For the last four years Alaska Airlines Board Rooms have featured pancake printing machines. Imagine an office printer but instead of paper, you get fluffy, delicious pancakes. I’ve never had access to one of the Board Rooms before, but a very delayed flight to EWR this week changed all that when a pass was thrown my way!

You can find the machines in each of Alaska Airlines’ four Board Room locations, in Seattle, Anchorage, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. The pancake didn’t taste unique in any way, but it was very yummy and according to the signage in the lounge – “the pancake mix is made with fresh, healthy and all-natural ingredients.”

Worth a one-day pass, definitely not. Fun if you happen to be in the lounge and haven’t seen one of these before, for sure!

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24/7 Wall Street‘s / Yahoo‘s “10 brands that will disappear in 2015” actually lists Alaska Airlines as a potential company that might not be around after 2015…what hogwash! Alaska management has said multiple times that they are not interested in selling the company nor do they need to in order to effectively compete. The article doesn’t even provide any new facts to make their case. Instead, it notes the fact that Alaska is one of the last independent carriers, larger airlines have been acquired in the past, and Alaska’s profits and customer service make it a great prize. Additionally, Delta’s desire to gain Alaska’s West Coast routes is mentioned.

Alaska Air Group Inc. is one of the few remaining independent airlines in the United States that is not owned by one of the four larger carriers. Even larger airlines have been acquired: Northwest was bought by Delta, Continental merged with United and U.S. Airways joined with American Airlines. The recent consolidations in the industry have been successful, leading to significant cost cuts. Alaska Air, with its profits and customer service reputation, is the last real prize left. There has been speculation that Delta might buy Alaska Air for its West Coast routes. The rumors have pushed Alaska Air shares higher. Alaska Air is particularly strong in the busiest West Coast markets, especially in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Seattle. It has also begun to challenge carriers in East Coast markets, including several cities in Florida. Revenue and net income have risen steadily over the past five years. And Alaska Air often ranks highest in customer satisfaction among traditional carriers.

On to a few more reliable Alaska / Delta stories…

TheStreet reports that Alaska is countering Delta’s assault with their secret weapon – unified employees (thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing with PMttP readers):

For Alaska the reality of being under assault by a stronger adversary sank in at the end of July, when the carrier reported earnings that beat estimates — yet watched its shares fall 9% as analysts worried about capacity increases in key markets. But Delta’s effort to build a Seattle hub on top of Alaska’s Seattle hub is also having a positive impact for the airline, in that it is further uniting Alaska’s approximately 10,200 workers, 83% of them unionized. It has not escaped the workers that Delta is a largely non-union carrier, one that strongly resisted efforts by the International Association of Machinists and the Association of Flight Attendants to organize its workers following the 2008 merger with Northwest. IAM and AFA are the two largest unions at Alaska. The employees “know Delta is anti-union,” said Tom Higginbotham, president of IAM District Lodge 142. “Their focus is on making Alaska work better than Delta. “The company is definitely doing everything it can to bring everyone together for what it believes is a war,” Higginbotham said. “Our relationship with Alaska over the last five or six years has been very good, and this has strengthened everybody’s willingness to cooperate with each other.” The IAM represents about 3,100 employees, including 2,500 agents and 600 ramp and stores workers. Jeff Peterson, president of the Alaska chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, said, “Considering Delta is one of our closest code share partners, Delta management isn’t playing very nice. “Many of Delta’s flight attendants seem to have the impression that Delta is going to buy us or run us out of business,” Peterson said. “That opinion must be coming from their management [but] I can assure you that’s not going to happen. Delta does a nice job, we don’t begrudge their employees anything, but we’re here to stay.”

Check out the full article from TheStreet here.

The Seattle Times shares Delta CEO Richard Anderson’s thoughts on the “Seattle Wars” (thanks to Jenny from ST for sharing with our readers):

Some analysts see Delta exerting pressure for an endgame in which the giant Atlanta-based enterprise swallows its smaller Pacific Northwest rival. Anderson deflects talk of that possibility and insists Delta is here “to be successful unilaterally” in a rough-and-tumble industry. “There’s no drama. It’s just business,” Anderson said. “Is Airbus tough with Boeing? Is Apple tough on Microsoft? It’s a competitive marketplace.” Recently, Delta inaugurated direct flights from Seattle to Hong Kong, bringing to 10 the number of its daily international nonstop routes out of the city, six to Asia and four to Europe. Anderson said that adding such destinations from Seattle is “huge for the economic and cultural development of the community.” Delta’s expansion requires building up its base at Sea-Tac. Anderson said the airline has about 2,800 employees based here now and will soon grow past 3,000. “We’re in the process right now of hiring 1,400 flight attendants and 600 pilots,” he said. “A lot of those will end up based here.”

Check out the full Seattle Times article here. 

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Could someone please tell me how an Alaska Airlines flight between Salt Lake City and San Jose, Ca. is going to make money? Because I can’t see it. In fact, if you believe in that flight, don’t read this column, where the assumption is that the flight is ridiculous.

Forbes contributor Ted Reed outlines why he thinks Alaska needs to make nice with Delta in order to avoid an “unwinnable battle” and to benefit from the future revenue that Delta’s international flying while bring to its Seattle partners.

Here’s a snippet of the article, check out the full text here. What are your thoughts?

Of course Alaska wants to fight back against Delta, the arrogant intruder from the South.  And who can resist backing the relatively small airline with deep community ties that it built up over 66 years? The problem is that the battle has pushed Alaska to act like an angry kid, telling Delta that if it doesn’t stop, Alaska will hold its breath until it turns blue. The fact is that Delta has no choice but to build a Seattle hub. Delta is one of three global U.S. carriers and it needs to offer Asia service – particularly China service — from a West Coast hub, where it can gather passengers from the states to the east, all 45 of them. The best U.S. West Coast hub is San Francisco, where United is long established.  For years, that has left Delta and American, as well as United, fighting it out at LAX, a place where nobody can win.

It is easy to forget that Alaska and Delta are partners in a code share agreements.  I don’t know all the details of why they enabled their relationship to break down. My sources say that the accountants who run Alaska understandably insisted on squeezing every last penny out of the relationship, rather than backing down a little bit on price and rather than giving Delta passengers preference over passengers from other partners.

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This is part four of a fifteen part trip report from my travels to the Maldives and Dubai. This picture report covers the second part of an Emirates A380 w/ shower spa trip report from LAX – Dubai (DXB). There were so many amenities on the flight besides the shower that I need two posts to cover everything…

So, picking up where the last post left off (see – Trip Report – Emirates A380 First Class LAX – Dubai (DXB) w/ Shower Spa Part 1), let’s get to the food, bed, and shower!

Food – Now, the cool thing about dining in Emirates First is that you can customize your meal and mix and match between all the different choices. Let’s say you want the cod but you like the veggies and sides that are included with the lamb, you can swap those out. With a la carte / any time dining you can choose between all the different courses and meal types and order them at any time. Eggs from the breakfast menu and steak from the dinner, you’re good to go! On our flight there was a breakfast menu, appetizer menu, soup menu, main course dinner menu, dessert menu, and light bites menu. That was in addition to the extensive liquor and beverage menu. Oh, and the liquor selection is pretty impressive – Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Years, Old Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Glenfiddich 21 Years, Cuvee Dom Perignon 2000. All presented in a leather bound menu holder of course.

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I started with the canapés and some some Dom…

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Normally, I’m not a caviar fan but how could I pass on my chance to have some in Emirates First Class? The chilled caviar was presented with chopped onion, boiled egg, sour cream, lemon, melba toast, and soft blini pancakes. I have to say, it was all quite delicious, really enjoyed it!

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For dinner I went with the salad of roast cod – seasonal mesclun leaves topped with steamed fingerling potato slices, flaked cod and a warm cherry tomato and caper vinaigrette. Also delicious, five star restaurant quality, the fish was perfectly cooked.

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For dessert ,some roast fig and caramelized pecan pie with classic vanilla sauce.

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Snack 1 – traditional local Arabic mezze – of course, as it’s Emirates you can order just the ones you like.

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Fresh banana smoothie…

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Snack 2 – Omeltte

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Overall the food was simply amazing and the flight attendants were always happy to prepare any dish the way you wanted it. It almost seemed more expected on their part that customers would be customizing the dishes…a huge change to the attitude from flight staff on most airlines.

Time for some rest…

No matter how luxurious or comfy the lie-flat bed is on a flight, I almost never sleep. However, that all changed on the Emirates A380. I’m not sure if it had to do with the really comfy mattress pad and duvet, the double pillows, or the enclosed suite (most likely), but I am happy to report that I slept for several hours.

When you are ready to get some rest the flight attendant is very happy to transform your seat into a great lie-flat bed. They suggest going to change into your PJs and then upon returning your bed is all ready. I got to see the mattress pad they used and was quite impressed with just how padded it was, not the normal thin layered one used on most flights. The duvet was top quality as well. The bed was extremely long, giving me more than enough room to stretch out. I found the width to be generous as well.

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The view with the suite doors closed…

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When I woke up it was time for a shower (sort of love writing that in reference to a flight). As mentioned in the first post, you are asked to select a shower time at the beginning of the flight. When it’s your turn the spa attendant comes to bring you to the shower. You are given 25 minutes in the “spa” but only five minutes of hot water. The shower is on a timer and can be stopped, allowing you to conserve your water and extend your time in the shower (ie. turn off the water when you are lathering up). The 5 minute rule is meant to ensure enough water for all first class guests, however on our flight there was only one family of three besides ourselves which may have allowed the crew to be a bit lenient. Without naming any names, someone I might have traveled with used their 5 minutes of water and then somehow got 5 minutes more from the spa staff!

In any case, I can’t tell you how nice and refreshing it was showering over Baghdad 14+ hours into the flight. It felt great!

Keep in mind, this is the first class bathroom as well. It was the largest in-flight bathroom I’ve ever seen and bigger than some of my hotel room bathrooms. TV with moving map included of course.

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When you’re done with your shower, the first class bar is transformed into a “blissful spa” area with aloe vera juices. A fruit platter is also waiting for you back at your seat.

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Just prior to landing you’ll be presented with a Fast Track pass for Dubai security and immigration clearance.

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To sum it up, believe the hype. The Emirates A380 First Class experience was fantastic. Amazing food, great service, comfy bed and private suite, and refreshing in-flight shower 38,000 feet up in the air. Comparing to my recent First Class Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights, I think I’d pick Emirates as my favorite. The experience is only enhanced by the services on the ground, and you’ll see in the next report why the First Class Lounge at the A380 Terminal  – Concourse A in Dubai is unlike any other lounge in the world…it spans the entire terminal!

Did you miss part one? Check it out here – Trip Report – Emirates A380 First Class LAX – Dubai (DXB) w/ Shower Spa Part 1

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Delta announced this morning even more new flights from their growing “global gateway” in Seattle. The new flights begin Dec. 20, 2014 and will include some interesting Saturday only flights:

  • Five daily flights to Phoenix
  • One daily seasonal flight to Palm Springs, Calif.
  • Saturday seasonal service to Tucson, Ariz.
  • Saturday seasonal service to Jackson Hole, Wyo.
  • One additional nonstop flight to Honolulu for a total of two daily flights
  • One new daily nonstop flight to Anchorage for a total of two daily flights in September and three daily flights during the summer

“As Seattle’s fastest-growing airline, we’ve doubled the number of flights we offer from a year ago to provide our customers more choice and flexibility when traveling from these key markets to the Pacific Northwest,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice president – Seattle. “This service will offer one-stop access for customers to the top international destinations while providing local travelers with more options during the winter months.”

Related - 

Delta & Alaska Airlines

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This is part three of a fifteen part trip report from my travels to the Maldives and Dubai. This picture report covers the first part of an Emirates A380 w/ shower spa trip report from LAX – Dubai (DXB). There were so many amenities on the flight besides the shower that I need two posts to cover everything…

Talk about waiting until the last minute…but I always say you find the best seats when you are extremely flexible and can hold out as long as possible. Here’s where being a risk taker benefits. I had reservations at the Conrad Hilton in the Maldives that were booked just prior to the HHonors devaluation at the amazing rate of 37.5K per night instead of the new rate of 95K per night. However, I had no flights to get me there even three days before the anticipated arrival. I was hoping for Emirates First Class to open up from New York, but as of the Friday evening before my Monday departure only business class was available for two seats on the JFK-DXB leg. However, the LAX-DXB flight had First open up and so I went ahead and pulled the trigger, booking with my Alaska Airlines miles (180,000 and $30 total, thank you Bank of America where churning is still acceptable). Unfortunately, there’s only one Alaska flight per day from the NY area (EWR-SEA-LAX) and it required an overnight layover in Seattle to get us to LAX, meaning I only ticketed the LAX-DXB-MLE legs. Instead, I booked a one-way 12,500 UA itinerary separately (in the end this trip was only 2,500 miles).

I was pretty psyched for my first Emirates First experience though, especially since it was on the A380 with an in-flight shower spa! Previously I had only flown Emirates in business – Emirates A380 Business – JFK-Dubai Trip Report. There were easier and available first connections available via Houston, Dallas, Toronto, Boston and Washington, but none of those locations would have given us the Emirates First A380 experience.

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The same one-way itinerary was pricing at $21,748.20 for the same exact flights…90,000 miles well worth it!

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As Emirates is still building their LAX lounge, there is no direct aircraft boarding and the Korean Air lounge is used instead – Trip Report – Korean Air First Class Lounge LAX – Maldives Trip Report Part 2. Note that complimentary chauffeur service is offered on both legs of the journey.

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There were three separate boarding areas – First, Business, and Economy, as well as two separate jet bridges (first and business/economy).

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Welcome to suite 2K – Dom and snacks waiting

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The suite has pop up compartments with skin products, a writing kit, and of course the mini-bar.

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We were immediately welcomed by several crew members – one offering drinks, one taking our coats, and others just coming by to say hello. Soon an Emirates bag was brought over to us…inside was an amenity kit, PJs, slippers, and socks.

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The leather amenity kit had an Art of Shaving razor, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues, and a Bulgari men’s kit. The women’s kit had a female Bulgari kit and swapped the razor for a make-up mirror.  However, the bag is not leather like the mens…

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Pajama Bag – really comfy pants and v-neck shirt with Emirates embroidering.

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Besides champagne, Arabic tea and dates were offered…

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Next, we were presented with a pamphlet explaining the shower spa experience and listing each of the products. We were asked to select a time to reserve our shower spa. I had never showered in the air before so I asked for a recommendation. The flight attendant said two hours before landing would be nice and still allow time for a meal before landing. There are two showers on-board, but with only ourselves and two other passengers in First, there wasn’t much concern over selecting times. More details on the shower experience in the next post.

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Oh, and who doesn’t like automated window shades? All three of my windows could be controlled by buttons on the actual shades or via a controller by my seat. Each window had two shades, one that let it a little light and one that completely blacked them out.

My private suite had a 23” inch LCD screen but there was also a mini tablet screen and a separate remote (also with a screen). The tablet (which has been updated to HD and now looks like an iPad) could be used to browse the entertainment choices, view the moving map, view the multiple cameras, adjust the seat, shop, or simply as a remote for the main screen. In addition, you have a remote that also controls the main screen but also allows you to browse the entertainment choices, play games, display the moving map, send SMS, call other passengers on the flight, and more. You could essentially be watching a movie on the main screen, the cameras on the tablet, and the moving map on the remote all at the same time! There’s also the noise canceling headphones, dual USB inputs that allow for on-screen projection and personal media access, and a power adaptor. The ICE entertainment system itself is incredible – literally 100s of movies, 30+ new releases, live news, interesting documentaries and short programs, TV, music, even a series titled Ultimate Airport Dubai.

Three TVs at once…main one on the movie, tablet browsing what to watch next, and remote on the moving map. All three display the remaining time in flight.

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In-flight internet for a fee:

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The seat can also be controlled via four buttons on the armrest – one-touch dining, bed, and landing controls. One to close the doors of your suite as well…

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Multiple air vents in the suite – two above your seat and two near the windows.

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Emirates Night sky

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The First Class lounge – great liquor selection but it was empty since there was no one else really in First Class. Also stocked with a few sandwiches and snacks but you can order anything from the menu at any time.

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Instead we headed further back on the A380 top deck to the business lounge. It was happening with a bartender, multiple passengers chatting, and comfy lounge seating. Some were even ordering food to be brought to the lounge…pretty sweet! The flight attendant / bartender from Australia was very friendly and we had a good time with her and the other passengers.

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Up tomorrow – part two including the actual seat / bed, shower experience, and the food! Check it out here – Trip Report – Emirates A380 First Class LAX – Dubai (DXB) w/ Shower Spa Part 2

Need help booking an award ticket? Consider Juicy Miles for all your award booking needs!

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On Tuesday, Delta applied for another new route from Seattle, one that of course is already served by Alaska Airlines. The new route application is for direct service from Seattle (SEA) to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (SJD). However, this shouldn’t be much competition for Delta’s frenemy as the plan is to offer seasonal, Saturday-only service beginning on or about December 20, 2014. Delta plans to utilize 160-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft, equipped with 16 first class, 18 economy comfort class, and 126 economy class seats.

Related – 

Delta & Alaska Airlines

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Something is potentially going on between Alaska and American Airlines but Alaska executives won’t say exactly what it is. During Alaska’s earnings call on Thursday, Andrew Harrison, vice president of planning and revenue management, said the two airlines are talking, which isn’t surprising given that Delta is engaged in an effort to bulk up its flying into Alaska’s Seattle hub and plans to compete with Alaska on a variety of key domestic routes. Conceivably, American could act as a white knight.  “We’re getting to know the new American management team,” Harrison said during the call. “I have met with their alliances folks, and we have started discussions about how we might work with the new American. It’s very exciting and we look forward to future things.”

Thanks Steve Lieb for the OK on sharing the summary above. Please check out the full two page story over at The Street. Also, see their other recent article, Delta Faces Questions on Seattle Hub Buildup.

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On December 20th, Alaska Airlines announced additional expansion plans at Delta’s Salt Lake City (SLC) hub, the latest in a tit-for-tat route expansion (though a lot more additions are coming from DL).  Alaska announced these new routes just days after Delta shared it latest in a series of route expansion plans from Seattle.

Alaska Airlines said starting June 16, it will begin flying nonstop from Salt Lake City to Boise (BOI) and Las Vegas (LAS) and beginning June 18, it will fly to San Francisco (SFO).

“Known for our award-winning service and low fares, we’re pleased to offer travelers more opportunities to experience Alaska Airlines’ unique service when they fly,” said Joe Sprague, vice president of marketing. “These additional flights will complement Alaska’s strong network on the West Coast.”

To promote the new routes, Alaska Airlines is offering its Mileage Plan members double miles on the new routes. Alaska Airlines is offering its Mileage Plan members double miles on the new routes, which count toward status in the carrier’s MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K elite-level programs. Alaska is quick to point out that the threshold for Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan members to earn elite-level MVP status is only 20,000 miles — 5,000 fewer miles than most other airline frequent flier programs.

In any case, there should definitely be some lower fares in Seattle and Salt Lake City as the battle wages on…

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Posted by Adam | 4 Comments

This is getting sort of crazy, it seems like there’s a new Delta announcement out of Seattle on a weekly basis announcing new flights on routes already served by Alaska Airlines. Here’s the latest press release from this morning:

Delta Air Lines will add new daily nonstop flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from San Jose International Airport and Juneau International Airport as well as an additional flight from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, all beginning May 29, 2014. The new service will provide customers with convenient connections to the airline’s growing international network from Seattle.

Delta’s new and expanded Seattle service includes:

  • Four new daily nonstop flights from San Jose, Calif.
  • One new daily summer seasonal flight from Juneau, Alaska – a new city to Delta’s network
  • One additional summer seasonal flight from Anchorage for a total of three daily nonstop flights

“The Pacific Northwest economy is one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., and a big part of why we’re adding domestic flights in support of our growing global gateway in Seattle,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice president – Seattle. “By next summer, we’ll offer more than 2,500 daily international seats as part of our 79 peakday departures to 25 destinations.”

Delta’s new service from San Jose will be operated by Delta Connection carrier SkyWest Airlines using 76-seat, two-class CRJ-900s. The airline’s new Juneau service as well as the additional Anchorage summer seasonal flight will be operated with a Boeing 737-800. Each aircraft is equipped with First Class and Economy Comfort seating as well as onboard Wi-Fi.

The airline recently announced expanded Seattle service to Anchorage, Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Francisco and Vancouver to support its increasing international network that currently operates nonstop flights to Amsterdam, Beijing, Paris, Shanghai-Pudong and Tokyo. The airline will also operate new nonstop international service in 2014 to London-Heathrow in March as well as Hong Kong and Seoul in June, pending government approval.

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Talk about waiting until the last minute…but I always say you find the best seats when you are extremely flexible and can hold out as long as possible. I have reservations at the Conrad Hilton in the Maldives starting next week that were booked just prior to the HHonors devaluation at the amazing rate of 37.5K per night instead of the new rate of 95K per night. However, until today I still did not have any flights booked. I was hoping for Emirates First Class to open up from New York, but as of this evening only business class was available for two seats on the JFK-DXB leg. However, the LAX-DXB flight had First open up last night and so I went ahead and pulled the trigger today, booking with my Alaska Airlines miles (180,000 and $30 total). Unfortunately, there were no available domestic connections from NYC – LAX on Alaskan metal using miles at the standard award rate, so I’ll have to book the connections separately. I am pretty psyched for my first Emirates First experience though, especially since it will be on the A380 with the in-flight shower spa! Until now, I’ve only flown them in business – Emirates A380 Business – JFK-Dubai Trip Report. There were easier connections available via Houston, Dallas, Toronto, Boston and Washington, but none of those locations would have given us the Emirates First A380 experience.

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