Author Archives: Tonei Glavinic

About Tonei Glavinic

Tonei Glavinic is an Alaskan travel expert, educator, social justice advocate, and digital nomad currently based in Mexico City. Find them on Twitter @tonei.

Singapore Airlines Partner Award Chart for Alaska Airlines Flights (Sweet Spots to Hawaii, Canada & Mexico)

Buenos dias everyone. As first reported by Scott at Travel Codex, Singapore Airlines’s Krisflyer loyalty program has released a partner award chart for flights on Alaska Airlines. It seems confusing at first, but once you understand the full picture, it makes more sense.

Alaska’s route map is split into five zones:

  • Zone 1: West Coast
  • Zone 2: Mountain West and Canada
  • Zone 3: Midwest
  • Zone 4: East Coast, Southeast, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Mexico
  • Zone 5: Alaska and Hawaii

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Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Airport Guide & Airline Lounge Locations

Buenos dias everyone! A friend recently asked some questions about an upcoming connection through LAX, and since there have been so many changes at that airport this year, I decided to write up a quick guide in case anyone else has an upcoming trip.

The Basics

LAX has 9 terminals – numbered 1-8 and TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal). TBIT and terminals 4-8 are connected by tunnels and bridges post-security; terminals 1-3 are not connected to anything. Note that if you’re going to TBIT and you have TSA PreCheck, there is no PreCheck at TBIT – you can go through the PreCheck lane in T4 and then walk to TBIT via the terminal connector (which conveniently drops you off right next to most of the lounges).

LAX Airport map from lawa.org

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Trip Report: ANA 787 Business Class MEX-NRT

I had a work trip to Hong Kong in June, and I asked the people booking my ticket to put me on the new ANA nonstop from Mexico City to Tokyo-Narita. This flight launched earlier this year with ANA’s 787 Dreamliner, and is one of the only options to get to Asia from Mexico City without transiting the US (which requires early departures and long layovers). Luckily, the ticket got booked into a fare class that’s eligible for mileage upgrades, so I was able to use 28,000 ANA miles (transferred from Membership Rewards) to upgrade from Economy to Business.

I flew the reverse in economy in May coming back from Tokyo, so I was excited to see what business class would be like on this flight. The flight departs Mexico City at 2:20AM and arrives in Tokyo around 6:30AM the next day.

At the MEX Airport

I wasn’t able to print a boarding pass online for this flight. I arrived at MEX just before the cutoff time for checked bags, so there was no line at the ticket counter (but even if there had been, there was a separate checkin line for Business Class and Star Alliance Gold customers). Checkin was fast and efficient, and I was on my way to security in just a couple of minutes.

Since both of the Star Alliance lounges at MEX (Avianca and United) were closed at this hour, my boarding pass indicated that I could access the Grand Lounge Elite, a 24-hour Priority Pass lounge. The lounge was so far away from the gate though that by the time I went through security and had my immigration paperwork processed, it wasn’t worth trekking down to the lounge before the flight started boarding. I bought a big bottle of water (since there’s nowhere to fill a reusable bottle with drinkable water) and waited for boarding to start. Continue reading

How to Request Mexico Tourism Tax Refunds for Mexican Citizens, Residents & Transiting Visitors [UPDATED September 2017]

Originally Posted in January 2017 – Updated with new data points in September 2017!

Buenos dias!

If you or someone you know has a Mexican passport or resident card, they might be leaving money on the table when they purchase airline tickets to/from/through Mexico.

When you purchase a plane ticket to Mexico, the fare has a tourism tax built in – similar to US customs and immigration fees.  This fee goes toward the cost of immigration processing and the arrival / departure card required for foreign visitors. The fee is 500 Mexican Pesos, which is roughly $28 USD. (The fee increased from 390 pesos at some point in 2017). On your ticket receipt you may see this referred to as UK (the IATA code for this tax) or DNR (the Spanish abbreviation).

Screenshot from ITA Matrix showing the Mexico tourism tax

Screenshot from ITA Matrix showing the Mexico tourism tax – tax and exchange rate as of December 18, 2016.

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Trip Report: Alaska Airlines Inaugural Flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Mexico City (MEX)

Buenos dias everyone! It finally happened – Alaska Airlines returned to Mexico City (MEX), with near-simultaneous inaugural flights from San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX). I wrote about these new routes and this was my first-ever inaugural flight on any airline, so I’m pretty happy that it was on my favorite airline on a route that means a lot to me (since I moved from the Bay Area to Mexico City just under a year ago).

No Olé-overs!

Airport Experience

I made the risky choice of taking an UberPOOL to SFO, and arrived just minutes before the 1-hour cutoff for checking bags internationally. We hustled over to one of the check-in kiosks, and after an unnerving number of loading screens, were able to print our bag tags and boarding passes in the nick of time. We then stood in line for another 10-15 minutes to hand our bags to an agent – the longest I can remember spending in an elite line, and this was with only 3 people ahead of us. There were several flights leaving around the same time with four agents working, and a lot of people were confused about where they were supposed to be.

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