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Ever since I saw the movie Seven Years In Tibet, back in the late 90’s, I knew that one day I would make my way there. When Starwood was running their summer promo and one of the redemption options was the newly built St Regis Lhasa hotel, I decided that now it was the time for me to make it happen.

Tibetan Travel PermitTraveling into Tibet is bit problematic. Not only you need a Chinese visa, for those of us who need one, but a Tibetan travel permit also that can only be issued in Tibet. When I was looking at flight options to Lhasa (LXA) the only direct international flight to Lhasa, on a Star Alliance, carrier was Air China’s Kathmandu (KTM) – Lhasa (LXA) route. I tried to have it ticketed as an award ticket but had no luck. The award space was available but for some reason BMI couldn’t issue it. Also, if flying from Nepal to Lhasa, one needs to have both the Chinese visa and the Tibetan travel permit issued in Kathmandu. So the better and probably the only viable choice was to enter China and then fly into Lhasa. [click to continue…]

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American Airlines AAdvantage Double Elite Qualifying Miles EmailAmerican Airlines just announced that they are offering double elite qualifying and redeemable miles between Chicago (ORD) or Dallas (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO). This promotion is valid for AAdvantage members whose address on file with AA is in California, Illinois, or Texas. The promotion period is surprisingly long from yesterday until the end of March 2012.

Apparently AA is trying hard to fight against Virgin America that has started to operate somewhat schedule on these routes, although the main competitor remains to be United. [click to continue…]

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InterContinental Hotels Group’s flagship brand, as the name suggests, is InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. The entire groups loyalty program is called Priority Club. You earn Priority Club points or airline miles for your InterContinental stays. Possible Priority Club status Gold or Platinum, however, doesn’t apply to Intercontinental as they have their own Ambassador program.

InterContinental Ambassador DisplayWhenever you stay at an InterContinental hotel they have these “Become an Ambassador Today” displays normally close to the work desk. The main selling points are:

Guaranteed room upgrade

4pm late check out

Free weekend night

Fresh fruit and mineral water

Single Rate for Double Occupancy

5,000 PRIORITY CLUB® BONUS POINTS

InterContinental Ambassador program is probably the only major that requires you to pay $200 fee for joining. Is it worth it? Let’s have a look at the benefits. [click to continue…]

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When staying at four/five star hotels they normally have a contracted doctor that can come to see a hotel guest. This is a good option if the guests feels really bad and is willing to pay for the privilege. Over the years I have used this kind of service few of times.

During my current trip I have needed to get prescriptions or to see a doctor three times. These have all been non-urgent and I have gotten to see in two of the three visits how the local access the healthcare system. Not bad at all. [click to continue…]

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InterContinental Hotels Group Best Price Guarantee?Couple of weeks ago I wrote about the new “most powerful” best price guarantee in the hotel industry. IHG promises the first night to be completely free if you find a lower price after booking on another website. It is not difficult to come to a conclusion that there must have been few people around searching for lower prices on competing websites and claiming their free nights.

The guarantee still sounds quite promising:

We’re so sure the best prices for our hotels are found on our website that we’re standing by them—with the most powerful guarantee ever by a global travel company. Find a lower price elsewhere and your first night is free. That’s our Best Price Guarantee and just one of many benefits you get with the Book With Us Advantage. [click to continue…]

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Starwood Preferred Guest Introducing Ratings ReviewsStarwood has just launched their own Ratings & Reviews where guests can review their past stay. Hotels have long been fed up with TripAdvisor reviews, because there hasn’t been a way to determine if the review was actually left by a guest, some competitor, or perhaps disgruntled former employee.

Starwood Preferred Guest Introducing Ratings Reviews Sheraton Grande SukhumvitWith the Starwood you actually need to log in using an account that was used to book the stay. Alternatively you need to have the confirmation number and the last name. For some reason when I was trying to make a review just using a confirmation number and my last name, the system was unable to find the stay only returning an error message that the review must be left within certain timeframe after the stay. [click to continue…]

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When you have look at the terms and conditions of any of the recent Hilton promotions, there is a long list of excluded rate codes. Most of these rate codes are associated with online travel booking sites like Expedia and Orbitz. There are other excluded rates as well, and I have found out that the PR13CB (Corporate Benefits Employee Offer) is really beneficial at times.

Who is eligible for this “Corporate Benefits Employee Offer” or “Corporate Benefit Partner Rate” as it is described in the rate details? That is really a good question. I have used it several times at various hotels. To my understanding this rate is intended for personal, non-business travel for Hilton’s corporate partners who have negotiated rates with them. [click to continue…]

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Expedia Canada Vegas Baby Sale Up To $200 CAD Back In Prepaid MasterCardMasterCard and Expedia.ca have teamed up again and are offering a very interesting promotion. When you book a trip to Las Vegas, or few other gaming destinations, you are eligible for up to $200 CDN back in prepaid MasterCard. You do not need to live in Canada or use a MasterCard issued in Canada, but you do need to have an address in Canada where the prepaid MasterCard can be delivered. This address can be different than the credit card billing address used to pay for the purchase.

Expedia Canada Vegas Baby Sale Up To $200 CAD Back In Prepaid MasterCard BiloxiExpedia.ca advertises this as “Vegas Baby Sale”. Apparently the selected hotels in the Atlantic City, Biloxi, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas, Laughlin, and Shreveport all qualify for this promotion. You can confirm this during the booking process, where promotional message to this prepaid MasterCard shows up. [click to continue…]

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Now members of American Airlines AAdvantage program can travel between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda, the more convenient airport to Tokyo, or Vancouver-Narita using up to 50% fewer miles in business class than without this award special.

American Airlines AAdvantage Award Travel Special On Japan Airlines San Francisco Tokyo HanedaThe number of required miles to travel in business is 50000 miles and in economy 30000. You can also mix business and economy class. These awards are valid only on JL (Japan Airlines) operated non-stop flights and only between these cities. [click to continue…]

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As you have probably already noticed, getting upgrades at hotels and airlines, based on the status I have with them, is very important for me. Typically I always check the website in the morning if the hotel has already processed their upgrades, and what kind of upgrade they have assigned for me.

Here’s a trick that you can use to check if you have been upgraded in advance at any of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) hotels that include InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suite, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Candlewood Suites.

Some hotels might process upgrades well in advance, but most hotels only do them the night before. There is a good explanation for this. The hotels can be quite sure about the inventory they have available for upgrades. [click to continue…]

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BMI Diamond ClubMy favorite program for booking somewhat convoluted oneway awards has been the British Midlands (BMI) Diamond Club (DC). The booking process is not always the easiest, as one needs to call special Diamond Club number in the UK, from where the call is further transferred to the redemption “specialists” sitting somewhere in India.

Normally, when you do your homework well in advance using various tools for finding what ward availability is out there, the actual booking process is manageable.

This time my goal was to redeem from Male to Seoul with a further connection somewhere I wanted to go at a later time. I had another ticket booked out of Seoul (ICN) to South America. [click to continue…]

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Marriott is actively courting travelers in the Asia-Pacific to join Marriott’s frequent guests program Marriott Rewards. Couple of weeks ago I wrote about Marriott’s decision to offer free internet access at their Asia-Pacific hotels for just signing up.

Marriott Rewards Sign Up Offer Stay Twice Stay FreeIn addition to free internet, Marriott is offering two different promotions for those residing/visiting, or at least having an address, at specific countries in the region. One is an instant Silver Elite status at the program and ability to earn bonus airline miles, and the other is a free one night stay certificate, which is capped at category 4 Marriot properties, just after two stays of which the first one must be in the Asia-Pacific. You need to sign up for the Marriott Rewards program at the hotel, if you want to participate to the latter promotion. [click to continue…]

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Passengers flying on Etihad (EY), the national airline of United Arab Emirates based in Abu Dhabi, have already been able to credit their flights to American Airlines AAdvantage program, with few exclusions, for some time.  Etihad flights booked on American Airlines flight numbers are also eligible for EQM’s and extra RDM’s. Flights booked entirely on Etihad flight numbers are not eligible for EQM’s.

American Airlines Etihad Earnings StructureNow, passengers are also able to redeem their American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier miles on Etihad and vice versa. [click to continue…]

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Delta Air Lines Award Redemption Promotion - Get Up To 25% Of The Miles Used Credited BackCouple of hours ago received an email from Delta offering discounts for award redemptions booked using SkyMiles on Delta metal. For economy redemptions the discount maxes at 15% while for business/first class tickets at 25%. For first redemption the discount is 5% less.

The thing to note here is the fact that the discount applies only for Delta and Delta Connection flights. It doesn’t apply for partner redemptions. The booking window is until the end of this month, and the travel must be completed by April 30th, 2012. [click to continue…]