Category Archives: Trip Reports

Hotel Review: Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel near San Francisco’s Union Square (55K IHG Points)

Good morning everyone.  Last Saturday, Laura and I did a mini San Francisco honeymoon.  We stayed at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins a few months ago, so we wanted to check out the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake hotel near San Francisco’s Union Square.  As part of IHG’s current Accelerate Promo, I needed to book a Points and Cash reservation to complete part of the promo.  The Kimpton Sir Francis Drake is normally 55,000 IHG Points, but I did a booking for 50,000 IHG Points + $28 cash.  Here is what the hotel lobby looked like when we arrived (with a few more guests and people working):

Image source: https://www.booking.com/hotel/us/sir-francis-drake.html

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How I did on that British Airways / Match.com Deal from 2017

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!  A few years ago, British Airways was offer 150x Avios at Match.com.  After fighting with British Airways and Match.com for a few months to get my 82,286 British Airways Avios, I ended up getting a full refund from Match.com (I would have much preferred the British Airways Avios over the full refund).  Thankfully, I met a wonderful girl on Match.com named Laura…

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Hotel Review: Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park

Sheraton, the SPG-turned-Marriott hospitality brand, definitely isn’t the crown jewel of the Marriott fleet — especially in the U.S. In fact, most travelers would say that it doesn’t even come close to the likes of JW Marriott or even a W or a Westin. That may be the case, but there are a few Sheraton properties that definitely deserve a shoutout and one of them is located right in the heart of Sydney.  While the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park isn’t the world’s most impressive property, it just might be one of the most impressive Sheraton properties out there. Here’s my experience with this property, and why you should probably give it a chance next time you’re in Sydney.

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My Oversold Delta Flight: $700 AMEX Gift Card, Hotel Voucher & Morning Flight

Good morning everyone.  Last week, I was flying back from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Oakland (OAK) on Delta.  The flight was oversold, so the gate agent was looking for a few volunteers to take a later flight (depart SLC at 10:30pm, land in OAK at 11:30pm) in exchange for a $700 gift card.  Since I didn’t need to get back to OAK right away, I asked the gate agent if I could take a morning flight into OAK (depart SLC at 8:30am, land in OAK at 9:30am – I would then take BART into SF for work) and I also asked for a hotel voucher for the night.  The gate agent said that was possible, so he added me to the volunteer list, and I waited near the gate for all passengers to board.  After all passengers boarded the flight, the gate agent called me up, changed my flight to the new morning flight, printed out a hotel voucher, and showed me the list of gift cards that I was eligible to claim.  I didn’t take a photo of the laminated sheet on the counter, but I believe these were the same gift cards that were offered.  I decided to go with an American Express gift card since that was basically cash to me.

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Flight Review: XL Airways Economy (A330-300) from Paris (CDG) to New York (JFK)

XL Airways is a solid, acceptable choice for crossing the ocean. They offer an experience approaching a full-service airline–including a checked bag and at least one hot meal–but often at LCC pricing.

A friend and I took a quick trip to Europe back in December before the holidays, and XL popped up as an option to get home. Sometimes I mix and match one-way long-haul tickets to fulfill an itinerary, and the rise of low-cost, long-haul carriers like Norwegian, Level, and WOW Air have made this sort of last-minute jaunt a lot more accessible.

I first heard of XL in Summer 2015 when I had a similar last-minute need to get home. At the time I took Norwegian instead, but was intrigued by XL. What was it?

XL Airways bills itself as a “French airline specializing in long-haul flights.” With just four aircraft (all A330 variants) and twenty-two destinations, they primarily operate from French cities to vacation destinations both via regularly scheduled service and charter operations for tour companies.

XL Airways List of Destinations. Note: Many of these destinations are seasonal. NYC service for instance, IIRC is offered only in the warmer months and around the winter holidays.

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