SFO-NRT-BKK My First Experience in United International Business Class

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 29-04-2010-05-2008

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I guess it’s been about four years since I first started traveling extensively for work. I’ve been a United 1K for most of that time, and that makes sense as I’m at about 400,000 lifetime miles. However, most of those miles have been earned on domestic routes! In fact, before this past trip, I had never flown internationally on United. Read on to find out about my first SWU / International Business Class experience with United! Read the rest of this entry »

The Trip of a Lifetime – Trip Report(s) Coming Soon!

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Marriott, Travel, United | Posted on 25-04-2010-05-2008

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I just got back from an amazing trip to India / Thailand. I had about 7 days of work that I had to do in India, and I had never even visited Asia before. I set out to try and create an itinerary that maximized my ability to use my United SWUs, see various parts of the world, burn some Marriott points, earn some Marriott points, and have some time for relaxation! I didn’t really have any control over my schedule in India. That was determined by my meetings. However, I DID have control over the beginning and end of the trip, my routing, and what I did on my free days in India.

In the end, I came up with the following itinerary:

April 7: SFO-NRT-BKK on United

April 8 – 10: One day in Bangkok!

April 10: BKK-BOM-MAA on Jet Airways

April 10 – 13: Sheraton Chola Chennai

April 13: MAA-BOM on Kingfisher Airlines

April 13 – 15: Renaissance Mumbai

April 15: BOM-MAA on Jet Airways

April 15 – 16: Courtyard Marriott Chennai

April 16: MAA-DEL on Jet Airways

April 16 – 21: Leela Kempinski Gurgaon

April 21: DEL-BKK-KBV on Jet Airways / Thai Airways

April 21 – 24: Phulay Bay, A Ritz Carlton Reserve

April 24: KBV-BKK on Thai Airways

April 24 – 25: Marriott Resort & Spa Bangkok

April 25: BKK-NRT-SFO on United Airlines

Talk about a BUSY itinerary. SO much work to do, so much sight seeing to do, and so much relaxing to do! I think I did a great job of cramming it all together. I’m pretty exhausted now, and I’ll be working to post about one trip report per day, with pictures, of the whole experience!

The United Premier Snack Mix is Not Really Much of a Mix…

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 22-03-2010-05-2008

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I don’t love pretzels. In fact, I somewhat dislike them. Most airlines stopped the peanuts due to the allergy craze, which seems to have come out of nowhere, and now they all serve pretzels. Lucky for me, my air carrier of choice serves a “premium snack mix.” I grabbed one at the RCC and stuffed it into my bag for a late night snack when I got to the hotel. Much to my chagrin, I opened it up and could only find pretzels! I dug through… still only pretzels! I decided to dump the bag out to see just how many pretzels were in there. Take a look at the pic below! Read the rest of this entry »

United Fails Miserably in Smoothly Rolling out Unlimited Domestic Upgrades

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 18-03-2010-05-2008

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Just my luck… My business travel landed me a BOS-SFO flight on March 19, 2010, the day United Airlines is set to roll out unlimited domestic upgrades. While I suspected that flights on the 19th would be completely messed up, from an IT systems perspective , I had some hope reserved that United might use the time leading up to March 19th to properly prepare their systems for this. Oh silly me! Here’s my timeline…

  • I booked the ticket a few weeks ago, and I tried to use a confirmed regional upgrade to upgrade it instantly.
  • A couple days ago, I realized it hadn’t cleared early, so I called and had them remove the confirmed regional upgrade instrument, and instead put me on the UDU waitlist. The agent on the phone was a bit confused about how that would work. She spoke to her manager and then assured me that if she put me on the e-500 list, I would be automatically moved to the UDU list upon check-in. Cool.
  • I try to check-in online this morning, hoping to either confirm or waitlist my upgrade with UDU. No cigar. It wanted me to buy e-500s. Annoying.
  • I called UA three times this afternoon, each time speaking to a different agent, and being extremely polite, to try and see if they could figure it out to me.
  • The third agent didn’t want to talk to me so she quickly transferred me to “Web Support.” This means India. They told me they had “fixed” the problem. I checked my itinerary… Apparently fixing the problem means they pulled me off the upgrade waitlist. FANTASTIC. Now I would have to call again to get re-placed on the list, and my post on the queue would be lost.
  • I called an agent and had her waitlist me for the ugprade. She did. She advised me to check in after midnight.
  • Now it’s 12:36AM, officially March 19, and I’m trying to check-in. I get the screenshot I pasted above. How retarded is it that on the day United is phasing out e-500s, they’re actually trying to sell me some? To make matters more / less funny (depending on your perspective), I get the link to buy e-500s when I click on the “Unlimited Domestic Upgrades Now Available to Elite Members” link.

So do I try to call them again? Every agent has been useless thus far. Do I really think I’ll get a helpful one this time around? I guess it can’t hurt… I’ll give a call once more. This has been an awful experience, though, and I really see no excuse for it. They knew this was coming LONG ago.

UPDATE: They almost got it working… I tried again. This time it gave me the screenshot after the break. Read the rest of this entry »

GoGo WiFi now $14.95 on United P.S. flights! :-(

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 01-03-2010-05-2008

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$15 for WiFI?! Are you kidding me? I thought $12.95 was steep, but $14.95 really stinks! I’m writing this post from UA 14 Premium Service SFO-JFK on March 1, 2010. I think they just raised their rates today, March 1. The funny thing is that I just played the GoGo game to get a free internet session here. It gave me a FREE internet session up to $12.95 value. I wonder if it will work on the $14.95 United P.S. flights. I’ll try it next time. Anyhow, I think $10 is a fair price to pay for cross-country WiFi. $12.95 seemed steep, and 14.95 really seems bad. I hope people use it less. I guess they just count on business users to not care and expense it.

Comparing My United First Class Meal… with… My US Airways $7 Salad

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 03-12-2009-05-2008

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A few weeks ago I was flying in United First from SFO to ORD, and I ordered the steak salad for dinner. I was pretty disappointed when my salad ¬†only had three tiny pieces of steak in it. Read the rest of this entry »

Cloud Surfing with United on my way from SFO to ORD!

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 22-11-2009-05-2008

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This is a pretty cool video I was able to snap with my iPhone 3GS, flying from SFO to ORD on United a few weeks ago. Beautiful sunset with a perfect layer of clouds. Even cooler was seeing other planes in the distance surfing right along the tops of clouds like us! I didn’t catch that on video, unfortunately. Enjoy!

United / US Airways Frequent Fliers in DTW – Be Sure to Check out the Lufthansa Lounge!

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Misc, Travel, United | Posted on 20-11-2009-05-2008

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IMG_0355Many people don’t realize that as a Star Alliance Gold flier, they are entitled to certain Star Alliance lounges with their elite membership card. I’m a United 1K and Red Carpet Club member, but even if I had no RCC membership (heck I could even be Premier Executive!), I would still be entitled to Star Alliance lounge access. This is really useful in some places, and not in others. One place that it’s GREAT is in Detroit’s airport. All of the United gates are jammed in the far left corner of the terminal, but that happens to be where the Lufthansa Lounge is. By just showing your Star Alliance Gold card, you will be allowed access to the lounge. The only caveat is that the Lufthansa lounge is only open if there is a Lufthansa flight within a few hours of your being there. Otherwise, it’s closed. But when open, the food is GREAT! You could easily have an entire lunch there, and in fact, I have many times. Free booze as well! The pic above shows an example of the spread there. They actually have two full rooms with excellent seating, little to no crowd, and great amenities. So if you find yourself in DTW, do yourself a favor and swing by the lounge for some free treats!

United Fleet Week Employee Celebration – Flyertalk’s Plane Pull Team (1 of 2)

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 14-10-2009-05-2008

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Big thanks to United for a great Fleet Week Employee Celebration. And thanks so much for inviting the Flyertalkers! Here’s the team picture for the Flyertalk team. Unfortunately, the Blue Angels beat us! Go figure… Click the image below for the full size picture. Also, I’ll be posting even more pics from the Employee Celebration later today or tomorrow.

fleetweek

FINALLY! The SFO United Red Carpet Club Gets the LAX Treatment

Posted by Kevin Hanson | Posted in Travel, United | Posted on 27-08-2009-05-2008

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Months ago, the United Red Carpet Club in LAX got a pretty big upgrade, in terms of food. Towers of cereal replaced the stale croissants. The bagels and toast were FINALLY complemented by a toaster. Yogurt covered raisins, trail mix, etc – the food got better. I end up in that Red Carpet Club pretty often, but it bothered me that my hometown (SFO) didn’t get the same treatment. I just walked into the club a few minutes ago, and I saw the same 3 towers that exist in LAX… and get this… a toaster! I will be hear during the morning next week – I REALLY hope they don’t have those nasty croissants anymore… Seriously… they’re awful… and I usually like croissants… Pics of the new spread after the click.

Read the rest of this entry »