love because of their flexibility. So it's no big surprise that I was excited about the Amex - BA transfer bonus that was announced for January.

As I've mentioned previously, we've been planning on going to Japan in spring but since my brother still doesn't have dates nailed down yet, our being there is going to rely on some serendipitous last-minute award availability or we're not going to be able to attend. I hemmed and hawed about proactively transferring my Amex points over during the bonus period, but I have a fairly hard rule with myself that I don't transfer points until right before I'm ready …

JFK Terminal 1 AirFrance lounge

I don't obsess much about lounges. In my old age I need a bit of moderation in my life so the lure of unlimited free booze before a flight where I can also have unlimited free booze has faded. These days I usually have a little champagne toast with my hubby / traveling companions and that's about it. If I'm on a long layover or there's departure delays, I like my lounges quiet, half-empty, with decent coffee, fast wi-fi, and something resembling fresh fruit or vegetables to eat. The AirFrance / SkyTeam lounge at JFK's Terminal 1 is all of those things, plus a great planespotting bar upstairs. It looks like it got a major remodel since my last visit in Jan '14. Sadly they removed the model airplane display. Still, it's nice, clean, and modern. 
Here's some pictures.