Video: Spire 73 - Highest Rooftop Bar in the USA - Los Angeles, CA

The Wilshire Grand Center building just opened in Downtown Los Angeles in June 2017 and it is the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The building houses offices in the first 29 floors, and the Intercontinental Hotel on floors 30 to 72.

At the very top, on floor 73, you will find the amazing Spire 73. America's highest rooftop bar. Check out the video!

Breaking: Emirates and Etihad suspending all flights to Qatar

With the escalation of diplomatic issues between Qatar and other gulf states (CNN article), Emirates (EK) and Etihad (EY) have suspended, until further notice, all flights to Qatar.

Fly Dubai (FZ), Gulf Air (GF) and airlines from Saudi Arabia have also joined the ban. Expect airlines from Egypt to follow suit since Egypt is also involved in this diplomatic issue. 

If you are flying Qatar (QR) though DOH on to one of these Gulf States, make sure to check your itinerary and make alternate travel plans. 

Update: The island nation of the Maldives have also cut ties with Qatar. Many people fly Qatar (QR) from Doha to Male (Maldives). If you are on your way to paradise via DOH make sure you change your itinerary!

Lounge Review: Cibeles VIP Lounge at Madrid Barajas Airport

This lounge is located in Terminal 1 after passport control. It is a third party lounge used by airlines such as United and Delta. It also accepts Priority Pass members.

Lounge Entrance

The lounge is large and very bright. Its windows provide a panoramic view of the tarmac. Great for plane watching!

Windows all around

Sitting Area

Comfortable sitting is available as well as tables for eating and desks for working. There are plenty of power outlets.

There is a decent offering for food and beverage. I visited the lounge in the morning when sandwiches, bread selection and pastries were available. There was a sign saying that hot food is available if requested.

The coffee was good but it was a Nespresso machine that did not offer cappuccino or lattes.

The alcoholic beverages were self serve and there were different stations throughout the lunge.

Overall, I enjoyed the Cibeles VIP Lounge at MAD. My favorite thing was the large and bright space with the great view of the tarmac.

Delta to Provide Free Economy Class Meals on Select Routes

Not many people remember when free meals were served in economy class in the USA. Delta is bringing back this perk on select routes.

Don't expect to get a fancy hot meal, Delta will serve meals similar to the boxes they currently sell on all their domestic routes.

Meals will be served on all flights between JFK and LAX/SFO plus the following selected routes: BOS-SFO, BOS-LAX, BOS-SEA, DCA-LAX, JFK-PDX, JFK-SAN, JFK-SEA, SEA-FLL, SEA-MCO and SEA-RDU.

Flights from Delta's biggest hub, Atlanta, are noticeably missing from the list above.

Click here to read Delta's official press release.

Meal served on Delta Business class (DeltaOne) - DO NOT expect to get something similar in Economy

Meal served on Delta Business class (DeltaOne) - DO NOT expect to get something similar in Economy

New Route: Air France Adds Paris to Maldives (CDG-MLE)

Air France (AF) announced today they are adding a twice weekly flight to Male (MLE) giving Skyteam members a new option to get to the tropical paradise islands. AF will use a 3-class 777-200 aircraft and the flight time will be approximately 10hrs. The new route begins on November 1st and you can already book the flights.

Check out the article we recently wrote about getting to the Maldives.

Previously, the only Skyteam member flying from Europe to MLE was Aeroflot (SU). Award availability is better with Aeroflot but Air France will offer a better product. China Eastern (MU) and China Southern (CZ) also offer flights to MLE.

Planning a trip to paradise? Click here and let us help you find the best flights!

5 Things: São Paulo 2017

1.     Touristy – The best way to understand the enormous size of São Paulo is to see it from above. The most famous spot to do that is “Terraco Italia” (Av. Ipiranga, 344 – República metro stop). You are only allowed to visit their observation deck if you go to the restaurant for lunch/dinner or the bar for drinks/snacks. The restaurant is pricey but the food is excellent, reservations are recommended. The bar has a nice atmosphere; you can go during the day or evening (a minimum drink of food purchase is enforced). Please note that there is a dress code, no flip flops and sleeveless shirts are allowed. http://www.terracoitalia.com.br

2.     Food – Almost 1/3 of all the restaurants in São Paulo are pizza places! In fact, no other city in the world has so many pizza restaurants. Locals are pizza fanatics and love to gather for a pie with friends at least once a week. Try Veridiana (Rua Dona Veridiana, 661, Higienópolis) where excellent pizza is served at a very nice upscale restaurant. Don't be afraid to try a different or weird topping!

3.     Locals Only – People in São Paulo work hard and play hard. Head out at happy hour (after 6pm) and enjoy a few drinks with the local executives at Tatu Bola bar (R. Clodomiro Amazonas, 202) in Itaim.

4.     Culture – Futebol (soccer) is a huge part of Brazilian culture. The “Museu do Futebol” is located in the Pacaembu stadium which is São Paulo’s most traditional stadium. Even if you do not like soccer, the museum provides interesting exhibitions and insights into the Brazilian passion for the sport. If you can, go on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday so you can try the best pastel in the city – Pastel da Maria. Don’t know what pastel is? You must find the nearest pastel place and try one, not many things are more Paulista than eating a pastel.

5.     Stay – Luxury: Hotel Unique (Av. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio, 4700 – rates start at $320). As soon as you arrive you will understand how they named this hotel. Even if you can’t afford to stay there, you should visit their posh rooftop bar with amazing night views of the city. Budget: Ibis Hotels (several locations – rates start at $50). There are several Ibis options in São Paulo, many of them very well located. The rooms are small but modern and clean.

“5 Things” will always follow the same format with the following items:
1.     Touristy – We begin by getting the oblivious out of the way, each city has a must do tourist attraction.
2.     Food – Spotlight on a local food must try.
3.     Locals Only – Something to do recommended by a local. Things you are not likely find on a guide book.
4.     Culture – Learn about the local culture with an activity related to arts/music/sports/theater/history.
5.     Stay – One luxury and one budget option.

First Ever Scheduled A380 Flight to South America: Emirates' DXB-GRU

Emirates first expressed interest in flying their A380 to GRU (Sao Paulo, Brazil) several months ago. However, GRU was not ready to receive daily A380 flights and needed some improvements including the widening of one of their runaways and gate re-configurations.

The improvements are finalized and Emirates announced they will begin the daily A380 fight on March 26th. Passengers flying between South America and the Middle East (and beyond) will now have the option of Emirates' flagship first class suites (14 seats), lie flat business class (76 setas) and 401 seats in economy.

One of Emirates' longest flights, DXB-GRU takes almost 15hrs. And the recent partnership with GOL (G3) will allow Emirates flyers to connect to many cities in Brazil and South America.

Use Miles to Get to Your Favorite Ski Resorts

We are right in the middle of ski season! Resorts across North America are reporting great snow amounts and airlines are charging big bucks to get you there.

I'm usually against using miles or points for domestic travel. However, I think it is worth considering using miles or points when tickets cost $600 or more.

Here are some options to get to my favorite 3 ski resorts in North America:

Whistler - BC - Canada
North America's largest ski resort is about 80 miles from the Vancouver International Airport. Flights to Vancouver are expensive year around, I have used miles to get there a few times. All major airlines fly to Vancouver, so options are plenty!

Vail - CO - USA
Vail is about 100 miles from Denver International. Even though the drive is all the way on I-70, it can be tough if there is a snow storm along the way (and often are). Eagle Country Regional Airport is 35 miles from the resort and Delta, United, American and Air Canada fly there during the winter.

Park City - UT - USA
The most accessible large resort in North America is only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City international airport. Recent resort improvements connected the Park City and Canyons resorts making it the largest ski area in the USA. SLC airport is a Delta hub and is served by all major airlines.

Wanna be fancy and go skiing in France, Italy or Austria? How about the great powder of northern Japan? Don't forget great July skiing in South America! We can help you get there.

Get out there and enjoy some great powder! Let us help you find the best ways. www.AwardChaser.com

 

Park City - UT

Last Chance to Transfer SPG Points to Virgin America Elevate

The partnership between SPG and Virgin America ends this coming Friday, January 6. The 1:1 transfer ratio also includes a bonus of 5,000 points for every 20,000 points transferred. 

The partnership is ending due to the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. The two frequent flyer programs will eventually merge as well, meanwhile, you can transfer Virgin America points to Alaska at a 1:1.3 ratio. That means, 30% bonus. 

Until Friday, it can be very lucrative to transfer SPG points to the Alaska program. See the simple math below:

20,000 SPG points to Virgin America = 25,000 Virgin America points.
25,000 Virgin America points to Alaska = 32,500 Alaska points.

If you have a large amount of SPG points it is definitely worth exploring this transfer deal. Alaska has many great award partners including Cathay Pacific for only 50,000 points each way to Asia in business class.

Click here for a full list of Alaska Air award partners. 

Maldives - How to get to Paradise?

The Maldives is an ultra-luxury destination on top of many people's dream vacation list. Incredible resorts, white sand beaches, amazing SCUBA diving and snorkeling wait for you.

Luxury travel is my favorite way to use points and miles. Destinations so expensive that I would not be able to afford otherwise.

The Maldives islands are hard to find in a map. Just south of India, its capital Male has an international airport where many major airlines fly to. You can redeem miles for flights with all three major alliances, the options are:

Star Alliance:

  • Air India
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines

Skyteam:

  • Aeroflot
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Saudia

One World:

  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Qatar Airways
  • SriLankan Airlines

As you can see, there are MANY options to get to paradise using miles. Let us help you book your flight to this dream vacation! www.AwardChaser.com

Delta (DL) and Alaska (AS) Finally Divorce

Everyone saw this coming! Since 2013 Delta has been adding flights in Seattle (SEA) making it a new Delta west coast hub. Seattle is also a major Alaska hub and that direct competition would inevitably break the partnership.

Effective May 1, 2017, Delta frequent flyers will no longer be able to earn and redeem miles with Alaska and vice-versa. Other perks like free seat selection, upgrades and boarding priority will also go away.

For now, Alaska is keeping the partnership with American Airlines but we will be watching what will happen as Alaska completes the merge with Virgin America.

As a Delta medallion member, I will miss this partnership. I have enjoyed it a few times on flights between Washington DC and the West Coast.

$69 Flights to Europe - I'm not that Excited

Much has been said in the media lately about the budget airlines that soon will offer $69 (each way) flights from the USA to Europe. While a sub $200 round trip flight to Europe might sound great, there are a few things to take into consideration:

  1. These are bare bones fares. You will have to pay for checked baggage, 2nd piece carry on, seat assignment and even food! The second piece carry on cost an average of $20 so unless you are traveling with nothing but a purse or backpack, you have to add $40 to your total fare. If you don't want to get stuck in the middle seat, you will have to pay for advanced seat assignments. After you add some of these costs (not including checked baggage) your far will be over $300.
  2. Yes, around $300 for a flight to Europe still is a GREAT deal. But more and more, the big carriers (Delta, AA, United) are offering fares for around $400 (I have seen many of these pop up lately). They usually offer checked baggage, food, carry on and advanced seat assignment for free. Not to mention earning frequent flight miles for award flights and elite status.
  3. These super low cost flights are limited. And while you may find it going one way, you are likely to have to pay more on the other way. Sometimes, a lot more!
  4. Lesser known / out of the way airports: Sometimes they are able to offer cheap fares because they fly to airports that charges less landing/take off fees. Make sure you know where these airports are and how much it will cost for ground transportation to your final destination.

Yes, we all get excited when we see these deals! But it is important for you to do the math depending on your travel needs and research which is the best option for you. If you MUST check baggage, these low cost airlines may not be the great deal you were hoping for. 

 

Fly to London for under $200 Round Trip!

Delta Promotion: Award Flights to Asia for 49k Skymiles Round Trip

Delta (DL) has a flash award flight sale to Asia. For 2 days only, they are offering round trip awards for only 49k Skymiles!

This is a great deal if you don't mind being in coach for a long flight. Dates are limited but we were able to find this deal to several cities like: Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taipei. Travel must happen between January 10th and March 3rd.

Want to take advantage of this deal? Click here and let us help you!

Fly to Singapore for only 49k Skymiles round trip!

Fly to Singapore for only 49k Skymiles round trip!