So as we all approach 2013, I can confirm (despite United’s best efforts) that I’ve achieved status as I had hoped:

United – 1K – 102,754 miles and 57 segments

 

 

British Airways – Gold

Hyatt – Diamond – 30 stays and 43 nights

 

 

 

Priority Club – Platinum – with 8 Stays

Now for 2013 my plans will not be the same. I need to keep the United 1K status, for although I have 3 million miles, and so are 1K for life, you only earn the upgrades if you fly 100k miles per annum.

The Hyatt Diamond is given – I’ve managed to keep it for more than 25 years and don’t plan to drop it now.

My quandaries are BA and Priority Club.

BA – I can do it with a few cheap flights to Europe and a Tier Point Run or two in the USA as I am still living in Denmark for BA purposes. However, the reduced qualification level for old Europe members is nearly over and I can get lounge access if I fly a Star Alliance airline with my United status.

Priority Club – this has always been my back-up programme when there are no Hyatt’s or I needed to stay at an airport. Bit, they seem to changing their qualification arrangements to make it VERY hard to qualify for Platinum unless you spend $6k. Seems a bit steep for very little benefit! However, I am only 20 stays away from lifetime Gold with Starwood, so I might press for that this year instead:

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

I have picked a series of the pictures I have published this year on the blog, which I felt sums up my experiences, visits and observations for the year. Enjoy.

The new concourse at King’s Cross Station, a long overdue refresh for the classic London train terminal.

The new concourse at KIng's Cross

The bmi lounge at Heathrow before they were absorbed by British Airways:

The old bmi International Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 1

My last bmi flight, complete with the big seats:

My last bmi flight before they were acquired by British Airways

The closure of Berlin Tegel was much overhyped – it remains open:

The closure of Berlin Tegel proved to be premature

My first flight in British Airways New First:

My first experience of BA New First happened in 2012

The Emirates SkyLine in London:

The Emirates Skyline

The Olympic Flame at Camden Town Station:

The Olympic Torch at Camden Town Station

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu

The beach at Waikiki, Hawaii

The Olympic Park and Velodrome taken during my visit to the Paralympics:

Olympic Park and Velodrome

Sunrise over London from the runway at London City Airport

Sunrise from the London City Airport runway

View from the Control Tower at London City – including the BA aircraft to New York

Taken from the control tower at London City

Firefighters tackle an exercise at City Airport:

Firefighters at London City Airport

View of Olympic Park, post games, from BA1 on the way to New York

View from BA1 leaving London City, after the games were over

Detail from the Hyatt Regency, O’Hare since it’s refresh:

Detail from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare

Sunrise over the Rhine from the Hyatt Mainz

Sunrise over the Rhine from the Hyatt Regency Mainz

Sponsorship of the Hyatt LondonDO 2012

Selfridges lit for Christmas

Selfridges all lit up for Christmas 2012

Detail from the Andaz Amsterdam

Andaz Amsterdam

 

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | Comments are off for this article

As you may remember I had a problem with my flights with Air New Zealand crediting to United.

Recap:

I flew London Heathrow to Los Angeles on a revenue business class ticket with Air New Zealand. I credited this to my United Airlines MileagePlus account where it should have earned 1.5 status miles and credits as well as 1.5 redeemable miles.

The outbound credited OK:

The return did not credit properly:

Later the earning changed again (and not in my favour):

Communications with United:

I initially contacted United on 9 October and they replied on 2 November as follows:

Dear Mr. MilesFromBlighty:

I just spoke with the MileagePlus Service Center and was informed that
there has been issues with crediting the Air New Zealand flights. With
that being said, the representative I spoke with is submitting a manual
request for the appropriate mileage to be credited to your account. I
am told it should appear within the next 2 weeks. Approximate Award
Miles/PQM’s will be 8174, with 1.5 PQS’s, plus the bonus miles of 5449.

Regards,

Corporate Customer Care

I wrote again and on 26 November I received this reply:

Hello MilesFromBlighty:

We’re always glad to hear from Premier 1K members like you. Thanks for writing.
We are hoping that Air New Zealand will correct this problem by the end of the year.  If not, please contact MileagePlus towards the end of December so we can manually fix your account.
Thanks for your loyalty.

Regards,

MileagePlus

And so last week I wrote again and am now told:

Hello MilesFromBlighty:

Thanks for your reply.
We were informed earlier this month that Air New Zealand will fix the miles in mid-January.  At this time, I am not able to process the correction.
Thanks for your loyalty.

Regards,

Tammy DeVries
MileagePlus

 

Outcome:

Now, I am lucky the MileagePlus account shows 102,754 PQM’s for the year so my 1K status is confirmed. Imagine if it showed less than 100k, with me needing the 8,184 miles to re-earn status, all at the whim of a third party airline! That would make it a tense time.

Consequence for United:

My end of year PQM should have been 110,938 and I would have pushed to earn 125,000 in order to earn a couple of extra Regional Upgrades – but with the prospect of earning nothing if United/Air New Zealand fail to fix the problem then why take the risk.

I realise that these are #FirstWorldProblems but if we play the mileage game then my feeling is that it ought to be on a level playing field.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 5 Comments

Matthew, a friend from Austin, Texas is in Europe for a month. His first stop, Bucharest, produced some interesting thoughts:

Blvd Lascar Catargiu

In his 1944 memoir, The Long Balkan Night, Leigh White states, “Bucharest is like no other city in Europe.  Superficially, it reminded me of Tulsa, Oklahoma…Food and liquor cost next to nothing; and mistresses—with mink coats at $350—were no more of a luxury than automobiles…Compared with Bucharest, even Paris was a prude.” Nearly seventy years later, the description remains astonishingly accurate.  Bucharest is a city of corruption haunted by the lingering specter of communism.

Romulus and Remus State, Piata Romana

The veracity of warnings about Bucharest was proven within hours of arriving.  So, yes, the sex workers are bold, the cab drivers are crooks, decay is rampant and the streets are overrun with stray dogs. Bucharest is not a city of great first impressions.  And yet, in spite of these issues, it is the moments of surprising beauty that attain prominence in my memory: the sun emerging after the snow to turn the Palace of Parliament ephemeral in the distance and a magical amber sunset as Christmas lights flicker on over University Plaza.  Wandering Cismigiu Park is a step back in time: the laughter of skaters on the ice, vintage park benches buried under snow and a dizzying array of belle époque roofs above the trees.

Bucharest is also home to a number of fantastic museums.  The Museum of the Romanian Peasant  receives the most praise, but it is the National Museum of Contemporary Art  attached to the Palace of Parliament that caught my imagination.   Currently, the museum is exhibiting a collection of Czechoslovakian Film Posters from 1960 to 1980, a subReal Retrospective and “Please, No Photos,” an exhibition of Angelika Platen’s photography.  I loved the museum, but The Czech Film Posters stand out.  As a record of cinema advertising under a politically restrained regime, the posters evoke history and adopt design elements of minimalism, surrealism and pop-art.  The artists often created their images without viewing the films, drafting based on a title or a brief summary, and in turn producing images fantastic and allegorical.  A lot of my admiration for the museum also stems from Octav in the gift shop.   Friendly and informed, he is a fount of knowledge about local arts and artists.  The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, but call ahead.  The first Saturday I attempted to attend, the museum was closed for a private workshop.

NMAC

Also worth a visit is The Romanian National Museum of Art.  The space may be in need of a facelift, but if you can see beyond the dingy fifties décor, the artwork is spectacular (check out the painting by Aurel Popp and the sculpture by Dmitirie Paciurea) and provides a strong overview of Romanian artists along with the typical European Masters like Monet, Holbein and Seurat.

Park Cismigui

Piaţa Universităţii, Bucharest

Generally speaking, I despise group tours but the one-day, two castles tour by Travelmaker  was exceptional.  The benefit of travel in winter is a relative dearth of tourists, so our group of two plus guide packed comfortably into a Dacia.  Our guide was informed and personable, transforming the tour into an outing with friends rather than a daily hire.  The tour consisted of stops at the Monastery and Peles Castle in Sinaia before heading on to Brasov and Bran Castle.

Peles Castle, Sinaia

Bran Castle

Peles Castles

If at some point you decide to venture into Romania, head the warnings.  Don’t take a cab in Bucharest.  The bus from the airport is convenient and cheap and you don’t have to worry about having your luggage or your life held hostage.  You are better off.  The surprises of the city come from wandering, of finding a historical treasure buried between communist monstrosities.  And bring some sausages with you as you wander.  The strays will appreciate it.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 5 Comments

Lufthansa’s web site has details of a ex-UK sale:

Example from London:

Conditions are as follows:

Purchase by: 02.01.2013

  • Departure period: 23.03.2013-15.08.2013
  • Return period: 29.03.2013-15.11.2013
  • Not valid: 15.04.2013-30.06.2013
  • Minimum stay: 6 days.
  • Maximum stay: 3 months.
  • Subject to availability.

 

Books in to ‘P’ class which earns only 100% in Miles&More, but 150% EQM’s with United.

 

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | Comments are off for this article

For passengers going to/from Heathrow, I am afraid it is not great news but better than nothing:

Piccadilly line
No service would operate through the central area. A limited shuttle service would operate between Acton Town and Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 and between Arnos Grove and Cockfosters.

This really won’t help most travellers.

The full leaflet can be downloaded here

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If you have a booking for this property you are asked to call Hyatt Reservations to discuss it.

Press release

CHICAGO (December 15, 2012) – Santa Barbara Hospitality, N.V., the owner of Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina came to the Resort late Friday evening and informed the Manager on duty that it was taking immediate action to remove Hyatt Corporation’s affiliate Hyatt Curacao N.V. as manager of the Hotel.   Hyatt Curacao N.V has been managing the Resort since it opened in 2010, and Hyatt has been proud to be associated with the Resort.

Hyatt Curacao N.V. denies that owner has the legal right to remove it as manager of the property in this manner.  In late November, in accordance with the terms of the Hotel Management Agreement, Hyatt Curacao N.V. had commenced an arbitration, which is still underway, seeking a declaration of the parties’ rights under the Management Agreement.  The owner, however, has elected to take this precipitous action rather acting as set forth in the Management Agreement to resolve matters in the arbitration.  Hyatt Curacao N.V. will be taking action to protect its rights under the agreement and expects to have control of the resort restored.  Hyatt Curacao N.V. is concerned about the impact of owner’s disruptive action on the Resort, its guests and employees.    

While Hyatt does not believe that Owner has acted properly, until Hyatt has an opportunity to obtain appropriate relief from legal authorities, Hyatt is not in a position to take reservations for the property or to respond to questions about existing reservations. For questions, please call +599 9 840 1234

 

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 2 Comments

I noticed this nice promo

From December 21, 2012 through February 28, 2013 to enjoy:

  • Triple Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points
  • Complimentary Internet
  • Room upgrade, upon arrival
  • 15% discount on spa services during your stay
  • Drink coupon for two signature hummingbird cocktails at our lobby brasserie, Lexington Brass
Simply request Offer Code 48NIW.
A dummy booking for 16-18 Jan showed at 48 Hour sale rate of $207.20 for a Studio or a regular rate of $259 for the same room

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

It appears that the long running dispute about extra payments for working on holidays has produced another strike.

BBC are reporting that Aslef Tube Drivers will be striking on the days listed above.

This makes travel for those from Heathrow difficult as the Heathrow Express is off on 25 & 26 December.

 

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 3 Comments

The Mayor of London has a mini-site giving information about the arrangements of the the New Year’s Eve Fireworks.

For those who missed the 2012 event, the event is on YouTube 2012 London Fireworks

The Salmon Pink areas (Victoria Embankment) are the primary viewing areas and the Yellow Area is overflow. The Blue Lines are the pedestrian Zone.

Tips:

  • Get there early
  • Wrap up warm
  • Be prepared to move from your chosen location if don’t get a good view
  • Plan your trip home before you leave – there are many changes to buses/tubes.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 2 Comments

I used to travel to Kauai a great deal, about 10 years ago. Before the advent of direct flights from the US West Coast, I connected in Honolulu to to Aloha airlines for the short hop to Kauai.

I stopped going for two reason – as a non-driver the taxi fares to/from the Grand Hyatt became hugely costly and the property changed. Rather than charging a room rate they started to add charges for things they used to include. They literally nickle-and-dimed me away.

Well I am pleased to read that the first of these two problems has been solved, although at some cost.

Roberts Hawaii is now running a shuttle service from the airport at Lihue to the Hyatt (and the Koa Kea Hotel and the Marriott Waiohai). It runs $72 for one person return, once you get 4 people it goes down to $23 per person round trip.

The appear to meet you after Security, have porters for your luggage and guarantee no more than 5 stops to your destination.

There are some additional charges you should know about:

Additional luggage (over 2 per person) $5 usd each
Golf Clubs or boxes up to 3’ x 3’ $5 usd each
Surfboard (6’ or less) $15 usd each
Bicycle (must be dismantled) $15 usd each
Car Seats or Strollers no charge

It does seem at the luxury end of the shuttle market, but it might help attract me back to the one place in the world I have found where I am relaxed the minute the plane door opens.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

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