SAS Business Class Review: EWR-CPH-EWR

On a recent business trip to Copenhagen I had the opportunity to fly SAS (aka Scandinavian) Airlines between Newark and Copenhagen. I would have preferred to have flow from Chicago but apparently the EWR-MEM legs are codeshares while the ORD-MEM legs (both on United) are not and thus the price would have been much higher. I’ve actively avoided Newark in the past but my other choices were two-stop flights on Delta/KLM or American and BA/FinnAir. Since I have Silver (low-level) status with United I wanted to help get that re-established for next year.

SAS Lounge Newark

I don’t have any photos because it was already fairly busy when I arrived. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the decor in most places on this trip as I love Danish Modern design and that was definitely the theme for this lounge. It was light and airy with big windows looking onto the tarmac though you really couldn’t see much outside as there was a walkway from a gate out to the jet bridge in between.

I arrived around 3 PM for my 5:40 PM flight and the only food in evidence at that time was the salad bar. The soft drink fountain was not working but there was a cooler with lots of cans, a full self-serve bar as well as still and sparkling water on tap. Around 3:30 PM lasagna with meat sauce found its way to the food service area. I got just a little snack since I had skipped lunch. It was nothing special but it did take the edge off until dinner.

The lounge could use a kids area as I didn’t see anywhere for them to play and not all of the children were using their inside voices.

As the afternoon progressed the lounge filled up even more. There are three SAS flights each day and the lounge is used by Emirates as well, so I was glad to move on. Continue reading

Categories: Airline Clubs, SAS, Star Alliance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

New Hilton Promo – Earn Up To 7500 Bonus Points in Two Stays

Hilton has a new promotion that will give you 7500 points after two stays. While Hilton points are usually valued somewhere in the .4 cents range, every little bit certainly counts. And don’t forget that you can pool Hilton points with up to ten friends and family members which help them stretch even farther.

The Scoop

After you register, earn 2500 bonus points after your first stay. After your second stay you’ll earn 5000 bonus points.

Your stays must be completed between the time you register and January 31, 2020. Note that this excludes stays that are otherwise ineligible to accrue Hilton points. That includes some third-party bookings, like many online travel agencies including Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. Corporate travel agency bookings are allowed.

Since these are bonus points they won’t count toward your qualification for elite status. But with Hilton, the best way to achieve status is by owning their credit card. Hilton offers three card through American Express and right now all three have great signup offers.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

This no-fee card currently has a signup bonus of 90,000 Hilton points once you spend $2000 on the card within the first three months after approval. This signup bonus ends August 28, 2019. You’ll earn 7x points at hotels in the Hilton portfolio, 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else. This card is one of the few no-fee cards that does not have foreign transaction fees. You’ll get Silver status just for holding the card and you’ll be upgraded to Gold status each year you spend $20,000 on the card.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

With a $95 annual fee, this is one of the best deals in travel. Not only does this card have a great signup bonus of 130,000 points after spending $4000 within the first four months after approval, you automatically earn Gold status just for owning the card. Gold status is enough to get you free breakfast and premium internet and is generally considered to be the best mid-level hotel status out there. Last year I scored an upgrade to a 2-room suite in Germany because the hotel was at capacity and having Gold status earned me the bump up. Spend $40,000 on the card and get upgraded to Diamond status through the end of the following calendar year. The signup bonus ends August 28, 2019. With the Surpass card you’ll earn 12x points at Hilton properties, 6x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

This is a premium card with a $450 annual fee and a signup bonus of 150,000 points after spending $4000 in the first three months after approval. It also gives the cardholder Diamond status, Hilton’s top level. Enjoy one weekend night reward each year after renewal and an additional night for each $60,000 in spend. You also get a $250 statement credit each year of card membership good for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts. With the Aspire card you’ll earn 14x points at Hilton properties, 7x points on purchases made directly with airlines or hotels and US restaurants and 3x points everywhere else.

If one of these cards looks right for you I’ll be happy to refer you. Just drop me a line at 2BTraveling@gmail.com.

Categories: American Express, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Hilton Amex, Hilton Aspire, Hilton Surpass | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Activate 3nd Quarter Bonus Categories

As we approach the end of the second quarter of 2019, it’s time to activate bonus categories for card that have quarterly bonuses.  All of these cards offer bonus points or cash back on up to $2000 in purchases during the quarter.

US Bank Cash+

Even though TV, Internet & Streaming Services are shown as new below, that was a new category last quarter.  If you’re not already getting 5x Ultimate Rewards points by using a Chase Ink card (and even if you are!) you may want to switch the card you’re using for payment.  You must register your card before mid-June to get the bonus cash-back in the categories you select.  As a reminder, you choose two 5% categories and one 2% category.  To register, click on the link in the email you received from US Bank.

Discover Card

Discover gave us the full year’s calendar late last year:

This quarter’s category is Restaurants and they’ve added PayPal.  Restaurants is a good category for me.  I usually use my Amex Gold Card to earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar but I’ll switch to Discover for 5% cash back.  As a reminder the Discover card does not have foreign transaction fees but may not be as accepted worldwide as Visa, MasterCard and even American Express.  To register, sign in to your Discover account and click on the Activate button.

 

Chase Freedom

Chase is once again offering 5x Ultimate Rewards points at gas stations, this time with the added category of Streaming Services.  I find it frustrating that they’re recycling categories, especially one where I can’t max it out!  I don’t use streaming services so that doesn’t help me.  You can redeem the URs for a penny apiece on your credit card statement or, if you have one of the UR-earning cards that comes with an annual fee you can transfer these points to airline frequent flyer programs or hotel loyalty programs.  Alternately you can shop through the UR portal and use the points like cash.

To register you can go to this link to look at the calendar, then click on the Activate Now button as seen above.

 

Categories: Cash Plus, Chase, Credit Cards, Discover, Freedom, US Bank | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Amex Gold Card Changes Earning Rate When Dining Outside the US

In my last post I detailed which cards I used for each bonus category. I stated that I used the Amex Gold card for the dining category because it earns 4x Membership Rewards points. But Amex only offers the 4x points for US restaurants. When abroad I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for its 3x Ultimate Rewards points.

Effective June 6th (Thursday), Amex will offer the 4x Membership Rewards points for non-US restaurants as well. Since there are no foreign transaction fees on the Amex Gold card, that’s a great deal!

But I will continue to use my Sapphire Reserve outside the US. Visa has a far greater acceptance rate worldwide than Amex. And the Sapphire Reserve also earns 3x points on other travel categories whereas the Amex Gold only offers bonus points on travel purchases made through the Amex portal. When I’m traveling I prefer to have one card for most of my purchases (hotel-specific cards notwithstanding) so I’ll continue to boost my UR balance with my Sapphire Reserve and will leave my Amex Gold at home.

How will the Amex 4x points on dining worldwide affect your credit card strategy when traveling?

Categories: American Express, Chase, Credit Cards, Premier Rewards Gold Card, Sapphire Reserve | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Cards I Use for Bonus Spending

Yesterday Ben at One Mile At A Time wrote a post about which cards he uses for different bonus categories.  I thought I’d do the same with the cards in my wallet.

Airfare Purchases

I’ll typically use my airline-specific card if I’m flying one of the three US legacy airlines. For flights on other airlines I’ll use my Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) for 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points even though I could earn 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points with my Amex Gold card. That’s because I already earn lots of Membership Rewards points on dining and I’m hardly ever using my CSR card these days.

Continue reading

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Hyatt and American Airlines Join Forces

Hyatt and American Airlines have teamed up to offer some reciprocal benefits. If you have status in either program you should have received an email stating what your benefit is. I’m a low-level elite with Hyatt, called a Discoverist, thanks to my Hyatt credit card. Here’s the email I received:

It’s hard to read but the only benefit I get is that in addition to earning Hyatt points I can also earn American frequent flyer miles. All I need to do is to click on the box and log into my account. That takes me to this page:

Where I can link my accounts. I haven’t done this yet as there’s a note indicating the names on the two accounts must match exactly and mine don’t. My Hyatt account has my “called by” first name (like the vast majority of my credit cards) whereas my American account has my legal first name to match my photo ID. So I’m checking with Hyatt to see if this will be an issue or not.

But it’s very easy and those with higher status either with Hyatt or American should enjoy even greater benefits. What kind of offer did you receive?

Categories: American Airlines, Hotel, Hyatt, OneWorld | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Review: Hilton Munich Airport

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

Let me say right off the top that this is not going to be the most comprehensive hotel review I’ve ever done. We arrived in the evening and had an early morning flight out so our priority was sleep.

We took the train to the airport from the main train station and from there followed the signs to the Hilton. It’s well-marked but be aware that it is a bit of a hike and you will be going outdoors at some point. If you have a lot of luggage you may want to use a baggage cart to make your journey go faster.

Hilton Munich Airport
(photo courtesy Hilton Munich website)

As we followed the airport signs we were eventually directed to this hallway. Lit up like this it’s kinda hard to miss, right? At this point you’re still outside.

From the Munich Airport Terminal follow this hall to the Hilton’s elevators

We walked through the doors at the end of this hall and the elevators to the Hilton’s main floor were on the right.

Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Germany, Hilton, Hotel, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief Tour of Munich

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

We had two afternoon/evenings and one full day to see Munich which I’m sure was not enough but we did a lot of walking and took the hop-on/hop-off bus around the city to get a feel for the area. I’m sure we could go back for several more days and still not run out of things to do and see! But here are the sights we saw:

Karlstor

In the late 1700s the elector, Karl Theodor, had the old city walls torn down. This created space for a number of new plazas. Three of the original city gates were preserved, including this one that was previously known as Neuhauser Tor when it was built in the 14th century. It was renamed Karlstor after the Bavarian elector and in 1899-1902 was integrated into the semi-circular wing of Rondell am Sacchus to give it the look seen today.

Karlstor – Karl’s Gate

Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Germany | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Visiting Dachau

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

I must admit I was originally a little hesitant about visiting Dachau, a former Nazi concentration camp. I was concerned the horror of what had occurred there would be too overwhelming. But I decided it was something important I needed to do and I’m very glad I visited.

Getting There

It’s quite easy to reach the city of Dachau from Munich, especially since we were already at the main train station. We took the S2 train to Dachau, which is about a 25-minute ride. Then we caught the 726 bus to the camp entrance. The site is open from 9 AM to 5 PM each day except Christmas Eve. If you’re using public transport, I would try to arrive either right at 9 AM or wait until midday. We arrived in the city of Dachau mid-morning as did several tour groups. They filled up the first bus that arrived so we had to wait awhile for the next one on the route. But the bus does let you out right at the front entrance to the camp.

Services

In the Visitors Center you’ll find the ticket counter, restrooms, the cafeteria and the bookshop. We had a snack in the cafeteria after we toured the site and found that not only do they have typical snack foods, they also had hot meals available.

If you’re not with a group you can join a 2.5 hour guided tour for just €3.50. Tour times depend on which language the guide will be speaking. Audio guides come in a number of languages and are available for €4. Along with the guide booklet, you can go at your own pace and as you come to an exhibit that interests you, just enter the exhibit’s number into the guide and it will tell you about what you’re seeing.

There is a free film included with your admission. The theater is located in what was once the maintenance building and is now the exhibition space. The film runs about 20-25 minutes and is shown every half hour. Check the times to be able to view it in the language of your choice. Minimum age for the film is 14 (excluding babies) as there are, obviously, disturbing images of the camp victims. Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Germany, Historical Site | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Review: aloft Munich

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

After wrapping up our tour of Iceland we took an early-morning Icelandair flight to Munich where we’d spend the last few days of our trip. With the time change we arrived in Munich in the early afternoon. We took the train to the city center.

You know the old real estate slogan “Location, Location, Location”? That’s absolutely true of the aloft Munich. It’s literally across the street from the Hauptbanhof, or Main Train Station. This makes it not only easy to get to anywhere the train goes, but it’s also a stop for the intra-city tram system and the hop-on/hop-off buses have their offices and stops nearby as well.

aloft Munich location in relation to the Hauptbanhof

 

aloft Munich
(photo courtesy marriott.com)

We reached the front desk and were greeted by a friendly clerk who seemed to be working almost the whole time we were there. He noted that my Gold status did not qualify for a free breakfast. We were given keys to our room on the first floor (and since we’re not in the US, that’s the floor above the ground/current floor). The elevators are right beside the front desk so they’re hard to miss. Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Europe, Germany, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, Starwood | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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