What’s the deal???
My favorite all around card just got a mini boost. They announced it the other day on their Facebook page.
Through the end of 2013, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card will earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining on every first Friday of the month!
As hopefully all of you know, the Sapphire Preferred normally earns bonus points on Travel (2x) and Dining (2x). This isn’t show stopping, but an extra point per dollar is always nice.
Is it a good deal?
I think so. It’s a good deal, not a great deal. It’s just an extra point per dollar. Unless you have really expensive tastes or are going with a BIG group of diners, you won’t get that many extra points.
It is still extra Chase Ultimate Rewards points and they are my favorite brand of points! I’ve written before about their flexibility and ease of earning.
My favorite partners to transfer UR points to are United (for long haul premium cabin flights) and Hyatt (for great value hotel stays).
For those too lazy to open up a calendar, here is the list of first Fridays left in 2013:
- May 3
- June 7
- July 5
- August 2
- September 6
- October 4
- November 1
- December 6
This promotion is being run in tandem with OpenTable, a service that I use whenever possible.
With OpenTable, you earn 100 points per fulfilled reservation. For some cities, it has a lot of good restaurants. For others, not so much. Regardless, it’s always worth checking first if you’re going out to dinner.
Some restaurants have “specials” where certain reservation times are worth 1,000 points. For every 2,000 points you earn, you can redeem them for a $20 “OpenTable Dining Cheque” that you can use at participating restaurants.
To be clear, you DON’T have to use OpenTable to qualify for the 3x points on first Fridays.
I hope all you Chase Sapphire Preferred card holders can take advantage of this promotion. Now all my friends will know the reason behind me setting up a big dinner on a first Friday where I try to snatch the bill and have everyone pay me back!
In: Chase · Tagged with: chase, dining
After a pretty hard core nap of at least 90 minutes, we packed up and walked to the gate to check it out. It seemed like a pretty light load at the gate so it was actually a pleasant boarding experience, one of the few we’d have on the trip.
Rome (FCO) – Madrid (MAD)
25 JAN 2013
Seats 22A, 22B
Our plane was leaving from a remote gate so we were bused to the aircraft on a beautiful Italian afternoon. The weather was a bit chilly, but the sun and fresh air felt good for the 30 seconds we got to have them.
When we arrived, the plane was being boarded from both front and back. It was efficient to board through the rearmost door since we were close to the back of the plane. It turned out that didn’t matter much because the flight was so empty. Joann and I each grabbed an empty row so we could sprawl out if we wanted to.
We took off and ascended into the cloudless sky with amazing views of Fiumicino and Sardinia. We basically just enjoyed views and relaxed for the short flight. There was no in-flight entertainment. I wonder if Alitalia has screens installed on any of their narrowbody jets.
The only thing out of the ordinary on this flight was that there was a medical emergency. A passenger towards the back of the plane needed medical attention so flight attendants asked everyone to stay seated when we landed so that medical staff could assist the man. It didn’t seem like anything urgent and the guy walked off the plane under his own power so that was good.
From deplaning, we went straight to the baggage claim to get our bags and then that was that. Since we already went through customs in Italy, we were on our own in Madrid. Shame that we didn’t get a Madrid stamp!
Metro de Madrid
I had read that the best bang for your buck travel in Madrid was the Metro. It sounded better than a 35 Euro taxi ride to the Westin Palace Madrid so we purchased two tickets from the agent at the window with the intention to transfer lines to our final destination.
As an FYI, to purchase a ticket on the Metro, your credit card must be of the Chip & PIN variety. Our American Express Platinum cards were only Chip & Signature so the machines rejected them.
A tip in case you are going to stay at the Westin Palace Madrid, Radisson Blu Madrid Prado, or any hotel in that area:
Take the Metro to the Nuevos Ministerios stop. It’s a large hub for transfers.
Once there, find a machine to buy a ticket (less than 2 Euro) on the Cercanias line.
Take any line that will go southbound and stop at Sol, which is one stop away.
Once you emerge, you’ll be at the Puerto del Sol (middle of this map) and should be able to navigate your way from there.
For the two of us with carry-ons and one big checked bag, it was a 10 minute walk to Westin Palace Madrid… not bad at all.
We also stopped along the way for cheap snacks and beer at Museo del Jamòn. What a fine establishment! How I so badly wish we had one of these by me.
In: Alitalia, Trip Reports · Tagged with: madrid, rome
After landing, Joann and I followed signs to passport control. This was our port of entry for the EU so
we I got stamped. Joann actually didn’t get a stamp. Anyone know why?
The first thing we did was get some food. The food on flight wasn’t at all enough, especially since it was a redeye.
With my hunger quelled, the next order of business was finding somewhere to relax. Thanks again to our American Express Platinum cards, we both have complimentary memberships to Priority Pass. It really comes in handy for the trips in Economy Class where lounge access doesn’t come along with the ticket.
Before we left, I used the website to find out that FCO has three lounges available to Priority Pass members.
Our first stop was the Avia Lounge. This is the one we spent the least amount of time in because of how disappointing it was. It looked like the newest with the way it was furnished, but it was just way too small. It was a nice thought but even with only two other people in the lounge, we felt a little crowded.
There are beverages, coffee, and a small selection of alcohol. The only food was some prepackaged snacks. It was very domestic airline club-esque in that sense.
My advice: skip it!
Le Anfore Lounge
This lounge, while not one we visited for long either, was worlds better than the Avia Lounge. It was much bigger so even though it was very crowded, we felt a little more relaxed.
There is so much seating, but not too much privacy. The spread of food is definitely better and they have a massage chair and showers; very handy for a longer layover.
I think this lounge would have sufficed, but we decided to check out the third and final lounge to which we had access.
The Mosaic Lounge is shared by many airlines, but probably for good reason. We enjoyed it the most. It was larger than the Le Anfore Lounge and was spaced out much better. Again, there was ample seating, but it didn’t feel crowded thanks to the larger footprint.
This lounge also had showers and a food and beverage spread similar to the last one. All I wanted was an espresso, some free WiFi (there was), and then a long nap. Lucky for us, at the far end of the lounge, there is a walled off area with some lounge chairs that are meant for sleeping.
After setting an alarm for an hour before our flight, both Joann and I knocked out cold since we didn’t get sleep on the redeye and it was effectively 7 AM for our bodies.
If you have a layover in Rome, consider the Mosaic or Le Anfore Lounges. Don’t even bother with the Avia Lounge; it’s too small.
If we had a layover longer than 4 hours, I think we might have tried to venture into the city to see a few things and grab a bite. As this was a short layover, the lounges did their job and Amex Platinum and its complimentary Priority Pass membership save the day again!
In: Trip Reports · Tagged with: amex, lounges, rome
The Hyatt website has received a few enhancements recently. Most importantly, the Free Night search has been revamped in a great way.
Searching by City
A simple change that many hotel websites already have but Hyatt never did was a smart search. Begin to type in the name of the city and the new site will display a number of choices, most helpful being the list of properties in that city.
Previously, searching for an award night on Hyatt.com was pretty painful, as far as hotel sites go. First, you had to have enough points in your account to cover the amount of points you would be redeeming. That means if you wanted to redeem at a top tier Category 6 hotel for 5 nights, you would need 110k (22k per night) Gold Passport points in your account. Or you would need 22k points in you account and search night by night… FUN!
Now, that is a distant memory! The new way to search for Hyatt Free Nights is great.
Any time you enter a reservation search, the results displayed will display multiple rates, now including the ever-important Hyatt Gold Passport Points rate!
You don’t need a certain number of points in your account. You can search over several days. I’ve been playing around with it for a few hours and it’s great.
What I did notice was that it only displays the basic award room. If you want to redeem for a suite, you’ll still have to call Hyatt Reservations (1-800-228-3360) to search for space for you.
Also, if, for any reason the award rates aren’t showing, make sure the Show Hyatt Gold Passport Points box right above the rate tabs is checked.
Leave it to Hyatt to add a wonderful and much needed enhancement to their website. It’s a bright spot in a year of hotel devaluations.
As if our stay at the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires last week wasn’t enough to catapult Hyatt to the top of my hotel chain list, this certainly put it over the top.
The ease of searching for free nights definitely gives me a little extra push to earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards points for transferring to Hyatt and United, my two favorite partners of the program.
Hat tip to Mommy Points.
In: Chase, Hyatt · Tagged with: chase, hotels
First Time Using Southwest Companion Pass
I’m happy to report that Joann and I finally got to use her Companion Pass (CP) that we earned last year. It was really easy to book a Companion ticket. On top of it being the first time using the CP, it was both our first times flying on Southwest. Almost everything went without a hitch.
Overall, it was a great experience and I wouldn’t at all mind flying like that domestically.
It was a light flight – not many people flying Newark to Austin in April, I suppose. Joann and I easily got our own row.
The flight attendants were cheerier than most domestic ones we’ve encountered and boarding was quick and efficient. On the way back, the plane had some engine issues and we diverted to Baltimore (BWI). We did eventually make it home to Newark, but 3 hours later than scheduled.
I wrote a quick note to Southwest regarding this delay and they were very prompt in responding, holding true to their estimate of within 48 hours. They issued both Joann and me $100 vouchers! That certainly does count for service recovery in my book.
We are definitely looking forward to flying Southwest again.
Austin was a cool city! I’m sure it was much crazier during SXSW, but we had a nice time checking out the weird stuff Austin has to offer and eating PLENTY of BBQ.
We stayed downtown at the Hyatt Place (couldn’t find any free nights at the newly Hyatt property The Driskill). Most nights, we felt it was like we were in a ghost town or a deserted movie set, but maybe that’s just the time of the year. No matter, we were able to see a lot of Austin and its surroundings and most of all, just chill out.
With Southwest and their new EWR-AUS nonstop route, we could be back to Austin soon enough… although we’d probably do Southwest’s new EWR-MSY nonstop route before that
What’s Up Lately?
I’m in a break between my old and new job right now, which worked out perfectly with this quick trip to Austin and our next trip.
I probably won’t have a post up until next week because we’re going to Buenos Aires today! This is the great fare that was on sale last November from several North American cities to Argentina.
This is our first time to South America so we are really excited. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE leave them in a comment below. I would love to hear some great must-do suggestions.
Looking forward to lots of steak, wine, and just kicking back before I start the next chapter in my life.