Category Archives: Uncategorized

And now for something completely different…

So, we came back from our latest trip and came to find our hard drive that had the photos for the Seychelles Saga (and nearly every other trip we’ve taken in the past 3 years) has a problem. We’re trying to get the data off, but in the meantime, I’ll offer some humor.

When going through security at Washington-Dulles for our most recent trip, I said to heck with opting out, and decided I’d go through the backscatter scanner.
I also decided that if I was going to do this, I’d try having a little fun with it. The interaction went something like this:
TSA
Me: So this is where I throw up my hands and shout, right?
TSA Agent <laughing>: Well that’s a first!
So this got me thinking, what more fun can we have?
– Sing a verse of YMCA — or skip right to the A once in the position
– “Fins to the Left! Fins to the Right!”
– If the TSA agent looks like they don’t have a sense of humor, perhaps saying in a robotic voice: “I am assuming the position.”
– Throw your hands up like you just don’t care
Would love to see comments on fun experiences with TSA agents.

CharlotteDO

My take of #CharlotteDO

So, I don’t really write much about how it is I am able to travel the way I do.. I usually only write about the travel, but I did a post on the #MileMadness tournament that I participated back in March, so I thought it appropriate to follow that post up with my thoughts on the #CharlotteDO which was essentially a meet-up to cap out the tournament.

But it was much, much more.

Lets start with the definition of a “DO”
Capture 1

It only took going down to the 40th definition!

The schedule was for a 1 day event, but we decided to arrive Friday night because, well, it’s really the networking experiences, and we knew others would be arriving the night before too.
There were a number of factors that differentiated this event from previous Do’s  I’ve gone to.
  • It was smaller, ~100 people
  • It was much more focused on MS.
  • It felt more like a community.

There were probably more factors but, those are the big ones.

If I were to describe the event in University terms, I’d say that much of the discussion was more theory, think 301 and higher.
One of the big messages that was shared was how we have to be responsible about this hobby (and for some it is more than that). The point was made that who participate in the hobby, need to be stewards of it.

Overall, this was the best mile and point event I’ve attended. I was honored to have the opportunity to present at it. There is talk of another in the works, and I sincerely hope I’ll have the opportunity to attend and maybe even present there as well.

Seychelles Saga: Emirates First Class Dubai to the Seychelles

Seychelles Saga

We made it to the gate in time for final call, or so the signage said.

We boarded a private bus that was quite comfortable.

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From there, we had a rather long journey to our plane, where we had the opportunity to see a handful of nice planes.

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Qantas A380.
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A380 – incoming!

Eventually, we approached our A340 to the Seychelles.

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A340.

We said good bye to our bus.

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Emirates First Bus.

Onboard, we were met with a slightly older version of the seat we very much enjoyed on the 777-300ER <insert link to JFK EK flight> out of JFK.

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Seat
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View of the cabin
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View of the seat
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Obligatory photo of the en-seat mini bar.
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Additional amenities.

Once in the air, the cabin staff was quick to serve mimosa’s.

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Mimosa!

And Nuts!

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Mixed Nuts.

And then it was time for breakfast. For me, the waffles just weren’t enough, so of course (and really, just like my father would have), I had the French toast.

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French Toast.

There was also a fruit plate, and a meat plate.

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Fruit plate.
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Meat plate.

We ended up napping and laying off the champagne for the most part on this flight, mainly because I knew I would have to be on my game to make the drive to the hotel.

We did wake up in time for approach. All of my concerns about our trip to this tiny country were pretty much washed away when I saw the islands on approach. These photos don’t truly do it justice, but it is absolutely beautiful.

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Approach
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Crystal blue waters below!

We disembarked via an open air stair, and the flight attendants were kind enough to hold the business class passengers until we made it off. Customs was about as good as one could expect, and we were to our rental car in no time. Of course the rental car is a story for another time.

Manufactured Spending Tournament – Introduction

Matt @ Savercity, along with Frequent Miler are putting on a Manufactured Spending Tournament.  This is a follow-up to Frequent Miler’s Million Mile Madness (summarized and linked extensively here) last year.

Matt outlines the tournament in the above link so I won’t rehash things.

Let me be clear: I write QuickCityVisits to share my travel, I want to get to the point where I’m sharing other insights relevant to travel, the travel industry and airlines, but I’m not there yet. I manufacture spend as a hobby, and it helps support my travel hobby.

So, I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring here, primarily because I thought I could learn something, and maybe help others who enjoy the challenges of this hobby. I’m going to lean toward providing vague details here on QuickCityVisits, with a preference for caution over full disclosure, but I’ll tweak that as I better understand what the judges expect, and try to keep it in line with the competition.

I really liked The Free-quent Flyer’s approach to his introduction, and I think mimic is the ultimate compliment, so I’ll offer my thoughts in similar fashion here.

My Advantages:

–        I’m taking an approach to work novel approaches to MS, I’ll be competing against myself just as much as the other competitors, as I try to figure out newer, more efficient ways of generating spend.

–        I’ve been doing this for a while, I have some of the necessary instruments already in place, such as reselling, which has been a bigger focus of mine already this year. This gives me a chance to kick it up another notch.

–        I’ve used less than $100 of my available $1500 of 5x on my Freedom; its small, but leveraging all the 5x that I can is going to be key here.

–        I’m a relative no-body in the community, maybe a dark horse?

My Disadvantages:

–        I’ve already purchased Vanilla Reloads for my March Bluebird and H&RBlock Emerald cards, so I’m already starting a bit behind there.

–        I’ve got some travel already planned to locations where it’s virtually impossible to manufacture spend, so I’ll be behind with respect to utilize all the time. In addition, I have a full time job, further restricting time. – Neither of these are unique to myself, but they are still disadvantages.

I think I’ve laid out the what, the why, but I’ll be vague about the how.

I’ll finish this off with a bid of good luck to all the competitors, many of which are bloggers that have become part of my daily reading.

Year in Review, Goals for the New Year, and a Giveaway

Year in Review It has been a pretty interesting year for me on the travel, mile and point front. Perhaps the biggest thing this year was that I finally launched this blog! This past year my travel decreased by more than a third compared to 2012, but still came in at a healthy 91,490 butt in seat miles. Much of it being award travel. 123113_1255_YearinRevie1.gif

 

 

 

I tried to color code best I could given the numerous trips:

Red was the start of the year, where we spent New Years in Singapore, then headed to our favorite, J.W. Marriott Khao Lak

Navy was our mid-year trip A Seoulful Adventure.

Neon Green (which is hard to see), was a weekend trip to Panama (still working on that report)

Grey was a handful of domestic trips, including down to FTU Tampa, Jacksonville to see family, and Seattle to see friends.

Dark Green was a weekend EQP run to Delhi and Agra, India so I could meet my AA Executive Platinum Match.

Dark Blue (a little difficult to distinguish from the Navy) was the Star MegaDo 5. Giddy for Points wrote a nice summary.

Indigo was the Seychelles Saga.

In total, I visited 6 new countries (South Korea, Panama, India, United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, and Ireland), giving me a good start to a longer term goal of seeing another 30 countries by age 40.

Status-wise, I was able to maintain Hyatt Diamond and Marriott Platinum. I made the decision to abandon my United 1K status based on some of the “flyerfriendly” changes United made earlier in the year, and instead parlayed my current status into an Executive Platinum status match on American. I’ve been very happy with my AA status thus far.

Overall, it’s been a fun travel year!

Goals for 2014:

This is perhaps a shorter list than it should be, but I’m sure I’ll add more to it as the year goes on.

–        Re-qualify for Executive Platinum on American

–        Re-qualify for Marriott Platinum

–        Re-qualify for Hyatt Diamond

–        Fly the Emirates A380 in First

–        Fly the 787 Dreamliner (booked on LAN’s 787 on Friday)

Giveaway:

So, this is my first shot at trying to give something away, but I there is a first time for everything:

I have two United GPU’s that will expire 31 January 2014. If you have a trip before then on United that is eligible for a GPU (e.g. booked in fare class M, H, B, Y, I think there may be others), please leave a comment on this post.

Note: Global Premier Upgrades for flights booked in fare class Z, P, S, T, L, K, G or N are not available. Please leave a comment no later than 5pm Eastern Time, 2 January, and I will select a winner at random.

Happy New Year!

Boeing 787 Dreamliner July 2013

Boeing 787 Dreamliner – Is it a nightmare?

12 July 2013 – Two separate and unconnected 787 incidents occurred. This coming after a handful of issues in the past 6 weeks. The first issue was a fire at Heathrow Airport on Ethiopian’s Queen of Sheba aircraft (the first 787 to take flight after the worldwide grounding). The Ethiopian 787 experienced an internal fire while parked, with no passengers aboard. London Heathrow’s runways were shut down, as is standard policy when fire crews are responding to an incident.

If you look closely at the photo below (courtesy of BBC News UK), the gold circle (trying to tie in with Ethiopian’s color scheme) highlights scorch marks on the fuselage. I’m guess this aircraft will be out of service for a bit.

Ethiopian july 2013

Also of note, NTSB tweeted that they would be sending a representative to assist with the Ethiopian 787 investigation:

NTSB lon-heathrow

In separate news, a Thomson 787 that departed Manchester, UK bound for Sanford, Orlando was forced to turn back when it experienced a mid-flight technical issue. This Manchester Evening News article says that the “luxury jet later returned to Manchester Airport and landed safely tonight.” While it is a jet, I disagree with the description of “luxury” as Thomson has essentially “Premium Economy” and “Economy” classes, so there is little luxury to be found.

Used under creative commons, courtesy of www.airportsinternational.com
Used under creative commons, courtesy of www.airportsinternational.com

No other details were available as to the “technical issue.”

Happy Independence Day!

Today is a great day to be an American. The collective pride for the Stars and Stripes is amazing, and on full display today. Yes, we show it the other 364 days of the year, but, its more prominent today.

This is one of the few holidays that I prefer not to travel, even if it could be parlayed into a four or more day weekend. Rather, I prefer to stay close to home, proudly hang the Stars and Stripes up outside the front door (in fact, I just bought a new flag today, as the other one, a couple years old was starting to look a little faded), and relax. I look forward to the evening line-up, with A Capitol Fourth starting at 8pm ET on PBS, and then I’ll probably tune in to the Boston Pops “Fireworks Spectacular” around 9:30pm for their fireworks. All while enjoying the local displays.

Stars and Stripes
Stars and Stripes

Please feel free to comment on what your Independence Day traditions are!

Happy Independence Day!

United 1K Gift:

Today I received a gift, which I think is because I’m a 1K member with United. The envelope read “We’re always keeping you (and travel) in mind.” It was a nice idea regardless.

Envelope
Envelope

Once I opened it, there was a sleeve with a Gold luggage handle wrap inside. United thought this was prudent, especially for those times when I’m trying to locate my gate-checked, green-tagged bags on the jet bridges, when I’m enjoying their regional jet service. I can see the value in this, as I’ve flown a handful of CRJ-700’s (which are nice), as well as smaller jets, from such varied destinations as DEN-COS, IAD-JAX, and on the west coast (not sure if it was SEA-LAX or LAX-SAN).

Sleeve
Sleeve
Handle Wrap
Handle Wrap

But you see, that wasn’t it. See, this is where I get a bit sarcastic. While I really appreciate United’s sentiment, and in fact, the Mrs. and I do have bright green and bright pink handle wraps on our luggage, but providing directions was a bit much. These directions are great, I have to give them credit, for that. But I still come back to the fact that here, you are giving some of your best fliers, your most avid fliers, who put up 100k miles a year, a luggage handle wrap, and then you are giving them picture illustrations of how to put that handle wrap to use.

Instructions
Instructions

As you can see – the only thing missing from an IKEA instruction manual is the unisex humanoid figures.

 

Oh well – that all said – United: Thanks for the handle wrap!