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Is Paying Less for Basic Economy Worth It?

Is Paying Less for Basic Economy Worth It?

Did you ever hear of a Basic Economy fare?
See Also: How to Book Airline Tickets like a Pro 

Low fare airlines have been popping up all over the world. Hence the amazing deals by the legacy airlines who we’ve been jacking up the prices and reducing the services for the last 20 years. Now they have to reckon with the likes of Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit AIr.

Now while flying in 28″ legroom, hard as hell seats is highly unrecommended for flights over 45 minutes. Not to mention the nickel and diming for every conceivable convenience. However, it’s becoming more of an option for frequent fliers who are just looking for the cheapest way to get from point A-B.

So… the airlines figured they’d compete by offering a new reduced service phenomenon to our disadvantage called “Basic Economy.”  You may have seen it mentioned when trying to book a super low fare you were excited to book. Like this one:

Now for those of us who want to select seats in advance or have a chance at an upgrade, Delta figured out how to squeeze an extra $15 out of us.

So now for the question “Is it worth the extra $15 to fly in “Regular” economy? If you have status with one of the Legacy Airlines then I say yes. But if not, it may actually be worth it. Because if you have no status, you’re kinda flying Basic Economy either way.

Here’s a sample of American Airlines Basic Economy Restrictions compared to “Regular Economy.”

American Airlines Basic Economy

Now here’s the comparison of the different airlines that offer Basic Economy: (Courtesy of Point Me to The Plane.)

American Airlines Delta Air Lines United Airlines
Boarding Last Group Last Group Last Group
Carry-On Personal Item Only* Regular Rules Apply Personal Item Only*
Elite-Qualifying Credits Reduced (Half EQM/EQS) Regular Rates None
Changes/Refunds None Permitted None Permitted None Permitted
Seat Assignment Extra Fee, or at check-in At Check-in At Check-in
Elite Upgrades None Offered None Offered None Offered

*Passengers with elite statuses and co-branded credit cards will still be able to bring a full-size carry-on onboard with both American and United.

The Best Business Class Airline Miles Can Buy

The Best Business Class Airline Miles Can Buy

I’ve never flown International First Class. I tend to strive for Business Class. I know what kind of Travel Geek am I? All the Travel Bloggers out there seem to drool over the idea of a first class experience. The reason being is simply because, except for United & British Airways’s 777 (avoid those two like the plague)

Or you might get stuck in one of these they call Business Class ——->

I’ve never felt the need for more room or better service. I don’t need someone kneeling at my side every five minutes asking what they do for me.

Deep down, I’m dying to experience Cathay’s Best Bed in the Sky, Singapore Suites or even take a shower on Emirates and Etihad! But for now we’ll go with the former 🙂

Before we give you our top three. make sure to Sign Up for these 3 Points Programs! That way you’ve already taken one step towards enjoying a business class seat 🙂

So here are some of my best business class experiences I’ve ever had.

EVA Air
Toronto Canada to Taipei, Taiwan

Royal Laurel (Business) is the highest class on EVA so you have their full, undivided attention, it may also have been because the business class cabin was nearly empty.  Either way, I’ll take it. One of the best long haul flights I’ve ever been on. Quiet cabin, superb, attentive service but not too in your face. Oh, and the flight attendants practically knelt before us when they speak to us. Must be a Taiwanese thing. EVA’s amenity kits, especially the case they come in, are pretty awesome. The contents are all standard but the presentation is what takes the cake.

The only negative of the flight is that the Captain did not make ANY announcements.  Not before, during or at the end of the flight. All the announcements were made by the flight attendants. IDK why I cared but I just found it a bit weird.

Fun Fact: EVA Air has a few airplanes that are all decked out in Hello Kitty gear.

Japan Airlines 787 Sky Suite
New York JFK – Tokyo Narita

Not all 787s have the Sky Suite! So check HERE to make sure your route features the JAL Sky Suite.

If you’re traveling solo, opt for the window seat. It’s almost completely private. Seat is one of the most comfortable I’ve sat on. One of the greatest features of the suite is the entertainment screen and handset where you can order your meal/snack/drink anytime during the flight! Service was impeccable.

Fun Fact: Did you know that you can book the JAL Sky Suite for only 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way?

 

KLM 787 World Business Class
Amsterdam – Salt Lake City

KLM’s World Business Class IMHO is the elite of the european carriers. Not first class (that honor goes to Air France and Lufthansa.) But as far as Business Class service, I just loved my flight on KLM.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves 🙂

Fun Fact: KLM is the only airline (that I know of) that gives each business class passenger a gift (pictured below) at the end of the flight.

 

So there you have it. My three favorite Business class products. (That I’ve flown) Other great business class include Singapore Air, ANA, Virgin Atlantic, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific (I did fly them but felt EVA Air was better) Qatar, and Korean Air.

Here is one card that can get you a one way ticket in any of those business seats: Chase Ink Preferred will net you 85K Chase points that can be transferred to United (for booking on EVA) to Flying Blue (for booking on KLM) and to Singapore Air as well!

Destination Friday: Hilton Prague, Czech Republic

Destination Friday: Hilton Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is a vintage city oozing with history. If you want a idea of what the medieval times looked like, this is your city. In fact Prague used to be the heart of Europe all the way up until the late 1800s. Plenty to see and marvel at. Spend at least a day day in the old quarter and soak in its nightlife. Meet people from deep in Asia as well as well as all over Europe.

Much has been already written about visiting Prague so this review will focus on the hotel.

The Hilton Prague (not to be confused with the Hilton Old Quarter) is just a couple minute walk from the Florenc train and bus                  station. So vey accessible from the airport. If you don’t have a lot of luggage I recommend the Regio Jet bus from the Airport to Florenc. It costs only 2.60 EU each way or 65 Czech Dollars.

The Hotel is gigantic. It almost takes up an entire square block. When you walk in you’re greeted by its atrium lobby which will make you forget about the aging but beautiful architecture all over Prague.

Atrium at Hilton Prague

There are several Bars and Restaurants on the Lobby and Mezzanine Levels and there is a shopping mall right across the street. The highlight however is the Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar.

Ok now for the Room. King Deluxe Executive Room. Room 7064 about 5 minute walk from the elevator lol.To be honest, it’s a typical Hilton room with a gorgeous river view of Prague. Here’s what it looks like and here was my personal greeting 😉

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Four Tips To Book Hotel Rooms Like A Pro

Four Tips To Book Hotel Rooms Like A Pro

Four Crucial Hotel Booking Tips!  Also check out How to Book Airline Tickets like a Pro

So I’m a sucker for hotel status. I just having an edge wherever I go. I want to get the best room, best service, and I don’t want to have to wait in line like everybody else. I know I’m a spoiled brat.

While you shouldn’t go crazy to earn hotel status, if you’re staying  in hotels more than 10 nights a year, you should definitely make it work in your favor.

So first decide which hotel chain works best for you. I wrote up about it extensively HERE.

Rule #1: Always book directly from the Hotel’s website. Unlike Airline tickets Hotels know where you booked your room and they punish you for not booking it with them as they assume you won’t be loyal to their brand anyway.  So unless it’s a stand alone hotel (i.e. boutique or non chain hotel) don’t bother with Hotels.com or Orbitz.com.

Rule #2: Even though you’re booking through the Hotel’s website, make sure to check Ebates and TopCashBack to see if they offer any cashback for the hotel chain you’re booking with.

Rule #3 Discount codes! Most hotel websites have a AAA rate. Not always cheaper  but worth checking. Hilton offers an MVP corporate rate that can be accessed HERE. Here is a comprehensive list of Hotel corporate codes. Please use them at your own risk.

Rule #4: Hotel prices fluctuate very often. So always keep on checking for lower rates. Even after you book! Most hotel reservations are cancelable up until 1-2 days before you check in. For e.g. in NYC during the week you’ll see prices above $400 for simple mid level hotels. But if you wait until the day of to book it goes down exponentially.

The Best Headphones for Flying

The Best Headphones for Flying

Traveling smart takes preparation. Choosing the right seat, earning the right miles and of course choosing the right headphones. Don’t make the mistake of buying wireless headphones because you won’t be able to plug them to the airplane movie screens.

While the clunky over the ear headphones are very comfortable, they take up too much real estate in my carefully packed hand luggage. That’s also why the Pack of All Trades Laptop Backpack is my favorite. It fits under the seat, is incredibly spacious, laptop/ipad friendly and incredibly rugged/durable.

The Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones is my all time favorite and I’m sure it will be yours too. It’s small, noise canceling, and super comfortable. The sound is top quality and so is the durability.

The Samsung and Android version is on sale HERE
The Apple version is on sale HERE

What are your favorite headphones for traveling?

 

Destination Friday: Hilo, Hawaii

Destination Friday: Hilo, Hawaii

Let’s continue our Destination Friday! Each week, we’ll be sharing an awesome, under-rated, vacation destination!

This week: Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton

Located on Hawaii’s Big Island. Hilo is the less popular side to its rival Kona. Having been to both I really believe Hilo is the most underrated city in Hawaii. While most of us think of Pristine sandy beaches, tiki torches and Mai Tais when visiting Hawaii, let me introduce you to Volcanos, Lava tubes, incredible zip lining, steep mountain cliffs and yes beautiful beaches.

So the Grand Naniloa is probably the only decent option in Hilo, only 2 miles from Hilo airport. Stunning ocean and bay views! Plus it can be had for less than 40,000 Hilton points a night! You can earn 80,000 points just for signing up for the no annual fee Hilton American Express Card.

Room tip: Get the King Corner Ocean View Room! You’ll love it, the views are stunning!

How to get there: Airport code ITO about a 3 minute taxi ride to hotel. United is the only airline that offers direct flights from LAX. The only other way to get there would be to connect in Honolulu or Maui via Hawaiian Airlines.

A round trip from mainland US to Hilo on United will run you 45,000 miles on United 60,000 on Hawaiian.

Expert Tip: Use Singapore Air miles to book on United for only 35K round trip or Korean Air Miles to book on Hawaiian for only 30K Round Trip!

American Express Membership Rewards is a Transfer Partner of Singapore Air and Chase Ultimate Rewards  is a Transfer Partner for Korean.

How to book: Support us by using our Orbitz Link. Or you can sign up for the super awesome Amex Business Platinum (We’ll earn 15k points if you sign up) and use your points to transfer to Hawaiian airlines or book the hotel using American Express Travel.

My Top 5 Activities:
(Disclaimer: I can’t vouch for the safety of any of these activities. Do them at your own risk. We do NOT get commission for these activities)

Recommended amount of time to stay in Hilo? 5 days.

Have questions? Need assistance? We’d love to hear your comments and help you reach this awesome destination.