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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Place of the Day: Bazaruto Archipelago

When you think of good beaches, this particular location may not be the first to come to mind.  So...today's Place of the Day will be:

Boasting unspoiled beaches with limited crowds, this may be truly one of the finest beaches to visit if you can get there. Snorkeling and diving are common among its many reefs, and smaller islands open up other areas to explore for some adventure.  You can find more information about it here.

There are a variety of flight options to get you to Mozambique. British Airways, Ethiopian, and Qatar Airways all serve Maputo International airport (MPM), although if you can catch a charter flight to Vilanculos (VNX) that will get you closer. 

Be sure to do plenty of research before visiting.  You can find specific requirements for visa and vaccinations here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another churn, another success

I wasn't planning on having another credit card churn today, but it happened nonetheless.

Word had it that the Southwest Premier personal card was going away, along with its 50,000 point bonus after $2000 spend in 3 months.  Now, truth be told, I don't fly Southwest much.  In fact, it's less than 1% of the flying I do.  But...Wanna Get Away fares are reasonable to many places on the West Coast, and now that Airtran is in the fold, some international destinations as well.  And, I could use the points for staging to get to other airports when deals pop up.  Here were the terms:

So...I took the chance and applied.  I didn't get immediately approved, but "waitlisted" - I picked up the phone, dialed the Reconsideration line and got a very kind agent who found my application, and asked if I wanted to move around some of my credit from other cards (which of course I was happy to do).  And Wah-la!  Approval secured. 

Bring on those points!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Airport tower closures

For those of you keeping score at home, the Transportation department (FAA) recently released their list of the confirmed tower closures that will start in the following weeks.  Most of the airports listed are regional or municipal airports, but I was sad to see 8 different Wisconsin airports listed.

You can find the full list here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2013/14 travel goal - Star Alliance

I'm not usually one to narrow my travel plans, but I've been pondering a challenge for myself that I think may be doable over the next year or so (providing that I have the funds, miles, and time).  I fly an awful lot on United, and would like to try and keep my 1K status for the foreseeable future.  But I'm not opposed to flying other Star Alliance carriers that can also get me elite qualifying miles.

So my personal challenge - by the end of 2014 to fly at least once on all members of the Star Alliance.

Yes, I might be crazy.

Here's the list (and I'll exclude US Airways at this point since they're heading to OneWorld and also note in red how many I've already flown):

 So...am I crazy?  Maybe.  But I'm also adventurous, so why not try??  (don't worry...my priority is still to finish my dissertation)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

have you ever thought about the deer crossing sign?

Ok...I must admit, this is satire...but still...I leave you make your own decision about this phone call in to a radio station:

Having grown up in Illinois and Wisconsin, and traveled all throughout the Midwest, I had a hearty chuckle.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

American Airlines new Award Map feature

I always enjoy flight shopping...or as I like to say, "kayaking the river of fares".  And now, American has made it much easier to visualize what your flight options might be.  The new American Award Map feature allows you to plug in your home airport, the number of miles you have, and it will load a map with all the destinations that are possible. 

You can access the new feature here.  I'll be checking it out over the next few days to see how well it works.  Access to all alliance members is supposedly part of it, and I'm curious if true Saver availability will be shown. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Avios up for grabs - spring promotion!

Looking to score some Avios?

British Airways is highlighting a promotion, should you be flying them in the next few weeks.  Here are the particulars:

Of note: You must book a qualifying, round-trip, transatlantic flight and fly as an Executive Club member between now and May 31, 2013, for 20,000 bonus Avios on every round-trip.  Not as obvious is the fact you must be in a qualifying cabin, i.e. discount economy fares, including those booked in the following classes do not qualify:  K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, or G.

It's frustrating that British Airways never seems to run promotions that can include the most general flyers, those who are probably defaulting into the lower booking codes for flights.  Anything higher in code and you'll be needing to pay for World Traveler Plus, which can start to be expensive. 

Here's hoping that future promotions include more accessible flight options.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An airport I may never get to

I chanced upon a History Channel program about the most extreme airports in the world, and of the list of 10 (San Diego is #10, by the way) is an airport I may never get to: Courchevel (CVF).  Located in the French Alps, the thing that makes this airport the #7 most extreme really requires a picture to tell - I'll let you be the judge:

That's an 18 percent grade...essentially you're landing uphill.  It doesn't see regular traffic, except for vacationers to the nearby ski slopes.

And if you're curious about the History Channel special, you can find it here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Island hopping, anyone?

I'm always interested in learning about new possibilities when it comes to booking flights, and I read about a new one today that I really want to try sometime:

Yes, this is HNL-GUM (or vice versa), but you get to stop 4 times at some really interesting places!  I'm due to head to Guam at some point to see some dear friends from WLC, so maybe I should consider this as an option to get there. 

I did read, though, that clearing upgrades through this route can be a bit tricky.  So...I'll definitely need to make sure that I've got the bases covered if I go.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Discover Double miles

If you haven't received it yet, Discover is once again offering a double miles promotion for cardholders.  In particular, since it's usually focused on the Miles by Discover card, this can be valuable for earning points if you have focused purchases happening soon and have this as your primary card.

I typically use my Discover for car rentals and other smaller travel items, as the insurance coverage tends to be better for driving.  But don't let this stop you from getting in on it - be sure to log in to your Discover account and see if you qualify for the promotion!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dividend Miles posted...now what?

To wait or not to wait...that is the question.

I checked my accounts today, and was happy to find that the bonus Dividend Miles have posted from my last card churn for the US Airways Mastercard.  While I typically don't fly US Airways that often unless it's a screamin' deal for a flight, I decided to go in on an application since the merger was announced between US Airways and American Airlines.  The hope is that when both airlines begin to integrate their programs, eventually we'll be able to move miles back and forth between accounts - thereby netting me a nice chance for future flight options.  The timetable for all of that is still very up in the air, so in the meantime I sit on the miles.  Or...do I?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

TAM to leave Star Alliance

And So It Goes...

We finally have an update on the TAM/LAN merger - most have wondered which alliance would win out between the two airlines (TAM is part of Star Alliance, along with United; LAN is part of OneWorld, tied to British Airways and American). 

Official Press Release

I certainly think this helps OneWorld with connections into Latin and South America.  Star Alliance already has several options, including the legacy US carriers and now Avianca/Taca.  The post notes:

The airline plans to officially join Oneworld as soon as it leaves Star Alliance. From that date, TAM passengers will be able to accumulate kilometers/points by flying on any Oneworld member airline. Until then, they will continue to receive the benefits offered by Star Alliance.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jetblue fare sale: not worth it

Seems as though Spring is in the air...I keep getting messages and emails about airlines that are promoting spring sales.  Too bad they happen to have the names of Frontier and Jetblue.

Normally I wouldn't rag on Jetblue so much, as they have a pretty decent product.  But seriously...could we get any more stringent on the terms and conditions?  How about making these flights useful for the average consumer (who probably has to work semi-normal hours during a week)?

From the latest:

  • Blackout dates of Apr. 11 - Apr. 23 apply.
  • 28-day advance purchase required.
  • Fare subject to limited availability; may not be available on all flights; does not include fees for oversized/overweight/extra baggage or optional services. Add’l restrictions (incl. change and cancellation fees and policies) apply. Click here for details.

Better luck next time, Jetblue.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Will Amtrak Survive?

It has always been one of my goals to take one of the longer Amtrak trains across the country - I couldn't think of a better way to actually see how expansive and amazing this country is then by train.  You lose so much by driving because you have to pay attention to the road, and the thought of enjoying the changes in terrain and weather has always been appealing.

I still have the desire to do this trip, but a recent report about how much money Amtrak is losing (coupled with all of the Federal budget issues) makes me wonder how long Amtrak will survive.  I wish that we had a system like Europe - on time, efficient, good trains.  Every time I'm in Zurich I marvel at the main station and where you can go. 

The Brookings Institute broke down ridership numbers and cost for each of the Amtrak lines - it's a pretty complete picture of which areas are working and which aren't. The longer routes are losing money like a sieve, while the more focused routes in the Northeast and Midwest are doing ok.  You can find the full graphic and report here.

The Southwest Chief (40+ hours through Dodge City) and Empire Builder (46 hours through Montana) are still on my list of things to do - let's hope I can take advantage of it before Amtrak scales back.