Lodging Review: Novotel Torino Corso Giulio Cesare
Attraction Review: Museo Egizio
Lodging Review: Hilton Bonn
Lounge Review: Lufthansa Lounge, Cologne-Bonn Airport
United 777-200ER Old Style vs. Polaris Business Class
Though I usually do these trip reports in sequential order as to the activities, I skipped over the flight from Chicago to Munich as it was on a B777 configured in the old 2-4-2 layout that we experienced on our flight from Chicago to Brussels a few years ago. So I’ve included the food options below but am not providing a detailed review. Since my reservations were made only 10 days before, I was not surprised to find that the only available BusinessFirst seats were middle seats in the middle section. However, when I checked in 24 hours in advance I was thrilled to see it was the new 1-2-1 layout. But I was unable to select a seat. I was fine with that since now it no longer mattered where I sat. Later in the day, however, the seat map later reverted to the old 2-4-2 as I assume they had changed which aircraft would be servicing this flight. The good news was that now I had been assigned an aisle seat though it was still in the center section.
On the return, we did indeed finally get the 1-2-1 layout with the new Polaris amenities so I’ve included photos of that seat below. I did not include a review of one of the Lufthansa business class lounges in Munich as it was quite busy and there really wasn’t a way to take photos without people in it.
UA 952 ORD-MUC
Seat: 8D (BusinessFirst, aisle of center section)
Depart: 1900 CDT
Arrive 0930+1 CET
I have a group of friends that like to travel together and one of them knew of another small group that was doing a Danube River cruise with Viking River Cruises. Having cruised the Rhine with Viking a couple of years ago, we were excited to join that group for another European float.
One of my good friends who lives in Chicago agreed to be my travel partner for this excursion. We looked at the trip extensions Viking offered: a pre-trip extension in Prague before the cruise began in Nuremberg, and post-trip extension in Budapest, where the cruise ended. As we looked at what was offered, we decided to do our own versions of these extensions and use our hotel points (mostly) to pay for our rooms.
Naturally we used airline miles to cover our flights in business class. We both used United miles to fly to Prague with a long layover in Brussels. My friend also used UA miles for a return flight from Budapest on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. I used my Lufthansa Miles & More miles via Frankfurt, hoping to be able to upgrade to First Class as the time for our flight grew closer, but it wasn’t to be. No first class award seat ever opened up on the FRA-ORD leg on my flight date. Note to self: in the future, don’t fly on a Monday. Loads of business travelers! I saw award seats on both Sunday and Tuesday around my date but by then the rest of our plans had been set so I had to “settle” for business class.
Our outbound flight connected in Brussels and I have a Twitter friend who lives in Belgium. Though we’d never met in person, she was kind enough to drive down to Brussels and meet us for lunch and take us on a walk around the area near the train station. I love the way the world gets smaller with social media!
My flights in red, my friend’s flights in cyan, joint flights in green
Categories: Austria, Award Travel, Cruises, Europe, Germany, Hungary, Lufthansa, River Cruise, Star Alliance, United, Viking
Tags: Austria, Cruise, Danube, Germany, Hungary, Lufthansa, River Cruise, United, Viking
I saw a tweet this morning from Ric Garrado of Loyalty Traveler that American and United are having fare wars between certain cities. His blog post showed a screen shot of a fare on United where the base fare was $53! There were taxes and fees that brought the cost up to $86 but still, that’s a fantastic deal for a round-trip ticket. His post lists the 12 cities and the base fares that he found.
Great news for those who live in Chicago or want to visit the Windy City!
If you’re a member of the United MileagePlus program, you likely received an email today stating that it’s your last chance to buy MP miles with a bonus. The amount of the bonus is targeted. The offer I received:
Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, save 15%
Buy 20,000 – 49,000 miles, save 25%
Buy 50,000 – 149,000 miles, save 35%
Buy 150,000 miles, save 50%
The offer expires at 23:59 US Central Time tonight and are non-refundable. These miles are redeemable miles and do not count towards elite status. Canadians will be charged GST/HST. It may take up to 48 hours for the miles to post.
This will show on your credit card as a charge by Points.com so it will not count as airline spend for credit card bonus categories.
Even with the 50% bonus, it’s not a terrific deal for those of us who like to use the points for premium cabin international travel. The 150K miles cost $2625 (before taxes, fees, processing charges, etc.) which is 1.75 cents per mile. At the present time Ben from One Mile at a Time values UA miles at 1.4 cents each while Brian, The Points Guy places their value at 1.5 cents apiece.
I’m giving this sale a pass as my present travel needs don’t call for travel on Star Alliance carriers.
I just received an email from United stating I can earn miles for donating to the Red Cross in support of their relief efforts in Nepal:
You can click on the offer to enlarge it but the highlights are:
- 250 miles for a donation of $50-$99 USD
- 500 miles for a donation of $100-$249 USD
- 1000 miles for a donation of $250 or more
Donations must be received between now and 11:59 pm Central Time on 15 May 2015.
If you haven’t found a way to help out yet, here’s an easy way and you can earn miles in the process.
United is offering a targeted bonus on purchased miles that could in an extra 20%, 30% or 50% miles. I received an email from United and clicked on my link. I was offered the 30% bonus, which works out to a price of 2.7 cents per mile. With the recent devaluation of United miles on partner airlines (it now costs significantly more miles for award travel on Star Alliance partner airlines), Ben of One Mile At A Time values them at only 1.4 cents apiece while Brian, The Points Guy, values them at 1.5 cents apiece. So 2.7 cents is not a particularly good price. As usual, your situation may vary. If you only need a few thousand miles to top off an award, now is as good a time as any to buy them.
Note that you may only purchase 150,000 miles per year and there are additional taxes and fees associated with the purchase, reducing their value even further. Allow 48 hours for the miles to post to your account. The purchase is processed through Points.com so it will not count as a United Airlines purchase for credit card category purposes. The offer is valid until 11:59 PM Central Time on 23 March 2015.
For the next week, through January 8th, United is offering a 30% discount in the cost of fees for transferring MileagePlus miles from one person to another. You must transfer at least 2000 miles and there is a 100,000 mile maximum.
Is this a good deal? Transferring miles is rarely a good deal, even with a discount. This is because most frequent flyer programs – including United – allow you to use your miles to book an award ticket for someone else. So there’s usually no need to transfer tens of thousands of miles to someone else. But, if the other person only needs a few thousand to top off an award, it might be worth it.
The transfers cost $10.50 per 1000 miles along with a $14 processing fee for each transaction.
Note that you can only transfer 25,000 miles to a single recipient per calendar year.
If you want to transfer miles, click here to go to the United website.