Strategy of Crediting Emirates Flights to Alaska’s Mileage Plan Instead of Skywards

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The Emirates and Alaska frequent flyer partnership will start on March 1st. As I have written couple of times earlier, I am not sure where I could credit my Emirates flights in F that I have coming up in next month.

There are no benefits for crediting flights where I am ticketed in the first class to Skywards besides mileage accelerator and getting the status bonus. Also, there are no EK Gold benefits for flying in business class so the only possible benefit is an upgrade to first class if business class cabin is oversold.

When flying in economy, however, it is very important to have a Skywards status. You can use business class check in desks, have higher luggage allowance, have lounge access, and most importantly have a good chance of getting an operational upgrade. Emirates often heavily oversell the economy cabin that then requires them to upgrade passengers. These upgrades are normally done in the order of Emirates Skywards status the passengers has

If someone flies a lot using Emirates, I would encourage crediting strategically to both Alaska’s Mileage Plan & Emirates’ Skywards.

Here’s my plan:

1. Credit enough flights to Skywards to qualify for the Gold status

2. Look for the mileage accelerator. Credit the flights where this makes a difference to EK’s Skywards

3. Even for the flights that you are planning to credit to Alaska’s Mileage Plan change the frequent flyer number only at the gate and then just for that specific segment. This way you ensure that if there are any op ups your EK status will come to play.

4. Try to credit to Alaska enough to make at least Mileage Plan MVP Gold status. At Gold level you will get 100% mileage bonus even for your Emirates flights. This would ensure that you would get 100% redeemable miles even when ticketed in the lowest coach fare buckets.

5. If you reach 90K EQM on Alaska from partner flights, you will receive 50000 bonus Mileage Plan redeemable miles.

Here’s an example from Johannesburg to Auckland via Dubai. The actual flown miles are 25588.

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Crediting to Emirates you would earn both 11000 elite and redeemable miles. Silver member would earn total of 13750 (25% bonus) and Gold members 16500 miles (50% bonus)

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By crediting to Alaska at the base level this would yield 12794. Alaska is offering double miles on all Emirate routes from March 1st to May 31st. If your travel would be in that time frame, you would earn total of 25588 miles. As an Alaska Mileage Plan Gold you would earn the 100% bonus on the base miles.  You would  earn an additional 12794 miles for a total of 38372 miles for the roundtrip. At the Alaska Airlines MVP level you would earn 50% bonus in top of the flown miles.

Good news is that Alaska does status match. If you have status, let’s say with United, they can match you to a similar level with Alaska with all the status benefits. I am contemplating doing exactly this.

Alaska Airlines has number of partner airlines where one can earn both elite and redeemable miles across SkyTeam and Oneworld alliances. You can redeem your miles earned from Emirates flights on other partners like Air France. Also, getting an elite bonus on partner airlines is a huge positive. Some of these benefits vary by the partner so you should always check.

Emirates has a great network, but I am not a huge fan of the Skywards frequent flyer program, however. It is just not rewarding enough. Also the fact that you don’t get miles based on the actual flown miles but rather zones makes the program less rewarding. Alaska awards their frequent flyer miles based on the flown miles like most of the other airlines.

You can read more about the Alaska’s different status levels here and more about there partners here.

Pay, Use Starpoints, or Cash & Points When Booking With Starwood?

Starwood offers number of options to pay for a room. You can book a revenue stay, use points, or use cash & points option. I rarely book anything else than full revenue stays. Points and cash & points stays are not qualifying stays for any promotions that Starwood might be running. They do qualify for stay and night credit, however.

The other day I was faced with a dilemma. I could book the Sheraton Fiji resort for 342 FJD (including the taxes of 20%), pay 7000 Starpoints, or use cash & points for 45 USD + 2800 Starpoints.

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I chose the 342 FJD that ($195) and why I should have chosen the Cash & Points option:

– I value Starpoints around 2 cents each. The pure points option would have been $140

– Using the same 2 cents per Starpoint the cash & points option would have cost $101

– The paid stays earns me maybe 500 points based on the revenue which is $10 but it would be a stay credit for the Asia-Pacific promotion of Two Days of Happy for a free night certificate after five nights and/or two after nine nights.

The credit towards the Two Days of Happy wouldn’t have justified of paying the pure cash rate. I made a mistake here and left maybe $60 to $70 on the table if I value the partial credit towards the free night certificate at $20.

Hilton HHonors With British Airways Offering 1500 Bonus Avios Per Stay Until March 31st, 2012.

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Hilton is running numerous airline related bonuses until the end of March. You can find the other airlines from my February hotel promotions master thread. Today British Airways included the following offer with their Executive Club February update. You can also combine this offer with other Hilton points based promotions.

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To participate, you must register at http://www.hiltonhhonors.com/aviosba. Offer is valid for eligible stays completed after registration, at participating hotels between January 1 2012 and March 31 2012. HHonors members choosing Fixed miles award will earn 750 Avios per stay, plus 1,500 bonus Avios per stay. HHonors members choosing Variable Miles award, will earn one Avios per one USD spent, plus two bonus Avios per one USD spent. Customers must be an HHonors member to earn bonus miles. For Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites under fixed miles award, 200 bonus Avios will be offered per stay. For Home2 Suites under variable miles award, up to 100 Avios will be offered per stay. Hilton HHonors members must have their earning preference set to ‘Points & Miles’ and must have British Airways as the preferred airline partner. Avios accrued and awards issued are subject to BA Exec Club Terms and Conditions. Hilton HHonors membership, earning of Points & Miles, and redemption of points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.

Not sure if Hilton has made a typo here. They are claiming to offer 750 Avios based points for fixed miles earners, but if you look at the earnings chart it is actually only 500 Avios points. I have requested clarification from Hilton for this. It seems to be clear, however, based on the Terms and conditions that the bonus amount is 1500 Avios points.

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Please note that for Hampton, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites the earnings structure is lower. The bonus is only 200 Avios per stay.

hilton-triple-aviosThis offer is valid for variable miles/points collectors as well. Hilton will triple the number of Avios earned for all other brands than the Home2 Suites. You need to register for this offer prior to your stay and choose the British Airways as your fixed/variable miles partner.

It might make more sense to credit stays longer than two days and/or lower earnings Hilton brands to BMI. You could get 1000 BMI Diamond Club miles per night up to three nights. British Airways is in the process of buying BMI, and Diamond Club will most likely merge with British Airways’ Executive Club turning BMI miles into Avios.

Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, UK – Review of My Worst Sheraton Stay.

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Starwood has used a lot of money in the past few years trying to bring the Sheraton hotels up to the brand standards or force them to leave the chain. Still the Sheraton brand is probably the most inconsistent of them all. You have Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit in Bangkok that is a wonderful Luxury Collection property, but yet Sheraton branded. Then you have this Sheraton hotel in Heathrow that should be Four Points.

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Getting to the hotel from the airport

Getting from the airport to the hotel you have really two choices; either use the Hotel Hoppa bus that cost 4.5 GBP per person and goes every 20 minutes or to take a taxi, which I took, that costs around 13 GBP.

Checking in

The hotel outside doesn’t look inviting at all. It looks like any generic, non-branded, and 2 to 3 star property. There were renovations going on in the lobby area. Couldn’t find a SPG Platinum/Gold member check in desk. There were some irregular operations in Heathrow that day and there was quite a few air crews checking out to make their flights. I asked one lady where their Platinum check in desk was (apparently they don’t have any) and she promised to help me next which she for sure did.

There is only one suite at this property. To my understanding all the other rooms are basically the same. I was put on the 3rd floor quite close to the club. There was something wrong with the fire doors as they were extremely heavy. It was difficult trying to carry your stuff and open these doors. Apparently they have some problems with the magnets (?).

Room 3351

Where should I start? It was fairly functional and ok for a night sleep. That’s about it. It was definitely in need of some sort of renovations. In the bathroom the shower head was coming off from the wall and the temperature panel was very loose as well. My TV suddenly turned itself on in the middle of the night. There was no wireless internet access but luckily the cable was just about long enough that I could use the internet from the bed.

Club Lounge

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Visited the lounge only during the evening cocktail hour. They had some white and red wine available. Didn’t see any beers but there might have been some in the fridge. They had couple of hot items and stuff that you could dip – not a very good spread.

Departure Experience

I had the same lady to check me out in the morning who had checked me in the night before. She was great. I told her about the problems I had and apparently she had forwarded my concerns as someone from the property emailed me the day after my stay.

The hotel is offering a private taxi to the airport for a flat free off 10 GBP that is cheaper than a taxi. I chose it over the hotel hoppa bus.

Conclusion

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It is an adequate hotel for an overnight stay. It should not, however, be branded as Sheraton on its current condition. It is more like a Four Points, if even that.

American Airlines FA Gailen David’s “Aluminum Lady” Parody Might Get Him Fired

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American Airlines has always been very sensitive about its employee’s participation in social media and frequent traveler websites. Now Gailen David, the American Airlines purser behind these videos, is being disciplined and possibly fired.

The management and employee relationship has never been too good at American Airlines. Now that the airline is going through the chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and dumping is defined benefits pension plan to government run pension benefit guaranty corporation, better known just as PBGC, the relationship is becoming even more tense. The employees are going to have to accept a haircut of the future benefits as the maximum benefits under the PBGC are capped.

But I found these videos to be quite entertaining to say the least:

You can read about the issue and the letter that was sent to Gailen David by American Airlines at WeWantOurMoneyBack-website.  The Gailen David’s own blog can be found at Dear Sky Steward-website.

Getting Secondary Immigration Inspection?

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If you travel a lot, you will eventually get a secondary or even a tertiary immigration inspection. This has happened to me three times over the years. I have had hundreds of international border crossings so the chance of getting one is low.

Normally some of the passengers are automatically flagged for a secondary due to information received from the airlines regarding the routings etc.

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1. Getting a secondary & tertiary when entering Israel at Tel Aviv

Few years ago, I was entering Tel Aviv when Israel and the Hamas of Lebanon were exchanging some small missiles. All went good until the guy at the passport control saw that I have previously visited Lebanon using the same passport. I was referred to a secondary immigration.

They were very interested to know why I would be visiting Israel during the “war”. I just replied that I hadn’t seen any missiles hitting Tel Aviv on CNN. Questions like this went for a while and then another person joined the interrogation. They were interested who my father’s father is and what was his profession. I had no idea as he had died sometime in the 50’s. Nonsense questions like this went for a while.

Quite frankly I was really getting annoyed at that point. I really had no other reason to visit Tel Aviv than to see the city and had some fun time. Finally they deemed that I was no danger to Israel and was ok to admit. I requested them NOT to stamp my passport as I was going to visit some Arab countries later that you cannot enter using a passport that has a stamp from Israel. They stamped it nevertheless.

2. Secondary in Canada after entering the county third time in two weeks’ time

This was actually quite funny. I entered Canada three times in two weeks. Once from Havana on a direct Air Canada flight and twice from Cote D’Ivoire via Dubai on Emirates. I probably shouldn’t have commented the border agent that she was processing me a week ago as well.

The secondary was the fastest ever. Took my passport, asked couple of questions and off I went.

3. Secondary in Auckland due to very complicated itinerary

In this case I had been flagged due to complicated routing. They couldn’t understand why someone with a Finnish passport would travel from Colombo to Rarotonga via New Zealand and then to the US via Europe. The reason of course was a very good business class fare.

This was probably the most throughout inspection. Two guys went literary through everything that I had in my carry on and on the checked in bag while carrying a nice conversation. I was more amused what was happening on the nearby table where they had pulled some poor Chinese that gave all the wrong answers to the questions he was asked.

Conclusion

Only the secondary in Tel Aviv was uncomfortable due to the time it was taking and the questions asked that didn’t bear any meaning. The one in Canada and New Zealand were rather pleasant. If you get selected for one, just take it with a pride. It will be a nice story to tell, although might be bit unpleasant at first.

Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai, China – Review of My Stay

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Earlier in the week I had twenty hour transfer in Shanghai. I had one award night with Fairmont that I could apply a suite upgrade as well. These were both about to expire later this month so it made sense to use them for a stay in Shanghai, and I am glad that I did.

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Getting to the hotel from the airport

Maglev Train Shanghai

From the airport I took the Maglev train to the metro station closer to the hotel. In China you should always have the hotel name and address with some diving instructions IN CHINESE for the taxi drivers. There were plenty of taxis available at the station. I had a map that showed the approximate location of the hotel. Taxi found the correct address after I had asked for a help from the Peninsula’s bellman.

Checking in

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The Fairmont’s computer system was down but they had everything prepared  and ready. I was bit surprised that the person who took me to the suite wasn’t actually award if it was a suite or a regular room. I would have imaged that if you work for a hotel you would know them by heart.

Accommodations – Suite 318

The suite 318 was beautiful. I asked the lady who took me there, whether I would have access to the Fairmont’s Club Lounge, they call them Gold, as well. She wasn’t sure and called someone. The benefits of being a Platinum with Fairmont’s President Club doesn’t include lounge access. Oh well. My upgrade didn’t include the lounge access. I thought that made they would have included

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The Suite 318 that I had was beautiful. It was a proper two room suite. I loved the small details like a magnifying glass on the work desk and a pink flamingo next to the flower arrangement on the bedroom. The hotel had been fully renovated recently and the suite was in a pristine condition. The only negative was a bit of a sewerage smell on the toilet. Not sure where it came from.

Fitness center

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The fitness center was open from 6AM onwards. I spoke with the front desk around 3:30AM that I would like to use for an hour starting 4:30AM. Hotels, that I have been to, have always been very accommodating for opening the facilities for use after hours. I was first told that they couldn’t do it as they don’t have anything else than the keys to open up the doors. After I was “couching” them for a while and asked the operator to have a word with the duty manager, they came to conclusion that I could use them from 4:30AM. The guy who opened the facilities for me didn’t know how to turn on the treadmill that I was going to use. Luckily, I knew.

In room dining

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As I had $100 worth of dining certificates about to expire, I inquired if I could use them for room service. They said that I could, but not for the breakfast. This wasn’t a problem with me. I placed my order with the in room dining at 4:15AM for delivery at 5:45AM. They called me after I had placed my order to let me know that they couldn’t do the salmon plate that I had ordered. I switched to Serrano ham plate next but that too was not going to happen. They suggested a beef carpaccio that I happily accepted.

Conclusion

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The location of the hotel was perfect, and I liked the fact that it was an older hotel for Shanghai, although only 80 years old. The suite that I had was fabulous and the service was good. The minor problems I had with the internet, fitness center, and room service order delivered 10 minutes too early wouldn’t deter me staying at a property again when I am back in Shanghai later this spring.

Hyatt’s Dining & Spa (Earn & Redeem Gold Passport Points Even When Not Staying At) Participating Hotels

Last year Hyatt announced their latest Hyatt Gold Passport enhancements earning of points for dining and spa treatments even when not staying at the hotel, and the ability to burn points for the same services as well. Starwood has had both of these going on for years. As a matter of fact you can use your Starpoints, probably shouldn’t, for anything on your folio when checking out.

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hyatt-dining-and-spa-redemption-charthyatt-dining-and-spa-redemption-chart-valueThe value for Hyatt Gold Passport points is from a low of $0.005 to $0.0083 when redeemed for these services. These values are simply put terrible, and nobody should bother.

Here is a list of participating properties right now. During the year this will expand to cover all the properties.

Participating Hotel Restaurant Locations

Hyatt Dulles
Hyatt Regency Baltimore
Hyatt Regency Cambridge
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing
Hyatt Regency Phoenix
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch
Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport
Hyatt Place Detroit/Utica
Hyatt Place Phoenix/Gilbert
Hyatt Place Phoenix/Mesa
Hyatt Place Richmond/Arboretum
Hyatt Place Sterling/Dulles Airport-North
Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport
Hyatt Place Tucson Airport

Participating Hotel Spa Locations

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch

Hilton’s New Points and Money Rewards Can Make Sense at Times – Case Hilton Fiji

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Couple of hours ago I was looking at various hotel options for tonight in Nadi (Fiji). I was still in Auckland, but had to make a decision where to stay for the first night.

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I knew that I was going to stay at the Hilton for a night during my week-long stay on the island. The paid rates were in the $270 to $300 range including taxes (418 FJD ++). I still had six free night certificates left from a recent promo, but it would have been a waste to use at Hilton Fiji when their point rates starts just at 35K per night, that is low for a Hilton.

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Normally these premium room & points and money rewards don’t make too much sense. I was surprised, however, that the rate for Hilton Fiji was 17500 HH + 110 FJD per night. I value HH maybe around half of a cent and 110 FJD is $63. My “cost” thus would be $150. Of course you would need to take into account the number of points and BD miles that I would have earned by paying the $300 rate. But, I consider this to be a fair deal.

I have a hunch what is happening here. When hotel chains calculate the category for a hotel it is normally based on the ADR (average daily rate). Hilton Fiji is probably dumping a lot of inventory through consolidators and package gravel agencies to bring the ADR far lower than the rate displayed on Hilton.com.

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Targeted American Airlines HVCAA Promotion for Double Redeemable Miles & 25K EQM for Executive Platinum Status?

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American Airlines is apparently trying to win more business by sending targeted offers for double redeemable miles and accelerated qualification for Platinum or Executive Platinum status. This is not surprising considering that the airline is going through the chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization process.

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A FlyerTalk member kwysocki posted a copy of an email received from American Airlines regarding this:

At American Airlines, we value your business and want to see more
of you. That’s why we’re offering two exciting promotions, exclusively for you.

First, you can earn double American Airlines AAdvantage® miles on all purchased, published fares for travel on American Airlines, American Eagle or the AmericanConnection® carrier between February 8, 2012 and
May 31, 2012.

Second, we’re offering you the opportunity to qualify for AAdvantage Platinum® or even AAdvantage Executive Platinum® status at an accelerated rate.

Between February 8, 2012 and May 31, 2012, simply fly the required number of base miles as outlined below on American Airlines, American Eagle or the AmericanConnection carrier. Elite-status membership earned through this special promotion will be valid through February 28, 2013.

We know you’ll appreciate the unique privileges of AAdvantage Platinum or AAdvantage Executive Platinum status, including:

AAdvantage Platinum
• 72 hour upgrade window
• 100% mileage bonus on select elite-qualifying flights
• Priority Baggage Delivery
AAdvantage Executive Platinum
• Unlimited complimentary upgrades confirmed at 100 hours pior to departure (subject to availability)**
• Eight (8) one-way Systemwide Upgrades+
• Expanded MileSAAver® award availability for you and one companion
• Waived ticketing service charges and AAdvantage change and reinstatement charges
For complete details on all AAdvantage elite-status benefits, visit www.aa.com/elitebenefits

Simply click the button below to login and register for this promotion using the Promotion Code HVCAA prior to travel and by 11:59pm CT on February 29, 2012.

This is an exclusive offer only for members who receive this email from American Airlines and register online
to participate.

Although it is rather unlikely that you would get the double miles and the offer of getting EXP for 25K EQM during the promotional period, it never hurts to register and see what happens. Especially, if you already have flights coming during the period. You can sign up at http://www.aa.com/offers by using the HVCAA promotional code and you American Airlines AAdvantage number. The system will confirm your registration, but it doesn’t guarantee that you would get the benefits if you were not targeted.

Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport Hotel, Narita, Japan – Review of My Not So Perfect Stay

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This was my first Hilton hotels stay for a while that wasn’t satisfactory. Part of the reason might be that I can get easily cranky when coming off from a long flight and things quite doesn’t work out.

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Problems that I encountered at the Narita Hilton:

1. When I book an airport hotel I expect that a hotel runs an airport shuttle more often than once an hour. During the day Hilton’s shuttle bus only runs very limited schedule that is borderline useless. Who wants to wait 50+ minutes for a hotel shuttle?

2. No Bellman working at the entrance for helping with the bags.

3. Front desk had a very limited understanding of the English language.

4. Apparently no upgrade, although upgradeable rooms were available at Hilton.com.

5. Front desk refused to reimburse the 2000 yean taxi costs from the airport that I requested due to borderline nonexistent bus schedule.

6. Requested to speak with the GM that didn’t happen.

7. Apparently was given a key to the wrong room first. The front desk staff was running after me when I got to the 10th floor. Then the key didn’t work on the room on the 11th floor.

8. No wireless internet at the rooms and had problems with the wired connection. Wired problem was solved when a new router was brought in.

And no, I don’t believe that the hotel really is this bad. What I have learned from my yearly 300+ hotel stays from 2004 is that when things starts going wrong everything just escalates. When the arrival experience is subpar it starts to define the entire stay unless hotel proactively “corrects” things, which Hilton Narita didn’t do.

The price that I got the hotel at the Hilton.com was an AAA rate of 8700 yens. I think that the price was fair. When I was trying to find the name of the hotel GM, I came across their Facebook promo. If you like the hotel on their Facebook page, you are eligible for a rate of 5000 yen and like 5 discount coupons. I made the second booking, while I was already checked in at the hotel, and just notated on the comment section that I would like to switch my AAA rate to this promotional rate. My rate had been changed before checking out to this promotion without any further interaction from my part. Also the hotel had slipped in under the door the discount coupons associated with this promotion.

The Room

The room I had fairly normal sized but was starting to look dated, although it had been maintained well. It took some time for me to figure out how to turn out all the lights. It wasn’t very intuitive. The room I had faced the Narita airport.

Fitness Center

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Fitness center was open 24 hours a day. During the night hours you could access it through alternate entry. When I went there 5:30AM there was already more than ten people. When I looked at the sign in sheet, everybody else was a crew member. Apparently this hotel is mainly used for airline crews that is not surprising considering the proximity to the airport.

Breakfast

The breakfast was served at their main buffet. The selection was fine, although not very extensive.

Conclusion

Overall, I wouldn’t mind staying there again, if the price is right, even considering the flaws I had during my stay. They must do some work with the hotel soon. It is starting to look somewhat dated.

Lifetime Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Status Requirements

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Last week Starwood announced their lifetime Platinum status requirements that are 500 nights and 10 years as a Platinum member. Hyatt has had their lifetime Diamond program already for quite some time. You won’t find any information about it from the Gold Passport website but the qualification requirements aren’t secret.

Here’s what you need to get lifetime Hyatt Gold Passport Status:

1. You must have earned 1000000 BASE points that is $200000 in spending. Note that only stays that are credited to points will qualify.

2. You must have been a Gold Passport member for 10 years.

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One thing to note that base points are not the same as the lifetime points you can see in your Gold Passport account. Lifetime points include all the Hyatt points that you have earned from number of sources i.e. bonus points, credit card points, transfer points etc. Hyatt Gold Passport base points are only the points that you have earned from your stays based on the revenue before any bonus points. There is no other way to find the number of base points that you have earned than to call the Hyatt Gold Passport customer service.

The huge negative for me is the fact that all the stays that I have credited towards airline miles don’t count towards lifetime status at all. Hyatt has run quite a few attractive airline related bonus offers with Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, American Airlines, and even with Southwest, when it hasn’t made any sense to credit the stay towards Hyatt points.

Overall this requirement is quite difficult to achieve. Let’s say that you have 50 Hyatt nights per year and the room revenue is $150 per night. It would take you 27 seven years to qualify for lifetime Diamond status with Diamond.

I will most likely expire before hitting the lifetime Diamond requirement with Hyatt Gold Passport. Not so with Starwood and Marriott.

Withdrawing Money from the ATM’s at the London Heathrow Airport? Don’t Fall on the Travelex Currency Conversion Scam.

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In November, I wrote about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) problems that I had with number of hotels in China. I continue seeing this practice with quite a few ATM machines as well where operators are trying to extract extra profits from travelers.

Here is an example from London Heathrow airport on Monday. I had a booking with an airport hotel and needed some cash for the cab or the bus. There are number of ATM’s all over the places that are praying for clueless tourists.

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Again, the ATM shows that there is NO-COMMISSION in very large font and the exchange rate from pounds to euros. On the lower right, however, on a very small font is the admission that they charge 5.5% margin in top of the wholesale rate. If this “margin” is not a commission, what is it then?

Quit a few card companies have stopped charging for currency conversions altogether. These foreign currency transactions are processed through MasterCard and Visa networks at competitive rates. Some card issuers do charge for a foreign transaction fee regardless in what currency the transaction is made. So, even if you withdraw the money in your local currency after the DCC, your bank might still charge their fees.

My advice has always been to decline these automatic currency conversions unless you want the ATM operators to make quite a few extra bucks out of you.

Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, UAE, -Review of My Stays

The Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort is conveniently located in the front of the Abu Dhabi corniche relatively close to the tourist club area and to the old downtown. I stayed there three or four times between October and December last year.

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They had a road construction going in front of the hotel during my stays, but I think that it must have been completed by now. It was bit difficult to get in a taxi because they had to make quite a few turns before finding the right driveway to the hotel’s entrance.

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There is a club lounge, but you need to check in at the front desk even if you are a club level or SPG Platinum member. In all occasions, I hadn’t been upgraded to a suite in advance. Few words with the front desk, and at least once a phone call or two, made the suite happen in all of my stays.

Accommodations

Video review of a suite 547

Video review of a suite 318

The suite that I had was different every time but the basic layout was about the same. Please note that the two videos are from different suites as are the photos that I took. You can get a very good idea and feel about the suites that Platinum members can expect to get there.

sheraton-abu-dhabi-hotel-resort-suite-sitting-area

All of the suites had a spacious living room, kitchenette with a full refrigerator, and a bedroom with a bathroom/shower. I did appreciate the fact that the furniture was in the Middle Eastern style.

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Club Lounge

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