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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Unexpected triple points!

I love it when this happens - I go out to a place to eat, and without knowing it stumble upon a points bonanza. 

The most recent case of this was a trip I made up to Carlsbad for a Qatar group dinner - sad in many ways because one of my good friends is moving back to WI and so our group will be minus one for quite a while! 

I always go to Opentable to see what options are available, and in this case I found one at Fresco Trattoria - very good reviews, and I love Italian food, so what's not to like?  I made the reservation and the dinner overall went very well.  Payment was made with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, so double points on the meal plus the Opentable...not bad.

But...I was surprised when I got a message this week from Chase Mileage Plus Dining...my meal at Fresco qualified for dining miles for United!  I never thought to check that site, since most times Opentable and the dining plans don't overlap.  But I'll take it in this case...triple!

Monday, June 23, 2014

InfoComm Friday recap

Had a very successful pilgrimage up to LV, and thought I'd share a quick recap for any travel tech geeks out there checking out my blog.  Thought overall the conference was excellent - the drive went very smoothly as well.  Made it in 4 hrs, 50 minutes...not bad.

When I arrived, I quickly parked and made my way to the LVCC via the monorail - ended up being the quickest way to reach the site.  The day pass was only $12, so a great investment for use later on in the evening.  The halls were expansive but I was thankful at the start to have time to check in with Andrea from Wolfvision as well as Kristin Z from Sonic Foundry.  Maintaining those professional relationships after so many years is always something to look forward to.  A few other takeaways from the vendor side of things:

- Unimpressed with new display solutions from Eiki, Barco, and Christie. Color reproduction and brightness seemed poor overall at the price point. Faculty want bright and clear!

- Panasonic's new laser projector had impressive clarity, but reduced brightness. Compared to DLP still lacking in my book for widespread use (not to mention pricetag).  For all the hype surrounding laser projectors and cost savings, I'm curious when the balance point will be reached between cost and usability.

- The Infocus Mondopad is an interesting product - not sure how it could fit in our environment. Liked the idea of integrated video-conferencing - all in one unit.

- Enjoyed seeing updated Beacon and Liberty systems from Anchor - bluetooth audio!  Might save us down the line in connections and wiring.

- New audio products from Shure, AKG, Meyer, and Soundcraft - the new consoles were awesome - I miss live audio and recording!

- New colleagues and information share from Toronto, OK, and Villanova

- A variant of our Learning Glass product was on display - interactive surface.  I figured it was only a matter of time before someone else thought about this concept, and indeed they have.  Pretty interesting to use it for interactive playback. 

Looking forward to future products and testing!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Time for a road trip!

Been looking forward to an offsite day, and so it worked out for me to hit the road from San Diego to Las Vegas to catch the last day of InfoComm!  I typically prefer to fly since the time saved is usually needed, but in this case I have the time available and flight prices are high so I'm gonna do the quick drive.  And by quick I mean 5.5 hours...not so very quick actually.

I have a free vendor pass ($150 value) so I'll hit the floor right when I arrive and see what I can find.  I'm particularly interested in what AKG and Shure are offering, and if I have time I'll swing by the Panasonic booth to check in on products.

Since I'm on my own dime for this trip, I also took advantage of Hyatt's new partnership with hotels in Vegas and burned 8000 points to stay on the strip for one night.  Pretty good value in my book!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are you ready to take on NY City's Slime Tour?

Did you know that it's been 30 years since Ghostbusters? What could be more fun that doing the official Green Slime Walking Tour in New York City to trace the steps of all the locations made famous in the movie.

You can find more info by clicking here.

It's still one of my favorite flicks, and when I want some real nostalgia I even power up the Wii and try out the original game. 

Hook and Ladder #8 would be at the top my list!  You can find it at 14 North Moore Street.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Deal Alert: $489 roundtrips to Istanbul from Boston for fall

If you have some flexibility in your schedule and can leave from the east coast, the deals are just starting to come out for fall travel.  This particular deal I found via Boston, but I imagine that NYC and Dulles will also have similar fares.  Here's an example for a 7-day:

This option is on Air Canada and is in the K fare bucket, so you would earn 100% mileage on United for the connections via Canada and Istanbul, but only 25% on the US connectors.  Still not a bad way to get about 10,000 miles.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What to do when you're all alone in the airport? Make a video

At least, that's what Richard Dunn did.  And now his video has gone viral.

Best part: he made it with an iPhone and a ruler.  

We've definitely come a long way... 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

United Devalues Mileage program...but it was expected

The blogosphere has lit up today with the news that United has officially gone revenue-based with Mileageplus starting in 2015.  Here are the basics:

As of March 1, 2015, the award miles you earn on most United and United Express® tickets will be based on your ticket price (that is, base fare plus carrier-imposed surcharges) instead of the distance you fly, so members will be rewarded for their travel spending on United. And when you have Premier® status, you’ll earn even more.

This wasn't completely unexpected, but I think I was holding out hope that they wouldn't go this far.  As some have pointed out, they took the cheap route and just took Delta's earning per dollar (which is a cop-out in my opinion).  Respectfully, if you're going to go revenue-based, how about you do it for your own reasons and not because Delta does!

It's a major devaluation for sure.  The only real way around it is to fly partners and credit their flights back for full earning.  But even that's a bit of a challenge for most.  This really does spell the end of mileage running (if it wasn't already dead).  Now the best way to earn miles and use them on United is by using your United-branded credit card. 

Plea to American:  Please make sure to think hard about what you're going to do coming up post-merger. You have an opportunity to stick it to the other airlines and blaze your own path (non-revenue based)!

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's a Chase Sapphire First Friday!

Just a quick reminder to all that it's the first Friday of the month - and if you have and use a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can score 3x points for any dining out tonight!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Daily Getaways conundrum

I'm a big fan of the Daily Getaways promotion every time it comes around during a year.  If you saw my recent post, then you also know that I highly value Hyatt points and spending them at overseas properties.

So my conundrum this week was participating on Wednesday's giveaway day - or, at least, trying to.  I clicked and clicked for almost 20 minutes to know avail, even though I was perfectly on time at the top of the hour.  Sadly all I saw was "try again".  Is it worth attempting to get these packages?  The pricing is excellent, but when the quantities are so low (200 or less) it's basically impossible to get in no matter what you do.  I haven't seen any reports of users having success.

Was anyone able to get a package?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

United dropping Doha, Qatar as a Destination August 30th

I was particularly sad to read about United dropping Doha as a destination in August:


United got me to Doha for my dissertation research, and I must say that I've always had a fairly excellent experience flying there.  The one-stop in Dubai never was an issue for me, although I wondered if this was sustainable for United since the Dubai-Doha segment was often marginally full.  Since there are so many flights between the two cities, maybe the writing was on the wall in the first place.  But it is unfortunately to lose a 'direct' way to get to Qatar.

For my next research trip, I now have to think about other options, including connecting via Qatar Airways or FlyDubai.  It wouldn't be bad to stay in Star Alliance for the trip since OneWorld tacks on rather large fuel surcharges via British Airways and others.  Plenty of time, though, to figure this out.