Monday, May 22, 2017

Boston airport

I really like that Boston airport has a special, glass encased area for smokers, away from those of us that like to breath. I had to inhale smoke at Brussels Airport the day before arriving in Boston, so I  was suffering from Asthma. At Brussels, even the Police stand at the door, smoking in groups, so you cant pass through the exit without a lack of oxygen. Then I had to wait 2  hours for the Holiday Inn bus. The bus stop is in the covered garage, where everyone smokes.

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The other thing that I like about BOS airport is the rocking chairs! You can also de-stress in the relaxing Airline Club lounge. You can buy a lounge membership or can get in for free if you have Elite United Platinum Premier 1K status. Lounge access when traveling internationally is for Gold Platinum and 1K United and Star Alliance members. Perhaps the chairs are used most for rocking babies to sleep, so on slightly related news: … The USA has too many laws, but they keep adding more. One of the 2015  laws is that there must be mandatory breast pumping stations at airports. Bizarre but you know that they include this in their fees to cover this. The fuel sur-charge went up when oil prices were high but never came down when prices did. Fees and laws never disappear.

Boston Logan Airport

One thing that I don’t like about Boston Logan International Airport is that the Airport staff, (not TSA) stand at the beginning of the line for passengers to go through the scanners and tell people that they are not allowed to take cabin bags. This slows down the line because I had to re-pack my hand luggage to combine all my stuff. I had my computer out and my thick jacket in my bag so I could go through the TSA pre, fast. I was flying first class so she did not consider that I was allowed a bit more. She was just inventing her own rules.

It is good to get Elite Status because you can board in group one so you have first go at the overhead luggage space.

Happy travels!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Houston, Y’all R out of luck

Sometimes I wonder if it is worth being a Premier Platinum member of United Airlines. They decided to change the flight I booked several months ago and re-routed me via Chicago. I do not want to fly via Chicago but since United treats Houstonians badly, they just sent me an email telling me that I had to take an extra flight to Chicago. They stopped flying at 1pm to Houston, from New York. I told them that I would suffer waiting an extra 3 hours at EWR rather than fly to Chicago and asked them why they removed my wait list for first class, without re-instating it in my account. You should watch out for their hand slight tricks. I would have preferred to fly via Washington, not Chicago, but they refused to let me, without paying a few hundred dollars extra. As usual, it’s a one way relationship. They can change my flight after I paid for it but they won’t accommodate my preference.

They sold me a flight taking up 3 hours less of my time, then a week before departure, they changed it and told me that I would have to pay hundreds of dollars more to fly a similar time schedule via IAD.

They say that Houston is a HUB, but it is really, just a gateway to South American flights, and if you don’t fly to S. America, you pay some of the highest airfares to other destinations. The City of Houston taxpayers paid for the fancy Airport dominated by United but now Houstonians don’t have much competition at the airport. Even the Latin America flights are going to be directly from Newark like the new flights to Argentina. 

United Tweeted that they are increasing the flights from several cities, but not from Houston.

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On May 1st United tweeted “We’re providing agents with creative solutions to get our customers where they need to go” Yes, their creative solutions are not overbooking but now they are removing whole flights that passengers have paid for and squashing those passengers on other, longer, more inconvenient flights.

United are no longer in the classy Airlines category. Continental Air was a cut above other airlines but now that they have merged, United has decided to downgrade to provide similar service to the low cost airlines (without the low cost). They have what they call “Basic Economy” tickets which are subject to loads of  restrictions including,: NO seat selection or upgrades, no group or family seating, no normal sized carry-on bags and no flight changes or refunds. Certain MileagePlus and MileagePlus Premier® member benefits are not available. So is it worth getting elite Status if you don’t get benefits and have to pay more than the average price?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't forget the Alamo & the Riverwalk

Once you have seen the Alamo, it will be engraved in your memory, because it is an impressive structure. 

I’ve been invited to the Grand Opening of the Bowie Exhibit at The Alamo. It’s a new exhibit exploring the life of legendary Alamo defender James Bowie and his famous knife. I’m excited about celebrating the Ribbon Cutting and seeing the “Living History Demonstrations”. The courageous frontiersmen Crocket, Bowie and Travis are captivating and riveting tales of brave Patriot Pioneers

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I find the IMG_0391Alamo an alluring historical site and have often visited the grounds or just stood outside the spellbinding Fort Building façade. I think of these founding Texans as I drive down Travis Street In Houston. It is in the center of the city, so you can’t visit the city without seeing all the down-town streets named after the 19th-century heroes.

One of Davys quotes on Government Welfare, comes to mind: Col. Davy Crockett wisely warned that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away what you have". In n 1836 The Texas Revolution was fought, following a 13-day siege by Mexican troops under the brutal, President General Santa Anna.

I enjoy visiting the Missions near San Antonio. Mission San Jose is about 4 miles from the Alamo, where the National Park Service Rangers set the stage for you to visit the other mission sites on the trail. The stone buildings at Mission Concepcion give a picture of what life was like when the Pioneers arrived from Europe to find the farm land promised to them was in hot, rugged terrain, with the only shelter and protection from the Indians, was within the walls of the Missions. Spain had promised Swedes, Scotts and other Europeans land to form a buffer from the Navajo, Cherokee and Shawnee Indian tribes that the Catholic Missions were trying to Christianize.

The Marriott Riverwalk, Hyatt and the Westin Hotel are close to the Alamo but the The Menger Hotel & Valencia are right next to it. The Alamo provides photo ops in both day light and is illuminated beautifully at night.

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I’m certainly glad that I can stay in one of those comfortable hotels when I visit San Antonio. In 1840 the folk did not have much comfort, The least of their concerns, was a lack of air-conditioning and in my book, it is a basic necessity in Texas.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tips for a visit to Paris in the Spring

I stayed at the Renaissance a couple of years ago, and hope that I will like it again. This Paris Vendome Hotel, appeals to me, mainly because I like to swim to stretch after a long flight. The Boutique hotel is located in the fashion & historic district of Paris, and has a Spa & indoor swimming pool. Their sister hotel, the Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel does not have a pool but is wonderful for shopping!

The Renaissance Paris Vendome is located just between Rue Saint Honore and the Tuileries Garden, next to the Place Vendome and the Paris Fashion District. You can walk to Taxi, Bus and Metro for transportation. It’s a Cat 9 hotel, so you need a lot of Marriott Rewards points to get one  “free” night. 45,000 points to be exact. But if you have them, uses them or lose them. Accumulated points will be removed from your account if you do not have qualifying activity in the prior 2 years. Check with Marriott for exclusive Elite savings and offers are available to Elites throughout the year.

This is an article sent in by Sally Dacre" as the first Guest Writer on ElitePro. If anyone else would like to guest write, just drop me an email at [email protected] ....

Enjoying Paris in Spring  -

There is no better time to visit Paris than in the spring: Songs have been written about it, great literary works have sung its praises. Paris really blossoms in spring time, where the river Seine comes to life and the city parks bloom in verdant splendor. As elite frequent fliers, you have probably been to Paris before, but here is a refresher on where your adventures should begin. Tips for enjoying Paris in the spring time:

Paris in the Spring

Visit the Beautiful Gardens You can't visit Paris as a tourist, without enjoying some of its most famous museums, such as a trip to the Lourve to see the infamous Mona Lisa. However, it would be a shame to visit Paris in the spring and spend the whole time cooped inside: so why not explore the many outdoor cultural delights that Paris has to offer? The Luxembourg gardens are particularly beautiful in spring time and a day trip to the nearby Palace of Versailles is an incredible experience you should plan into your trip if you're staying in Paris for longer than a weekend. Of course, if you don't want to stray too far from the center of the city, the Louvre has beautiful gardens that you can escape to and explore when you tire of enjoying one of the world’s most beautiful and extensive art collections.

Dine Outside: - Paris is well known for its street café culture, where chic Parisians dine and drink outside whilst watching the world go by and people watching: ensuring they can see and be seen. Spring is the perfect time of year to join them by enjoying lunch outside. Picking a good restaurant isn't hard in Paris (there are an abundance!) but s good rule of thumb is to look for a restaurant that is packed full of residents, rather than tourists: if the picky French are prepared to pay for their lunch there then the food must be good! Enjoy a light lunch with a good quality bottle of wine (French of course) and let the rest of the day simply drift by. Don't forget to enjoy some of the desserts that the Parisians are so famous for whilst you're there, and if you're in any doubt about what to eat then ask your waiter for recommendations: they are generally passionate about the food they serve and love to show off their knowledge. Whilst there's so much to see and do in Paris, often the best experiences are those when you're doing nothing at all, so don't see an afternoon enjoying lunch as wasted time, but as part of your Parisian adventure.

Remain Alert. Unfortunately, in the current world political climate, it is impossible to talk about visiting Paris without mentioning the recent tragic terror attacks that have blighted the city, and their aftermath. Security is much tighter in much of the city, particularly around the airports and train stations, and you will also see an enhanced police and military presence. For some visitors this can seem daunting as, unlike in many other European cities. (Some find it reassuring that armed guards are there to protect us) The police patrols in Paris are heavily armed. Whilst this can make the threat of terrorism seem more real, Paris is a safe city to visit. It is simply important that you pay attention to any instructions issued by the security services, that you remain alert when in high traffic areas, and have the protection of a good level of travel insurance should something unexpected occur.

Visit the Eiffel Tower: - One of the biggest attractions on a trip to Paris is a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Something that every visitor enjoys for good reason: it is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget. Beat the crowds by pre-booking your elevator ride to the top of the Tower and, once there, why not celebrate with a glass or two of champagne? There's no way to predict how crowded this popular tourist attraction will be, but visiting during the evening can often help you beat the crowds and the tower remains open until 11pm every night until mid-June. You'll also be able to enjoy the beauty and romance of Paris during the evening: perfect for a warm spring night.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Living Dutch art

Stop at the Rijksmuseum to admire masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer or head to a street market (markt) to buy tulips.

I was able to stand inside the Nightwatch painting, created as sculptures in Rembrants Plein Amsterdam. I discovered this living art when I walked from the tram stop to my hotel, The Waldorf Astoria. There are many other hotels near the Rembrandt's square. The N H hotel has a view of this sculpture. NH Hotels are quite a big, “mid-priced” brand, in Europe. They have 400 hotels in 30 countries offering free Wi-Fi  me in nightwatch