Showing posts with label Pre-Trip Prep. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pre-Trip Prep. Show all posts

September 29, 2014

Panama City in 2015 - Economy or Business?

Last week I posted about our travel plans for next year.  We are strongly considering heading to Panama City for my birthday in March.  We've always wanted to go and the fact that United flies direct from Denver maximizes our time on the ground.  Award availability on the route is scarce so our plan is to pay cash for the tickets.

Looking at flights for the weekend we want to go, they're actually pretty pricey.  Economy tickets (roundtrip) are going for $951.

But business class tickets (United domestic first) are only $200 more.

The business class tickets book into United "P" class which earns a 50% bonus over economy on both award miles and PQMs.

So while I certainly don't "need" the meals, drinks, and bigger seat that come with United business...$200 is a pretty small premium to pay to be a bit more comfortable during 12 total hours of flying.

The flight is 2,630 miles each way.  So as a United Gold, I'd earn 7,890 award miles.  The "P" class fare would give me an incremental 3,945 United miles which I value at about $80.  Even discounting the extra PQMs, is flying upfront worth $120 each?  The flight is expensive so I don't think it's that good of a deal but certainly interesting that the flight is only pricing $100 more upfront each way.

June 21, 2014

Pre-Trip Prep: Logistics

Over the past couple of weeks, I've posted about how to maximize your stays by reaching out to the hotel prior to arrival and how to make the most of your flights by selecting seats and meals prior to departure.  Today's post will focus on logistics.  I've found that being prepared can really make a long haul trip much smoother so here are some of the things I do in the weeks leading up to the trip.

1)  Build an Itinerary

When I was a kid and we would go on family vacations, my Mom would make these intense folders containing all the information about our destination.  Maps, articles, restaurant reviews, etc...I think the internet has made things a lot easier where it's much more manageable to rely on your phone as both a guide book and a "trip folder."  But I've found (especially in Asia) that having a printed copy of things is super helpful.  You may be asked for a confirmation number, the address of your hotel, or the credit card in which you booked your flight.  

So I always build an electronic (and then print several copies) itinerary containing our flights, hotels, lounge options, who we confirmed activities with, has really come in handy on more than a few occasions.  Plus, it's an easy way to provide your friends and family with your trip plans and contact information.  I actually put it in a folder (my Mom would be so proud) for each country I'm visiting and put it in my carry on bag.

June 8, 2014

Pre-Trip Prep: Flights

Last week, I posted about how to maximize your stays by reaching out to the hotel prior to arrival.  Today's post will cover the same concept but for flights.

Let's say you have an upcoming long haul trip (as we do to Bali) to an exotic location.  Let's say it's for a special occasion:  a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, etc...You have saved your hard earned points/miles, maybe signed up for a credit card bonus or two, and successfully redeemed your miles/points for some great flights.  Here are a few tips to maximize your journey:

  • Get partner airline record locator numbers

When booking an award with multiple alliance partners, you'll typically receive a confirmation number for the airline with whom you booked the ticket.  So for our upcoming flight to Bali, we booked through United yet out flying on United, Asiana, and Thai.  The United confirmation number is key to selecting seats/meals/making adjustments to the United portion but I don't really care about that since it's a simple three hour flight to NYC.

What I do care about (at least for purposes of this post) is the next 23 hours of flying in Asiana and Thai premium cabins.  To get the confirmation numbers, simply call up United and ask for them.  Write them down as you will need them later!  You can also email customer service of the airline you are flying on (i.e. Asiana, Thai) and provide your name, flight number, and date and they should be able to respond back with their confirmation number.  I have done this successfully with Thai many times.  They have a reservations office in LA and usually respond back within 12 hours.

June 3, 2014

Pre-Trip Prep - Hotels

We're just about a month away from our trip to Bali.  I'm going to start a series on pre-trip preparation (hotels, flights, lounges, packing, etc...) as a lot of people have asked me how we prepare for a long haul trip.  For the most part, this is all basic common sense but if you remember to do it prior to your trip, I think you'll end up more prepared

Once our hotels are locked in, I search online for an email address for reservations, the concierge, front office manager, etc...These are usually pretty easy to find and with luxury hotels are typically located on the website.

I will forward along my confirmation (which includes my name, elite status, room type, rate, etc...) to that person a month before arrival.  The content of my message depends on the particular stay but for our Bali hotels, I wanted to confirm our room type, let them know it was our wedding anniversary and about food allergies, ask about transportation options to the properties.  I always ask for an upgrade via email (you won't get one if you don't ask) and it has actually worked a couple of times (Conrad Singapore and Park Hyatt Istanbul are good examples).  We loved the Executive Lounge at the Conrad Singapore so I specifically asked for an upgrade to that floor in my email stating that we were there last year, are Gold HHonors members, etc...

I heard back from each property within 12 hours.  We've gone back and forth a few times (there is a 14 hour time difference) to work out the details.  I now have confirmations for transportation, VOA (Visa on Arrival) service, and our arrival times.  I will print out the emails prior to our trip and put them in my "trip folder" in my carry-on.

Again, this is all common sense but can be really helpful to get everything squared away prior to departure.  It makes things go a lot smoother and helps to manage expectations.