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

Friday, May 15, 2015

A new option for Sprint users overseas

I recently made the move to upgrade to the iPhone 6 and ultimately away from AT&T.  Before I moved to CA I was a very happy Nextel customer and was sad to have to give it up at the time, but I made due with the decision because of the necessity of the move (acquired the original iPhone).  AT&T's data and speed over the last bunch of years has been overall excellent for me and I rarely had any issues with connecting.  But data being the way it is with phone plans, I was experiencing the occasional "overage" in data which always dinged me $15.  Believe it or not, I made due with a 200 MEG plan for all of the years I had AT&T.  (please don't laugh at me!)

With the new iPhone 6, though, I made the change back to Sprint since they were pushing a Simply Unlimited Plan for $50 a month - unlimited talk, text, and data.  A pretty good deal overall and I've been happy not to have any overages since the switch.

One concern I had about the move, though, was not having the GSM network (via AT&T) any longer for international travel.  The ability to connect in Europe or other countries just by turning the phone on was a big benefit for emergency purposes and the occasional phone call to confirm details on connections.  What do I do now with Sprint?  WiFi seems like the only reasonable option.

Except...Sprint has now introduced International Value Roaming as an option to add to your existing plan - at no charge!  The plan includes unlimited data and text (although the data is noted as being at 2G speed).  Countries included with this plan are the following:

Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Spain, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea and United Kingdom.

I'm excited that there is an option now sans the GSM network for Sprint users in these countries.  I hope they continue to add more options and include additional European countries.  The speed might be a bit slow, but it's better than nothing in my book.  I'll be able to test this in October when I'm attending the International Leadership Association Global conference in Barcelona!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Amtrak accident

Sending thoughts, prayers, and well wishes to everyone involved in the Amtrak train accident this evening out east. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

MR Trip Report Part 3: HKG and Final Thoughts

The journey into and out of Hong Kong returned to a bit of normalcy that I'm typically accustomed to when flying.  Landing was smooth and I woke up in time to take advantage of the snack and juice that was left for me in my seatback (thank you Cathay).  I found out quickly that HKG has an interesting layout in several different sections and I arrived too early to see what gate I would be departing out of.  So I took off for the nearest lounge to relax (Dragonair), grab a bite to eat, and get some water.  I also took the time to catch up a bit online.

My flight information eventually made the screen and I was off on the trek to the gate.  Little did I know but there was a Cathay Pacific lounge right near my departure gate that was far superior to the lounge I had just visited.  And they had showers!  It was a no-brainer to take advantage of that as well as the food spread.

The flight back to DFW was on American's new 777-300ER and I was excited to get to try it.  I had a window seat of three for this segment and my seatmates were from China - they were very pleasant and mostly kept to themselves for most of the trip.  The food overall was excellent - entertainment system had a plethora of choices - and I was able to conk out for another 7 hours of sleep.  Landing to Dallas was smooth and passport control was fast (thank you Global Entry), and with an upgrade on my last segment to LAX I was in a good place to end my trip. 

A few final thoughts:

I was very grateful to find this entire trip (courtesy of flyertalk) and get it ticketed properly, and the price point was perfect for exploring new airports and airlines that I will find valuable for future excursions in Asia.  It also was helpful to accrue a significant number of AA miles and EQM's for the year.  A few takeaways:

1. Lesson learned in Jakarta - I figured this out the hard way but I'm now very aware of the transit rules for Indonesia.  Too bad they're changing in a few short months which will make it easy for transit passengers.  Also helpful to have along some backup US currency.
2. Economy wasn't bad - Before departing I was a bit worried I would have a hard time in economy seats for that many miles/hours.  I was pleasantly surprised that it really was not awful.  In fact, I think I slept the most I ever have on that length of flight.  Neck pillow was a necessity.
3. Disconnecting - I can't put into words how nice it was to disconnect for a while from phone, internet, and email.
4. Bang for the mileage buck - I couldn't beat the ticket cost and mileage haul.  The long weekend worked out well to get me closer to Exec Plat on American for the year.
5. Satellite trip tracking - I tried to get my inReach to work to follow my trip locations.  Unfortunately it would not connect from within the terminals. Need to experiment with that for the future.

I'm really excited to try another trip like this one when the next sale comes up.  It made sense for my plans this year and fit in over a long weekend.