Delta Offering New Amenity Kits

Looks like after September 1st, Delta passengers flying in premium cabins will be offered the hard and soft cased TUMI kits. The kits will be available on all Delta One flights, including coast-to-coast flights between JFK and LAX/SFO, BOS-SFO and DCA-LAX, and will feature the hard- and soft-cased TUMI kits. The cool part is you can have them custom monogrammed for free at retail TUMI locations. Included inside will be a patch that will be required upon request to have them monogrammed. The new TUMI kits will include hand cleanser, mouthwash stick, TUMI eye shades, and updated striped socks, along with travel necessities such as lip balm by Kiehl’s, a dental kit with Crest toothpaste, tissues, and ear plugs. You can read more about it on Delta.com.

Customers flying in the Delta Premium Select cabin, will be gifted with the soft TUMI blue pouch, which includes Malin+Goetz lotion, a dental kit, eye mask, socks, and ear plugs.

You can read more about the TUMI kits and the refreshed changes at Delta.com. TUMI is undoubtedly awesome at making amenity kits, and I hope to book myself on one of these flights just to score one.  Let me now if you get one and what you think of it. Also let me now which amenity kit you like the best. Happy Travels.

 

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Use United Miles to get TSA Pre for 5 Years

United Airlines has come up with an offer for acquiring TSA Pre clearance for 10,000 United miles.  The deal is pretty simple, and includes pre-clearance at most airports, which could be useful during busy travel times.  The terms state the offer is available only to Mileage Plus members, with an account address in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or Guam.  You will be given a payment code which will cover the application fee.  Remember, if you have Global Entry, TSA Pre Check is included, so you don’t need to apply. If you are a Mileage Plus member, and interested in using 10,000 miles to get this, check out the link below.

LINK TO OFFER.

Honestly, I think to blow 10,000 miles on this offer is a waste, as I find better uses for those miles. I was lucky enough to be a card holder for the TraveElite card, which gives me FREE Global Entry.  I’m not going to put a price on the miles as they are as valuable as YOU see them. Some people find United miles worthless, as they are expensive to redeem on partner airlines, and some people find them as valuable as gold, as they may be used for a sweet spot redemption, such as Swiss, or Lufthansa, if the availability is there. Let me know if you think this is a good value.  Happy Travels.

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Singapore Airlines Failure at Special Meals

One of best experiences about flying on a world class carrier is the fact they offer meals that are notches above the standard airline meals, that are usually served all the time.  Singapore Airlines is no exception. We flew Singapore a few times to Malaysia and the executive class meals were pretty good, offering an array of seafood options that met our dietary restrictions.  However, to play it safe, some folks will order the special meal, just to make sure they are covered in terms of a meal offering. After all, it is 17 hrs across the Pacific Ocean, and a Snickers bar just wont cut it.  On a recent flight though, I was really surprised the offering Singapore laid out on a plate for my friend, who was flying in business class from Singapore to San Francisco.  It appeared to be some sort of mystery meat, with no flavor whatsoever.  Dried noodles accompanied it, and the presentation was more acceptable for a  call center cafeteria, than a $5000+ business class ticket cabin.  Seeing this was very disappointing, as Singapore Airlines is known for stellar service, great seats, and an overall excellent in-cabin experience.

Halal Mystery Chicken?

Back in 2014, I recall Chloe Pantazi putting out a list of the 10 most regrettable airline meals ever, and it was pretty interesting to see the offerings, but most of these were economy class meals, which is expected, and some of them were not special meals. Being how bad these meals were, I would hate to order special meals.

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Update: Chase Offers Me (sort of a) Compensation

A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from Chase informing me of an annual fee increase on my Chase Sapphire Preferred. This is one of my favorite credit cards, and its ability to transfer points into numerous airline and hotel programs, makes it one of the heavy contenders out there. Ultimate Rewards points are one of the best points currencies out there, and I would hate to lose them. Furthermore, I have plans for future travels to Asia, and Europe using these points. They basically told me if I did NOT agree to the increase, then I would have to close out my card. I wouldn’t forfeit the points because I also have the Chase Freedom card, which is also an Ultimate Rewards account, but there is no ability to transfer into airlines. Its mainly cash back.
I decided to write them a snail mail letter asking them for compensation, and they have replied.

I was hoping for something a little more than $60, which is really 6000 points, but I guess at this point, its better than nothing, and will offset the cost for the next 6 years, if you think about it. I was paying $85 rather than $95. This also is a lesson in that if you are not happy with the service, say something. Otherwise, you have no reason to complain.

Happy 4th Everyone.

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Skip That North Korean Trip

The death of Otto Warmbier should be a reminder for us all that traveling to places like North Korea isn’t a great idea.  Honestly, I don’t think we will really know the facts why he was detained, and any statement regarding his detainment from his captors, shouldn’t be taken seriously. This article in The Independent UK highlights some of those points, and is written by a former North Korean, who luckily escaped to South Korea. Check it out as it is very interesting.  I have seen documentaries of people who have sneaked out footage of stores, hotels, and restaurants, and put them on YouTube for everyone to watch, and I cant help wonder what a big risk they took to do that.  They very well could’ve ended up like Otto Warmbier, seriously.  I personally have no ambitions to visit North Korea, or to fly their state carrier Air Koryo, in light of Otto’s death, because they could just apprehend you for no reason, and you really don’t have any rights.  There won’t be a phone call to mom and dad, and you’ll end up in a kangaroo court, and get served the most idiotic definition of justice there probably exists in this world.

Brave Tourists Looking for Instagram Fame

There are several tour companies that arrange North Korean tours. Though I don’t recommend them, you can check out their offerings and get an idea of costs.

The Young Pioneer Tours – this is the company that handled Otto’s trip to North Korea. They have probably the most experience in handling a trip there, but also have come under fire now with the recent event. Therefore, they are no longer offering tours for Americans to North Korea, but still open to other passport holders.

Uri Tours – This is another company that boasts travels to the DPRK. They also take Americans, and also offer packages that include skiing, snowboarding, and even a marathon.  Run for your life!..you may need to.

Koryo Tours – this Beijing based company, founded by two British guys, hosts tours as well. They are a bit smaller, but account for 50% of travels by Westerners to North Korea.

I would take my chances on a trip to Iran before North Korea. If anything, if I do get detained, I know at least the food will be better….or at least I hope.

Happy (and safe) Travels.

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A (not so good) Surprise from Chase

I love surPRIZES of all kinds…especially ones that come in the mail.  You never know what you are going to get (insert Tom Hanks image here in your head) and hope that it’s something really cool.  However, yesterday I got a surprise from Chase which I didn’t really like.  It was a notice of an annual fee increase on one of my favorite cards – the Chase Sapphire Preferred VISA card.  I have had this card for sometime, and enjoy the many benefits, which include 2x on dining purchases, 2x on travel purchases, which include rental cars, hotels, and airfare.  Just with the dining perks alone, I rack up tons of points because those morning lattes & raspberry scones can add up.

Currently, I am paying $85 annually to keep this card, which I think is fair, but starting late summer, the fee will be $95.  Like any other institution, Chase has to make a profit…okay, I get that.  However, its the terms of the increase that I am not happy about.  The letter states:

Rejecting this change: you the right to reject the change in the Revised Terms table. You want to reject it, you must contact us by 08/20/17. If you reject this change, we will close your account and you will not be able to use it for new transactions.

For this loyalty, I am not compensated for the upcoming increase.  They are not offering any other alternatives, other than to close the account, if I am not in agreement with the new fee.  This in my opinion is just bad customer service, from a customers point of view.  If you get a bad meal at a restaurant, rest assured your bill will decrease, or that chocolate molten lava cake will be given to you at the end, for compensation.  Chase isn’t doing anything, according to this letter, for those who signed up early for this card.  An additional $10 is not going to bring the house down, but money is money.  It’s also fair to note I actually had decided to cancel this card after two years, but the Chase rep on the phone raved about how I was special and only paying $85 rather than $95, which made my mind to keep the card ever since.

In all fairness, they should compensate folks who are on the old annual feel structure with additional Ultimate Reward points for the increase.  I have not reached out to them, yet, but will do so in the coming days and see what they propose to do on compensation, if any.  I will update this post with my results.  Anyone else get this letter, or similar? I’d love to hear what strategy you took on it.

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Two Credit Card Offers You Shouldn’t Ignore + Giveaway!

Last year was an amazing year for credit cards and so far, 2017 is starting out with a punch. Currently, there are two offers I would not ignore if you are looking to pick up a new credit card – or two.  The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card is currently offering 50,000 miles, and is available to everyone.  After meeting the $3,000 spend, you get 50,000 miles which is enough for 2 round trip coach saver award tickets in the U.S. or Canada.  They can be redeemed for first class travel in the U.S. or Canada.  United has a handy chart here, to see what’s possible with your miles. Check it out.

The second card I wouldn’t ignore is the Citibank AAdvantage Mastercard, which also nets you 50,000 miles, to use on American Airlines, or its partners. Although American Airlines recently devalued its miles, I still think you can get some pretty good deals to Europe and even South America, on partners such as Air Berlin, and LAN.  They are also great to use with British Airways on short haul flights, or intra-Europe.  With stellar service on both carriers, you will have no problem traveling smoothly.  The other aspect of this offer, is Citibank cards are relatively easy to get, and you can receive the bonus more than once, so racking up tons of AAdvantage miles will be no problem.

Both cards come with a ton of perks, such as free baggage allowance, anniversary miles, priority boarding, and no annual fee the first year. Both offers wont last, and I suspect will go away soon, so I would get them now.  Of course, keep in mind with Chase, the infamous 5/24 rule applies, which means if you have applied for more than 5 credit cards, from any bank, within the past 24 months, the likelihood of approval is zero. If you haven’t, then you’ll be lucky enough to score this card. Just make sure you have a travel goal in mind, so you can use these miles, or you can just bank them for future travels on United and its partners.

I actually applied for both of these cards last year, and was approved. The Chase United MileagePlus card came with two United Club passes, which I won’t be using this year, so I’d like to give you a chance to take ’em off my hands! Please comment on how best you would use these miles, and I’ll pick someone randomly. I’ll announce a winner at the end of the week. The Hogan A319 model is not included, in case you were wondering. Happy Travels!

 

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Cathay Pacific Teams up with Mandarin Oriental for InFlight Dining

Cathay Pacific has teamed up with the Mandarin Oriental group, to offer fine dining choices, for first class passengers en route between Hong Kong and London. This is a limited time offering between September through December of 2014. Two Michelin starred chefs will offer their preparations, and passengers can experience exquisite dishes, such as a terrine of foie gras with winter truffle, and organic beef, braised in red wine sauce. Desserts will include a tart raspberry tart, and a chocolate dome with a coffee center. A complete listing of the dishes is available on their website, and my mouth is watering just reading it. Looking forward to hopefully experience this fine dining in an already awesome executive class of service, which Cathay Pacific is famous for.

 

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I attended First2Board’s Seattle Sessions

Last weekend was awesome. I attended First2Board’s Seattle Sessions, an intimate gathering of the finest travel and points bloggers, the world wide web has to offer.  I saw some old friends, whom I had met before at other seminars, and made a A LOT of new friends, who showed me creative ways to travel for free, without much effort.  We stayed at the Bellevue Sheraton, and got a chance to have an awesome dinner at the Boeing plant, overlooking the Dreamlifter hangars, while feasting on Northwest grilled salmon.

I got to meet some of my favorite bloggers, like John Carter, from Top Travel Tips.  He was chosen by American Airlines to fly to Asia and experience first hand, the latest in First Class service.  It was awesome hearing his details of the trip and the upcoming news regarding American Airlines’ new executive class products on various routes.

We got to experience some fine dining in the Seattle area.  Justin from JustinDoesBlog took us to a favorite eating spot of his on Alki Beach Rd, called Spud Fish and Chips, where we dined on some great tasting fresh cod, and chowder, and talked more about flying the world in first class for free.  Jamison, of Points Summary , Angelina Aucello, from Just Another Points Traveler, and of course, our favorite happy Princess, Elena, from Giddy for Points, joined us, as we scarfed down our delicious dinner, and watched a beautiful sunset on the sound!

I got to sit down and have a nice chat about hotel loyalty programs during dinner,  and the best ways to maximize hotel reward points.  Bonnie from The Frugal Travel Lawyer, showed me the possibilities of scoring nice suites at a fraction of the price!  She explained how easy it is to get free nights using Club Carlson’s loyalty program, and Hyatt’s Free nights using their credit cards.  Thank you Bonny!! You are awesome!!

I had a great time at the Seattle Sessions, and hope to return to the next one in Phoenix in 2015.  I urge anyone to attend one of these, as you will learn from the best of the best how to travel for free and score hotel points like crazy.  You will make a lot of great friends, and have an amazing time, as you chat about ways to maximize travel. The best part is listening to the countless stories of travel adventures from ordinary folks, with just extraordinary adventures!  Hope to see you soon in Phoenix in July 2015!

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Chase 50,000 United Miles Offer is Back!! ACT QUICK!

Looks like Chase has made public the link for getting 50,000 Mileage PLUS miles after meeting a minimum spend. The usual offer is usually 30,000 miles, but with this offer, it is increased to 50,000. Furthermore, the annual fee is waived for one year, and you get the usual benefits with the card. I recommend you get this because it wont last long. If you had this card before, you could probably get the miles again, if it has been some time since you last applied. I have received the bonus miles twice already, but the last time I applied was over 2 years ago for the Chase United Mileage PLUS card.


There is also an offer at Chase branches currently for the Chase INK Plus card, which gets you 70,000 Ultimate Reward points, which can be transferred into United. Couple that with this current offer, and you can bring in a whopping 120,000 miles!! That’s enough for more than 4 Round trip domestic coach tickets at the Saver Level. For details, and to apply, click on the link below:

https://www.theexplorercard.com/50kAFWLTO?cell=KWM

Award Availability

 

 

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