Showing posts from 2018

Chase losing Korean Air as a transfer partner

Well this blows. It's now confirmed that Chase is losing Korean Air as a transfer partner. This is my preferred method of spending Ultimate Rewards points from our Chase Sapphire cards – we've already taken several flights this way, and were actively saving to repeat our 747-8 upstairs experience sometime next year. 

I'll wait and see if they pull a rabbit from their hat and add another transfer partner to make up for it (Alaska Airlines would be a great option), but if not, this very likely means we'll cancel one or both of our Sapphire Reserve cards when they're up for renewal.

There's a very active discussion happening over on /r/churning right now – lots of fun speculation about the future and reminiscing about great trips taken over the years. The reason I loved them so much is that they had great award seat availability. Yes, I'd heard that the popularity of the Sapphire card caused that to decrease a bit, but even last week I'd been doing some s…

My story on The Points Guy!

Over the weekend, The Points Guy did a story about our recent trip to Tel Aviv and Petra.
Check it out!

JetBlue adding service to Mexico City from New York JFK and Boston

This week, JetBlue announced service to Mexico City from JFK and Boston's Logan airport. Given how many Caribbean and Latin American destinations they currently serve, I'm surprised it took them so long to offer this route (they already fly to Mexico City from two of their Florida hubs). The flights are timed really well:
JFK 9:58am > MEX 2:25pmMEX 3:55pm > JFK 10:52pmBOS 8:31am > MEX 1:15pmMEX 2:20pm > BOS 8:42pm They'll be flying these routes with A320s, so sadly that means there's no Mint seats onboard. No word yet on whether the planes will feature their refreshed A320 cabin – given the timing it seems possible the planes might get a plane with the "Phase 1" update. 
Both flights begin service 25 October 2018. JetBlue now offers service to 22 countries. 

JetBlue points devaluation

JetBlue has a fixed-value rewards program called TrueBlue, where points are earned based on the cost of the flight and redeemed at a fairly fixed rate based on the current price for the flight. While these types of programs don't let you take amazing 10-cents-per-point aspirational reward flights like our ANA First flight, they do mean that you can easily redeem your points for any seat on any flight without hours of planning and searching for the ever-elusive award seat.

Most of the bloggers value JetBlue points at 1.3¢ each. In my own observations, there's been a little bit of variability over the years: I've seen the occasional redemption at 1.4¢ or even as high as 1.7¢. Well, yesterday I was pricing out a one way Mint flight from SFO to JFK and noticed that my Mint flight has reached an all-new low: 1.0¢

Since we earned most of these points due to my husband's work travel, it's still free money, but given the changing lie-flat transcon market, it might be tim…

Amazon's targeted 20% off promotion

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!

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

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

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

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 –

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)

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…