Friday, April 27, 2007

Trip Report - When Ted is Not Ted

So my usual San Francisco-Las Vegas United flight at 7:15am is always a Ted flight. But today I saw a regular A320 sitting at our gate. The Plane was fairly hidden from the gate area. Luckily there were gate agents at the gate, so I asked if there was First Class available.

The gate agent "Ray" said "no, there is no first class service -- but let me see if I can get you up there" After a couple dozen keystrokes and some chatter about "I will move him in the cabin", I was given seat 2C.

The gate agents for this flight did a good job, boarding Global Service and then rows "1-3". It was interesting to watch group 1 board while sitting in First Class. You could tell there were a couple Premier Execs that thought it was a regular all-coach Ted aircraft

In any case, there was VERY good quasi-First Class service with pre-departure drinks and very frequent refills. Oddly, for some reason we were a bit late arriving in Las Vegas -- even though we got off the ground quickly.


All in all not a bad flight -- nice to get the upgrade. I wonder how long Ted will be around, it just seems like United could use regular A320s. Plus they can staff regular A320s with 3 flight attendants, versus the 4 FAs that must be staffed on a Ted A320 (since its over 150 seats).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Favorite Hotel List

Here are some of my favorite hotels that I have stayed at...

Chicago
Amalfi Hotel - 4 star
Pros - Location, clean, free happy hour, close to some gay bars
Cons - Often sold out

Las Vegas
SunCoast Hotel and Casino (Summerlin - not near the Strip) - 3 star
Pros - Huge rooms, clean, Large Plasma TVs in room, very reasonable rates, not a mega hotel/casino
Cons - Mediocre restaurants, "locals" casino (lots of smokers, etc)

Palms Hotel and Casino (off strip) - 4 star
Pros - Great rooms and beds, LCD tvs in new Tower, great dining options, small casino
Cons - Sometimes late night parties on guest floors, Britney and Paris

London
Mountbatten Hotel (Seven Dials in Covent Garden)
Pros - Fun location, close to nightlife
Cons - Tiny rooms, can be pricey, no air conditioning --- but all that is fairly common in London


San Francisco
Park 55 - 4 star
Pros - Nice hotel located at the Powell BART station, ask for a corner room - easy MUNI access to Castro
Cons - Sometimes expensive

Holiday Inn Civic Center (yes - its true) - 3 star
Pros - Convenient Location next to Civic Center, reasonable rates, clean rooms -- easy MUNI access to the Castro
Cons - Its a Holiday Inn -- not a 4 or 5 star hotel


Club Quarters - 3 star
Pros - located near Embarcadero, usually $99/night, safe and very clean
Cons - Tiny rooms, for single or couples only

San Diego
Park Manor - 3 star
Pros - Location! Close to gay bars and balboa park, great Friday roof-top happy hour
Cons - a bit dated, but had a recent remodel of rooms

Seattle
Hyatt Grand - 4 star
Pros - Great location, with floor to ceiling windows
Cons - Can be very pricey

Sydney
Sydney Marriott - 3 Star
Pros - Location, Location, Location
Cons - Not the nicest hotel in Sydney, but its walking distance to everything and very close to nightlife on Oxford Street


Travel Phone Numbers / Elite Phone Numbers / Websites

TRAVEL AGENTS

Priceline
Reservations 1-800-774-2354
International/ +1 212 444 0022

Travelocity
Reservations - 888-872-8356

Expedia
Reservations - 800-EXPEDIA

Orbitz
Reservations - 888-656-4546


AIRLINES - US Toll-Free Phone Numbers


Air Canada (more info)
Reservations - 888-247-2262

AirTran Airways (more info)
Reservations - 800-247-8726
Elite: A+ - 888-327-5878

Alaska Airlines (more info)
General Reservations - 800-426-0333
Elite: MVP - 877-240-0412
Elite: Gold - 877-240-0412

American Airlines (more info)
Reservations - 800-433-7300
Elite: Gold - 1-800-848-4653
Elite: Platinum - 1-800-843-3000
Elite: Exec Platinum - 1-800-843-6200

Continental Airlines (more info)
Reservations - 800-525-0280
(see United for Elite numbers)

Delta Air Lines (more info)
General Reservations - 800-221-1212
Elite: Silver Medallion - 800-325-6330
Elite: Gold Medallion
Elite: Platinum Medallion

Frontier Airlines (more info)
Reservations - 800-432-1359
Elite: Ascent - 866-272-3685
Elite: Summit -

Hawaiian Airlines (more info)
Reservations - 800-367-5320

JetBlue Airways (more info)
Reservations - 800-538-2583

Southwest (more info)
Reservations - 800-435-9792

United Airlines (more info)
Reservations - 800-241-6522
Elite: Premier -
Elite: Premier Executive - 800-225-8900
Elite: 1k - 800-756-1000
Elite: Global Services -

US Airways (more info)
Reservations - 800-428-4322
Elite: Silver -
Elite: Gold - 800-742-0622 (Email - gold@usairways.com)
Elite: Platinum -
Elite: Chairmans -

Virgin America (more info)
Reservations - 877-359-8474

WestJet (more info)
Reservations - 800-538-5696

HOTEL - US Toll-Free Phone Numbers

Hilton (more info)
Reservations -
Elite: Blue - 800-548-8690 


Holiday Inn (more info)
Reservations - 888-211-9874
Elite: Gold Priority Club - 800-421-5160
Elite: Platinum Priority Club - 800-421-5162
Email - priorityclub@ichotelsgroup.com

Hyatt (more info)
Reservations - 800-228-3360

Marriott (more info)
Reservations - 888-236-2427
Elite: Silver - 800-228-2100
Elite: Gold - 800-228-2100
Elite: Platinum -

Wyndham (more info)
Reservations - 800-WYNDHAM

Starwood (Sheraton, Four Points, St Regis, Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Westin) (more info)
Reservations - 800-325-3535
Elite: Gold - 888-625-4990
Elite: Platinum -888-625-4991

Friday, April 20, 2007

Trip Report - Delta/Freedom Air FLL-MCO EMB145

This was a very quick trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando. The Embraer 145 regional jet was 100% full. Luckily I was on the single side (the "A" seats are single seats). Freedom Air (part of Mesa Airlines) was the Delta Connection Carrier operating this flight.

The seats are the typical regional jet seats: Leather, somewhat smaller and a limited recline. The exit row seats do have extra leg room, but I think I would still prefer the single seats.


The service was quick-- water + snack, with a cheery flight attendant. This flight continued on to Huntsville, Alabama but upon landing in Orlando there was a bit of confusion for the through passengers -- if they needed to deplane or not. No announcement was made. A deadheading flight attendant told people around her they needed to deplane no matter what. I might be too picky, but its these kind of details (especially landing in a "hub" airport) the airline should have down.

Fine flight and service, but there must have been about 20 carryon bags brought planeside that were stacked 4 high in a cart. Pulling them out from under other bags was a but odd. Horizon has a much better "ala cart" system.

Trip Report - US Airways DCA-FLL 737-400

I keep hoping for a new fresh airplane experience on US Airways but so far I haven't had one. This flight was no different. The airplane was a VERY tired-looking 737-400 from the old USAir fleet. The paint was peeling off the skin and it looked like it had seen much better days years ago.

At National Airport, US Airways seems to have abandoned the Gate Podiums and has a single agent positioned at the Gate Door. This is fine, but the single gate agent also has to load the wheelchair passengers and then run back to board the flight.



The overhead bins on this aircraft are the old style (non-extended), since there were only 100 passengers on board there wasnt an overhead space issue. The exit row seating in row 12 is fairly generous, typical for the 737 seating layout. The seats were very worn and looked like they hadnt been cleaned in a couple years. The walls and windows looking like they hadnt been wiped clean in months. My tray was covered in bits of "snack mix" that had been there for at least a couple flights.

The whole lack of cleaning is a serious issue US Airways needs to fix. I wish I had taken a picture of the lav -- it was beyond "dirty".

This plane still had the old Verzion phones on it -- There must a be revenue stream from Verizon to US Airways for still having this equipment on board, because I dont think I have ever seen ANYONE use these in years.


To sum up - typical US Airways flights -- trying to do things on the cheap and it comes across that way. Although this time I didnt see any duct tape !

Trip Report - UA SFO-DEN 777

The SF-Denver 6am flight always seems to be full, on this Monday the entire 777 was full -- except for one F/C seat open (!?!?).

This 777 aircraft was the domestic United variety -- regular f/c seats, no in seat video, tight seat pitch and a 2-2-2 configuration. The service was typical United, slight disappointing and the flight attendants seem to spend more time gossiping in the forward Galley then attending to the passengers.


My 2E seat was the typical UAL domestic seat -- no power seat, but I did notice the Empower was operating. Unfortunately I didnt bring my power adapter.


The Captain said Channel 9 was available, but for some reason it was not working on my Audio Console -- but other channels were fine.

The "breakfast" service consisted of a smallish croissant egg/bacon sandwich and a small plate of fruit. There was no choice and the presentation was very uninspired. Sorry no picture - I was really hungry by the time it was served.

I have dropped being a Red Carpet Member a couple years back, so I do the usual "search and plug" game in the airport. In Denver, the "Qwest Business Center" is now open to all with FREE Wired Internet, plus real working desks with power outlets. It is located on the Upper level in the middle of the concourse above Gate 38.



All in all a very bland United Flight, however its nice to be on a 777 instead of a 737-300 -- even if its only a 2 hour flight.

Fly Safe!
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