American Airlines Status Challenge Trip to London: Intercontinental Park Lane

By Nick – Random Segments

The hotel choice for this trip was easy.  As I’m sure anybody who has priced hotels in London knows, the rates are insane.  Thus I was going to make it an award stay, and since the Intercontinental Park Lane honors Royal Ambassador benefits on award stays, might as well stay there and get one last night in as a Royal Ambassador.


I arrived in the hotel about noon, and was checked in quickly.  Service was friendly, and they confirmed at the front desk that all Royal Ambassador benefits would be honored.  It was obvious that the hotel was busy.  Fortunately the service was acceptable, though nothing that blew me out of the water.

The Room

I was upgraded to an executive room.  All this means is a larger room, with a good view of Hyde Park.  I was on a higher level, though the room was nothing spectacular.  Of particular note is below the desk, the power outlets along the wall are of differing varieties for the power requirements of various countries.  Thus, if you happen to be short on adaptors, you have at least one outlet that requires no conversion or adaptor.  With the proper charger (I have a dual usb charger), you do not have to worry about not being able to charge your phone and your iPad after the long international flight.

I ended up wanting to take a nap immediately after getting in.  However, while I was napping, my ambassador amenity and gift was delivered.  I did not notice it until I went over to the table by the door to see this:


And for those of you wondering, those shortbread cookies are the Royal Ambassador gift.  An extremely underwhelming amenity, especially when you compare it to what other hotels of a similar class offer.  

The bathroom is nice and spacious, with the standard high class soaps, this time from elemis.


And that little box has the standard personal care items.


The View

I had a room on the Hyde Park side, so I had a wonderful view of the park, and its winter festivities.



If you want to experience the high end, this hotel is wonderfully located, just one Tube station down from Harrods, and other high end shopping.  As an additional bonus, it is located on the Piccadilly line, so no hassle transferring trains, or paying the inflated prices of the Heathrow Express, and then navigating to where you want to go in the Tube network.  The Tube station is right accross the street from the hotel, however it is quite a maze to get to the hotel, as the you have to exit the station, and then go into another underground pathway to get on the right side of the hotel.  Also, even though the hotel is on Park Lane, you have to go down one block on Piccadilly and enter on Hamilton Place.


A decent hotel, but not worth the inflated UK prices.  A great use of points though.  The location and easy access give it a leg up on many other high end hotels, especially if you are trying to do London somewhat on a budget (remember, the exchange rate from the US is $1.5-$1.75 US Dollars per Pound).


Wonderful Customer Service from the AAngel at the Admirals Club in Toronto

By Nick – Random Segments

One of the exciting things about traveling on the last day of a holiday is the various issues that can pop up.  I actually encountered one today when I wanted to get a 30 day Admirals Club pass when I entered the club in Toronto (With the amount of travel I have in the next month, a 30 day membership is a reasonable fee to pay).  The computer network decided to crash just as I arrived.  Fortunately, the agent was wonderful.  At first he told me to head on in, and relax while he would wait for the computer to come back up.  

Unfortunately, as anyone who has dealt with computer issues on a holiday knows, things never come back as usual.  Now, the agent could have easily just let me finish my visit, and instruct me to get my membership in my connecting city.  However, he went above and beyond, by actually writing up an entry letter to give me access for the next week until everything is fixed within the system.

And while the letter may not seem that special, it is a little touch that tries to make the travel experience as seamless as possible, even when there are serious computer issues.  So tonight, I get to enjoy the Admirals Club here in Toronto (Review Coming), as well as the one in Chicago, and Headquarters will sort it alll out in the morning.  Not a bad way to finish the holiday.

Ralph Hoffman, this is a shout out to you. Thank you for going above and beyond in delivering excellent customer service.


Meet Up With Other Flyers Doing Mileage Runs for Double and Triple Elite Qualifying Miles on American Airlines

By Nick – Random Segments

Now that the calendar has turned to January, the focus has shifted from getting status for 2012 to getting status for 2013.  With the Double Elite Qualifying Miles promos from American Airlines, there are people trying to figure out how to get there as quickly as possible.  Thanks to confirmation from American, those able to take advantage of the promo for flights between LAX/SFO and ORD or DFW can stack the offers, so they can actually earn Triple Elite Qualifying Miles.  And since the period for the all member double elite qualifying miles period runs through the end of January, the hardcore travelers are doing mileage runs like crazy.

To that end, there are different threads tracking where people are going.  For the mileage run meetup thread on Flyertalk, they are focusing on those who are taking advantage of TEQM, to gather statistics on anybody going from zero to elite, as well as tracking upgrade percentages.  Over on milepoint, the meetups are a little more general.  In addition, I have created a google doc where anybody can add their information, and sort through it as they wish.  

So if you are taking advantage of the offer and want to meet up with other fliers doing the DEQM or TEQM mileage runs, you know where to find them.


Year End Review: Who I’ve flown and Where I’ve Been Summary

By Nick – Random Segments

Overall, this year has been a very light year for me because of some things going on in my personal life.  However, I have been able to gain some new destinations and routes along the way in my travel this year.  So without further adieu, the new cities I have been to or through this year:

  • Vancouver
  • Seattle
  • London
The more interesting thing has been the new lines I’ve encountered this year, and already looking for some more new lines in January of the new year:
Or to put it more in perspective:
And two two new carriers:
  • American Airlines
  • American Eagle
Overall, not too bad of a year, and I finally knocked off the last of the American legacy carriers off my list.  And for other carriers that I have flown this year, even though I may have flown them previously:
  • United
  • Continental
  • Delta
  • Shuttle America
  • Air Canada
  • Jazz Air
  • Express Jet
  • Atlantic Southeast Airlines
And then there are the lounges.
As for hotels, I knocked off quite a few new hotels to the list:
While not as impressive as some, not too bad considering I had a job change and was unable to do much serious travel during the first 9 months of the year.

American Airlines Status Challenge Trip to London: Economy on AA Internationally

By Nick – Random Segments

Let me preface my comments by saying that I am 6’5.  Thus I am a lot more sensitive to legroom than many travelers.  So if you are shorter, take my comments with a grain of salt.  

Overall, the flight was exactly as I expected, mediocre food, crushing legroom, and an average flight crew.  For my flight out, I was able to secure two seats to myself on a 777 by paing the premium seat buyup of $39 (fortunately I won’t have to pay that again).  I was able to get the side seats at the front of Economy, so I was early on in the service order, ensuring I would have my choice of dining.  But for those of you wondering, this is the legroom:


As you can see, it is not a pleasant experience for someone of my height.  Fortunately there was nobody in the row in front of me, so I did not have to worry about someone reclining in front of me.  One big thing that I observed drawing complaints was that AA was still charging for all drinks, even with the meal service.  Especially since this was an overnight flight, and I know many people want to have a drink or two in order to get some sleep since we were to arrive in London at 10:30am.  

For this flight, they offered full meal service, with a beef dish or Cheese Ravioli. I actually went with the beef dish, and really feel that is is appropiate for the flight.  The beef was edible, and the mashed potatoes were flavorless.  However the crime was in the vegatables, which I found quite inedible.


After watching through the Advanced Video Streaming system (Its not AVOD because you have to wait for a new show to start on each program, though it is more options than the old looping film systems.  Shows start about every 15 minutes, but it really is far behind the competition.  Made even worse by AA advertising this system as a Video on Demand system, I really don’t see how this could save money, especially since the 777 is a relatively new aircraft type for American.

I was able to get a couple hours of sleep, mainly by taking over both seats in the row.  About an hour out from LHR, they offered a light breakfast made up of a croissant and jelly.  While nothing major, it is something to put on the stomach before landing.

The blankets were decent, not as good as the old United blankets, but right on par with the new Delta blankets (in fact the main difference is lack of embroidery and a burgandy color instead of red), but certainly better than the blankets currently being given out by United now.


Next Month of Travel: Toronto, to Mileage Runs, to Megado

By Nick – Random Segments

I know, you are still waiting on my report from my status challenge trip to London, and that will start rolling later on this week.  However, I did want to give a preview for all the travel I will be doing in the next month, with new lines, new airlines on some lines, and a wide variety of hotels to explore.  Some of the travel will be done alone, some will be done with a friend, and some will be with a wide group.  

I start off by flying up to Toronto on American, and spending the new years holiday in one of my favorite cities.  Taking no extra time off work, but I do get to enjoy the city, and as the first trip I’ve taken since I started my new job, I’ve decided to splurge and stay at the Park Hyatt Toronto (In addition to it being a little away from the crazy celebrations so I can get some sleep).  I am also using a suite upgrade, because I have 4 upgrades that expire at the end of February, and few trips to really justify the upgrade.  This is a property I have stayed at previously redeeming free Hyatt nights, and it is reasonable, though maybe not up to the standards of some other Park Hyatt properties

Then the next weekend (and I should preface this by saying that my normal weekend is a Sunday-Monday weekend) I am doing a mileage run to DEN, and spending some quality time in the city that was my first work travel trip, just 3 years ago.  This is taking advantage of the DEQM offer on American Airlines, and netting me 6,000 EQM, but with time to enjoy the city.  Denver is one of my favorite cities in the US, just for the views, and the feel of the town.  I’ll be staying at the Grand Hyatt Denver, as it is a property I have heard wonderful things about, and a great rate.  I am also using a suite certificate here, since I will have time, and want to get the full experience at this property.

The following weekend is my true mileage run for the month, with a same day turn to Seattle from Atlanta with Daniel.  Before taking our flight, we will be staying at the Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest.  Its closer to the airport than where I live, and the rates were only slightly more expensive than a Hyatt Place, and I do try and get a better experience.  Nothing special here, and this hotel is nothing more than a place to crash where I do not have to drive out earlier to pick him up.

I will be working the next weekend, so I can enjoy the the oneworld Megado, with Daniel, and a few more friends, as we fly and have lots of fun, getting tours along the way and meeting executives from various airlines.  All in all, a nice month, with 30k EQM, and only using my vacation for the megado.  I couldn’t be happier, and after taking February off from traveling, can decide if I can justify making the run to EXP this year (Since I was looking at renewing Platinum, but with only 20k miles needed to requalify, might go for EXP if the fares are right on some of the foreign partners).