Earlier today I received an exciting email from Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). The subject was “Amazing Bonus Offer Coming Your Way”. Let me just remind everyone that I’m a 50-night a year Platinum Member. Almost all of my annual hotel stays are with SPG Properties.
When the economy was in the toilet (and I was splitting my hotel stays across Marriott, Hilton and Starwood), I was often getting these sweet double or triple points per stay or thousands of points bonus after a stay or two. Now that the economy is humming and I’m at the top tier status with SPG I’m not getting any lucrative bonuses – why should I? I stay with them, I don’t have much incremental business that I can push their way.
Back to the email that got me all excited today. I clicked the link, entered my SPG number and found that my special bonus was 3,000 bonus points after three stays…then 3,000 more points after six stays…and 3,000 more points after 9 stays.
So if I have nine separate stays (between May 1, 2015 and July 31, 2015), I’ll get 9,000 bonus points. Not at all a lucrative bonus and definitely not something that will make me do a mattress run.
What was your special bonus offer? Feel free to leave your bonus offer in the comments and we can see how everyone is doing on this promo.
When I purchased these tickets, I knew I wanted to use my friend’s GPU (Global Premium Upgrades), so I purchased some slightly higher priced coach tickets (technically 50% more expensive than the cheap, non-upgradable tickets). Our outbound upgrade cleared almost immediately, but hours before our return flight we were still in coach. It would have been quite a frustrating turn of events to pay extra for an upgradable seat, but not actually get upgraded. Our upgrade cleared, but not until we got on the high speed train to the airport – cutting it a little close for comfort.
After we left the SilverKris Lounge, we headed off to our departure gate (Gate 65). Once we arrived, I looked around the boarding area and I felt like I was on a flight to Canada: everyone was neatly lined up, boarding pass and passport in hand, not at all like the traditional mayhem that a gate area in an Asian airport usually is.
We boarded through door 2L and turned right for our BusinessFirst Seats. These weren’t the (relatively) great BusinessFirst Seats we had on the way to Hong Kong, our seats for the return were in the middle section, not only that, but the middle two seats of the middle section. If I wanted to use the lavatory, I had to either crawl over one or two people. No carrier can rightfully say they have a quality business class product if they don’t offer aisle access to every seat on the plane.
Flight: United Airlines 896 (BusinessFirst)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 9 D&G
Departure: 11h10 (13h10)
Arrival: 11h45 (11h31)
Luckily EAD and I were able to sit next to each other, and share our misery. I am pretty sure I’d rather be in this middle middle BusinessFirst seat than an aisle in coach, but as I sat for 15-ish hours wondering if I should wake the guy up next to me, so I could go to the lavatory, I wasn’t sure.
As usual, I started my on-board consumption with some champagne. This time, I asked for champagne and the stew corrected me, saying they were serving sparkling wine only – guess I can’t win, can I? I had two glasses of their mediocre sparkling (but hell, a mediocre sparkling is better than no sparkling at all).
After the door closed, we had a quick taxi to the runway and a fast take-off roll. We were airborne shortly after the door closed and we were on our way back home. I was pretty tired at this point – I guess a 4 day trip to Hong Kong can do that to you. I was looking forward to eating, then curling up and sleeping for a few hours.
The menu was new on this return flight, compared to our original outbound. I opted for the dried out chicken breast, which, when coupled with the sauce it was served with along with a big drink of wine, it was perfectly acceptable. I did have a cheese course as well as an ice cream sundae – which was paired with a United Port.
The meal service was completed within about 2.5 hours after the door closed and I was really exhausted at this point. I decided to stay up and watch a documentary called “Rich Hill”, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. This film was really good and depressing. After the film, I flipped on some Big Bang Theory and closed my eyes. I then proceeded to sleep off and on for the next 8 hours. I woke up, after missing the great mid-flight dirty dishwater soup (that I seriously enjoyed on the previous flight). I killed the rest of the flight by watching some bad TV and debating on doing some work or studying French – neither of which I did.
It still surprises me that the 15 or so hour flights can go by so quickly. I wouldn’t like doing this every week, but once or twice a year it is perfectly acceptable. While I do think doing this trip in BusinessFirst is better than coach (here or here), I’ve done both and both are survivable, as long as you come prepared. Bring lots of things to entertain yourself – movies and TV shows on your laptop/tablet, a book or two, plus hours and hours of music. You’ll do just fine.
Have you taken this flight to Hong Kong before? How do you survive the two-thirds of a full day in the air?
A few days ago, I received an email from American Airlines, offering an opportunity to win two First Class round-trip tickets anywhere American flies. To enter, follow this link, and enter your dream destination (don’t worry, entering a destination into this box doesn’t lock you into actually going there if you win the tickets — it’s just a placeholder for future screens in the contest). You then watch 6 different videos (all just a couple minutes long) and answer a question about each. These questions are pretty straight forward – I didn’t watch a single video and I answered them all correctly.
Once you’ve answered these questions correctly you automatically earn 1,000 AAdvantage miles. This is an extremely easy was to boost your mileage balance and to keep your AAdvantage account active (as this deposit of 1,000 miles will reset the countdown on your mileage expiration). Trust me – you won’t win the two First Class round-trip tickets (sorry to let you know that), but 1,000 free AAdvantage miles are pretty great – you won’t get anywhere with just 1,000, but hey, it’s free miles and it’ll just cost you about 4 minutes of your life. Go do it, now!