TRIP REPORT: Alaska Airlines 737 Newark to Portland in Business Class (EWR - PDX)

Unremarkable domestic trans-con flight in 38” first class recliners. Friendly flight attendants, uncommunicative pilots.  
ProsAlaska miles are versatile Power at seat in Business ClassFree messaging on wi-fiSalt and Straw ice creamFriendly FAsSnack basket + candy before landing ConsNewark terminal has indoor porta-potties instead of bathrooms No seatback entertainment, they hand out a small tablet PC instead. 70 minutes from boarding to wheels up with zero communication from flight deck about why we were delayedNo food choice (I guess I'm having the vegetable pasta!)Complimentary upgrades means Business Class is always fullAlaska refuses to enforce the "use the lavatory in your ticketed cabin" ruleWi-fi is very expensive: $39.99 for Gogo's slow-go internet TipsSit near the front of the Business Class section if you'd like to have a choice of meal How I did it$502 for a one-way flight. I chose this primarily due to the flight time clicking well with my schedule i…

Alaska Airlines has reached peak doublespeak

I honestly have no words to explain the email I got from Alaska Airlines today. It's an email proudly announcing the removal of the big First Class recliners (with 58" of legroom!) from the ex-Virgin America planes and their replacement with run-of-the-mill 38" slimline (i.e., minimal padding) seats. But y'know, the airline industry has gotten so Orwellian in their marketing lately that I wouldn't have otherwise made a fuss over it.

But then I read THIS paragraph:

Now at this point, I actually starting poking at the email headers to make sure it hadn't come from The Onion or some other news satire site. Is this what we've come to? Giving people a glass of water on a plane is now cause for a customer-wide email with this as a pull-quote?

We can't be more than a few months away from this now, can we?

Crazy Rich Asians tour of Singapore!

I've been wanting to go to Singapore for years and two big things have been pushing me toward finally doing it: the return of the world's longest flight (NYC – SIN), and the blockbuster summer movie Crazy Rich Asians. (Go see it if you haven't yet!) I would have seen the movie even if one of my besties wasn't in a starring role, but I think him being in it did get me interested in reading the books that the movie is based on.

Fair warning: those books make you huuuungry, so don't read them on an empty stomach! If you follow my Instagram you probably know that food is a huge part of why I travel, and I want to go everywhere in the book and graze for days! Of course some enterprising folks in Singapore have already put together a "Crazy Rich Asians Tour" that probably has some similarities to the "Sex and the City" tours that we occasionally run into here in New York.

It's called artistic license, Brian As I mentioned in my Trip Report, I was …

Tokyo's Tsukiji Market is moving Oct 11th

The amazing Tsukiji market is one of Tokyo's biggest tourist attractions. We've been hearing for years now that it's going to move because of the Olympics. Then it wasn't. Then it was, but to a totally different place much closer. Well, now that we have an official date less than 3 months away for the move, I'm thinking it's about time to start accepting this as reality. 

If you look at the map it's moving to a nearby infill island called Toyosu 40 minutes walk from the existing market. There are quite a few other attractions out in this area, so maybe visit the Miraikan science museum or the giant Gundam while you're there. The two main ways to get there are: Take the Yurakacho line to Toyosu station, then switch to the Yurikamome line for Shijo-Mae station.Take the Saikyo line to Kokusai-Tenjijo and then transfer to the Ariake station on the Yurikamome line to reach Shijo-Mae. If you're on Tokyo's west side (e.g., Shinjuku) this option has few…

Hotel Review: Hilton Waikoloa Village

We unexpectedly needed a hotel near Waikoloa for 2 nights and booked the Hilton Waikoloa Village day-of largely due to it being the cheapest on Kayak.

In one sentence:If I had kids I might consider staying here. But if you don't, I wouldn't.

Our room was listed at $256 but at checkout the rate was actually $100 more due to mandatory resort and parking fees and other miscellaneous charges

This hotel is the size of Disneyland, so the walk from the parking lot to our room was fully 20 minutes for able-bodied pushy New Yokers :) Yes, there's a super-cool tram from reception, but at 10pm the wait for the tram was 15 minutes.

This hotel is clearly aimed at people with kids. The bar in our wing of the hotel closes at 10pm. If you want to walk 15 minutes back to the main wing, the bar there stays open until midnight. After that, and you have to drive back into town.

Despite this hotel being very popular with Japanese tourists, the beautiful spa/onsen closes at 8pm, so …

Southern Vermont's Frog Meadow Farm – a perfect getaway

As I've said many times before, I'm not a big "hotel person" – I'd rather be out seeing the sights and meeting up with people than ensconced in the stylishly-bland, comfortable nowhere of a posh urban hotel. There are exceptions, though. Visiting a traditional Japanese ryokan inn immediately comes to mind. While they're often located in beautiful settings, the hotel itself is the primary destination. Beautiful seasonal food, soaking tubs and onsen baths, and lots of quiet time for just chilling out for a couple of days. For experiences like these, I'm very much a hotel snob.

Our first-ever trip to Vermont back in 2010 was specifically to visit Frog Meadow Farm in Newfane. A friend in San Francisco was describing it to us and it sounded a lot like an American ryokan for gay men: seasonal breakfasts, a wood-fired soaking tub, a massage studio, miles of private hiking and cross-country skiing trails, orchards and honeybees, a big roaring fireplace to sit in …

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…