Round the World – March 2016

Our look at Virgin First Class train travel in the UK – this is the high speed rail experience we don’t get in Australia

While I do love jumping on a plane (usually), I also find it just as fun to travel by train – and I’d love for high-speed rail to become a realistic option in Australia at some point in the future.

It’s been reality for decades in Europe – and as part of trip to the UK earlier this year, we had a day booked to visit friends living north of York, while we were staying in London.

It was an intriguing look at the experience of travelling in a ‘premium cabin’ not on plane; it’s interesting to consider what the ‘Virgin experience’ is like translated to trains; and yes, I managed to earn frequent flyer points from the journey too. Continue reading…

American Airlines AA142 New York – London Business Class Review

After a couple of weeks in New York City, it was time to head over to London for the last leg of our big trip for this year – and we ended up on American Airlines on a new day flight, AA142, operated between the two cities.

I seem to be cursed in having ‘not the best’ experiences when flying between the US and the UK – a crappy flight with British Airways was one of my first reviews I wrote for Point Hacks around 5 years ago(!). Continue reading…

Air Canada Business Class Vancouver to New York AC548 and Vancouver Business Class Maple Leaf Lounge Review

After our stays at the Westins in Whistler and Vancouver Airport, it was time to head over to New York to visit family for a few weeks. For this flight I’d chosen Air Canada as our target – simply because it’s the only day flight on the route, and with flight time just a little over 5 hours, doing this as a red-eye with kids seemed like it would be no fun.

Air Canada operated this route with an Airbus A319 until recently, and now it’s using a much larger and more modern Boeing 787.

I’ll look at how I booked this flight using a mixture of KrisFlyer miles earned from my credit card spend, plus some purchased United Miles – alongside the lounge and service.
Continue reading…

Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport Review – Twin Corner Room

After our stay at The Westin Whistler, we needed a hotel to rest up for a night before heading from Vancouver to New York with Air Canada on the only day flight between the two cities.

I much prefer flying during the day over a red-eye for such flight of around 5 or so hours, so spending a night at an airport hotel before the 8.30am departure the following morning seemed logical.

There are a few airport hotel options in Vancouver, and one only directly connected to the airport (The Fairmont).

But I’m addicted to loyalty programs, and as I was chasing Starwood Platinum status (this stay would tip me over the edge), and had a rental car anyway, then the off-airport Westin meant I prioritised status over convenience.
Continue reading…

Review of the Westin Whistler for our family ski extravaganza – a look at the One Bedroom & Deluxe Suites, the hotel and skiing in Whistler

Our time in Whistler, and our stay at this hotel was the cornerstone of our big trip this year. As such I had hopes it would deliver a great family ski holiday for us, and it didn’t disappoint.

I’ve already gone into plenty of detail about how I researched, and then used Starpoints to book, our preferred rooms. A hotel of course has much more to deliver to make a stay go well though.

The key things that worked about the Westin was it’s location, and how well logistically the was set up for skiing (thankfully!). Some other small aspects were lacking but because it was so simple to get out on the snow and start enjoying ourselves, they were easy to overlook.

Continue reading…

Element by Westin Vancouver Metrotown Review – family stay in One Bedroom and King Studios

After our long flight from Sydney to San Francisco, and then a much shorter and less interesting flight with United from San Francisco to Vancouver, we finally arrived in Vancouver.

I had selected the Element in Metrotown for a number of reasons which I’ll explain a little later in this review, and it did us well for our stay.

It was also my first time staying at an Element-branded hotel, of which we don’t have any in or close to Australia, and the Element concept is one I ended up quite liking.
Continue reading…

Qantas 747 Business Class Review – QF73 Sydney to San Francisco

This was the first flight in our big trip for 2016.

After what felt like a month or so of prep for getting our house ready, packing and generally moving four people and their stuff (and ski gear) for 7 weeks travelling, boy was I glad to sit down on this flight and get going.

I already covered how I managed to book four people into Business Class across The Pacific, so I won’t go into that again. So, let’s get straight into my thoughts on Qantas’ 747 Business Class service to San Francisco. Continue reading…

Case study – how I used my points to book 4 Qantas Business Class seats to the US

We’re in the first week of our 7 week long around the world trip, and things are going well!

We started off by flying Sydney to San Francisco in Business Class on QF73, Qantas’ newest service to the USA which relaunched in December. I’ll be working on the review over the next few days.

As part of the reviews for this trip, I also promised to delve a bit deeper on my research and decision making process behind each flight and hotel booking in the hope that this might help you get more from your trips too. Continue reading…