I don't usually write about the many places I get to visit each year because destination reviews aren't really my forte and there are just too many tastes to cater too...but I'm going to make an exception for Budapest. I'm not about to write an in-depth review of my visit to the Hungarian capital (I can't imagine that being interesting to most readers) but I thought I'd share a few images from my trip to a city that really surprised me.
Last week, shortly after Marriott released details showing us what category each of it hotels will be in from August onwards, there was a small melt-down in the miles and points world. From August through the end of the year travelers will be able to make reservations at the most aspirational hotels in the combined Marriott/SPG portfolio for just 60,000 Marriott Points (20,000 Starpoints) per night…and that’s cheap.
You don't have to be a frequent flyer to know that it's a good idea to have a few travel apps on your smartphone to ensure that you're well informed about any trips you're taking. I used to rely quite heavily on the "MyFlights" app to keep me updated about a lot of my bookings but, since that app stopped having access to the information it needs to operate, I've moved over to TripIt Pro. A lot of people seem to love this app but, although I like some of its features, I'm less enthused than some. Let me explain why.
Qantas launched the first non-stop route between Australia and Europe when it flew its first flight from Perth to London at the end of March but it's far from being the first airline to fly an ultra long-haul route. United operates a service between Houston and Sydney which takes between 16 and 17 hours, Emirates flies between Dubai and Auckland which can take over 17 hours and Qatar Airways currently flies the longest flight in the world (9,032 miles) between Doha and Auckland which I tried out shortly after the route opened.
There is so much to hate about the tipping culture we have in the US that I almost don’t know where to start. I hate the credit card machines that ask me if I want to tip when all I’ve done is wait in line to order a coffee to go, I hate the modern day expectation of a tip regardless of the service provided and I hate the holier-than-thou preachers that attempt to guilt everyone into tipping but do nothing about the underlying issue.
Historically I’ve not been someone who writes in to airlines complaining about their staff very often. I reported an atrocious British Airways gate agent back in February but, other than that occasion, I can’t remember the last time I wrote an email complaining about a flight attendant or another member of airline staff. That’s going to change.
There have been a lot of changes put through the AAdvantage program over the past 18 months and American Airlines has attempted to position a lot of these changes as changes made to reward their most loyal (high-paying) flyers. Leaving aside the fact that a lot of the changes are definitely not rewarding their highest-paying customers (they're bad for everyone), I'm not sure that's an entirely sensible policy to adopt.
I've known for months that I need to book a single night an airport hotel at Paris CDG for a trip I'm taking in the not too distant future but, for one reason or another (mostly forgetfulness) I haven't got around to making the booking. I looked at a some hotels a few months back but couldn't decide which property to book and then I forgot all about it....till today.
I've got a trip coming up soon and, unusually for me, I'm actually a little nervous about it. I'm not going anywhere dangerous, the airlines I'm flying are perfectly acceptable and there are no risky connections in my itinerary so there's no outwardly obvious reason why I should be nervous...and yet I am.
I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent, rational human being and I like to believe that I understand how loyalty programs work, what their real purpose is and what the miles and points game/hobby is all about. I like to think that I’m invulnerable to the temptations that loyalty programs provide and that, when push comes to shove, I’m more than capable of making well-balanced decisions that stand up to scrutiny. The problem is that that’s all patently untrue.