Pat's Travel Reviews

Need travel advice?

Although my wife will tell you that I think I know everything, I do know a lot about travel.  So if you want a suggestion about a great place to eat, where to stay or the best way to use your mileage, send me an email.

 

38 thoughts on “Need travel advice?

  1. dan

    Hi Pat,

    I’m travlling to Hong Kong from LAX and am planning on booking SQ 37 to SIN and then on to HKG. Given that LAX-SIN is 17 hours, how do you rate Singapore Airlines’ business class? I’m 6’1 so want to make sure the seat is comfortable enough. thanks

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hello Dan,
      Singapore business class is amongst the best if not the best of any airline. SQ 37 is an A340-500 and is all business class (largest all business class plane). It is in a 1x2x1 configuration and there are only 100 seats on that flight. But with having 100 business class passengers you would loose a little intimacy or feeling special. That said, the seats are very wide (30″) and have 64″ of pitch so there is plenty of leg room. I have never flown on Singapore with these new seats (would love to though) and have read a few people complain that the seat is too wide. I can’t imagine that would be the case. If you read my review of Singapore’s A330, this product is much better than that. Your flight from SIN to HKG would have similar seats as to the flight I just reviewed; patstravelreviews.com/?p=498
      Now, if you wanted to cut a few hours of flight time. Singapore has a non-stop (SQ 1)to HKG from SFO. Oddly they code share with Virgin America from LAX to SFO which is not as convenient as flying United to SFO to connect with SQ 1. The flight from SFO to HKG is on a 777-300 and has the same 30″ wide seats and same 1x2x1 configuration (however seat pitch is only 51″).
      Either way you can’t beat Singapore Airlines. Cathay Pacific which flies non-stop to HKG from LAX is also great as are the two Korean Airlines and two Japanese Airlines. But if I had the chance to fly on the SQ 37 I would consider it time well spent!!
      Hope that helped and have a great trip!

  2. Javeria

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, they are amazing.
    I love the effort you have made with your posts and pictures with every detail.
    I just wanted to appreciate you!

    Keep posting !

    Peace

    Javeria Ali.

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hello Javeria,

      You are very welcome.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is nice to be appreciated 🙂
      I am happy you enjoyed my site and I hope you found it helpful and informational.
      Happy travels!!!

  3. Johan

    Hey Pat

    I’m spending a semester abroad in Mexico City. As I’m attending University I’ll be flying economy, so no fancy lounges. I’m hoping you might have a suggestion about what to do at Houston Intercontinental, as I have never been there before.

    I’m flying United Airlines (also a first) from LHR – IAH – MEX, any advice on how to turn 19 hours of traveling with United into a great experience?

    Thank you.

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hello Johan,

      For most people it would be a bit of a challenge to make 19 hrs of flying United Economy a great experience 🙂 But it seems like you have a positive attitude and a sense of adventure. If you enjoy the process of traveling it should be a great experience. First thing is to get a good seat. United fly’s 767’s or 777’s from LHR to IAH. The 767 is the best plane to fly Economy as there is only one middle seat per row (2x3x2 – compared to the 777 which is 3x3x3). So you should get an aisle or window seat. If you can pay (or charm an agent to switch your seat) sit in Economy Plus. The service and seat are the same but you will get a few more inches of legroom. The other positive is most planes United flies between IAH & LHR have individual on-demand entertainment in Economy (I am pretty sure it is free on International flights – won’t be free to MEX from IAH, though). So if your plane has this entertainment option it will help ease the 10 hr flight time, if not it will still have movie options, just on a loop rather than on-demand. Getting some sleep on the flight will help you get through the day.
      Two things to know about flying from LHR to IAH. First – United flights to Houston (and Newark) depart from Terminal 4, (ORD, IAD, SFO, & LAX depart from Terminal 1). This can be confusing. Also Heathrow is a great airport to shop in as the prices are actually cheaper at the airport than in town. Second – Once you arrive in Houston you will have to clear US passport and Customs. Even though you are continuing on to another International destination. The good news is Houston is a very good airport for this process. The lines at Passport are usually reasonable. The bad news is you have to clear US passport and customs 🙂 Can take more than an hour sometimes or as little as 15 minutes. You also need to collect your checked luggage in IAH and then after you pass customs you will return it to a United agent where it will continue to your connecting flight to Mexico City. After you leave this area you then need to go thru security to enter the terminal.
      Hopefully this process does not take too much time and you will actually have time to spend in the Terminal in Houston. After you go through security you will be in Terminal E. This is the nicest and newest United Terminals in IAH. There are plenty of places to eat in Terminal E and a few shops as well. If you are hungry the one thing to try to eat that is Texas Bar-b-que. That said I can not think of one bbq restaurant at IAH (Dallas has a lot). There is a decent New York style pizza place though. Terminal E is also connected to Terminal D (International Airlines mostly use this terminal) . This is an old terminal, but has had some renovations. Not much to do in this terminal (other than look at planes). It is also connected to Terminal C. All flights from Terminal E & C are operated by United (their regional flights are in another terminal). So most likely your flight to MEX will depart from one of these two terminals. Terminal C has two sides (North and South). This terminal has also been updated and is a vast improvement from what it used to be (wasn’t very nice before). There are only a few shops (Brooks Bros. & a PGA golf shop- both unique to find in an airport) but plenty of food options. From Usual US fast food places (like Wendy’s), to wine bars (Le Grand Comptoir), and two of my favorite places to eat/drink. Smoothie King (makes great fruit smoothies) and La Salsa (a very good Mexican food chain from California). There is a massage express and a western style (cowboy) clothing store in the middle of Terminal C (near statue of the First President Bush). If all else fails the airport does offer free wifi. If you have several hours to kill and wanted to leave the airport, unfortunately there is not much to see or do in the immediate area. Downtown Houston is 30 minutes from IAH.
      Hopefully this was some help and you enjoy your time at the Houston Airport and flying United.
      Best of luck with your studies in Mexico City!!!!!

      Happy Travels!!
      Patrick

  4. Jim Dailakis

    Hi Patrick,

    I stumbled upon your website by accident and I’m glad I did. I really enjoy reading about your travel experiences.

    I’m an Aussie comedian/actor/writer based in New York City. I travel quite a lot for shows domestically and now, internationally. I take two trips home to Perth, Australia per year. This year, it’s going to be three.

    In the past, I’ve always flown with Qantas. Realizing how stingy their frequent flyer program is, that they no longer have lactose free meals, and that their regular meals make me unbelievably ill, I decided that to switch to Singapore Airlines. It is by far, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve managed to reach Silver Elite KrisFlyer status. All flights have been fantastic, food superb, entertainment magnificent, flight attendants wonderful and the routing is awesome – drop my one piece of luggage off in New York, then pick it up in Perth. Well, there’s that troublesome transit stop in Frankfurt which doesn’t accrue miles and to me, just wastes time but I can live with it.

    In the US, in order to accrue KrisFlyer miles, I fly with United/USAir. I used to fly with Delta and hated every single minute of it. Just about every flying experience was a nightmare. When I switched to United, every flight was pleasant and on my very first flight, because I gave up my seat, they upgraded me to first class on the next flight out. On my next two flights, I was upgraded to Economy Plus. I figured this was a good start and an omen. I tend to really go with the flow 🙂

    Most of the traveling website advice I get, suggests that I should credit my miles to MileagePlus because it’s so much more generous than KrisFlyer. Redemption is easier for upgrades, there’s more availability, no crazy fuel surcharges fewer miles needed for upgrades, complimentary upgrades and I get to fly SQ along with other wonderful Asian carriers in business or first anyway. Do you agree with this?

    At the moment, I’m several miles away from United Premier Silver. For my last trip to Perth flying SQ, I could’ve credited those miles to KrisFlyer and become KrisFlyer Gold. Instead, I credited those miles to MileagePlus.

    In my situation, flying to Perth twice a year (close to 50,000 miles) along with maybe 10,000 miles domestically in the US, what do you think is the best route, airline and program? I find Singapore Airlines a very, very hard product to beat.

    Thanks in advance for your reply. I hope that your wife is right and that you do know everything. 😉

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hello Jim,

      I am happy to hear you enjoyed reading about my travel experiences. Hopefully this will help you make your decision easier.
      First off, you will have a hard time finding a better Frequent Flyer program than United’s Mileage Plus nor a better airline than Singapore and since you will be traveling to Perth it is as about a direct way to get there as possible (one stop from EWR). So Singapore is a good choice of airlines to fly. I have only flown Qantas once between Sydney and Melbourne so you know far more about Qantas than I do. But I have heard good things about them and I am sure they would provide a better flying experience to Australia than United (especially in Economy Class). I only say that because as a Mileage Plus Premier member you may find flying United to Australia has other benefits than the flying experience.
      There are many reasons why you should concentrate accruing miles with United and not Singapore’s KrisFlyer. But first a word of warning. Attaining Silver Premier status with United does not have the pull it once had (I have even heard rumors they may do away with this level). However, it is still much better than being a general member. You will receive 25% bonus on the miles you fly, one free bag checked, priority check-in, priority boarding (but boarding either zone 2 or 3), and upgrades domestically (this is the reason I say it does not have the same pull. Most Premier members desire upgrades and it is almost impossible for a Silver member getting upgraded anymore). Where you really start realizing the benefits with Mileage Plus is when you achieve Premier Gold (fly 50,000 miles in a year). Upgrades are still hard to get, but not impossible. You can choose Economy Plus seats when you purchase your ticket, Priority boarding, Three free checked bags. Now you will receive a 100% bonus when flying (this is the way to quickly accrue miles), and you achieve Star Alliance Gold status which gives you access to Star Alliance carriers lounges when flying internationally (Same for KrisFlyer Gold – Singapore has separate lounges at Changi for Star Alliance Gold members. Very nice, but not as nice as their SilverKris Lounges) and other benefits when flying a Star Alliance partner airline. Based on how often you said you fly it seems that flying 50,000 miles per calendar year should not be a problem. With each tier the benefits with United get better and better. If you can fly 100,000 miles in a year you reach Premier 1K status which gives you 6 Global upgrades.
      But the two things you need to look at is how much will you fly within North America. Because if it is just a few flights than you are not reaping all the benefits United’s Mileage Plus program offers. The one down side of United’s FF program is accruing miles with their partners. So if you fly Singapore to Perth you would not get the same 100% bonus (25% for Silver) as if you flew United (I think Singapore’s KrisFlyer Gold only gives 25% bonus) and if you book a flight on Singapore in a discounted fare class you will only get a percentage of the actual miles you fly. Both towards reward redemption and Elite status. But KrisFlyer may not give you any more miles in their program either. That is why I said the benefits of flying United to Australia may out way the service you receive with Singapore (or even Asiana, ANA, Thai, etc.). As an example if you flew United to Perth you would accumulate approx. 46,000 reward miles (28,750 if Silver)and 23,000 PQM (premier qualifying miles). While flying with Singapore you would accumulate 23,000 miles at the most (less for discounted fare).
      The other thing you want to look for in a Frequent Flyer program is mileage redemption. As mad and disappointed I can be with United at times I remind myself the ease in redeeming miles with them compared with other airlines (plus they have one-way rewards). You can actually redeem miles within Asia or Europe from United.com. And you can redeem miles on their Star Alliance partners on-line as well. Best of all, United does not charge outrageous surcharges like BA or Virgin Atlantic (and maybe Singapore based on your comment). They only charge tax and a few fees (some rewards as little as $10)
      So if you think you will fly more than 50,000 miles in a year (and remember you may not accrue 100% of the actual miles when flying on Singapore) and will fly within North America I think United is the way to go. The one thing I always tell people is to stick to one program, because the airlines reward loyalty (and unfortunately this is also the way they can get away with lesser service).
      Hopefully this was not too confusing and was of some help. Here is a link to United’s Premier benefits;
      http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/premier/default.aspx
      By the way, really it is not I who thinks they know everything it is actually my wife who thinks she knows everything. But I can not tell her that 😉
      Happy Travels!!!

      1. Jim Dailakis

        Wow! Thank you so much for that detailed, in-depth reply, Patrick! I really, really appreciate it. According to everything you’ve pointed out, it appears I’m doing the right thing so thank you for validating what I’m doing considering you know so much more about this stuff than I do.
        Yes, Qantas has wonderful service between the US and Australia. They once upgraded me to premium economy on an oversold situation and it was absolute bliss. It’s the meals and the incredibly stingy frequent-flier program that resulted in me parting ways with them.

        In the past, my friend insisted that I fly with Delta. He said that even at Silver status, he was getting upgraded. I noticed that a lot of my friends who flew with Delta, did get upgraded domestically. But then, forget about anything regarding international travel with them. Their partnership with Virgin Australia, similar to the partnership AA has with Qantas, are a bit like the system with KrisFlyer and MileagePlus regarding mileage accrual based on percentage and ticket prices so that leaves them out. Also, I flew with Delta 12 times and each one of those flights was plagued with torture and misery. In the last two years, I’ve yet to have any major problem with United.

        Having said that, I don’t think for the life of me I could ever consider flying United to Perth on their 747 metal. Those outdated planes look like a retro ride back to the 1980s with no personalized screens, cramped seats and lack of just about everything else. Even the CEO agrees that it’s unacceptable. I can’t believe that they still fly them for this long-haul flight! As soon as, or when they start flying their 777 to Australia, I’ll gladly get on get on board.

        What I did do is instead of taking Singapore Airlines to Perth in August, I decided that I would fly with United to Singapore. That way I’m on their 777, sit in Economy Plus and have all the modern amenities while accruing miles with MileagePlus. Then from Singapore to Perth, I’m using 82,000 KrisFlyer miles RT (plus $404) to upgrade to business on SQ. I figured I may as well do something with my KrisFlyer miles before they expire next July 31, 2014.

        Some say that I should credit some of the miles to my upcoming trip to KrisFlyer so I can reach KrisFlyer Gold because this will give me access to the lounges domestically as well as internationally when flying a Star Alliance partner. Truth be told, I’m not really that fussed about lounges and would probably rather have access to them internationally. So perhaps I should still credit all my miles to MileagePlus. What do you think?

        I now also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and so far, I love it. Apparently, this is the best card to accrue miles for MileagePlus. Does United give you extra perks or upgrades if you have one of their airline based cards?

        Hahaha…don’t worry, I promise not to tell your wife anything but just in case she’s reading this, it’s amazing how much she knows and you’re very fortunate to be with such a lovely, knowledgeable woman. 🙂

        1. Patrick Post author

          Hi Jim,
          Yes, United’s 747’s are outdated in Economy Class. In Business and First they have new products, but it is hard to believe in this day and age that they still show overhead movies on International flights in Economy. I do know they are updating their fleet and some 747’s (as well as 767’s) now have individual TV monitors. But that is what I was saying that they can get away with an inferior product because of the strength of their FF program. So if you understand this then you are going about it the right way.
          I side with you about Delta. They have their positives and can be appealing if you live in the New York metro area. But I am a Gold Medallion member and get upgraded less than 50% of the time. Their Economy Comfort is as good as United’s Economy Plus, but far fewer seats. But the worst thing about Delta is redeeming miles. They do not have one-way awards and it is very hard getting award seats. Their site does not give as many partner options as United’s does. Plus if you call an agent (even at Gold, Platinum, Diamond desks), they will only look for a few minutes and say “sure we have seats for you, for 250,000 miles”. I have gotten to the point I know longer call to redeem miles because it is too frustrating.
          As far as who to put your miles on from SIN to Perth. It would be good to attain Gold status with KisFlyer, however, if you continue to fly with your Mileage Plus number you can’t really take advantage of those benefits. As an example, if you flew thru SIN on SQ or UAL and put your UAL MP# in the record they may not let you in lounge even with your Gold KrisFlyer status because it is not the FF# in your ticket. If you can achieve Gold with United this does not matter. But I would put your KrisFlyer # on SQ for a different reason. You are using your KrisFlyer miles to upgrade and they may force you to put that # to get credit. I did something like that once (used miles and then put another airline to get credit) and never received credit for that flight.
          I do not know much about the Chase Sapphire card, but do have the Chase card with United that gives lounge access. All United’s Chase cards give is basically what is given to someone who is Premier Silver (free checked bag). So if you achieve that status no need to get their card other than for bonus miles, mileage accrual, and two lounge passes.
          I admire your logic on your flight to Perth through SIN (and either HKG or NRT) on both United and SQ. This is the type of thing my wife does not understand about!

          1. Jim Dailakis

            Thanks again, Patrick! So just keep crediting to Premier Gold? Although, I have one more 11,000 mile flight before July 31 and I’ll be KrisFlyer Gold. Sounds like you think I should just forget KrisFlyer altogether and just go for Premier Gold. Is that right?

            I don’t think I could possibly give up flying SQ on my way to Perth in the future though. I’ll have a better understanding about this after my upcoming flight with UAL to SIN. 🙂

          2. Patrick Post author

            Your welcome Jim,
            Well, now I am going to contradict myself a little 🙂 I think United has a much better program, that will give you more benefits than KrisFlyer (especially flying within the USA), However, if you are that close to Gold with SQ, I would also try to reach that level. Then concentrate on making Gold with United. While I say it is best to concentrate on one program, if you can achieve both, it is better, because it gives you more flexibility in the future. I am sure you are going to find that United’s Int’l service in all cabins does not compare with SQ’s. So you will rightfully continue flying Singapore (NYC to Perth thru SIN must be over 24hrs of actual flying time – so it is important to be comfortable). Then, if you find that on certain fares when flying SQ you will not receive Mileage Plus credit, you have a fall back with KrisFlyer.
            My wife’s sister had this issue with Delta and Aeroflot. She would fly Aeroflot to Los Angeles and on a few lower fares she would receive no credit or only 50% of flight miles flown with Delta’s SkyMiles program. But if she put her Aeroflot Bonus # when she flew on those fares, Aeroflot credited her 100% of the miles flown.
            Lastly, two words of caution. If you fly in Economy Plus with United to SIN, while it is certainly better than regular Economy with three to five inches more leg room, the service is 100% the same. Also If you are flying thru HKG. The HKG – SIN flight is on a 747-400 (NRT – SIN is on 777 I think)
            Have a great trip!!!!

  5. Jim Dailakis

    Hi Pat,

    I just wanted to follow-up and say thank you for all your advice! I did indeed travel with United (in economy plus) from New York to Singapore stopping in Narita. Then I used my KrisFlyer miles to fly business class to Perth on Singapore Airlines. The whole trip from beginning to end was fantastic.
    I have to admit, I was quite impressed with United. I was expecting torture and misery because of all the complaints but I have to hand it to them, even though they weren’t SQ, (then again who is?) they were very nice to me and I was just as comfortable on their airline as any other. They even let me check my bag from Newark all the way to Perth even though it wasn’t part of the same flight. Singapore Airlines did the same for me on the way back. I also got to visit the KrisFlyer lounge which was fantastic. Again, I heard that it wasn’t worth it because there are no showers. Not true. I took a wonderful shower and had some wonderful meals – dinner and then later in the morning, I had a very nice breakfast.
    I made it to Premier Gold and I’m very happy with my decision. I’ve never been in a situation where I actually get to see my name on them upgrade list but there it was. And like you said, I got a 25% mileage bonus, next time I fly home to Australia which may be in November for work, I may even reach Premier Platinum. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. Your wife should listen to you more often. Please don’t tell her I said that! 🙂

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hello Jim,
      Your welcome!!
      Congratulations on making Premier Gold with United and happy to hear your flights went well and you were not disappointed with United. It’s amazing how a few extra inches of leg room and a individual entertainment system can improve your on-board experience. I must admit that I too have had good experiences flying United lately (hopefully not a temporary thing). If you are Premier Gold with United than you should be getting the 100% bonus miles (and on a trip to Australia that is a lot of miles), and if you make Premier Platinum you should see that you will get upgraded domestically more than not.
      I find the Star Alliance very good at things like checking bags, lounge access, prefered boarding, and most of all award redemption.
      Yes, the Singapore lounges are great (everything about Singapore Airlines is great), and I always find taking a shower between flights keeps me refreshed. What terminal did you use the lounge in? I think only the new KrisFlyer lounge in the New Terminal does not have a shower (they don’t even have a toilet).
      Don’t worry. I won’t tell my wife, I’ll just show her what you wrote and it still won’t help in her listening to me (probably better that way 🙂 ).

  6. Jim Dailakis

    Hey Pat,

    I used the SilverKris lounge in T3. It was magnificent. I agree that a nice meal and a shower with a beautiful place to relax, makes this very long trip a whole lot more tolerable. I was actually quite amazed at how much of the difference it made. I always used to say that I don’t really care about lounges. This wonderful experience has changed my mind considerably.

    United’s prices to Singapore were very, very good. I could always take Qantas or another airline from Singapore to Perth, but I won’t accrue any miles and from what I understand, I won’t be able to visit the lounge if my next flight is not on a Star Alliance member. Qantas and Emirates are $250 cheaper than Singapore Airlines to Perth round trip. I think it might be worth flying Singapore just for the use of the lounge and of course, accruing the miles to MileagePlus. I know that there is a pay per use lounge at Changi so I could always do that to save. What do you think?

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hi Jim,

      Yes, airline lounges can really add to the enjoyment of a flight. I find on some airlines (especially BA and Virgin) I will arrive at the airport early or will have a longer lay-over, just to use the lounge. I also find this to be the best benefit of having Star Alliance, One World, or Sky Team Gold status. The ability to use that airline’s lounge.
      It is a good question. It shows the marketing powers of frequent flyer programs. If only price, service, and schedule were factors it is an easy decision. You fly Qantas or Emirates. However, since you have achieved this status and can even attain a higher status with United I would fly any Star Alliance member airline. The only thing you need to look out for when flying a member airline and putting the miles to your airline’s program is the fare basis. If some flights are in discounted Economy you will only accrue a percentage of the miles you flew or maybe even not accrue at all. As an example, I was buying a ticket on Aeroflot last week for a trip next month. Luckily, before I bought the ticket, I checked with Delta’s website for mileage accrual and saw that the fare basis for the fare I was going to purchase did not accrue any miles (I would have still been able to use Aeroflot’s lounge in Moscow, though). Further, my Sister-in-law just came to visit from Moscow and she only received 25% of the miles she flew on Aeroflot to her Delta Sky Miles account. And Delta’s tends to be a little more generous on this than United and the Star Alliance. I know Singapore did this with United. It is better to check what your fare basis is and see if you will accrue miles before purchasing (again, you still can access their lounge’s with your status). You can view United’s Mileage Plus Accrual Chart for Star Alliance partners here;
      http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/marketing/custcomm/promotions/Pages/AirlinePartners.aspx (actually, looking at Singapore’s chart, it looks like almost all flights do accrue miles for both award accrual and Premier Qualifying Miles, so that is good).
      As I said before. Flying on United will give you many benefits. Besides Economy Plus seating you will also accrue bonus miles for the flights you fly on United. At 100% bonus that is a lot of extra miles for a future free trip (kind of like an investment 🙂 ).
      Lastly, you are correct that you can only use the airline’s lounge you are departing on (if you have membership to that club it is a different story). So if you flew Qantas from SIN you could not use their lounge (unless of course, as you said, pay. Usually around $50)

  7. Jim Dailakis

    Thanks again, Pat. I will say that the only thing I really missed about SQ, apart from the wonderful flight attendants, was the food. For some reason, airline food on all airlines makes me queasy. I always get an upset stomach – except on Singapore. They also have the lactose free option which is wonderful. On top of that, I can’t believe it actually tastes good!

    Thanks for all the info about the lounges. It looks like I might be going back to Australia for some performances in late November. If I fly with United to Singapore, then SQ to Perth, the total cost will be around $1846. It will cost me $2025 if I fly SQ direct to Perth from New York.
    Of course, even though I’d be on Singapore Airlines, I wouldn’t get the free Economy Plus seating at booking and I wouldn’t get the 50% mileage bonus being Premier Gold. From what I understand, if I’m flying Singapore and I’m accruing the miles to MileagePlus, I might not be allowed in the lounge. Is that correct? I don’t see why not. Also, I realized that when I flew business class on SQ, that I had access to the SilverKris Lounge. As I’ll be flying economy with Singapore to Perth, I’ll only be able to access the Star Alliance Gold lounge in T3. That’s the one I believe doesn’t have a shower or a toilet. This blows my mind considering it’s Changi and SQ! I’d never expect that from such a luxurious airline and airport.

    I guess as you say, aside from the fact that I be saving around $140, I should probably fly with United to Singapore because I would get all the perks and the bonuses so I’m assuming that that would be your suggestion. 🙂

    Also, I’ve just been offered the MileagePlus explorer card with a 50,000 bonus. I rent a lot of cars and I’m a Hertz Gold member. I know my credit card protects me for collision but what appeals to me about the MileagePlus Explorer Card is the primary car insurance which means I’m protected for everything, or at least I think it does. It might be worth it.

    As always, thanks so much for all your advice. I can’t thank you enough. If I’m ever performing anywhere near you, please let me know and I’ll comp you and your wife to my show. That way, she can have the opportunity to ignore me as well. 😉

    1. Patrick Post author

      Your Welcome Jim,
      Yes that would be my suggestion, mostly because of the bonuses, but also because of the extra legroom with Economy Plus. I was going to tell you that as a Gold Premier member you actually receive 100% bonus on miles flown. However, I just checked and you are correct that it is only a 50% bonus on miles flown on United. This must be new with the United/Continental merger. Gold and 1K members have always been rewarded a 100% bonus. This is a big minus in United’s program, because I am the equivalent to Gold on Delta and American and both give 100% bonus for miles flown. I also see that even with Premier Platinum there is only a 75% bonus. This is very surprising (and disappointing) to me!! That said, 50% is still a lot of miles considering how far you are flying.
      Not to worry, the one benefit Premier Gold will offer you is access to all Star Alliance Partner Lounges when flying that airline. So if flying SQ to Perth from SIN you would be able to visit the KrisFlyer Lounge. Not the SilverKris Lounge. That is the nice one with showers when flying Business Class. The KrisFlyer Lounge is for Gold members and does not have showers nor toilets. I agree, it is surprising (and also disappointing) considering the reputation SQ and Changi have, but they still are nice and have computers and plenty of food).
      I actually do not know that much about the Explorer Card. I have one, but it is the United Club card (allowing United Club access). It costs the same as the United Club annual fee would. I am not a fan of Chase Credit, and use my American Express Card when renting cars so I can not tell you if it’s coverage is good. However, 50,000 miles is worth it alone. Sometimes they waive the fee for the first year so you can test it for a year. Just be careful of how you get 50,000 bonus miles. Now some are breaking it up depending if you spend a certain amount or if you keep for more than a year. But again you see how Airline Frequent Flyer Programs are a great marketing tool.
      We would love to see your show. I am in New York occasionally and we live in San Diego. I can actually make my wife laugh (well, sometimes when I am not trying – like writing about travel), but once you get Russians loosened up they actually have a good sense of humor.

  8. Jim Dailakis

    Hi Pat,

    Now that Delta has switched to a revenue-based SkyMiles program, do you think United and American will follow? I fear that they will because it’s always Delta that leads the way to stinginess. I’d imagine UA and AA would get more business if they stay with their mileage-based programs. If AA and United follow suit, I may have to go back to KrisFlyer or switch to an international program.:-/
    I’d be really disappointed if they do because I’m extremely happy with United after all your advice and I’ve even managed to get the lowest fares from New York to Perth in 12 years flying in comfort and remain Premier Gold.

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hi Jim,
      Great question! I must admit that I have not looked to much into Delta’s new program. Partly because, despite being a million miler and Gold member with Delta, I recently become disappointed in their program. It is much harder to redeem miles with Delta at the lower levels. When you call to book awards on their partners the agents are no help at all, and mostly because they have started requiring spending levels in order to achieve Elite status. So I will not fly Delta as much this year, as there is no way I will meet the spending requirements. It is very hard to reach these spending levels as Delta only credits you on the non-taxed portion of the ticket. So on a $400 ticket you may only be credited with maybe $350 spent. Further, if you fly on one of their partners you do not get any spending credit at all. So when a friend told me about Delta’s new revenue-based program, I only glanced at the e-mail. If my understanding is correct, members are rewarded for dollars spent as opposed to miles flown. So 5 miles per dollar for general members, 7 for Silvers, 8 for Gold, 9 for Platinum, and 11 for Diamond. So even on a $300 one-way ticket from LAX to JFK a gold member would earn less than 2400 miles (less tax) as opposed to the 4950 currently earned. A general member would earn less than 1500 miles instead of 2475. You are correct in calling it stingy!
      Delta can get away with this change for only one reason. United was able to merge with Continental and US Air with American. Now with only three legacy carriers they will continue to reduce benefits and rewards. United has already followed Delta with the dollar spent requirement to achieve Premier status. Years ago American tied spending to Elite status and it didn’t work for them, because the other five or six airlines they competed with did not follow. Now this time American did not follow Delta or United with spending requirements for Elite status (but American does not give unlimited free upgrades). Besides not re-qualifying with Delta I also do not think I will make 1K this year with United because of the spending requirement (I will concentrate on American). I have been a 1K member with United every year for at least the last 18 years.
      So to answer your question. I think one of the two will follow, but not both. If other travelers are like me (and colleagues of mine), and curtail their traveling because they know they will not be rewarded with the miles they used to earn. Nor achieve the elite status they had in the past, then I think neither will follow and Delta may change their minds. However, if the airlines do not see a decline in their business travelers then I would imagine one will follow. United would have the hardest time doing this as they recently increased the number of miles required for award travel, and if coupled with lower miles earned, I think there would be a revolt.
      Jim, I really must apologize, as at the time you originally asked me what frequent flyer program you should put your miles towards, United was clearly the best program. But if they follow Delta and do have a revenue-based earning program then in no way, shape, or form will they be the best program (not sure they are now anyhow with increased award levels and spending requirements to reach elite status)
      So, maybe it will be in your best interest to retain your elite status with Singapore. However, I would wait a little while to see how this plays out. Because if Delta and United see their passenger loads from business travelers decrease they will scrap these new initiatives.
      While I can certainly understand why United and Delta want to make their Elite status more rewarding for those that spend the most money (I know Delta was getting complaints from top fliers that the Medallion program was over-crowded) and want to reduce miles earned and increase the number of miles for free travel. They need to be careful they do not alienate their core customers. By reducing miles earned for flights flown, they are almost rewarding their credit card customers as much as actual passengers. This could lead to these loyal customers to fly Virgin American and Jet Blue. They must remember the benefits these fliers received is the reason they were loyal to Delta and United in the first place. Not because of the level of their service. If I need to fly to New York from the West Coast now and I know I will have no chance for an upgrade, the miles I fly are not getting me closer to reaching Elite status, and I will earn less than 50% of the miles I earned before. I will fly the airline that has the lowest fare and best product. In most cases this will be Virgin America.
      Sorry so long. I am not sure I even answered your question. But I guess this has been pent up in me for a while and this was the avenue to get it out. I probably should have written a post about this subject weeks ago.

      Patrick

  9. Jim Dailakis

    Hey Pat!

    It’s been a while. I hope that you’re happy, healthy and still enjoy traveling. Thanks for the extra message. It was very kind of you. I was wondering what you’d think of all this Delta and United (and I’m sure soon to be American Airlines) revenue-based mileage accrual scheme.
    It’s such a shame because since we last spoke, I’ve taken four roundtrips to Australia with United to Singapore, then flew Singapore Airlines to Perth and having Premier Gold status was a wonderful perk! My flights were also insanely cheap, especially during the month of May and almost $700 cheaper than SQ.

    When my friend told me about Delta’s new program, I knew it was only a matter of time before United followed suit. Oh well, I guess nothing good lasts forever and I can almost see why the airlines are doing this. Was it worth flying with United and taking your advice? Absolutely! Traveling in Economy +, accruing miles and being able to visit the lounges definitely made my travel experience a lot better. I particularly enjoyed not having to line up for security, having TSA pre-check, and having a dedicated agent on the upper level for elite members at Newark Liberty. I was quite surprised with being offered TSA pre-check because when I applied, I thought my chances were slim considering it was only for US citizens. I’m an Aussie citizen so I’m surprised that I was actually granted that privilege.

    As a result of flying with United, next year, I will be flying round-trip from New York to Perth in business class/first on Asiana and Thai Airways. I’m flabbergasted that how generous MileagePlus is compared to the other airline programs even with the devaluation that occurred in the earlier part of the year. With Delta, I remember it was something like 230,000 miles just to go from LA to Sydney. With United, RT for 160,000 miles! The taxes amounted to about $160. Thanks again!
    When I flew business class with SQ to Perth round-trip, it cost me 90,000 miles and $400 in fuel surcharges and taxes. No thanks. :-/

    What to do now? Well, I’m at a loss but at the same time, feel somewhat liberated not having to worry about which program to belong to. With Priority Pass lounge membership, at $99 annual fee, and $27 per visit, I can always use that option. What do you think of them? If I fly through Singapore, at least I can take a shower in the lounge considering the Star Alliance Gold lounges lack one. The only drawback is you’re only allowed to stay in the lounge for three hours.

    Not being a US citizen, the spend requirement on United doesn’t apply to me which is good. However, at this stage, I think the best way to do it is to still credit all miles to MileagePlus and within a couple of years using miles flown, the miles transferred from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and one more credit card, I’ll be able to fly first class again. I don’t really know if it’s worth being a member of any airline the way things are now. My relationship with SQ has soured. I didn’t enjoy my last two flights with them and I missed out on being gold for another year because they didn’t make it clear that if I used pay with KrisFlyer miles, I wouldn’t be able to credit those miles to MileagePlus. I also didn’t enjoy the flights that much. Also, the price difference is astronomical. With Singapore Airlines, it’s $2261. If I fly with United to Singapore and then an airline like Scoot, it’s $1083! If I spent $2261 twice, it’s the same as paying for a business class ticket on Etihad which at the moment is going for $4183.
    I was toying with Cathay Pacific but I was never happy with oneworld.

    So that’s pretty much it. Any suggestions and/or advice would be much appreciated but I guess this is more of a giant thank you for all your advice.

    *Apologies for any grammatical errors. This message was voice dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hi Jim,
      Wow!! I need to get me one of those voice things, because I can talk a lot better than I can write 😉 Sounds like you are doing well and I’m happy that United really worked out for you. Yes, even with their increase in miles needed for free tickets they are still by far the best airline to redeem miles with. The one good thing that can be said about US based Airlines is they do not gauge you with fuel surcharges like BA, Emirates, Virgin, SQ or really most airlines. The one exception is with American when you book a ticket with their partner British Airways.
      As far as what program to use I am sorry to say you kind of stuck with United. However, as a non US citizen it is a much better program for you. You really have one up on the rest of us Premier’s. The one remaining sore spot with United is not only is their a spend requirement for earning Elite status, but also how you will accrue miles. This will hurt you the most. Because as a gold member if you buy a $1000 ticket to Singapore you will now only accrue maybe 8000 miles for the round-trip. Whereas, before you would have accumulated 22,500 miles with the actual miles flown and a 50% bonus. This is a huge difference. But, if you fly within the US you will be competing against a lot fewer Premiers for upgrades because many did not re-qualify because of the spend requirements. So Gold status will carry a lot more weight than it used to.
      That said, I would also be patient with United. It is my personal opinion that these new changes will both backfire on United and Delta. Not only have I changed my loyalties, but I know many others who have done the same thing. I now mostly fly American and am very happy. I redeemed an award to Bangkok on Cathay earlier this year and could not have been more pleased with how much the agents were willing to help on the phone (they found a flight from Chicago – like an idiot I flew across the country to catch it 😉 ). I only paid $25 in taxes for a Business Class ticket. I will admit that United’s online booking is much better and American’s Oneworld is weak, plus their partnership with BA is a problem because of the surcharges. However, I do not spend enough $ to meet United’s spend requirements for 1K (plus I am Platinum Premier for life because I have flown over 2 million miles) and I hate how you accrue miles now (you will earn more miles with non airline activity now – like car rentals, etc.). So if someone has been as loyal as I have been for the past 25 years leaves United, I would imagine many others will do the same. And that is never good for business. But, we will have to wait and see. I own United and Delta’s stock and they are going through the roof. So Wall Street seems to like what they are doing.
      So, I would stay the course. I think being a non-citizen is a big advantage for you and you will even able to enjoy United’s Premier benefits even more.
      Hope you enjoy the Holidays and happy and safe travels!!!!

      Patrick

  10. Jim Dailakis

    Hey Pat,

    Thanks for the reply. As a writer, I’m prone to getting tendinitis so Dragon, although temperamental, definitely makes my life a lot easier and less painful.
    Fantastic about your trip to Bangkok on Cathay! I’m tempted to join their program because from what I understand, even their economy class is one of the best in the world along with SQ. I’d probably credit miles to American like you did as opposed to Asia Miles. I’m not sure if they have any fuel surcharges and taxes. I would’ve flown to Chicago as well. Wouldn’t any travel geek and miles addict? 😉

    As always, thank you so much for your advice. The only problem is that if I do stick with United and MileagePlus, I don’t think I’ll get any further than Silver status so I’m really not sure if it’s worth it.

    If I take 2 trips to Australia from New York to Perth: $1932 NYC to PER March 2015. $1909 NYC to PER July 2015 = $3841. TOTAL as Premier Gold = 30728.

    I should also point out that if I don’t accrue another 1800 miles by the end of the year, I will lose my Premier Gold status. Do I need to be Premier Gold for next year? That’s debatable. My trip to Perth in July will be in first/business class using miles I’ve accrued so I’ll get all the perks anyway. I’m still not sure if I’ll be traveling in March. Even if I do, Cathay Pacific is $1595 with only one stop in Hong Kong. Etihad is $1112 although I don’t think I would ever travel with them because their economy cabin is notoriously bad.
    Do you think it’s still worth striving for Premier Gold by the end of the year? And, if I’m only going to accrue approximately 30,000 miles to reach Silver, am I better off switching to another airline? Unless upgrades are possible with Silver status, I’m not sure.

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hi Jim,
      This is now the problem with all programs and why Frequent Flyer programs are such a strong marketing tool. To start with a new program is very hard. I would have never switched to American if they didn’t match my status with United. The idea of not boarding early, checking free bags, preferred seating (even if not upgraded) is so powerful that as much as I could be disappointed with my preferred carrier I’d still fly them. In addition, the difference between how you are treated as a Silver member compared to if you are gold is significant (lounge access alone on Int’l flights). So would I fly 1800 miles to reach a higher level? Yes!!! I have flown a lot farther to do so:) In fact, the Airlines probably have gotten a nice bump in passengers taking “mileage runs” in December. My guess with the new requirements now, that may have diminished this year. It is inexpensive to fly to some cities in Florida and the benefits out-way the cost.
      Again, because you do not have the spend requirements I still think United is the best program for you, unless of course the diminished miles earned is that much of an issue (it is with me). Plus that is just two flights you will take next year. I am sure you will fly within the US some as well. As far as Silver getting upgraded with the CPU’s (complimentary premier upgrade). I think that is still unlikely. I have not heard what % of Elite flyers United will loose, but while I think they will loose a lot, I still think there are way to many Gold, Platinum, and 1K’s for Silvers to get upgraded (although I have flown on a few Delta flights this year where seats went free in First – but they were on non-hub routes).

      Take Care
      Patrick

  11. Jim Dailakis

    Hi Pat,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I’ve taken your advice and I decided to take a mileage run to Tampa from New York. The cost is $333.
    After talking to the United rep who set me straight, I realized I made a mistake. This new program does not affect elite qualifying miles. She told me that if I take 2 trips to Australia like I always do, it will amount to 50,000 miles which means I would still reach Premier Gold. I didn’t realize they were still basing elite status on miles flown. So basically, I’ll still be Premier Gold but mileage accrual will be dismal.
    Having said that, I’m still wondering if after next year, I should go back to KrisFlyer to not only have gold status (and be able to use the lounge domestically) but to also accrue a lot more valuable miles a lot easier. As mentioned, SQ is $2268 RT from NYC to PER. If I keep doing the UAL to SIN and SQ to PER deal, I’ll still be on United metal paying only $1700 but crediting miles to KrisFlyer. Based on this information, do you still think with MileagePlus or after next year, switch to KrisFlyer? Sorry to be a pain and thanks as always for your answers. Have a very Merry Holiday season!

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hi Jim,
      No problem 🙂 Yes, for you as a non-citizen, qualifying for Elite status is easy. No spend requirement!! Just miles flown. Since you live in the US this is a real advantage for you. The only downside with United is you can not get lounge access with any status when flying within the US. But, of course you do when flying Internationally on any Star Alliance carrier. So if you think you will fly some within the USA I would stick with United. Two reasons; First even with miles accrued being cut in half your benefits with United are generous. Plus since you do not need the spend component you will be competing against far fewer Elite members for First Class upgrades and Economy Plus seats. Second, I have my doubts whether the accruing formula will stick. All it will take is a hiccup with the economy and they will be trying to get back all the members that have left them (and there will be a lot). The first thing they will do is reverse some of the changes (like how miles are accrued).
      The other thing you need to be careful with when flying any Star Alliance partner is will that fare actually accrue miles. So if you went back to Kris Flyer and flew United to Singapore you may not accrue any miles with SQ because fare was not eligible. Same if flying SQ to your United program. (example; I was going to buy one-way Business Class ticket on Aeroflot from BKK to SVO, but it was discounted Business and I would have accrued 0 miles for that flight. Instead I bought ticket on Qatar and stopped in Doha to Moscow) So for that reason I would concentrate on the program of the airline you thing you will actually fly on the most (not sure how United will post miles when flying on their partners).
      Honestly, the whole thing is a little bit of a mess now and Delta recently made additional changes to their program that limits Gold Medallion benefits. Since American hasn’t changed I can’t see how these Delta and United changes will stick. But they have so far and both airlines are financially doing great (I own both their stocks :):) So we will see!

      Happy Holidays to you as well!!!

  12. Jim Dailakis

    Thanks as always, Pat! You really bring up some good points. Checking with the United/Singapore Airlines mileage accrual chart, the lowest fare on United is $842 round-trip to Singapore from NYC. That would be in K class which is 100% accrual if I did decide to go with KrisFlyer again. I feel like I’m in a win-win situation here. For now, I’ll take your advice and just stick with MileagePlus and see how we go next year. It’s amazing that the airlines are making money with this new scheme because that’s the bottom line but like you, I just don’t see how they can sustain such a miserable and unbelievably stingy program.
    UA has been very generous to me, treated me well, and for the first time in my whole traveling life, (especially since ditching Qantas) I actually see my name on the upgrade list sometimes. Mind you, Singapore was also incredibly awesome. I’m just bummed that they didn’t give me my premier qualifying miles towards United this year. Hence the mileage run. :-/
    Your advice has been invaluable and I always appreciate it. Your blog is awesome! May Santa bring you first class upgrades, exquisite lounges, and the miracle of having your wife listen to you. 😛

    1. Patrick Post author

      Your welcome Jim and thank you very much for the kind words. I wish you the same (well maybe not about having a wife that doesn’t listen to you,;))!!!

  13. Jim Dailakis

    Hi Pat,

    It’s been a while. How have you been? After our last conversation, I decided to stick with United and I’m pretty happy that I did. As always, all flights have been in E+, flights were comfortable, lounges revisited, dedicated helpline has been awesome…all that sort of thing

    Thanks to all your stellar advice and sticking with United, I’ll be flying Asiana and Thai Airways round-trip from New York to Perth bought with a total of 163,000 miles this year. 🙂

    Lately, even though I’ve been very happy with United, I’m questioning my loyalty to the airline. Every year, I take two trips to Australia and reach Premier Gold. Being an Aussie citizen, I’m exempt from the spend requirements which is definitely a bonus. However, when I see I can get most of the same benefits from the United Club Card as well as being able to visit lounges domestically (I think this even includes flying on another airline…I’m not sure) I wonder if it’s worth being loyal to United. As with many other Premier Silver and Gold elites, I’ve always felt that it was unfair for anyone with a United branded credit card to also receive the same privileges as someone who’s flown so much. I’ve also yet to see one upgrade. There was only one time where I was at the top of the upgrade list that they gave that seat to a pilot. I actually complained in the nicest possible way. They told me they didn’t. Too bad I didn’t film it.

    Currently, I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and it has helped me immensely. So here’s what I’m contemplating. I’m thinking of either getting the United Club Card or just crediting my miles to Singapore Airlines and spending the extra $650 or so on flying their new premium economy cabins for the long haul flight. That way, I get 100% of miles flown and I can credit them to either MileagePlus and still reach Premier Gold but earn 100% of miles flown, or credit them towards KrisFlyer with an added bonus for flying a premium cabin.

    I would still continue to fly with UAL domestically and I can just fork out the extra money for E+. I still might be flying to Australia twice a year so I’ll always accrue 50,000 miles. If I don’t fly 50,000 miles, I’m contemplating getting the United Club card and flying premium on SQ, I’d still have the same privileges as being Premier Gold minus the dedicated helpline which I would probably miss the most. What do you think?

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hi Jim,
      I have been fine thanks for asking and it is nice to hear from you. This is the issue with some of the airline programs now. You get enough benefits that it keeps you flying them, but not enough as you got in the past. I have actually switched my loyalties to American and have been very happy. The only downside is One World is not as good of an Alliance as the other two. Plus all BA flights have very high taxes and surcharges. So you end up paying well more than $500 for free ticket. This is something you may want to check with SQ. Do they charge the same taxes and fees? I do not know if they do, as I am not that familiar with their program anymore. If not I would say that it might be best to move back to them. Because you are correct. The Chase United Club card gives you most the same benefits that being a Gold member gives. The one benefit it doesn’t is the upgrade, and as you said you don’t get upgraded very often, or at all (I was a Gold Premier in the 90’s and was always upgraded) Now, if you can fly enough to reach Platinum Premier with United you would see some of those upgrades come in and then it would be better to stay with Mileage Plus. For me the ability to get upgraded is the most important benefit.
      As I said I do not know all the ins and outs of Kris Flyer. If you are Gold with Kris Flyer can you get access to United Clubs when flying domestically (I do not think you can, only Int’l flights) and does it give you Economy Plus seating (also do not it does). I also do not know how easy it is to redeem awards thru SQ. Another important factor. I know United may be the easiest. So United may still be best option (again, especially if you can achieve Platinum Status (75,000 miles) and because you are exempt from spend requirements). However, if you are willing to pay extra for Singapore’s Premium Economy and United’s Economy Plus (you still may get those seats as a Gold Kris Flyer) then, well, I’m not sure ;):):):) I think putting those miles with Mileage Plus will give you at least 100% and may give you additional bonus which can help you reach the next Premier level with United. I have seen Singapore’s new Premium Economy (on film) and it looks great and certainly much, much better than United’s Economy Plus. Honestly, I think if visiting the lounge is important than getting Chase Club card makes sense but if being a Kris Flyer Gold gives you access to the domestic lounge network maybe not. The United Club card would allow you to visit partner lounges. The issue is that to move up in benefits always entails spending more $$. I like being a member of an Airlines lounge so it is worth the money to me. I need to run and I’m not sure I have fully answered your question. If not feel free to ask more 🙂
      I would say this. As long as you do the bulk of your travel within the USA than it is probably best to stay with United (lower fares would not accrue mileage nor status with SQ)

      Best of Luck

      Patrick

  14. Jim Dailakis

    Thanks for your prompt reply, Pat. Much appreciated as always. Glad that you’re happy with American. I’ve flown them a couple of times and even in their new metal, the seats are very cramped. Needless to say, I very much missed United on those flights. I’m afraid that once the merger is complete, they’ll too switch to a spend based program.

    Yes, when I flew business class on miles with Singapore airlines as a KrisFlyer, it was $400 in taxes and surcharges. That was from Singapore to Perth round trip. Compare that to United where I paid only $165 in taxes on a round-trip from New York to Perth!

    I agree with you that getting upgraded is the major reason we do what we do. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see it. I mean it’s great seeing my name on the upgrade list but not much point when I don’t end up there anyway. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fly enough to reach Platinum. Even with the flying I do in the US and the two trips to Australia, I’d be pushing it.

    Yes, if I’m Star Alliance Gold through KrisFlyer, I can visit the lounges when on a Star Alliance or United flight domestically. Being Premier Gold and even a 1K member, we cannot visit lounges on domestic flights which blows my mind.
    If I was KrisFlyer Gold, I would not get the Economy Plus seats for free as I do now.

    Redeeming awards through KrisFlyer is quite good. They take care of their KrisFlyers and give them priority over other Star Alliance members. I think there’s even a 10% or 15% discount when booking online.

    Interestingly, just about every single one of my United flights has been smooth sailing…or flying. 🙂 They’ve been very generous and kind to me so I figure maybe I should stay with them and get the club card as well. That way, I can use it for all other purchases where I would get 1.5 miles per dollar spent and use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card for all travel and dining expenses considering I get double and sometimes triple the amount.

    I’m not sure if you or I have answered my question. Haha. May have to think about it a little more.

    Thanks so much for your reply.

    PS United is offering me 50,000 miles if I sign up for the United MileagePlus Explorer card. It’s tempting because it means I would have 200,000 miles for next year’s trip to Australia so I could fly business class again. Decisions, decisions!

    1. Patrick Post author

      You’re very welcome Jim 🙂
      My wife and I flew Thai from BKK to Melbourne earlier this year in Business and enjoyed it very much. That said, Asiana is even better!! So I hope you enjoy the rewards of being loyal 🙂 That is where Mileage Plus is so strong. They have great partners that cover the globe and in many cases are easy to get rewards on (SQ being one that is not so easy, unless on their regional Business Class). So it is always hard for me to steer someone away from them. I just have a problem with how you earn miles now. I have flown UAL three times this year and I earned half the miles I would have last year on each flight (I flew on a paid First Class ticket on one as well). That is why I like American now, but they do not have the same partner network. So you are always giving up something to get something. Because you earn less miles now when flying earning 50,000 miles from a credit card is a great way to accumulate miles (doesn’t make sense to me you reward someone more for a non flying activity, but I guess that is big money maker for them) and the same with the club card from Chase. If it will not hurt you financially then you might as well take advantage what is available to you (would take a lot of flying now to earn 50,000 miles).
      The one thing I am surprised to hear is that you haven’t been upgraded yet. I thought with the changes there would be a lot less Premier members so it would be easier getting upgraded. I know last year as a Gold with Delta I never got upgraded, but a friend of mine who dropped to a Gold this year gets upgraded with regularity. What market you fly and when you fly also effects that as does the fact United is now selling First Class seats in many markets for $50-100 more than the lowest Economy fare.
      As long as United doesn’t require the spend component for you I would stay with them and if it doesn’t cost much more I would fly the SQ Premium Economy over United’s Economy Plus. I know I have suggested that with my Dad and his wife a few times. They flew Air France and British Airways over Delta & United’s in Premium Economy and not only did they enjoy their flights more, but they also got their full miles with American and Delta, plus received a class of service bonus, and even better were upgraded to Business twice. The downside of flying a partner now and earning miles with United and Delta is that it does not go towards the spend for Elite status. However, this would not be an issue for you :):)
      Always happy to help Jim (even it is having you answer your own question ;);))!!!

      Patrick

  15. Jim Dailakis

    Thank you so much, Pat! Corresponding with you regarding travel is like looking up the answers in the back of a book. 🙂 You most certainly answered my question and confirmed what I believe.
    You’re right because any way I cut it and no matter how much research I do on flying with other airlines, I always run into obstacles whether it’s paying more, having a weaker alliance and so on. It actually blows my mind that I’ve been so happy with United so I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    In fairness to United regarding my upgrades, I haven’t really flown all that much and the two round trips I took from New York to LA were popular ones so with all the elites flying that route, it wasn’t surprising. I was actually flabbergasted that I was on the upgrade list at all.
    United’s routing always happens to be the best option for me and often the cheapest. Sometimes, it may be about $25-$35 more but I think it’s definitely worth it to have status and be treated better than flying another airline. They’ve treated me very well and this Aussie absolutely loves having an American with an American accent in America answering all of my questions efficiently in America with the Premier helpdesk. 🙂

    My comedian friends usually get upgraded on Delta flights even if they are Silver. Even now with the way things are, they still get upgraded. I always heard that Delta is very generous when it comes to domestic upgrades. Unfortunately, as you know, I started with them and six months later I dumped them because it was the most miserable traveling experience I’ve ever had from any airline. UAL was great from the get-go. I mean, my first flight with United, they upgraded me to first class because I volunteered to give up my seat. I felt that was a good start. 🙂

    I’m psyched and excited about flying both Asiana and Thai Airways in business class. This is what makes it all worthwhile and what makes paying that extra $25-$30 to stick with one airline. Thanks for letting me know. Three weeks to go!

    Yeah, I think I might just fly with SQ to Perth next year. I’ll accrue 100% miles towards MileagePlus, still reach Premier Gold status and travel in comfort and class. According to the videos and the reviews, SQ’s premium economy is equivalent to a first-class domestic seat. I guess it’s a win-win. It is a little more though. It costs me roughly $1800 to fly round-trip from EWR-SIN via Narita, and then Narita to SIN and SIN to PER on a separate ticket with SQ. I deliberately choose that route because it’s cheaper and I usually end up getting a whole Economy Plus row to myself. Going to Australia via LA is a lot more crowded and it’s more like $2170-$2300. SQ’s premium economy is $2750.

    Still not sure on the United Club credit card. If I don’t reach Premier Gold for 2016, then I think I’ll fork out the $395 and get it. I’m too spoilt now. 🙂 That way, I’ll use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and earn two points on travel and dining and use the United Club card for everything else where I’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent.

    Again, glad you’re happy with American. Hopefully, they won’t switch to an earning-based program.

    Thanks for your advice, Pat and for the help in answering my dilemma. I listened to your wise words a few years ago and this is why my travel experience has been a hell of a lot better. Thanks again!

    If only your wife realized what an amazing travel guru you truly are. 😛 😛 🙂 🙂

    1. Patrick Post author

      Very Happy to hear Jim!!! And glad I could be of some help. Yes, it all ends up being sort of the lesser of two (or three in this case) evils. I prefer United to Delta and at times all the airlines will let you down. Have a great trip this month and enjoy Asiana and Thai!!!!
      Now, if I can just get my wife to realize that I am not just a guru with travel and listen to me about other things!! But one can only dream 😉

  16. Pavel

    Hi
    Planning to stay one night/one day in Miami Beach Sep 16-17. Have complexity in choosing hotel. My range is up to $220. Would like something nice with ocean view.
    I need also advise about where to go.
    Thanks

    1. Patrick Post author

      Hello Pavel, Sorry so long to get back to you. I see that the date in question has already passed so this will probably not be of much help. Honestly I have only been in Miami Beach twice and your budget will dictate where is best to stay more than anything. The last time I stayed was on South Beach at the Hilton Bentley Miami Beach (rate was under $200 – but no ocean view). It has a great beach behind the hotel, but is at the Southern tip of the beach. So the heart of South Beach is a bit of a ways. As far as where to go. I have eaten at Tantra twice and liked it very much. The first time I went there was a very long line to get in because it is also a night club, but eating dinner gained access. The second time we were alone for the entire meal. We went around 6pm and I guess it doesn’t get busy until much later. My wife and I took her sister (who was visiting from Moscow) and I was hoping she would experience the South Beach scene!! Didn’t quite turn out that way.
      Again sorry so late!!

      Happy travels!!!

      Patrick

  17. Charles

    Greetings friends,
    Planning a trip from Los Angeles Intl to Odessa, Ukraine in June 2017, business class. I don’t care for long layovers, or 16 hour outbound and 33 hour inbound.
    Do you have any suggestions on airlines with great service, short flights and reasonable fares? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Patrick Post author

      First off, you are very fortunate (I’m envious) to be flying to Odessa. One of my favorite cities to visit, but unfortunately one that I haven’t been to in 12 years. From LAX, I think the only airline that has 1 stop service is Turkish (which is a very good airline with a great lounge in IST). LOT, Czech, and Austrian fly to Odessa, but all those cities require a connection to reach from LA.
      Happy Travels!!

      Patrick

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Pat's Travel Reviews

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