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Author: Hemal

Frequency of Posts

Frequency of Posts

Hey everyone, I’ve recently gotten to writing for Airline Geeks so this blog will be a bit of a back burner for my musings and thoughts that I don’t put on Airline Geeks.

Check out the excellent posts of very many talented writers at Airline Geeks!

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Planes Are Not Buses with Wings

Planes Are Not Buses with Wings

Every so often when I’m chatting with someone and I’ll get the “planes are just buses with wings” line. That along with the phrase “long story short,” are probably the two series of words that irritate me like no other.

Planes are absolutely magical creations. They’re the epitome of human ingenuity. They are fantastic and beautiful precision machines that effortlessly shake off the bounds of gravity and soar through the sky. Commercial aviation and flying have become a madness for me, a kind of madness that actually keeps me sane. If I don’t get on a plane every few weeks I start to get very very antsy. I don’t like to fly, I have to fly.

Flight has come a long way from the original Wright Flyer in 1903. Also, yes, that is THE ORIGINAL Wright Flyer below. I snapped a pic while at the National Air and Space Museum in DC

We went from this: the original Wright Flyer

 

To this giant metal machine. Photo credit: David Daskal

On every one of my flights I eagerly anticipate take off. That turn onto the runway followed by the sound of the engines never gets tiring. Soon enough you’re pressed back into your seat and before you know it you’re effortlessly gliding off into the air, accomplishing a feat that until only recently we thought was impossible.

Just the thought of being several miles up in the air traveling at over 500 mph makes me feel great. To some people the sky is the limit, for me the sky is home. Take a window seat and just spend some time looking outside, do it enough and the magic of what you’re able to do will hit you like a ton of bricks. Once that happens you’ll be possessed by the madness that the fellow aviation geeks share and there is no turning back.

Not to mention, the views are fantastic. The pictures below speak for themselves

Approach at ORD
Not exactly sure where this is but I love it: Photo credit Tim Jones

 

Somewhere in Canada between Calgary and Toronto
A view of the Jersey Shore
One of my favorites: I was on a KC-10 flying over the Atlantic taking part in an aerial refueling exercise

However, I don’t just have an affinity for planes, airports are amazing too. They’re huge melting pots, people are flying all over the world and for that brief period of time you’re part of their lives and they’re part of yours. In the departure area you see families hugging their loved ones goodbye. In arrivals you see families eager to finally see their loved ones return from their journey. They’re our connection to the rest of the world. All I have to do is take an Uber 15 minutes to EWR and hop on a plane and I can be halfway around the world in a few hours.

 

I don’t really understand how people aren’t amazed by the fact there are giant metal tubes that can fly in the sky across the globe. Try explaining this concept to someone 150 years ago and they’ll think you’re insane.

As our buddy Leonardo Da Vinci said, “when once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return”

I hope next time you’re on a plane you really take a few minutes to think about how amazing it is.

Cathay Pacific First Class JFK-YVR

Cathay Pacific First Class JFK-YVR

Cathay Pacific first class is one of the best first class products out there. The relatively open seat design is considered by some to be lackluster in comparison to many of the newer international first class products out there which feature completely enclosed suites. In my personal opinion however the Cathay Pacific seat is fantastic and I’ve had some of the best sleep I’ve ever had on a plane in that seat. Any shortcomings that may arise from the hard product is more than compensated for by the soft product. The crew was absolutely phenomenal in every sense. From the moment I boarded to the time I left I was constantly looked after and their proactive service was amazing.

Cathay Pacific First Class Seat. It’s over 30 inches wide and two people could have comfortably sat there. It was so big it felt a bit odd sitting there.

This flight required quite some time of preparation to book since Cathay doesn’t like to release many award seats until close to departure. Finding availability on the JFK-YVR route wasn’t too difficult, it just had to be timed right. This ticket was booked using 32,500 AAdvantage miles pre-devaluation.

The flight doesn’t depart until 9:55PM and I was a bit too enthusiastic about my arrival to JFK as check-in didn’t open until approximately 6:30PM. I may or may not be writing this trip report a bit late but at the time Cathay operated out of Terminal 7. First class check in was in that back section where British Airways has their premium cabin check-in. The entire process was relatively smooth until I hit the premium security line which was about 40 people deep and moving slowly. Not that premium I’d say. As a first class passenger I had access to both the British Airways first and business class lounges and BA preflight dining. The British Airways first class lounge is a dark and dreary room that I’d feel sorry for any passenger having to sit in. I immediately left and went into the far superior business class lounge. At least that had proper lighting, seats, and power outlets.

Preflight dining wasn’t too much to rave about. On the menu was clam chowder, Thai style chicken, and your standard sides. When bored might as well eat right? Though some would say that I prioritize eating too much. As of early 2017 Cathay Pacific is moving operations to Terminal 8 at JFK so with that will come a much better terminal and access to the AA Flagship lounge which is definitely much nicer than that drab BA lounge.

Upon boarding, I was immediately shown to my seat by a flight attendant and immediately brought over pajamas and an amenity kit. I was surprised I got the pajamas considering that I was only flying to Vancouver but hey, I’m not complaining.

Pajamas and Amenity Kit

I was immediately offered some Krug which I continued to enjoy for the duration of the flight. With flight attendants insisting you keep drinking $200 champagne who can say no?

I’ll take Krug over Dom any day

The Western menu choices didn’t seem too appealing to me at the time so I went with the Asian option. At that time, I really didn’t know how to use chopsticks and was too embarrassed to ask for a fork so I had to learn fast. Needless to say the meal was quite good.

Menu, sorry for the blurry pic and finger

Meal service:

Braised pork with vegetables
Assorted cheeses
Green tea cake with cappuccino and champers
Johnny Walker Blue Label because I may or may not have been trying to best a personal record

For an hour or so I continued watching some movies while dozing off, I had gotten up to use the lav and the flight attendants must have read my mind because once I got back just a few minutes later my bed was made with the mattress pad and everything.

By far one of the best beds in the sky, taken right before I fell asleep

Hours later I woke up and went back to the lav, all that champagne was working its way through. When I got back all the bedding was taken away and seat back in seat mode. Plus I had another cappuccino waiting. Flight attendants also put in a lovely orchid at your seat while you’re asleep.

This was by far one of the best first class flights I’ve taken. The proactive service was unmatched. Next on the list is to fly it all the way to Hong Kong

SWISS FIRST CLASS REDEMPTIONS ON AEROPLAN

SWISS FIRST CLASS REDEMPTIONS ON AEROPLAN

Swiss first class is one of the hardest first class mileage redemptions to get. It’s only available for their super elite Senator and Hon level elite members in their shared with Lufthansa Miles & More program. For a few years it was impossible to book Swiss first class using United/Aeroplan/Lifemiles. However just today while stumbling around Aeroplan I found this!

Swiss

 

I reached out to Gary at View From the Wing and Ben at One Mile at a Time and confirmed that it was indeed bookable.

 

BOOK NOW !

Star Alliance Redemptions: United Airlines

Star Alliance Redemptions: United Airlines

The largest alliance by far is Star Alliance. The alliance was founded on May 14, 1997 among five airlines across three continents: Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and United Airlines.

We’ll be focusing on United Airlines and their mileage program called United MileagePlus for now as these miles are easily accessible for most people here in the United States.

 

There are several ways to earn United miles. The first way is of course to fly with them. However unless you are a big spender that isn’t very lucrative. United doesn’t award miles based on miles flown, instead it is a combination of how much you paid for your ticket plus any elite status you may have as shown in the chart below:

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Using Your Miles- Part 1 Learning about Alliances

Using Your Miles- Part 1 Learning about Alliances

So you’ve diligently collected miles now what? Well, you’ve got to use them. The best way to do is by using your miles for award tickets for cheap flights and not on things like toasters in the airline’s shopping portal.

There are so many kinds of miles and so many different ways to use them. This series will be a multi-part series where I will discuss how to use miles among the three major global alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and Skyteam. Along with one “partnership” run by Etihad.

Star Logoow logoSkyteam_Logo_Alliance

Etihad Partners

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Earn Miles Fast With Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

Earn Miles Fast With Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

In an earlier post I briefly touched upon getting miles from credit card bonuses. This has been something that many people have asked about.

Banks make money off credit cards through annual fees, transaction fees they charge to merchants, and off interest they charge to people that keep a balance on their credit cards. This concept is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp. There is nothing too complex about credit cards, however how are banks supposed to win over customers when they’re all basically offering the same product. The is to provide benefits for having a credit card with a certain bank.

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Different Ways to Earn Miles

Different Ways to Earn Miles

Airline miles are what I mainly use to fly on long haul business and first class flights internationally at great value. They can be used for many things too, from redeeming flights to buying toasters. Usually the best value is to use your airline miles for flights since you get the most bang for your mile out of it.

Now before we go into how to use airline miles for travel we must first discuss how to earn them. There are many many ways miles can be earned, the three main ways to earn miles is what we will focus on in depth first. Later I’ll post on some ancillary ways to earn miles. 

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Everyone Loves Rules

Everyone Loves Rules

These rules are more for me and fellow contributors than anything. There are a lot of travel blogs out there and not all of them have the best interests of the readers at heart. Many travel blogs are used as a source of income for bloggers and conflicts of interest due arise.

This blog is currently not a source of income for me but way grow to be in the future. Therefore, I am pledging now that I will do my best to ensure any posts are free of any bias or hidden agenda. If anything contains a referral link it will be disclosed. If it’s an affiliate link that I receive commission from, it will be disclosed.

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The Point

The Point

This blog is going to be a fun collection of three things that I’ll outline below:

  1. My posts: Of course I’ll be posting tips and tricks on how to maximize your travel experience. However I’ll also be posting my thoughts on the various goings on of the airline industry. This blog won’t just be a place to come and see how to use your points but it will be a place to learn about the industry itself. My trips will be outlined in trip reports as they happen and posted for everyone to see if I think they’re worthy.
  2. Contributors: This won’t be a one man mission. As amazing as I am I can’t possibly do everything. A lot of my dear friends travel too and are willing share their amazing experiences with us. You’ll frequently see their posts on here. They are as integral to the life of this blog as I am. I’ve got several lined up and I’ll introduce them all to you as they come along.
  3. You guys: The readers. I hope you enjoy our posts and I encourage comments and discussion, however please keep it civil. Eventually I’ll figure out how to set up a forum on here. It will be a place for you all to post questions and discuss topics with other readers outside of the comments section of posts. People are more than welcome to post their travel stories in the forums. Once we get some momentum going I’ll start featuring any notable ones on the main page!

Eventually I’ll get the below to work

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