Category Archives: Airlines

Travel Review 2016

2016 was not a great year for travel.  Due to circumstances out of my control, I was unable to spend my usual winter at my condo in Florida.  I was in Canada from October until April 1st, when I went to Florida for one week.

Eartha Kitty stayed home for this trip.  I took I75 south to Kentucky, where I turned onto secondary highways, passing through Crittenden, Dry Ridge, Williamstown, Mason, Corinth, Sadieville, Georgetown, Lexington, Nicholasville, Lancaster and Crab Orchard, finally settling in at Barbourville, KY.

Downtown Barbourville, Kentucky. An interesting place, the Magic Theatre has been closed for ages.
Downtown Barbourville, Kentucky. An interesting place, the Magic Theatre has been closed for ages.

Towards the closing of April, I went to Cincinnati for a long weekend, thanks to IHG Rewards Points.  I stayed at the Staybridge Suites in West Chester out in the suburbs.  No complaint; it was a decent hotel, and mostly free.

Surprisingly lots to do in Cincinnati.  The American Sign Museum was a treat, situated near the old Crossley factory.  The Taft Museum, Smashburger, the Findlay Market, the OTR Candy Bar and the Over The Rhine neighbourhood all worth a vist.  Bonus for crossing the border to Newport, KY.

GhostSign for the former Dennison Hotel, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio
GhostSign for the former Dennison Hotel, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio

May brought a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia.  I stayed in a condo, on the top floor of an apartment building with a great view of English bay Beach.  There was a new Nordstrom on Robson Street, and my first full day I had lunch at the Ovaltine Cafe on East Hastings Street.  Late that afternoon, a trip to Horseshoe Bay and the Spirit Gallery.

Stanley Park, the Lennox Pub, Chinatown, the Vogue Theatre, Fountainhead Pub among the places I went.  I rented a car and went to Whistler (Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre), Squamish, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Harrison Hot Springs.

The view from my condo, just off Davie Street in Vancouver.
The view from my condo, just off Davie Street in Vancouver.

June 22nd I arrived in Los Angeles for the first time, staying in Westwood.  Budget provided me with a Kia Soul for the week, which turned out fairly good.  Not nice to look at, but easy to drive and comfortable inside.

The Hammer Museum was almost across the street.

The Getty Center was a great trip, as was Santa Monica.  Rodeo Drive, Beverley Hills, The Walk of Fame, LACMA and the Petersen Automotive Museum were visited.  Pueblo de Los Angeles, The Museum of Tolerance (Anne Frank exhibit) and the LaBrea Tar Pits were also included.

A side trip with friends took me to Santa Barbara and the Old Mission.  I bought a painting, now hanging above my fireplace at the craft market at the waterfront.

Interior of historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, opened in 1939.
Interior of historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, opened in 1939.

Iceland Air had a seat sale, so in September I flew to England, landing in Gatwick on the 20th.  From there, I boarded a train to St Pancras Station, switched to King’s Cross, and I was off to York.

I stayed at the Wheatlands Lodge Hotel – a series of Victorian town homes converted to a hotel; an easy walk to the Mickelgate Bar.  York itself is a magnificent city dating to Roman times.  One can walk the wall, visit the York Minster, the Yorkshire Museum and many other features.  The Viking Museum was closed due to floods.

Highly recommended:  a day trip through the Yorkshire Dales with BOB Holidays.  It takes nine hours, and well worth it.  Includes a stop at the “Oldest Sweet Shop in the World” in Harrogate and The Falcon Inn in Arncliffe.

A two hour train ride, four days later, and I’m in Lincoln.  Everything seems to be uphill from here.  I stayed at a B&B called The Poplars.  Nice place with friendly cats.

Lincoln Cathedral is the highlight, as is the high street for shopping.  While here, I took a side trip to Sheffield, checking out the Cholera Monument and Lime Avenue.

Four days later, I travel to London, where I stay for eight days.

The Norman House, in Lincoln, UK, dated to 1170.
The Norman House, in Lincoln, UK, dated to 1170.

One of the perks of travel with Iceland air is a free stopover in Iceland.  I chose to take mine at the end of my trip, arriving on 4th October.

The entire stay was dogged with pounding rain, cold and violent winds.  The Blue Lagoon was a wonderful respite, despite the weather.  The Golden Circle Tour heavily marred by the storms.

When visiting Iceland, take tons of money.

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran Church and one of the tallest buildings in the country.
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran Church and one of the tallest buildings in the country.

 

 

 

Return to Vancouver, BC, Spring 2016

WestJet had a seat sale, so I thought it was time for another trip to Vancouver, BC.

I usually book trips based on a seat sale and where I want to go.  One of the conditions of this sale required me to take a flight with three stops.  I departed from London, ON (YXU), next stop was Winnipeg, MB (YWG), followed by Calgary, AB (YYC), where we had an opportunity to deplane for thirty minutes, finally arriving in Vancouver, BC (YVR).  Not a terrible way to spend an afternoon.

I had booked accommodation through EBAB – a site I have used before, although mostly in Europe.  I just off Davie Street, within walking distance of English Bay Beach.

The view from my balcony in Vancouver, near English Bay Beach.
The view from my balcony in Vancouver, near English Bay Beach.

It was evening when I arrived.  The apartment owner picked me up at the airport, and made dinner.  I settled in for the night.

Early the next morning, it was time to venture out.  I took a wander down Robson Street, where I had stayed on my previous trip.  Locals are making a big deal over a new Nordstrom store that recently opened.  Lunch brought me to the Ovaltine Cafe on East Hastings Street.  It’s easy to see that gentrification is encroaching.

The Ovaltine Cafe on East Hasting Street - in business since 1943.
The Ovaltine Cafe on East Hastings Street – in business since 1943.

Late afternoon the apartment owner calls, asks if I want to take a trip!  He picks me up downtown, and we’re off to Horseshoe Bay.  It’s a small village nearby in West Vancouver.  We stopped into the Spirit Gallery, where I bought a piece of native art for my home.  It barely fit in my carry-on.

The BC Ferries dock at Horseshoe Bar
The BC Ferries dock at Horseshoe Bay

We returned to Vancouver and had dinner at the apartment.  I went for a walk in the dark, toward the Pacific Ocean, where I discovered that at the end of Davie Street is English Bay Beach.  Great for a little evening relaxation.

My trip starts out well, with a packed first day.  Six more days to go.  Early mornings, late evenings, lots of walking, a car rental, and side trips to Harrison Hot Springs, Chilliwack and Whistler.

More to come…

Air Canada Fares

Air Canada advertises on their website “Air Canada Lowest Price Guarantee always at AirCanada.com

An opportunity to check this out came today.

There is a return flight in July from JFK – DUS via Air Canada available on Orbitz for $869.00

A quick check at the Air Canada website shows this same return trip, on the same dates (20 July/26July) is priced at $1169.00.  The actual trip is JFK-YYZ-DUS, then DUS-YYZ-JFK.  $300.00 in savings are available by not using the guaranteed lowest price at Air Canada dot com.

Also, because this trip involves Tango and Lufthansa, Aeroplan miles would accumulate at 50% for part of the trip, and 0% for another part of the trip.

When I eliminate the JFK – YYZ leg of the trip, and using the same parameters, a return flight from YYZ – DUS comes in at a whopping $1818.00

What this means is I could book a return flight from YYZ – JFK on Air Canada’s website, book the Orbitz flight from JFK – DUS, and save $481.00 versus flying direct from YYZ – DUS.

Confusing?  Damn right!

 

All prices converted to Canadian Dollars.

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Frequent Flyer Follies – The End

The story is over….

I checked my Aeroplan account today, and my balance has made a considerable jump.

There were two flights remaining from Egypt Air, dating back to September, which had never been credited to my account, despite my jumping through hoops providing proof.  My Aeroplan number was even on the boarding pass.

I can’t discern when these credits came through, since they show up on the dates my flights would have occurred.  None of credits specifiy Egypt Air – all are from “AE Customer Service”.

  • 4,200 Miles dated 31 August
  • 314 Miles dated 3 September
  • 530 Miles dated 7 September

Having arrived at this point, I won’t pursue this any further.  The 4,200 miles must be for JFK – CAI, although I was credited 5,600 miles for CAI – JFK.

Two weeks ago I flew United to Las Vegas, a total of five flights.  All but the last connection JAX – TPA have been credited to my account.  I don’t think I’ll bother following this up.

Unless Aeroplan does something to piss me off again.

 

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Frequent Flyer Follies

The story continues…

I contacted Aeroplan on 28th November.  Still little progress, but the agent (Mark) said all outstanding miles would be posted to my account by 12th December.  I’m skeptical, of course.

Turned out I was correct.  I waited for the new year before contacting Aeroplan again.  This time, I’m told that Mark couldn’t possibly have any idea about when these miles would be credited.  This time, I’m told to wait ten weeks from the time I spoke with Mark, so my next call time will be 7th February, unless, for some remote reason, the two remaining flights actually get taken care of.

Since I stated this process last September, the majority of the small flights have been credited.  I’d give up, except one flight is worth 5,600 miles – far too much to let go.  Aeroplan puts the reponsibility entirely with Egypt Air.

I’m left with these two flights, one in August, one in September outstanding

  • JFK – CAI
  • ABS – CAI

Next week, I have five flights scheduled on United, another Star Alliance partner.  I’m wondering if I’ll have the same problems?

 

 

 

Frequent Flyer Follies

 

The adventure continues…

In the previous two days, I have received two emails from Aeroplan, both declining to credit my account for flights previously taken.  The two letters listed ten flights (!).  Although it is possible I mistakenly submitted my claim twice, the letters list ASW-ABS (same flight, ticket) five times and ABS-CAI (same flight, ticket) five times.

Each items says Egypt Air has no record of a passenger using my name.

Now that I have the email address, I’ll submit copies of my eTicket and boarding passes for consideration.

That means the following flights are under review to credit my Aeroplan account.

  • ORD-YYZ
  • JFK-CAI
  • ASW-ABS
  • ABS-CAI
  • CAI-ABS

I don’t have a lot of faith in a system that immediately denies your claim, saying you were never on the flight.  This happened with the YYZ-ORD flight.  To prove my claim I needed a copy of the eTicket.  Air Canada, which denied that I was on the flight sent me a copy of the eTicket two days later.

 

 

 

 

Frequent Flyer Follies

Earlier this month, I went on a tour through Egypt, which encompassed seven flights.  All except two flights were booked through a travel agency.  Two airlines, EgyptAir and Air Canada were used, and all flights qualified for Aeroplan miles.

The travel agency was provided with my Aeroplan number, but didn’t provide it to the airlines.  At the conclusion of the trip, only three of the seven flights were credited to my account.

No problem, I thought, as I filed a claim through the Aeroplan website.  Much to my surprise, despite having copies of my etickets and boarding passes (one of which even has my Aeroplan number on it), all claims were denied, with what appears to be a standard response: There is no record with the airline for the passenger name submitted. If the name was incorrectly entered, please resubmit your request with the full name as it appears on your ticket.

There are no spelling mistakes, and everything is correct. 

In an earlier case involving a flight from Chicago in June, I have been asked to submit both a copy of my boarding pass and my eticket.  I thought the purpose of an eticket was to eliminate paperwork.  In this situation Air Canada was able to provide a copy of the ticket within two days.

The claim process was started this week.  Let’s see how long it takes to come to a successful fulfillment.