2015 – Year in review

2015 Year-in-Review

Now the the holiday season is over, and the New Year draws near, it’s that time again… Time to look back on 2015 and reflect on all the places we’ve been and things we’ve seen.

At this time last year when we were writing our 2014 post, I think we had said something along the lines of 2014 being a big year for our travel; and that we might take it easy in 2015… Fast-forward one year, and all I have to say is “ha!” We didn’t have a lot planned going into 2015, but we ended up covering a fair bit of ground. It started with a mistake fare to Rio, and ended up with an aspirational booking in first class to Hong Kong on one of the top airlines in the world. Continue reading

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Planning Brazil

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[Photo credit: Len Theivendra via Flyseestay]

In a few days time, we’ll be on our way to Rio DeJaneiro! We booked our tickets way back in January, when we saw an error fare, and decided to snag a few seats. Fast forward 9 months, and its finally time to start packing.  We are lucky that Caitlin’s sister also booked the same fare and visited Rio back in March.  She shared all of her itinerary with us so we didn’t have to plan too much. Continue reading

Banking Abroad

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Cash is king – and nowhere is that statement truer than it is outside of the US. Anyone who has ever been to a foreign country knows that credit cards are rarely accepted, and if they are accepted, they usually come with some hefty fees. Lets face it, we Americans are used to swiping credit cards for anything here in the US – from a cup of coffee, to a large screen TV. When we travel abroad, however, pulling out a credit card for every little thing is frowned upon and usually met with a weird stare. Continue reading

First Class to Australia

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When we were booking our flights to Sydney, we looked at a lot of different options; reserving several different award tickets until we found the ‘right’ one.  We knew the trip to Australia was going to be a long one, and we basically had 2 criteria – 1) that the ticket be as close to free as possible using miles, and 2) that we travel in relative comfort. A trip to Australia, depending on the routing can be at least 21 hours of flying, plus layovers since there are no direct flights to Australia from NYC.

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Guess what day it is!

It’s the one day a year, where I get to be mushy – Caitlin’s birthday!  Like me, Caitlin isn’t into big celebrations; she prefers smaller, more intimate events. She does however like to be reminded when her birthday is coming up, and just mentioning it causes her face to light up. Normally, we would use this occasion to plan a trip away and simultaneously escape the cold weather in February.  This year because of my new job, the logistics just didn’t work out.  We even came close to booking a short trip to Milan but had to cancel it at the last minute. Instead, we are home this week, just in time for the deep freeze. I know she is not expecting a large display, but she deserves a thoughtful one at least.  Caitlin is always thinking about me – making sure I’m presentable, fed, and ready for anything. She’s one of the strongest people I know, and among the long list of her super-powers are:

  • her impeccable memory,
  • her appetite,
  • the speed with which she reads books,
  • her ability to win every argument,
  • and her being the best all-around wife anyone can ask for.

With that being said, I’ll leave you all with the baby picture displaying Caitlin’s trademark face. Its the face that motivates me, and keeps me in line. Love you sweetie, happy birthday!

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Angry baby alert

Year in Review – 2014

2014 Map

It’s that time of year again. The end of December is when everyone looks back over their year and makes lists. So far be it for us to not follow the trend.

2014 was one hell of a year for us. In addition to starting this blog, we still found some time to travel around the world while working full time. We were on the road almost once a month in 11 separate trips. We finally got to cross off Australia and Peru from our bucket list, which were over 2 years in planning. We’ve even literally flown around the world – flying only eastward to Australia through Abu Dhabi and then eastward home through Los Angeles. We also visited our 6th continent – only one more to go! The more we see on our travels, the more we wanted to see.

Some of the more impressive stats include: over 91,000 miles flown, on 42 individual flight segments. 7 countries, 5 continents. We spent over 26 hours flying in first class, 70 hours in business, and countless hours in coach.  12 of those flights were over 8 hours long, and 5 of those 12 were more than 12 hours – thats a lot of long-haul flying.  Even with all that however, we fell short of of the re-qualification threshold for American Airlines Executive Platinum status – 100k miles. It looks like next year we’ll have to settle for being just Platinum. This means no more unlimited domestic upgrades, and no 8 SWUs for international flights, but we still get lounge access and priority seating/boarding, etc. We also have a stash of points built up this year we’ll work on using up in 2015.

Our trips in 2014 included:

This past year we specifically planned more travel than normal in order to maximize the benefits of our status. This resulted in a lot of busy weekends and running around packing, unpacking, and repacking. In fact, it felt like we spent most of 2014 living out of our suitcase. All this travel definitely took its toll on our bodies.  Between the long-haul flights, meals in airport lounges, time changes, jet lag, busy weekends, and packed schedules to fit as much in as possible on our trips we both feel a bit worn down.  Even though we loved every minute of of our whirlwind year, we’re also looking forward to some R&R time at home this winter. For 2015, we have a lot of ideas of where we want to go, but nothing concrete planned. We are excited to start planning our next adventure around the world (any suggestions?).  It’ll be hard to top 2014, but we can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. We wish everyone a safe and happy new year!

AA Master Class – Upgrades

Flying is not glamorous. You usually have to get up at an ungodly hour, drag a week’s worth of belongings with you in a tiny box to a giant airport where you will have (at a minimum) one of your civil rights violated; you’ll then be forced to find your way around a byzantine terminal, before you are finally herded into lines only to be unceremoniously squeezed into a giant metal tube, strapped to a chair, and hurdled through the sky at 500 mph. It is, however, the price we all must pay in order to travel and go on vacation. There are few ways to make the experience better, the main one being an upgrade. When you’ve been upgraded,  you’ll at least spend the last part of the ordeal strapped to a bigger chair, that in some cases even turns into a bed. You’ll certainly be fed, and provided a steady stream of [alcoholic] beverages. You’ll find room for your stuff, and the flight attendants will usually be more pleasant – reminding you that you are, after all, a human being. For the sake of being thorough, an upgrade entitles you to be seated in the next best cabin of service from the one in which you booked your ticket. If you booked coach, you’ll be seated in business; if you book business, you’ll be seated in first; and if you booked first, they will let you fly the plane! (not really) On international and transcontinental flights, upgrades also give you access to lounges, priority boarding, and additional baggage allowances. The goal of this post will be to discuss the main strategies for getting upgraded on flights booked with American Airlines (AA). This will require some level of status, since without it, there should be no expectation of an upgrade barring any extraordinary circumstances.

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Business cabin on flight to Hong Kong

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Cheap Flight Alert: Toronto to Singapore

Just saw another deal to Asia, this time going from Toronto to Singapore.  This one won’t last long and availability is pretty limited. Some flights can be booked as American Airlines codeshares (meaning: you can earn full AA elite qualifying miles as long as you book them with AA flight numbers). These flights go from Toronto through ORD (Chicago) or JFK (New York). Then you transfer onto Cathay Pacific all the way to Singapore. If you’ve never flown on Cathay Pacific, you don’t know what you’re missing! Other airlines like United and Delta are also matching these reduced rates.  These fare war are great for us travelers. Continue reading