Trip Reports

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Trip Report: Aer Lingus NEW Business Class BOS-DUB

a room with a logo on the wall

Also see: 

After staying at the Hyatt Regency in Boston, and hanging around in Bean Town for the better part of the day, we headed to the airport around 6pm for the 9pm flight. Check-in and security went quickly, and after only about 20 minutes, we were in the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge in Terminal E waiting to board. After enjoying the small lounge for a short while, we boarded around 8:20pm.

First impressions

There’s something so great about experiencing a brand new product. Aer Lingus recently refreshed their business class cabins (late April, according to the booklet at the seat).

We were assigned to seats 3D and 3G, both aisle seats in the middle of the cabin. I had 3G.

First impressions were… WOW. It looks so fresh. The cabin is done up in shades of gray with splashes of emerald and lime green, which is gives it a very distinct, chic look. They made sure to put their clover branding all over everything – it was done well and added cohesion. It looked and felt very modern, and I was positively giddy to have this flight experience.

The plane was an Airbus 330-300 and right away, I started to feel a little more Irish.

It was a dark overnight flight, so forgive the graininess of some of the photos below!

The seat

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Review: Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge @ BOS

By the time you read this, I will be in the air on Aer Lingus headed to Dublin (assuming you read this within the next 7 hours. Hmmm… that opening line doesn’t hold up well to posterity).

I booked the coveted BOS-DUB award with 50,000 British Airways Avios for a round-trip ticket. And now, I’m in Boston at the Aer Lingue Gold Circle Lounge.

A few notes

The Boston airport is super cute. I’m sure I’ve been here before, but my travels pre-Out and Out are such a jumbled blur in my mind that I can’t remember where, when, or how. It reminds me of AUS airport somehow, although with way more international flights. I spotted Icelandair, WOW!, Swiss, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways in Terminal E. I… had no idea that there were so many routes out of here. Very cool.

The Aer Lingus lounge is super small. It’s really just one open room. They do a good job of squeezing in a lot of seating, and it doesn’t get seem like it gets too crowded. There are no bathrooms in here though, and definitely no showers. Very limited services and limited hours, too. Just 3:30pm-8:30pm. I’m thinking they’re only open for the BOS-DUB and BOS-SNN flights, then they close up shop.

The Boston airport is easily accessible to/from the city via the T Silver Line. It’s literally 20 minutes to downtown Boston. I didn’t know this before this trip. If you’re keen to take public transportation, I’d recommend looking into this option!

The lounge

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Trip Report: Riding On Amtrak Business Class NYP-BOS


I’ve been a bad boy here lately with the updates. Between the Airbnbs, real estate, freelance articles, and other bits of life, I’ve had to neglect my posting schedule. The upshot, though, is that I’ve been getting ready for my first trip to Ireland, and am now writing this on an Amtrak train from somewhere in Connecticut.

Tomorrow is the day of the British Airways devaluation, and I was lucky to’ve booked BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus in business class (there is still some availability in October and Novermber FYI!). It’s an award I’ve long wanted to redeem, and in light of the devaluation, I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger. I was already going to Ireland anyway (on a Delta attack fare), but then when this happened, I pushed up my trip and redeemed some British Airways Avios. This particular award will be increasing from 50K round-trip to 75K round-trip. Still not bad for business class to Europe, but less is obviously better.

Anyway, being based in New York, I had to get myself to Boston. Getting back from Boston was easy: 4,500 Avios BOS-LGA and boom. But going to Boston, availability was dismal.

Redeeming Ultimate Rewards for Amtrak

NYC is Amtrak heaven. New Yorkers can get to nearly anywhere in New England, the Northeast, or Mid-Atlantic in just a few hours with relative ease.

The last time I rode Amtrak was probably in 2008 when I went down to DC for a weekend – but my memories of it don’t exactly allow for a full trip report. 😉

This time, however, I’m in business class at a seat with a table, connected to the (very very spotty) wifi, and writing a blog post with a rum and Coke Pepsi from the snack car next to me. Safe to say life is pretty good right about now.

There are blackout dates on Amtrak. Luckily, April 27th isn’t one of them. The blackout dates are centered around the holidays: New Year, Easter, July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, with a couple random dates through in throughout the year. If you want to travel any time that isn’t a holiday, you’re pretty much golden.

To boot, their zones are large and generous, and redeeming Ultimate Rewards for a bedroom or a business class ticket can make since if:

  • You want to experience the country by train
  • You have time to take the train
  • The train experience to where you wanna go will be roughly equal to flying (ahem, NYC-BOS or NYC-WAS)
  • You have to travel and simply must stay connected to a cell network
  • Flights aren’t available but the Amtrak availability is wide open (my case)
Amtrak zones

Amtrak zones

Here is a the Amtrak zone map and here is the list of award redemptions by zone.

NYP-BOS falls into the Northeast zone, so a regular ticket is 4,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points. However, I redeeemed 6,500 points to be in the business class car. It was only a little more and still met my 2 cents per point minimum, so I went with that.

Screenshot 2015-04-27 12.13.49

Northeast zone chart

Note that you can only redeem points for one-way tickets. So if you need a round-trip, you will have to redeem for two one-way tickets.

My ticket selection

My ticket selection

The photo above is the price for two one-way business class tickets AKA 13,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points. That’s still 2.2 cents per point, and a great stopgap when flights from NYC-BOS were over $400 for a one-way and there was no award availability on American or US Airways with Avios! And also better than paying cash…

Over $400 for a one-way

Over $400 for a one-way

$431 for a one-way flight that’s a little over an hour? No way. Amtrak was the best option for this trip.

The experience

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Trip Report: Swiss A330-300 Business Class JFK-ZRH

a seat with a pillow and a bag on it

I paid for this fare after seeing it pop up on The Flight Deal as a fare attack by Star Alliance on Skyteam hubs. It cost me $1,487 R/T for Business Class on Swiss and the routing was JFK-ZRH-VCE-ZHR-EWR.

Now, when I see fare deals like this, I’m always torn between being totally impulsive and trying to think it through. This deal was on a multitude of Star Alliance partners, so I wanted to pick one that A). I’d never flown before and 2.) that would credit well to United.

Why United? They have a non-stop flight from EWR-MEM (only one of two – the other is Delta from LGA-MEM) and those flights can be either dirt cheap or prohibitively expensive. I knew I wanted to go see my Mom in the near future, and thought I could use the miles I’d earn from this booking to book the most expensive leg of a round-trip ticket, which is exactly what ended up happening.

Screenshot 2015-01-25 10.46.05

I earned 12,493 miles from these flights – 7 miles short of a free domestic one-way

The flight to go see my Mom for Christmas was pricing out at around $450 each way on United – yes, over $900 round-trip.

I redeemed all the miles earned on these Swiss flights for a Christmas trip to visit my Mom on United and got a value of ~4 cents per mile, which is awesome. I also picked up a REDbird card while I was down there. And I got to go to Venice for my birthday – thanks to this fare.

Free flight to Memphis

Free flight to Memphis

Anyway, that’s the story behind the booking, back to Swiss business class.

The flight

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Review: Air France Lounge @ TXL

Quick note: both of the posts so far today (10/11/14) have poo-pooed various things. I do not like to focus on negativity, but want to be honest. There are lots of good things coming, I promise! 

Air France Lounge entrance @ TXL

Air France Lounge entrance @ TXL

As part of Eurotrip 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the Air France lounge following my unannounced schedule change to an Airberlin flight TXL-JFK.

I showed up two hours early, and was oddly directed to the Air France lounge even though there was a British Airways lounge on the floor beneath it (?). I don’t know what kind of crazy voodoo AB worked out with AF but whatever. I was early and was in need of coffee.

This lounge sucks. Read More

Trip Report: Lufthansa First Class YYZ-MUC

a display of a drink and glasses on a counter

Way back in November 2013, United announced they were devaluing partner award redemptions. Shortly after, Lufthansa announced a new route from YYZ-MUC aaaand… First Class award availability was wide open for months out. How many months out? Nearly a whole year – which is a lot longer than the usual 15 days.

While the rest of the blogosphere was stuck on “Summer 2014” availability, I kept going through the rest of the months. Munich… October… OMG Oktoberfest! – was exactly my train of thought. I redeemed a one-way to Munich and left the rest to chance. Didn’t want to burn up too many of my Ultimate Rewards points. Plus, I wanted to keep the trip open-ended. I’m not one to plan months and months in advance, so this was quite a leap of faith for me.

The flight

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Trip Report: British Airways Business Class ORY-LHR-JFK

Also see:

I won’t spend as much time on this one since I just outlined BA/OpenSkies biz class in the link above. That post talked about flying there EWR-ORY, but in this one, I want to talk about getting back.

It cost slightly more Avios points because we flew ORY-LHR-JFK instead of direct. Since it’s priced per segment, I spent 49,000 Avios + ~$400 on these flights, which would’ve retailed for over $6,000.

The differences

For the ORY-LHR segment, we got the usual intra-European “business class” which is just regular seats with the middle one blocked out. The flight was only an hour, and I wasn’t expecting much, if anything. To my surprise, we were served a course of afternoon tea.

BA tea service - SO CUTE!

BA tea service – SO CUTE!

The other big difference was that instead of a Boeing 757-200 like the flight over, we flew back on a 747-400 for LHR-JFK which had… Read More

Trip Report: British Airways OpenSkies Club World Class EWR-ORY

As part of my recent trip to Paris, I got to fly from EWR to ORY on OpenSkies, a subsidiary of British Airways that flies exclusively from NYC-Paris. They have one flight that leaves from EWR and another from JFK. Due to award availability, I dragged myself over to EWR, but was really excited to take this flight.

This is a unique product for British Airways because it’s one of the few routes they fly that don’t involve a connection at LHR, which can add a lot of extra money in dreaded fuel surcharges. I did pay ~$450 + 40,000 Avios for the flight, but in my eyes, it was completely worth it. This flight often retails for over $7,000!

Click here to read about the award redemption for this flight in more detail.

The seat and flight

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Trip Report: Delta First Class JFK-SLC-SEA and Business Class SEA-JFK

I was a bad boy for both flights and showed up at the airport in time to hop into the boarding lane and sit down at my seat. The events leading up to both points were harried. Teeth were knashed, hands were wrung, but I made it. I didn’t have time to make a visit to the new SkyClub at T4, though I was very close it. I’ve been there before and wasn’t overly impressed. If anything, I would’ve liked to’ve seen if the recent Amex Platinum Card changes have thinned the ranks somewhat, because last time was a crowded, near-hellish experience. And at SEA, I didn’t want to miss any of FTU so left as late as possible.

I do have to give it to Delta. They’ve got things figured out. Their operations are great, they’re profitable, and the flights I were on were damn near full. Good for them.

I wish Delta’s SkyMiles program was different. I wish they treated their partners like partners and not bastard stepchildren (American, by contrast, treats their partners very well). I wish they’d step off of this revenue kick they’ve been on lately and keep things like how they were before. But that’s all “wishful” thinking.

The flights

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Review: Etihad Pearl Class MEL-AUH

I was beyond excited to get on this flight, for a number of reasons. It was the capstone to an amazing trip, afforded us a day in Abu Dhabi, and I had two Lufthansa flights (my first!) to look forward to after the day passed.

I hoped that somehow, some way, mayyybeeee, we’d get upgraded to Diamond Class. I knew the cabin was full when I booked, but stuff happens, and I had hope. I asked at checkin at AUH (which was smooth as silk and the agent was textbook perfect) about the upgrade, but there weren’t any. But I didn’t care. We were invited into the (name of lounge) and waited there until the flight left off at THREE A.M. This was the earliest/latest flight I’ve ever taken so I was curious about how they’d worked out the timing of the meals and what amenities would be offered. The lounge was fantastic, but by the time 2am rolled around, I was veritably nodding off.

First impressions

We boarded the flight and quickly found our seats. Walking through the Diamond Class cabin was rough, though. Those suites are gorgeous, opulent, spacious… everything that everyone says about them. The colors used on the plane are wonderful neutrals with black and white splashes here and there (i.e. the famous black and white striped pillows). As soon as I saw those pillows in the seat, I could already feel the comfort setting in. And it felt NICE.

Seat in Etihad Pearl Business Class

Seat 7F in Etihad Pearl Business Class

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Trip Report: LAN Premium Business Class MEX-LIM-EZE-SCL

After spending way too much for a mimosa at the underwhelming Amex Centurion Lounge, I made my way to the gate, amped to be back on LAN again for another big trip (the first was MIA-SCL-IPC-SCL-MIA in May).

I really like this airline and am glad they’re a part of Oneworld. After switching terminals at MEX, I was ready to set my bags down and relax. Boarding at MEX is always kind of a bleepshow, so I was really glad to be in business and sidestep most of that. Then finally, I was on the plane.

Before takeoff

Settling into the seat felt familiar, and the flight attendants were immediately welcoming and gracious. There was nothing at my seat, but I knew from flying them before that pillows and duvets were in the overhead compartment and that magazines and amenity kits were distributed after boarding. There was a menu in the seat back pocket, so I took a look at the options. Then the FAs came around to offer beverages and ahem, warm nuts, so I got a red wine, a water, and yes, the nuts. 🙂

Seat 4A

Seat 4A

Wine, water, and nuts

Wine, water, and nuts (and seat controls)

Ample leg room

Ample leg room

Shoes in the cubby

Shoes in the cubby 

Dinner options

Dinner menu cover

Dinner menu cover

Entrees and desserts

Entrees and desserts



After takeoff

Shortly after takeoff, the FAs came around with the amenity kits: brown or dark grey for men and cream/off-white for women.

Men's amenity kit

Men’s amenity kit

This kit contained socks, ear plugs, a pen, lip balm, lotion, and a disposable garment bag.

Amenity kit contents

Amenity kit contents

Right after I explored the contents of the kit, the purser came over to take dinner orders. I selected the grilled steak, curious to see if it would be any good. For dessert, I chose the caramel blancmange, which had the consistency of flan.

Grilled steak entree

Grilled steak entree

2013-11-23 17.01.14

And of course a Bailey’s :p

The steak was actually quite good. Not as tender as I would’ve liked, but still very flavorful. The sides were well-portioned, and I ended up eating everything on my tray, salad and dessert included. I also ordered another glass of wine, after which I was about ready to pass out as this was an overnight flight.


Right after the dinner service, the cabin was dimmed. I fell asleep and woke up when we were descending into LIM. After that, a short layover, then a short flight to EZE. I slept the ENTIRE TIME. Like, from the moment I entered the plane until it touched down. Didn’t order anything, just put the seat into the lie-flat position and slept for the 3.5 hour flight. It felt so nice.

The layover at EZE was only one hour. We kept the same plane, but I had to switch gates, which was “e-eze” enough. Then one more short flight into SCL.Again with seat 4A.

Cabin interior

Cabin interior

Shortly after a simple breakfast service, we descended over the Andes in SCL right after sunrise, which was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had on a plane. The business class cabin was mostly empty, and I was able to geek out while taking several pictures of the snow-capped mountains and high-altitude lakes.

Before landing

Above the Andes

Above the Andes

Beautiful high-altitude lake

Beautiful high-altitude lake

Right before, I realized I was dead tired. After all, I’d just had FIVE flights in a row (LGA-ORD, ORD-MEX, MEX-LIM, LIM-EZE, EZE-SCL). I had a day-long layover at SCL to look forward to and was praying that the Holiday Inn at the airport would let me check in early, as I’d be getting there around 10am after getting through customs.

How I felt:



I was ready to shower and sleep. I am glad the last three segments were on LAN, though. They took good care of me.

Bottom line

If you ever get the opportunity to fly LAN’s Premium Business product, it’s well worth it. They are a wonderful airline to have in Oneworld, and certainly make it easy to get to Central or South America. Their product is top-notch. Not opulent like others, but just the right amount of everything. I jump every time I get the chance to fly on LAN.

Thoughts on LAN Premium Business Class MEX-LIM-EZE-SCL-IPC-SCL-MEX

It was crazier than it looks
It was crazier than it looks

Did you read that crazy-ass routing up there? Yeah, I flew that. It’s not the craziest route anyone’s ever done, but I can tell ya this: I WAS TIRED. The flight times were pretty brutal, and the connections were hella tight. The SCL-MEX segment, por empleje, left at midnight and arrived at 6am. I don’t remember LIM-EZE at all. Why? Zzzzz.

However, I can say with confidence that I am familiar with the two iterations of LAN’s Premium Business class product. There’s an old one and a new one, and I’ve flown them both several times by now, esp after my trip to Easter Island in May on LAN. When I saw a cheap fare to Santiago that connected in Easter Island, all in biz, and under $1000, I had to jump. This trip easily net me 50,000 miles, which I value at around $1000 anyway, put the over the Platinum threshold for the year, and gave me a nice amount of upgrade “stickers” on AA. Worth it? Hell yes. AND I got to experience the beautiful city of Santiago. Much Espanol was heard, but very little was spoken.

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