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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Primera Air - another option to Europe for $99!

While I tend to stick to the mainline carriers (and subsequent large-body aircraft) when traveling to Europe, I've been intrigued by Norwegian Air and its recent low fare offerings to Europe.  Another player in the game will also be offering $99 flights from both New York and Boston:

Primera Air

The $99 only gets you the seat and extras cost more including advanced seat assignment.  But if you're looking to get to Europe on the cheap and aren't concerned about points, miles, or aircraft type, this may be a great option!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Plenty of fall travel ahead

My fall is shaping up to be busy and travel-filled - both of which I am grateful for.  I went into the year thinking that I probably was going to end up scaling back on much of the typical travel I've done in past years, but some very fortuitous opportunities presented that I couldn't pass up.  Right now I have a few busy months ahead - some highlights:

August: Illinois
September: UK/Italy
October: Switzerland/Belgium
November: Czech Republic/Switzerland
December: Wisconsin/Vermont

October in particular is a highlight - I'll be attending the 59th IMTA Conference followed immediately by the International Leadership Association Global Conference.  I especially look forward to networking and connecting with colleagues from past conferences.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

American/Alaska Earning Partnership changing

One of the best partnerships I've used for travel east coast to west coast is Alaska Airlines and American.  The ability to fly Alaska (on their ticket) and credit both miles and elite qualifying to American helped me retain my Executive Platinum status in years past.  Unfortunately, American will be changing the parameters of the partnership and its not to the better.  From the notification:

Starting January 1, 2018, American Airlines AAdvantage® award miles, Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) will be earned on Alaska Airlines only when the flight is marketed by American Airlines. 

Elite benefits on Alaska Airlines, such as priority check-in, priority boarding and complimentary checked bags, will be discontinued.

The complete information outline can be found here.

Thank goodness mileage earning is not being eliminated altogether, though I will say that in general buying the AA-marketed flights tends to be more expensive.  Given American's addition of an Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement, I can't say these changes surprise me.  I'm disappointed that another good option for flyers is being eliminated.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July trip update

Update: my email to United Customer service is answered!  In fact, I received a phone call (which I believe is the first time that United CS has reached out this way - typically it's through email).

Along with a refund of my original ticket, they also included a voucher for future travel.  Very nice of them to recognize what happened and try to make it better.  It doesn't completely make up for losing time at home but I can look for another weekend to travel coming up.  The CS agent also described the cancellations as a possible "schedule reduction".  If that's the case, then someone at United isn't thinking: why would you do that on a holiday weekend??

Sunday, July 2, 2017

My 4th of July trip home that wasn't

Very rarely do I get frustrated about air travel in general. There are often variables that can't be controlled and generally I've had great success with getting to places around the world (case and point last November when we went around the world with no cancellations/delays).  This weekend, though, was an exception.

I was due to fly home for a family get together, picking up my grandparents along the way since they can't drive.  We had planned this trip for some time and with holiday flight costs being high I carefully planned to take advantage of the time.

The NJ transit train to Newark went quickly and so did check-in via Pre Check.  I was just about ready to do the bus transfer to Terminal A when Tripit showed that my flight to Milwaukee was cancelled.  Just like that.  No bad weather at the time.  Beautiful sun on the horizon.

I hopped off and went back into Terminal C and the customer service desk which honestly was a terrible idea.  There were only 5 of us in line and four agents.  Except the four agents became three and 45 minutes later I was still in the same spot in line with about 100 people having joined.  I decided United phone support was probably going to be faster and made the call.  20 minutes later a nice agent answered but I found out quickly she was not at all informed.  Example (in paraphrase):

Her: Hm, yes, so, let me see what I can do to get you to Milwaukee.  Right now I'm not seeing anything until July 3rd.
Me: O'hare or Cleveland would be options but I looked already and didn't see any airlines showing to Milwaukee.
Her: Hm, ok, sir. Well.  Would Austin work for you on the 2nd?
Me: Austin? As in Texas?
Her: Yes.
Me: I don't think that's a possibility.  How do I get to Milwaukee from there?
Her:  Oh. Ok. Well, let me look.  Hm.  Well, sir, how about LAX, is that close for you?
Me: LAX?  Los Angeles?  No, that is not a close option. I would have to fly across the country and back.
Her:  Oh, ok, sir.  Let me see...

Needless to say this was quite a poor experience.  And I don't blame United for the plane issue since this is a holiday weekend with many people traveling, though I'm perplexed to know why they would cancel three out of five flights to Milwaukee.  They can do better.  I'm really bummed that my grandparents and I couldn't get up north after all this planning.  Hopefully I can find a time in the coming weeks to go back.