Flying Singapore First in January :)

Thanks to Lucky of One Mile at a Time, I managed to get in on the Singapore Airlines first class bonanza going on right now.  Singapore Airlines is apparently upgrading their reservation system, and first class availability has been left wide open during this upgrade.  While there’s some speculation these tickets might get cancelled out, it’s worth a try (and might end up with compensation).

I ended up booking a trip to Singapore in January, coinciding with the FlyerTalk SingaporeDo in January 2013 🙂  Two of the flights on the trip will be in SQ first (with a leg in ANA business and two US Air firsts), if my current itinerary stands.  I ended up doing this for 160k US Airways Dividend miles + $120, to pare down my large stash of US Airways miles.

Now, fingers crossed that these reservations are honored!

Kojo Nnamdi show episode about airports

This one slipped by me until this evening, but last week the Kojo Nnamdi show did a show about how airports are affecting development of cities.  One of the guests was John Kasarda, the author of the book “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next,” which sounds like an interesting read.  The podcast of the show is highly recommended as well.

Listening to the podcast reminded me of a couple of other interesting stories that I read recently.  There one part where a listener calls with a question about airport noise over neighborhoods near airports.  The Cranky Flier recently wrote an article describing NextGen air traffic control and navigation that JetBlue has installed.  It seems like not only could the technology help save fuel, but maybe it could be used to perform maneuvers (safely) that avoid neighborhoods.

 

On the topic of residential noise, someone mentions in the podcast that in many cases, neighborhoods were built around airports that already existed, and then people who live in these neighborhoods complain about noise.  I’m guessing in some of these cases, people move here because property is cheaper near airports (for the noise reason), so it seems short-sighted on the part of those people to not factor in the reason that for the housing cost being abnormally low.  There are exceptions, as in some cases, runways get added, approach patterns change, etc.  But in general, it just seems like a poor plan to live near an airport.
Another post at Cranky Flier covered how people in Memphis are clamoring for a low cost entrant to bring down the fares Delta charges in the city.  Memphis is a major Delta hub (inherited from the Northwest days),  but it just barely seems to make sense as a hub these days, given the consolidation in the airline industry, and Delta having a couple of nearby hubs already.  I commented on that article, and asked about what the effect of FedEx operating out of that city and airport has (Fed Ex is based in Memphis, and runs a major hub out of Memphis.  I might not’ve used the right words there, but I figured that combination would convey the right idea).

Pet travel on an airplane

I actually caught this on the radio, which is a bit rare since I generally listen to most of my NPR content via podcasts (Downcaster).  Anyway, there was a story on WAMU Animal House about traveling pets.  I do recommend listening to this show, since the text at that link doesn’t say much.  If you don’t want t hear Captain Paul Watson’s illegal fishing stories, you’ll want to skip to later in the podcast when they discuss United lifting it’s limited dog breed ban, and when they talk to dog safety expert Melanie Monteiro about sending your pets on a plane.

My cat, allowed me to tie a bandana on her after she made the transcon journey from California.

When I moved last year, I actually had my cat flown across the country on Continental/United.  I did have someone help me with all the logistics, because I figured it would be better to pay someone to make sure there were no snafus (like missing required documentation), then to add that stress onto everything else going on with a move.

Anyway, among the pet transport planners I talked to, the Continental PetSafe program (now United) was everyone’s favorite, and luckily they flew to DCA.  The most interesting tip that Melanie Monteiro shares is that you should bring a photo of your pet flying, and show the flight attendants, and have them bring the picture to the captain.  Apparently, even though the pet cargo hold is full pressurized, it can still get cold.  According to her, the captain has a switch that can direct additional warm air into the pet cargo hold, so the captain can make your pet’s journey a bit more enjoyable!  I didn’t know that (nor did I fly on the same flight as my cat), so I don’t know if my cat got the benefit of warm air, but at least she made it over ok!

Free Delta miles for signing up for Le Club Accorhotels

View from the Wing reports a promotion where you can get 500 free Delta Skymiles simply by signing up for an account with Le Club Accorhotels.  While Delta miles aren’t generally considered all that valuable  (link is to a post about a debate on Delta Sky Miles that happened at this year’s New York Frequent Traveler University), who can complain about miles that you get for taking a couple minutes to register an account?

Make a Kiva Loan for Randy Petersen

To reiterate posts made by Mommy Points and Frequent Miler, Randy Petersen, who launched the whole miles and points community way back with Flyertalk, had his house seriously damaged by weather while he was traveling.  Traveling to New York to meet with all the Boarding  Area bloggers at the Blog World conference.

Right now, if you sign up for Kiva (and preferably join the Milepoint Kiva Lending Team), you can get a free $25 trial loan to get things started!  Frequent Miler has detailed information and screen shots of the whole signup process, so I encourage you to visit the link to his post.

Thieves might kill the latest scheme

Frequent Miler, who brought us the whole Office Depot 5X Ultimate Rewards AMEX prepaid bonanza, is now also reporting an experience that I recently had at Office Depot.  When I went to refill my gift card last weekend with $1000 worth of reload cards, the cashier at first told me that I had to pay with a debit card.  I mentioned to her that I would prefer a credit card, and I’ve bought these in the past with no issue, so she made a call over her walkie talkie to the manager.  After a nervous 10 seconds, she went ahead and processed my purchase using my trusty Ink Bold card with no further issues.

So I asked her why they had started asking for debit cards, and she said something vague about bad people buying a lot of these cards.  I’d been informed by a friend of mine (knowledgeable on these issues), that these types of prepaid gift cards were used in money laundering schemes, because they can’t really be tracked if someone pays in cash.  So I figured it was something along those lines.  Well, according to Frequent Miler, it’s worse than that, people are just basically stealing these cards out right.

For once, maybe the blame won’t be on bloggers for killing the deal?

United’s layoffs in Houston

I unfortunately didn’t get around to posting this earlier, but as has been reported in several places, United recent announced layoffs in the Houston area because the city approved allowing Southwest to build an international terminal at Houston’s Hobby airport, and being international service.  Now, for those of you who follow Southwest, their international destinations are likely going to be Mexico and the Caribbean.  They won’t be flying to Australia or Asia or any of that, most likely. However, United made this sound like the end of the world, and in addition to the layoffs, they even cancelled their proposed upcoming Houston-Auckland (New Zealand) service on 787s.

I agree with Cranky Flier on this one (who award United his “Cranky Jackass” award).  These were probably planned or needed layoffs, which are typical after a merger, and United is trying to win some points by blaming these layoffs on what the city of Houston has decided to do.  Sure they will face some more competition as a result of the vote, but I highly doubt thinks like Houston to Auckland would be affected by that (plus Southwest will not even be flying out of Hobby internationally for several years).  I think United overplayed their hand on this one…

Star MegaDo IV Launch Party

I’m a bit late posting on this, and the details have been posted by a certain lady (who I hear was also tweeting like mad at the event :), but I was fortunate enough to be able to secure a spot to the SMD IV Launch Party, which was in my backyard at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.  I think because it was in my backyard, I would’ve been particularly disappointed if I hadn’t gotten into this one.  Here’s some pictures of the party:

We first had a presentation from Hyatt (who also hosted the event), which was pretty cool.  This was a slide from their promotion right before they announced their promo associated with the SMD IV:

Well, their big promo turned out to be a call for our frequent flyer community to suggest to them what the promotion should be.  To me, this seemed like a cop out, a call that they’ve run out of  good ideas.  The whole presentation built on how terrific their previous two promotions were, and wondering how they could possible top it, so it was a bit of a let down.  On the other hand, I did hear some people complain that the OneWorld MegaDO promotion was too hard for most people to achieve, so perhaps it is a smart move to solicit our input (if nothing else, they’ve also partially shifted responsibility for a good promo over to those interested now).

Anyway, after that, then we had the main show of the night, which was the MegaDO itinerary, presented by tommy777.  There were several firsts, namely a wide-body and a brand new aircraft.  For more coverage, see View From the Wing’s post (which also links to a few other blogs that covered the party).

Lastly, the night ended with drawings for 25 lucky attendees who were guaranteed seats on the MegaDO.  Like Heels First Travel (who also won United 1K status in the raffle, her lucky night!), I was lucky enough to be among those 25!  I’ll definitely be clearing my schedule and preparing to buy tickets for the MegaDO, and I may do the international portion as well!  I’m waiting on cost and final details before I commit to it, but I think that part would be a lot of fun, if taxing.