...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Monday, April 8, 2024

Trip Recap: Brussels and Maldives

We just recently returned from an amazing vacation trip to Brussels and the Maldives!  Overall we didn't experience any flight challenges and had a very positive experience flying United, TAP Portugal, and Qatar Airways.

As a reminder, this was our primary initial routing:


Very smooth flight with no issues - we stopped in at the United Lounge before departure and enjoyed some snacks.

IAD-BRU (which turned out to be IAD-LIS-BRU!):

We made it the gate after a brief lounge visit, and heard the agent asking for volunteers since the flight was oversold by 6.  This is the most I've ever heard for an international flight!  They were offering $1000 and rerouting either that night or the next day.  Initially this seemed too low so we didn't jump. However, after a second call I went to the desk and offered to help though noted the amount seemed too low.  The agent was able to increase the voucher amount and route us from Dulles to Lisbon and then on to Brussels that same evening.  Perfect!  We now had vouchers as well as a routing that wouldn't make us late for Sunday.  We went back to the Polaris lounge for a bit and then on to the later flight.  Arriving to Lisbon we went through security, passport check, and then visited the TAP lounge which was very crowded.  After a brief breakfast we walked to the gate and onward via a TAP Portugal flight (new airline!).  Arrival at Brussels was easy with a quick walk to the train which looped us downtown quickly.  

We had the evening in Brussels and once checked in to the Hilton Grand Place walked and had dinner at Mokafe.  I had visited this restaurant during my trip to ILA and it was great to stop again - the service and food were excellent.  We also walked to the main square and tried some waffle!


The next morning after breakfast we zipped back to Brussels Airport via train, checked in with Qatar Airways, then off to the lounge for lunch before departure.  We used miles to fly Business Class to Doha and it was a very smooth flight that had amazing food/drink choices.

Arriving at Doha we had quite a walk to get to our gate though did stop and see the Orchard.  Once onboard we found our seats and I tried to sleep. Unfortunately I had an issue occur with the individual sitting behind me who decided to kick my seat forward twice while I was sleeping since apparently there wasn't room to eat.  Even though I had a right to recline, the individual kept doing this and so I ended up with poor sleep for the entire segment.

At the Park Hyatt Maldives:

Our typical transfer process went quickly (lounge/flight/boat) and soon we were onsite and could relax!


Leaving is always the most difficult thing to do.  We ran to late brunch and then off on our standard boat ride followed by flight from Koodhoo to Male.  In Male we had a bit of a wait though soon we were off on a fairly full flight to Doha.  Arriving Doha we quickly went through security again and then visited the Business Lounge before walking again to our C gate.  We had Business Class again using miles back to Brussels so it was time to sleep!  

Arriving Brussels was fast with a quick visit to security and then off to our gate.  We were not able to visit any lounges since access is restricted to Business class only (no *A or Gold possible).  Boarding was completed quickly and we were off to Newark.  We were able to get quite a bit of work done on the flight and kudos to United for another smooth flight.  No delay for Global Entry this time and we stopped by the United Club before departing to Boston.


It was an amazing trip.  We had multiple segments though didn't have any delays or issues on transfer.  Using points and miles was really helpful and we hope to get back to the Maldives soon!

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Rise of the Do-Nothing Vacation

Most trips I take have a specific idea or plan in mind.  Whether that is to participate in activities or view unique cultural offerings, a defined purpose has often been a part of how I hope to visit a destination (and often collect/use points!).  However...given the hustle/bustle of work, market volatility, and increasing stress due to local factors (including commute, inflation, etc), it's sometimes nice just to go on a vacation and do nothing.

In the past I've been asked why I might travel as far as I sometimes do only to get to a place and do nothing.  There's a simple answer for that: it's to disconnect.  I also happen to enjoy being on planes which for me is part of the disconnect process.

A recent WSJ article highlights this increasing travel trend: https://www.wsj.com/lifestyle/travel/vacation-trends-resorts-all-inclusive-relax-ce3f9026

Travel is the ultimate break!

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Hyatt Award Chart Changes March 2024

Hyatt has announced changes to award categories for free night stays.

You can find the full list here: https://world.hyatt.com/content/gp/en/landing/award-category-chart-updates.html

Generally these types of changes are negative especially when categories move out of 4 to 5 (free night cert) and from 7 to 8 (also free night cert).  

Some things to keep in mind:

  • When you book before March 26, your reservations will follow the current free night award chart found here.
  • Reservations made or modified on or after March 26 will follow the new free night award chart and incorporate the updates noted below.
  • Existing reservations for nights on or after March 26 will receive a refund for the point difference if the hotel moved to a lower category.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Next Travel Adventure: Maldives!

Yes, you read that correctly!  I'm on a days countdown now until departure for Maldives via Brussels.  Looking forward to being back in the air internationally and also stopping over in a new city for HBB.  Here's how the journey will look from Gcmap.com:

Once again this type of itinerary is not possible without the use of points and miles.  The breakdown:

Park Hyatt Maldives (4 nights): 120,000 Hyatt points 
With Globalist status, our breakfasts will be free and we typically treat it as brunch so dinner ends up being the only expense.

BRU-DOH-MLE plus return: 170,000 American Miles for two people with Qatar Airways QSuites included BRU-MLE and regular Business on the return.  

Our overnight in Brussels at the Hilton Grand Place was a cheap rate so no need to use points for that.  

Since this is likely my last year of having Hyatt Globalist status, we need to take advantage of the extra perks (food plus room upgrades).  Should be a fun and relaxing trip!

Friday, February 23, 2024

AA Enhances Service to LSE

Good news this week for flyers to LSE!  From social media:

We're excited to announce that coming in April, American Airlines will add an additional flight each day. Then, in May, they will have larger aircraft (E170/175) for two of the three flights each day! This will provide additional connectivity for our passengers as well as more seats in our market. It is an important step in our air service efforts to prove the Coulee Region's demand for travel!
As we continue to pursue more routes and airlines, please consider clicking the link below and tell us where you'd like to go. The information we get from you will help us razor target specific destinations and carriers. Let's get moving!

I'm glad that AA is committing more seats to the Coulee region.  Now I wish United would restart service!