Onward to Paris!

With some luck, I managed to come across some affordable flights from New York (Kennedy) to Charles de Gaulle (CDG) for next year . Flights from Raleigh to JFK were almost as expensive as those from JFK to CDG, so I opted to use miles for that set of flights. With some nesting, the total price came in under $940. Not bad for two tickets, eh?

The tricky part with nested flights is that any checked bags will have to be collected and re-checked. I tried to give us 5 hours on either side of the international leg to account for this, but with JFK (or any New York airport, for that matter…) anything is possible.

Nested Flights

With some stays last year in San Diego, I was able to rack up enough Hyatt points for a week at Hôtel du Louvre! Located directly across from the Louvre museum and the Tuileries gardens (where the Arc de Triomphe is), it is also a short walk from Notre-Dame de Paris. Hard to beat that location!

Thanks to my status, I was able to select Comfort+ seats at booking even though it was an international flight. My Global Upgrade Certificates are expiring soon, so I won’t be able to use them, yet, but my new ones should be available in February. The Delta One cabin on the A330 is arranged in a reverse-herringbone configuration with the Comfort+ seats behind the middle galley. There seems to be quite a few Delta One seats open, so I’m cautiously optimistic!

From SeatGuru

Sheraton Mission Valley – 14th Floor Suite

A few months ago I was upgraded to one of the Junior King suites at the Sheraton I frequent. More recently, I had the opportunity to experience one of their full-size suites on the 14th floor.

As soon as you leave the elevator, you notice how different this floor is from the other floors. The lighting is newer and the ceilings are raised. There are also a lot fewer doors on this floor, unsurprisingly.

14th Floor

Entering the room, the first thing you’ll notice (well, that I noticed) was that the door didn’t keep closing on me! Not a huge thing, but it helps when taking pictures, hah.

“Kitchen” and Living Area

Beyond the living area is a balcony that connects to the bedroom, so you could leave one room and enter the other from the balcony alone.

The “kitchen”
Entertainment center

The bedroom was arranged in a fairly standard two Queen configuration, so no surprises there.


Connecting to the bedroom was the massive bathroom with a separate room for the shower and commode.

Closet and bathroom
Full-sized mirror and twin sinks
Enclosed shower

Wings of Freedom at @RDUairport with @CollingsFdn

While browsing my Google Feed last week (it knows me so well), I came across an article in The News & Observer about the Wings of Freedom Tour. While I was aware of the Warbirds over Monroe air show coming on Memorial Day, this was news to me! The AvGeek inside needed to be satisfied, so I made plans to visit. Though I was not able to visit on their first night, I was able to visit over the weekend!

I was not the only one with the idea!

The planes were divided into two sections: the B-17 and B-24 were available for walk-through tours, while the B-25 and P-51 were in a cordoned off area where you could purchase flights. The B-24J “Witchcraft” is the last air-worthy Liberator, according to Collings, and you can see a 3-D interior view here (requires Flash).

Next to the B-24 was the B-17. The Nine-O-Nine flies, too! While the Flying Fortress has an incredibly colorful history, the story that comes to mind every time I see this plane is that of Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler (which then inspired the song “No Bullets Fly” by the Swedish metal band Sabaton).

While I was waiting for the P-51 to return from its flight, I managed to catch the return of American’s B772ER that goes between RDU and LHR.

Since the flights last 30 minutes, there was a bit of a wait (man, I wish I had the funds to go up…). In addition to the P-51, there was a B-25 that was also available for flights. Unfortunately, it was parked too far away to get a better shot.

B-25 Mitchell

At last, the Mustang had returned, and I was able to catch a few shots as it returned to the hangar.

This tour is done by the Collings Foundation, and they will be visiting other cities this year. If they’ll be near you, you should check it out!

@Delta & @AeromexicoUSA Complimentary Upgrades and Upgrade Certificates

With all the recent schedule changes and the announcement that Delta Medallion members would receive both complimentary upgrades on Aeromexico flights as well as the ability to apply both types of Upgrade Certificates to flights operated by Aeromexico,  I logged in to see if any other flights had been affected.

Flight changes are not uncommon when booking months in advance, so I was not surprised when my return flight was now affected. Instead of flying directly to Atlanta, I now have to route through Mexico City.

Old route in red, new route in blue

With the change, and the new perks available (and two regional upgrade certificates coming up on expiration), I figured I would give Delta a call to see if I could apply them to the return. After a few minutes with the representative working on it, they confirmed that upgrade space was available if they changed my first leg (SJD-MEX) from a Delta ticketed flight to an Aeromexico ticketed flight. A few more minutes on hold and I had received my Aeromexico PNR and had selected seats on all the returns.

While there are still a few kinks to work out, the overall integration was very smooth!

Have any of you received complimentary upgrades on Delta partners or applied upgrade certificates on partners? Let me know!

Onward to T-Mobile!

After fourteen years with Verizon (and hundreds of dollars paid unnecessarily on insurance deductibles even though the manufacturer admitted responsibility), I made the jump to T-Mobile’s ONE plan.

First of all, I can’t begin to express the shock my girlfriend and experienced when talking to the T-Mobile reps (on both Twitter and in the store) compared to our interactions with Verizon reps. Not only did they make sure we had everything we needed in the store, they went out of their way to let us know how to get money back on our bills. Even T-Mobile’s CEO gets his hands dirty to help people!

The Phones: Galaxy S8

Orchid Grey!

After a great deal of deliberation, research, and hands-on investigation I went with the Galaxy S8 in Orchid Grey as there was a Buy One Get One Free deal offered by T-Mobile through their partnership with Verizon. Initially, my plan was to go with HTC’s new U11, but after having splurged on a new camera I had to readjust my budgets accordingly, haha. Both the U11 and S8 use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and both have ridiculously impressive cameras. Having a headphone jack is icing on the cake, though! I’m looking forward to playing with this over the next few weeks.

The Plan: T-Mobile One

In the end, all things (coverage, speediness of communication with representatives, etc.) being equal, the bottom line for a consumer is going to be what they pay for the plan in question. T-Mobile is nice in that you know exactly what you will pay when you walk out of the store, taxes and fees included at all times.

The T-Mobile ONE family of plans is known for offering unlimited text, talk, and data. As with most providers, there is a sliding scale based on how many lines are on the account (the more lines, the lower the per-line price). However, simply configuring auto-pay will reduce your price by $5/line/month. Icing on the cake? You have the option to opt-in for “KickBack” – if you or anyone on your plan uses less than 2GB/month, you get a $10/line/month refund. That means if you have four lines and each line uses less than 2GB, you get $40 back. However, you still don’t get charged more since this is an unlimited plan – purely beneficial! With how much WiFi there is coating public areas these days, that isn’t too hard to do. 😉

More awesome news? You get your same unlimited data (at 4G speeds), talk, and text throughout Canada and Mexico, and 2G speeds in more than 140 countries. Though the speed is markedly lower (~128kbps for the basic ONE plan, ~256kbps for the ONE Plus plan) than 4G, it’s still unlimited and should be plenty for things like email, Google Maps, and Uber/Lyft. My favorite bit, though, is that T-Mobile is now taking over my Netflix bill (standard 10.99 plan only). Here’s a quick comparison for two lines on both T-Mobile’s lowest unlimited tier and Verizon’s lowest unlimited tier. I’ll be reporting back on how coverage and speeds are in Mexico upon my return!

T-Mobile Verizon
$120/month with auto-pay, including taxes and fees $130/month with auto-pay, not including taxes and fees
Unlimited text, talk, and 4G data in Canada and Mexico Requires Beyond Unlimited ($160/month with auto-pay, not including taxes and fees)
Netflix included ($10.99/month value)
$10/line/month refund if you use < 2GB
1 hour of free WiFi on GoGo enabled flights (unlimited if you upgrade to ONE Plus for +$10/line/month)
Unlimited text, talk, and 2G data in 140+ countries

The Swag

While we were waiting on our numbers to be transferred from Verizon, and our initial activation to complete, the local Samsung rep walked in and noticed we were getting new S8s. Not only did we have a wonderful conversation, but he left us with some pretty awesome swag!

Heavy-Duty Tumbler

Not only did we get a really nice tumbler, but a swanky wine set with two vacuum seals!

Fancy case…
Complete wine kit!

More Norwegian Deals!

Since my last post on Norwegian airlines, I’ve received two more emails with some really tempting deals. The first email was for expanded fights to Europe (from larger airports, this time around), while the second was from the East Coast to the French Caribbean.

Now with larger airports!
Why be frozen when you can be warm?

Are any of you going to take advantage of these sales? I am sorely tempted!