Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Listen up Elites; Change is in the Air

Marriott Bonvoy is the new name for Marriott Rewards®, Elite program for Hotels : Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® and SPG®.
And United airlines has a new cabin.


I may be wrong. but I suspect this will be centered on Marriott hotels because I have had 2 SPG hotels move out of the program in the last month. I had booked The Sheraton Providence (PVD) airport, but it has left the group. Now yet another hotel that I stay at, is leaving. The Hotel Des Indes, a Starwood Luxury Collection property will join Leading Hotels of the World, which does not offer many benefits.


Bad news for United Elite members, no more free upgrades to premium economy seats. 

United will launch Premium Plus on 20+ Long-Haul Routes.


in March Premium Plus will be a new service on international routes as United’s new full-service premium-economy cabin. Seating will have up to 19 inches of width, 38 inches of pitch and 6 inches of recline. Flights like the 787-10 Dreamliner, will come with Saks Fifth Ave. pillows and other amenities but fewer amenities than in first class or Polaris. Details Premium Plus Launch on 20+ Long-Haul Routes
Not much to smile about, but you will be able to select Economy Plus free of charge on all connecting segments that do not have a premium-economy cabin. Sitting in the slightly larger than economy seat (economy Plus) on a flight to Newark from Houston if you are buying a ticket to Europe, is a long part of the trip to be in a seat 2 inches wider, but I suppose every inch counts. On the connecting flight, you won’t have Club lounge access on Premium Plus tickets. I know a couple of men whom, do not fit in economy, so will have to purchase the next class up.
Premium Plus fare will be O,A,R,ON,RN fares. So if you want to fly cheap you can buy a basic economy fare but will not earn miles on your flight. The next up would be regular economy then Premium Plus then Polaris. I don’t think they will have first class on flights anymore, looks like it will be the 3 cabins on international flights.
You can not use a Global Premier Upgrade (GPU) to upgrade from economy to business class on S, T, K, L, G or N fares, but you will be able to upgrade to seat in Premium Plus from the afore mentioned fares, (Except basic economy “N” fares).
If you book a Premium Plus fare, you will be prioritized above all economy passengers for waitlisted Polaris business-class upgrades. Not that there is much chance of that upgrade happening.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tex-Mex Christmas

I always enjoy visiting San Antonio because the history fascinates me. I can imagine the Romantic 19th-century heroes like Bowie and Davy Crocket at the Alamo. The spellbinding Fort Building fa├žade in the middle of the city, makes me appreciate those brave founding Texans.

Before I learnt to speak Spanish, I ate chili con carne on the other side of the world. I did not know that Carne, simply means “Meat”. The hot Beef and beans dish is eaten all over the world, but tastes the best in Texas. My favorite food to eat, on the River walk, is Texas-style barbecue brisket or Chili pepper meals, a cuisine originally popularized by Tejanas. They worked as wives or servants and many had their own food stalls. In the late 19th century, San Antonio was a booming railroad town and became famous for its open-air market stalls.

IMG_0781

Come see the holiday lights strung across the Alamo grounds. It just brings this amazing structure to a magical elevation! Christmas is the best time to visit the Alamo. Firstly, the weather is cooler in Texas this time of the year to walk around the grounds open until 7 p.m. daily . The lights will be up for the full month of December. We remember the Alamo and the sacrifice the Pioneer defenders made in 1836.

Free events to enjoy with your family are: Alamo Christmas tree Lighting Ceremony | Nov. 30, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. Enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and live music.

The next event is “A Homemade Christmas at the Alamo” on Dec. 1, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., explore what the holiday season would have looked like on the Texas frontier! A Homemade Christmas will include period crafts for visitors of all ages, living history demonstrations, Christmas storytelling, music and more.

Fort Sam Houston - The U.S. Army in San Antonio | Dec. 1, free with registration This presentation will cover the history of Fort Sam Houston and the U.S. Army in San Antonio. Beginning with the initial arrival of the army in 1845, the talk will highlight the numerous army activities throughout downtown San Antonio.

Tourists like to take a boat ride down the river to see the city center and eat at one of the superb TexMex restaurants on the river banks. I always toast the city with a Margarita.

imageimage


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Christmas traditions

I bought my Christmas pudding at Heathrow Airport and wish I could buy my Christmas crackers in England, but will not because they are banned by TSA due to the tiny explosive.

image

I visit Holland every year for the 5th of December to enjoy the tradition of Sinterklaas with relatives. Then I get to celebrate Christmas on the 25th again in the USA.(I like to “double dip”). It is believed that the tradition of Santa (Father Christmas) originated in 340 A.C, when the Bishop of Myra gave sweets to children. The legend of the kindly Pope’s representative arriving is played out with much pageantry in Holland to this day. Sinterklaas arrives annually on a Saturday at the end of November. This event is broadcast on national Television, each year he arrives at a different city by boat.

Children watch the TV news every day in Holland, to hear about his voyage. One year the Sinterklaas Journal had lots of children in dismay because he almost landed, but his boat had to turn around because they forgot to bring his Staff, and had to turn around to go back for it. Luckily, we know from previous years, that no matter what sort of exploits happen, Sint arrives on time to deliver gifts on the 5th of December.In England, Xmas extends to “Boxing Day”.and in Holland they also have 2 days of Christmas celebrations.
Sinterklaas
I traveled to Amsterdam with some friends from America and enjoyed their astonishment at seeing Santa’s helpers because he is always accompanied by 2 fake black moors! They are both named “zwarte Piet”( Translated is: “black Peter”). I have to admit, it is the strangest thing to see 2 grown men in tights with black makeup covering their faces! Well worth hopping on a KLM flight to cross the pond to experience a Dutch Christmas, if you can keep a straight face.    

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Discounted KLM rewards to Europe

I fly to Amsterdam often, despite trying to avoid Schiphol airport because it gets so congested and is frightening to stand in confined areas in long lines. The queues are always long at customs and the ceilings low..

KLM and Air France have really good discounted Promo Rewards starting at 3,600 miles from Paris to Rennes. But the big deals are on long-haul flights, like from Seattle. Get a discount of 50% on flights between Seattle and anywhere in Europe.NYC to Europe is also on sale.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij), is a genuine Royal Airline! The King of Holland has been seen flying their 747s.image

Flying Blue is the combined loyalty program of Air France, KLM and Delta are the major airlines.

Flying Blue members receive more generous perks – and more Miles as they upgrade up to a higher elite status level and can enjoy the benefits on Sky Team airlines:

With 100 XP, you become Silver.
With 180 XP, you become Gold.
With 300 XP, you become Platinum.

The best perk with Platinum status is access to KLM lounges across the globe, with a guest of your choice.+ SkyPriority: priority access at the airport .Only Elite members (Silver, Gold, Platinum) can use reward tickets to book in First.
You get up to 50% off  with this miles Promo. (Promos are monthly offers) This Promo from Flying Blue has to be booked on 14th to 16th Nov 2018 then you have to fly between 1 Jan and 31st March 2019. Travel between anywhere in Europe and NYC in Economy one way costs 14,000 miles (and 28,000 for a round trip) Tax and fees cost $216 and up. So consider that they are advertising flights from New York to Barcelona for $319 and you don't need  to use your miles.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seafront Festival

I had a wonderful weekend in Northern Ireland, last weekend. The annual Sea Festival was packed with fun activities.

The Captain of a tall ship invited me on board his boat and I was thrilled to be on this fairy tale vessel. In fact he told me that it had been used in the Cinderella movie.

tallship bangor


Tall ships, military vehicles, food, Street Theatre and live music filled the marina.

image

There was even an amazing display of aircraft:  Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers Aerial Display - The world's only aerobatic formation wingwalking team. Bangor maritime festival offered a host of activities including live music, food stalls, street theatre.

sea festifal bangor 2


The giant 50ft inflatable whale was a hit with children and the pub was a hit with my group!

sea festifal bangor 1

I will be back next year!