JetBlue announced earlier today that the Port Authority of NY & NJ approved their terminal 5 expansion plan to construct an all new international arrivals facility dubbed T5i.  Terminal 4 (T4) currently handles JetBlue’s international arrivals and will continue being utilized until some time in 2015. Hopefully this frees up some resources as Delta currently has a major expansion project in place at T4 with an estimated completion some time in 2013.  Upon completion, T4 will house Delta’s international operations as well.  Full details of JetBlue’s announcement can be found here. Delta’s future vision can be seen here.

JFK T4

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Courtesy of Jason @ MilesQuest and of course his reader, Iron Monkey – 1,000 Priority Club points for checking out a Priority Club Visa video.  Check out his post for further details.  As per the instructions, I emailed Iron Monkey this morning, received a reply a few hours later, and the 1000 points posted immediately upon completion of the video! Thanks to Iron Monkey and Jason for these easy 1000 points!

Looking for more ways to earn Priority Club points check out these previous entries.

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

Last week I posted about a double bonus miles offer I received from Delta for flights to/from LaGuardia and today I received an even juicier email offer for select JFK flights.  Essentially, all JFK – London,  Los Angeles, and San Francisco round-trip flights between June 1 and December 21, 2012 will earn 5,000 bonus miles after your first flight, 10,000 after your second, 15,000 after your third, and 20,000 after your fourth flight. Again, the offer was targeted with no registration link provided and a statement stating that I’ve already been pre-registered.  I believe I fall into two categories that may be qualifying me for these promotions, I’m a NYC based elite flier and all of my flights this year (except for 4) have been on foreign carriers or other US based airlines, a big change from my previous year’s Delta flying history. Additionally, these are all highly competitive routes that are also flown by both American and United,  with JetBlue and Virgin America also competing on the LAX / SFO routes. Again, hoping a few of my readers received the same email!

Bonus Offer: Fly on Delta- or KLM-marketed nonstop flights between New York/JFK and London/LHR, Los Angeles/LAX or San Francisco/SFO operated by Delta in paid BusinessElite (fare classes J, C, D, I and S) using one of the eligible Delta-provided unique ticket designators for travel between June 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, and earn 5,000 bonus miles for the first roundtrip flown, 10,000 bonus miles for the second roundtrip flown, 15,000 bonus miles for the third roundtrip flown and 20,000 bonus miles for the fourth roundtrip flown. A total of 50,000 bonus miles may be earned with this promotion. Bonus miles with this promotion do not count towards Medallion or Million Miler status.

Travel Period: Travel must be between June 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. All travel must be completed by December 31, 2012.

Posted by Adam | One Comment

For those of us in New York, Radisson rooms below the $99 mark usually entail a trip out to New Jersey, however the Radisson Lexington Hotel in Manhattan has room rates for $99 tonight!  With tax the total comes to $117.11, however you’ll earn 10% off the pre-tax rate using topcashback.com bringing the effective total to $107.12 (note using the link will earn me a referral bonus, feel free to start a conga line in the comments section with your own links) .  Not an amazing rate to qualify for the Big Night Givewaway promotion, but definitely a respectable and convenient alternative here in New York City. There are also decent rates in the $129-$149 range on May 30th, June 1st, and June 3rd.  For full details on the promotion check out this previous entry.

Posted by Adam | 4 Comments

Welcome to a third reader submitted edition of Overheard on the Plane. Thanks to everyone for sending in your stories (especially Kevin for his huge list)!

If you haven’t yet, check out Say What? Overheard on the Plane Editions 1-5 and of course keep sending in your stories for future posts to adam@pointmetotheplane.com. Remember to include the carrier and route as well as any other pertinent details and sources.

Submitted by Diane L – Dallas (DFW) to Houston (IAH) Flight
Flight Attendant: Sandwiches, candy, and snacks are now available. Buy one, get the second for the same price!.

Submitted by Kevin One Liners Courtesy of OHNY – LaGuardia (LGA) and JFK

Flight Attendant (LGA): Well, everybody, sorry for that delay, the plane was late coming in from California. On the other hand, I have some good news: I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

Flight Attendant (JFK): Thank you for listening to the safety announcement for this service to Buenos Aires… Go to sleep. Go to sleep. You don’t want any beverages. Close your eyes and sleep…

Flight Attendant (LGA): Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention I would very much appreciate it. My parents paid thousands of dollars to put me through college for a theater arts and communications degree, and since this is the only time the airline ever puts a microphone in my hand, I’m sure they would really appreciate it, too.

Pilot (LGA on the crowded runway): Welcome to the parking lot known as LaGuardia Airport.

TSA Official (LGA): Okay, people, have your boarding passes out! If you don’t have your boarding passes out, I’m sending you to Amtrak!

Passport Agent (JFK): Everyone with a US passport, up against that wall, line-up!
Arriving Passenger – ?Wow, have things changed that much?

Updated Trip Reports this Week – Singapore Airlines and W Koh Samui

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This is part two of a Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia trip report covering our stay at the W Retreat Koh Samui:

The W Retreat Koh Samui easily tops my list of favorite Starwood properties. Keep in mind that the hotel recently moved from a category 7 to category 6 hotel, though still requires additional points as all rooms are villas.  The best rate is essentially 40,000 points per night for the Jungle Oasis Villa.  I’m going to let the pictures walk you through our experience but first just a couple of comments:

  • As soon as we arrived there was what I’d refer to as a welcoming committee of at least 5 staff members lined up in the entrance way leading us to the check-in area.  Two tropical drinks were waiting for us at the desk.  My SPG Platinum status was recognized but unfortunately no upgrades were available (though I did see some availability online earlier in the day).  This wasn’t a huge deal as the majority of the retreats are exactly the same besides their location.  The only Platinum benefit provided was complimentary breakfast each morning at Kitchen Table and wireless internet.

  • We were driven via a golf buggy cart from the main lobby to our room with a tour of the resort given along the way. We stopped for some ice cream at one of the main mini fridges (Sweet Spots) located throughout the resort where you are free to grab complimentary soft drinks or ice cream throughout the day or night.  This was followed by an extensive tour of our own room and our luggage arrived separately a shortly while after.  The room – WOW.  We loved it and you can’t help but be impressed after walking in.  The room has a great color scheme and comes off as trendy and modern with a sofa (that we turned into a bed), 46″ LCD, bean bag chair, wifi sound dock allowing you to play your own music inside or outside the retreat, and a library.  My favorite part was opening up the sliding doors to see our own private pool, lounge chairs, a daybed, and a dining table.  The bathroom was large and included an indoor bath/shower as well as an outdoor rainforest stone shower (you are inside the room but the shower area is outside in between the living room and the bathroom…no one outside your room can see you).   If you forget any of your beach essentials there’s a W bag with sunscreen, flip flops, and water.

  • The WOOBAR definitely wooes. Stepping into a floating seating area, sipping drinks, and listening to international DJs is not a bad way to start or spend your night!

  • The beach was really relaxing and quiet as you look out at the Gulf of Thailand.  For a sold out hotel, it seems like everyone disappeared or spent their time at the pool, there were maybe 10 of us total at the beach.  The beach itself is a little pebbly but we had absolutely no problem with it, once you get a few steps out into the water it’s all sand…and nice and warm! There are regular lounge chairs, day beds, and loveseats that were all readily available without the early morning required seat chase you see at so many other resorts.  There was also on site watersports and even a kite surfing instructors. While we had read otherwise, there was waiter service at the beach with drinks and lunch brought out quickly and continuous free water service.  Additionally, the outdoor restaurant and bar SIP is just a few steps from the main beach.

  • The breakfast at the Kitchen Table was excellent with a typical gigantic Asian selection of anything you could possibly think of. Eating outside overlooking the water isn’t bad either…

  • Shuttle service is provided to the closet town but anything further required us to utilize the W car service which was convenient but a little pricey.

Now, the picture review…

So, overall an amazing stay and property with just a few gripes: Lack of SPG Platinum benefits (as expected), personal pool water gets real cold – especially in the Jungle Oasis villas where you get a lot of shade (second picture from bottom), expensive shuttle into other towns (though this can be avoided by renting a car).

Favorites: The quiet and secluded beach with perfect water temperature, outdoor rainforest shower, signature WOOBAR floating tables and chairs, amazing service throughout the resort, the Sweet Spots, breakfast, the infinity pool and it’s warm water, and the really comfortable and well laid out room.

Posted by Adam | 13 Comments

I received an email from Delta this morning with a double miles promotion on select flights from LaGuardia from May 21, 2012 – July 31, 2012.  The bonus is good on all booked first and economy flights except those in L, U, T, or E fare buckets.  There is no link to register so the promotion is obviously targeted (Select Business Travelers Only), most likely for NY based fliers.  Hopefully some of you have received the same.  Full details below:

Bonus Offer: Purchase and fly on a Delta marketed nonstop flights between New York LaGuardia/LGA and Dallas-Fort Worth/DFW, Miami/MIA, Nashville/BNA, Omaha/OMA, St. Louis/STL or Washington Dulles/IAD operated by either Delta or a Delta Connection operator using one of the eligible Delta-provided unique ticket designators for travel between May 21, 2012 and July 31, 2012 and earn double flown bonus miles for each segment in the paid booking classes of F/P/A/J/C/D/I/S/Y/B/M/H/Q/K (e.g. K class and above). Bonus miles will be earned based on the actual miles flown or the 500-mile minimum, whichever is greater and will not include class-of-service bonuses, elite bonuses or Medallion Qualification Miles/MQMs. Bonus miles may be earned multiple times within the qualification period.

Travel Period: Travel must be between May 21, 2012 and July 31, 2012. All travel must be completed by July 31, 2012.

Posted by Adam | 5 Comments

Earlier this week Delta announced new Caribbean, Bermuda and Florida flights from New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports. This was especially exciting for me as each December my family and I head to a different Caribbean destination using miles or points. In general, we tend to use AA or BA miles to fly on one of American’s non-stop flights down to one of the islands.  Over the last year American announced the termination of both their non-stop JFK to Aruba and St. Maarten flights, however Delta has picked both of these routes up with this week’s announcement.  This is good news but is there any low level award availability???



I searched for dates in December, January, February, and March and here are my results:

LGA to Nassau, Bahamas
I was actually able to find decent low level 35,000 SkyMiles economy class award availability for this route in December, January, and February. While finding any low level award availability on Delta can be viewed as a miracle, this isn’t the ideal time of year to visit the Bahamas as the temperature can range from 62-77F  or 17-25C.  In any case, these new flights are loaded and have award space available.  The same was true for the business class awards priced at 60,000.

JFK to Aruba
This one was actually a bigger surprise, little to now low level economy seats but several dates with low level business class seats priced at 60,000 SkyMiles roundtrip and middle level economy class priced at 50,000 SkyMiles roundtrip in January and February.  While 60,000 might seem like a lot of miles for the Caribbean, you need to keep in mind that these are SkyMiles and are often much easier (and cheaper) to accumulate than other points and miles. Using this rationale, 50k SkyMiles compared to 35k AA miles doesn’t seem like a horrible deal for that economy seat.

JFK to St. Maarten
This flight operates only on Saturdays and there was absolutely nothing but high level economy class award availability priced at 70,000 SkyMiles for January – April 2012. There was some medium price business class award availability priced at 100,000 SkyMiles.  I think I’ll stick to the non-direct options for this route…

JFK to Punta Cana
This route was similar to Aruba, little to now low level economy seats but lots of dates with low level business class seats priced at 60,000 SkyMiles roundtrip and middle level economy class priced at 50,000 SkyMiles roundtrip in January, February, and March.

JFK to Montego Bay, Jamaica
Absolutely no low level economy seats but medium level economy class priced at 50,000 SkyMiles roundtrip was easily found on most dates.  The award calendar also indicated low level business for most dates, however once I clikced on the flights they were displaying at the medium level (typical Delta award calendar problems).

In summary, these new flights provide additional non-stop New York-Caribbean award flight options and there actually is decent award availability on a few of the routes if you can be flexible.  Of course, United and JetBlue also provide direct service on these routes as well, though I tend to save my United miles for international business or first class awards.  Curious as to which airlines came out on top in the annual award seat availability rankings? Check out this previous post.

Posted by Adam | 4 Comments

Several of my blog readers are new to points and miles collecting and aren’t yet familiar with the amazing opportunity and value that Priority Club PointBreaks presents. Here’s a brief introduction:

Priority Club
Priority Club is the hotel loyalty program for Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and includes Intercontinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites. Like other programs, points are earned via hotel stays, dining, shopping, using their credit card, car rentals, etc. Points required for free hotel night redemptions vary by brand and property type:

PointBreaks
Around once a quarter, Priority Club releases their list of PointBreaks which allow members to redeem their points for stays at select properties for only 5,000 per night, a huge savings and easily one of the best features of the Priority Club program.  The participating properties are updated each quarter and can present some amazing values, especially at the higher end properties and those in exotic locations.  Each participating property only allots a certain amount of PointBreaks rooms and once they have been redeemed they are removed from the list. What’s the catch?  Popular properties disappear really fast, you need to be ready to book as soon as the list comes out.

This Quarter’s List (through July 31st)
This quarter’s list has some amazing properties included and is easily one of the best lists in the last two years.  Some of my favorite IHG properties are included and for me the standouts this time are: Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Intercontinental Resort Mauritius, Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund, Crowne Plaza Phuket Panwa Beach Resort,Holiday Inn Marrakech, Holiday Inn Ashkelon Israel, Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur, Intercontinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Cyprus, and Hotel Indigo Boston-Newton.  The availability for the Fiji and Mauritius properties disappeared almost immediately yesterday but it seems that additional availability was released this morning as I was able to find open days at both with rates reduced from 30,000 points per night to 5,000 points per night for the exact same room type!


How Do I Obtain Priority Club Points?
Check out my previous post which will help you get 9,000 Priority Club points right away.  Additionally, Chase Ultimate Rewards are easily transferred on a 1:1 basis to Priority Club points for those who have a qualifying Chase Ultimate Rewards card.

Don’t, yet have a Chase Ultimate Rewards Card, well you could potentially earn 100,000 Priority Club points – 40,000 for the Chase Sapphire Card and 60,000 for the Ink Bold (with the bump).  Check out this post for further details on the 100,000 offer or see here for full details on both cards.

In summary, PointBreaks are another opportunity allowing you to stay at some amazing properties using as little points as possible, leaving all the more points in your account for future redemptions! Remember to always check the PointBreaks website for the latest updates and of course I’ll continue blogging each time a new list is released.

Posted by Adam | 8 Comments

This is part one of a Newark – Singapore – Ho Chi Minh – Siem Reap – Bangkok – Phuket – Ko Phi Phi – Koh Samui trip report and includes my review of the longest scheduled flight in the world, SQ 21 from Newark (EWR) to Singapore (SIN).  The flight is operated with an Airbus A340-500 long-haul aircraft in a business only 100 seat configuration. SQ 21′s flight time is blocked at 18 hours and 50 minutes and departs from Newark at 11pm with a 5:40am arrival 2 days later, covering 9,534 miles (15,343 km).

Pre-Flight
Singapore Airlines does not offer car service to the airport so I made my own way to Newark from Manhattan, probably the most frustrating part of this trip!  I didn’t leave particularly early as I knew there was no Singapore Airlines lounge at Newark and that passengers are instead given access to the SAS Club Lounge. Check-in was brisk and there were approximately four open desks with no other passengers in sight.  I had my boarding pass and lounge invitation in under five minutes and proceeded through security to the SAS lounge.  I had visited this lounge a few times before and while adequate, I had never been overly impressed.  The lounge is on the smaller size and always feels like a cramped IKEA.  Anyway, they had a selection of crackers, breads, and cheeses as well as some veggies at first followed by chicken and vegetarian rolls closer to the flight time.  There is complimentary wifi, however there are few other amenities provided and there is no view of the Singapore plane from the lounge.

Boarding & Flight
I left the lounge early and headed to the gate, I wanted to see the aircraft and was curious about the boarding process as all passengers are in Singapore’s Raffles Business Class. They gate agent announced that all Singapore KrisFlyer elite members would board, followed by Star Alliance elite, passengers in the back rows of the plane, passengers in the front rows, and then the middle rows.  I was in seat 37A (considered the back) but boarded with the Star Alliance elite group.

Two flight attendants were there to greet me as I walked on to the plane and another two greeted me in the middle section and again when I reached the back.  Even though the flight was completely sold out, the boarding process with only 100 passengers was painless and quick.  I was offered a drink prior to take off and went with some champagne.

IMG_0255

The boarding door closed early and we began our taxi to the runway about 12 minutes ahead of schedule.  The Newark to Singapore flight crosses the Atlantic as you would on a transatlantic trip to Europe and then continues southeast towards Singapore.  Unfortunately, the captain informed everyone that there would be moderate turbulence for most of the Atlantic crossing and that we would take an extremely southern route over the ocean to minimize the bumps.  Once we were up in the air the flight attendants came around with menus and snacks, but no amenity kits. Instead we were given eye masks and socks and the bathrooms were stocked with dental and shaving kits. It was a little surprising considering that kits are standard on the majority of US carriers operating much shorter flights and that purchasing a round-trip ticket on SQ 21 /22 averages between $8500-$11000.

Supper Menu

Due to the turbulence, dinner was not served until about three hours into the flight but it was truly delicious. I really enjoyed the grilled black cod and the the crab and mango salad starter. It was also crazy to see the “Singapore Girls”  doing their best to walk professionally down the aisles while serving the food during moderate turbulence.  I fly all the time and this was some of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced.  I was surprised they even got the OK to get up at all, tough we might have had to skip dinner otherwise as the turbulence continued for the entire Atlantic crossing until we made landfall over the UK.

After about two movies in, I began to get hungry again and started browsing the light bites menu.  There’s a snack area on board that offers bananas, apples, chips, and nuts, but I wanted something more substantial.  I decided to go for the warm philly steak as well as some dim sum… I know what a combination!   The philly steak was surprisingly good for something that was obviously frozen and re-heated and the chicken and vegetable dumplings were great.

Once I satisfied my hunger it was time to sit back and enjoy some movies.  The entertainment system was excellent and consisted of a 15.4 inch screen, noise canceling headphones, and over 70 films. You’re also able to connect an iPhone, Blackberry, or any USB device to the system to watch your own movies or photos, this was extremely convenient as I was three episodes behind on the Amazing Race and quickly transferred them from my MacBook Air to a USB thumb drive for viewing. The seat itself was very comfortable with a width about 30 inches and a reclining position that I found really comfortable.  The seat flips into a bed as well when you’re ready to try to get some sleep.

For someone who is under six feet tall I found the bed to be extremely comfortable, though I did wish that the pillow was full size like those that Delta provides.  I’m not much of a sleeper anyway (even on an 18+ hour flight), so I really used the bed to relax and watch movies. I saw other people flipping their own seats into beds but when I went to do mine one of the flight attendants came over and made the bed for me (rookie mistake – no one flips their own bed on this flight).  She softly placed the padding, a duvet, and the pillow in place and brought me two extra water bottles. The service throughout was truly excellent and I constantly received water and club soda refills, in fact I completely emptied them out of club soda and sparking water.  If you prefer not to be interrupted you can press a do not disturb button on your remote which illuminates a do not disturb sign. The aircraft is also equipped with mood lighting as well which is adjusted based on the time of day and cabin service.

I also tried some authentic drinks, the Silver Kris Sling and of course the Singapore Sling…

Well after a total of five movies, a few of my own TV shows, and a short nap we were only a little over two hours from landing and breakfast was ready to be served.

I actually got to speak with one of the pilots while waiting for the bathroom and besides discussing how turbulent the flight was he mentioned that the updated route added about 40 minutes to our flying time and increased our distance by several miles, back at my seat the screen was showing that we had already traveled 10,179 miles.

Overall the flight was excellent with great entertainment, food, and service and an extremely comfortable bed and seat. The 19 hours literally flew by and there were still two movies that I was upset I didn’t have a chance to finish viewing!  I even snapped a few pictures and exchanged emails with several of the flight attendants once everyone else deplaned.

Remember, Singapore began releasing saver first and business class award seats to their KrisFlyer members about two months ago and Star Alliance partners have had access to a few last minute award seats as well.  I was successful in finding award availability using United’s website about three days prior to the departure date.

Need help planning a trip with your miles? Consider Juicy Miles assistance for the best possible award pricing and routes!

Related

Posted by Adam | 25 Comments

The Park Inn 1 + 1, Stay One Get 1 promotion has gone live about 5 minutes ago, 12am CET.  The first 20,000 members who register will earn 44,000 bonus points after staying at least one night at any worldwide Park Inn property from May 22 – July 22, 2012. After the first 20,000 spots are taken members will be provided the opportunity to earn 15,000 points instead.

I was able to register with no problems and the site was much faster than when the Radisson and Country Inn & Suites promos went live last week.  It was definitely nice not having to stay up for the registration again, now I just need to decide what Park Inn I’ll be staying at…

For full details on this promotion and the Radisson & Country Inn & Suite promotions that are still active check out this post.  Once again, the T&Cs state that “guest must be present at the participating hotel at both the time of check-in and check-out”.  I have received two reader emails who have already received points but were not present for check-out, however each property may vary in enforcing this policy.  One guest used automated check-out and the other just left the property.  I’ll continue updating with further reader experiences as they come in.

Posted by Adam | 4 Comments

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