Showing posts from March, 2016

You can't manage your AT&T or ConEd bill from abroad...

Just a quick tip here cuz I just got bit by this one... You can't manage your AT&T or Consolidated Edison electricity accounts from overseas. But of course neither gives you a warning that you can't, their website just hangs indefinitely when you try to log in. I checked online and, yep, here's the FAQ (from ConEd) that confirms it's not supported.

In both cases we first tried using several different desktops and mobile devices to access the websites from web browser - nope. We tried a variety of internet connections at a variety of times (cellular, home wifi, wired ethernet) - nope. Then we tried a VPN from Tokyo to the US and that didn't fix the problem either. So we ended up doing a Remote Desktop session to my husband's work machine on his desk in New York and immediately got in. If you're going on a longer trip, you might want to make arrangements to have the access and payments you need.

For ConEd, we've found that you can pre-pay your bill on…

ANA 777 First Class JFK - NRT Trip Report

Pros Best in-flight meal everFantastic serviceGreat seat/bedToto Washlet on boardNice departure time (noon Eastern) means a very calm Terminal 7
Cons Honestly, none. Other than it's 30,000 more points per person each way than Korean Air First Class, but you get what you pay for...
How I did it Detailed info is over here, but the short story is: 110,000 United Miles + $5.60 in fees, per person, one way. We earned those miles through a combination of last year's flying on United and one 50,000-point United credit card sign up bonus. We booked around 9 months in advance.

If I were taking this flight again, I'd try to book with a Virgin Atlantic partner redemption if possible. 
ArrivingWe got stuck trying to do online check-in, but a quick call to ANA got that sorted out. ANA uses Terminal 7 at JFK, along with British, Cathay, and Iceland Air. Since the bulk of British Airways flights happen in the evening, the terminal was basically empty when we arrived at 10:30am. 
ANA check-…

Tips for checking in for a partner award flight on ANA

Our big trip to Japan is about to start so I went to check in today and encountered some difficulty getting ANA's website to find my reservation. I couldn't find anything about this online so I thought I'd post this for other folks if they have the same problem. We'd booked two All Nippon Airways seats through using our United miles. 
UPDATE: after our recent trip to Asia, I found that most Asian airlines do some variation of this, either "BrianL" or "BrianLee" goes into the First Name field.
First off, before you visit ANA's website to check in, visit and view your reservation. There should be a link called "View additional confirmation numbers", which opens a popup with ANA's internal reference number for your flight. Do not use the United number. 

Second, when you go to the ANA check-in page, make sure you enter your first name followed immediately by your middle initial in the First Name box. In the pictur…

Korean Air Skypass credit card targeted offer

We're heading to Boracay for a wedding in December and after lots of planning, New York – Seoul – Manila on Korean Air looks to be our best bet. The initial plan was to transfer Chase points to my Korean Air account and fly on their A380 service to JFK. 
UPDATE 4/2016: My miles posted a few days after my first statement closed and I paid my bill!

But then, literally as I writing about how these days I'm really only considering targeted, high bonus credit card offers, I received one in the mail for Korean Air and I decided to go for it (the targeted offer was 40,000 bonus miles versus the normal 15,000). The card arrived about 10 days later. 
The card only earns one mile per dollar on purchases (except those with Korean Air where it earns 2), so I'd prefer to hit the $2500 spending minimum in categories where I couldn't earn a bonus on my other cards. Considering all of the bonus categories my Amex and Sapphire cards cover (dining, airfare, travel, gas, groceries....), …

United retiring all of it's 747s, Jamming an extra seat per row into it's 777s...

bye bye 747 United announced today that they're retiring all of their 747s by 2018. They've changed their orders at Boeing to convert some of their 787 orders into 777-300ER planes to reflect the accelerated retirement schedule. There's another little nugget of info over here, that suggests Boeing gave them some very steep discounts to prevent them from buying any of Bombardier's new C-series jets.

I love the 747. While the Airbus A380 double-decker recently came along and redefined the word "jumbo jet", that little upstairs on the 747 has an intimate, tree-fort kind of feeling that's completely lost on the A380.

Because both the 747 and the A380 have 4 engines, they tend to use more fuel and were therefore fast-tracked for replacement by newer, lighter, 2-engine planes back when gas was $5 a gallon. Now that it's half that, the pressure to get rid of them is off a bit. So this announcement seems a bit odd to me given that British Airways recently an…

AVIS points

Well my husband's company just switched their preferred rental car provider to Avis. I'm perusing their points options here and generally thinking aloud...

Avis has their own mileage plan called Preferred Points, but if you look here, you'll see that if you choose airline/hotel miles, you won't earn any Avis points. Their site is frustratingly vague about what you can do with Avis points, but it seems like a lot of it is upgrades and free GPS/Car Seat/etc. Since he doesn't need those things, he'll probably opt for airline points.

They have a long list of point partners, but here are the ones that jumped out at me:

He's currently a JetBlue guy, so let's start there. 100 JetBlue points per rental day, with a maximum of 500 points. Since most people value JetBlue points at 1.7¢ each, that's $8.50 for a 5-day rental. Since they charge a $1.00 fee per day for receiving airline miles instead of Avis points, you actually only earn $3.50 worth of poi…

United board coup

Two large hedge funds that own around 7% of United Airlines stock are leading a revolt to force United to replace their board of directors. United and Continental merged several years ago and they want Continental's former CEO, Gordon Bethune, named non-executive Chairman of the Board. Bethune is regarded as a the savior of Continental a decade ago and they want him back, I think, to undo the damage that United's CEO Jeff Smisek did in the years after the merger.

My husband and I were longtime United frequent fliers but several things turned us away:

The merger between United and Continental was an IT nightmare. While they might have some industry-leading IT capabilities now, their website was plagued with bugs for years and it looked and worked like a clunky 1997 website for 4+ years after the merger. Smisek talked a lot about upgrading the planes but they were so slow at rolling out Wi-Fi that we often flew Delta when not on the United P.S. JFK/LAX/SFO route (their lone route…

JetBlue's Mint Business Class, March 2016 LAX - JFK

I'm a big fan of JetBlue's new "Mint" Business Class service. I wrote about it right after launch, and again six months into service. I've flown it several times since then and thought I'd share a few more observations from my flight this week (one year after my last post on the subject).
I'm happy to report it's mostly unchanged :)
first and foremost the seat is still the best in the businessthe staff are all incredibly helpful and professionalthe food is fantastic and modernfares are still super reasonable and much cheaper than the competition (from $600 each way)fares on the "big 3" are still $1000 cheaper than they were before Mint launchedthey still need a lounge in LAX, but i think the lack of one is reflected in the price(the gate situation at JFK and SFO is so much nicer than LAX you don't really miss the lounge there, I can't speak for BOS)it's still pretty easy to make Mosaic status. Mosaic + a JetBlue Amex means 8 poin…

Boeing shows off a self-cleaning airplane bathroom

Boeing is showing off a prototype for a far-ultraviolet sanitizing system that could kill 99.99% of pathogens in an airline lavatory in 3 seconds. They're also adding a UV sanitation system to the water faucet so people can brush their teeth safely. 
On the topic of airline bathrooms, I'm a huge fan of the Toto Washlet (Japanese bidet toilet) but I'm sad that no airlines except JAL and ANA have opted to put it into their planes. When we flew Korean Air's A380 in First Class, the absence of a Washlet was a downer.