Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Key to Getting Good Bang for Your Buck on the United Hotel Transfer Bonus Promotion

United is running a promotion offering bonus miles when you transfer hotel points into MileagePlus miles.

Sign-up page
The number of bonus miles you receive depends on how many miles you receive from the transfer:

  • Transfers yielding 5000 to 9999 miles receive a bonus of 1000 miles
  • Transfers yielding 10000 to 19999 miles receive a bonus of 2500 miles
  • Transfers yielding 20000 to 49999 miles receive a bonus of 5000 miles
  • Transfers yielding 50000 or more miles receive a bonus of 15000 miles

The best bang for your buck is right at the low end of the the various thresholds. The bonus is 30% if your transfer yields exactly 50000 miles, 25% if it yields exactly 10000 or 20000, and 20% if it yields exactly 5000 miles. Of course, if you fall just short of a threshold the bonus is pretty weak, as you can see here:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reader Poll Results - Favorite Hotel Programs

The polls have closed and the people have spoken!

My latest reader poll asked about your favorite hotel program. Here's the breakdown of how the vote came in:
  1. Hilton - 44%
  2. Starwood - 33%
  3. Hyatt - 17%
  4. Marriott - 6%

A few reactions and a couple questions:

Summer of Travel 2012: China (Part 4 - St. Regis Beijing)


(Don't forget to check out Part 1, United BusinessFirst JFK-SFO-PVG here, Part 2, Westin Bund Center Shanghai here, and Part 3, Shanghai to Beijing here)

Upon arriving in Beijing, I hopped in a taxi and made my way to the St. Regis Beijing. The ride was fairly short and easy - though I did need to call the hotel, as the taxi driver couldn't read the address I'd printed out. I'd only ever stayed in one St. Regis before (the St. Regis Princeville in Hawaii), and so was excited to check out another one.

The lobby area was quite beautiful - and while I didn't check out The Garden Lounge, it looked to be a nice spot to grab a drink or a bite.

The Garden Lounge, located in the lobby

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hertz to the Rescue!

I'd had a long day today, so finding out on my way to the airport that my 9pm flight was delayed by at least an hour was not exactly welcome news.

Fortunately, though I pretty much never expect much from my rental car, they really do come through in a big way every once in a while:

Sweet upgrade!

Thanks Hertz!


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

History of the Baggage Tag

For all you aviation buffs out there - Slate has a fascinating read on the history of the baggage tag.

Check it out here.


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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Summer of Travel 2012: China (Part 3 - Shanghai to Beijing)


(Don't forget to check out Part 1, United BusinessFirst JFK-SFO-PVG here and Part 2, Westin Bund Center Shanghai here)

After a short trip to Shanghai, I was excited to head back to the airport and to be heading off to Beijing for the first time.

Pudong Airport is quite a ways outside the city center, but it's an easy (and quite affordable) taxi ride. I was flying Air China, so my Star Alliance Gold status made the airport experience rather pleasurable. First, I didn't wait in a single line until it was time to board the plane. From the check in area, to the security checkpoint, to the lounge - my access to the priority lanes meant I was literally first in line each and every time. Not a bad way to travel!

After clearing security, I made my way over to the Air China domestic lounge.

Escalator up to the lounge
Lounge check-in area

I'd visited the international lounge before when flying back home from Shanghai, but never this one in the domestic area of the terminal. Typically, you'd expect the international lounge to be nicer, but I actually preferred this one. I thought the seats were more comfortable, and it wasn't nearly as crowded.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Finally Some Credit Card Love for Canada

For the most part, Canada tends to get left out on the credit card sign-up bonus bonanza, but every once in a while a great offer comes around.

The current RBC British Airways Visa promotion is one of those offers.

Key details:
  • 15,000 British Airways Avios upon approval
  • 35,000 additional British Airways Avios after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of card membership
  • Annual fee of $165CAD, NOT waived for the first year

Full details and application here

Apply for the RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite card and receive up to 50,000 Avios points.Terms and Conditions apply.
Application page screenshot

But why on earth would I want British Airways AviosMiles (or whatever they're called)?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eating Out in NYC: Birch Coffee

I recently moved offices in New York, from my company's Tribeca location up to the Madison Square Park area. Along with getting used to a new commute, this move has meant exploring all the lunch spots, watering holes, and of course - coffee shops.

A new favorite of mine (and much of the rest of the office) is Birch Coffee on 27th street.

Love the vibe at Birch

They've got a wide assortment of coffee drinks, and they're all simple and straightforward - espresso, latte, cappuccino - just how I like it. You won't find any "fancy", multi-word drinks here, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

They also happen to have some great food - and I'm not talking muffins and baked goods (though they have those as well). Would you believe that a coffee shop has one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the entire city? Well it's true!