The Hawaiian Airlines fare sale on direct flights from JFK to Honolulu is still live with several dates in December, January, and February pricing at $382 inclusive of taxes and fees.  Hawaiian allows you to search by month, making it easy to find dates where the sale pricing is still available.  United has not matched the fares on their Newark route, with most dates pricing over $700 per ticket, though I was able to find a few December dates with fares of $434.40 r/t.

In on-the-ground news, Megabus is celebrating their expansion to California and Nevada with a $1 fare sale on all routes during their first week of service (December 12 – 19).  You can travel to/from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Riverside, Calif., Las Vegas, Sparks/Reno, Nev., Sacramento, Calif., and San Jose, Calif for $1 each way.

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Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO, announced in Athens yesterday that the airline intends to launch Doha-Athens-JFK / JFK-Athens-Doha flights in Spring 2013 using either B787 or A380 aircraft. The flights come at a time when both United and Olympic Airways have recently cancelled their direct JFK-ATH flights. Delta will continue operating the route using B767 aircraft.

Qatar Airways is a oneworld member designate, meaning that within the next 12 months or so you should be able to redeem American AAdvantage or British Airways Avios miles for this flight. If availability is as generous as it was during the Continental/Qatar partnership, then this could be a pretty sweet (and reasonable) redemption option for that summer trip to Greece.  Middle Eastern carrier to Europe from the US? This could become the new norm as Al Baker noted that Qatar intends to operate several Doha – European – North American flights in the near future.  Does Emirates have similar plans?

Speaking of Greece, check out my recent trip report on the Mystique, an SPG Luxury Collection property and one of my favorite hotels of all time.

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I wrote back in July about AA’s generous status match to Executive Platinum status for Delta Diamond members.  A few days after the post, readers started reporting that AA had stopped the match.  Well it appears it is back! Several readers are reporting success, most being matched in under 24 hours.  Check out the original post here on how to apply for the match and take a look at the more recent comments for examples of just how quickly the matches are now occurring.

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Travel + Leisure has released their annual list of World’s Best Airlines. This year one US domestic airline has actually made the list, that honor going to Virgin America.  No huge surprises, though it seems that Asiana’s new cabins (including the addition of suites) have really helped their ranking.  I think Swiss and Turkish deserved a mention as well.  Here’s the full list from Yahoo Travel / Travel + Leisure, check out the link for full details on each included airline:

  1. Singapore Airlines
  2. Air New Zealand
  3. Emirates
  4. Korean Air
  5. Cathay Pacific Airways
  6. Asiana Airlines
  7. Virgin America
  8. Qatar Ariways
  9. Virgin Atlantic Airways
  10. Thai International Airways

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Red algae has taken over and closed Bondi Beach as well as several other Australia beaches, to swimmers.  The high ammonia levels can cause skin irritation and residents and tourists have been advised to avoid swimming.  Check out these crazy pictures from ABC News

Photos courtesy of ABCNews

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Tyler K has emailed once again with this great deal, 25,000 SkyMiles for $41.95 via Vinesse Wine Club.  Essentially, the web address to earn 5,000 SkyMiles for signing up for the wine delivery service needs to be changed to bring up the 25,000 mile offer. The last time this happened was in September when the deal (mistake?) was up for only a few moments, though a few readers did snag it. Tyler claims to have received his miles but I haven’t heard from any of the other readers as to whether their miles posted (please email me at As in the past, it looks like it might be a test page that has mistakenly gone live, so no guarantee on how many SkyMiles you’ll actually receive, though I would certainly take a screen-print of the 25k offer. Well, just in case, here we go again…be quick and mileage may vary.

Regular address –
Updated address –   DEAD AGAIN -updated address redirects to a generic Delta SkyMiles page.  Only the regular offer is alive.  Hmm Tyler K whoa are you???  Do you work for Vinesse or perhaps a hacker??  Seems odd that the offer would end so fast, and that a technical mistake would be discovered so quickly, and that the same mistake would happen more than once! Also, to earn the miles requires additional shipments…a second shipment of at least 6 bottles for a minimum of $12 a bottle, which would total about $114 all in.  Update 11/30 – Reader Barbara A has called Vinesse and spoken to a customer service representative who stated she is unaware of such a generous offer!

As a Delta SkyMiles® Member This Offer to Discover Amazing Wines is Just For You

The best way to learn about great wines is to sample great wines. And now you can collect 25,000 miles as you savor hand-selected shipments of limited-production wines. Your first shipment of 6 wines is $41.94 (that’s 50% off) with only 1? shipping. You’ll receive 20,000 miles with your first shipment, 5,000 miles with your second shipment and 5 miles for every dollar spent on all other wine club shipments and orders. Also, as a thank you, you’ll receive a 6-piece Wine tote in your third shipment — a $37.95 value. Each month, you’ll receive a new shipment of 6 captivating wines at just $12-$15 per bottle (plus delivery).It’s an exceptional opportunity to try little-known wines which rarely appear on the shelves of local stores. Plus, you’ll get valuable bonus miles with every shipment.

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If you weren’t lucky enough to be one of the first Cyber Monday shoppers on Gilt’s website yesterday, you may have a second chance to purchase an entire Virgin America flight from SFO-LAS. The flight, christened #nerdbird will be heading to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 7th and Gilt has now opened up a waitlist to purchase the charter.  So what’s included with this “bargain flash sale deal”?

  • Roundtrip flight for 136 guests ($360.29 r/t per person) from San Francisco to Las Vegas for 2013 CES—the world’s largest consumer electronics show—on a Virgin America Airbus A320 christened #nerdbird
  • Flight departs from San Francisco on January 7, 2013 and returns January 9, 2013
  • Free Gogo in-flight WiFi
  • Elevate® Gold Status for purchaser and guest (for 2013)
  • Elevate® Silver Status for all other guests (for 2013)
  • 136 passes to 2013 CES from January 7 to January 9, including the January 7 Preshow Keynote and January 8 Keynote Addresses
  • The plane will be decorated with a unique decal of your design for one month
  • The flight dates and times cannot be changed
  • Under no circumstances can these seats or these flights be resold, bartered or given to other for value
  • Vendor will stock the aircraft with its typical catering (i.e. food and beverages typically stocked for a similar flight). Food and beverage will be provided free of charge to passengers

Check out Gilt’s website for complete details.

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Graham Hughes, a 33 year-old British Adventurer, has completed his Guinness World Records trip traveling 160,000 miles to all 201 sovereign states in just under 4 years, and spending less than $100 per week. The trip began from his home in Liverpool on January 1, 2009 and covered all 193 UN member states as well as Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara, and the UK home nations. From Yahoo News:

I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring. I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger. People asked me how I was going to get to Afghanistan or Iraq or North Korea, but they were the easy ones, you don’t even need a visa for Iraq, you just walk across the border from Turkey. The really tough ones were places like Nauru, and the Maldives and the Seychelles, island countries where there were also sometimes pirate threats.

Hughes’ trip raised money for the Water Aid charity and was also filmed for a documentary.  Hughes utilized cargo ships to cross oceans and was even arrested at one point on suspicion of espionage. Check out the full article and details from his trip at Yahoo News. The record will unseat previous holder Kashi Samaddar who completed visits to 194 sovereign states in 2008.

Can you imagine hitting all 201 without stepping foot on a plane? I’m at 65 but should be at 66 by the end of Dec. and 68 by the end of January, thanks to a few mileage redemption trips coming up!

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Travelocity’s Black Friday deal continues into Cyber Monday with 50% off on hotel stays in New York, Florida, and Hawaii. A 3 night minimum stay is required to take advantage of the discount and you can apply code TURKEY10 for an additional 10% off the sale price. Combine this sale with the AMEX Sync promo offering a $50 statement credit for hotel purchases of $250 or more with Travelocity. You can sync via Facebook (and searching for Travelocity if it doesn’t automatically appear in the list of available sync promos) or by Tweeting #AmexTravelocity. Remember, you can have separate AMEX cards linked to your Facebook and Twitter accounts which will allow you to receive a statement credit on each account.

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Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend, here we go…

American Flight 1384 from Barbados BGI to JFK
Female Passenger 1 – Wow, you got so much color down here, how long were you in Barbados for?
Female Passenger 2 – I was here for 6 nights but this is my natural color
Female Passenger 1 – I wish I could get that dark
Female Passenger 2 – No, natural as in I’m black
Female Passenger 1 – I know I can see, I’m totally jealous.  So do you get this color in New York during the summer as well or it’s the Caribbean sun?
Female Passenger 2 – (rolls her eyes and puts on her headphones)

American Flight 655 (JFK – St. Thomas STT) while testing a new credit /debit device for in-flight food purchases
Flight Attendant – Mam, you have to confirm your purchase.
Elderly Female Passenger – How do I do that?
Flight Attendant – With the device your holding
Elderly Female Passenger –  (picks up the cc device to speak) – I confirm

USAirways Flight 4128 (Baltimore BWI – Philadelphia PHL) All Economy courtesy of CEOwarriorette
Male Passenger – I’ll have some coffee with two sugars please.
Flight Attendant – Sorry sir, no hot beverages due to the short flight duration.
Male Passenger – Iced coffee will do then.

Delta Flight 184 from JFK to Paris CDG
Connecting Passenger 1 – Sorry to disturb you, this is our first time on a plane overseas.
Flight Attendant 1 – How exciting.  What can I help you with sir?
Connecting Passenger 1 – We both want to watch Two and a Half Men
Flight Attendant 1 – That should already be loaded in your personal tv units
Passenger 1’s wife – Yes, we both found it and clicked play but we can’t hear anything
Flight Attendant 1 – Neither of your headphones are working?
Passenger 1’s wife – We have to use the headphones? We wanted to watch together

Delta Lindbergh Terminal – Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport MSP
AMEX Representative– Sign-up for the Delta SkyMiles card and earn enough miles for a free trip anywhere in the domestic US.
Female Passenger 1 – Sir, you’re peddling lies
AMEX Representative – Excuse me?
Female Passenger 1- We call them SkyPesos now and you can’t go anywhere with them (tears the application).  They are worth cr*p.  (screams at others) – Don’t sign up for this card!

Delta Flight 315 from JFK – San Juan,  Puerto Rico SJU
Flight Attendant – Mexican fiesta omelet?
Male Passenger – Not if you paid me
Flight Attendant – Yea, I don’t blame you, what a way to start the day.

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Quick reminder to all readers, registration is still open for today’s Small Business Saturday event!  The promotion allows you to enroll each of your American Express cards in order to receive $25 back when you spend $25 or more at a qualifying small business location (or local Charity) on Small Business Saturday. Enrollment is limited and will continue until 11:59PM MST on November 24, 2012 unless the enrollment limit is reached sooner. Note that AMEX corporate cards and prepaid cards are not eligible. However, AMEX cards issued by other banks (including Citibank issued AMEX cards and store issued cards – Bloomingdales / Macy’s) as well as any authorized user cards with a unique card number are eligible!

I was able to register all seven of my AMEX cards including the SPG Personal, SPG Business, Delta SkyMiles Personal, Delta SkyMiles Business, Hilton HHonors, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s cards. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page to see where you can use your discount on the 24th. Check out more information about Small Business Saturday and how it helps your local businesses here.

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