Friday, December 19, 2008

Benefits worth it to make Elite qualification before year end?

It’s nearing the end of the year and may be worth squeezing in a last flight to make the elite qualification because it is based on the calendar year (January 1 - December 31). Remember that you need ELITE miles not bonus miles.

Flew to SFO but a lot of unseasoned travelers are in the air this week before Christmas, so it is a mess at the airport with temper fuses very low.5 hour delays in New York.... The San Francisco flights on CO are all overbooked this week and I saw people getting ugly for a seat so it may not be worth it to make that flight.
Continental airlines gives Silver Elite to passengers flying 25,000 Elite qualification miles or 30 points GOLD needs 50,000 miles and Platinum needs 75,000 elite qualification miles.
The American Airlines, AAdvantage Executive Platinum requirement is fly 100 Elite qualifying segments or 100,000 miles. It may be worth taking advantage of an offer for example; -
AA has a December fare sale to fly from Washington Reagan Nat'l, DC to Cancun, Mexico for only $101.
The 2008 AAdvantage Executive Platinum requirement is fly 100 Elite qualifying segments or 100,000 miles.
One of the best benefits is SkyTeam Partner Lounge Access, available to One Pass Plat members with SkyTeam Alliance Partners:

Aeroflot , AeroMéxico , Air France ,Alitalia ,China Southern Airlines, CSA CzechAirlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Northwest

Pity the best airline lounge is not part of the Sky Team or part of the One World Alliance. Virgin Atlantics new clubhouse is the best, - with a waterside in the Poolside Lounge where you can unwind and forget that you’re at an airport.
The OneworldAlliace, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members get oneworld Emerald status, which is recognized by all ten member airlines:

AmericanAirlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, JAL, LAN, Malev Quantas and Royal Jordanian.

Benefits with this group, include access on the day of travel to the First Class lounges, when traveling internationally, plus priority services.
All levels of One Pass elite get preferred economy class seating on Continental flights but not on Sky Team. But the truth is that the "preferred status is not handed out generously because each airline likes to look after their own customers first and also because they are too big to treat us well unless you work for a company with alot of clout.

Miles and More Senator status is like gold elite in other programs(100,000 / 130,000 status miles in a given calendar year to qualify) - and their highest is HON CIRCLE Members needing 600,000 HON Circle miles.

The Star Alliance members are:

Air Canada Air China Air New Zealand, ANA Asiana Airlines, Austrian bmi EgyptAir, LOT Polish Airlines,Scandinavian Airlines Shanghai Airlines Singapore Airlines,South African Airways Spanair Portugal ,THAI,Turkish Airlines, United,US Airways, Lufthansa, South African Airways.

Star Alliance Gold Customers Travelling in Any Class have access to any Star Alliance member carriers' owned lounges with the Star Alliance Gold logo at the entrance. United and US Airways Star Alliance Gold customers are only eligible for lounge access when travelling in conjunction with a Star Alliance international flight. Lufthansa’s a Miles & More members and Lufthansa International First Class Customers have access to International First Class and/or any Star Alliance member carriers' own lounges but you would probably be a paid lounge member if you fly that much because seasoned travelers don’t buy first class tickets often.

I did buy a first class ticket last month because the difference between first and economy was only about $50 but that does not happen very often. I prefer to take my chances on an upgrade since that is the main reason that I strive for elite status.

I am elite but have had a middle seat on Continental because you have to be ticketed in J/D/Z/C/A/Y class of service to qualify for their "No Middle Seat" Guarantee.

"No Middle Seat" Guarantee: To ensure a comfortable flight they will guarantee that you receive a window or aisle seat in Economy Class if you are not upgraded to the front cabin when you purchase a full fare on Continental Airlines and Continental Micronesia operated flights. CO will automatically reward One Pass
members with 2,500 OnePass miles if they do sit in a middle seat.
So it depends on the fine print. –‘Not fun reading the fine print and searching for the ticketed letter when squashed in a middle seat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Wonderland in Germany

Nothing like a huge Christmas tree and a nativity scene with live animals, to put everybody in the Christmas mood.
I think that Spandau is the largest European Christmas market. It has a wonderful atmosphere of Christmas cheer. The Spandau “Altstadt” is still steeped in centuries of traditions in evidence visable the old part of the city. It is a borough (Bezirk) of Berlin along the western bank of the Havel River.
The market is full of art, culture, crafts, food and street vendors peddling all kinds of interesting wares This year it is held from November 26 until December 23. The entrance of the upscale department store KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) was spectacularly decorated for the festivities.
Visitors swarm along the 200 market stalls in the area of the Carl-Schurz-Stasse and during the advents weekend the number of stands in the “Altstadt” reach around 400 booths. Santa visits the market every afternoon and there are free shows on the podium. Unter de Linden trees (where the trees are not linden trees) is beautifully lit, this year,.. and don’t miss the Alexander Platz decorations.
Honingmond Hotel Altstadt Spandau is closest to the Xmas market action. They have doublé rooms for 80 Euros but I prefer the modern bathrooms at the Crowne Plaza Berlin. The CrownePlaza is hotel is located in the heart of the city of Berlin, in proximity to Kurfürstendamm, the renowned Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (memorial church), the KaDeWe shopping mall. Olympic stadium and the zoo. Another Spandau hotel is the Hotel Altstadt Wasserstr . It lies beside the river Spree within the district's picturesque Old Town.
If you have rented a car, it is convenient to park at the Courtyard Berlin Teltow on Warthestrasse (west of the city) but when I stay at the full Marriott Berlin in the center, I prefer to rely on public transport.

Get into the Christmas spirit at The Westin Grand, Berlin in the heart of Germany´s capital – where the historic boulevard Unter den Linden meets the Friedrichstrasse. They have a Winterzauber (winter Package) can be booked with a rate plan WMTRMNG for EUR 187.75 for 2 nights with breakfast AND a 48 hours City Card for free use of public transport but be sure to ask for a newly decorated room. It is a SPG Category 4 presently, but I like it best. A 5-minute walk takes you to the underground and S-Bahn stations, which connects you to the whole city.
Don’t be afraid of getting lost because it is such a cosmopolitan city, full of expats that you can always ask directions in English.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eat snake in the Old Wild West - Arizona

Eat snake in the old wild west Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse.
The only other place that I said “no thank you” to snake was in China.To really experience the Old West cowboy era you must visit Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse at Wild Horse Pass Blvd • Chandler, Arizona. The steakhouse has rattle snake and Rocky Mountain oysters on the menu.
I won’t explain what they are, but hint … is that they are not from the ocean but are from a bull’s underside. The town is an authentic replica of an 1880's frontier town located near the SPG resort grounds. Both the Hotel Casino and the Steakhouse are owned by the Indian Community but you can’t sign charges to your room.
Stroll through Rawhide’s Main Street and enjoy attractions such as live cowboy stunt shows and feel like you are part of a cowboy movie, get photos with the stagecoach, mechanical bull, (didn’t ride it). I am a coward but I get the “been there” photos.Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort has a great Spa. Expensive, but prices are par for AZ.I try the spa at every port and my visit to the Aji Spa was quite a different experience, the Watsu Pool. And native treatments were a nice touch. My spa therapist was not Indian but knew their treatments well. This world-class spa offers native treatments for the mind, body, and soul that have been used for hundreds of years on the sacred grounds of the Gila River Indian Community. Guests can be picked up along the banks of the river by stagecoaches and wagons and splash across the river to the Koli Equestrian Center for riding lessons and trail rides. Or enjoy one or all of the four outdoor pools and spectacular waterslide. Take a scenic boat ride from just off the lobby to the Whirlwind Golf Clubhouse and two 18-hole championship golf courses are surrounded by the spectacular mountains and desert.When we checked in the front desk allocated our room and said that we should drive around to park next to the Spa building but they don’t have an elevator so I hurt my back lugging luggage up the stairs and really needed the massage at the spa. The Masseuse was wonderful.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Why is it that the price of oil is down and airfare is up? Hedging apart...
Deregulation was great while it lasted but now we are going back to a few unionized airlines.
Delta Air Lines and Northwest closed their $3.2 billion merger deal, which means greater seat capacity cuts and firmer airfare prices across the industry. At last check, the Amex Airline Index rose. Delta and Northwest have created the world's largest airline by traffic. The other four remaining legacy carriers will be able to offer fewer benefits for small business travelers as well. Prices increase, as inventory tightens so loyalty programs will be worthless to the little guy. Unless you are with a big company or are in the sky (on the road), 90% of your life, you may as well forget trying to rack up elite miles because the airlines are too big and they know that we have to fly the airline with a hub near our homes. They can treat us as they wish because we will have no choice.
The combination of Delta and Northwest will replace American Airlines AMR Corporation from its position as the No. 1 U.S. airline and will be a challenge to the world's largest, AIR France-KLM.
What will happen to fares and service after the merger?
When Northwest emerged from bankruptcy in 2007 they had a lot of service problems because they had let a lot of staff go and this led to flight cancellations and problems with the unions. United Airlines also had problems when they wanted to combine with US airways so they had to cancel the merger. Lost luggage and flight departure problems were the carrier’s downfall.
Routes with competition offer the best prices and service, but now that many airlines are going bankrupt or merging, we will be at the mercy of a few airlines. Deregulation has led to the same situation that deregulation was supposed to prevent.

Southwest keeps fares down and I am glad that they will get bankrupt ATA airlines air slots for NYC La Guardia airport next year because low fare airlines like Southwest, keep fares low. Virgin Atlantic is concerned that British Airways and AA are trying to get anti-trust immunity granted so that the two airlines would be permitted to fix ticket prices and schedules. British Airways, the powerful global airline, is kept in check with Virgins expansion.
Both Delta and Northwest are members of SkyTeam, so your elite miles should still be valid on the new system. It is not clear how they will handle the Lifetime Elite Status.
My co-worker has a million miles on UA United Airlines and will be awarded lifetime status and is concerned about changes in the industry. Continental Airlines is reported to have held talks with both United Airlines and A Americans AMR Corp.
US Airways will keep The Million mile mark that customers attained before the merger in May of 2006. These passengers attained a million miles and are able to retain this status but no new members can qualify. The highest elite status is the a Chairman’s Preferred membership achieved with 100,000 miles or 120 segments a year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Delta expanding in Latin America and Caribbean

Love to experience the beautiful white sand beaches of the true tropical paradise in Dominican Republic - Punta Cana.
Delta Air Lines Inc. is expanding in Latin America and the Caribbean, including nine new flights and increased seasonal schedules to six warm destinations starting in December. In addition, expanded seasonal schedules will start between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and six Caribbean destinations: Aruba (second daily flight); George Town, Cayman Islands (second Saturday flight); Montego Bay, Jamaica (third daily flight); Providenciales; Turks and Caicos (second Saturday flight); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (second daily flight); and St. Maarten (second Saturday flight). Delta also will add one year-round frequency to its existing schedule between Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I like Raddison because of their Sleep number beds but dont know if they have them in Dom Rep because they don't have them in Bogota Columbia. The Raddison has a 3 Night Package w/ Air FROM Houston (HOU) starting at $799 Details at
And Barcelo Punta Cana has an offer in the Dominican Republic for $59: PLUS GUARANTEED ROOM UPGRADE Reg. $78 pp/pn NOW ONLY $59Valid on Travel 11/01 - 12/23 Barcelo Punta Cana - All Inclusive
Enjoyable first class Punta Cana fishing in the Dominican Republic while you catch big Atlantic Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and many other big game sport fishing of the region. Golf is great too.
I enjoy the cobblestone streets and late medieval architecture while staying at the Courtyard Santo Domingo The Marriott Courtyard is within walking distance to the National Theater, the US Embassy and within easy access to Santo Domingo's Colonial zone attractions and the main business area.
Aruba - The Famous Caribbean destination for sun soaked beaches but also infamous after Natalee went missing on Aruba.