Tag Archives: Award Travel

How to Avoid Common Mistakes when Booking Airline Tickets

Recently, my aunt sent me an article she saw online about mistakes people make when booking flights. The article was geared towards people who use cash for flights, though it did mention award tickets as well. Even though I prefer and mostly use miles and points for flights, I took a look at the article to see what it had to offer. And I also was curious to see if any valuable advice in that article was already offered here at TWG! It was, but they also left out one important piece of advice, geared to us miles/points folks.

The article talked about using the ITA Matrix Tool, which is a search engine tool for checking ticket prices. Grant did an extensive write-up and it’s a great tool to familiarize yourself with, whether or not you pay cash or use miles/points for tickets. The article warned people to always search multiple area airports when booking a ticket to see if fares change. That’s good to remember, whether using miles/points or paying cash. After all, New York has six airports! Positioning for a flight when you do use out of area airports is a topic I’ve talked about too.

The article encourages people to be flexible when booking both award and paid tickets. It says to use the calendar search function on the different airline websites and to try and catch some spontaneous travel deals as well. The last mistake the article talks about is making silly errors. We’ve all heard about people who mistakenly booked a flight to Portland, Maine, (PWM), when they meant to book a flight to Portland, Oregon, (PDX). Another mistake that’s easy to make is to not pay attention when a flight departs. We want to see 1pm when we make the flight choice, but it actually says 1am :(

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How to Redeem your Club Carlson Domestic Free Night Certificate ($10,000 Yearly Spend Required)

Good morning everyone, I hope you had a great weekend.  Yesterday, I redeemed my Club Carlson domestic free night certificate and wanted to share the process with you. A few years ago, I wrote How to Book your Club Carlson Worldwide Free Night Certificate, but I did not have the opportunity to earn and redeem a domestic free night certificate until just recently.  Fun fact, there are 4 different Club Carlson credit cards currently available, all with different perks, elite status, free anniversary points, and annual fees.  But the one thing that is the same on all the credit cards is the ability to earn a free night certificate valid at any domestic Club Carlson property after spending $10,000 or more on the Club Carlson credit card during your card member year.  For the record, I currently have the US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card and the US Bank Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card.

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Trip Report: Butler Suite at the All-Inclusive Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica

I landed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and was happy to see a Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall check-in desk inside the airport, just past immigration.  The employees were efficient and served drinks while they checked you in. Within minutes, the Hyatt hotel shuttle was there to pick us up.  The trip to the Hyatt Ziva was less than 30 minutes.

Ziva vs. Zilara

Hyatt offers two all inclusive products: the Ziva, which is for families, and the Zilara, which does not allow children.  In Jamaica, the properties are next to each other.  Both products share a common beachfront and you can go to any of the restaurants on either property.  Of course, if you have children, they are not allowed on the Zilara side, which includes the Zilara beach, pool, and restaurants.  The Ziva has its own beach, pool, and restaurants so this would probably not be a huge problem.

The Butler Suite

I was upgraded to a butler suite.  The room is large, as you would expect of a suite, including a mini-bar that was free, and the most unique feature was the butler service. This room would normally cost over $1,500 USD per night, but I didn’t pay anywhere near that.

Butler suite with balcony overlooking the ocean at the Hyatt Ziva in Montego Bay, Jamaica

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My Wonderful 5 Night Stay at the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor

One of my favorite cities in North America is Boston, and when I visit and play tourist, I stay at the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor. Prior to my recent visit, I’d stay there for only a few nights and then transit usually to Europe. It’s very close to the airport. But on my recent visit to Boston, when I wasn’t transiting to anywhere else, I stayed there for five nights as an experiment to see what it would be like to use it as a base for a Boston holiday. And though it’s not a hotel I’d recommend for everyone, it worked out really well for me. I enjoyed my stay there and would definitely recommend it. I’ll get to who I wouldn’t recommend it for, but first, let’s discuss the high points.

I mentioned this Hyatt as a possible North American choice for using your Chase Hyatt Credit Card free anniversary night certificate, and I stand by that recommendation, especially during the high season when Boston is busy with tourists, conventions, and weddings. Some people think this hotel needs to be refurbished, but I’m guessing they haven’t been there in a few years. The rooms were redone about two years ago and I like them. The standard rooms are on the large size, and the furnishings and color schemes work well. I don’t like a lot of artwork on hotel walls. These rooms have one big piece of artwork on the side wall with a sailing theme that fits the decor.

Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor Standard Room.
Image: https://bostonharbor.regency.hyatt.com/en/hotel/rooms/standard.html

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Which Trip Should I Use with the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare?

Grant did a great job explaining how to use the yearly Alaska Airlines Companion Fare that comes with the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card. However, the question becomes, WHICH trip is the best trip to use it on? I’ve had the credit card and gotten the companion fare deal for many years now. But this year was the first year that I had three potential uses for it. A good problem to have. Maybe you’ve had this good problem as well :)

It did, however, require a thorough look at comparing prices and hotels, as well as seeing what other miles/points I had available for these routes to finally make my choice. It was a lesson in perseverance! Here’s what I did. I was originating from San Diego and my trips were to Hawaii, New York City, and Boston. My dates for Hawaii and Boston were somewhat flexible, but my New York City dates were not.

Great Circle Mapper: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=hnl-san,san-bos,san-jfk

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