Chase Sapphire Preferred 3x Points on First Fridays

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).

Planning

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

OpenTable

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!

RTW to Bali: Swiss First Class Zurich – Montreal

TRIP INDEX

ZRH (Zurich) – YUL (Montreal)
LX86
3 SEP 2012
Airbus A330-300
First Class

Seats 2D, 2G

Boarding

After being dropped off by our luxurious Volkswagen van, we walked through the terminal and to our gate. We were called first to board and entered through Door 2L (in the middle of Business Class). The FAs were still prepping everything, pouring orange juice and champagne for the Biz passengers. One smiled at us and took a look at our boarding passes, instructing us to turn left towards the front of the plane, through the mini-Business Class cabin and into First Class.

Our ride to Montreal

Our ride to Montreal

Settling In

We got to our seats and started to put our carry-ons in the overhead bins. There are only bins above the window seats, none in the middle section. It definitely helps when airlines do that; it makes the cabin feel roomier.

Only 2 rows of First Class

Only 2 rows of First Class & No overhead bins in the middle

I chose the two middle seats for us, which are the best for couples in this configuration. Joann was in 2G on the right and I in 2D on the left.

Cabin from in between our seats 2D + 2G

Cabin from in between our seats

The lead FA introduced herself to us and asked if this was our first time in Swiss First. We replied that it was and she was excited for us and assured us that we’d have an amazing time, starting off with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne and a canapé.

Laurent-Perrier champagne

Laurent-Perrier champagne

Salmon cake-like bite + cheesy bread sticks

Salmon cake w/mango salsa + cheesy bread sticks

On the armrests of the suites were unisex amenity kits by Bally’s. The bags themselves were good quality and sturdy. Inside, the best part was probably the La Prairie skin care products.

As far as the amenity kits go on this trip, Thai’s Tumi bag was nicer, but the contents of Swiss’ Bally’s kit were better.

Bally's amenity kit

Bally’s amenity kit

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RTW to Bali: Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich

TRIP INDEX

So we landed at Zurich Airport in Switzerland. The challenge was to get to the Swiss First Class Lounge which involved taking the train to another terminal. We saw this flight board with some information but, in reality, we were just following the rest of the people on our flight.

Signage

Signage

As I recall, we took a few wrong turns, stopped in one of the many Swiss Business Class lounges to ask where the First lounge was, but eventually we made it there! I’m not sure if we had to go through the security checkpoints that we did, but it wasn’t at all busy and the Swiss workers were pleasant (unlike our good old TSA).

Entrance to the First Class Lounge

Entrance to the First Class Lounge

Actually, before we went upstairs to the lounge, we stopped by the check-in counters nearby to have our boarding passes printed out. Back in Bali, the Thai check-in agent only gave us boarding passes for DPS-BKK and BKK-ZRH. This took a while because there was apparently an issue with our tickets – something about Thai Airways “holding” our ticket so the Swiss agent couldn’t do what she needed to do with it.

After about 10 minutes of phone calls, the Swiss agent printed out our boarding passes without e-ticket numbers. She said that she’d fix the situation and get us our real passes before we left.

No e-ticket, no problem

No e-ticket, no problem

Well we had something; so we went upstairs to the First Class Lounge.

Spiral stairs up to the Lounge

Spiral stairs up to the Lounge

We checked in with an agent at the desk who informed us that we would be shuttled to our gate at 12:15 PM; boarding time was 12:35 PM. I asked her about Wifi and shower suites. She handed us a piece of paper for the Wifi and told us to just ask whenever we needed the shower suites.

As we always do when we get into a lounge, we made a bee-line to the seating area near the food! 😀

Main seating area by the food, of course

Main seating area by the food, of course

Plenty of seating

Plenty of seating

Snacks at every table

Snacks at every table

Power plugs for everyone

Power plugs for everyone

I liked the lounge a lot. Enough seating and space. Great views of the tarmac with huge windows to let lots of natural light in. The decor was simple – muted tones with clean lines. We came to find out that nothing Swiss Air-branded was ostentatious in any way. It really fit the elegant feel of the airline perfectly.

And, most importantly, the food was yummy.

The whole buffet and beverage area

The whole buffet and beverage area

So many small bites

So many small bites

More small bites

More small bites

Must. Have. Coffee

Must. Have. Coffee

Beverage options

Beverage options

Wine and champagne

Wine and champagne

New dishes that were put out around lunch time

New dishes that were put out around lunch time

The variety of food they had was great. They were mostly small bites so it was easy to try everything. Joann and I were really happy with the quality of food. The dish with the roast beef and asparagus was a great bite, so much so that I went back for about four more. 😉

After indulging in plenty of food, we both caught up on emails and such with the free Wifi. I also got one nice shot of a big aircraft from our window seats.

A beer and a view

A Swiss beer and a view

Singapore Air A380

Singapore Air A380

After a few minutes of just resting and digesting, it was definitely time to shower. Another shower in an airport lounge… I could get used to this!

I went first, asking the agent at the front desk to unlock the shower suite door for me. The shower suites were inside the restrooms, but they are well isolated. The men have two suites while the women only have one.

Shower room

Shower room

Another welcomed rainfall shower

Another welcomed rainfall shower

Bulgari amenities

Bulgari amenities

The shower felt amazing after being on a plane for 11 hours and then transiting through the airport. I was definitely spoiled by all the rainfall showerheads we used throughout the entire trip. I want one for our house now!

After a while, I came back out and Joann took her turn in the women’s shower suite. We went separately so we wouldn’t lose our window seats; the lounge was starting to fill up as lunchtime was approaching.

Not shortly after Joann’s shower, we went over to the sit-down dining area. We weren’t particularly hungry and we would be getting a full meal on our upcoming flight, but we wanted to sample as much as we could!

There was only one waiter serving the whole area so initially it did take a while, but we placed our order and hoped it would come soon as our 12:15 PM shuttle time was almost upon us.

Simple pasta dish

Simple pasta dish

BLT

BLT

The meal was good, but nothing creative like the little bites they put out in the buffet area. However, you can’t really go wrong with pasta and a BLT so we were happy we tried it.

Before we knew it, the agent from the front desk was standing over us telling us that it was time to go! She looked pretty ticked that we weren’t at the front desk on time. The Swiss must not mess around with their time and it was probably because there were other passengers to be shuttled.

We scurried to gather our things and head towards the elevator to the ground floor where the van was waiting on the tarmac. We had three other First Class passengers with us so it was a tight fit. Joann and I could definitely feel their stares as they were all older business men and we were just a young couple on a joyride.

VW van for First Class passengers

VW van for First Class passengers

Nonetheless, we enjoyed a nice shuttle to the Swiss and Lufthansa departure gates. It was really cool driving almost underneath the Swiss widebody jets. Not often can you say that you’ve been driven on the tarmac of an airport!

Once we got to Terminal E, the driver wished us farewell and we took the elevator upstairs to the main area of the terminal.

Elevator up to the main floor of the terminal

Elevator up to the main floor of the terminal

It was time for the best flight of our lives…

RTW to Bali: Thai Airways First Class Bangkok – Zurich

TRIP INDEX

BKK (Bangkok) – ZRH (Zurich)
TG970
3 SEP 2012
Airbus A340-600
Royal First Class

Seats 2A, 2E

As we boarding through our own First Class jet bridge and boarding door, the agent who escorted us wished us a pleasant trip and, immediately, the purser introduced himself to us and showed us to our seats in 2A and 2E.

I chose these seats because, after asking around on Flyer Talk, I learned that these would be better for having access to your travel companion. It’s a simple step across the aisle versus going through and around the forward galley if we both had the middle seats.

We were two of the last passengers to board First Class so I didn’t want to disturb the cabin by taking too many photos. Here is a picture of the entire cabin unoccupied courtesy of Airliners.net.

The Seat 

Seat 2A

Seat 2A

Seat 2A Ottoman

Seat 2E Ottoman

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RTW to Bali: Thai Airways Business Class DPS-BKK

TRIP INDEX

After cooling off long enough in the Premier Lounge, Joann and I made the humid walk to our gate where there was a queue for checking. Although there was no separate line for Business, we were through in a short few minutes.

DPS (Denpasar) – BKK (Bangkok)
TG432
2 SEP 2012
Airbus A330-300
Business Class

Seats 14A,14B

Thai’s A330 only features two classes – Business and Economy. I booked us into Business on this flight and First on the next three so the one-way United award from South Asia to USA cost 70,000 miles per person. It was a 10k mile premium over Business Class all the way and it was easily worth it.

The 2-2-2 configuration was perfectly suitable for a four hour flight. The seats were of the angled lie-flat variety. They were shell seats which was great because no one reclined into our personal area. Nothing out of this world but comfortable enough for catching a midday nap after eating.

Thai Airways A330 Angled Lie Flat

Thai Airways A330 Angled Lie Flat

IMG_3341

The rest of the cabin

Upon settling in our seats, we found a very thick Thai Airways-branded blanket and a Crabtree & Evelyn amenity kit. The amenity kit was unisex and nothing special. The blanket was awesome; wish I could have taken one home for a couch throw!

IMG_3394

Crabtree & Evelyn amenity kit

IMG_3375

Thai Airways blanket

Shortly after that, the FA stopped by with hot scented towels and a choice of pre-departure beverages. We chose some Laurent-Perrier champagne over the orange and apple juices.

Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne

Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne

A few minutes after takeoff, the seat belt sign was turned off and the meal service began. The food was pretty good, but nothing to write home about.

IMG_3384

Shrimp Shumai & more champagne

IMG_3385

Salad

IMG_3388

Grilled dory fish with citrus honey sauce

IMG_3389

Grilled prawn with ginger sauce

IMG_3390

Fruit & Cheese Plate

IMG_3391

Creme brulee & Coffee

After dinner, I perused the In-Flight Entertainment but found the selection to be pretty poor. I just kept the noise cancelling headphones on (which worked well to eliminate the engine drone) and put my seat flat to nap for a little.

When I woke up, we were already on approach to Suvarnabhumi Airport, the city of Bangkok well lit early in the evening.

Overall, this short-haul Thai flight in Business Class was a great experience – much better than any US flight in domestic First, that’s for sure.