OneWorld

Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

We arrived into Sydney about 0620 and followed the signs for transit security. It seemed a little strange that we had to go through that again when we’d never left a sterile area. I thought perhaps I could bring the water bottle given to us on the plane but, nope, that had to go into the recycle bin. The vast majority of passengers on our flight were not transiting and the line was quite short so it didn’t take long at all to clear it. That completed we took the escalator up to the main floor of the airport.

From there we took a second escalator up to the next level where we passed by the Qantas First Class lounge and entered the Qantas Business Class Lounge.

We were greeted warmly and efficiently. At that early hour the lounge was quite empty which was nice after being on a plane with a lot of people for 14 hours! We were also fortunate that it was a sunny day and we had nice views outside. We could have taken an earlier flight to Auckland but our friend who was joining us from LA wouldn’t have been able to catch that flight, so we ended up with a 5+ hour layover in total. Our friend was arriving about two hours after us, so we probably spent about 2.5 hours in the lounge since she didn’t have access.

The lounge is quite large and stretches in both directions from the entrance. There’s loads of seating in many different forms. It was a bit surprising that not all seats had electrical outlets. I assume next time there’s a refresh that will be rectified.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Seating

Qantas Business Class Lounge Seating

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Categories: Airline Clubs, Australia, Oceania, OneWorld, Qantas | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Flight Review: Qantas A300-300 Sydney – Auckland

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

We finally arrived in Auckland on Qantas flight from Sydney. Normally I wouldn’t review a 3-hour trip but our A330-300 was in an international configuration with lie-flat seats so I thought I’d include a brief overview.

Qantas 145 SYD-AKL
Airbus A330-300
Seat: 4E (Business Class, Aisle, Center Section)
Scheduled Departure: 1135 (Actual: 1150)
Scheduled Arrival: 1640 (Actual: 1647)
Flight time: 3h 7m (Actual: 2h 57m)

We boarded through door 2L. We’d originally had two seats in the center section, but as on the previous leg, when my friend changed the first leg of her journey from an American flight to one with Alaska Airlines, her seat assignment was lost. Fortunately she was just across the aisle.

We were offered our choice of pre-departure beverage: champagne, still water or sparkling water. As I didn’t select it, I’m not sure if the champagne was the Duval-Leroy Brut or the Jacquart Brut Mosaique.

The cabin felt so fresh compared to the one we’d just flown on the 747, but that’s to be expected. I imagine the daylight helped the cabin to feel much airier as well.

QF145 A330-300 Business Class Cabin

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Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

For the first leg of this adventure I exchanged 80,000 American AAdvantage miles and $28.20 in taxes for 10,676 miles of flying. If you value those 80K AA miles at 1.4 cents each, that’s just under $1150 in value when you add in the taxes. Compare that to the $4800+ that American wants for similar flights next October and I think that’s a pretty good deal!

As I mentioned in the first post of this series, we’d found our return flights first and about two weeks later we found two business class seats on Qantas from San Francisco to Auckland via Sydney. From Memphis the only flights American made available in business class were on the regional jet via Phoenix. My friend flying from Chicago could not even get a business class (domestic First) ticket on a non-stop to San Francisco so she paid for an extra legroom seat.

Initially AA had me leaving Memphis around 2:30 PM and arriving around 6:30 PM before the Qantas flight left around 9:30 PM. In September, SFO airport was re-paving runways which meant closures and delays. Though I knew they were supposed to be done well before my trip, it made me nervous. Couple that with how often fog causes delays into SFO and I decided to take advantage of American’s generous change policy on award tickets: as long as the origin and destination remain the same, you can change the routing or the dates. So I left home about 7:30 AM and made it to Phoenix on time, a little after 8:30 AM. And there the delay kicked in. SFO ATC would not let us take off due to fog in the area so we were 49 minutes late leaving Phoenix and we arrived 39 minutes late. While a delay of that length would not have made a difference should I have kept my original flight times, I felt my decision to go earlier was validated because there might have been a lengthier delay later in the evening.

Another factor in making the switch was that my friend flying from Chicago could change to a domestic First class seat on the Alaska Air non-stop. It cost $100 to make the change to the award ticket since Alaska is not part of oneworld but they refunded her extra legroom seat and it was definitely worth it to her for the four hour flight as she’s tall and is much more comfortable in the larger seats, just like I am.

The early arrival meant we had a lot of time to kill at SFO and we even kicked around the idea of going out to a movie but ultimately decided just to wander a bit, have a decent early dinner and get to the lounge as soon as was reasonable. This was our first time connecting to an international flight at SFO and we were disappointed to learn we’d have to re-clear security. At least the line was far less crowded than it was two years earlier when I was departing on my China trip. Since we didn’t have to wait for the Qantas counter to open so we could check our bag, we weren’t in the security line with dozens of others at the same time.

Qantas flyers can use both the Air France/KLM lounge and the Cathay Pacific lounge. We spent a little time in each and, perhaps due to the times their flights depart, the Cathay lounge was a lot less crowded.

Qantas B747-400
(image courtesy qantas.com)

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Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

Each year my friends and I try to take a two week vacation in the fall. We have a system that whoever had the birthday ending in 5 or 0 that year gets to pick the location. That’s served us well and covers 6 years out of any decade. This year the birthday girl decided on spending most of our time exploring New Zealand with a few days on the end on the beaches of Australia.

That decision was made late in 2018 so our first task was finding business class award space on the longhaul segments for two of us (one doesn’t mind flying coach). We were fine buying our positioning flights as long as we could lock in business class for those 14 hour flights!

I was looking for award space on American, Qantas and United as well as keeping an eye out for space on Air New Zealand. I knew that American was pretty stingy on longhaul award space in premium cabins but they look positively generous compared to what Air New Zealand typically opens up. As luck would have it I found three business class award seats from Brisbane (near the Australian beaches we wanted to visit) back to Los Angeles for the last Wednesday in October. That was perfect so we snagged those even though we didn’t have our outbound tickets yet. I used my miles for the birthday girl’s return ticket which cost 80,000 American AAdvantage miles + $81.83 for each ticket. However, thanks to my Citibank AAdvantage MasterCard I get a rebate of up to 10,000 miles each year so the net cost was 150K miles. I considered using 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles per ticket instead but our friend who lives in Chicago was using her AA miles to get one of the tickets and I know that sometimes Alaska has access to one less award ticket than oneworld alliance airlines and I just wanted to make things easier by having the two of us on a single PNR. I bought a United domestic flight from LA to Denver to Memphis for my return flight and my Chicago friend bought a United ticket home as well. However, when United made the fall schedule adjustments, I would land in Denver too late to catch the afternoon flight back to Memphis so they re-routed me through Chicago. While I was stuck on a one-cabin plane for the Chicago-Memphis leg, at least I got to fly back with my friend as far as Chicago.

After buying the return flights we sweated for a couple of weeks until Qantas opened up two business class seats on their 747 from San Francisco to Sydney. The seats were available two weeks and one day before the return flight. That couldn’t have worked out any better for us. My friend from Chicago and I were even able to include positioning flights with the cost of our tickets: 80,000 American AAdvantage miles + $28.20 in fees

Long haul flights: the green line indicates my outbound flight while the blue is my return flight.

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Categories: Award Travel, Hilton, Hotel, IHG, New Zealand, Oceania, OneWorld, Other Hotels, Qantas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earn AAdvantage Miles When Buying Event Tickets

Determining which card to use to buy event tickets such as concerts or sporting events can sometimes be easy or sometimes be hard. For example, American Express often has pre-sale events where you must use an Amex card to make those purchases. Other times MasterCard is running a promotion and you must use one of their cards. But when there are no obvious choices, what card do you typically use? Here are some options that come to mind:

  • Citi Double Cash, Premier or Prestige, earning 2 Thank You Points per dollar
  • Barclays ArrivalPlus, earning two miles per dollar which can be used to erase travel purchases
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited, earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar
  • any card where you’re trying to meet the minimum spend

Now American Airlines wants to help you earn AAdvantage miles on top of whatever currency you’re earning with your credit card. They’ve teamed up with Vivid Seats, a ticket re-seller, to give you a minimum of 3 AA miles per dollar spent on the base ticket price.

As an example, for an upcoming NBA game here in Memphis, the cheapest tickets ranged from $10-14. For 2 x $10 tickets, you could earn 60 AA miles, or 3 miles per dollar. For 2 x $12 tickets, your $48 would earn up to 70 miles or at bit over 3 miles per dollar. It appears all mileage amounts are rounded up.

While this may not be an opportunity for everyone, it’s certainly worth a look the next time you’re looking for seats at an event in your area!

Categories: Advice, American Airlines, Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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: Iberia A340-600 Business Class

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

Flights between Memphis and Chicago were on American Airlines, then Chicago-Madrid-Amsterdam and Munich-Madrid-Chicago on Iberia

Outbound: Chicago – Madrid

I’d flown from Memphis to Chicago on Tuesday evening and spent the night at my friend’s house. Then we spent a leisurely morning doing a few last-minute things before driving to the airport garage where she’d park while we were gone. Mid-day, mid-week it’s about a 45 minute drive from her house to the airport. We had left in plenty of time but were over halfway to the airport when I realized I’d left both my charging cords at her house. Well, we’d stop and I could get another one at Walmart. Then I realized I’d left my tablet there too. Oh boy was the trip off to a great start or what?! I still had my phone so we did stop and get a charging cord – I’d needed one to keep at work anyway – and we were able to get a family member to stop by her house and turn off the tablet so it all ended well but it was quite a bummer to start things off like that. Continue reading

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Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and 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

The genesis of this trip was a friend telling me about a group tour of Iceland that several friends were going on and asking if I wanted to go or not. Of course the tour wanted to sell us airfare and options using points and miles aren’t all that plentiful, especially if fixed dates are involved.

The group tour was only a week and since October is when we we usually take a two-week vacation anyway, my travel companion and I decided to use our miles to get to Europe, enjoy a few days there, then buy tickets to Iceland, do the tour and then fly to another city in Europe where our miles could get us back to the US in business class. Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Europe, Germany, Hilton, Hotel, Iberia, Iceland, Icelandair, IHG, Marriott, Netherlands, OneWorld, Radisson, Starwood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Using frequent flyer miles doesn’t mean it’s free

My hometown of Nashville recently gained a non-stop flight to London Heathrow on British Airways which is nice in so many ways and many folks may think that’s a great way to redeem their frequent flyer miles…but is it really?

Let’s say you have 60,000 American AAdvantage miles and are ready to splurge on a trip to London. You log into your AAdvantage account on aa.com, plug in dates that will work for you, check the Redeem miles box and hit Search.


The website returns the full week of results.


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Categories: Advice, American Airlines, British Airways, OneWorld | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Earn 1000 AA Miles for Hyatt House or Hyatt Place stays

American Airlines and Hyatt are teaming up to allow you to earn 1000 miles for each stay at a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House property between February 20 and June 30, 2018. You must register by this Monday, April 30th. The date of your stay is determined by your checkout date.

When you check into a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House, you must choose one of these options:

  • Earn 1000 AAdvantage® bonus miles plus the standard 500 AAdvantage® miles for your stay OR
  • Earn 1000 AAdvantage® bonus miles + World of Hyatt Base Points for your eligible spend

The terms and conditions further state:

Back-to-back stays within one 24-hour period at a single participating hotel are considered one stay. Only one (1) check-in/check-out permitted per stay. Please allow four to six weeks after your qualifying stay for bonus miles to be posted to your American Advantage account.

If you didn’t get the email about this promotion you can register on the World of Hyatt website.

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

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