Tag: Business

Excursion Trip

How blessed are we who get to travel in our course of life? Recently, I wrote about extending your trip to include a separate stop at no cost to you if you are using travelling from most of the major point programs.

Flying over the Rocky's

Flying over the Rockies on my way to LAX


I was travelling on AeroPlan for that trip and instead of just heading to Vancouver, I booked a multi-leg trip to include a weekend stopover, flying into LAX with no other cost other than the hotel for two nights and incidental costs that most people incur while travelling.

Hotel in LA

Hotel in LA

Since this was my first trip to this end of the country, I was not sure where to stay. The choices are many and so I headed over to TripAdvisor to make my choice. I was looking for something different. I wanted to be fairly close to the Airport district as I thought many of my readers would be selecting this area for a short stop over and yet close enough to several attractions so I can see the area while I was there.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier — The end of Highway 66

I have to say, I had an awesome time. Between the charter local bus service for the hotels in the area, the local bus service was second to none. I was shocked that for a very low fee, compared to my local city, I was on a bus that whisked me straight over to Santa Monica Pier. It was a doubly great since I was travelling on the Memorial Day Weekend.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Now I know some may be saying that it would be too busy and if you were to travel by car, I would agree with you 100% as parking looked to be a little tight, but arriving by local transit was no problem and the areas to explore were all fine. On the pier itself, you had families sharing food, laughter on the rides and fishing from the pier. It was really nice to see.

Fishing at Santa Monica Pier

Fishing at Santa Monica Pier

Down on the beach, we had the celebrations to honour the fallen which was touching to see. A large display of crosses were arranged on the beach with several to represent other religions of the soldiers that gave their lives for the freedom, not only in the USA but for everyone that enjoys the democracy we have and the freedom to travel around the world.

Memorial Day at Santa Monica Pier

Memorial Day at Santa Monica Pier

One nice touch was the shop out at the end of the pier that marks the end of highway Route 66. Such a famous iconic place to say “we were there” On your next trip I can only urge you to take that extra step and explore the many choices you have for stop over or multi-leg trips. I am sure you will find it a pure pleasure.

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Travel as far as you can

How Far Can You Fly?

How Far Can You Fly?

When you travel, are you taking full advantage of the connections that you have to take? Have you considered extending that business trip by a few days and taking in the sights of one of your stops?

Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

Why not do this on purpose and take full advantage of the possible stops along the way.

Recently I had to take a business trip from the East coast of Canada to the West coast. As I thought about stopping off in Toronto or Calgary for a few days, I thought, “I wonder how far I can travel on the same number of points.

For this particular trip, I was travelling on AeroPlan points. They have an option on booking that you can plan a “Multi-Leg” journey where you can pick an extra stop along the way and chose different dates. This allow you to select the path of your journey and the duration of each segment stopover.

Yes, there are limits to how far you can journey but it is very flexible and well worth the time to investigate this great option. It seems that if the extra leg is within a short-haul flight of the farthest destination, you can easily book it at no extra points.

My flight would have seen me leave New Brunswick, fly through Toronto and on to Vancouver. But, as I looked at my options, I went from my home base, and selected LAX as my first stop. This still took me up to Toronto and then a direct flight down to LA for an awesome Memorial Day weekend at the end of Highway 66. Some of you will know this as the Santa Monica Pier.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier — The end of Highway 66

From there, I selected my second leg that went from LAX up to Vancouver and after my work was complete, I flew from Vancouver back to the east coast as my third leg of my trip.  You do have to love the adventure of travel and you can even make the flight more enjoyable by selecting the best craft type for your journey.

I chose to fly business class for several reasons. Most are the usual ones that have to do with comfort but this time, I selected the flights that had the most modern seating arrangements. When I booked my segments, I first looked at the craft type and then confirmed this on the SeatGuru site. I like this site because they give you tips on the best to the worst seats to select on the flights.

I wanted to experience the full sleeper seating options and I was able to select three different styles on the longer segments of my itinerary.  For the flight from Toronto Canada down to LAX I was shown the back seat on the single row side had extra space and privacy. This turned out to be an excellent recommendation and made for as close to a perfect flight as I have ever had.

Flying up the Rocky's

Flying up the Rocky’s

For the heavy traffic but shorter flight from LAX to Vancouver, I also had a great seat. This was surprising to me since it was an Air Canada Rouge flight. As many of my readers know I am not fond of Rouge and I would not call myself a fan, but, I have to admit they have really improved things. Still a long ways to go, but it is worth noting that things are getting better. Keeping in mind that my Android device still would not work on the Rouge entertainment system, but, as always, I re-loaded my tablet with a few good movies and a book or two.

I will share more on my LAX side trip later, but for now, I do hope you will consider taking a little more time booking your next flight and take the opportunity to travel to a new place. Experience what is all out there for you to enjoy and live life to the fullest.

Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=513

Canadian Travel Cards, The Good, The Bad and Everything Else

 

Canadian travel Card
Canadian travel Card

 There have been a lot of changes in the Travel Card Industry, and if you like to collect points, you really have to keep on top of which is the best, for the next two years or more.

Now, we need to cover a few basic things before we get into this. First there are three main types of points to collect in Canada.

  1.  AeroPlan by Air Canada. Yes there are other airlines, but none that are National and apply to all Canadians flying.
  2. AirMiles is a private point collector that has successfully crossed the product line barrier and has been accepted by many store brands as well as Credit Card Companies.
  3. Credit Card Companies. These cards need to be broken down into sections.
    Canadian travel Card

    Canadian travel Card


    1. Traditional cards where they add to your AeroPlan or AirMiles points and

    2. The newer style cards that have their own travel point systems.

 One important point here when we get into the Credit Card systems. I do not endorse or recommend that anyone get a credit card that cannot say they would never, ever carry a balance. The whole point of saving money on travel gets destroyed if you do not pay the entire balance off each and every month and end up paying interest charges. You have been warned and I say this because the newer bank driven travel plans are, simply put, great.

I can remember when, AeroPlan was really the only card and way to get travel miles. Yep, I go that far back. But, over the years, things have changed a lot. Do I still have an AeroPlan account and do I use it? Yes, but no longer for my “basic” travel.

To choose the best card for you depends on 2 things.

 

  1. The travel points and how much you have to spend to get free travel and
  2. What are the soft costs that still have to be paid to get that travel?

 This second item is a really big point with the newer bank reward systems. With plans like AeroPlan and AirMiles, after you save for a long time to get your points, you still have to pay the taxes and fees. In many cases this can be over $200 per person travelling. A family of four spending $800 in travel frees is not exactly a free plane ticket.

To combat this, Banks started offering their own reward system that could not only be used for air travel, but any kind of travel including Hotels and All inclusive travel packages. This was good, in that, it offered a product outside of the plane travel, but it used to take far more points per dollar value then AeroPlan did.

 

Canadian travel Card
Canadian travel Card

 Are you confused yet? The 1990’s was a confusing time for travel points. The good news is that Banks have caught on to this need, more and more banks offered their own reward systems and it is getting more and more competitive. This means better and simpler choices for you, the consumer.

There are programs that offer great point value on economy flights and the same points for separate great value on vacation packages. In fact, I have just used up my AirMiles travel points and have basically stopped collecting them through Credit Cards. Yes, I will still use my AirMiles card when merchants offer this. I would be silly not too. But, not for collecting via Credit Cards. The New generation of point systems are just too good. For example, my local grocery chain offers 95 AirMile points when I buy a $200 Gift card. So, we tend to spend a little over $400 a month and by getting two gift cards, I gain and extra 190 AirMile points plus the $400 in points on that Credit Card.

AeroPlan is getting to be the same with one MAJOR exception. For flights 3 hours or less, I don’t mind Economy, but, when I travel for longer time periods I want to be in business class. AeroPlan is the best and really only choice if you want to travel Business or Executive Class on a reasonable number of points. I have never seen a card that has polarized itself quite so badly as this one. I find for any reasonable short-term reservations, booking my travel in less than a month in advance, I really have a hard time getting classic seats in economy and my newer card offer better value in any case. However, the point system leaves everyone else in the dust on Business class seats.

If we speak of AeroPlan Classic Rewards, one long haul ticket is 25,000 points. One business class is 40,000 points. Yes, these levels are changing in 2014, but I see for the small point person, it gets worse, not better. So, 15,000 points to upgrade to Business class. So a 60% increase in points.

Now, all the newer cards are based on the real cost of the tickets. So I looked up the cost from my airport (East Coast)to Vancouver (West Coast). The best Economy price was about $1,500 and the corresponding Business Class (Executive Class Lowest) was $3,500. An increase of $2,000 or a whopping 130% increase. So for any point system that uses the airline ticket price to figure out the points used, they don’t hold a candle to AeroPlan Business Class points. But again, this is the only exception that I can find.

Another way to look at this is you will need to spend $40,000 in purchases for this ticket in AeroPlan plus say $200 in taxes and fees. On the norm for leading bank cards, you would need to spend about $175,000 to $350,000 in purchases to get the same ticket. Again this really only applies to business class travel. Long story short, AeroPlan is still a good choice for those looking for long haul business class flights.

There are features I like in 3 of the newer plans, but really, it all has to come down to, Which plan will me, for my travel needs, travel sooner.

 

  1. If you are going to be traveling economy, I would recommend a travel card like the new CIBC Aventura MasterCard since they offer special point pricing on airfare only. Unless you live outside of a major metropolitan area like I do. In this case most tickets are over the allowed maximum price.
  2. I do really like the Scotia Gold American Express Card since it is the only one that allow you to book on any site, I.e. Air Canada or Expedia or directly with a hotel, use this card to pay and then call and have them apply the amount to be paid in points. If you hit a great seat sale, you might cash in with this card. My 2 draw backs are that for most purchases, it is still a dollar spent for 1 point and it is American Express. I still find many places that do not accept this card since they have higher costs to the merchant.
  3. But for “package travel” the all-inclusive that so many of us use, right now the choice would have to be the BMO World Elite MasterCard as they offer 2 points instead of 1 for each dollar spent and for packaged holidays, cars, hotels etc. It is a penny a point on all for redemption for mast cards with the exception to the CIBC airline system, so, about 1/2 the points needed from the Bank of Montreal Travel card.

 I am building with BMO for now, being very specific on target amounts going on the card and as these approach, I will once again check the murky waters to the Travel Card business.

I am hoping that the next big card out there will offer 2 or more points on ALL purchases, be a Visa or MasterCard product and allow me to book with anyone and charge it the points on the card. This last point is really huge and will be the next game changer since it is the one thing that will guarantee us that we are getting the best price possible and using the least amount of points to get it. The last thing it needs to have a point for point transfer without penalty to AeroPlan so if you want to be in Business Class … you can.

Hey, this is a travel article, so I am allowed to dream.


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Delta Halifax Business Travel Review

After staying in many rooms that I consider “normal” I think I have grown used to having somethings not being perfect. In this case, I have to say that, the more time went on, I was looking closely since I could not find anything wrong with this hotel.

The room was super clean and did not smell like perfume, stale smoke or chemicals, just nice and clean.

Excellent room at the Delta Halifax

Excellent room at the Delta Halifax

I can’t tell you how nice it was to have this as I hate smells covering up other smells and people saying that, that is “clean” To me cleaner small is just as bad on my nose as a stall room. Most likely it is worse for me. Wonderful first impression to have real “clean”.

The staff from the front door, to the check in to the people who attended the room were all friendly with a smile and for the most part, used my first name when addressing me once they knew it. Nice touch.

I was going to go out and sample the local restaurants, but I had emails and work to do first and I ended up ordering from the room service menu. This is not something I like to do, since I have found that hotel quality usually lower than the hard-working restaurants competing for the dollar. I even had a few restaurants recommended to me by clients I was meeting with. In this case, I have to admit that even the food was great and priced to where I feel I got great value for what was spent. Actually, I will go on to say that the simple meal I ordered was far above average. French onion soup was excellent, and the steak sandwich was a full strip loin steak cooked to perfection and was tender and with a really great taste.

One of the reasons for booking this hotel initially, is the central location to everything. It is connected internally to a mall, it is connected to internal walkways to the entire downtown core. I had 3 meetings in the morning and only went outside by choice to enjoy the great weather.

Being connected to the downtown business towers is great, but also being connected to the historic properties and to the boardwalk area was really nice to have as well. Just another step above the hotels that are several blocks away from all of this, and it was priced very nicely so that was not a reason in deciding hotels.

Would I recommend the Delta Halifax and would I stay there again? 100% yes.

Please take this review to heart and go and see what Maritime hospitality is really all about.

I hope this is helpful to you and Enjoy,

Steve

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