May 27, 2016

Is This A Better Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card Offer?

Just thought I'd share this. I am not even sure if it is actually a better offer but if you think that it is then maybe you can request for this offer over the phone if you were already thinking of applying for this card using the current public offer anyway.

The targeted offer is for 40,000 bonus points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after the first purchase...

Image from Marriott Rewards
Below are the additional benefits, which I think are pretty similar to the public offer, except for the 5,000 bonus points for adding an authorized user (which is 7,500 in the public offer)...

Image from Marriott Rewards
BUT, WAIT, THERE'S MORE! :-) the annual fee on this offer is waived for the first year...

Image from Marriott Rewards
So, what do you think?

Actually if we base it on the valuation of some of the experts, the bottom line would pretty be close. I guess it's just a matter of what you value you more or have the best use for -- the extra 42,500 bonus points (the extra 40,000  sign up bonus points and the extra 2,500 from the authorized user) from the public offer or the $200 cash (statement credit) and $0 annual fee for the first year of this offer.

May 23, 2016

Review: JFK-DXB on Emirates A380 Business Class (v. 01)

My apologies for doing posts from two different trip reports at the same time. The report from this trip to Dubai should've been done months ago but life got in the way :-)

Anyway, here is the continuation of the report from my trip to Dubai. We pick-up from my flight from JFK-DXB on Emirates' A380 Business Class.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Emirates was really generous by giving the winners "Space-Available Business" Economy Class tickets. On top of that, we were given the choice to fly out of any city in the U.S. that they fly out of and not just Chicago. A-may-zing! :-)

With that said, I thought that choosing to fly out of New York (where they fly the A380 to Dubai more than three times a day) would be my best chance at getting upgraded. I didn't realize, though, that even if there were more A380 Business Class seats flying out of New York, there were also more people flying out from there. This seemed to be the case whenever I would check Expertflyer.com and Business Class slowly filled up as the day of the flight drew closer.

So, not expecting to be upgraded anymore, I made sure to choose and a lock in an aisle seat...

Image from Emirates
I read somewhere that, with all things being equal among the passengers eligible for an upgrade, Emirates upgrades people from the "media" first -- bloggers included. I am not sure if this is true and how their system works but I thought that it was worth a shot to make myself "heard" in hopes of getting an upgrade. With two days left before the trip, with Business Class seats almost fully occupied, and out of desperation, I hastily created a post about how I won the tickets and that I was going to finally use it in a couple of days (check that post here). I also tweeted that post and tagged Emirates to boot :-)

Image from Twitter
The following day, I checked my booking again and voila...

Image from Emirates

I am not sure if it was because of the post or if I was really next in the line of "upgradeables" but I was just really happy to see that I was already confirmed on Business Class -- two days before the flight. Score!

After finding that out, I logged on to my Emirates profile and saw that I was able to book a chauffeur service -- but only upon arrival in Dubai. I didn't think much about it anymore and was just grateful that I even got that service. Besides, I already booked a non-refundable NYC Airporter service from LGA to JFK.

Fast-forward to the flight...

Flight#/Route: EK204/JFK-DXB
Date: June 4, 2015
Depart: 11:20am
Arrive: 7:50am +1
Duration: 11h 30m
Seat: 22G
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800 (v. 01)

My original seat was 23F, one of the middle seats that were right beside each other...


May 10, 2016

Review: ORD-NRT on Japan Airlines First Class

This was my third time on Japan Airline's First Class but I was still excited for my flight. The first time I flew on it was back in 2010 and that was what triggered me to create this blog. The second was in 2014 when the refreshed seats were just introduced - which I think I blogged about first :-) And this is the third time. All three were flown between ORD and NRT.

You can check the previous posts by clicking below:

2014 - NRT-ORD on Japan Airlines (New) First Class

Without any further ado...

Flight#/Route: JL009/ORD-NRT
Date: February 11, 2016
Depart: 10:55am
Arrive: 3:10pm +1
Duration; 13h 15m
Seat: 1A
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Website: www.jal.com

I was welcomed to the plane by a member of the cabin crew and I was immediately led to my seat...


We meet again :-) ...


Here's the middle seat across from mine with the privacy shade up...


A couple of the members of the crew came by my seat and introduced themselves. I was only able to take note of the name of the crew member who I interacted with the most during the flight, Ito.

Anyway, I was then offered a hot towel and some champagne, which I happily accepted...


April 29, 2016

Review: American Airlines Admirals Club Lounge - Chicago O'Hare Airport, Concourse H

Getting bored in the American Airlines Flagship Lounge, I decided to walk around the terminal and check out the airline's Admiral's Club lounge in Concourse H...


I have actually reviewed this lounge not so long ago so I will just note the differences between that visit and this one. I suggest, though, that you check that one out too for a more detailed review.

There are two major differences worth noting. First, since I am flying First Class with a OneWorld airline partner (as opposed to getting access before via a lounge pass), I was given vouchers for food and drink...


I am not sure what the criteria is for getting these vouchers but I figured it was because I was flying First Class. Remember that hot food and premium drinks are served for free at the Flagship Lounge so maybe they hand these out to passengers who otherwise have access to that lounge but prefer to use this one. I know that this lounge doesn't serve complimentary hot food so I was excited to see what I can actually get for my "light meal" coupon.

Which brings me to the second major difference I noted on this visit. If I was very turned-off by the lack of food or anything worth eating during my last visit, I was actually pleasantly surprised that there are more food displayed this time. I may not call them actual food (donuts, soup, vegetable/dips pretzels) but they were still edible and may actually be enough to tide over one's hunger...


This next photo of a food table was actually a "Cyber Cafe" complete with computer terminals and tablets just a few months ago...



During my previous visit, I remember going around the lounge a couple of times searching for food but only seeing the pretzel towers and carrot/celery sticks and dips. This time around, I didn't have to look too hard and each area has some sort of snack displayed -- and in large quantities. I am not sure what happened between then and now or if I just lucked out during my first visit -- but kudos to American Airlines for trying :-)

As for the drinks, I still hate that I have to go to the lone bar in the lounge to get a soda or something other than the readily available water and coffee/tea.

Anyway, back to my vouchers. Thinking I could get anything on the food-for-purchase menu, I started deciding on what to get...



Unfortunately, when I was about to order and presented the voucher, the attendant just pulled an unappetizing 7-eleven type 3-piece sushi pack from the fridge -- which I didn't take. Wish I took a photo of the "thing" but I was so caught off-guard :-)

Here's the bar where you can get free drinks and where I could've redeemed my drink coupon for some "premium wine"...


This lounge is much bigger than the Flagship Lounge and has a ton of seating and different areas...


Quiet room...






And that is it. Again, you can check out my previous post (here) about this lounge for a few more details and photos.

I wish I was able to check out the other Admirals Club lounge in Concourse G but I didn't have enough time.

Up Next: ORD-NRT on Japan Airlines First Class

To read previous posts from this trip report, click below:

Introduction
American Airlines Flagship Lounge - Chicago O'Hare Airport

April 25, 2016

Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge - Chicago O'Hare Airport

There's probably already a ton of reviews of this lounge out there so let me just breeze through my personal experience and I'll let the photos take over afterwards.

The last time I flew Japan Airlines First Class was back in 2010 when they were still departing out of the international terminal (If you're interested to see a review of their lounge in that terminal then, click here). Although I've been to American Airlines' Admirals Club lounges in O'Hare before, I've never tried their Flagship Lounge yet.

After checking-in with a very helpful American Airlines agent named Sujata, I then proceeded to look for the priority/premium security line at the other end of the terminal. But then I saw the American Airlines Flagship Check-In and thought that I could probably use it to go through security faster....


After the agent looked at my boarding pass, she said that I don't have access to it -- without any explanation of any sort. Thinking that it might be really just meant for AA elites or AA First Class passengers, I just sought out that "priority" security line -- which happened to be just right beside the Flagship Check-In. Let me just say though that before writing this post, I read on AA's website and some FlyerTalk forums that I have access to this Flagship Check-In by flying First Class on a OneWorld airline. Oh well.

One note about the "premium/priority" line. It wasn't really anything special or any faster so I don't recommend you seek it out unless you are close to this part of the terminal.

After security, I decided to head straight to the lounge. American Airlines' Flagship Lounge is for, among other eligible customers, First Class passengers flying international on American or their OneWorld partners. The lounge is located at the far-end most part of the terminal near Gate K19 but it wasn't a big issue for me this time as my gate was right across from it.

I was welcomed to the lounge by very friendly AA agents (I have to say, most of my interaction with AA with regards to this whole trip -- from reservations, check-in and lounge agents, etc -- have almost all been great. Like "customer service" is still a thing in the US :-)) and there were less than ten people when I got there -- so seating seemed aplenty then...





Aside from the seating, They also have a "severe weather shelter area" disguised as a Business Center :-) ...


Their former smoking room is now a quiet room...


The lounge had a good selection of food and drinks...



This photo of food containers is actually meant to show that they served hot food like pork sausage, bacon, and turkey sausage :-)...






I didn't want to ruin my appetite for the caviar and champagne lunch I was going to have on the plane (hehe), but I also didn't want to not partake in the lounge offerings so here was what I got :-)...


It was not good, to be honest, but I needed a photo for this post :-)

Here was the view from the lounge...


The place isn't really huge and there really is nothing extraordinary about it so I don't recommend intentionally allotting a lot of time to spend here...


...but I did (allot more than an hour to spend in the lounge/s). So, with almost an hour left before boarding and now that the lounge was almost to 2/3 capacity, I decided to walk around the terminal a bit and check out the Admirals Club again for this blog's sake (read: more posts) :-)

Anyway, without preempting the next post/review, let me just say that if you had the access to use this lounge and the Admirals Club, then this should be the obvious choice (irregardless of your gate since most of them will be within 15min walking distance from any point in the terminal). It's more exclusive (read: less crowded),  there's a decent selection of hot dishes, WiFi speed was good, and there's a ton of complimentary drink choices. Note, though, that this facility doesn't have showers but the Admirals Club lounge has a few.

Up Next: American Airlines Admirals Club Lounge - O'Hare Airport, Concourse H

To read previous posts from this trip report, click below:


April 13, 2016

Trip Report: From C (Chicago) to Shining SEA (Southeast Asia) - Introduction

Pardon the cheesy trip report title and my apologies in advance if it is a little inappropriate -- it's been awhile since I've done this :-) I know I have yet to finish the final posts from my trip to Dubai and I have a ton of banked posts/topics that may actually not be relevant to publish anymore and I blame real life (read: work) for the backlog :-)

Anyway, I figured I can start churning out posts of my most current trip as there is a lot to cover. I was originally just going to visit family in the Philippines but I ended up visiting Singapore, Yogyakarta, Bali, and Hong Kong in the process.

So without any further ado, below is the trip report list:

Introduction
American Airlines Flagship Lounge - O'Hare Airport
American Airlines Admirals Club - O'Hare Airport, Concourse H
ORD-NRT on Japan Airlines First Class
JAL First Class Lounge - Narita Airport, Main Building
JAL First Class Lounge - Narita Airport, Satellite Building
NRT-MNL on Japan Airlines Business Class Sky Suite II
Holiday Inn and Suites Makati - Philippines
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge - NAIA Airport Manila Terminal 3
MNL-SIN on Singapore Airlines Business Class
Conrad Centennial Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge - Changi Airport Terminal 2
SIN-JOG on SilkAir Business Class
Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta in One Day
JOG-DPS on Garuda Indonesia Economy Class
Conrad Bali
Grand Hyatt Bali
Bali Highlights
Premier Lounge - Denpasar International Airport Bali
DPS-SIN on Singapore Airlines Business Class
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
SIN-MNL on Singapore Airlines Business Class
Hyatt City of Dreams Manila
Cathay Pacific Lounge - NAIA Airport Manila Terminal 3
MNL-HKG on Cathay Pacific First Class
Novotel Hotel Nathan Rd. Hong Kong
Cathay Paicifc The Wing First Class Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Pacific The Wing Business Class Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Pacific The Cabin Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Paciic The Pier First Class Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport
HKG-ORD on Cathay Pacific First Class

Whew -- that's it! :-)

Here are some photos of what's to come...

Japan Airlines' First Class seat...


Japan Airlines' new regional Business Class seat (Sky Suite II)...


Singapore Airlines' new SilverKris lounge in Manila...


Singapore Airlines' regional Business Class seat...


Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia...


Conrad Bali's Conrad Suite...


Cathay Pacific's new lounge in Manila...


Cathay Pacific's First Class seat...


Cathay Pacific's new The Pier First Class lounge "The Dining Room"...


Cheers!

December 25, 2015

2015 Season's Greetings From Some Of Our Airline/Hotel Friends...

Here are this year's email greetings from our airline and hotel friends that I've received so far. If you want to see how they've evolved through the years, you can visit my previous four years' posts hereherehere, here, and here.

Without any further ado....

Marriott Rewards

Image from Marriott Rewards

American Airlines

Image from American Airlines

Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Image from Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Air France
Image from Air France

Hyatt Gold Passport

Image from Hyatt Gold Passport

Asia Miles

Image from Asia Miles

That's it. I kind of miss Virgin America Elevate's greeting because they actually had a (tangible) gift last year, 500 points :-) I also noticed how Marriott Rewards' traditional lengthy message changed to more of like a note this year.

Here's my greeting...

Image from The First Class Project :-)

Nice, yah? :-)

My apologies (mom, dad, and my few other readers. hehe) for being an absentee blogger. I have yet to finish my Dubai trip report, I have a few hotel stays since then, I am now at the new Hyatt Centric in Chicago...


...enjoying my recently acquired Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond membership (which deserves another post on its own), and I've already booked a trip to the Philippines in February and might squeeze in a side trip to Bali, as well. So I really have to get cracking and stop working in real life and start working on my blog posts :-)

Merry Christmas again and safe travels to everyone!
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